Singaporebrides | Photography
Nothing sets your wedding apart from the rest like having an elephant march-in. Naturally, you can’t have one marching through the doors of a ballroom at a hotel; you’d have to do it in a zoo, like our couple. Shawn Cheong De Wei, 30, Civil Servant and Dawn Lim, 29, Teacher wanted their wedding to be a once-in-a-lifetime affair not only for them, but for their guests as well. The location was perfect because Dawn is a huge lover of animals. But the coolest part of their wedding was having all the animals at the zoo bear witness to their happy union on 1 October 2011. Now, how many couples can brag about that?
How did the two of you meet?
Shawn: We met during our junior college days. I was a student counsellor and Dawn was a freshman in the orientation group under my charge. After attending a fellow orientation group mate’s party, we got to know each other better and started going out. That was more than 12 years ago.
What was the proposal like?
Shawn: It was a do-it-yourself candlelight dinner on Tanjong Beach in Sentosa. Back then, in 2009, the beach was less developed and thus relatively quiet and deserted. So I enlisted the help of my brother to set up the tables, chairs, food and flowers I brought. In addition, I also brought along instant noodles and mess-tins to cook the noodles in. As for the ring, I had it in a wooden box I hand-painted myself.
While the proposal didn’t turn out the way I had intended it to – the wind was too strong for any fire to be lighted and we gave up halfway, Dawn was won over by my sincerity and effort. As for my brother, he was hiding somewhere filming all that down.
Walk us through the planning for your wedding.
Shawn: We decided to have our wedding at the zoo, so naturally our wedding was safari-themed. And because we chose to have our wedding at the zoo, we faced more logistical inconveniences. One of them was to ensure that our guests understood that our wedding was going to commence at 6.30pm sharp as stated, and not an hour or so later as is the usual practice for weddings. Our timing was inflexible because the elephant, which we used for our march-in, had to retire for the day at 7pm. So, getting our guests to turn up on time was a tricky situation. We also wanted them there whilst there was still daylight so that they could fully enjoy the beauty of the zoo.
The rest of the planning was as usual. We worked with the zoo coordinator and florists to dress the venue up accordingly. In the process, I got to learn about flowers and the different types of orchids available and we were able to pick out the ones we liked better. We also prepared a polaroid camera for our guests to take photos with, slips of paper cut out in animal shapes to replace the run-of-the-mill guestbook, and cupcakes for our guests to decorate themselves and bring home. At the end of the day, there was an unexpected carnival-feel to the wedding.
What was it like on the actual day of the wedding?
Shawn: It was nothing like I had expected! During the Chinese customary “gate crashing” ritual, my brothers and I were made to consume the unbelievably gross food Dawn and her sisters had prepared. We had pig’s heart with Ribena, pig’s stomach with bitter gourd and pig’s intestine stuffed with way too much wasabi, in my opinion, to list a few. And that was not all! I still had to kiss Freddo – a large, live, bull-frog which they had bought from the market – before I got to meet my bride.
When evening came, both Dawn and I were a little worried about the dark sky. If it rained, our elephant march-in would be cancelled due to safety reasons. Thankfully, the brief drizzle ended just in time. In fact, the drizzle made things better – with the weather now cooler, our guests were able to better enjoy themselves with the outdoor experience. Our elephant march-in went ahead as planned, with our brothers and sisters walking in front of the elephants while were mounted high on its backs.
One of our good friends volunteered to sing two numbers for us during the wedding. Although it was a last minute effort, we still managed to fit her into the schedule.
What did your family and friends have to say about your wedding?
Shawn: Most of them thought it was an extraordinary wedding and really enjoyed themselves. They also commented that the food was really good and unique, and much better than many hotels they’ve been to. The fried ice cream, especially, received many thumbs-up.
Were there any particular moments that were especially special to you?
Shawn: There were simply too many memorable moments to pick just one. But if I had to, I’d say the most memorable moment for me has got to be the one with Freddo the bull-frog.
Dawn: I was utterly shocked at the last five minutes of our video montage. Shawn had included our homemade proposal video without my knowledge and it was the first time I had seen that clip, so I was pleasantly surprised.
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