We decided to put wedding planning into action in January 2009. That left us with eight months to get everything sorted out from London. From January to April, we dropped emails to wedding service providers to familiarise ourselves with packages and pricelists. We set a realistic budget for big items such as wedding banquet, photographer, wedding attire etc and included a small budget for miscellaneous cost without compromising hugely on what we wanted. The only compromise I had to make was not getting a wedding planner as we were quoted S$8000 for planning fees alone. This excludes actual realisation costs and knowing how expensive things like florals could be at the hands of a designer, I waved bye-bye to the idea of having a wedding planner and sulked for a good amount of time. I was that close to making it a personal vendetta against everyone else who could afford one.
I settled for appointing another wedding planner – yours truly. I figured that if I were going to have a memorable wedding, it was up to me and the incentive to do so came from saving S$8000. That decision made for rather stressful wedding preparations as I had to run the smallest and biggest of errands, and pacify people along the way without being physically in Singapore.
I digressed (you can see that I’m still a little sore about not getting a wedding planner…). We went back to Singapore in April 2009 to meet up with wedding service providers for further discussions. We made many appointments in the four months before, and aimed to sign all necessary contracts during this trip. It was a mad two weeks, what with M having to revise for exams and me running around on my own most of the time. Decisions were made very quickly but not hastily because we had plenty of discussions and knew exactly what we both wanted. We signed contracts and made deposits for the big items such as venue and boutique and made some informal discussions with vendors for smaller ones. Then we had to return to London. I did wish that we had more time to fix up other things on the list, but I think we did farely well for two weeks.
An intense flurry of email exchanges were made in the next three months. I had to search for and communicate ideas for designs and palettes, order favours and boxes, arrange for makeup artists, assign tasks ,sort out schedules, shortlist song choices, file for marriage etc. M and I went shoe shopping here in London. We also handmade and sent our invitation cards for the solemnisation ceremony. The guest lists were sorted out jointly with our parents; banquet invitation card design and wordings were decided by us. Our parents and best man delivered invitations once they were printed. Everything was done via email and overseas phone calls. I can’t even begin to describe how difficult this was.
We returned to Singapore three weeks before our wedding. We did the food tasting and fittings, bought the groomsmen’s ties, got the bridesmaids and mums fitted, had more suits made for M and our dads, handmade table and reception decorations, confirmed the cake and floral designs, packed the favours, fine-tuned the schedules, roles and to-do lists and (no surprise there) we were forced to expand our guest list. We also squeezed in a hen do and a bachelor’s party. These are just a few of the things I can remember at the top of my head.
Yes, my point is we had a seriously difficult time for eight months prior to our wedding but the greatest difficulty that we encountered during wedding preparations was nothing related to tangible things that we had to accomplish. The most insane part was to manage expectations and relationships, not just ours but that with our parents, families and friends and even wedding vendors. To agree between ourselves, present a unified front, compromise with the people around us and make everyone as happy as possible were some of the toughest and most emotional ordeals we had to go through. We often sat here in London wondering what was going on at the other end of the world, how person X was feeling about our decision, waiting for emails, managing the time differences and our busy lives here. Tears and anger were not uncommon. Also, we felt helpless most of the time in London because of the sheer distance and consequent inability to do anything. All we wanted to do was something but our hands were tied.
A myriad of difficulties aside, the only reason why we could pull the wedding off with much success was because we planned and cooperated to make it work. Do as much as you can, gather help from loved ones, plan out your budget, appointments and schedules. Most importantly, manage expectations and learn to realise that even though you want your wedding to be your own (pink, frilly, full of butterflies and paper-winged fairies?), it is also your husband’s (Star Wars theme anyone?) and your parents’ (the traditionalists with ‘we can’t invite so-and-so without inviting his cousin’s wife’ mentality); it is easier to compromise when you know and accept this. You might disagree now, but you will eventually realise that it is not worth fighting over or insisting on the smallest of things. I learnt this the hard way. Pick the battles that are worth fighting. A day after your wedding, you’re going to see that all that mattered was loved ones shared the joy of matrimony with you and that you now have a husband who is going love you ‘till death do us part‘.
So, plan plan plan, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Good luck!