Singaporebrides | Real Weddings

January 2018

Sherry and Yingkai’s Socially Conscious Wedding at Food for Thought National Museum

Sherry and Yingkai both believe strongly in giving back to society. When they got married, the couple’s Food for Thought National Museum wedding supported many social enterprises to raise awareness about their beautiful services and products!

Sherry Soon, 36, and Chen Yingkai, 35, met through matchmaking friends at Sherry’s previous workplace, a non-profit organisation, where Yingkai volunteered. Supporting various causes together during their relationship, the couple decided on a wedding themed around meaningful giving back, and engaged social enterprises as their wedding vendors when they tied the knot at Food for Thought National Museum on 5 November 2017!

How did you meet?

Sherry: Yingkai was volunteering with a reading programme in Students Care Service (SCS), a non-profit organisation, as part of his previous company’s corporate social responsibility project. I started work in SCS in 2011, just as he left the company, and so I didn’t get to work with him. He then came back to volunteer with his friends for another programme under my ex-colleague, but we never met. Later on, the friend that he brought to volunteer got together with my ex-colleague, and they decided to matchmake us. As we were about to meet in November 2014, I met with a freak accident in Japan, and we only met a few months after that in March 2015. You could say that it took quite a while for us to even get to meet each other!

Since my schooling days, I’ve volunteered with various organisations and for different causes. After I met Yingkai, he has helped me out in my volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Foundation, other various causes, and also in the ground-up movement that I started, Be Kind SG, that creates micro-volunteering opportunities.

What drew you to each other and what’s one of the things you love most about your partner?

Yingkai: We have a similar outlook in life, and are energised when doing our part (no matter how small) in appreciating kindnesses that we have received and in extending kindness to society.

My wife lets me be who I am and helps me find lost fragments of myself. I’m more connected with my emotions because of her, and she inspires me to be a better person. My wife is a teacher! She taught me how to love, how to be kind to others (and myself), and how to appreciate the finer things in life.

Sherry: My husband pushes me to better myself and is supportive of the volunteering events that I organise. I love that he values the intangible things in life like friendship and kindness.

What was the proposal like?

Sherry: It was a public proposal in front of 313! I never expected a public proposal and was completely caught off guard by it. I was hoodwinked into believing that we were going to greet his friend who was playing in a band outside 313. He also roped in our professional photographer friend, who used to play in a band together with him, to make his story more convincing.

I was blown away by the effort he put into the proposal, as he had requested Brass Nation to play Ed Shereen’s “Thinking Out Loud,” one of my favourite songs. The significance was that we had actually watched their performance two years ago on our very first date. As the band went into the chorus, he pulled me to the front, and went on his knee. It was an extremely romantic and public proposal.

Can you describe what you wanted for your wedding and how you created it?

Sherry: Our wedding theme was ‘‘In travelling, a companion. In life, compassion.” It is a translation from a Japanese proverb that means, just as when you travel, it’s good to have travelling companions, in life, it’s important to have compassion, friendship, and kinship. This was also our guiding philosophy in our journey together, and we wanted to have a wedding that embraced compassion, friendship, and kinship.

Hence, it was a conscious choice to engage social enterprises as our vendors. We wanted to increase their visibility, and raise awareness about how people can make conscious choices in their daily life to make more impactful decisions. To celebrate friendship, we chose to get our close friends together to bake cookies with trainees from the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), which became our wedding favours to our guests. We also engaged the choir from the Institute of Mental Health, Hearts in Harmony, formed by long-stay patients, to be our wedding band. However, due to lack of manpower, they were unable to attend our wedding. We will be going to their choir practice to show them a video of the guests singing along to a recording of their voices.

To encourage volunteerism, we asked our wedding guests to write supportive messages to caregivers from AWWA, a social service organisation, and these will be gifted to them as part of Be Kind SG’s (a ground-up movement I started) volunteering activity in December.

We also decided to repurpose our wedding flowers as gifts to Orange Valley Nursing Home – Changi Branch, the day after our wedding. We collaborated with the nail manicurist team from The Nail Social, and a few freelance makeup artists (who responded to a viral Facebook post) joined us to give mini makeovers for the residents. It was a treat for the residents as they have never had such an experience before, and a lady told us that she hasn’t worn full make up for more than 20-30 years, and was so excited over the experience.

What a meaningful way to start your new chapter! You also engaged a number of social entreprises, didn’t you?

Sherry: We engaged as many social enterprises as we could, for services that we needed for our wedding. For our pre-wedding shoot, we rented the space at The Cat Museum to support them in their fostering and adoption work. To bond with my girlfriends, I requested for my bridal shower to be a manicure session at The Nail Social, which employs women facing a higher barrier to employment.

We bought our wedding rings from Covenant Jewellery, a social enterprise that supports artisans in Cambodia. The experience was intimate, and the founder Pam met us to give us advice on which rings to choose. She also does bespoke wedding rings. We are also psyched that we may get to meet the artist who made our wedding rings next year.

It was an easy choice to pick Food for Thought for our venue, as there were not many F&B social enterprises that could fit the number of guests we had. The guests also had fabulous reviews of their food. Lastly, we engaged Hello Flowers! for our floral arrangements that day.

We hope that couples will seriously consider engaging social enterprises and supporting these businesses with a social conscience, as they can also offer quality services and products. Weddings can be stressful, but by re-focusing on relationships and what we can bring to others, we hope that couples will experience the intimate experiences and joy that we have had.

What was your wedding day like?

Yingkai: I remember lots of laughter and slight chaos. Thankfully, our close friends helped us in whatever way they could to make sure that things were as they should be.

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?

Yingkai: Besides making my wife shed tears of joy, I’m pleasantly touched by our friends who seemed even happier than us that we got married.

Sherry: The best part was being around people who genuinely wished us well. I was also taken aback at my husband’s surprise video that showcased well wishes from my friends from an overseas volunteering trip earlier this year.

What did family and friends have to say about your wedding?

Yingkai: They said it was very heartwarming and real. There was lots of laughter at the wedding. Some said it was the most enjoyable and meaningful wedding that they have attended, and that it gave them an opportunity to be part of the kindness spreading initiative. They commented on the tasty food and had second and third helpings! Some of them have also ordered their Christmas gifts from social enterprises.

The Size of the Wedding: 170 guests
The Venue: Food for Thought, National Museum
The Wedding Day Photographer: Harriet Koh Photography
The Gown: The Warehouse Bridal
The Suit: Benjamin Barker
The Engagement Bracelet: Monica Vinader
The Wedding Bands: Covenant Jewellery
The Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Jace Ang
The Nail Artist: The Nail Social
The Florist: Hello! Flowers
The Pre-Wedding Photographer: Harriet Koh Photography
The Pre-Wedding Photography Venue: The Cat Museum
The Videographer: Nevin
The Wedding Invitations and Stationery: Couple
The Wedding Favours: Cookies baked with Association for Persons with Special Needs
The Solemniser: Fong Yoong Kheong

Images by Harriet Koh Photography, feature image cropped from original.

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