Singaporebrides | Fine Dining

August 2017

Amanda and Joel’s Intimate and Heartfelt Solemnisation at The Summerhouse

Junior College sweethearts Amanda and Joel celebrated their union at the idyllic The Summerhouse in a lovely no-frills ceremony.

Amanda Gunawan, 25, Architect, and Joel Wong, 25, Architect, met in Junior College. From the very first day they met in school, Joel was drawn to Amanda’s candid and perceptive nature while she was attracted to his sense of loyalty and reliable nature. Eight years later, the young sweethearts tied the knot at the picturesque The Summerhouse with only their closest family members in an intimate and heartwarming affair on 25 May 2017.

Share with us what drew you to one another and what you love the most about your partner?

Amanda: I have a lot of things I love about Joel. He is one of the most dependable and reliable person I’ve ever met. Once he gives you his word, he will see to it. He is also extremely loyal to the people he values and will stand up for them whenever he needs to. He is serious when he wants to be but is lovable, cute and has this fun side to him. He seems pragmatic and cut-throat on the outside but has this soft vulnerability to him that not everyone is lucky enough to witness. He is so kind, and is a man full of integrity. He does not take shortcuts and he will never do anything that harms another person.

We are each other’s opposites. My strengths are his weaknesses and vice versa and when you encounter a combination like this, it’s either make or break. You either let your differences get the better of you or you work together to reconcile every problem you have and come out a better version of yourself each time.

We’ve worked with each other multiple times now. We are both very opinionated and have strong, sometimes different, positions on certain issues but this keeps the relationship very fresh, we don’t get bored of working with one another because we are always learning from each other.

My absolute favourite thing about him is how he never gives up. He’s very resolute. Once he sets his mind to something, he never settles and sees it to the end, no matter how hard the journey is or how seemingly futile his efforts are. There are many instances in which the going got tough and I didn’t have the perseverance to keep going but he made sure I did and the results always ended up being the best things to have ever happened to me.

Joel: Ever since the first day we met, her very first day of high school, we have been communicating with each other with all our guards down, we were always truthfully ourselves together. This perpetual sense of familiarity drew me to Amanda. We were inseparable from the beginning and we still are eight years on.

What I appreciate about Amanda most is her innate perceptiveness towards her surroundings, both in terms of people and physical space (knowing that we are both architecturally trained). Her ability to identify the slightest bit of detail enables me to see the world in a completely different light. Honestly, I cannot imagine a world without sharing her sensibility. And of course, this applies to our relationship too! Her quick wits and attention to detail never fails to deliver great surprises.

How did Joel propose?

Amanda: It completely took me by surprise. We were still finishing up our last year of Architecture school, we’d been through a lot emotionally and I wasn’t expecting him to seal the deal until everything was less hectic.

We took a thanksgiving trip to New York where he took me to our favourite place, the High Line. This place holds a lot of significance for us because we are both architects and have always put this project and the architect behind it on a pedestal. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve recommended the High Line to people asking me about advice on where to go in New York.

Thanksgiving coincided with our 7.5th anniversary. He took me on a really nice lunch and was unusually antsy. I was raving on and on about the food and would catch him gaze at me adoringly multiple times. I distinctly remember asking him why he was acting so weird and he defensively replied me with a “What?!? Me? No?!?” and proceeded to shoot me the most sheepish smile ever, which I managed to capture on camera.

After lunch, we took a little walk which led us to the High Line. At the start of the path, he gave me a handmade book with 8 pages (at this point I thought it was 7), one page for each stop of the High Line, one page for each year we’ve been together and a message describing the surrounding building’s significance to our relationship. He also got a photographer to follow us and take pictures of the entire thing. Of course, I grew very suspicious at this point. By the 7th page (at this point, I thought it was the last page), he quickly snatched the book from me and said okay that’s it, happy 7.5 anniversary! (It was our 7.5th anniversary that day) He thanked the photographer for taking photos of us and we bid our goodbyes. “What do you feel like eating?”, he asked, as it was approaching dinner time. It was this sneaky little move that threw away any kind of suspicion I had.

All that was going on in my head at that time was “Wow, he invested so much into our 7.5th anniversary celebration, I’m going to have to top him for our 8th!” While being consumed in my thoughts, half-confused and half-touched, he walked me to the viewing deck of the High Line, a place we go to very often and love, I saw our friends and family seated there waiting for us and before I could process it and piece everything together, I turned around saw him on one knee.

Joel, how difficult was it to pull off that proposal?

Joel: I knew that planning a proposal without Amanda’s knowledge was going to be a huge challenge because over the years, she has always managed to guess birthday presents, anniversary gifts, basically any kind of surprises I had planned for her. I began preparations for the proposal about 3 months in advance, communicating with custom jewelers, photographers and of course, gathering as much information and data as possible to make sure the proposal will go according to plan. I even had to create new email accounts just for this purpose! I had to alert everyone involved not to reply me because WE WERE ALWAYS TOGETHER!!! Can you imagine how hard this was for me. I would be so afraid every time I received a call from an unknown number beside her.

Coordinating with friends and family members to be there at the exact minute itself without crossing paths with us or arousing suspicions was nerve-wrecking as I really wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to surprise her very badly, and it had to be good, but she is always so alert and nothing gets past her but hey, I did it!

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What was your solemnisation planning journey like? Did you face any challenges and if so, how did you overcome it?

Not at all. It was *knocks on wood* extremely smooth. We actually planned to have the solemnisation about two weeks before the day itself. We had just graduated and was unsure of our plans about the next step of our lives and therefore couldn’t make any concrete plans. One thing was for sure though, we wanted to be married as soon as possible, so we decided to do it! We kept it small, we wanted it done and it turned out perfectly. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

We wanted a place that was secluded and away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore. We also wanted a space with both an indoor and outdoor area. The Summerhouse was perfect in these two aspects. What further compelled us to pick The Summerhouse was how helpful the staff were, with everything already all-in, as well as how flexible the space was in terms of liberty of organisation and decoration.

We had way too little time to have a theme – two weeks, can you believe it?! Because of this we stuck to a simple theme of no bright or vibrant colours.

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Share with us the day of your solemnisation. What was it like and how were you feeling?

Amanda: Incredible! Everything fell into place, really. I was sure I wasn’t going to cry given how sudden this solemnisation was but I ended up crying anyways. None of us experienced wedding jitters or anything like that. Overall, we were very happy and very relaxed, basking in the company of our loved ones and good food-exactly how we would’ve liked it.

Joel: The thought of marrying Amanda was euphoric, we literally grew up and entered adulthood together and embarking on this new phase in life could not have been any more perfect. So many times we would look at each other and say “Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening”.

The decision to get solemnised was a really spontaneous one. I mean, we knew we were going to do it eventually but because we didn’t have time to plan anything, we wanted to put it off until much later. One night before bed, two weeks before the solemnisation day, we decided right then and there to just do it and make it happen. We love each other, have loved each other for 8 years and nothing’s going to change! We wanted to just sign papers and get it over and done with but out of respect to our parents and family members, we had to have them there, so we decided to get solemnised over a lunch. The more people heard about it, the more they had wanted to get invited so we put our foot down on this matter, and told them they’d be invited to the real wedding, and kept it at strictly direct family members only. It was the perfect number for a close-knit lunch where everyone could be involved in the same table conversations.

What did your parents/family/friends have to say about your solemnisation?

They loved it. My parents were so proud. My dad took a couple hundred photos on his phone (that he eventually spam-sent our family’s WhatsApp group. I woke up from my nap that day to 100+ messages on WhatsApp from him) and my mom was like the wedding’s unofficial publicist, she sent the photos to all her church friends and family members (she has a really big family all over the world), and she would proudly update me each time a friend complimented anything to do with the wedding. All of her friends and family are now eagerly anticipating the real wedding, RSVP-ing way in advance, thanks to her. She has been bugging me non-stop for save-the-date cards to send to her friends for the real wedding day.

What was the most memorable moment of your solemnisation?

Amanda: Without a doubt, the moment we finished exchanging vows and was declared husband and wife officially for the first time in front of our loved ones. We’ve been together for 8 years and while it wasn’t always a smooth journey, our family members and friends had been rooting for us for a long time. We were always married in their eyes, but to actually hear it and have it be official is something else!

Joel: Definitely the moment when we were exchanging our vows. Grabbing each other’s hands, soaking in the afternoon sun – the forceful combination of perspiration and tears dripping down our faces, it could not have been anymore raw and intimate; all in the name of love.

What is one lesson you’ve learnt from your solemnisation planning that you’d like to share with other couples?

Definitely not to do it as spontaneously as us, if possible. We were so lucky that everything worked out and that the people who helped make the wedding a success happened to be available on such short notice, but this was a miracle, really! Also, be decisive on the guest list, if you decide it’s truly direct family only, make no exceptions. The more decisive you are, the less upset people will be about not getting invited. All in all, if they truly love you, then they will respect your decision for not inviting them.

The Venue: The Summerhouse
Size of Solemnisation: 14 guests
Cost of Solemnisation: Less than $6,000
The Photographer: Rebecca Ten and Samuel Goh Photography
The Gown: The Reformation
The Bride’s Shoes: Saint Laurent
The Groom’s Suit: Iris Tailor
The Hair and Makeup Artist: Alycia Tan Makeup & Hair
The Wedding Florist: Poppy Flora Studio
The Solemniser: Reverend Hoe Ho Sing

Credits: Feature image by Samuel Goh Photography

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