Choosing the perfect venue
The largest wedding expense is usually the cost of the venue and banquet. Wedding specialists Michele Li and Kim Williams-Waaijer offer some advice on how to choose the right venue.
'From a practical point of view, indoors is safer as weather conditions can change quickly. From an aesthetic point of view, though, an outdoor set-up can be very beautiful,' says Li, managing director at The Wedding Company (www.theweddingco.hk).
At Hong Kong's five-star hotels, Li recommends booking more than a year in advance and says that if you want a large wedding, with more than 250 guests, the choices in the city are limited to hotel ballrooms.
Restaurants can serve up more creative options for intimate weddings, she adds. Some of her favourites include The Peak Lookout, The French Window at IFC mall and The Repulse Bay, whose 'lawn is highly coveted', she says. When searching for a venue, Li says consider parking and accessibility or arrange group transport. Another factor is set-up time. 'There's no point designing a lavish set-up if the venue hands the place to you at 5pm,' Li says.
The chief event planner at F?te (www.fete-eventplanner.com), Williams-Waaijer, says Hong Kong has many venues. 'There are so many beautiful places that can be transformed into romantic wedding venues,' she says.
If you have your sights set on a specific location, particularly auspicious dates, you might bear in mind that some couples book two years in advance.
When selecting a venue, Williams-Waaijer advises considering the number of guests attending, whether you want an indoor or outdoor venue, a cocktail reception or black tie affair, and the time of day the event will be held.
Budget-conscious couples can book an outdoor restaurant for as little as HK$9,000, according to Williams-Waaijer, who says she 'can transform a simple, open-air terrace into a chic cocktail party place, or the [Chinese junk] Aqualuna into an intimate venue'.
For a wealthy couple, the event planner organised an intimate wedding ceremony for 20 guests at the Mandarin Suite of the Mandarin Oriental for HK$62,000 per night. She says: 'It was the first time they allowed a wedding there. It's a beautiful venue that has seven rooms and has hosted Bill Clinton, Princess Diana and Tom Cruise.'
Once you have decided on a place, be prepared to put down a 25 to 50 per cent deposit. Three months before the big day, another 25 per cent is required, and the remainder is due on the wedding day, Williams-Waaijer says.