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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.