Looking back on Dr Lee Seng Gee’s renewal of wedding vows

W&T sends our heartfelt condolences to Dr Lee Seng Gee’s family, on the passing of Dr Lee on Tuesday, May 10. We are very honoured to have interviewed well-known philanthropist Dr Lee and his beloved wife, Dr Della Suantio, back in 2011 when the couple renewed their wedding vows to mark their 20th wedding anniversary. Once again, we would like to share this heart-warming article on their renewal of wedding vows with the public.

Dr Lee Seng Gee, chairman of the Lee Foundation, married his wife, Dr Della Suantio, on this day, 11 January, exactly 20 years ago. A well-known philanthropist and educator in Singapore, most people wouldn’t have known that the respected Dr Lee is quite the romantic too.

text CAROL WF L

Three years before their matrimony, Dr Lee met Dr Della at a business meeting in Singapore. The latter had come on her father’s instructions to discuss share options in the Hock Lee Rubber Company, a business co-owned by the two families. To this day, the couple remembers with fondness the details of their first conversation. In her lovable straightforward and candid manner, Dr Della’s first question to Mr Lee was “You buy us or we buy you?”

Dr Lee merely smiled and replied that he would have to wait until he heard from the company’s inspector general before he could make any decision. This bought him time and the ensuing excuses to keep calling Dr Della and meeting her whenever she was in Singapore.

While Dr Lee was clearly smittened, Dr Della’s first impression of Dr Lee was: slim, a button missing on his shirt and wearing a Citizen watch. She told her father that, “he is a very humble person, a good man but he probably isn’t doing very well, he drives an old Mercedes with windows that have to be manually wound down.” Thankfully, Dr Della is not one to judge by appearances. Three years later, the pair got married on 11 January 1991, 11am, at a Presidential Suite in Mandarin Hotel, solemnised by JP Dr Robert Loh. A wedding reception was held later on 7 July 1991, 7pm, at the Westin Hotel with 400 invited guests. The couple celebrate these 2 dates yearly as their ‘wedding anniversary’.


The digit ‘9’ was the number of the day as it rhymes with ‘chang chang jiu jiu’ (eternity) in Chinese. The number can be spotted on the license plate on the 8-metre long limousine used to ferry the couple and their bridesmaids. The dinner was a 9-course menu and the cocktail drink served was aptly named Eternal Love.

On 11 January 2011, the couple marked their 20th wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore. The celebrant was Monsignor Nicholas Chia, the Archbishop of Singapore. The florist, Sing See Soon, dressed up the church in the bride’s favourite graduated colours, from light pink to fuchsia pink.

During the occasion, the couple exchanged plain white gold bands. “Our rings have no beginning and no end, a fitting emblem of perpetuity of holy matrimony. We just wanted a simple token of the love, peace and understanding that we have shared over the years and continue to do so”, said Dr Lee.

Later that day, a dinner was hosted by President Su Guaning of Nanyang Technology University, at the ballrooom in Conrad Hotel, attended by about 360 guests.

Apart from family and close friends, the occasion was graced by luminaries like the executives of NTU, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mrs Goh, Mdm Ho Ching, Parliament Speaker Mr Tarmugi and Mrs Tarmugi, Dr & Mrs Lee Suan Yew, Ministers Grace Fu and Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, and Mr and Mrs Tan Soo Khoon.

During the dinner, guests were entertained by a video clip of the earlier events during the day and by well-known performers who had came to wish the couple well. But the highlight of the evening was definitely when Dr Lee belted out a touching love song to his beloved wife.

“But we both wanted to celebrate the occasion, to affirm that our love will go on forever. To do it in the sight of God and those close to our heart meant so much for the both of us. We treasure our memories of the day and the warmth and love that surround us.”

For younger couples who are reading this and wondering how to ensure a long and loving relationship with your spouse, Dr Lee says that he loves his wife so much because she always does whatever she can to keep him happy, she is always there to listen to him and does whatever he asks of her, and all because she has made him the alpha and omega of her life.

Indeed, friends of the couple can attest that the two soulmates are always hugging each other when they are at home. And the ever doting Dr Della is always by her husband’s side, catering to his every whim and ensuring that he receives the best care 24/7.

For Dr Della, her husband is the most wonderful person she has ever met and whom she is deeply in love with even after 20 years of marriage. And every single day, she thanks the Lord for bringing him into her life.

Their secret to a loving marriage is to always keep in mind the following: “Ever thine, Ever mine, Ever ours, No selfishness but everlasting LTC for each other”!

“Our rings have no beginning and no end, a fitting emblem of perpetuity of holy matrimony. We just wanted a simple token of the love, peace and understanding that we have shared over the years and continue to do so.”

Bringing a Wedding to a Beach

Venue LANG TENGAH ISLAND,Date 14 APRIL

THE COUPLE

Betty Neo & Johnathan Oh

THE LOCALE

D’Coconut Island Resort, Lang Tengah Island, Malaysia

THE INSPIRATION

The couple wanted to do away with the constraints of a traditional wedding and have an event where they and every guest can mingle freely. An island wedding enables the couple to spend more time with their guests in a relaxed environment. The entourage will also get to enjoy all the offerings on the island and at the resort while witnessing and celebrating the wedding.

THE BRIDE WORE

Sleeveless white gown with hand sewn floral petals and sequinned details for the day event. At night, she donned a pink halter neck gown with glitters on the bodice.

THE GROOM WORE

A light cotton all white outfit for day and a casually worn black suit for night.

THE BRIDESMAIDS WORE

The two bridesmaids wore white tank tops with knee length pink satin skirts and butterfly wings on their backs.

THE EVENT

Held over a weekend, the couple ensured that their guests had a full day to recover from the long journey. The following day’s activities began with an early start where the traditional custom of the groom fetching the bride was observed. Naturally, the groom and his ‘brothers’ were not spared the gruelling trial they had to go through to fetch the bride. Raw garlic and lemon slices splashed with chopped chilli padi garnishing were served to the fearless guys who rose to the challenge.

Not to be outdone, the bride and her bridesmaids arrived in a motorboat in true island wedding flair. The couple stood under the altar that they had brought in from the mainland and decorated lovingly with their ardent helpers. Their church reverend presided over the event and Betty’s beloved Shih Tzu, Cirri, was the ring bearer as well as the star of the show.

Wedding Goes to the Museum

Venue NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE 6332 3659 Florist BOENGA Photography ANDY LIEW, J STUDIO Text CHUI HUA

 

Solemnisation – the memorable exchange of vows that seal your love and mark the first step in a lifelong journey. These precious moments of our lives deserve the grandest stage to unfold and we have found it in the timeless beauty of the National Museum of Singapore.

The Inspiration

’The venue for the theme is the very inspiration. The National Museum of Singapore, where memories of the people are housed, is a rich repository of the nation’s stories.

To say your vows, in a place where history is retold, puts the solemn back in the solemnisation. This is the theme: a day to treasure, of precious moments and memories.

Creating the Theme

The Balcony at the National Museum of Singapore, a classy and solemn venue, shapes the theme entirely.

Simple, yet classy, that’s the air we want to achieve with the flowers. The florist, Boenga, has injected their signature classy touch with the arrangements. Flowers here are carefully selected for their hues and shapes.

Whites, off-whites and pinkish tones create a purity that’s virginal but not austere. Hydrangea tempers the solemnity to add some romance, while tulips and roses add class. Cymbidium orchids spice up the shapes of floral arrangements with their slender sprigs. The flowers are uncut so as to soften the hard lines in the venue.

At the table, glassware is best for showing off the uncut flowers’ shapes and petals. For the best effect, glassware of various shapes and heights are used. Chairs for the couple and along the aisle are simply adorned with gauze ribbons and sprigs of roses and crystal accessories. Over the table, a small arch is created with flowers and ferns.

Crystals and clear jelly confer an ethereal air to the place while brightening it. Doves preside over the venue as symbols of love, fidelity and harmony.

Doing It Yourself: Ideas & Tips

The key thing to note when doing it by yourself is that you need to complement the solemn air without making it severe. Choose decorations which look and feel light, such as sashes and uncut flowers.

Stay to a light colour theme while designing your props. To complete the theme, curate a mini exhibition to showcase memorable artefacts and photographs from both of you.

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A Wedding So Cheery and Bright in Festivity

Florist THE RED PETALS FLORIST 97649694 photography ANDY LIEW, J STUDIO  dining ware  ROYAL COPENHAGEN 67355298 / 67373467  chairs GNEE HONG CO.6336 3509  Text CHUI HUA

 

A FESTIVE AIR!

Christmas or not, a bright, cheery and festive theme is guaranteed to bring joy and happiness to everyone. Deck the halls with bright decorations, bold colours and sparkles to brighten up everyone’s day with this festive theme! And top it off with a spread to talk about for days.

The Inspiration

A wedding is a good reason to rejoice and celebrate. Think happiness and Christmas is the first thing that springs to mind. It’s about loving and giving, much like what a wedding is about. One of the most well loved holidays universally; start to replicate your very own Christmas now.

Creating the Theme

Bold, bright colours with sparkles loaded on – that’s the way to go. Here, we bring on baubles and glitter to give that extra oomph in the set up.

The florist, The Red Petals Florist, uses roses in reds, pinks and fuchsia to create that jubilant feel of celebration and romance at the same time.

The flowers are arranged in spheres to suggest festive baubles and bells. To make the celebratory connection stronger, put some real baubles in the arrangements, as well as crystal accessories. Purple roses are added in smaller bunches so that it doesn’t look overly Chinese-New-Yearish.

The tablecloth in mauve follows the colour range, and yet makes sure that attention is focused on the flower arrangements.

Hand painted Royal Copenhagen dining ware grace the setting with an air of luxurious simplicity. In a show of originality, dried moss and mistletoe are used in lieu of the table runner. Place some speckled or patterned eggs on the moss – they are great as traditional symbols of fortune while adding a quirky and fun touch. Paper dollies in the shape of snowflakes up the novelty scale!

Christmas decorations are not just for Christmas! It’s about heartwarming times, festivities and a time for love and fun. Best of all, they are easily available from stores and look great when well arranged.

We’ve used a lovely spread of fusion finger food, courtesy of Stamford Catering, for this theme. Aesthetic and addictive, the creations combine ingredients such as bell peppers with mushrooms, kimchi with squid and kidney beans with roasted Mediterranean lamb. Our favourite? The Cheese Fantasy Shooter with bunches of red berries trailing down the sides.

Doing It Yourself: Ideas & Tips

This theme would be ideal if you intend to hold your reception as a masquerade. Hand masks to your guests or ask them to come dressed for a masked ball. Wedding favours could be simple decorations or a bottle of stardust.

florist The Red Petals Florist 9764 9694 photography Andy Liew, J Studio dining ware Royal Copenhagen 67355298 / 67373467 chair Gnee Hong Co. 6336 3509 text Chui Hua

Left: Create a theme of festivity and celebration with reds and sparkly decorations! Hang a wedding ‘mistletoe’ over the table and kisses go round. Top: Add your own touch to egg shells using decorative stickers. Use dried moss and mistletoe as table runners and sprinkle sequins to create some sparkle. Opposite: A tall centrepiece in the shape of a sphere conjures images of Christmas baubles and bells. Elegant dining ware from Royal Copenhagen tops up your glam factor.

Roses, baubles, fir cones, presents and all manners of familiar decorations create a sense of celebration.

This page clockwise from top: Cheese Fantasy Shooters fit the theme nicely; Shortbreads and cookies with tea grant an air of English-ness; An interesting fusion creation – Samsui chicken on toast. Opposite: An array of creative fingerfood for your guests, featuring concoctions such as sago cream with pomelo and mango, strawberry mixed nuts cream, green ranch crabmeat cocktail, salmon roll with wasabi mayonnaise on seaweed, roasted mediterranean lamb on toast garnished with kidney beans and poached shrimp cocktail with honey melon.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Text SUMMER LEE

“Both of us are huge fans of medieval and fantasy movies like The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter,” said Eugene Yuen, 30, product manager, who got hitched with 32-year-old sales coordinator Lynn Tay in October 2011.

“I’ve personally never liked attending normal wedding banquets as I always felt that it would be uneventful and boring… I wanted a place that had a “wow” factor and a sense of celebration and fun involved,” he added. “And we imagined ourselves during that (medieval) age, having a wedding in a castle’s town square where there are many market stalls set up with a whole host of activities happening all around.”

And that set the scene for their garden-fairytale-themed wedding at Gardens by the Bay (Bay East Interium Gardens), a government landscaping project still in the making.

Drawing inspiration from the magical realm where mystical creatures and evil forces roam, white picket fences, a big white bridge, wishing wells and Harry Potter movie-inspired props were set up to replicate a market square.

The fancy extravagance was not what many guests, especially some elderly ones, had expected when they were first told that it would be an outdoor buffet, said Eugene. “I had relatives thinking there wasn’t even going to be any tables and chairs and that everyone would just stand around holding plastic plates and cups!”

 “What they don’t know is that holding a wedding outdoors and building everything up from scratch cost much more than at your typical five-star hotels! Of course, we confirmed that thought with the red packets we received,” Eugene quipped.

Eugene and Lynn first met when they were working for the same company. “Even though we sat next to each other, we didn’t say a word to each other until weeks later after I had joined the company,” said Eugene.

“Because of my looks, she thought I was much younger than her and wasn’t interested in a ‘little brother’,” he added. “When we finally did talk, we became very much intrigued with each other and keep coming up with excuses to go out together.”

After over two years of courtship and three months of planning, Eugene popped the big question on Oct 1, 2010, exactly one year before the wedding would take place.

“I tricked her into thinking that we were going on a trip to Krabi and she had packed all swimwear and light clothes. It was only at the airport where I surprised her by saying we were going to Hong Kong instead, where she had always wanted to go,” said Eugene.

In Hong Kong, Eugene booked a hotel room that comes with a private pool in the room and harbour view. And with a little “wizardry” (and good timing), he even put up a fireworks show for her.

“I knew there was going to be fireworks as Oct 1 was China’s National Day as well,” said Eugene. With the sizzling fireworks flashing in the sky, he proposed to an overjoyed Lynn in the pool.

What I love about Eugene, said Lynn, is that he is “humorous, romantic and full of surprises” – the perfect concoction for a strong love potion that has put her under his spell.