Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes

December 2015

Lessons From My Wedding Planning Journey: The Sub-Editor’s Notes

As the dust from my wedding settles, I look back at the lessons I learnt from my own wedding planning journey and share my experiences with you.

Like every bride, my wedding journey began with a question, a bended knee and a beautiful ring. Within days of my proposal, I knew I wanted a 2015 wedding – I’d even narrowed down the month I wanted to wed in, and emailed the first five wedding talents on my shortlist of wedding vendors for their availability and rates.

That was last December.

By the end of January this year, I had all my wedding vendors confirmed. I know it seems like I took only two weeks to research, peruse, email, deliberate and decide on who I wanted to work with for my wedding, but the truth is, I’ve spent the last four years collecting these information while I was on the job, albeit subconsciously. I mean, it was difficult not to, especially when you come across a sea of beautiful weddings left, right and center every single day!

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I have to say that I was luckier than most brides-to-be. For starters, I was no stranger to weddings and the planning process. With all that exposure to all things wedding, I knew what needed to be done at once and what the usual pitfalls (read: wedding budget, guest-list and seating plan) are.

My best friend was also planning her wedding at the same time, so I had a companion and a listening ear who understood precisely where my frustrations or excitement came from. I was also fortunate because my parents, parents-in-law and my husband Eugene gave me the freedom to decide on the kind of wedding I wanted. But that didn’t mean my planning process was free from conflicts, roadblocks and decisions I wish I could go back and re-do.

The Journey

In case you haven’t heard, wedding planning is highly stressful and emotional. I can vouch for that. At some point in my wedding planning, I was so stressed out because I was looking at wedding-related things throughout the entire day. I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and just let the wedding be! When the stress was too much, I would end up lashing out at Eugene for not helping out with the planning. It wouldn’t be the only thing we’d quarrel about. We argued over our seating plan and what was needed for our Guo Da Li and hair combing ceremonies – we’d even argued about whether we should add a ribbon to the flowers for our car the day before our wedding!

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In spite of the amount of arguing we did, we knew that once the wedding was over, our quarrels would end too. Ultimately, we were bickering about our wedding, not about our relationship. The truth is, during such a time of great stress and responsibility, personalities will clash, tempers will flare and quarrels about anything and everything will ensue. But all that arguing, however small, is not a sign that you’re not meant for each other. That is just part and parcel of your wedding planning journey. I’m not saying it’s okay to pick a fight in the name of your wedding planning. I just want to let you know that you’re not alone when you go through arguments with your fiancé during your planning.

The Compromises

You’re also not alone if you didn’t get to realise your dream wedding. Eugene and I are both average-wage earners and didn’t see the sense in splurging thousands on a designer gown I was only going to wear once—as tempted as I was—or on a floral arch we were going to stand under for ten minutes. Besides, we hadn’t had enough time to save up for our wedding, so we tried to keep our budget as modest as possible.

But just because I didn’t walk down the aisle in a Reem Acra or Sareh Nouri gown and a pair of Kate Spade heels doesn’t mean my wedding was any less magical. It was still the best day of our lives. We had plenty of fun amidst the rush and chaos, and I still love how our day turned out. The truth is, what I wore and didn’t get to wear on my wedding day didn’t affect how I felt on the day and how much fun I had that day.

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I did, however, get to wed at a venue I’d always wanted to ever since I laid eyes on it.

I first came across Nosh a year or two ago while preparing a Real Weddings article and simply adored the restaurant’s rustic and romantic vibe. It was one of the top three venues on my list to visit and when I did, I fell utterly and irrevocably in love with it. I was under the spell of the dreamy fairy lights, charming wooden floorboards and the absolutely delicious fare (the most delicious chicken and mashed potatoes ever!) that I couldn’t see myself getting married anywhere else, even though I knew the place was outside of our budget. I tried to forget about the place and fall in love with another, but when I couldn’t, Eugene decided to let me have what I wanted for our wedding.

And that was how I got the Nosh wedding I’d always wanted.

At the beginning, the idea of a non-hotel, semi-outdoor, Western style wedding was a little foreign to both Eugene and my parents, but after plenty of insistence, convincing and reassuring, they acquiesced because they wanted me to have the wedding I desired. I admit – I might have been very selfish to insist that my wedding should be planned according to what I wanted. But in return for their giving in to my demandswishes, I tried to make sure that my guests, young and old, would enjoy the day as much as we did, and that any problems my parents were worried about were taken care of.

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As the Chief Officer of Finance of our relationship, Eugene was very concerned about our expenditure, especially now that we’ve had to increase our budget because we’ve overspent on our venue. So I compromised by cutting back on the rest of our wedding expenses as best as I could without sacrificing the aesthetics of my wedding vision, such as by asking for cheaper flower alternatives, and opting for the lower cost option when presented with two choices. Honestly speaking, it wasn’t that difficult to opt for a cheaper alternative most of the time. But when it came to choosing our wedding photographer, I had a hard time deciding between my pre-wedding photographer or my bridal boutique’s resident photographer, even though I knew the latter was the less costly option of the two. Eventually, in spite of the doubts I had, we went ahead with the latter.

The Mistake

Trying to cut cost on our wedding photography was the biggest mistake I made in my wedding planning. The money we saved was not worth the regret we felt after we received our wedding photographs. My heart had sunk deeper into the abyss than the Titanic did when I saw my wedding photographs. While I knew I couldn’t expect my photographer to replicate the ideal style of photographs I’d like to have, I had still expected professionally and properly captured photographs.

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What I received instead were badly taken, out-of-focus, and sloppily edited images. In the photographs, my bridesmaids and I sported purple lips and there was a grey overcast, as if we got married on a cloudy or stormy day. Just to be clear, none of us wore purple lipstick that day and it was a lovely sunny day with nary a rain cloud in sight. The discolouration of our lips was due to the colour editing our photographer did and to this day, I do not know why he didn’t spot the mistake or thought it’d be okay to colour our lips purple on our behalf.

I also can’t figure out why he thought producing several close-up shots of the table setting and solemnisation set-up with the rest of the background heavily bokeh-ed was equivalent to capturing the beautiful set-up my stylist, Med Karlek, put together at Nosh. I felt I would have better keepsakes of my wedding venue and decor if he had captured more wide-angle shots of the entire deck and long table settings at Nosh.

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The framing of some of his shots were also perplexing to me, because there seemed to be a level of uncertainty in them. There were several repeats of the same image with just the slightest shift in the way it was framed. To me, it seemed like he wasn’t confident of his framing at the time of shooting and took multiple shots with a slight change in framing to decide which was the better one afterwards.

But what I was most upset about was the out-of-focus group shots of us and our bridal party. It was so obviously out of focus that there was no way of overlooking or fixing it. If not for the photographs we had also taken on our phones, that crazy night would have existed only in our memories. Our wedding photographs are all the physical reminders we have from our wedding day – a day that we can’t re-do. We wanted to salvage what we could of our wedding photographs, so we alerted my boutique of our disappointment and requested for our photographer to contact us so we can discuss a way to rectify the issue.

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Our conversation with him turned out to be another let-down. Instead of acknowledging our concerns—which I felt was his responsibility as a professional photographer—his response made me feel like he was pointing the finger at us – at me. He defended the photographs, saying that that was his style and as the sub-editor of SingaporeBrides, he thought I would be more accepting of his colour editing since I was more exposed to different styles of photography. To be honest, I felt slightly offended.

Yes, as the sub-editor of SingaporeBrides, I have seen many different wedding photography styles. But that shouldn’t define what I like or am able to to accept, and he shouldn’t have made such a baseless assumption. While it is true that all photographers have their own styles, I don’t think giving purple lips to the bride and her bridesmaids counts as a style, does it?

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We saw none of these coming when we first saw his work or met him at the boutique. The set of photographs we were shown convinced us (actually, Eugene) that he was capable of properly capturing our wedding day. I, on the other hand, still had my doubts. Call it an occupational hazard or my need for utter control, but I wasn’t 100% convinced after being shown just one set of his work.

Being denied the freedom to look up his work on Facebook or having his contact details made me even more hesitant. But meeting him and finding him extremely likeable and easy-going assuaged some of my uncertainty, so Eugene and I decided to have him as our photographer. Not once did we think we’d be so disappointed in our decision and in him.

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Before our conversation with our photographer, Eugene and I were already resigned to that fact that there was nothing we could do about the photographs. All we wanted was to let him know that there were these problems so he could avoid making the same mistakes for the next couple, and to ask for a more neutral colour editing. But after he brandished the “You are sub-editor of SingaporeBrides so you should be more receptive” card, we didn’t want him to edit our photographs anymore and asked him for the raw files instead.

Thankfully, Eugene is quite well-versed in photo-editing and after some experimenting, we managed to salvage our photographs. While they’ll never look like professionally-shot photographs or resemble the style that I like, they looked a million times better than what we were initially given.

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The Lessons

My wedding planning taught me many things about myself, Eugene, our families and friends, making compromises, and picking the right battles to fight. I had the benefit of planning my wedding at the same time my best friend was planning hers, so we had each other for company. And by sharing my experiences and what I learnt, I hope to offer a form of companionship to other couples who are currently planning their weddings and going through similar problems.

Quarrels and arguments are bound to happen but that is only a temporary state. All will be well once you’re through with the planning. Don’t sweat the small stuff; there are a handful of details about my wedding that I wished I could re-do, but when I consider what the point of my wedding day really was, those details were inconsequential. I bet no one noticed that my bridal bouquet was whiter than I had requested for, or that the ribbons on my baby’s breath crown were silver instead of a peach colour. Oh, and don’t let last minute complications stress you out either, like when you have to deal with a reshuffling of your seating plan due to a last minute withdrawal of a guest’s attendance.

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At the end of the day, your wedding is more than the colour of your flowers or that empty seat at the table; it’s about having fun, making memories and being surrounded by all your loved ones.


To view the full set of my wedding photos, read Audrie and Eugene’s Pastel and Rose Gold Nosh Wedding.

Credit:

Images by Gowns Villa and Audrie & Eugene’s family and friends.