Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Silent Warriors - Jie Mei @ Wedding

First of all, I'm glad to know that the previous entry helped some friends (in some ways) in wedding planning! Thought I can share more on my experience from other aspects of wedding planning, if anyone is keen to read. =) Shall break it up into several entries else it will take forever to read. haha

As the title says, this entry is dedicated to my awesome possum jiemeis! Jiemeis are the girls who contribute a universe to only shine below the lime light. They are way busier than the bride on AD, but they are never recognition-demanding. Though not blood related, their love and assistance rendered does not fall far behind from my two biological sisters. I'm a lucky bird to have them all. The girls had heard of each other as we grow up, but had never hangout. Despite the lack of bonding sessions, they actually clicked like they knew each other for life! Guess 'birds of a feather flock together' haha! All of them shares similar personality traits - contain Rah Rah cells in them, outgoing and friendly in general (unless provoked. They will attack, scratch and kill. Nah just kidding!). 

What went missing in the previous "6 Tips to afford a wedding at right depth of your pocket" entry was the Jie Mei Management. I know we have tons of friends in the "Jie Mei waiting List" but hey, you won't need 10 pairs of hands on the actual day, really. I had 5 Jiemeis for my wedding as I was kind of shy to 'trouble' more friends. Thinking back, I thought I could do with lesser, but well the 5s are a joyful bunch so no regrets. 

The busiest time for Jie Mei usually lies in the morning. Not sure if anyone has broken down the task lists for Jiemei before but here goes the one that I compiled with things my jiemeis had done:

Disclaimer: the table below serves as a rough guide based on what took place during my wedding. May differ with individuals/preferences

Jie Mei Guide
*Time listed is an estimate, may differ for different couples*

The extent that the girls went can be summarized as such: waking up to our 吉时(auspicious time), be ever so spontaneous during gate crashing, look out for any possible make-up smudge on the bride, assist in gowns changing (sound easy, keyword: sound) or to carry a supermarket in the handbag that consist of items from straws to slippers. You name it, she may have it. What's more, some may even go under your dress to help with the can-can. You need close pals who really don't mind burning their energy for your yet don't exactly mind doing so. At the same time, I felt 'Paiseh' the whole day to trouble them, though they kept repeating that it didn't matter. Such wonderful friends *Touched*

The amount of people you need during tea ceremony is a good gauge (usually 4 to 5 is good enough) to the number of Jiemei you need. Having compact size Jiemei troop allows for more communications, lesser arguments or bickers, and higher appreciation values! Why so? Cuz the bride can give slightly bigger Ang pow (as compared to giving 8 jiemeis of relatively smaller ones) to thank them for all the hard work that they put through without hesitations. 

So, before a BTB starts engaging 15 bridesmaids, you may want to consider getting the top few girls that pop up to your mind, those whom you are most comfortable with, that you need not be pretentious with. Trust me, they will see your most beautiful and unglam moments in your life all on your wedding day. haha! Don't mistake the slim selection as breaking of a friendship, as it all boils down to nothing but practicality and comfort level. Who knows, some friends may prefer watching you from afar and give her blessings in a mellow manner. Need to balance the view point and not skewed unnecessarily, your friends still love you nevertheless, vice versa.

On a side note, don't get me wrong either. You may still get more girls as your jie mei if you really wish to include all the peeps in your clique. There is no 'right or wrong' in a wedding planning, just preferences and comfort level. So don't fret over it too much!:)

Coincidentally, my Jie Mei each represent a phase in life:
Maid of Honour, Krys! - known since 5.Went to same primary and secondary school. No one knows me more than her=P
Dawn - Secondary School CCA mate from symphonic band. Reeds instrument ftw!

Ethel a.k.a. Mure - Soul mate from Polytechnic (coincidentally, she is a reed instrument player too!)

 Jac - Colleague since first job. Lifetime events pal (who share same Chinese name as me!)

BCHL! - One of the dearest from TPS. Part of HCJS=)
These lovelies even planned for a surprise Hen's Party. It was quite epic and I must say, very well planned! They left no room for suspicion and I was really caught off guard at the hotel. Well,  I'll document that in separate post cuz this gets a little too lengthy. More photos of the cheeky bunch!

Biological sisters!

I looked damn tired for smiling 6 hours straight, but the rest look super refreshed! *thumb up

Looking forward to more outings that will follow suit, and once again, THANK YOU MY 特务姐妹**!

**origin of name derivation: They didn't have each other's numbers at the initial phase of whatsapp group chat. Hence they called themselves secret agents when so many numbers emerged, and addressed each other as agent XXXX - last 4 digits of their cell number. How creative!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Goodbye Five Stars

A week after the hoo haa, I've decided to pen down a short entry in bidding goodbye to Five Stars Coach/Travel. 

"Five Stars Tours, which closed for business on Wednesday, will have its travel agent licence revoked, unless it can provide the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) reasons such an action should not be taken against it." - source: Channel News Asia

Abruptly ceased its operation on 8th January 2013, Five Stars had left many travelers stranded. Simply because, everyone has been too used to the big boy in the market to the extent where no one suspects the unstable conditions that they were in. Known for its luxury coach services to several destinations in Malaysia, many locals and Malaysian who resides in Singapore often choose Five Stars as their transport provider, especially during festive seasons. Unfortunately, the closure of the business lies in the post Christmas/New Year and pre Chinese New Year (CNY) season, hence the damages and impacts to/on the consumers are more severe. 

I used to be a frequent traveler to Malaysia since young age as I have a truck load of relatives in Malaysia (my mum is a Malaysian). However, my preferred mode of transport was KTM train (speaking of which, i should blog about my 23 years of experience one day! it's a very heartwarming journey...) via the then Tanjong Pagar train station. Hence I only had my one and only trip on Five Stars coach back in 2012, when I went on a short getaway to Genting & KL

I recalled the excitement for travelling on Five Stars and how I wanted to travel with them again should I be visiting other parts of Malaysia next time. Yea, the next time didn't come as I was busier travelling for dive trips instead =P So back to the coach, they were almost the air plane on land! There was in-flight on-board entertainments that are built in to the screens before you, those that got attached to the seat in front of you, which consist of movies, games and music! Okay I don't know if I was behaving like a country bumpkin but I totally didn't expect that from a coach! Together with the ample leg/seat space and automated seat adjustments, my experience in 2012 was considered fantastic. 

The ONLY batch of photos I had with Five Star Coach:

*Pardon the poor quality of photos, my compact camera back then wasn't fantastic. This is the best i could touch up with iPhone apple apps when my Mac is not with me LOL!*

Not sure to buy the numbers for 4D or not now. lol!
This was taken 2-3 years ago. wha so youngggg
There was even game controller!
"Gone were the days" is the only thing I could think of now for Five Stars. Whatever had happened to the organization, I hope better days are ahead for you. To those who are affected by the cessation of the business,  I hope you get the compensations soon and enjoy the ever joyous CNY still:)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

6 Tips to Afford a Wedding at the Right Depth of Your Pocket

So, articles on how a couple spent S$110K for their wedding to land themselves in debts there after have been circulating quite a bit on social media platforms. At the same time, some past examples on successful low-budget weddings - yet as successful in celebrating the union of two souls as those lavish ones - were also published on magazines online portals. Quite an interesting read since I am just a three weeks old bride wife who is still bathing in honeymoon after a very heartwarming wedding. We didn't spend a bomb, but we had the best moments that contribute to a smooth and joyous night.

Before I go on to share my bliss and happiness on my wedding day, I thought I can share some of the budget tips on wedding planning, in the right budget bandwidth. 

Well, below are some personal opinions, no right or wrong, so take whatever suits your taste yea=D
*Assuming you have already chosen your bridal studio with the pre-wedding shoot packages*

Adopted theme for my wedding: Oriental

1. Before You Sign: Negotiate for More Photos and Forgo little 'gifts'

I forgo my wedding album and a 4R or 6R bedside photo frame in exchange for 20+ photos. I can't remember the exact number as I signed my package 13 or 14 months ago but the range is legit. I am slightly luckier as working in the marketing/events trade for 5 years has earned me a decent size of contacts and networks. Hence I made my own wedding album with hard cover that comes with shuang xi deboss (can opt for personalized logo at a fee), custom album size and to choose a cover material from a range of colours and textures. Using a rough gauge, the photos had saved me a huge sum as each copy was less than $20 (estimates) after doing my maths! But if you were to purchase from photography studios, they may easily hit grands.

My experience: The textured cover, thickness of the pages and the deboss:

The Deboss

2. Pre-Wedding Photoshoot: Be Creative, Be Involved, Be You.

Encountered couples who spend S$10k for an overseas photoshoot, which encompass travel / service / accommodation fees for photographer, car rental, gowns etc not forgetting the painful experience of paying a few grands more to purchase all the photos for the very reason of travelling all the way to somewhere to take nice scenic photos and feeling silly to not buy them because you wanna save the money. 

Well, to JJ and I, wedding is a 一生一次(Once a lifetime) thing, we wish to make it memorable. Yet we recognize the fact that wedding album too is a 一生一次 thing, 一生 (只会看)一次 (Only see it once a lifetime) thing. ^-^||| Okay I exaggerated a little, but you get the drift ya. You are going to keep those nicely edited photos in your hard drive, or storeroom/under your bed after wedding. So, spend wisely, you too, can make fantastic photos using just local landscapes!=D 

Be Creative. Do it locally (Save a hell lot of moolahs) with different approach. Choose somewhere that is in Singapore yet it doesn't show much of the city's icons, leaving viewers pondering over the actual place and be impress by the authenticity of your shoot location (e.g. cafes, pasture, parks, playgrounds, shops/stores, bridge, streets etc). 

Be Involved. Think of some key poses that represent the couple's characters. Search online, through instagrams, pinterest, hashtags etc. Get inspirations, and determine your own wedding photo poses. Of course, you can't come up with ALL the possible poses for your day-long photoshoot, so you may still heed some of the photog's advice. Do remember to explore impromptus options when you are taking photos too!

Be You. Smile at your most natural when you are posing at ease, displaying the playful nature/sweet-in-your-own-way characters in you.

The poses that you and your partner brainstorm will come as delayed gratifications when you're choosing your photos as you may feel more attached to some:P Probably save you some money in buying more photos since you may have preferences over certain ones now. Appreciate your well-captured smiles, but most importantly, appreciate the memories:)

*Not saying that my photos are perfect, but I do smile a lot while looking at the planned/unplanned photos as they hold different stories of my photoshoot day. Oh did i mention that my photoshoot happened on the very day PSI hit 400 in the then hazy Singapore? hehe*
I had mine at Ikea Warehouse!:) 

3. Choosing Photos: Have a Clear Mind!

More than often, merchants will have little tricks to work your eyes and minds the way they wish to, and with a weaker determination, the buyers usually fall within their own soft spots. If the photographs are jumbled up, make sure you pay more attention to what you choose at the end of the day. Compare the photos taken at same settings again before confirming your purchases of both photos. Try to keep your damage to the lowest, most importantly, control the bride! *I admit I was the more excited one between the two back then* 


Be chill and stay calm during the process.

4. Give Yourselves a Holiday.

Take a break 6 months before your wedding, unwind, and shop for wedding materials at your currencies advantage! Killing two birds with one stone, why not ;) Wedding favours were provided by my wedding venue, but I thought I want something more than that. Hence, I bought my wedding favours and reception pens during my overseas trip with JJ, and found quite good deals! I custom made my bridesmaids' dresses in China (communications through an online platform), and bought handheld fans for my bridesmaid to suit the oriental theme wedding. Most importantly, to fan themselves while going through gate crashing and tea ceremonies at groom and bride's places in the hot and humid weather. If you do not have the time nor the mood to travel overseas, you may want to get it online, hassle free services always waiting for you if you search hard enough;)

My experience - Tags were printed and tied to our gifts:

Measuring Tape. We tend to shop online quite a bit, so thought this may be useful to some friends and I! "Marriage is about maintaining your waistline" (well, better physique gives a more confident, thus, happier you lol!)
Heart Shape bottle opener. I didn't realise that it's an opener till the shop owner told me  so, ok I'm prolly slow i know, but i was captivated by it. "Marriage is to open up some happiness"
Thought this shot glass is rather nice, and it still fall within the budget though the glass was slightly pricier than the rest. "Marriage is.. shots of merriments!"

My reception pens:

Bridal car bears from Shanghai

We did away with Ang Pow for our JOP, brothers and sisters. Instead, we gave the money in rolls, within these "Ang Pow Container". We thought it's rather cute!
The 'oriental fan' that i got for the girls;)

5. Invite Cards, discard that if you can.

Well, JJ being the co-founder of 360 & 5, I need not worry about my e-invites. How it works:
  • With customized message, URL and invitee's picture, we invited all friends through whatsapp (mobile app). Invitees can view the page on computers too since JJ is capable of doing responsive websites. There are 2 buttons on the invite page - Green = I am attendng!, Red = I am not attending. A countdown will be automated, showing the number of days leading up to our wedding. Upon responding, the different answers will lead users to different landing page, highly customize-able!
    At back end, we will have a list of responses, sorted out in any way you wish to so as to ease follow-ups. 

  • Round 2 of mass sending service - reminders and to log the dates in their calendars. Customized landing pages as well.
  • Viewers who are not invited but log on to our wedding page, will see a generic page of our wedding such as this

Not only that we saved on production costs, which will be thrown away after our wedding most likely, we also saved the earth some tree cutting, and both of us felt that the micro-site is highly personalized (with insertion of old photographs of invitees and us in the page, addressing invitees with nicknames we use on each other and personalized URL). Something that displayed our sincerity in inviting them, and to show how unique they are in ours eyes. Majority of our guests were delighted to receive such unique invitations!:)

Side note: We proceeded with 50pcs of card printing for our elders/relatives, who faithfully obey the tradition and rules of invitation, something which we highly respect as well. Glad that printing contacts come into good use phew

6. Invite to share, not to fill. 

Choose a venue that is in relevance to your desired invite list. Do not invite to fill up a venue, like come on, do you and your partner really have 600 close/best friends? Wedding is not a time for you to show off, but a celebration where friends whom you feel are truly happy for you to attend alongside with brimming joys & blessings. We had a cozy wedding of 25 tables at a truly amazing venue @Grand Shanghai, and we were showered with loves from every table. Not a single awkward moments of "who is this lady?" from both of us, as at some point or another, we have met each other's friends, else, heard of them. The coziness are something that we adored. 
That's right, my diver clique! We didn't mean 'good' in this picture btw. The diving hand sign says 'ASCEND!' - 我们上岸了!
We had a wedding at the right depth of our pockets, and we are blissfully married now. Before you go ahead and spend your next $100k on wedding, feel the depth of your pocket and decide if it agrees.

Hope the little tips help!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twenty Thirteen

How time flies and then disappears with 2013 being concluded officially. Not too late to reflect on 2013 and usher (ed) 2014 with much grown heart:)

2013 is definitely a life changing year. It has been tough yet kind, a year that I am glad it all happened. I didn't get to do much exciting things this year, but still managed to pull the highlights together for this post heh

Apart from having internship with Singapore Zoo's Marketing back in late 2000s, TPS was my one and only employment in big company with multiple departments and levels of hierarchy. I always think that small companies allow your capabilities to be better showcased with lesser chain of commands, hence better outputs with more justifiable rewards. With that, I chose to close my chapter with a big family of loves and fun, to march towards a more exciting career line-up before I am forced to give it all up when I have a kid. I often look back at the joys i had working in big companies and still miss working in larger environment with a lot more colleagues, but I know the friendships and bonds can be led to new levels moving on. 

Layang Layang trip was my one and only dive trip in 2013, it was da bomb. details in previous entry:)

The star highlight of the 2013 must go to the change of status from Miss Neo to Mrs Tan! I was looking at my New Year Resolutions in 2010 and 2011 (realized I had skipped doing so in 2012) and boy it feels so nostalgic looking at the younger me! I still miss 2010 very much, the year that I thought I grew up the most and learnt how to love myself/life better. I was wishing upon spending my next Christmas with someone dear to me then, and I must have been a good girl in 2011 for I got to thank Santa for having the then bf appearing in my life. It wasn't the kind of love-at first-sight relationship, but as the time passes by, the love and bonds just got stronger. An older post explained our relationship in short: Two is better than One 

2 weeks into my marriage now, I'm still pretty in the honeymoon bliss^-^ Though i need to do more washing and cleaning than before, cook more often and to be more responsible in the things i do, I enjoyed this new phase of life very much now. I will work doubly hard to keep this bliss and mindset intact, and look back in time to make it a happy marriage reminder:D will do a separate post on my wedding day soon!

2013 seems short, yet it had the exact number of days as other years. Probably all good things happened in a blink of eyes. 

In 2013...
- I learnt that dream has a special power that makes you leave comfort zone in search of challenges;
- I learnt that someone whom you may adore/look up to throughout the career life can be a different person over the years. Disappointment is beyond words, so let go and move on;
- I learnt that love is unconditioned. Do it with all your heart;
- I learnt that family is the wealthiest assets one can have; and
= Life is an adventure. If you miss the adventures, you will miss the world.

I look forward to fill 2014 with more adventures, more trips, more meanings and more love:) HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!=D