Singaporebrides | Real Weddings

July 2018

Rachel and Joshua’s Magical Fairylit Garden Wedding at Raffles House at Fort Canning Park

Dreams do come true, as Rachel weds the love of her life, Joshua, at Fort Canning House, fulfilling her childhood dream of a garden wedding.

Rachel and Joshua met during a church camp and instantly, he felt like he’d known her since forever even though they’d just met. The young couple hit it off and after an incredibly thoughtful and romantic proposal at Fort Canning Park (where Joshua sang and played the guitar before he got down on one knee!), Rachel and Joshua returned to the park to wed under the stars as their family and friends gathered to celebrate and bless their union.

Tell us about your beginning and what was it about your partner that caught your heart?

We met in our church care group. We didn’t really talk to each other much until one church camp when we were roomies with a couple and started hanging out with them in a group.

Joshua:It was her laughter and joy for life, her wittiness (and wisdom) and sense of humour that caught my eye. And that feeling of a long-time friend, although we’d just met.

Rachel: I was drawn to his thoughtfulness. He was always serving others behind the scenes, for example, he would help clear the supper table while everyone was leaving so that my leaders did not have to clean up their house on their own after hosting us. Apart from that, I can be quite lame (okay, maybe very lame), and he entertains my nonsense all the time!

What is it about your partner that you love the most?

Joshua: Her passion for things which people generally dun bother about, her inherent ability to complement me, and her thirst for knowledge.

Rachel: I love that we are both open to new things and experiences, so we can explore things together.

Tell us about your romantic proposal!

Two of my girl friends and I had planned for a picnic dinner at Fort Canning Park one October. After we spent the morning at one of our houses doing girly things and preparing for the picnic, we headed towards Fort Canning Park. While walking through the park to find a picnic spot, I spotted a lighted up area with rabbit and frog balloons. I thought to myself, “This guy is smart to use those cute balloons for a proposal”. Coincidentally, I had been walking past many proposals that year with my girlfriends, so I didn’t think much of it and continued walking forward. Suddenly, my friend popped out of nowhere with his camera, and it was then that it dawned on me that that was my proposal!

Joshua, with guitar strung across his shoulders, then walked forward to lead me to the swing decorated with fairylights, balloons, flowers and our photos. He sat me down on the swing, then sat across from me and began strumming the guitar as he sang. As he finished his last line, he untied a ribbon tied at the top of the swing, held the ring in his hand and knelt down. Of course, I said “Yes”.

We ran our own social enterprise for two years which failed, and wanted to get back to corporate work before tying the knot. I know that Joshua thinks a lot about ensuring that we have a stable future, so when he proposed then, I was surprised and touched by the leap of faith he took.

We had some Moscato, took some photos and released the bunch of balloons at the foot of Raffles House at Fort Canning Park before adjourning to a nearby restaurant for dinner with our close friends for celebration.

What was your wedding planning journey like?

A garden wedding was a little girl’s dream that I always had, simply because it’s pretty and I love the ambience of one. After the proposal, we still did not have a full-time job and our finances ran low, so I kept brushing aside the idea of having a garden wedding. However, Joshua assured me that the limitations we had would enable us to be creative in planning our wedding.

Joshua went through a season of long working hours during our wedding preparation, and it was not easy to have him continue burning into the weekends to prepare for the wedding, especially since we agreed on a wedding that would be conceptualised and planned by us. It was a real test of communication and learning to be patient and understanding with one another.

There were two things we agreed was important for our garden wedding. First, it had to be air-conditioned because we did not want our guests to feel uncomfortable in hot or rainy weather. Secondly, all our guests had to be housed in the same space instead of being separated into indoor and outdoor seating so that there would be plenty of talking and sharing.

We shortlisted a handful of venues but they either had very poor service or they did not fit our budget or schedule. Eventually, I explored the option of having a transparent tentage at Fort Gate Lawn at Fort Canning Park, a venue that was meaningful to us as Joshua had proposed there. I was uncertain if it would meet our budget as building an air-conditioned tentage in Singapore seemed expensive to me. After getting quotations from several suppliers, we settled with Coreen from Dekko Tentage. She was very patient in working with us to achieve the feel and look of the set-up we wanted while keeping within budget. Although there were some hiccups along the way, since they were not experienced in weddings, our wedding set-up received lots of compliments and it felt surreal to celebrate our union with our loved ones “under the stars”.

Tell us more about your wedding planning and choices.

Coming from a low-income family and having gone on an overseas volunteer trip to impoverished Tala, Philippines, where I realised how lucky I am to be born in a nation that provided me with opportunities to be where I am today, I wanted to use my skill sets to empower the less advantaged and help them sustain a livelihood. To play a part in helping the less advantaged, our wedding favours were handmade by mori urban poor mothers in Manila who used to sew rags for a living. They now work with Mitxa, a dear friend who runs the social enterprise Mori Creations, and are the hands behind these social-conscious wedding favours. We also wanted our wedding favours to be useful, hence, worked with Mitzi to create vegan leather small pouch and luggage tags with our wedding verse “above all, love” stamped on them.

Our floral arch, chandelier and my floral crown are by Annie from helloflowers!. She was introduced by a friend and after seeing how gorgeous her creations were, we had no qualms about going with her. We also felt that she embodied the true spirit of social entrepreneurship – creating true value with her excellent florist work for her customers, rather than selling from a charitable angle. For my bridal bouquet and our mothers’ bouquets, we engaged our ex-intern, Kristel from Floraascent.

While top-rated live bands are highly raved about, we decided to involve our own friends for the day’s entertainment. Without them, we would not have so much programs and performances going on as we did not have the budget to hire live bands! We really believe that God has placed unique gifts and talents in each and every one of us, and we enjoyed seeing them shine with their talents at our wedding!I have come a pretty long way from the very first speech I did at my friend’s wedding in 2014 to the emcee role I did at a wedding last year. The journey of growing together and seeing each other shine in his/her own skin far surpass having a perfect wedding programme implemented on actual day.

What was your wedding décor like?

We decided to design and plan our wedding with the garden theme, with foilage being the focal point (our friend told me that foilage would be cheaper than flowers!) centered around a colour scheme of green, white, gold and subtle blush. Meanwhile, our wedding program would be centered around blessing others, appreciating and celebrating our loved ones. We also wanted to create not just a garden feel, but also celebration under the stars – so we used fairylights and hanging warm light bulbs for our lighting.

While we engaged helloflowers! and Floraascent for our floral décor and bridal and mothers’ bouquets, we DIY-ed other decoration items with the help of our friends to save cost and add a personal touch. A day before the wedding, we went to Far East Flora to get fresh flowers. it was quite a fun experience in the freezing room, going through the variety of flowers! We also bought things from Taobao and spent a day before the wedding prepping for the items and another half day (on the day before the wedding) setting them up.

Take us back to your wedding day. What was the day like and how were you feeling?

Our day started at ten in the morning at Hotel Fort Canning where we had rooms booked. We agreed not to let Joshua see me in a bridal white gown until I walked down the aisle. Later that afternoon, we held our holy matrimony solemnisation at Raffles House at Fort Canning Park, where an intimate group of no more than 100 guests were gathered to witness the exchange of our vows. We also had our tea ceremony there before a short 45-minute photoshoot around Fort Canning Park.

Dinner began at seven in the evening and it felt really surreal to walk down the aisle at sunset to the instrumental version of “Tale as old as time”. We played ‘the couple shoe game’ and it was hilarious, with all the funny questions that we were asked, like “Who farts the most?” and “Who is the untidier one?”. We also came up with a hashtag for our wedding #XingFuLe and used Hashslider during the dinner reception to stream #XingFuLe photos live on the screens. We had our friends help be live photographers, updating and uploading photos through a new Instagram account @joshrachfu and hashtagging all the photos. They also collected photos from our bridesmaids and groomsmen team, curating them. We also invited our guests to share theirs and two guests stood a chance to win a prize from us.

We also had three groups of friends sing songs that were close to our hearts. The first couple sang Jian Dan Ai by Jay Chou as we are both his fans. Coincidentally, 6 January 2018 was the date Jay Chou held his concert in Singapore! The second group were my close friends from Hong Kong and I had gotten them to sing a Mandarin song that depicted my thoughts to Joshua as a surprise dedication to him while I was away changing hairstyle. We also did away with the usual yum seng, but opened up the floor to guests to propose a toast to the newly-weds.

After my second hair-style was done (I did not do another make-up look to save time), we did not do another march-in, but simply appeared in the middle of the aisle below the hanging flower chandelier to waltz dance to the tune “Moon River”. We ended off the night with our speech to appreciate and honour people who have impacted our lives.

What did your family/friends have to say about your wedding day?

Our friends complimented the set-up and also felt that the program was unconventional. Seeing how we were still rehearsing for our dance the night before our wedding, both our mothers felt that we had put in too much effort into the wedding. However, they were really supportive and allowed us to plan the wedding as it is, even coming down the night before to offer whatever help they could.

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?

I know some people think those who insist on having a first dance are “posers”, “trying to act like a Westerner”. To be honest, that was part of the initial motivation. However, Joshua and I had gone on a waltz dance class with my mother at a community centre a few years back as she had insisted that dancing together as a couple creates a stronger bond. During the waltz dance classes, we enjoyed ourselves and learnt how to flow with one another. I remember our dance teacher lecturing me about how I need to follow the lead of Joshua, yet take ownership of my own dance steps and poses and not be totally dependent on him. It was an interesting experience for me – I felt I had the first taste of learning to “submit to my husband” which does not mean becoming someone without my own thoughts and voice.

My mother was still lecturing me about being too stiff and unnatural the night before our wedding when we did our final rehearsal! Nonetheless, we told ourselves to just enjoy the moment on our wedding night since we are not dance professionals anyway, and we did enjoy it very much on our wedding night! It felt really surreal!

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

During our wedding planning, we had to communicate ideas and expectations with one another as a couple – after all, wedding planning was the very first major project we embarked on together! We realised that there was really no absolute right or wrong. We learnt to consider and also communicate the expectations of others such as parents. We learnt that expressing our intention/heart behind our decisions as a couple would help. Obviously, life is not a bed of roses and we cannot have everyone agree with us for everything, so some compromises were made.

The Size of Wedding: 260 guests
The Cost of Wedding: $46,000
The Venue: Raffles House and Fort Gate @ Fort Canning Park
The Photographer: Synchronal Photography
The Videographer: Patchwork Pictures
The Wedding Gown: Kelly’s Bridal
The Wedding Shoes: Ballerina Flats from Taobao
The Groom’s Suit: The Prestigious
The Groom’s Shoes: Domanchi
The Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Love, Bonito, Taobao, ASOS (light grey shade)
The Groomsmen’s Suits: The Prestigious
The Hair and Makeup Artist: Christine Chia Makeup
The Wedding Bands: Fairy’s Inc.
The Caterer: Pinsi Restaurant
The Wedding Invitations and Stationery: E-invitations designed by Goo Angez, dear friend of the couple’s
The Wedding Favours: Mori
The Solemniser: Pastor Joash Siow
Wedding Resource: SingaporeBrides

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Rachel and Joshua’s Magical Fairylit Garden Wedding at Raffles House at Fort Canning Park