Sau Tong has never bought his fiancée a birthday gift before, but she is not whining about it. Not surprising as she – a DIY buff – has eyes only for presents he creates with his own hands.
So when Sau Tong proposed to Choo Kiong – whom he had been dating for two years – he knew their wedding would not be a cookie-cutter one as she would be eager to be her own wedding planner and give the bridal studios a run for their money. The todo list ran the gamut from making the boutonnieres to sourcing for low-price wedding album makers. Fortunately, the clueless couple had got resourceful friends and relatives to count on.
The photo shoot took five months to hop off the drawing board and land on Pulau Tioman – a tiny Malaysian island known for its powdery beaches and aquamarine waters – as the beach lovers wanted to capture the perfect “sun, sand and sea”.
To suit the sunny setting, Choo Kiong bought a straw hat adorned with mother of pearls to go with her twopiece ivory gown. The hat proved to be a lifesaver as it helped protect her face from the scorching sun. It also hid her frizzy mop which she would otherwise spend a long time to style. For that cascading look that Choo Kiong had always desired, a piece of tulle measuring three metres long was picked up from a textile shop on Arab Street. A cousin who owned a dressmaking shop subsequently cropped the fabric into a two-layer elbow veil for the wedding day.
The three-day beachside shoot turned out to be a thrilling vacation despite occasional showers. As the sun-kissed couple cuddled for the camera while the rest of the photography and styling crew prayed for the perfect shots they needed, the group found time to snorkel with the marine fish and gate-crashed a feast thrown by a sultan for the islanders. And when night came, so did the party animal in them.
Planning for the wedding dinner was a tug o’war between Choo Kiong and her parents. They preferred a traditional sit-down banquet; and she, however, had her mind set on a restaurant buffet served with fun and entertainment on the side. “So why not do both?” the couple eventually thought. The compromise: an afternoon Chinese banquet catered to the relatives and a fusion cuisine buffet for the friends at night.
The dimly lit restaurant at The Arts House where the buffet was held looked like a page torn from the storybook 1001 Arabian Nights. It was a palette of bold colours with golden drapes dripping down the rouge walls and strings of dark beads swishing around the maroon suede seats. A tarot card reader was hired to enhance the atmosphere and dish out love advices.
One highlight of the evening was the playing of an unfamiliar song that inconspicuously filled the air. The song – refined with instrumental arrangement and studio recording – was partially written and crooned by Choo Kiong as her surprise wedding gift for Sau Tong. Although the song was only four minutes long, the process took four months to complete with the help of Choo Kiong’s songwriter brother-in-law.
No matrimonial celebration is complete without pranks. In this case, the groom was the victim; the bride was part of the rascally mob charged with getting him drunk. The buffet which was supposed to end in three hours stretched to five, and that was when the newlyweds knew their guests were truly enjoying themselves.