A Wedding Made For The Gods

Most of us are no stranger to the beauty of Bali and her popularity as one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia. Besides the alluring beaches, spas and relaxing resorts, there is something else that makes Bali an irresistible tourist magnet. Well, if you ask those from Japan, Australia, Europe and even USA, Bali has long been regarded as the dream wedding destination.

For these people who come from such rich landscapes with vast diversities, what draw does Bali hold that makes them travel all the way just to get married there? Apart from the sun, the sand, the sea and the tropical winds, Bali also has Tirtha Uluwatu, a wedding complex best known for its magnificent glass wedding chapel and the answer to what all marrying couples are looking for, the ideal venue.

Barely into its second year of operation, Tirtha Uluwatu has already gained a steadfast reputation as one of the hottest and most beautiful wedding locations in Bali. Its owners, a husband and wife team originally from Japan, have had more than ten years of experience coordinating weddings in Bali. This latest effort sees them take a great leap in widening their base and further establishing their name on the island and in the wedding industry.

The result of this endeavour is phenomenal. First-time visitors to this wedding complex located in Uluwatu never fail to marvel at the delight of this extraordinary property. Hidden from sight by tall grass and wild bushes, Tirtha Uluwatu is a piece of haven that seems to appear from out of nowhere, just like a magical kingdom in a fairytale.

The first thing that draws every guest’s attention is the legendary glass chapel against the backdrop of the clear blue Indian Ocean. Since it is perched on a hilltop in Jimbaran, Tirtha Uluwatu offers a superb view of the sea and the untainted white sandy beach 50 metres below from where the complex sits. As the locals are fiercely protective of this stretch of beach, tourists are totally out-of-bounds, hence preserving the beach’s pristine beauty. Constructed almost completely out of glass, the chapel provides a full view of the ocean from every corner of the room. The calm blue of the sea against the bright blue of the sky creates an instant postcard picture. It certainly generates the thought that anyone who gets married here must be the happiest souls on earth and will enjoy a happily ever after ending.

Taking into consideration that most wedding couples at Tirtha Uluwatu come from all corners of the earth, the owners have provided all the necessary facilities to make their guests feel comfortable and at home. Not only that, their clients’ guests are just as important too.

One of the amenities here is a large locker room inside the huge bathroom where guests can deposit their belongings and change into their formal attire (if they brought along any). In order to provide absolute comfort for these guests who might be recovering from jet lag, there is a spacious guest lounge where they will be served welcome drinks while waiting for the bride and groom to get ready.

In the midst of all these, the couple would be in their own private suite where there is a lounge area, a changing room and a bathroom. If there is time to spare, they can even watch some TV to combat the pre-marriage jitters or listen to soothing music from a collection of CDs available. Or, if they like, there is also some wine in the cooler where they can enjoy an early celebratory toast.

As tradition has it, no celebration, especially a joyous occasion like a wedding, is complete without a feast. At Tirtha Uluwatu, guests can sit down to an intimate reception just for two or for the entire wedding entourage. Adding another “A” to this marvellous venue is a mouth-watering selection of French and Asian cuisine prepared especially for all distinguished guests to Tirtha Uluwatu. Bon appetit!

Now, the event doesn’t end here with the reception. In fact, it has just begun. With the most hectic part of the itinerary over, what’s left is all the time in the world where you can truly let your hair down and enjoy each other’s company on this Island Of The Gods!

The Heart of India

 

In the past, Goa was the preserve of hippies making their way across the Indian sub-continent, stopping off to enjoy some rest and relaxation on its then undiscovered beaches. Today, it still retains much of that old hippie vibe, but has become so much more besides, and is even a stop for ships sailing with Fred Olsen cruise lines. Neither the hippies of the sixties, nor the Portuguese colonists that arrived in Goa in the sixteenth century would have foreseen their little slice of Indian paradise becoming a luxury holiday destination. However, among many other things, that is exactly what it has become. So what’s the appeal?

Goa’s main attraction is, naturally, its beaches. Huge swathes of deep yellow sand,.lapped by warm seas and and backed endless palm trees are strung out all along the coast. Some beaches are almost as deserted as they might have been back in the sixties, others are most definitely on the tourist trail, with a modern nightlife to match. In most areas, there is a choice of accommodation, from basic beach huts to sparkling, modern four and five star hotels. So, choose your beach and then find the accommodation to match. From north to south, these are the places to be in Goa.

Arambol and Mandrem

The last real hippie paradise in Goa. Arambol is a quiet paradise, far away from the package tourist crowds that dominate further south. The village is really just a ramshackle collection of streets that lead down to the beach. There, you’ll find beach huts serving up the catch of the day, and a friendly, laid-back vibe. If you’d rather experience glorious isolation, head just south to the wonderfully empty sands at Mandrem beach.

 

Chapora and Vagator

Chapora is a gorgeous, characterful village that charms everyone who visits with its cafe culture, ancient fort and stunning views over rugged clifftops that back the beach. The small settlement of Vagator is just around the headland. It’s quieter and less discovered than neighbouring Anjuna.

Anjuna

Anjuna is famous for its flea market, which has run there weekly since the 1960s. It’s also the centre of Goa’s party scene, so is the place to head if you’re keen to get your dancing shoes on. If you’d rather just kick back and relax, you’ll fit right in. There is plenty of space on Anjuna’s huge beach, with beach restaurants offering cold drinks, hot food and comfortable sunbeds.

Baga, Calangute and Candolim

This stretch of central Goa is the centre of its tourist industry, and offers the widest choice of hotels, huge beaches and plenty of drinking and dining options. The character changes as you head south. Baga, to the north, is the party end, with some noisy upmarket clubs catering to a mixed crowd of young Indians and westerners. Calangute is quieter and more family oriented, with Candolim the most chilled-out.

Colva and Benaulim

This pair of beaches in the south of the state are ideal for those who just want to relax and enjoy. Days are spent sunbathing or exploring the local back-lanes by bicycle, evenings eating out under the stars, listening to the waves…

Palolem and Agonda

Completely undeveloped until relatively recently, these beaches have become favourites with both backpackers and luxury-seekers. Palolem is lively and friendly, lined with bars and restaurants. Agonda is much quieter. They’re just a few kilometres apart, so you can easily split your time between the two as the mood takes you.

Away From the Beach

While the beaches are, indeed, lovely, Goa is not just about its beaches. It has a fascinating history and culture too, with strong Portuguese influences. In the quieter resorts, you can wander along the lanes away from the beach, past white churches and green fields. Head to the magnificent Old Goa, once the Portuguese capital, to see what colonial life might have been like in Goa. The city is a unique meeting of cultures, packed with churches, cathedrals and other historic buildings that have made it a UNESCO world heritage site.

Getting There

Non-stop flights operate from the UK, taking around ten hours. For a wider choice of flights, fly to nearby Mumbai and catch an internal flight from there. If you have time, stop off in Mumbai for a couple of days and experience a little of its Bollywood energy.

Italy Wedding

Planning to go overseas for your wedding photo shoot? Happy couple Samuel Wee, 31, and Lee Ling Ling, 30, shares with us their experience.
Ling Ling: We took our wedding photos in Tindari and Taormina, Sicily. The first photo shoot was done in Tindari. We even did a couple of shots during lunch en route to the Greek-Roman archaeological site of Tindari. It was a cosy restaurant with large cellars of wine. The food was great as well. We tasted many local produces including cheese, wine, antipasti…

The rest of the photo shoot was done at the archaeological site. There is a large church that is situated at the edge of the cliff called the Black Madonna of Tindari. The view from the church window is fantastic as it overlooks the sea.

Excluding our 2 wedding planners, we had an entourage of 2 other humans! Just my sister and 2-year old niece. 🙂 it was a small and simple affair. My niece even celebrated her birthday in Sicily.

W&T: Which service provider did you engage to do it?

Ling Ling: Olga from Guinone Wedding
W&T: What was the damage? (i.e. How much did it cost?)

Ling Ling: We customized the wedding to include a tour of Italy as well. It was 3 weeks of fun, sights and feasting. Can’t really recall the exact damage, but I must say it was worth every penny spent!

Ling Ling: Olga helped us manage the paperwork needed for the wedding, flowers, make up, air tickets, land transfers, accommodation and our meals for the three week trip.

W&T: How did you come up with the idea of holding your wedding overseas while holidaying? We understand that it was a small and intimate event – was it always in your personality to do something spontaneous and unconventional like this?

Ling Ling: It wasn’t really that spontaneous.  We did think of getting hitched overseas just because we thought it would be more intimate. We wanted the occasion to be just for the two of us. It was something different and definitely unique from those other run of-the-mill weddings.

W&T: What were the steps to planning and how long did it take for you to plan for the wedding? What were some of the difficulties you faced during the planning stage?

Ling Ling: We searched online for wedding planners that were based in Italy. There were a lot of to and fro emails to determine their package price and what the package covers. We were even contemplating not getting married overseas because the process involved was complicated and coupled with our inability to speak Italian.

Then, we were doing our shopping at Vivo and stumbled upon a wedding fair. Usually we don’t go to such fairs, but one of the booth had pictures of Rome on it. We decided  to visit the booth. And it was Olga’s booth. And thankfully she could help us with the solemnization process. We came across many companies offering wedding shoots in Italy, but not many have the experience or necessary contacts to hold a solemnization for foreigners in Italy.

We did have to go through a bit of planning with Olga. We took about 3months+ to work out the details. Since there weren’t many guests, that logistic part was a non-issue.

The first thing that needed to be sorted out was of course to inform our family members and friends on our plan to get married overseas. We definitely needed their blessings. Then somehow the other things like finding the wedding dresses and tailoring a suit just came along smoothly.  I had two dresses. One was bought off the rack and simple. It was easier to carry around as well.  Initially i didn’t want to get a wedding dress because I didn’t want to lug it around for three weeks. But Olga introduced me to La Vita Brides. We met her about two weeks before we flew off. And managed to get a dress without having to do any fitting!  I wore the white dress for the photoshoot and the simple purple dress for the solemnisation.

The most painful part was settling the paperwork involved to get married in Italy. As I am a M’sian citizen, I had to travel to KL to sort out the documentation and translation (to Italian) required. It involved multiple trips to various government agencies and embassy to prove my legal single status. My husband’s paperwork was so much simpler. Just a trip down to ROM and MFA was required.

When we at Taormina, we needed to do some pre-registration before the ceremony day. We had to go to the local city council office and then to the local police station to declare that we are actually present in Taormina. Thankfully, we had Sabrina (Olga’s business partner) who spoke the local Sicilian dialect. She managed to get the paper work sorted out within the day. What amazes me is that the forms and certificate is handwritten. The form/marriage contract was A3 in size. Our wedding certification had our named written in cursive writing. It is a very unique document.

We had a ball of a time with our photographer and videographer. I guess it is important to be able to have fun during your photo shoot.

W&T: What was the theme/concept for your wedding decorations at the venue? (We would also appreciate it if you could provide some pictures!)

Ling Ling: It was a simple wedding ceremony solemnised by a Mayor of Taormina. The venue was a old historical building that was already very uniquely decorated. It served as a town hall (a venue for marriages). Since it was very quaint and charming on its own, so we only had simple decorations of flower bouquet at the table.  The flowers matched my dress that was a light violet.

Our ring pillows wasn’t the typical one, we used the flower bouquet as our ring pillow.  We were told we are probably the first Singaporean couple to marry in Taormina. They even gave us a commemorative book on Taormina as a souvenir. Olga served as our translator. Sabrina and my sister was our witness.

After the ceremony, we had a cake cutting ceremony in a public square. With tourists as our witness. We popped a bottle of champagne and shared it with tourists and locals alike. As part of the local tradition, we gave out local sweets called confetti. It is almond encased with a hard white sugary shell. We offered it to tourists, even their local policemen. Guests are supposed to take the sweets (in Odd numbers) as a token of good luck and blessings to the couple.

W&T: What did you and your husband do after the wedding? Was the rest of the 3-week holiday like your honeymoon?

Ling Ling: After the wedding, we took more photos near the coast of Taormina. There was this small island called Isola Bella that was accessible via land at low tide. It was really fun, not to mention wet!

We then had a romantic candlelight dinner at the restaurant that had a sea view. It was a single private dinner table at the edge of the cliff and the food was simply great. Just two of us and the occasional waiter.

The days thereafter were just as fun and exciting. We visited other parts of Sicily such as Syracusa, Milazzo, Messina and Parlemo. Somewhere near Syracusa at a port town called Augusta, we had the best grilled swordfish ever! We even managed to catch a play at an ancient Roman Theatre in Syracusa.

The hilarious part of the trip was when we got lost on our way to Augusta. We actually arrived at a junction that had two signs pointing to our destination. One sign pointed left and another pointed right. What made it funnier was when we asked a local for directions. She said to go straight, and then we drove straight and ended at a t-junction. We couldn’t go straight any further. But somehow, we managed to get to our destination.

Then we took a ship to the volcanic island of Stromboli. It’s a beautiful island with black sand beaches. Black because of the volcanic ash and minerals. The beach and the sea is gorgeous. It would be another perfect venue to hold a wedding and photo shoot. The seafood is fantastic. We even climbed up the volcano in attempt to catch some eruptions. We started the climb at 6pm and reached the peak at 8plus. But alas, it was too cloudy and we didn’t managed to see any eruption.

We then sailed for Naples and spent a week in Tuscany. Places that we visited in Tuscany included Florence, Sienna, San Gimignano, Montepulciano (where they shoot the movie Twilight) and Cortona. We also visited Rome and Venice.

Olga and Sabrina was our tour guide throughout most of the trip. We ate where the locals ate and most of the menu was not in English. This is the best way to immerse yourself in their culture. We even attended a local pasta festival in Cortona, Tuscany. At this festival, the community comes together to cook and raise funds. There was dancing, live band and a fun fair. I won a pink pig soft toy.

Olga and Sabrina gave us a surprise wedding gift when we were at Tuscany. They took us on a boat to watch the sunset on one of the lakes on Tuscany, Lake Tresimeno. They dropped us off at Isola Maggiore, which is a tourist hotspot during summer. As it was not summer yet, the island was pretty much deserted. Besides the handful of island inhabitants, there were countless wild hares and peasants. I had a fun time trying to capture their photos. After touring the island, we got back onto the boat to enjoy our dinner while watching the sunset. We danced under the moonlight as well. It was very enjoyable as we had Olga, Sabrina as company, along with the three men who ran the boat cruise business. It was a very fun evening.

One thing that stood out from the trip is the food. Our only complaint is there is too much food! We ate like a local for most of our trip and didn’t had to worry about the costs as it was covered by our wedding package. Some notable delicacies include grilled swordfish at Sicily, Cornetto (pastry rolled into the cone with fresh cream inside), vongole (glorious clams), pasta, wine, seven layered Sicilian cake, cheese with marmalade, coffee and fresh tomatoes.

W&T:  Do you know of anyone who held their wedding overseas too? Do you think this is a trend that is starting to be popular with Singaporean couples?

Ling Ling: I know of a few. Most couples still prefer to hold a wedding locally because it’s easier to manage logistically and definitely cheaper. For those who did theirs overseas, it’s usually the solemnisation part, but the actual traditonal ceremony and dinner will usually be held in Singapore. Traditional parents are also opposed to the thought of their children getting married in a foreign land.

W&T: What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages to holding your wedding overseas?

Ling Ling: Advantages: A different environment and a different climate! Your wedding will be unique and look different from other local weddings. The photos also won’t be the typical fort canning, botanic gardens and shenton way/boat quay. If you are in a country like Europe, the weather is cooler and the couple will not be sweating and melting under their gowns and suits.

Disadvantages: Could be costly if the affair is going to be elaborate or involves flying relatives and friends. The paperwork involved can be quite tiring as you cannot really outsource this totally to your planner. Couples have to understand that the culture overseas is different from Singapore. For example, In Italy, offices and shops close in the afternoon especially in areas outside of Rome. So, if you need paperwork to be done, make sure there is ample time. Communication may be an issue in non-English speaking countries.

W&T: For couples who are thinking of holding their wedding overseas, what would be your best piece of advice to them?

Ling Ling: If you get the blessings from your parents to have it overseas, go for it. It is definitely more fun and thrilling. Get a planner, preferably someone familiar with the country your wedding is held. Better still get a local. Please also cater time for planning. A wedding overseas may take more time to plan and work out the official paperwork. Please also do your sums and have some buffer for additional things. Lastly, do remember that a wedding is just an event that marks the start of a lifelong marriage. All the best to your wedding!

Mathematics Has Never Been This Romantic

Text SUMMER LEE

 

To math tutors Aven and Kim, love is no art or science, but a simple formula: perseverance to the power of two who are hopelessly in love.

Four years ago, Kim Aw had just turned 21 when she first met Aven Choo, 12 years her senior, at the yoga centre where she was working as a consultant. There was no immediate chemistry or physical attraction. To her, he was just another customer signing up for yoga lessons.

It was only later, after he had turned up for his yoga sessions for a few months, that they found themselves progressing from exchanging pleasantries to discovering more about each other and their common factor: interest in mathematics

“Despite our age gap, we are not very different in terms of character. But we did not really know we would end up in marriage. We just thought we could give the relationship a try,” said Kim.

They started dating around six months later and their feelings for each other grew exponentially. Aven subsequently stopped patronising the yoga centre, but not before poaching Kim to join him as a teacher at his tuition centre where he taught mathematics at secondary school level. And when they were not crunching numbers, they would be visiting the national museum where he proposed.

Said Kim: “There was this magnetic board stuck with utensils. While I was not looking, he formed the words ‘marry me’ on the spot with spoons and sauce dishes.”

The mad rush for wedding preparations did not start until three months before the wedding day. Tensions ran high when rain poured throughout the day during an outdoor shoot arranged by their pre-wedding photographer, Kelvin from Lightedpixels. Even though they were carrying umbrellas, it left Kim with a blotchy gown and a heavy heart. Fortunately, the photos turned out fine with skilful touch-ups that made her gown – and her – look immaculate.

Kim was never an easy catch for Aven, especially when her father had initially disapproved of their relationship due to their 12-year age gap.

“But Aven was very persistent. He would join my family gatherings and slowly win my father over,” said Kim. “It took about a year for my dad to start acting friendly.”

After four years of courtship, things did not get any easier even on their wedding day in May this year.

“When we went to pick up my bride, her ‘sisters’ made me and my ‘brothers’ do many crazy stuff. One particular stunt was to perform pole dancing on a bamboo pole, which I did until my whole suit was wet with sweat,” said Aven in good humour.

Putting his yoga skills to good use, Aven cast aside his decorum and sportingly gyrated against a bamboo pole as two of his groomsmen slurped cola from a 1.5-litre PET bottle through a thin rubber hose. “He was not allowed to stop until they finish the drink,” Kim giggled.

Their wedding banquet, thrown at the Grand Hyatt, was an aureate picture of red and gold – an interpretation of the Spanish theme by their florist Wee Lee from Fiore Dorato.

Besides the mathematically-inclined couple, the guests also did their sums to maximise the utility of their red packets.

“At the end of the night, most floral arrangements were gone, taken home by our guests as souvenirs,” said Kim, whose mind is now probably taken up by two numbers – her November honeymoon in Europe, and her integral other half.

Copyright 2007 wedding-travel.com. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Full House Communications Pte Ltd.

Two Globetrotters Crossed Paths and Fell in Love

Text SUMMER LEE

Sparks flew when two globetrotters from different ends of the world crossed paths in a land faraway from home. Parties are just part of life for ex-club DJ Dean Fergus and fashion designer Kristin Lee. Never did they expect that one would change their lives forever.

A long-distance relationship took off from there. Kristin was back in South Korea after spending years in Italy, while 30-year-old Australian hotelier Dean was constantly jetting between Australia and Asia.

They would meet up in Bali once a month but it was simply not enough for the lovesick Dean. He decided to pay Kristin a visit in Seoul during Christmas that year.

“It was a clear evening on Dec 27 when he got down on one knee in a hotel suite overlooking my city,” said Kristin whose parents were celebrating their wedding anniversary on the same day. “And I said ‘yes’.”

They exchanged their vows a year later at the cliff-top Tresna Chapel of Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the Bukit peninsula of Bali. Arranged by Secretvillas Bali, the reception was hosted at Villa OMG Nusa Dua on the other side of the peninsula. They engaged local Project Bali Wedding and Photo Factory Bali to take photos of the occasion.

Rather than the casual or beach-themed weddings commonly seen around Bali, Kristin wanted “a more high-end style you can see in capital cities around the world”. A frequent traveller to New York and an erstwhile resident in Italy, Kristin knew exactly where to find the right stuff to create a setting that amalgamated the refined taste of Europe, beautiful patterns of Korea, and the exotic nature of Bali.

Designing their monogram was one of the very first things Kristin did when she planned for the wedding. Their initials – written in Swarovski crystals – would twinkle blithely on her pink and peach bridal bouquet.

The couple made their invitation cards in India, ordered custom-made embroidered table linen in South Korea, and scrawled the names of their 50 guests individually on butterfly ornaments.

The bridal gown from the US was an eye-popper. Made with heavy duchess silk and dusted with Swarovski beads, it had a three-layered train that spread out 4m long.

Almost as pricey as the gown, the veil measuring almost 4.5m had to be custom-made to suit the length of the wedding gown.

Wedding guests were served a gourmet spread that included Russian herb blinis and chilled Spanish gazpacho. The kids had their own menu featuring their favourite fish and chips, and ice-cream.

As darkness fell, the guests ended up in the infinity pool that overlooked the Indian Ocean, sipping cocktails under the starry sky – the same nightscape that sealed the destiny of Kristin and Dean the night they first met.

Copyright 2007 wedding-travel.com. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Full House Communications Pte Ltd.