Singaporebrides | Real Weddings

May 2011

A Geeky Love Story

Tech conferences and websites on the latest innovations are not the first places we think of when we are looking for love. Yet the Internet, the latest blogs on gadgets, and Skype are the high-tech glue that binds these two tech-savvy lovebirds together. Perhaps finally, in this time and age, Hillary Chan, 32, Green Tech Blogger and Social Media Consultant and Nicholas Aaron Khoo, 33, Tech Blogger and Entrepreneur have found the right algorithms to living happily, geekily ever after. Their wedding took place on 12 February 2011.

How did the two of you meet?

Nicholas: We first met at a conference but we didn’t really connect even though we found we had a lot in common. Months later, there was another conference and this time, we sat next to each other. We got along really well and some sparks flew but neither of us dared to take things further. After all, we’re from two different countries, separated by the great Tebrau Straits. We did keep in touch via Friendster, where we left each other “testimonials”.

We’ve all heard of your rather geeky proposal at Skype. How did that come about?

Nicholas: Actually I had a totally different proposal planned. I was catching up with the Head of Skype for this region, Dan Neary, whom I met when we both spoke for the Brunei National Tech conference. I visited the Skype office for the first time and was so amazed at how well a tech company like them conserved the Tiger Balm Building and retained so much of its heritage. Dan and I joked about doing my proposal there since our courtship period was largely long distance and Skype had become a daily tool of communication for us. Dan took me up on the idea and within a very short time, got his office folks to help me plan a surprise proposal, complete with a bottle of Moet & Chandon. (Read about the proposal here.)

Hillary: I chuckle when I think of how bewildered I was when Nic kept holding on to this lush bouquet of flowers that I was sure belonged to a Skype employee. Never did it cross my mind that these flowers have been prepared by him for a proposal. I think that the entire event was providential. It wasn’t planned that we’d have access to the rooftop of this marvellously historic building, and it wasn’t planned that the sun would be setting just as he popped the question. It was simply… magical.

Most people prefer to keep their weddings private, but your wedding was tweeted and streamed live! Was that planned for?

Nicholas: We had joked with our blogging friends that Canon could sponsor the camera used at the wedding and Skype could sponsor the live-streaming. On that day, our blogging friends got creative when they discovered that there was free Wi-Fi available at the wedding venue. They pulled out all the gadgets from their Doraemon-like pockets, from Flipcams to Canon 7Ds.

Personally, I would have preferred to keep it more private! But the live tweeting and streaming turned out to be good as I had friends from various corners of the world who had really wanted to be there for the wedding but couldn’t make it. There was this friend who had cut short his holiday in the States and flew in just for the wedding, but realised that he couldn’t get his Malaysian visa done in time. Another friend realised only on that morning itself that his passport had expired. So I was glad that they could follow the events of the wedding via the livestream and tweets.

Hillary: I enjoyed the joy and effervescence that our friends brought to the wedding through their microblogging and video streaming. We love them and we love it when they add their personalities into the mix, giving our wedding a distinct flavour. It was what made the event fun and memorable.

Did your cross-straits wedding planning require a lot of work?

Nicholas: We are both united in our faith and agreed easily on what we wanted for our wedding. We did away with the traditional “fetching of the bride” as we both felt that it’ll be more honourable to wait for her father to give her away at the wedding ceremony, rather than ‘snatching’ her away early in the morning. Another notable tradition we cut out was serving the sharks’ fin soup. The good thing was that almost every single guest was gushing about the chicken soup we served, so we concluded that nobody missed the sharks’ fin.

Our family members, especially those from Hillary’s side of the family, including the in-laws and aunts, really rolled up their sleeves and helped us a great deal. One of the hardest part of the planning was getting more than 100 overseas guests and wedding band, mainly from Singapore to Melaka, including the equipment, transport and accommodations. We used Google Docs a great deal to get everyone from both sides of the causeway coordinated, sharing pages of Excel spreadsheets online. That was fun.

Hillary: I’m blessed that Nic was involved in the wedding planning from the very beginning. It turned out that we work really well together. I think it’s because we have very similar outlooks in life, and we trust each other. We both value having a meaningful wedding in an intimate setting more than a grand and ceremonial one. So we were in complete agreement when we decided to do away with some “must-have” traditions. We must thank my father who took on the biggest challenge in planning a wedding—planning the seating arrangements—and my mother who threw a pre-wedding party for me at my home the night before.

Late into the night, we had a rather amusing experience. Instead of sleeping, I decided to review our online guest list for the final time. It so happened that Nic too was online, reviewing this same Google spreadsheet. I typed a message for him in one of the cells of the spreadsheet and he instantly replied my message in another cell. Soon, we were chatting back and forth using this unique “chat” technology! We chatted long into the night…

As for the wedding theme, our parents had wanted a traditional Chinese wedding with bold splashes of red and gold, but we were more keen on a simple white wedding with blue trimmings. In the end, we had both. I guess you could call that an “East Meets West” theme.

What was it like on the actual day of the wedding?

Nicholas: I was at the ballroom early in the morning with the wedding bands and Hillary was preparing at home. We made it an afternoon affair as many were arriving from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, so those who prefer to could make it a day trip. Guests arrived really promptly, thanks to the cheeky reminders we had sent, and we started on time at 1230pm. A feat in itself, I must say.

Instead of having the ceremony at the church and the reception at the ballroom, we decided to save travelling time and confusion, and had the entire wedding program at the ballroom. When the bride walked into the hall, it was the first time I had seen her for the day and I only took her hand after her father had declared that her parents were willing to give her hand to me in marriage. Thank God that was less of a heart stopping moment than I had imagined.

Hillary: The actual day was really moving for me. I was almost in tears during the speeches. I’m glad that we were able to meet, greet and show our gratitude to our many guests. Their presence really meant a lot to us.

Were there any particular moments on your big day that were especially special for you?

Hillary: What made it extra special were our extra special friends. One of Nic’s good friends took very good care of our guests who had taken the bus tour we’d booked from Singapore. He’d even made a cute signage for the bus. The Matron of Honour took extra care of Nic’s family who weren’t too familiar with Melaka, chauffeuring them around. Nic’s best man Wayne Sandz literally brought a noisy ballroom of 300-odd folks to a complete standstill when he dedicated Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart” to Nic’s mom.

Many of our other good friends helped by being floor manager, ushers and receptionists. All of them showed us what it means to be a friend.


Images by Khoo Eng Yow. View more here.

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