Singaporebrides | Real Weddings
Hui Min and Tiong Li’s Modern and Intimate Wedding at Si Chuan Dou Hua
Hui Min and Tiong Li tied the knot in a cosy and private wedding celebration at Si Chuan Dou Hua at the top of UOB Plaza.
Hui Min and Tiong Li’s story began almost a decade ago at the National University of Singapore. As if they were destined to be each other’s soulmates, the lovebirds were enrolled in the same faculty and studio, and even ended up in the same clique of friends. Love blossomed and today, the sweethearts are happily married. Before they tied the knot in an intimate wedding celebration at the exclusive and modern space at Si Chuan Dou Hua at the top of UOB Plaza, Hui Min and Tiong Li embarked on a little adventure together where they shot their pre-wedding entirely by themselves on a film camera to keep the experience a personal one. Read on to learn how they pulled it off.
Share with us how you met.
Tiong Li: Ours is quite the typical story – we met in school! It was almost 10 years back, when we entered Architecture school at the National University of Singapore. I don’t actually think she knows this, but on the first day we gathered for orientation, I had already noticed her in her girly braided hair, and the orange and white striped T-shirt she was wearing. We ended up in the same studio, then in the same clique of friends, and the rest is history.
What’s one of the things you love most about your partner?
Tiong Li: She is the kindest soul I know, with the softest heart, and the most innocent mind.
Hui Min: His compassion, and for always wanting the best for his family. He is a very family oriented person and always takes care of me. He’s like a big friendly giant, someone I can confide in about everything.
What was the proposal like?
Tiong Li: It was originally planned to be a surprise in Bali during a trip there for a friend’s wedding. That was when Mount Agung became active and was seriously disrupting air travel, so we eventually didn’t make it there. So Plan B was executed one random weekend, when I suggested that we visit Mount Faber, which was where we first got together. We never ever returned after that fateful night for the next eight years. So, she was naturally suspicious and it was actually kind of anti-climax and awkward when it happened. The funniest thing was, she ended up putting on the ring herself! But I think that made it quite memorable.
You shot your pre-wedding photos by yourselves. How did you manage to do it, and why did you decide to DIY instead of hiring a photographer?
Tiong Li: I think the main motivation to do it ourselves was that we wanted to keep the experience very personal. We knew we were going to take the photos while traveling, and us being introverts, we just couldn’t imagine a stranger tagging along the whole time! We wouldn’t have been ourselves. More ambitiously, we were also hoping for this pet project to kickstart something more serious, which we could eventually do as a sideline cum hobby. So for the money that we would spend hiring a photographer, we invested in a secondhand medium format film camera.
Yes, you may think it’s crazy, but we actually did the entire shoot in film! I’ve been playing around with film photography for awhile now, and there is simply no replacement for the kind of imagery that film produces, which we both really like. It is also that, logistically, it was not practical to be lugging another set of digital gear with us. So, we simply took the risk, and trusted that things would turn out fine. And it did!
But I have to say, shooting on the go with a fully mechanical camera was quite a challenge. The whole process of taking a shot was extremely tedious as everything had to be done manually and by ourselves, like focusing the lens and metering the light, even, thinking how to pose! At least she is quite good at coming up with fun ideas, so she was in charge of the poses, while I focused on finding the perfect spot, and took care of the technical side of things. Then again, there was also no playback display for us to check that the shot was correctly exposed, or if our expression was on point. Because so many unpredictable variables come into play, there were one or two scenes that actually failed. But that’s how it is with film, so we were prepared for it to happen.
Would you recommend other couples to try doing their pre-wedding shoot themselves? If yes, do you have any tips?
Yes! We wouldn’t have done it any other way. There is just something about producing your own shoot that keeps the output very authentic. Somehow, who we are as a couple really comes through in the photos in a way that is uniquely us. More importantly, when we look at the photos, it is the fond memories of the journey that we remember, and for us, the experience we shared is ultimately all that matters. Like I said, we didn’t set out to do a shoot. We simply saw it as just one of many adventures we took together, just this time with very beautiful photos to keep!
There is really no need to stress yourselves out chasing the perfect poster shot. But it would be helpful to plan ahead by thinking through the kind of theme you want, and the ideas for poses and composition. Also, try to keep the set up and choice of outfit simple, as dressing up in suit or gown can be a logistical nightmare, unless you have help. Anyway, just take your time, go with the flow and have fun!
What did you want for your wedding and how did you create it?
We have always wanted a wedding that is intimate and cosy, more like a gathering of the closest friends and family than it is about us. Besides, we’re both not the most outgoing type who enjoy being in the centre of attention. So, we decided to do away with the usual highlights like gate-crashing and cake cutting, and even the traditional toast on stage. We wanted to keep things simple, so that we could spend more time mingling with the guests. And as much as possible, we did the planning ourselves, and tried getting our friends and family involved in the preparation too. For example, instead of going with the standard wedding favours from the package, we collaborated with our cousin to customise a delicious mini pound cake, which everyone absolutely loved! Even the wedding decoration was done by a friend who later joined in the dinner. We also made a small handwritten note card for each of the guests who came. We feel that these little personal touches are important because, as much as the wedding is about us, it is also about the people we love.
Why did you choose to get married at Si Chuan Dou Hua?
It was first and foremost an exclusive setting so that we could have a very private celebration, not to mention killer views from high above and a great menu. As some of our relatives are vegetarians, it was definitely a plus that the restaurant also had good vegetarian options. The other reason is Linda, the main person in charge, who made us feel like we were in safe hands right from the beginning. Right up to the night itself, she was always accommodating and supportive of our requests, and went all out to help us make the evening reception special.
What was your wedding day like?
Fast and furious! We remember feeling overwhelmed by the amount of attention on us. But we received so much love and the day went by all too quickly.
What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?
Tiong Li: So many! But if there has to be one, perhaps it’s during the photoshoot in between our morning and evening events, when I received an unexpected message from The Artisanal Prints, saying that our wedding album was ready for collection. It was the pre-wedding photo album we made for the reception, but because it was quite last minute and they were running a very tight schedule, they could not promise to deliver it in time for our wedding day. In the end, the craftsmen pulled an all-nighter for us. So you can imagine, it felt like we just received the greatest blessing.
Hui Min: The day just went past so quickly and I can only remember fragments of it. I actually thought the night before the wedding was even more memorable. We were rushing all over the island to collect our wedding bands and also the wedding gown. Guess what, we collected his wedding suit only at 11pm! The adrenaline rush was real. To add on to the madness, we decided last minute to DIY print-outs of our pre-wedding photos for the decoration because we were afraid the album wasn’t going to be ready. So, we ended up doing it past midnight. Our training in Architecture School — surviving the very intense submissions — certainly helped! Despite it all, we made it!
The Venue: Si Chuan Dou Hua at top of UOB Plaza
The Size of Wedding: 180 guests
The Cost of Wedding: $50,000 in total
The Pre-Wedding and Wedding Photographer: Alone Together
The Bride’s Outfits: Tailor-made and Swan Lake by Paolo Sebastian (evening gown)
The Bride’s Shoes: Mango
The Groom’s Outfits: Esquire Bespoke (Tailored)
The Groom’s Shoes: Arden Teal
The Hair and Makeup Artist: Makeup Entourage
The Florist: Wildflower Theory
The Wedding Invitations and Stationery: Paper Tales
The Wedding Favours: Button Bites
The Solemniser: JP Cheong Khim Teck
The Wedding Car: Mercedes
Others: The Artisan Print
The Wedding Resource: SingaporeBrides
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