You know how when helpless situations occur and you can’t help but jump into a series of “if only” thoughts? For example, when someone dear to you is having a toothache in the middle of the night, you probably thought, “if only I were a dentist, I would have known what to do!”
When the pandemic struck and you were at a loss, what “if only” thoughts came to you? It probably varies from “if only I had gotten married last year!” to “if only I were a wedding planner, I would have known what to do!”
Leon + Vanessa (Wedding Trailer) from AndroidsinBoots on Vimeo.
Truth is, when something like a global pandemic happens, wedding planners are equally taken by surprise. None of us has encountered something like this. While we may have the skills in adapting plans and navigating the uncertainty, we probably feel doubly disheartened that we can’t make your initial dream wedding come true. Add to that the fact that some of us are in fact planning for our own nuptials…it is just a whole lot of emotions.
That was the case for Vanessa, who is a Special Events Planner at Heaven’s Gift. Her day-to-day has been about helping individuals and couples celebrate their milestones in life. Surely when it is her own wedding, she would have wanted the best not only for herself. But also for her partner, Leon and all her family and friends. Unlike other wedding planners we’ve encountered (but definitely like most brides and rightfully so), Vanessa had a vision of how it would be like. Together with Leon, they had wanted to host a 2-day celebration for up to 800 pax that was going to be a whole lot of fun!
Our original plan was going to be a whole weekend affair, with a Saturday morning church solemnisation with lunch reception (for about 450 pax), and then a Sunday night banquet dinner (about 350 pax). We really wanted a very fun and engaging wedding, so we had games planned, and had intended for our bridal party dance in down the aisle before us. We wanted a live band, photobooth and dance floor too!Leon & Vanessa
Navigating Plans and Feelings When Things Go South
But as you know, things didn’t turn out that way. Instead of a multiday celebration, Leon and Vanessa compressed their plans and started their day at 2pm in the afternoon! What remained a priority to them was their family members. To provide convenience, the couple chose to hold their solemnisation and dinner on the same day at Grand Hyatt Singapore.
We could only imagine how much of a disappointment it must have been for them. As with all important things in life that weren’t going the way we envisioned, we find ourselves in a state of denial. It was the same for the couple too!
To be honest, when the pandemic struck, we still had hope that things would be back to normal by the time of our wedding, because who would have thought COVID would plague us for this long! But as the months wore on and we realised that the wedding we envisioned would not be able to happen, it honestly took a few months of letting that dream die, for me in particular, to be okay with it. I was sorely disappointed and struggled a lot with whether to postpone or proceed.Vanessa
It took Vanessa a while to come to a state of acceptance. While it is hard, looking on the bright side of things is probably one very important aspect to move forward.
I tried my best to focus on the positives. That at least I could have 100 pax present to celebrate with us. And the beauty of livestreaming was also that we could include friends and family who live overseas. Leon was also very very supportive and understanding and gave in to the small ancillary things I wanted. Since he knew how disappointed I already was about not having the ideal wedding I always envisioned.Vanessa
Besides Leon, Vanessa was also lucky to have her colleagues at Heaven’s Gift who were extremely helpful and supportive throughout the planning journey. She was able to keep herself positive!
My colleagues at Heaven’s Gift planned the wedding, and honestly, not to be cheesy, but it was a gift from God indeed. I never imagined, as a wedding planner myself, that up to mere weeks from the wedding I would still be completely changing the plans!!! The months leading up were filled with so much uncertainty because of the constantly changing restrictions. We also did not dare to tie things down because we were hoping for the situation to look up.Vanessa
Vanessa was keeping herself hopeful perhaps to the extent of being tooooo positive. So it was Maxine, the Wedding Director of Heaven’s Gift, who was able to help Vanessa keep herself level-headed.
Maxine, my Wedding Director, was a voice of reason for me. Because being an optimist, I kept wanting to wait and see. But she would keep me in check and nudge me along. She was there to push us along and remind us that we had to confirm plans. And to keep coming up with different variations of the plans for us, and also for giving us options and suggestions on how we could do things…She also helped us to take care of all the little things and took the load off from us having to worry about the details when we had the guestlist and seating arrangement to worry.Vanessa
Quite frankly, we would think at this stage, any couple would love to be blessed with not having to think of a single thing and just go with the flow. We’re glad Vanessa and Leon had the chance to do just that.
On the actual day, we literally did not have to think about anything because Maxine was running the programme. We just followed instructions on where to go and what was upcoming next. It really gave us the mental capacity to fully be present and enjoy the day with our loved ones.Leon & Vanessa
Loved Ones – The Silver Lining
Despite the major setback that the couple had to face, their silver lining came through the love they received in all direction.
From the get-go, family was the most important consideration for Leon and Vanessa when planning their wedding. They had always intended for the celebration to be one they could honour and thank their parents. And it was their parents who became the determining factor when they chose their wedding venue – Grand Hyatt.
To be very honest, Grand Hyatt was not originally one of our ideal locations. We felt the ballroom looked quite corporate and would have preferred something more romantic. But as we were exploring wedding venues, we incidentally found out that both our parents got married at Grand Hyatt (and in the same year too!!). That changed things, because to us, the wedding was also a time we wanted to honour and thank our parents. So it would be really meaningful to bring them back to the place where they tied the knot too, and bring it full circle. Of course, Grand Hyatt’s food is well-known to be excellent, and us both being foodies, that definitely checked our box too! (The Lychee Ice Tea there is also da bomb, just saying)Leon & Vanessa
Leon and Vanessa went further as to getting their parents involved in their wedding march-in. They all did the first march-in together to the song “Top of the World”, (surely an oldie but a goldie) and it was a lot of fun for everyone!
Not only blessed with the love from her family, Vanessa is also equally loved by her bridesmaids! All of them were the reasons why Vanessa is now able to look back to her wedding day with fond memories:
When I first came down to prep for the solemnisation, I was hiding to prevent being seen by the guests, and my bridesmaids were standing in prep to walk in before me. And when they saw me, they couldn’t come over because they were on standby, but instinctively, they all started making cute heart-shaped gestures to show me they loved me across the distance! It was so heart-warming to know the girls I hold closest to my heart were all there to celebrate my special day with me.
Leon actually surprised me during the dinner with a video he collated of my close friends, who I could not have physically present, sharing their well wishes. I immediately teared up because he knew that one of my greatest disappointments was that so many of my close friends could not physically celebrate with us. That was a very very sweet and thoughtful gesture that I appreciated very much.Vanessa
Needless to say, the whole industry rejoice when one of our own from the industry gets married! Vanessa was extremely grateful to be surrounded by fellow colleagues in the field she works closely with. It sure felt like a celebration with them as well!
We love love love our vendors and their expert touches on everything. They made the wedding beautiful, and so enjoyable for us! Our pre-wedding video was such a great introduction to the whole wedding. Our instant roving photography gave guests something to take home even though we could not have a photobooth. Of course, special mention to my dear makeup artist Jyue Huey (from The Make Up Room) too! We received so many compliments on hair and makeup, and even my husband got some touch ups to cover up his eye bags and fill in his brows!Vanessa
Coming this far, we hope you see that you’re not alone in this wedding planning journey. Even wedding planners themselves would agree as Vanessa so rightly puts, “planning a wedding during this COVID season is truly one of the hardest things ever, so to the brides out there, sending love!! And know that you’re not alone.”
If you’re looking for some tips from her who’ve been through quite a journey herself, here you go!
Set aside time each week to talk about wedding-related things. Share your thought processes so that you both understand each other and are on the same page. Do that with your parents and family too. Make sure you involve them in the journey and check clearly with them on what requirements they have when it comes to traditions – and share with them what the restrictions are early on too, so as to avoid miscommunications or misalignment of expectations and unnecessary tensions close to the wedding day.
Second, have fun and enjoy the process
You’ll miss it once it’s over!
Last but not least, be present.
Outsource your stress and select wonderful vendors who you can trust. Then be fully present and soak in every moment on the day. Even if anything goes wrong, you know you have chosen people who will troubleshoot and make the day wonderful for you.
Without bias, I have to say that the value of hiring a wedding planner is immense. I know it sounds biased coming from me, but even Leon is going around telling all his engaged friends to hire planners! I think the value of outsourcing the stress on the wedding day really frees you up to give you capacity to be mentally present and enjoy every moment.
As couples, we pay so much to set the scene for the wedding, better make sure we’re fully present and able to enjoy the day!
There you have it! If you find yourself going back to “if only” thoughts again, remember that no matter at which point you decide to tie the knot, you are bound to also have great things coming out of it. Let that be enough of a reason to keep going and get help so it can be a less painful process for you!
Professionals engaged for the wedding:
- Wedding Planner: Heaven’s Gift | @heavensgiftspecialevents
- Photography: Thomas Tan Photography | @tinkytee
- Videography: Androids in Boots | @androidsinboots
- Venue: Grand Hyatt Singapore | @grandhyattsing
- Wedding Gown:
- CCM Wedding | @ccmwedding for Wedding Dress
- The Gown Warehouse | @thegownwarehouse for Evening Dress
- Masks: Gioielli | @gioiellisg
- Groom’s suit: KAY-JEN | @kayjenjournal
- Jewellery: Jann Paul | @jannpaul
- Makeup Artist: The Make Up Room (Jyue Huey) | @themakeuproom_sg
- Floral and Décor: Heaven’s Gift | @heavensgiftspecialevents
- Stationery Designer: Heaven’s Gift | @heavensgiftspecialevents
- Instant Roving Photography: Movingstills (Shawn) | @movingstills.sg