I mentioned that the wedding date and venue are the first things that you have to confirm before you can even think about other bits of the wedding.
I reckon for many Chinese families, someone (your parent, relative, one of the elders) will insist on consulting a geomancer for an auspicious date. M and I are not fussed, but to respect the elders, we left the date-hunting to my mother-in-law. We gave her the time period within which we would like to get married. It was pretty easy, though restrictive, for us. M and I could only return to Singapore during the summer holidays, so July and August were the best times to say ‘I do’. My mother-in-law went in search of an auspicious date in each of these two months, and we picked the one in August for our tea ceremony and solemnisation. This gets a little complicated and I have to digress to explain this. We wanted a two-day wedding. Unlike many couples, we were yet to be solemnised before the day of traditional celebrations (termed the actual day), and we wanted to fully enjoy and relax at our wedding without rushing through everything. So having set the auspicious date for the traditional and legal parts of it, we decided to have our banquet on the next day. I highly recommend having it over two days because everything is a lot more relaxed.
Once we had the two dates, we searched for a venue that was available. I emailed a couple of hotels that suited our criteria (affordable, willing to take 250 guests since we wanted a small and intimate wedding, classy ambience), asking for availability and packages, and hoped for the best. I even emailed the folks in Bali; Bali being one of our favourite places in the world was our dream wedding destination. Unfortunately for us, some venues were too expensive and some were unavailable. We were left with a few options and I made appointments to see their event planners in April 2009.
We were very partial to one venue, Amara Sanctuary Resort, because it has The Glass Pavilion on its grounds that is perfect for exchanging our vows. It was just like Bali. There were other hotels that fitted our criteria as well, such as Fullerton and Shangri-La. These venues are nice, classy, centrally located and well-known upscale hotels but we felt that they didn’t offer anything special that would make us seal the deal. We had our eyes secretly set on Amara Sanctuary Resort. The only downside was its location on Sentosa Island.
We were sold when we did a site visit to the resort. It wasn’t far off from the bridge that links Sentosa to the main island and signs are well-posted, so people are unlikely to get lost.
When we saw the Glass Pavilion, we knew it was going to be a beautiful outdoor ceremony with greenery around us and Philippe Starck-designed Ghost Chairs. The pavilion is air-conditioned, so we didn’t have to worry about rain, humidity and heat. The pavilion can sit up to 40 guests, which was perfect for our wish to have an intimate solemnisation ceremony!
The Shutters restaurant, adjacent to the Glass Pavilion, is modern, quaint and serves as a dining area for solemnisation receptions. The food (contemporary Asian and Western cuisine) was pretty good for a buffet dinner. Lucky for us, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves even though we had only 40 guests.
The Grand Ballroom is housed in a building of its own and hence offered a huge ballroom (maximum capacity of 500 people) and reception space which belonged entirely to us during our banquet (no sharing with other functions, no confusion as to where to go when guests arrive). The ballroom has an intelligent lighting system that can match your wedding theme. There is also a meeting room with an en-suite washroom across the ballroom that can be used for your changing needs during the banquet. Most of all, the food was the best wedding banquet fare we’ve ever had. We received many compliments on the quality of the food, which is rather unusual considering that it was a wedding dinner! The menu we had consisted of Chinese and modern Japanese dishes, which were all very well-executed.
The service at the resort was excellent; we felt like we were in Bali, being served tropical drinks in a lemongrass-perfumed lobby. The staff we encountered were mostly polite and efficient, very Balinese! As with most hotels, there were some shortfalls and annoying issues that we encountered when it comes to making requests with certain staff members that were allocated to us, but dogged and feisty perseverance can sort them out (just remember that there is no such thing as making too many requests, you are paying the bill!).
We went for the Verandah for our bridal suite; Verandah has a large bedroom, a spacious living area, a beautiful bathroom, and a private balcony and it was perfect. There is an option of going for the Courtyard Suite, which comes with an outdoor jacuzzi, but we didn’t want to have that as there is a lack of privacy that comes with people peeping from upstairs…(after reading some brides’ warnings on forums, I tested this out and managed to peek into the Courtyard Suite).
If you’re afraid to troop around the resort in a big bulky dress and high heels on your wedding day, don’t be, because buggies are ready to take you around the resort whenever you please. The buggy that takes you will also be decorated on your wedding day.
The nice thing about staying at the resort was the surroundings lent a certain sense of calm during our wedding. I felt like I was on a holiday and when we had time, we took a nice walk to a secluded part of the beach (found a shortcut during our expedition) and had the entire area to the both of us.
As I love resort holidays in Bali, I feel that Amara Sanctuary Resort offers that extra something that city hotels could never replicate. If you’re anything like me, you have to check the resort out. You might just fall in love with it.
P/S: Send me an email or comment if you would like me to give you more specific details on the resort.