Singaporebrides | Real Weddings
Yiguan and Zaini’s Beautiful Mixed-Culture Wedding at The Villa Botanic Gardens
Yiguan and Zaini celebrated their mixed cultures in an intimate garden wedding at The Villa at The Botanic Gardens, with the heartfelt blessings of their family and friends.
It was love at first sight when Zaini, 33, Prison Officer met Yiguan, 28, Shipping Operator at a teh tarik session. After COVID-19 forced them to change their wedding plans, they celebrated both their cultures in a beautiful and intimate garden wedding at The Villa in Botanic Gardens on 6 December 2020, where their loved ones poured out their hearts and their blessings.
How did you meet each other?
Yiguan: That fateful day, I was around Arab Street and my best friend who was hanging out nearby with some friends invited me for a cup of teh” at Sarbat, the famous teh tarik stall. So I went to Sarbat, said “Hi guys!” and made some friends that day, and that’s how we met! It was completely random and Zaini’s favourite story to share because it was love at first sight for him. Sarbat became one of our pre-wedding shoot venues!
Zaini: I was hanging out with one of her close friends but I didn’t know about her yet. I remember vividly that when she arrived at Sarbat to join us, she greeted everyone, “Hi guys!” with her bubbly and warm personality. She definitely caught my attention at the first hello and yes, it was love at first sight for me. Obviously not for her.
What was the proposal like?
Yiguan: We went to Yunnan, China in December 2019 for a hiking trip. We were extremely tired after the first full day of hiking. When we woke up for breakfast the next morning, Zaini insisted I put on my trekking boots to go down to the café for breakfast. I refused because my feet were sore from all the walking, and I wanted to rest my feet and use the slip-on slippers provided by the guesthouse instead.
Zaini kept saying the slippers were unsightly and insisted I wear the boots. I thought he was being ridiculous because we were in the middle of the mountains and no one was going to care if I was wearing slippers to breakfast. Little did I know, he planned to propose to me at the viewpoint after breakfast and so the blue rubber slip-on slippers became the highlight of the proposal picture!
Zaini: She loves the mountains and every year, we make a point to climb a mountain. It is like a couple goal. Of course, it was not my interest at first, but I am supportive of her hobby. No choice lor. I decided that I would propose to her on a mountain and after doing some research, I felt that the timing was just right for the proposal to be done during our trekking trip in Yunnan. I even asked two of my friends to accompany us on the trip to help with the proposal.
I was extremely nervous, but I tried to compose myself throughout the morning of the proposal. Despite several failed attempts to make her wear her boots for the proposal, I just proceeded on. It was a very beautiful experience as the proposal was at the rooftop of a guesthouse with the Dragon Jade mountains as the backdrop. Everything was perfect. When I was down on one knee proposing to her, the morning rays from the sun shone down on us. I will never forget that moment.
Tell us how you planned your wedding.
Both of us were very sure we wanted a casual, less formal, more interactive kind of wedding. We decided on a garden wedding as it would fit the vibe and atmosphere we wanted—more fun, more chill, and less restrictive. After doing a lot of research and attending multiple wedding showcases, we chose The Villa for our wedding venue. It fit perfectly into our garden-theme, intimate, and cosy wedding.
More importantly, there was a lot of flexibility on the food menu as we could serve Halal-certified food. The menu was a fusion spread of Western, local, and Malay cuisine, which could satisfy the tastes of both cultures. We used SingaporeBrides for our research when planning for our big day. It gave us inspiration on how to prepare for our own interracial wedding. We did not have a wedding planner and did not opt for any bridal package so we could select different vendors to cater to our wants and needs!
Did COVID-19 affect your wedding plans?
COVID-19 definitely affected our wedding plans with the multiple changes in restrictions. We had initially planned for a bigger reception, which was going to have a lot of mingling and activities. We wanted a reception for at least 300 people with a full buffet spread with a live pasta station, live band, and mocktail bar. We had also planned for a fusion march in with a lion dance and kompang to embrace our different cultures and traditions.
However, all this could not work out due to COVID-19 and we had to change our plans and hold a small and intimate reception. There were some important changes along the way, and it was very stressful for us. Our families also discussed if we should postpone the wedding. We felt that the scale of a reception does not affect the marriage itself, and while it would be extremely nice to have been able to invite more of our close friends, we know that we still have their blessings. Ultimately, the marriage is between the couple and should not be affected by COVID-19.
We love your unique take on traditional wedding costumes. How did you design them?
Yiguan: For the traditional costume, we wanted an outfit which could be used for both the Nikah and tea ceremony. Traditionally, for Nikah, I think the couple wears a white outfit and for Chinese tea ceremony, the bride usually wears a cheongsam. This was the base idea behind our traditional outfits. I chanced upon Studio HHZ on Instagram, made an appointment with Ruixian the designer, and we clicked instantly! Ruixian was very creative and the design process was a breeze.
We decided on using songket for the base of the cheongsam to match Zaini’s sampeng. I was a bit apprehensive at first as I was afraid the songket prints would look too intense. But what can I say, always trust the designer! For the oriental touch, we had matching mandarin collars and jade green buttons as well as white brocade for the collars, sleeves. and hems. Lastly, my skirt had tulle on the side that Ruixian insisted on adding for a bridal look, and I absolutely love it!
As for the white gown, it was custom-made at Gown Connoisseur. I am extremely indecisive and had a lot of self-debate on whether I should customise my wedding gown as the reception was going to be a simple one. After trying on many different gowns, I decided I wanted a simple and sleek long-sleeved wedding dress. Jean and Michelle from Gown Connoisseur were extremely helpful. We decided to go for a V-neck mermaid cut dress with some details on the back—full-length pearl buttons with a keyhole design.
What was your wedding day like?
Yiguan: Everything happened so fast! Our day started really early because it was a lunch wedding. I woke up around 5a.m. to get my makeup done and Zaini reached my house around 8a.m. or so. We had a mini gatecrash and tea ceremony at my house with my immediate family only because it was difficult to make arrangements due to COVID-19 restrictions. We headed over to the venue, did a photoshoot with the bridal squad, and it was already time for our solemnisation at 11a.m..
After the solemnisation ceremony, we had a change of outfit and it was time for the lunch reception march-in! We could not plan many programmes for the lunch due to the COVID-19 restrictions so we kept it simple and only had photo-taking and speeches. Before we knew it, lunch was over and the wedding was over! It was really fun though; there was a lot of adrenaline and the bridal squad kept moving and getting things done!
The one thing I’m most thankful for that day was the weather. It was raining almost every day before the wedding and we had no wet weather plan because it was going to be held at the Botanic Gardens! It was bright and sunny but not too humid. The good weather made everything much easier and I’m extremely thankful for that. Roads were dry and smooth, vendors could reach on time, guests were comfortable, and there was a lot of natural light so the photos also looked great. I’m extremely grateful and blessed at how the whole event turned out, which was very cosy and intimate.
Zaini: There were some hiccups along the way but overall, with the help of the wedding party, everything fell into place. It was a stressful yet fulfilling day for us.
What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?
Yiguan: Definitely our wedding speeches! The speeches started off on a light note and were warm and funny. It eventually got very emotional and we started to choke while speaking! At one point, we both started tearing and noticed that our families and friends were also crying! It was beautiful and we felt extremely grateful to have so many people pouring their hearts out for us.
Zaini: I would never have imagined that it would turn out to be such an emotional session for everyone. Many people cried during our speech and it showed how much everyone could relate to and understood what we had gone through over our six years together. It was also nice to see two families from different races and cultures unite to celebrate our big day.
The Size of the Wedding: 85 guests
The Cost of the Wedding: $30K
The Venue: The Villa at Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Wedding Day & Pre-Wedding Photographer: We Made These
The Traditional Outfits: Studio HHFZ
The Gown: The Gown Connoisseur
The Bride’s Shoes: Zara
The Suit: Ehkay Corner Tailors
The Groom’s Shoes: ASOS
The Engagement Ring: JannPaul
The Wedding Bands: JannPaul
The Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Zalora
The Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Vicky Ang
The Caterer: The Halia // Jamil Catering
The Florist: Floral Muse Studio
The Wedding Car Rental: Centurian Team
The Pelamin Decoration: Vynella Events
The Wedding Board & Gift Trays: [email protected]
Images by We Made These Photography