Dedicated to getting all things right on the big day

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 May, 2007, 12:00am

When two of the biggest names in the local celebrity world tied the knot and all the 'oohs and aahs' died down, the media commented on how meticulous and professional the wedding arrangements had been.

Much of the praise for the successful big day enjoyed by Henderson Land heir Martin Lee Ka-shing and movie-star Cathy Chui Chi-kay and their guests went to the attention to detail and organisational skill of professional wedding planners.

Planning a medium- to large-scale wedding can be time-consuming and nerve-racking.

Busy working couples find they have no time to attend to the fine details of a dream wedding as well as the huge costs.

But with a good economy more people are able to afford to splash out on the services of wedding planners. This allows couples to enjoy their day with family and friends, and take home a lifetime of fond memories.

'Our clientele mainly consists of busy career couples such as bankers and lawyers who simply do not have the time to plan their wedding. Clients also seek our expertise in planning more creative and personalised weddings,' said Michele Li, wedding co-ordinator of The Wedding Company.

Planning a wedding to match the couple's wishes requires more than just good listening.

Being inquisitive but not intrusive coupled with excellent interpersonal skills is essential when meeting the betrothed for the first time.

'We ask our clients a lot of questions about their likes and dislikes, hobbies, favourite colours, preferred types of flowers and, if necessary, even how they met - just so that we can brainstorm among ourselves for a very interesting wedding plan,' Ms Li said.

Wedding planners offer more than just creative ideas. They are hired to ensure the logistics essential to such an important event run smoothly.

Services offered by wedding planners include concept design, venue bookings, video and audio recordings, musical arrangements, wedding portraits, invitations, hair and makeup, banquet hall decoration, and advice on choice of rituals or service.

Companies offering tailor-made wedding plans to affluent families and Hollywood celebrities rose in popularity in the US more than a decade ago.

Wedding planning only became known in Hong Kong in recent years and now seems the trend for more bridal couples who have the money to spare.

Coco Wong, director of Coco Weddings, said: 'When I started my wedding planning company 10 years ago, I was basically clientless for the first few years. Nonetheless, I had a conviction that the business would eventually kick off. Meanwhile I spent a lot of time organising parties and annual functions for friends and companies, and used these opportunities to spread the word about my company.

'Today most bridal couples know what wedding services are all about and now I do over 20 weddings a year.'

Wedding planning is still considered a relatively small business operation in Hong Kong. Planners do not run extensive advertising campaigns so a lot of business opportunities arise from referrals.

Tammy Lee Ting-yan of At All Events Planning Company said: 'We believe doing a good job for our clients will earn us referrals and that's all it boils down to in terms of getting business leads.

'Outdoor advertising is just not feasible at this point.'

Competition for wedding planning is not particularly fierce, though several companies have surfaced in recent years geared towards different sizes of weddings and types of event.

Ms Wong said: 'We have junior wedding planners for relatively smaller weddings and senior wedding planners like myself would take care of bigger and complex weddings.'

Young people are becoming more sophisticated and their lifestyles are improving, so hiring a wedding planner is now more popular.

Ms Li is optimistic about the prospects for the industry. 'We believe that there will be a growing trend for couples to use wedding planners. They from time to time get to see beautiful weddings but do not know how to achieve one on their own. They realise that only a wedding planner can make it a reality,' Ms Li said.

People who want to work in this industry should be willing to multi-task and be open-minded but meticulous. They can pick up the skills needed by experiencing wedding ceremonies.

'Wedding planning requires hard work and flexibility. A wedding planner is an all-in-one designer, time-keeper, researcher, counsellor and personal shopper, and that's the qualities of the people this industry is looking for,' Ms Li said.