Singaporebrides | Photography

May 2011

Where The Garden Grows

It wasn’t love at first sight, but it doesn’t mean this love is any less. Having been nurtured by years of friendship and personal growth, the affection Jessamyn Shen, 30, Banking and Finance and Mark Ee, 32, Banking and Finance had for each other blossomed into a beautiful intimacy so obviously special to them both, and also to everyone around them. Their wedding took place on 30 & 31 May 2010

First impressions say the most. What was your first encounter like and how did it go from there?

J: We first met at work in late 2003. Partly because we were assigned to work with different teams, we hardly spoke. My first impression of Mark was that he’s quite a serious and aloof chap. In 2004, a colleague and I decided to go rollerblading one day and I invited Mark along. Through these sessions and a department trip to Phuket, I got to know Mark a little better and found him to be a sweet and considerate guy. At that point in time, I thought there might be something special between us but I never really found out if the feeling was “mutual” as I moved overseas to work.

This work stint saw our friendship blossom on a platonic level when one fine day, in 2008, I was “ambushed” by Mark on our flight back from a Hong Kong vacation. He professed his feelings for me with lots of trepidation while I calmly enjoyed my in-flight meal and ice-cream, entertained by this real-life drama unfolding before me. I recalled the mutual liking but wanted time to think things through as we were living literally miles apart. After much time spent on thinking and talking with my church group, I found the courage to invite Mark over for Easter in 2009 and the rest was history…

M: When I first met Jess, I thought she was very cute and found that we got along really well. I would have loved to get to know her better, but she was moving overseas! Instead, we kept in touch and unlike most friendships that drift apart because of the distance, we continued to share with each other what was going on in our lives and became pretty good friends. Four years later, when visiting her in Sydney, those feelings resurface and this time I could not keep quiet. I waited six more months for her to come back to Asia for a vacation before I could tell her how I felt and how I did back then.

When she invited me over to Sydney for Easter, I did not need a second invitation! After going through a week of “grilling” and “evaluation” by her close friends without realising it, I passed the test and thus began a year of shuttling between Singapore and Sydney or the various parts of Australia to wherever her job took her. Being with her was a dream come true and every moment we shared was so precious, given the distance and our own jobs.

Even though one might have been tempted to be wistful about the lost years from not saying anything, I also recognised that because we only started dating after spending years as friends, as well as growing and maturing as individuals, we were ready for a relationship that would go the distance. After we knew how each other felt, given the level of trust and familiarity from our friendship, it did not take long before I found myself secretly shopping for a ring, four months after that Easter trip.

What was the proposal like?

J: Mark scored full marks in terms of the element of surprise. We were spending a quiet evening at home in Sydney, admiring the fairy lights and music playing in the background, when Mark suddenly went very still and went down on one bended knee…

M: I knew two things about the proposal were important to her – the guy had to get down on one knee and it had to be a surprise. Although I was not based in Sydney, I was determined to make sure I did not give anything away! Always waiting intently for the right moment during one of those trips to Sydney, I nervously carried the ring on me wherever we went before the opportunity presented itself right at home. With the lights dimmed and the music on, we were dancing slowly with her head leaning on my chest, when I decided that that was it. At that point, she suddenly asked me why my heart was beating furiously! The next few moments were surreal, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, watching myself go down on bended knee, proposing, holding the ring before her. When she said yes, I knew it was the beginning of a beautiful life together.

Tell us about your wedding. Did it require a lot of planning?

J: Our wedding required quite a bit of planning and thank goodness Mark is so organised. He was all “hands and feet”, visiting all the possible venues in Singapore that we thought would be suitable for our Garden Wedding theme… I was the “eyes and ears” in Sydney, going through tons of bridal magazines and vetoing the venues, and finally deciding on the champagne as our colour theme.

M: We decided that we wanted the wedding ceremony to be a smaller, intimate outdoor affair, with the banquet held in a hotel. Our characters complemented each other well during the planning process and there was rarely any issue on the division of labour. Jess handled the more visual items when she returned from Australia, such as the wedding cake, make-up artist, wedding favours, and flowers, while I handled the “background” matters, scouting for outdoor and hotel locations, negotiating with the hotels, musicians, sound system, and budgeting. Having helped plan or coordinate weddings for so many friends, it was really strange to finally be planning my own!

We were supported by eight “brothers” and eight “sisters”, as well as many of our friends and relatives, so on the actual day, we were able to let them take over and we could just concentrate on being the bride and groom.

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

J: It was quite surreal that every second seems to be flying by so quickly. Our wedding ceremony at The Lawn (Raffles Hotel) was a magical moment. We exchanged our vows in front of our families and friends under perfect weather. We were also very fortunate to have our guests-of-honour fly in from Sydney to conduct the ceremony. The wedding dinner was held the following evening at Grand Hyatt after we were well-rested.

M: It was indeed very surreal and very beautiful. I will always remember the moment when I first stepped out onto the Lawn at Raffles Hotel, with everything set up and many of the guests already there. Wow! This beautiful setting was OUR wedding! Everything moved so quickly that it almost felt like it was all a dream.

Were there any particular moments during your planning process or on your big day that were especially memorable or special to the both of you?

J: Two moments come to mind. The first one was seeing Mark carry my new baby nephew in his arms when we were back at my parents’ place for the tea ceremony and this image reaffirmed what a great and loving daddy he will be next time.

The second unforgettable moment occurred after our garden wedding ceremony. The cocktail reception ended by evening, and with the wedding banquet being held the following evening, we had our very own time together and since we were already dressed up to the nines, we grabbed the opportunity to go on our very first date together as a married couple. We wined and dined at our favourite Japanese restaurant and somehow ended up catching a train to town as well! Yes, we received many curious stares throughout that train ride.

M: As part of our wedding programme, we each wrote a thank-you note to the many family and friends who had encouraged us over the years. As we wrote the notes, it was a very emotional moment, as we remembered all the people in our lives that walked with us through the path that brought us together.

On the actual day, reciting our vows from memory was something we had decided to do but something we were very nervous about. Yet, as I said the most powerful and emotional words I would probably have to say in my life, promising to love and care for Jess for the rest of my life, it felt as if my world had come to a standstill, simply focused on this special moment.

Photographer: James Lee, JazerStudio Weddings
Wedding Banquet: Grand Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Singapore
Wedding Planning: and bridal magazines

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Where The Garden Grows