Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wedding gown shopping at Designer Bridal Room (KL, Malaysia)

During our earlier plan of getting married in Bali, I have checked out more than a handful of bridal gown shops (which brides won't? The dress is SO important). Most of them are pretty forgettable, but one stands out among the rest. The Designer Bridal Room in KL, Malaysia. I ALMOST purchased a dress from them.

Designer Bridal Room website, featuring Annasul Y gown

I planned to purchase a dress earlier on because of our destination wedding. I don't want to rent one in Bali. That would be too traumatic, who knows what will turn out? Renting just a wedding dress in Singapore is not that cheap either, as most bridal salons earn from pre-wedding photoshoot and thus they tend to jack up the prices when couples just want a dress.
I don't plan to have too many/ any gown changes. In fact, I was planning to wear it a couple of times because we might need to have a couple of smaller celebration with friends and relatives if we really had a destination wedding.

So off I went hunting for dresses.

Oh, before that, maybe a little bit about my fashion taste might be helpful. I am super picky on the quality of fabrics and workmanship but not so picky on the design. In ordinary clothes terms, I buy a lot from Uniqlo but almost never buy anything from H&M. Of course, if you are picky on BOTH quality and design, then you are on Chanel level. Maybe you can stop reading here as you won't settle for anything less than Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier or Oscar De La Renta.

Uniqlo or H&M, which side are you on?

Anyway, I started hunting in KL, hoping to get some bridal gown at a comparable affordable price than in Singapore. I started with pretty affordable places such as That Special Occasion and Pretty in White with prices ranges from around RM2000. However, the quality and workmanship are pretty normal (a very typical bridal dress using synthetic satin, machine-made lace etc). Nothing caught my fancy.

I later move on to renowned Malaysia designer boutiques such as Eric Choong. One can tell that the materials they used is a notch better (ie, silk chiffon instead of synthetic chiffon, Swarovski crystal etc). The designs are unique and only one is made per piece. But they are NOT wedding gown designer. They cater more for evening wear, thus even their so-called wedding gown are relatively streamlined. And their dress does not comes with built-in corset, which I later found out that is it important to hold your gown. Wedding gowns at Eric Chong cost between RM7000-RM15000, which is quite expensive but of course you are paying for the one of a kind design.

I was quiet hesitated to visit Designer Bridal Room as you know all these bridal guides that WARN you against trying gown that's outside your budget. I did some search only and gathered that their gowns cost somewhere between RM10K-RM20K, which is way beyond my budget - I later found out that they are not that expensive, the gowns I like generally is in the range of RM5000-RM10K.  But I still decided to visit them as I wish to have a look of Pronovias gown - I was so in love with Pronovias gown previously. And Mr persuaded me to go and have a look for "educational purposes".

And luckily I did. After a whole day of bridal gown shopping, I finally found dresses that I can consider them as gowns.
Lusan Mandongus: High quality silk satin flows like butter on your skin and drapes elegantly

The satin are silky smooth and creamy. The layers of tulles are soft and substantial to drape beautifully without destroying the airy feels. The princess gowns are created with more than 12 layers of fabrics so they puff up without can can. The fabrics used for internal lining are as luxurious as the external fabrics. Bra and closets are built in and lined carefully (unlike some of the gowns you found here where bras are just 2 hanging foam cups).

Since we are at it, this is a book that I found very useful in learning more about the most important piece of clothes you will ever wear: Quest For The Dress. It gives very good advice on deciding on the style of the dress for the brides depends on not only her body type, but also the occasion. I will probably write a book review later.

Back to Designer Bridal Room. The service is superb. The patience of the gown consultants are beyond imagination. They let me tried more than ten gowns during my visits and I think we spend a few hours there until their closing hours. And it is not just trying, they provided 2 gown consultants to help out with the dressing. After that they just ask me to think about the dress and bid us goodbye. Not a single hint of hard selling. In fact, I went back the second time and almost bought a dress there (that's before my mum's cancer). But after contemplating for a few hours I decided to say no (as it is not the style of gown I originally wanted, but it is just so beautiful), they just say "It is fine. We don't want you to regret your purchase."

Interestingly, almost all the gowns I picked to try when I was in Designer Bridal Room are either Lusan Mandongus or Annasul Y. There are lots of other gowns but somehow I just didn't pick any from Pronovias.   Lusan Mandongus and Annasul Y are two related brands originated from Hong Kong but have ventured into international bridal scene. Their gowns might looks simple on the first glance however one can find lots of details subtlely woven into the dresses if look carefully. For example, the beads on its fully beaded mermaid gown are cylindrical in shape and stitched in vertical rows so that it gives a slender effects on the brides.  The lace flowers applique are not just sewn on the surface but scattered between various layers of tulle to give a depth effects. It is exactly the type of subtle luxury that defines my style.

Lusan Mandongus: Elegance in subtle details - lace appliques peeping out underneath layers of soft tulle

Now thinking back on my experience, I think I subconsciously choose their gown because the fabrics they use are softer and delicate compared compared to others. I saw some of the heavily laced gown but it feels so stiff and amored. In contrast, Lusan Mandongus and Annasul Y is airy and soft and makes you feels like wearing a cloud. No wonder the most used words in describing their gown is "feminine".

My mind now is so fixed with those luxurious fabrics and workmanship that I can take nothing less. It is definitely the place I will go back when I started preparing for my wedding next year. Although there is a few new boutiques in Singapore now selling designer wedding gowns, which I plan to check out soon. But Designer Bridal Room is still on the top of the list. Mr must have damn regretted for persuading me to go there. :D

PS: I checked out some of the Singapore local bridal shop. But it is almost impossible for me to wear a synthetic satin after trying silk satin. The subtle of the glow, the smoothness of the fabrics, the flow of the draping are entirely on different level. 


Vera Wang: The representative of high fashion wedding gown 

I also checked out Vera Wang collection from The Link Bridal. Material and workmanship wise, no one can fault a Vera Wang gown. But I find they are just on par on even slightly below Lusan Mondungus and Annasul Y. However, the prices of the former are many times over the latter, which is due to more fashion forward designs and brand name. For me, either Lusan Mondungus or Annasul Y is more than perfect.

PPS: The price at Designer Bridal Room is slightly negotiable. How much you can get depends on your bargaining skills. Or you can drop me a private email to find out more. :D

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Designer Wedding Gowns in Singapore

March-May 2013 issue of Her World Brides ran an editorial introducing various boutiques that carry overseas designer label gown. Since I am just looking for a gown and not interested in standard bridal package, I might check them out soon.

Know thy designer: Left: Lazaro; Middle: Oscar de la Renta; Right: Vera Wang 

Something Borrowed
Price range: Rental between $2000-$5000
Labels carried: Jim Hjelm, Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Lorenzo, White by Vera Wang, Johanna Johnson, La Sposa by Pronovias

The Atelier Bridal
Price range: Selling from $3,000 for diffusion line and $6,000 for main lines
Labels carried: Amsale, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta, Alyne by Rivini, Carolina Herrera and Legends by Romona Keveza.

The Prelude Bridal
Price range: For sale from $2,500 for La Sposa to $11,000 for Junka Yoshioka or Badgley Mischka
Labels carried: Amanda Wakaley, Badgley Mischka, David Frielden, Junko Yoshioka, La Sposa by Pronovias, Christos, Monique Lhuillier Bridesmaids

Notes: I visited The Prelude Bridal before in 2011. The gowns they carried during that time are generally modern simplistic and most of them are sheath or mermaid cut.

Price range: For sale from $5,000 to $10,000
Labels carried: Jenny Packham, Reem Acra, Monique Lhuillier, Noir by Lazaro, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta 

Price range: rental from $1,500 to $1,900
Labels carried: White by Vera Wang, Oleg Cassini, Pronovias, and Mori Lee

and if you don't mind venturing a bit further to KL...

Designer Bridal Room
Price range: For sale from RM5,000-RM20,000
Labels carried: Aire Barcelona, Annasul Y, Elie by Elie Saab, La Sposa, Lusan Mandongus, Manuel Mota, Pronovias, Rosa Clara, St Patrick, zuhair Murad

Notes: I have been to Designer Bridal Room twice, almost bought a gown there for my wedding in Bali that didn't happen. I have a very favourable review on them, you can find it here

They even have an online store, although how would one purchases a wedding gown sight unseen and untried (and it is not cheap) is beyond my comprehension. 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our Solemnization at Flutes at the Fort

Updates: I just realized that Flutes has moved from the colonial bungalow in Fort Canning to the National Museum. What a pity, it was such a charming place.
The Fire Chef's Retreat room at Flutes at the Fort

Yesterday was our one year ROM anniversary. Perhaps I should write about my own solemnization at Flutes at the Fort on 24th June 2012 to commemorate it. :D

The solemnization was a pretty last minutes decision. The original plan was to have the solemnization in April followed by wedding celebration in September. However, my mum's surgery and subsequent chemotherapy threw everything off the plan and we weren't in mood of planning anything. By the end of April, we decided just to hold our ROM first. So in less than 2 months time, we pull together everything and had a small celebration of 17 people, including us.

We visited a number of places, including Vineyard at Hort Park, My Humble House (they have a small private dining room), Raffles Hotel's lawn and gazebo. And eventually we settle at Flutes at the Fort as we find the venue is just nice for a ROM celebration of less than 20 pax as it gives you enough privacy and just the correct amount of space.

Vineyard at Hort Park is beautiful if you have 50-100 guests. The solemnization took place at a deck overlooking a reflection pool, lawn and beautiful trees. And the restaurant is tastefully decorated. I don't recall they have any private room therefore we didn't choose it.

Solemnization setup of my friend at Hort Park

Interior of Vineyard at Hort Park. Pictures from their Facebook. 

The Humble House private dining room is not able to fit in all our guests while the open dining area does not offer privacy.

Raffles Hotel's lawn and gazebo is very uniquely Singapore and romantic, however it feels too empty to for 20 guests.

Raffles Hotel's Lawn Solemnization

Raffles Hotel's Lawn Solemnization Package 2012

Actually, my another favourite will be a Villa Solemnization at The Sentosa. Apparently, The Sentosa is able to set up a solemnization area, complete with sit down tables for meals for 20 to 30 guests at your own 2 bedroom garden villa. This is as exclusive as one can find for such a small number of guests.

The Sentosa Garden Villa (Picture from their website)
They offered a pretty complete garden villa solemnization and catering package that includes:
  • Buffet counter setup
  • 01 x Solemnisation table with a long floral centerpiece
  • 05 x VIP chairs with a choice of coloured organza bows
  • 01 x Bar set-up
  • 03 x round tables each with a floral centerpiece for dinner celebration
  • 03 x cocktail stands with mixed nuts and tea lights
Of course, good and convenient stuff comes at a price. The 2 bedroom garden villa costs $2477++ (2012 price) per night. One need to book a minimum of 2 nights stay to hold a lunch solemnization, although dinner solemnization only requires 1 night stay. It is also compulsory to cater meal for a minimum of 20 guests at $120++ per person for lunch/dinner and $85++ per person for high tea. Beverages are priced separately.

So after Mr knocking in some sense/cents into my head, I decided to forego this option. 

And I digress, back to Flutes at the Fort. First a brief overview. (These location pictures were not mine, we were too busy taking pictures of the guests on the day). Flutes at the Fort was located at a colonial bungalow tucked at a corner of Fort Canning Park (they just moved to the National Museum). The entrance of the restaurant is quite hidden between Civil Defence Heritage Gallery and Singapore Philatelic Museum. One has to walk through a small car pack before reaching the start of the staircase leading to the bungalow. 

The staircase leading to the bungalow on top (Picture courtesy of Flutes)

The bungalow can be divided into 2 levels. The first level is basically a deck where the solemnization take places. There is also a small bar that serves refreshments to the guests and sparkling wine for toast.
The main restaurant is at the 2nd level, the first level, which is the deck is where the solemnization takes place. (Courtesy of Flutes)

The 2nd level is where the seating area of the restaurant located. Most of it is al-fresco, with tables set on balcony of the 2nd level. Of course, this is a huge balcony.

Dining area at the balcony on the 2nd level (Photo courtesy of Flutes)

They have 2 air-conditioned private dining rooms, ie the smaller Levin Room and bigger Fire Chief's Retreat. The maximum capacity of the Levin Room is 16 person, while the Fire Chief's Retreat is able to accommodate 46 person. As usual, I don't think fitting the number of people to the maximum capacity is ideal as it would be too squeezed for comfort.

The Levin Room at Flutes at the Fort, showing seating setup for 9 pax. Pictures courtesy from Flutes 

The Fire Chief's Retreat, with seating setup for 24 guests. Pictures courtesy from the Flutes.
And now, my own experience and pictures :D

The main contact person from Flutes at the Fort is Ruth. She is very prompt in answering our queries and extremely nice and helpful while bringing us around the place.

These are the standard packages we received when we inquire about having our solemnization at Flutes at the Fort with 10-20 guests. They are either $1399++ for 10 person at The Lewin Room or $3299++ for 24 person at Fire Chief's Retreat. Sparkling wine for toast and bottles of wine are included, which is great. Additional person costs $82++ . Flower arrangement for the solemnization table and dining table (for 24 person package) were also included in the package. For 10 person package, the solemnization table flowers is reused as the dining table flowers.
Wedding package for 10 guests at the Levin Room costs $1399++, additional person costs $82++

Wedding package for 24 guests at Fire Chief's Retreat starts from $3299++, additional person costs $82++

After checking out the actual place, Mr is not that pleased with The Levin Room as it is just too small fit 15 persons comfortably (Our original headcount was 15). So he requested for Fire Chief's Retreat (Ah! Sales! Everything is negotiable).

Of course, things were quite flexible at Flutes at the Fort (which I think it is the case with most restaurant wedding), and they agreed to let us utilize the Fire Chief's Retreat with the condition of upgrading the menu. Instead of Sirloin and Red Snapper, the main course is replaced with Beef Tenderloin and Cod. I loved the Seared Scallop and the Flutes' Taste Platter which I tried on their Brunch Menu and a switch is made to feature them on our wedding menu.

The final package for our solemnization costs $2099++ for 15 persons. Every additional person will cost $105++. Unlike the original 24 person package, the flowers for the dining room were not included and we have to top it up ourselves. But it also means that every single cent we topped up goes to the food, which is not bad. :D

Food at Flutes at the Fort in general gathered quite a good review - that's why we were there at the first place. However, the cod fish served on that day is divine and got everyone who ordered it as main course raving. We were really glad that we upgraded the dish.

The colour theme I choose that day is dark purple so that it accents nicely against the forest green that is so abundant in the tropical forest. A lighter shade of green is also chosen so that the whole setting won't be too heavy.

The colour palette of my solemnization

The flower of the day, obviously, is orchid. What other flowers can be better used to compliment the tropical colonial theme?

And out of some crazy spin of mind, I decided to hand fold paper cranes to serve as the backdrop for the solemnization.

Our solemnization table.  Wedding rabbit couple is a gift by my brother. Paper cranes are hand folded by me, hanged by my brother, Mr and his best friend.  
More pictures with the paper cranes, to maximize my return of "investment"
Moving into indoors, we passed by a bar-like holding area with unique display of wine bottles. This space is typically used as the registration area for bigger events. Of course it didn't manage to escape the abuse from our family of photo hoarders.

The wine bar

Continue using up camera memory.. hm.. which is very cheap nowadays

And finally the setup of Fire Chief's Retreat. The tables are arranged in a single long row and it felt comfortably spacious for 17 persons. And there are a lots of windows to let in the sunlight. Love it.

I asked for very simple flowers with individual orchids scattered around the table, in transparent glass, and used as an accented items on the napkins. Place cards and printed menus are prepared by Flutes at the Fort.

The setup of Fire Chief's Retreat

A single orchid accessorizes the napkins. Place card and menu were provided by Flutes at the Fort. 
And how could we left out the food?

First up, the Flutes' Taste Platter comprises of chilled tiger prawns, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, marinated olives, roasted mushroom, smoked cheddar, homemade lamb salami, honey baked ham, duck rillettes, and hummus, avocado, and walnut cream cheese dip.

Everyone was half full or even 75% full after having the starter.

Flutes' Taste Platter
Next came the Seared Sea Scallop and Beef Tenderloin, which were good. But of course nothing beats the Baked Cod Fillet that everyone raves about it. The dessert was a selection of either creme brulee (my favourite dessert) or chocolate cakes (Mr's favourite dessert). Everything was washed down with coffee or tea.
Seared scallops
Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Baked Cod Fillet that gets everyone raving about it

Dessert comprises of creme brulee (my favourite food) and chocolate cake (Mr's favourite)

Coffee or Tea?

Overall, we are happy to have our solemnization at Flutes at the Fort. The venue is quiet and romantic. We have a spacious room to ourselves with lots of sunlight. The food is great. We can't be more satisfied.

Our tropical purple mood board

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

ilLido Wedding Venue Scouting

The view that welcome you as you enter ilLido. Your guests will be wowed. 

I learnt about this place when I was surfing HungryGoWhere. (Eating and travelling are my hobbies, and my favourite past time is to read HungryGoWhere and Tripadvsior reviews. ==||) Anyway, one of my friends attended a wedding at ilLido before and raves about it. So it had been on my list of potential venue.

ilLido is situated at one end of Sentosa Golf Club clubhouse. So you can guess what you getting into - The greenery of the golf course and the sea from Sentosa Island. It is so beautiful and tranquil, the moment I walked in, it almost took my breath away. (In the video, you can actually hear birds chirping)

The alfresco terrace has the best view of the sea and the golf lawn. It can be used as a solemnization area that able to seat up to 100 pax. I think it must be beautiful to have solemnization here.

More picture from the al-fresco terrance showing the view from both side.
The view is much more visible in the day time, with much cheaper minimum spending requirement, I think having a wedding lunch here is a much better option than wedding dinner. In fact, on the day of our visits, another couple just had their wedding lunch at ilLido. I guest their guests must be pretty impressed by the view.

Moving into the the in-door dining area. I was a little surprised that the in-door dining area looks a slightly too small to fit 150 pax, which was the amount of guests they claimed they can fit. Later we found out that the in-door dining area can only fit less than 100 pax, while the remaining guests will be seated outside. We are quite concern with such arrangement, especially the door will be closed during the event, essentially separating the in-door guests and out-door guests. Moreover, I also don't like the idea of al-fresco dining in hot and humid Singapore.

View of indoors for wedding setup. From ilLido Flickr

ilLido gives out little booklet that shows all the menu and floorplan. As you can see, the tables are arranged in both in-door and out door areas.
Floor plan and sample table layout at ilLido. 

The are very flexible with the table arrangement and customized it based on the actual number of guests. This is the customized floor plan sent to us the next day after we meet up with them. The event executive is very prompt with inquiries and follow up.
Alternative seating arrangement customized for our 150 guests

Since we were there, we also took the opportunity to try out the food. The food are what you would expect of a restaurant of this price point. And of course it is a notch above standard wedding reception. The service is okay, we didn't experience any prolonged wait as mentioned in HungryGoWhere and Tripadvisor.

The minimum food and beverage spending required to have exclusive use of ilLido is $12,000++ for lunch and $20,000++ for dinner. They have a variety of set menu, tailored according to the couple preference and season offering. Lunch set menus are priced at $38/ $68/ $88/ $108++ per person while dinner set menus are priced at $78/ $88/ $108/ $138++ per person. Drink packages cost $25++ per person over 3 hours for soft drinks and juices; or $58++ per person over 3 hours which includes wine and beer. It can also be arranged on consumption basis.

For minimum spending of $12,000 and above on weddings, ilLido gives a free night stay at Capella Singapore as well as flowers arrangements on dining table, solemnization table and chairs and a flower bouquet for the brides. The flowers are fully customized by their florist and I think they looks wonderful from their Flickr photos. No standard flowers package like the hotel reception, yeah!

Other complimentary items includes:
  • Complimentary admission into Sentosa Island coming in by cars/ taxis/ coaches ( this is important for a wedding in Sentosa, but I think it was included in most venue in Sentosa)
  • Car park for all guests at the open-air car parks in front of Sentosa Golf Club
  • Printed menus, place cards and event signage at main entrance
  • Complimentary usage of AV system including projector, screen and one handheld microphone. Piped in music allowed.
  • Food tasting up to 4 persons 
So, it is pretty much a fuse-free wedding like ones that held in hotel.

In case you want to re-create hotel package (although I don't know why you are still reading my blog if you do), this is what you will need to source:
  • Ang pow box (I wish to eliminate this in my wedding, the minimum I can do to welcome the guests is to receive their gift personally. Or you can get some creative and beautiful Ang Pow box from The Beautiful Carrier)
  • Guests book (There must be a more creative way for the guests to send their wishes)
  • Wedding favours (The most useless and wasteful items in the wedding, unless you are the couple who gave out Cash Card with $50 credit, if that's the case, INVITE ME TO YOUR WEDDING. We are thinking probably will replace that with donations)
  • Champagne fountain
  • Five tier dummy wedding cake (Will replace that with a real wedding cake)

Final thoughts:

I think ilLido is a nice venue for less than 100 guests. I don't think one should separate their guests between indoors and outdoors. With minimum spending of $12,000 for lunch, the price per person is not too steep even with only 100 guests.

The event executive Vanessa who is showing us around is very helpful and knows the venue very well. She came out with multiple table arrangement scenarios and is very prompt in replying emails.

We will keep this venue in mind in case we decided to split our relative and friends into 2 celebrations.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do-Wed Wedding Planning Seminar

We attended Do-Wed wedding planning seminar for two reasons: First, we are on the look out for a wedding planner. Second, they claim that they have discount to more than 80 vendors. And who doesn't like discount? And so here we are, at the Do-Wed wedding planning seminar.

A little bit about Do-Wed. Do-Wed is probably one of the more established wedding planners in Singapore with 9 years of history. Its founder Sherwin Lee is frequently featured in the media and has his root starting from being the MC for wedding dinner. Having such a long history in wedding industry gives Do-Wed a unique advantage of being able to secure discount and perks from 80+ vendors. For example, they are able to get $100 off from each table booked at Intercontinental Singapore, which is quite substantial and probably enough to cover the wedding planner fee if book more than 30 tables.

Sherwin, as the main presenter on the seminar that day, is a good sales person and a story teller. He shared how his couple choose to give out cheap cookies as wedding favour in a posh Ritz Carlton wedding as it brings back memory of the suffering during their childhood and the cookies was the best thing ever. He also shared how his president scholars couple made an MTV to show that the other side of their personality instead of the book-worm stereotype. Sherwin is big on personalizing your wedding and against of conventional cookie cutter wedding where couples cut cakes and pour champagne without knowing the significance of it.

However, the downside of an established company (it is not their fault, as this is expected as the company grow) is that the basic wedding planning fee of $3000 will NOT get Sherwin as your wedding planner. In fact, the company has a group of wedding planners which is assigned randomly to every couple attending their seminar on that day.

The wedding planner assigned to us on that day was C. C, according to her, has 1+ years of experience in wedding planning and going to have her own wedding next year. This rang an alarm in me as it sounds like she is in this wedding planning business just to prepare for her own wedding. Of course, this is probably just my own judgement, so I prepare to find out more from her regarding Do-Wed and her wedding planning experience.

Technically, each couple attending the wedding seminar will get a free one hour consultation. Of course, this one hour free consultation is more for the couple to find out more about the company and probably closing a deal with Do-Wed. So making it sounds as the couple were getting something for free is just a marketing tactic. Not surprisingly, most of the couples left immediately after the presentation by Sherwin. For us, we stay back because we are serious in finding a wedding planner, of course we want to know more about them and not just their best and probably most expensive wedding they have planned and presented on the stage.

C caught us by surprise by not preparing any materials or portfolio to showcase and sell her service. Or shall we say, we caught her by surprise by deciding to stay back and talk to her. According to her, most of the couples will not stay back (as we witness that day) so she didn't prepare anything. Ahhem... okay, does that justify as a reason for not preparing for a sales opportunity? Mr is in sales, he is more than familiar on the standard practice.

We talked a while and C told us the full wedding planning package cost $3000 onwards with 16 hours of consultation/ support, which is breakdown into 4 hours of pre-wedding consultation and 12 hours of actual day coordination. Of course the timing is not really counted by the minutes, but just a clause to protect the wedding planner from over-demanding customers. However, as a potential client, I do worry about hidden extras. 4-hour of pre-wedding planning does not seems a lot if all the site visits and vendor meeting are factor in. Sharol from Eternal Emotion mentioned that some wedding planners in Singapore add on hefty extra hours charges and even taxis claims. Although I am not sure whether Do-Wed will practice this, but it is something to be beware of.

I also queried about team work at Do-Wed and find out that one wedding planner will be following the actual day unless she finds that there is too much to handle, that's when she will find her partner to help out without extra charges.

C followed up with me on our interest to sign up with them the next day via sms, which I replied that we would like to see her portfolio before deciding. This is when she really surprised me by saying that she does not keep any portfolio as every couples is different and she works according to the couple style. She said that she have done wedding of different scales from small intimate ones consisting of just families to big grand ones consist of multi-day celebrations. However without pictures or stories, it is very difficult for me to understand her style and her strength: is she just a logistic coordinator or also a designer? Does she focus on decoration (like Wedding Concierge) or the event (like Eternal Emotion)? I won't say C is not a good wedding planner as I have not engage her as my wedding planner. But I must say she is not a very good salesperson to present her service to prospective clients.

Final thoughts:

I think Do-Wed is good if you are going for big production wedding as I believe they will be able to save you a substantial amount of money and getting you good vendors through their contact. Having said so, if you have the budget for big wedding, probably forking out additional sum and pay $4500 to get Sherwin as your wedding planner is a good idea.

If your chosen venue happens to be on their list of partner vendors with perks, perhaps you can consider them too.

Otherwise, I think it is pretty random on which wedding planner you end up getting and the end results depend solely on the wedding planner.


I was doing a bit more research on Do-Wed and happened to came across these two bad reviews on Do-Wed Academy (here and here). I remembered I read from somewhere that some of the Do-Wed planners are part-timer and free-lance, and this reconfirm my suspicion. 

"...we have to sign an employment letter. As some of my classmate are working in similar industries, they are worried that by signing the letter, it might get them into trouble, but Sherwin Lee ensured us that he understands that we all have our full time jobs and that this is just a part-time freelance job for us"
There is no sales kit provided to the wedding planner.

"There was a sales kit given to us to equip us with the ability to do sales, but the sales kit we received is an obsolete sales kit. We all know weddings are planned one year ahead. Giving us the price list for the current year does not help. When we questioned it, he then told us that we were expected to build our own sales kits as he did not manage to get it from the vendor. "


No wonder C was not able to provide a portfolio - which can be easily either her own or Do-Wed past weddings. This rang a even serious alarm bell that makes one wonder how much support does the wedding planner gets from Do-Wed. One of the main advantages of engaging an established wedding planning company like Do-Wed is to take advantage of their strong existing relationship with vendors which can be accessed by their wedding planner. If the wedding planner is not getting support from the company, one might as well as engage any freelancer with proven track record.  

With $3000 price tag, it is priced at industry average and it makes one double think whether one should risk engaging a wedding planner that is assigned to you on random, probably without track record (seem like the wedding planners are students from Do-Wed academy) and without support from the main company. 

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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Forlino Wedding Venue Scouting and Meeting with Wedding Planner Eternal Emotion


This is a review on the restaurant Forlino and wedding planner Eternal Emotion.

I have been eyeing Forlino for a while since the famous blogger Xiaxue had her solemnization there. (You can check out her solemnization here. In fact her blog has more beautiful photos than mine. I didn't take much photos as the light were off during my visits as they were in between their lunch and dinner opening hours)

Forlino. Picture from their Facebook.
View of Marina Bay from Forlino

View of Esplanade and the Merlion

The forte of Forlino, obviously, is the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer the views of Fullerton-Esplanade and Marina Bay. You can also see the "vomiting" lion (that's what Mr calls it) from here. The windows also let in the sunlight, as you might have notice by now, it is the recurring aspect that is constantly there in all venues I have visited. My mum commented that I am just emotionally-attached to a glass house, and perhaps she is right. But hey, this is Singapore, as much as I want an al-fresco party, the either humid and hot or rainy and wet weather does not permit it. So the next best option of inviting the sun into the party is to find a glass room! I am just being practical here. :P

The cons with Forlino is that it is difficult to find. It is located at the 2nd level of One Fullerton. The entrance to the lift is hidden behind a door that looks like emergency exit. After exiting the lift on 2nd floor, one still needs to walk up a flight of stairs, than a long corridor, before arriving at the main dining room. And the bar available to hold cocktail reception is too small to accommodate 90 guests, which is the maximum sitting capacity in the main dining room. 

The minimum spending for private usage of the whole restaurant is $8,000++ for lunch and $15,000 ++ for dinner. There shouldn't be any problem meeting the minimum spending as lunch menu starts from $78++ and dinner menu starts from $118 ++; while drink package start from $22++ for soft drinks and juices and $59++ for beer and house pour wines.

The viewing of Forlino is a tied-up event with wedding planner Eternal Emotion. I guess you can approach Forlino directly if you don't want to engage a wedding planner. But for me, I am considering of getting a wedding planner so it gives me opportunity to find out more about them. 

The wedding planner meeting us that day was Sharol from Eternal Emotion. Eternal Emotion wedding planning company with Japanese root. The founder acquires years of wedding planning experiences in Japan.   In Japan, wedding planning is a professional service which most couples will engage, thus I expect in general wedding planners in Japan has a stronger foundation than those in Singapore. Not to mention Japanese has a strong reputation for their meticulousness and professionalism, which are important qualities for wedding planning. In fact, my experience with Tirtha Bridal in Bali, which also has Japanese connection, gave me quite a good impression of Japanese wedding planning services. 

My personal preference for Japanese company aside, Sharol did a wonderful introduction to her company and showcasing their portfolio of past weddings. She started with showing us a sample client folder, which is filled of meeting minutes, bills, excel sheet tracing paid and unpaid balance etc. They will prepare similar folders for every couple who engage them as their wedding planners.

Next, she went through pictures from their portfolio and sharing with us interesting stories with each wedding they planned. Most of the weddings they planned are on the smaller scale of 50 to 150 pax. And quite a number of them consist of Japanese couple. However, the unique quality that set them apart from other wedding planner is that they focus more on the events rather than decoration aspect of the wedding. Instead of showing us pictures of beautiful table arrangements, Sharol chooses to tell us how they come out with ideas to make every couple's wedding special and interactive. For example, one of their couple has limited budget for flowers, so they bought different loose flowers from market and use it as "escort card" by distributing them to the guests, where the guests will place it in the vase on their respective tables, which are identified by different flowers. They also came out with the "bouquet pull", a variation of bouquet throw, to avoid the awkward situation of the bouquet dropping on the floor that we saw it so many times in Singapore wedding. One of their couples decided to forego with the march in but go from table to table to thank the guests for celebrating with them. Another couple were seated on a separate table by themselves instead of seating with the family so that friends can walk up and congratulate them any time they want instead of being intimidated by the presence of the couples' family. Eternal Emotion also strongly encourages the couples to hand out the wedding favour themselves as they send the guests off so that they can personally thank the guests with warmth and sincerity.

The "bouquet pull" idea by Eternal Emotion, pictures from their Facebook 

Of course, a lot of these ideas were doable only with smaller weddings. But I think that is also what me and Mr are looking for. We rather have a smaller celebration with more interactive time with our guests rather than vice versa. In fact, one of Eternal Emotion's couple split their celebration into a sit down lunch with relative and a pub celebration with their colleagues, which really get us thinking whether we should do the same too :P.

Engaging Eternal Emotion as your wedding planner will cost $3500 if having a wedding celebration with their partner venues or $5000 at other places. For that, you will get unlimited consultation, planning and most importantly 3 people will be there to co-ordinate your actual day program and logistic.

We are still on a look out for wedding planners. But Eternal Emotion will definitely placed high in our list. 

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