Michele Li has planned celebrations of all kinds - from lavish Russian royalty-inspired soirées to intimate garden parties, refreshing destination ceremonies at luxurious resorts and contemporary banquets at five-star hotels.
We asked her about a dream wedding that even a veteran wedding planner would like to have. "On a perfect wedding day, everyone should be relaxed and be able to enjoy the day and the company of friends and relatives," Li says. "But to make sure that happens, rain or shine, a lot of work has to go into it, which takes a good six to nine months of planning."
Li envisions a retro, Victorian-style celebration for about 400 guests in a ballroom of a five-star hotel. Even before the celebration, guests will get a feeling of the couple's exquisite taste. Couture invitations will sit on a bed of pearls inside a silk-lined box. "Pretty and elegant," Li says. "The invitations and a bouquet of roses - flown in from Ecuador - are hand delivered by a male model to each guest. Ceci New York creates beautiful invitations that are one-of-a-kind."
For the reception, Li will completely redo the ballroom's setting. " The wall panels will be wrapped in pastel silk while a hand-painted white wooden dance floor will provide the setting for the couple'sfirst dance.
"Rose patterns will be hand-painted on the wooden dance floor - the same patterns are also printed on the invitation cards," Li says.
Baccarat chandeliers throughout the venue will add a lavish and extravagant touch.
Crystals and bling will dazzle on the centrepiece. The bride, looking elegant in a couture gown, will be wearing a pearl necklace and a diamond tiara, and the groom will be dressed in a bespoke tuxedo. The couple will exchange vows under a romantic Victorian-style gazebo decorated with fresh flowers, French lace and loose strands of crystals and pearls. The aisle will be covered with rose petals.
After guests enjoy cocktails and mingling, they will be seated at tables covered with pink Dupioni silk. Silk napkins and customised plates will feature the couple's initials.
Tall bouquets in Lalique vases will be the centrepiece of each table.
A specially designed menu will be served while Champagne flows from bottles engraved with the couple's names.
Li has noticed a growing trend of wedding cakes accompanied by candy bars at weddings.
"The eight-tiered, lace-inspired wedding cake will be accompanied by a tower filled with Ladurée macarons, Jordan almonds and Belgium chocolate - a complete sweet treat," she says.
Guests can also arrange their own bouquet at the flower stand as a thank-you token from the couple - and just in case someone holds a grudge about not being able to catch the bridal bouquet.
Above all things, Li reckons the importance of lighting and sound is often overlooked.
"I would actually allocate a big budget on lighting, because it's crucial for creating a certain ambience," she says. "I'd fly in consultants from overseas for both lighting and sound."
The sound system has to support a 20-strong string orchestra, and a celebrity singer will be flown into town.
"The sky's the limit, really, when we talk about an overseas entertainer," Li says.
The entire celebration will be documented by a crew of professional photographers and videographers.
As an alternative, the couple can book a cameraman who specialises in shooting 8mm films.
"I've worked with one interesting cameraman based in California," Li says.
"When everyone's looking for high-definition quality, it's interesting to have retro
videos as an alternative. The videos look very cool, like what Jacqueline and John Kennedy had at their wedding."
Having been a wedding planner for so many years, Li does not have the slightest intention of retiring.
"I enjoy the creativity and balancing it with a pragmatic approach," she says.
"It's really fulfilling to see the bride walk down the aisle after all that planning. You get a strong sense of satisfaction."
Founder of The Wedding Company, Li has planned numerous luxury weddings since 2003. The Hongkonger studied in California and Boston before diving into the wedding business. She'smarried to tycoon heir Didier Li Kwok-wai with two daughters. Her wedding planning business extends beyond Hong Kong to the mainland and other parts of Asia.
Illustration by Anzon Wong