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4 Expert Tips on Choosing Your Blooms from a Wedding Florist

Behind a wedding invite is a huge and tangled mess of decisions to do with the wedding dress, bridesmaids’ dresses, groomsmen outfits, the venue, the menu, the guest list and more. With the stress of such copious decision-making, it’s no wonder that those involved in wedding planning often see the sweetest of lovebirds tearing their own and each other’s hair out prior to the day of matrimony.

When a wedding budget dictates these choices, couples might just only be able to leave a small amount for décor and flowers – which could also be another source of conflict for those who still have high expectations for their big day.

Now don’t get anymore stressed though! We speak to Alyona Yakovleva, florist and founder of Gathered+Styled for tips and to get at the common mistakes couples make when choosing their blooms:

Tips on choosing your blooms from a wedding florist

#1: Put a hold on those Pinterest pins

Ah, technology has certainly made realizing your dream wedding easier… or has it? Pretty pictures of gargantuan floral arches can help inspire the look of your very own big day but Pinterest and wedding blogs can also lift expectations to an unrealistic degree.

In addition, those top-rated Instagram photos of someone else’s wedding are surely swoon-worthy, but the truth is many Internet-browsing couples here have probably already stumbled on the same as well.

“Most of the time, the choice brides make here are pretty standard— they choose the same Pinterest pictures and very few are actually open to try something really different and unusually, though I try and suggest things that are a little out of the ordinary,” says Alyona. “You can get some ideas from Pinterest, but don’t go for the most popular pin; be different. Ask your florist what ideas he or she has, I’m sure you’ll be surprised!”

#2: There’s more than just peony fever

Another issue that comes with browsing the Internet for floral décor inspiration is that these weddings you want to replicate can be halfway across the globe. Sure, love conquers all, including distance, but the blooms of some nameless bride in a photo culled from the Internet may not survive the number of kilometers it has to travel to get to you. You will just end up paying a pretty penny for a bunch of listless flowers – hardly auspicious or cheery for this merry matrimonial occasion.

“People here tend to go for the ‘European style’ in flowers, which means those they end up choosing are imported and most of the time, expensive,” says Alyona. “Every bride dreams of peonies. No, really, every single bride! They are the most beautiful but also one of the most expensive flowers here! I understand this trend, I love peonies myself, but sometimes it’s just too expensive, and for me, very often not worth the money.”

#3: Go regional and seasonal

If you’re still keen on tapping into the trend of exotic blooms, the most ideal and cost-effective arrangement is one that uses seasonal flowers. “Don’t ask for winter flowers in summer and vice versa. You’ll end up paying quite a lot of money for a few small, not really lasting blooms,” says Alyona.

Given the perpetual summer heat in Singapore, taking climate into consideration can make your décor last through the late hours of the party and cut down on your floral budget too. That doesn’t mean you have to stick to traditional choices like baby’s breath or gerberas.

“A lot of flowers and foliage come from Holland, Australia, South America, New Zealand, Taiwan, China, India, Malaysia. Nothing is actually grown here in Singapore,” points out Alyona. “But using plants and foliage suited to this climate can help you save, or will allow you to get more or something bigger even if you keep to the same budget,” she offers.

#4: Go green instead of the standard blooms

It doesn’t help when hotels offer similar blooms to couples in the name of economy. “The more I attend weddings here, the more I realise they are all the same,” says Alyona. “Hotel packages often include flowers, but really, everyone has the same few arrangements. Moreover, they don’t look good at all.”

Going green and tropical is not only more value for money but makes the setting stand out among the other wedding ballrooms and venues that others have used. Sure, cascading flower curtains certainly make a fairy-tale sight but a massive plant chandelier made out of ferns is an equal conversation-starter.

“Your guests might not remember if the scallop was good at the dinner but they will definitely remember and take pictures with a hanging monstera chandelier installation or a flower backdrop full of artichokes!” offers Alyona. “Moreover this year’s Pantone colour of the year is Greenery, so you can save and be trendy at the same time!”

This story first appeared on the BankBazaar Blog, a leading online marketplace in Singapore that helps consumers compare and apply for the best offers across all financial products: personal loans, home loans, car loans, credit cards & investment.

Chinese wedding tea ceremony

What is a Chinese wedding tea ceremony?

In a traditional Chinese wedding, the tea ceremony is one of the most significant events. It includes very formal introductions of the bride and groom and shows respect to their families. Historically, after they exchanged vows, the couple would serve tea to the groom’s family (the bride would have served tea privately to her own family that morning). Today, many couples choose to show respect to both the bride and groom’s families by hosting tea ceremonies for both sides.

Chinese tea ceremony history

The earliest written record of tea ceremonies emerged during the Tang Dynasty over 1200 years ago. It was initially called cha dao (茶道)or the way of tea. Some Japanese monks travelled to China and brought it back to Japan. Influenced by Japanese culture, the tea ceremony became more grave and formal.

Since the early 1900s, Chinese weddings have modernized and partly following western practice. However, the tradition of tea ceremonies in Chinese weddings has remained, and is still highly treasured today.

What is the meaning of a Chinese wedding tea ceremony?

In China, serving tea when guests come is a very traditional propriety. It is a significant way to show respects. In the wedding, this act is in respect and gratitude to her parents for all the years of love and care. Besides this, tea ceremony is much meaningful in a wedding. Tea is the symbol of purity, stability and fertile. The purity of tea represents the love is pure and noble; the stability of tea stands for faithful love; the fertile of tea represents the family will have many children.

Traditionally, red dates, peanuts, longans and lotus seeds are added in the wedding tea ceremony. Because in Chinese, reading these four ingredients the above order sounds like “to have baby as soon as possible”, which is a very good wish for new couples.

What are the Chinese wedding tea ceremony steps?

The tea ceremony for the groom’s family is usually done in the morning while the ceremony for the bride is always done in the afternoon when the bride and groom have completed the bride’s home visit.

During a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, the groom should stand on the right and the bride should be on the left side. Their parents should sit on chairs and wait for the new couples’ kneel and tea serving. The order of serving tea is very important. It shows how the couple respect their seniority. The parents will be served first, then the grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, and then elder siblings.

After the drinking of the tea, gifts for the bride and groom will be presented. Gifts are usually in forms of red envelopes with money or jewellery. And the couple should use the jewellery immediately. To the younger siblings and cousins who help them serve tea will be blessed with a happy marriage or abundant wealth. These helpers also receive lucky red envelopes filled with money, called “lai see” which means “lucky”, from the bride and groom.

What kind of Chinese tea and ceremony tea set is used?

Any sweet tea that symbolizes sweetness is good for the Chinese wedding tea ceremony. It is believed to bring happiness to the couple and to foster good relations between the newlyweds and her new in-laws. You can use sweetened black tea for simplicity sake, but some traditional Chinese black teas are preferred because of the good sound of their names. Other herbs are added such as lotus seeds and red dates tea symbolizing that the couple will have children quickly and continuously.

The Chinese wedding tea set is a meaningful keepsake of the wedding and an important gift from the bride’s family. It can be a family heirloom as well. In the future when the couples’ children get married, the tea set will be used and presented. Tea sets are available in modern or traditional Chinese styles. Chinese wedding tea sets with ‘double happiness’ character, phoenix, dragons, peony or flower designs and gold trimmings are popular for Chinese wedding tea sets. See for example our Chinese wedding tea ceremony set on the right.

Other useful tips for Chinese wedding tea ceremonies

Dress for Chinese wedding tea ceremony

chinese wedding tea ceremony set

In a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, a suitable dress is necessary. Bride and groom need to dress in red silk and the tulle veil should be red too. Tang suit and Hanfu (Most famous traditional costumes in China and known to the world) are most popular. Some popular design such as dragons and phoenix on the dress would be suitable for decoration.

Decoration for Chinese wedding tea ceremony

To decorate the room for the Chinese wedding tea ceremony is also a good choice. Gold and red colors ‘Double Happiness’ symbol, Chinese marriage gods, phoenix and dragon motifs and decorative strands of firecrackers are all suitable for the ceremony.

Host for Chinese wedding tea ceremony

If you do plan to invite all your guests to the tea ceremony, don’t forget to invite a host who can explain the significance behind the ceremony to those unfamiliar with the tradition.

Knowing About the School of Diamonds

Knowing About the School of Diamonds

So you have decided to purchase a diamond. Regardless of the occasion – a proposal, an anniversary, or just because you want one – buying a diamond is not a decision to be taken lightly. Rather, it should be researched on and carefully considered. Knowing about the School of Diamonds is important, so says Mr. Isaac Poh, Diamond Specialist and Founder of local diamonds jeweller, Vivo Diamonds.

We ask Mr. Poh some questions.

1. We all know there are 4 C’s in choosing a diamond ring. What does each of them mean, and how do they affect a diamond’s appearance and price?

Color

While many diamonds appear colorless or white, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected when comparing them side to side. The color grades start at D and go down the alphabet. Truly colorless stones, graded D, are extremely rare and very valuable. D, E and F are often called collection colors. The subtle variances are so minute it is difficult to identify them in smaller sizes.

Since being colorless is most sought after, D, E and F diamonds have a greater value, all other factors being equal.

Clarity

A diamond’s clarity is a description of its internal purity. With fewer imperfections in the stone, it is rarer and has a higher value. This measure of imperfections or blemishes in a diamond is critical, and will result in price differences, all other factors being equal.

Carat

A carat is a weight measuring unit equal to 0.2 grams. The larger, whiter and cleaner the diamond, the more rare it is. Accordingly, the cost per carat of a large diamond will be higher than that of a smaller diamond of the same color, clarity and cut.

More weight equals more money, so diamond cutters may sacrifice brilliance to maximize carat weight and profit. It is vital to realize that weight does not always equal size or beauty. So experienced cutters may sacrifice weight and focus on cut to get the most beautiful and brilliant Hearts and Arrows diamonds on the market today.

Diamonds are valued on a per-carat basis. For example, a diamond of exceptional quality may sell for $20,000 per carat, while one of a lesser quality may sell for $1,000 per carat; so a three-carat stone could be $60,000 or $3,000. Diamond values also increase disproportionately as stone size increases. So if you take a stone of a particular cut, clarity and color, and move its carat weight to the next price category, you might see quite a hefty price differential.

Cut

A diamond’s cut is not only about its shape, but also about how effectively it can return light to the viewer’s eye. A well-cut diamond will appear very brilliant and fiery while poorly cut stones can appear dark and lifeless. Well-cut diamonds also appear larger than other stones of the same carat weight.

An ideal cut generally garners a 20% to 30% higher price than one that is just “good”. The diamond’s shape can also affect its value, though usually to a lesser degree than its cut does. Generally, because of the popularity and demand for larger round diamonds, they cost more than fancy-shaped diamonds of comparable size and quality.

2. Tell us about the different diamond shapes. Which are the most popular ones, or the rarest, or the most expensive?

The most important factor in determining shape is to choose which appeals to you most, and what looks best on your hand. If you are the more traditional person, go for the classic round brilliant diamond; if you tend to be more unconventional, you might prefer the pear, marquise or heart shapes. Longer and shorter stones can also visually affect the appearance of your hands, making them look longer or shorter respectively.

Round brilliant-cut stones show the most brilliance and sparkle. Its design allows it to hide flaws and yellow tints better than the other shapes. Emerald cuts, which have long and flat facets, emphasize flaws the most and are not as brilliant.

If you want your diamond to look as big as possible, consider a fancy shape like the oval or the pear, which appear larger than round diamonds of the same carat weight.

The rarest diamond cut is the ‘ideal cut’. It reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond and creates the maximum fire and brilliance.

As far as price goes, heart- and marquise-shaped diamonds tend to be the most expensive shapes because they waste a good deal of the crystal’s rough form.

3. Which is the most important ‘C’ in the art of choosing diamonds?

This is in part a matter of taste. If size is key, then carat weight will count most to you – but remember that size is not related to the beauty of the stone. A smaller diamond that is more masterfully cut and features greater clarity and better color will be more beautiful and brilliant than a larger stone of the same price, but which does not meet the same standards where the other three ‘C’s are concerned.

Cut is arguably the most important factor because when a diamond is cut to ideal proportions and with precise symmetry, light is refracted from one facet to another and then dispersed through the top of the diamond, giving it maximum brilliance. The expert diamond craftsman always attempts to cut a diamond in a way that makes the best use of light.

Here is the bottom line: brilliance is the wow factor in any diamond. It’s the arch in a person’s eyebrows and the squint in the eyes when he or she is nearly blinded by the magnificence of the diamond. For a diamond to be exceptionally beautiful, all the 4 ‘C’s must be present. But without the cutting skill of a master artisan, a rough stone will never release its optimal brilliance and beauty regardless of how good its color, clarity and carat are. So, pay extra attention to cut.

Project Love Nest

Project Love Nest

Text: Cherie Wong Photos: King & King Wong

Building your love nest together as a couple can be one of the most exciting things to do. Sure, it can be stressful when you neither know where to start nor have an eye for interior design goodness. But it is after all a journey of discovery, and perhaps, through the decisions you make together for your precious home, you will come to understand each other more than you already do.

There are different themes that people typically adopt for their homes. Many go for the modern, minimalistic chic look for its simplicity and convenience – these homes are usually decked in blacks, whites and grays, metal furnishing, and clean-cut glass furniture. The bolder amongst us may want to experiment with English Country, or go for a garden atmosphere. In English Country, a lot of fabric is used and the cloths usually contain a lot of floral details and other tiny printed patterns. Rugs with ruffles and crisp white bed sheets are also often the norm in such homes. In a garden-themed home, it is all about being laidback and getting in touch with nature. Potted plants, rattan chairs and even a patio are some of the details that contribute to this look.

You can also decorate your home by color or by room. Pink is making a surprising comeback, but before you think it is only for the girls, explore the other shades, like dusty pink and tea rose pink which can create the mood for that romantic escape you want with your spouse. If you prefer for each part of your home to look unique, the eclectic look will probably be your favorite. Dress up the master bedroom with floral curtains and satin sheets in hues of champagne and beige for a dreamy look, while decking the kitchen with wooden furnishing that screams contemporary. And don’t forget that the toilets and living room can be uniquely different too!

Statement pieces can lend personality to your crib too, so that your home becomes a place for self-expression. You might be pleasantly surprised when you go shopping at local antique shops, and find treasures like gramophones and rickety rocking chairs. They are guaranteed conversation starters when you have guests over for visits.

King & King Wong, which sells home furnishing and décor products, opens this November at the anticipated Nex mega shopping mall at Serangoon Central. Essentially a unique, one-stop lifestyle home furnishing and décor retailer, it boasts an extensive range of products such as curtain fabrics, kitchenware, beddings, carpets, lightings, upholstery, vases and glassware, and artificial flowers. There you will be able to find innovative yet practical items that help to make your home life easier and more convenient, and your living environment a beautiful sight to behold. Some of the products are seasonal and you will only be able to get them while stocks last, yet they are sold at non-premium prices – simply because everyone deserves a nice home. There you will also be able to find statement pieces such as porcelain statues and exotic lightings, as well as items that particularly allow you to recreate various home themes.

Building your own home can be an extremely tedious process, but it is nonetheless exciting and rewarding for the both of you. Get visual inspiration and do thorough research on the best deals in town, but most importantly, have fun in the process by getting involved! We wish you all the best.

10 Tips For a Picture-Perfect Wedding Photo Booth

Winking, blowing a kiss, or wearing a boa — anything goes in photo booths, which is what makes them so addictive. While it’s nice to have shiny, posed, professional photos from your wedding, more and more couples are also including photo booths at receptions to capture silly moments with friends and family. Before you start planning your wedding’s photo booth, take a look at our 10 tips for a flawless photo booth.

  1. Rent a photo booth: The easiest way to add a photo booth at your wedding is to rent one.
  2. Make a DIY photo booth: Homemade photo booths require a little more effort, but you have more control over the details. Check off the essentials first, like the location, camera, printer, and photo paper, before planning the decorations and costumes.
  3. Choose a camera: As a more makeshift yet versatile option, connect a portable photo printer to a DSLR camera, a laptop, or a web cam and let guests do their thing. For a retro touch, track down a Polaroid camera.
  4. Research mobile options: Photo booth apps exist! PopBooth (free) works with an iPhone or iPad, has several filter options, and instantly shares the images on Facebook. Hard copies of the photos can be sent as postcards in the mail for an additional $2.
  5. Check out photo booth software: There are plenty of photo booth software options, such as Sparkbooth ($59), which make it easy to set up a DIY photo booth, customize the templates, and turn on automatic picture taking and printing.
  6. Decorate the background: A big piece of fabric makes the easiest background choice for DIY photo booths. Fabric stores offer the best prices, plus there are tons of funky prints to choose from. You could even give guests the option to swap out the backgrounds for more variety.
  7. Create a costume trunk: Go with a theme like “All Things Geek” and fill a box with superhero masks, capes, comic book hero weapons, mustaches on a stick, goofy glasses, etc. Otherwise, stock random props like feather boas, bright printed top hats, sunglasses of every shape, size, and color, and tiaras.
  8. Design your own template: Make (better) friends with Photoshop and design your own photo template or ask your invitation designer create one for you.
  9. Bring frames or message boards into the mix: If you don’t have a curtained off area for the “booth,” a large empty art frame will instantly focus the subject(s), plus it looks really cute. Another option is leaving white boards and/or chalkboards nearby so each guest can write down a funny, personal message to the couple.
  10. Save a scrapbook: These photos will circulate your social networks, but chances are you’ll want physical copies of the photos, tucked away in a scrapbook. Allow guests to print multiple copies of the images, so the duplicate can be pasted into a guest book.

The Perfect Wedding Speech 101

Text ALLEN LEUNG Illustration DREWSCAPE, www.drewscape.net

The Perfect Wedding Speech 101We hear couples making “thank you” speeches like those at the Oscar’s in wedding dinners more often now. Why are couples finding it hard but necessary to do so? What is the tradition behind them and where can they seek help to make that perfect speech?

When Leslie and Fanny, both young doctors, got married after a six-year-long courtship two years ago, the most difficult task for them at their wedding was making their “thank you” speeches during the church solemnization ceremony and later at the dinner celebration.

Saying ‘xie xie’, or thank you to their friends who helped them organize the wedding was easy. But expressing their gratitude to their parents who brought them up, attended to their needs all the years of their lives was hard to do, especially when they stood before all their friends and relatives.

Recalling that memorable evening at the five-star Marriot Hotel in Orchard Road where they had their wedding banquet, Leslie, now 32, and his wife Fanny, 28, said they spent many sleepless nights agonizing over the words in their “thank you” speech to both their parents, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

“I think it was important we say so in public to show that we really appreciate all that they had done,” added Leslie.

In the end, they stole the show with their very sincere and emotional speeches, touching the hearts of many, especially both Leslie’s and Fanny’s parents who evidently shed tears of delight.

Like Leslie and Fanny, Daniel, a 40-year-old boss of a film post-production house, said when he got married 10 years ago, he even hired a speech writer to help him pen that “thank you” speech to his parents simply because his father had given him everything he needed, including expenses for his wedding banquet amounting to nearly $100,000.

Besides screening a video showing the newly-weds’ past, how they met and courted, and highlights of the big day’s events, guests at wedding dinners are increasingly hearing more brides and grooms and even their bridesmaids and best men speak.

Gone are the days when the bride was supposed to look pretty and quiet and the groom could do better drinking than talking. Some of them even took the opportunity to present their parents with gifts, from jewelry and overseas holiday packages to just a bouquet of flowers for mum and a shirt or tie for dad.

The Western tradition of making wedding speeches is catching on with the young in Singapore and many other Asian countries as a new generation of better-educated newly-weds becomes more articulate and independent minded.

“Yes, there is an increasing trend of the wedding entourage that gave speeches, including those by the best man, bridesmaids and even the parents,” said Anna Lim, a wedding planner from Spellbound Wedding.

She noted that “the grooms are normally the ones who give the speech, but the bride will also say something too. If it’s bilingual, the groom will speak in one language and the bride in another.”

A survey W&T did to check out how exactly the speeches were made at more than a dozen wedding dinners recently showed couples here were not following the traditional Western style of making wedding speeches to the letter.

In a traditional English wedding for example, the purpose of wedding speeches is to congratulate the couple, wish them well in their future life together and to thank the appropriate people for their efforts in making the wedding a success.

They included the toasts, which occur after the last course of the dinner, followed by the cake-cutting ceremony and then the first dance on the floor led by the newly-wed couple.

The bride’s father who gave his daughter away to the groom is usually the first to speak, giving a story of the bride’s early life and events leading to the wedding before congratulating the groom for taking his daughter’s hand and to ask for their happiness.

It is followed by the bride and groom who will thank the bride’s father for his daughter’s hand and then showing happiness for having such a lovely bride, praise her parents for bringing up their daughter so well at the same time.

In his speech, the groom will also thank his own parents for his upbringing and usually tell an amusing story about how he met the bride or any problems that they have to overcome before the big day. Then, he will go on to thank all those who helped him in the wedding preparations and finally the guests for their presence and gifts before a toast to the “bridesmaids”.

The bride may or may not speak to thank her parents and her husbands’, but the best man’s speech is often the most anticipated so it is generally saved till the last.

As most of the necessary thanks have been said, he has the opportunity to entertain the guests with witty comments and interesting stories, especially those pertaining to the newly-wed couple. Lastly, he will present a toast to both the host and hostess.

The adapted version of wedding speeches practiced in Asian societies and including Singapore’s, is quite different from the traditional Western one.

In Asian weddings, the bride’s father is seldom a speaker. The bride and groom are the centre of attraction. It is the groom’s speech which is often more important, though increasingly the bride’s voice is also heard.

Essentially, it is an occasion for the bride and groom to thank their parents and friends for helping them organize the wedding and guests for their attendance and gifts or Hongbaos.

Unlike in the West, at wedding dinners of Asian couples, especially the Chinese, the toast to the newly-weds, usually by an announcer or the master of ceremony, is offered after the speeches are made during the dinner, usually after the third of a 10-course feast.

The practice is to toast three times consecutively. All the guests are usually requested to stand as they raise their glasses high for each toast yelling the words, “yum seng” – meaning drinking to victory or success.

No book on the Asian or Chinese wedding etiquette and speeches has been written, but there are plenty published on the Western way.

Some of the more popular ones published recently include How To Write Wedding Speeches & Toasts by Barbara Jeffrey and Natasha Reed (Foulsham),One-liners For Wedding Speeches by Mitch Murray (Foulsham) and Making A Wedding Speech by John Bowden (How To Books).

Besides Making A Wedding Speech, John Bowden also wrote and published related titles including Making The Best Man’s Speech, Making The Bride-groom’s Speech and Making The Father of The Bride’s Speech, all published by How To Books.

Author John Bowden in his book, Making A Wedding speech, said the principles behind a good wedding speech are no different from those for other occasions. There must be an opening, a body middle or the main message and a closing. The aim is to communicate with the audience, to establish a dialogue with them and to turn them from just listeners into participants.

How? He explained: “By involving them. By making them laugh. By making them cry. By allowing them not only to hear your speech but also to experience it.”

He asked whoever making the speech, except the one by the bride herself, to remember these three words, KISS THE BRIDE.

Firstly, the word, KISS is simply the abbreviations for Keep It Short and Simple.

He said one shouldn’t be suffering from the illusion that he or she can turn a speech immortal by making it everlasting. After all, he pointed out, the story of the Creation in the Bible is told in just 400 words, or over three minutes.

So his advice is: “Try to say everything you need to in less than 650 words, which is about five minutes.” In wedding speeches, he believed size, or the duration of the speech, does matter. And no speech can be entirely bad if it is short enough.

The second and third words, THE BRIDE, he said, should remind all speaking on the wedding day that it is her big day. So don’t spoil it by embarrassing her or by knocking the institution of marriage.

Kiss the bride and you can’t go wrong.

In Barbara Jeffrey’s and Natasha Reed’s book, How To Write Wedding Speeches & Toasts, they said that unless one is a gifted public speaker, every bride’s father, bride-groom or the best man making a speech should do some research and write out a draft of the speech before making it on the big day.

Here are some quick questions to ask while doing the research, especially for the bride’s father and best man:
•        How long have you known the couple?
•        How did they meet each other?
•        How did he propose and what was her immediate response?
•        How long have they been together?
•        What three words come to mind when you think of the groom/bride?
•        Are there common interests they share?

The book also suggests searching the web or Internet which contains a whole host of information on speech writing. Just typing the words, “writing wedding speeches” into the search engine Google will probably result in over 200,000 hits.

Some great websites the authors recommended include:

www.confetti.co.uk which offers free planning advice for the big day. The wedding speeches section (under Weddings) contains tips, sample speeches, toasts and an A-Z of jokes and one-liners.

www.hitched.co.uk/speeches offers a free advice on every aspect of getting married. Here you can find quotes, readings, delivery tips and example of speeches for the bride’s father, the bride-groom and the best man.

www.presentationhelper.co.uk/wedding_speech.htm offers articles and free advice on writing speeches, as well as model speeches for the whole wedding party including the bride’s.

www.youandyourwedding.co.uk is created by one of UK’s best-read wedding magazines. It offers features, advice, chat rooms and all kinds of up-to-date information on weddings.

While information, tips and advice and even model wedding speeches are now so easily available in this modern age, the important thing is not to be carried away with all the information out there.

You must be selective and choose materials that are appropriate to your own wedding. Don’t just copy speeches wholesale and blindly for they will lack originality and won’t sound either natural or personal. The secrets to good wedding speeches, whether for the bride’s father, the groom and bride and the best man, may be just a click away.

So turn on your computer now and get your mouse ready.

Guide to Various Beauty Procedures

Text SUMMER LEE

Beauty is hard work, especially when it cuts deep under the skin.

Sally (not her real name) is getting married in November this year. Already a head turner, the 32-year-old project manager still finds her three moles – two on her chin and one on the shoulder – a blemishing turnoff.

In May, she visited an aesthetics surgeon to zap away the pesky dots and some small warts on her neck, spending over $500 on a single session of laser treatment.

The enhancements above her shoulders were a success and her skin recovered smoothly within a week; but in place of the mole on her shoulder now is a scar that fails to heal.

Nonetheless the undaunted bride-to-be is ever ready for more refining treatments as long as they are minor and non-invasive.

Some other women want more.

“I had received some interesting requests including hymen repair, tummy tuck, breast lift and surgical tightening of the face,” said Dr JJ Chua of JJ Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, who once saw an excited bride-to-be and her whole family, who were equally excited, walking into his clinic for cosmetic work.

“Everyone wants to look his or her best before the wedding…remember there is plenty of photo- and video-taking,” he noted.

Dr Donald Ng, medical director at Alaxis Medical Clinic, observes that more women are calling him up at least a year before the Big Day.

“It seems that grooms accept that is just part of the ladies’ need to get ready, just like going for make-up, getting the clothes done – the face and body work is just a part of it,” he said.

And interestingly, Dr Chua noted, some couples underwent the same procedures like liposculpture – a gentler form of liposuction that is supposed to give better shape – and nose implants.

“Many mothers ask for facelifts, and procedures for droopy eyelids and eye bags. On rare occasions, fathers come for Botox and skin growth laser removals,” he reveals.

Based on information supplied by Dr JJ Chua of JJ Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, these are the greatest peeves of most people:
Problem Treatment Downtime*
Lower eyelids (eye bag, dark circles) Blepharoplasty, or cosmetic eyelid surgery, to remove excessive skin and fat from the lower eyelids Two weeks
Single eyelids Create double eyelids Two weeks
Flat nose Nose refinement (filler or
implant enhancement)
Nil to 10 days
Fatty cheeks; double chin; flabby tummy, arms and thighs Liposculpture reduction Two days
Small breasts Implant augmentation or
filler enhancement
Nil to two weeks
*Subject to individuals and the type of surgery. Does not include full recovery time and time needed to achieve desired results.  

Of the requests Dr Christine Cheng from Simply Aesthetic entertains, most of them revolve around slimming of various parts of the body, and sometimes full-on rejuvenation – involving techniques ranging from laser and light to chemical peels and other non-ablative methods – for more mature brides.

“Slimming takes time. Even facial treatments should be tried out in advance to ensure they provide the desired results,” said Dr Cheng, adding that liposuction may be tempting a week before the big day, but recovery takes many weeks – or even months for certain techniques.

She advises that the brides should seek help at least six months ahead to get the desired results and keep it that way for the wedding day. “(Seeking treatment) three weeks to a month before the wedding day seems to be the panic point!” she warns.

Although nip-and-tuck practitioners are sometimes referred to as “the hands of god”, there are still situations where they are caught with their hands tied.

“I had one bridesmaid who had put on over 10kg in the preceding year while staying in the US,” Dr Cheng recalled. “The dress was made to fit her original size and the bride freaked when she saw the larger version of her best friend.”

To make matters worse, this was a VIP wedding that was to be broadcast on national television.

“Naturally, we were unable to guarantee a 10kg reduction in the one week before the wedding,” she said.

And most of the time, a major overhaul is an overkill, putting the spotlight on the bride for the wrong reason.

“Do not overdo it,” cautions Dr Ng. “Remember that you want to enhance what you have, and not transform yourself as more invasive surgery tends to come with more downtime and adjustments that you may not be prepared for.”

“It is not wise to add to an already stressful event,” he adds.

The popular non-surgery treatments include:  
Treatment What Is It? What does it do?
Botox An injection of the cosmetic form of botulinum toxin Mainly to achieve square jaws, shape eyebrows, and smooth
out wrinkles
Filler enhancement A procedure that gives non-permanent effect, involving an injection of usually gel-like substance or fat. For nose, cheeks, chin, lips (more kissable lips), scars and lines
Laser A cosmetic surgery technique that removes the upper layers of the skin to allow new skin to form For growths, open pores, pigmentation and birthmarks
Pulsed light In this treatment, pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into the skin For skin rejuvenation & whitening
Thermage A non-invasive procedure that uses radio frequency electrical current to stimulate collagen contraction For skin tightening
Others: Skin care to rejuvenate the skin and treat acne and scars; balding medication.

Count Down To The Big Day

text NADIA CHAN

Three months before

Shape Up
Say I-do to a slimmer body. To show off svelte curves in your wedding gown, it’s important to plan an exercise regime that includes aerobic workouts, such as jogging, swimming and cycling, says Dr SM Yuen, medical director of Altas Medical – Laser &Aesthetics Clinic. Engaging in these activities in half-hour sessions thrice a week can lead to overall weight loss.
To target stubborn fat areas impervious to exercise, treatments like the Acoustic Shockwave Therapy can help. Available at Atlas Medical, this uses acoustic shockwaves to make fat cells resonate, vibrate and break down. You can see toning and trimming effects after just one 30-minute session. An inch-loss of up to three inches requires about 12 sessions performed twice weekly.

Bust Cellulite
Banish the orange-peel appearance with the Body Slimulator treatment at the Sloane Clinic. This non-invasive treatment fights localised fat and cellulite. Ultrasound and infrared energies bust fat cells, as radiofrequency waves tone up skin in the treated area. As there is heat involved, you should feel some discomfort but it’s not unbearable. There is no downtime, although the area treated may be tender and red for up to a day after the treatment. You should see a reduction of one to four inches in the treated areas after six sessions, spaced one to two weeks apart. Skin is visibly smoothened, and there is a noticeable reduction in cellulite.

Pearly Whites and Healthy Pinks
You will be smiling a lot before, during and after your wedding, what with all the pictures to take. NEUGLOWDental White Centre at Novena Medical Centre offers a home whitening kit as well as in-clinic whitening system. Pink healthy-looking gums can also do wonders for your smile. If you have dark or black patches on your gums, do consider removing these patches with a laser treatment. “These patches are harmless natural pigmentations. However, they can make your smile look unaesthetic,” says Dr Leonard Tan. “A common complaint from patients is that their gums look ¡®dirty’.” The laser treatment is simple and relatively painless, while results are long-term. However, it takes about two to three sessions to remove the spots.

Volumise Hair
Add life to dull and limp hair with Phyto Hair Spa by Revamp’s Volumising Treatment. Using silicone-free products, this scalp treatment lightens the ends of your hair shafts and adds bounce to hair roots.
For best results, do this weekly for the first month and fortnightly from the second month onwards. After the first three sessions, you should have well-hydrated tresses and a healthier scalp. You will also love the fact that this hair spa is outfitted with massage chairs and LCD screens for individual comfort throughout your treatment.

Two months before

Blast Spots
To treat mild acne marks, Intense Pulse Light (IPL) treatment works well for most people. But if you are pain-averse, your best option may be Cosmelan – a depigmenting peel that fades freckles and age spots. Even better – it also mattifies oily skin. Available at TCS at Central Clinic, it involves leaving on a mustard-coloured mask on the face for six to eight hours, followed by the daily application of takehomeskincare  recommended by the doctor. Side effects are minor and these include mild redness, itching and burning, all of which should subside quickly. You will see a clearer and brighter complexion in two weeks, with continuous skin improvement for up to six months.

Two to four weeks before

Minimise Fine Lines
It’s best to lay off harsh aesthetic treatments from now on. Compared to traditionalmicrodermabrasion, SilkPeel Dermal Infusion is gentler on skin. Offered at Atlas Medical – Laser & Aesthetics Clinic, it is a wet abrasion that infuses skin with skin-loving actives. The hydrating formula, in particular, drenches parched skin in moisture to smoothen skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Side effects include temporary redness.

Detox Your Back
Look good in a low-back gown by lavishing some attention on this oft-neglected area. Leonard Drake Skin Care Health Spa’s Detoxifying Back Acne Treatment targets acne on the back withDermalogica’s MediBac Clearing Masque.
This starts with deep cleansing and extraction, and is followed by a detoxifying upper shoulder and neck massage. To prevent further breakouts, a medical mask is applied. It contains sulphur and mineral clay to clear bacteria, reduce excess sebum and soothe irritated skin. Charcoal in the mask also purifies skin by absorbing oils and impurities.
Expect a silky-smooth, acne-free back after treatment.

One week before

Nix Sudden Outbreaks
For that humongous zit which just sprouted days before your big event, there’s always the steroid jab as a last resort. Available at most aesthetic clinics, this subsides inflammation so rapidly it can make your problem go away in 24 to 48 hours. This is a highly effective solution to quell pimples almost instantaneously, but should be used sparingly. Long-term and over-frequent use of steroids can lead to severe side effects such as high blood pressure and strokes. Don’t say you have not been warned.

Fix Chipped Pearlies
Should you unfortunately chip or break a tooth right before the wedding, don’t fret – help is available at NEUGLOW Dental White Centre. Depending on the severity of the damage, the dentist may repair the tooth with dental fillings (for minor chipping), dental crowns or porcelain veneers (for more severe cases), or implants (if the tooth cannot be saved).
Typically, crowns and veneers take a few weeks to be manufactured, while an implant takes about three months. If time is not on your side, your dentist may suggest the use of a temporary cap until your crown, veneer or implant is ready. This is a thin plastic coating that will protect your tooth and improve your smile in the meantime.

Reduce Eyebags
If you suffer from crow’s feet and eye bags, treat yourself to the Eye Contour Treatment at Vedure Mediboutique. Using radiofrequency energy, this improves microcirculation around the eyes to reduce sagging and restores vitality to the area. The gentle massaging movement of the machine used also firms and tightens to eliminate puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles, making eyes look naturally lifted. Results are visible after just one 60-minute session. If the problem is severe, do consider a series of 10 treatments for best results.

It’s Your Day, Look the Best!

Text by ANDREA CLAIRE, www.aclairebeauty.com Photography SJODAHL & RICHARDSON, www.sjodahlrichardson.com Model SAGE WALMSLEY

Thin lips? Dry skin? Chubby cheeks? Don’t let the ‘bride-to-be beauty blues’ be your ‘something blue’ before your wedded bliss. W&T comes again to the rescue with corrective make up tricks that will keep you from hiding under your veil and exclaiming “It’s MY day, where is my photographer!”

Beauty starts with great skin

There are two skin types that can pose wedding day makeup woes; dry, flaky skin and oily, acneac skin.

Correction: Treat dry, flaky skin by moisturising the skin prior to make up application. Apply a hydrating mask sheet for 10-15 minutes, lift off and tap the skin gently to allow the remnants of the mask to be absorbed into the skin.

If the skin is dry in certain spots, avoid excess moisture by cutting the mask and just spot correcting the dry area.

Try SkinFood’s Herb Salad Face Sheet which is moisturizing, anti-reddening and calming. *Avoid powder which makes the skin look drier.

Correction: Oily, acneac skin can cause make up to slide off and you can look greasy in photos. Use an oil-free moisturizer as well as a foundation primer. Primers set the stage for longevity with your make up by creating a breathable barrier between excess sebum and your makeup so the makeup does break down and wear off. Try Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer.

You’ve got it flaunt it… or not.

Chubby cheeks were adorable when you were running around in diapers; by the time your wedding day arrives you are probably tired of Aunt Bertha pinching them. Fret not as simple highlighting and shadowing can enhance and minimize your best and worst features.

Correction: Make a round face slender by applying a ½ shade darker foundation on the sides of the face, shadowing excess width. Create the illusion of extra length by highlighting the cheek bones which lift the face up adding to the elongated appearance.

You can slim a nose by a similar process – shadow the sides of the nose while adding highlight to the bridge. Essentially, visualize what you would like to recede by adding shadowing (foundation ½ – 1 shade darker than your skin) and enhance your better features by creating a highlight by using a product to catch light.

*Try MAC’s Face and Body foundationwith a sheer, natural looking coverage and easy to blend, water-resistant formula; it ‘delivers professional looking results that meets the exacting standards of beauty photography.’ www.maccosmetics.com

Freckle face!

Freckles are controversial beauty; some people love them, some do not. While sunscreen certainly prevents spots, you can soften their appearance once they are there. Don’t aim for 100% freckle disappearance as your skin will start to look chalky. *Freckles appear darker in some black and white photography situations.

Correction: For extreme amounts of freckles, choose a foundation that is between your underlying skin shade and your freckles. If the spots are just on your cheeks then use this foundation mix on your cheeks and a proper foundation match for the rest of you skin. *Opt for an hd-balanced foundation that make up artists refer to as a ‘second skin’, a hyper-pigmented base that mimics healthy, glowing skin with gorgeous texture and coverage without the cakey quality.

Runway Mascara

Mascara brands tend to be more of a preference really, but if yours tends to run and smudge, first check to see that your eye cream is not too emollient and therefore breaking down your mascara and secondly you may want to opt for waterproof for your wedding day.

Correction: Bobbie Ng, a very talented make up guru with The Make Up Room, has a well-thought out mascara philosophy: ‘It is a must to wear mascara, especially so if you are wearing eyeshadow or eyeliner.

The use of mascara not only helps to open up the eyes, but it also adds definition to the overall look. Therefore, if there’s only one thing you can do on the eyes, it has to be the mascara.

Asians tend to have shorter and straighter lashes, so curling our eyelashes is very important. Most Asians have problems with smudgy mascaras also partly because their lashes are not curled properly, thus there is a lot of contact between the lower lids and the eyelashes each time we blink. However, if lashes are curled, it minimizes the contact between lids and lashes, and smudging will not be as obvious.

After curling the lashes, the kind of mascara that we apply is also very important.  Many times, there are women who complain that their mascaras can’t hold the curl, therefore, using a WATERPROOF mascara would help hold the curl better than that of a WATER-RESISTANT one. This is because a WATERPROOF formula tends to be drier and a water-resistant formulation tends to contain more moisture, curls tend to straighten when there’s too much moisture.’

Don’t forget to comb through your mascara; it may seem frivolous but a shot of you with a big mascara clump does not say ‘chic wedding’. If chiseling away at waterproof mascara is not your favorite past-time – consider dying your lashes at a spa. *Try Hourglass Cosmetic’s Superficial Lash and Tweezerman’s Eyelash Comb

Architectural Arches

Eyebrow shape is most important to your overall appearance. Overly tweezed brows exposing your brow bone will leave your eyes appearing tired and heavy, too thin and round – you look surprised. Too sharp and geometric; you look like a drag queen, leave them alone or you’ll look unpolished.

Find your best shape for you in 3 steps:
Comb your brows straight up, look at your brow bone shape and where your natural arch would be – remove hairs that appear disconnected and stray.

Line up the outside of your nostril straight up to your eyebrows, remove hair that is in-between brows.
Line up the outside of your nostril angled towards your temple just catching the edge of your brow – this is where your brow should taper too.

Correction: If your eyebrows are too thin, get a revamp at Browhaus with their Brow Resurrection services. www.browhaus.com Over-tweezing can shock the roots and prevent hair growth.

Lip Service
Whether choosing light or dark lip colours for your wedding day you want luscious long-lasting colour. Thin and small lips look more sensuous with light lip colors while fuller lips can use deep shades. If you require more definition with your lips, line after you apply your lip colour to avoid looking like the Joker.

Correction: Base lips with Benefit’s Lip Plump, a neutral-tone primer that fills in lines, builds up the contour of your lips while helping lipstick longevity. Apply two dots on upper and lower lips, pat and blend, let dry then apply lipstick. A thin coat of vitamin E oil aids to seal in colour and moisturize.

You may now kiss the Groom!

Tips: Marriage and Money Management

TextALLEN LEUNG

WedTips_Tips_MarriageWith times getting harder, as we have been warned, bracing ourselves for a tough year ahead does seem sensible. But if you are planning to be a 2009 bride or groom, should you be your own butcher and try to cut off as much as possible from your wedding budget? Will the economic downturn affect your once-in-a-lifetime event adversely or will it actually work in your favour? W&T finds out how two couples cope and speaks to industry experts on market prices to show if the truth hurts or soothes.

Banking executives Eva Yong, 25, and Arthur Lee, 28, who have a combined monthly income of $10,000, plan to spend no more than $10,000 – the equivalent of their one-month salary – for their big day this December in view of the economic uncertainties ahead.

Eva who met her husband-to-be at her work place only about a year ago, said she would spend up to $3,000 for a bridal package which comes with wedding and evening gowns for herself, suits for Arthur and photo shoots.

They are only planning for a small wedding dinner, spending not more than $2,000 in a restaurant for about 20 people, mostly family members and close friends, instead of hosting a banquet in a five-star hotel’s ballroom which can cost them ten times more.

The rest of the money they have budgeted will be spent on their honeymoon.

And their matrimonial home will be in Arthur’s parents’ house, at least for the time being, till the economy gets better perhaps.

Eva said: “The economy is bad, but we think it is still a good time to get married because of the bargains available. Prices have come down and the services are better now than before.

“I do more online shopping nowadays because of the greater varieties of goods and services related to weddings available. For example, I have more choices for personalised wedding favours on the Net than from the shops.”

Graphic artist Annie Lim, 30, and media executive William Tan, 32, have set their wedding day on October 25 this year, celebrating their marriage with a banquet for about 300 people at the Pan Pacific Hotel’s ballroom.

The couple, who have a combined monthly income of just over $5,000, dated for four years before they decided to get married. They have booked a new five-room Housing Board flat in Tampines which they hope can be ready for them to move in before their wedding in October.

They were pleasantly surprised though when the hotel called recently to take $200 off on each of the 28 tables they have booked for their banquet, bringing them a total savings of $5,600!

“We are happy to get the discount for the wedding banquet from the hotel because we expect the ang pao money we will collect to be less this time as the year ahead is a bad one for the economy,” said Annie.

Annie is still looking for a good bargain for a bridal package and found that prices have fallen.

She said after checking out prices at the bridal fair organised by W&T magazine recently, prices have gone as low as below $1,400, which includes wedding and evening gowns for herself, as well as suits for the groom and the groom’s father.

Bridal packages, which usually come with wedding gowns for the bride and tuxedos or suits for the groom and photo shoots, are a must for every wedding couple.

Before the global economic crisis broke out from the third quarter of last year, it was common for couples to spend over $10,000 or more on these packages alone, which provide them with designer-gowns and photo shoots overseas to destinations as far as Africa and Greece.

The well-heeled will still continue to splurge on their “once-in-a-lifetime” affair, but the budget-conscious are all looking out for bargains at bridal boutiques and wedding fairs.

A check with several bridal boutiques here showed that published rates of packages are as low as $1,688 which includes two used gowns and two suits, simple bridal make-up and basic wedding photography.

The high-end packages start from $8,888, which includes designer gowns and suits, special photo shoot albums, video recordings and top-rate makeup artists and stylists. At French Studio and Bridal, owner He Seng Hin, 48, is optimistic that most couples getting married are still willing to spend on their wedding.

He said prices at most local bridal boutiques are already very reasonable but as an incentive to couples getting married this year, he would be willing to include more perks and gifts, such as extra photos.

His advice to those who are thinking of drastic budget cuts for their wedding is this: “Don’t cut down on the essentials such as your gowns because at least a few hundred people will be looking at you on your wedding day and you want to look your best. You can take off the lavish items though and you will probably find you can save more than you think.”

At Golden Horse Awards Bridal, packages are priced between over $2,000 and $5,000 each.

The boutique’s boss, Mr Phua Gim Hock, 49, said: “We are not so worried in these bad times because our prices are in the middle range, not the lowest or the highest. This price range is what most couples will go for in good or bad times.”

“But in bad times like what we are going through now, we will be very flexible in offering our packages, always bearing in mind the budget constraints of the wedding couples so that they can get value for their money.”

A banquet or reception is also essential for every wedding. Some couples pay just a couple of hundred dollars for a table in a simple Chinese restaurant for their wedding dinner, while others can spend more than $1,500 per table at a six-star hotel’s ballroom.

At Qian Xi’s group of four Chinese restaurants, prices now start from $498 nett per table for a 9-course dinner which comes with a shark’s fin soup dish and up to $798 nett per table which includes lobster salad and suckling pig.

The owner of the group of restaurants, Mr Tony Foo, said he had priced the prices low so as not to burden young people getting married with high costs for their weddings.

He added: “Those who want to save on the wedding banquets should consider hosting them in restaurants which are half the price charged at five-star hotels.”

A check with other Chinese restaurants including Tung Lok group of restaurants and Roland Restaurant show prices start from $438 per table, excluding GST and the service charges.

Other restaurants, such as Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant, charge higher, from $638 per table, also excluding GST and the other service fees.

Prices at six-star hotels, including the popular Ritz Carlton, start from $1,118 per table, excluding GST and service charges.

Those who want to opt for somewhere special to hold their wedding banquet can consider the Asian Civilisation Museum, at Empress Place, or the Peranakan Museum at Armenian Street.

These unique venues come with a price, of course. At The Asian Civilisation Museum, for example, rental of a function room there starts from $1,800, depending on the room size and when the banquet is held. The price excludes GST and service charges. The couple must also pay separately for the cost of the reception.

For those who want to choose prices between those at restaurants and those at a five or six-star hotel’s ballroom, they can choose to hold their wedding banquets in country clubs such as the Orchid Country Club, the Legends at Fort Canning Park, The Pines and the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club.

For example, at the Orchid County Club, prices are between $538 and $658, depending on where they are held, in a function or ballroom at the club, and whether they are held on a weekday or weekend.

In addition, the club takes in bookings with a minimum of 10 tables and a maximum of 120 tables.

To many, floral decorations at weddings are considered the lavish or extras. So this is one area where they will cut back in during bad times.

But to Boenga Flowers and Design, a high end wedding florist, whose prices are from $20,000 onwards, it is business as usual.

The company’s boss, Mr Harijanto Setiawan, said: “A wedding is the most memorable event in one’s life. I haven’t seen any indication that couples coming to us are trying to cut their budget. If it happens, I would like to suggest they reduce the quantity, but not the quality.”

“Quality can’t be compromised, but quantity can be reduced. The most important thing is to educate couples to be specific in what they need so as to supply the accurate quantity to prevent wastage and help them save.”

But wedding planner Anna Lim of Spellbound Wedding, which provides floral decorations and other services, is less optimistic and she believed couples getting married this year would be more careful in their spending, especially in areas like flowers and the accessories.

Some couples, for example, she pointed out, might just make-do with standard wedding invitation cards instead of the personalised ones which they have to pay more.

With the economy crisis looming, Ms Lim said she had to hold back price increases though costs of flowers and rentals of wedding venues have not gone down yet.

Her advice to couples getting married this year: “I have always told my clients not to spend beyond their means, whether in good times or bad times. If they do, they will be so stressed up in the days leading to the wedding day, worrying if they can afford the wedding and if the ang pao they collect from friends and relatives can cover all their expenses.”