You know the wedding bar has been raised when drones are de rigueur, multiple dinners and occasions are to be expected, and personalised hashtags mean that your big day is #onfleek. These days, tying the knot isn't quite as simple as it sounds; but if you pull it off successfully, you'll end up with the most memorable day of your life.
"So much has changed - the level of expectation has gone through the roof," says Evelyn Mills, founder of luxury wedding consultancy Marriage Maestros.
Marriage Maestros has launched a US$2 million wedding package with the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. The bespoke service, titled "A Legendary Wedding", includes everything from photo-shoots with award-winning photographers, priority appointments with celebrity dressmakers and bespoke jewellery designers, to a four-day wedding celebration, before a private jet whisks the couple away to their dream honeymoon.
The company is no novice when it comes to delighting its clients; Mills says that as expectations changed over the years, the company has continued to push the envelope with regards to innovation.
"Entertainment is more important than ever," she says. "People travel more frequently and most have studied abroad - they bring back ideas of what they've seen and they're very open-minded about trying new things."
It's not uncommon, for example, for her to set up photo booths and even arts and crafts stations to enhance the guests' experience while the happy couple take wedding photos. One of the cooler ideas - literally - was to set up an ice cream station where guests could treat themselves to Blushing Bride and Grinning Groom flavour combinations.
"It's getting to that level - entertainment like this enhances the guests' experience of the wedding," Mills says, while cautioning against adding irrelevant entertainment just for the sake of having something different. "The idea is to make it personalised and memorable; we don't want it to turn into a complete circus."
Nevertheless, there's plenty you can do that not only engages guests but also improves the overall efficiency of the event. Mills has employed strolling magicians to entertain guests when long waits were expected, and she also suggests equipping check-in staff with iPads for registration, significantly cutting down waiting times, not to mention adding a modern touch to the wedding.
It's the digital age, and some savvy couples even include a charging station for guests who have exhausted their phones' battery supply with overzealous sharing - and there's plenty of that going on these days.
"Social media has become a great tool for guests to share their wedding experience," says Adhiyanto Wongso, director of communications at The Mulia resort in Bali. "Platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram provide ample inspiration for clients deciding on the location and theme of the wedding; while on the big day itself, Facebook and Snapchat are very useful when it comes to sharing or streaming important moments live."
Modern couples are certainly taking advantage of the prevalent sharing culture, often including personalised hashtags - usually in the form of #hernameandhisname - in the wedding invitations so memories of their union can be filed from day one.
Wongso says that not only does this allow pictures to be shared immediately and effortlessly with those unable to attend the wedding, it also means that the couple have an instant online collection of snaps from a variety of perspectives.
Even the traditional bridal door games before a Chinese banquet are given a modern twist. Mills says that brides can now communicate with their grooms through Facetime during these rituals.
Periscope - a live video streaming app - is another tool for the wedding party and guests to show a more casual, candid side to the big day. If you're outdoors, however, a drone could be your best bet.
"Drones have enhanced the way photographers and videographers capture the moment," Mills says. "In some ways, they are less invasive, in that they're shooting from afar, with less equipment required for set-up. There are obviously safety and privacy issues, but once those are resolved, they can offer stunning shots of the crowd and the surrounding views."
This is a popular option for destination weddings, particularly for couples who want to offer different experiences at their multiple celebratory events - a trend that Mills says is increasingly popular now for cross-cultural couples.
"For these weddings, you have to consider how to blend the two cultures and respect the customs of each while still making sure the wedding is meaningful and tasteful as a whole. Sometimes it's impossible to incorporate everything into one wedding, and we end up organising several events," she says. These can include an intimate ceremony just for close friends and family, then dinners and banquets in the couple's respective home countries, not to mention the after-parties for the young guests.
Arranging events at various destinations can be well worth the effort. At The Mulia, guests can add a touch of the local culture to their nuptials.
"We launched a Balinese wedding blessing experience for couples seeking something out of the ordinary for their ceremony," Wongso says. "We can arrange for a Balinese priest to conduct the ceremony in Sanskrit and offer a holy Balinese wedding blessing."
Mills also has a memorable Bali experience in which she planned a wedding for a bride who loved butterflies. She managed to get in touch with a butterfly farm and surprised the bride by releasing 10,000 butterflies when the couple walked down the aisle after the vows.
"We ran the idea by the groom and he knew she would love it," Mills recalls. "She started crying when it happened; it was such a touching moment."
From butterflies and drones to acapella performances and LED screens that can be synched to music and offer any backdrop imaginable, there is very little you can't do for your wedding.
With all these options open to you, there's no reason why your big day can't be exactly that - big, memorable and truly spectacular.
Online wow factor is the real icing on the wedding cake, says Bonnae Goksonof Ms B's Cakery
With the increased need to share online and post images of beautiful food, the wow factor is more important than ever when it comes to your wedding cake. Bonnae Gokson of Sevva, C'est La B and Ms B's Cakery shares some of her favourite memories.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
Digital communication is everything now. A bride loved one of our three-tiered cakes shown on our Instagram so much that we reinterpreted it into a nine-tiered masterpiece, just for her. We sell quite a few wedding cakes online.
One of my favourite experiences was creating a stunning 2.5-metre-tall croquembouche tower filled with caramel crème. I dressed it with the prettiest fairytale elements, which included sugar ferns, dragonflies, peonies, beetles and old-fashioned candies with a huge silk chiffon ribbon on top of the crown.
It was our first ever wedding cake - a Mexican-inspired creation, four tiers of aqua and lilac with accents of happy, bright flowers. Overnight, the cake changed colours and paled considerably. It was a nightmare and we had to do the cake all over again with just one day to go until deadline. We all worked overtime that night, but we learned that colour fades when under the lights for too long and the sugar fondant should only be kept in dark, cool storage.
The best ideas we have often come from learning about the bridal party, the wedding dress and the venue. We've used everything from colourful popcorn and 22ct gold edible fondant to teddy bears and humorous figurines for decoration - the ideas are endless.
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