Thursday, November 22, 2007

A to Z of Putting GO back into Goals

Since I could not sleep, just touched ground in Singapore, and beginning to experience Jet lag...
Wanted to share this with all of you, as I was refreshed by Jacques Weisel's session in the conference: A to Z of Putting the GO Back Into Goals :'

A : Goals have to be achievable
B: Goals have to believable to you
C : Goals have to be conceivable, visualise, set the date and go for it
D : Goals have to be desirable.
E : Enthusiasm is the key to achieving goals
F : This is a good one.. Forgive yourself and others.. do not be hard to yourself or others
G : Learn to golly.. let go and laugh it off
H : U don't become Happy, you are Happy
I : Be an Icon, don't be afraid to be different, move beyond what people's think of you
J : Join an Association, networking not thinking "what's in it for me" rather "what can I do for you". People who do the latter apparently stay 6.5 yrs longer
K : Kick old habit, kindle propelity
L : Listen, we're busy listening to ourselves, we fail to listen to others.
M : Motivation, know why you are getting up everyday
N : Nil Forbia. The only place that negatives belong is the photograph shop, not your mind, so flee from negatives
O : Embrace Obstacles. Anything that does not kill us strengthen us
P : PMS - Post Mentality Syndrome, get rid of that
Q : Quantity and qualify what you want.
R : Referrals, referrals, referrals
S : Set short range goals for long term goals
T : Train, train train. Stay fresh and be refreshed
U : Ultra-diamrynthmn is giving yourself a break every 90-120 min. The mind gets restless at that time so is normal for you to feel not good.. so take a break, have kit kat
V : Victory becomes a daily occurrence if you believe it
W : Worry is the interest paid of a loan you never take up, so stop worrying
X : Xtraordinary. Be happy what you have, you can do extraordinary works within what you own or possess
Y : You'll receive the right portion according to what you are made or born with
Z : Zero or Hero depends on how you approach it mentally

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I am so inspired!!!

I am currently in New York... in my cozy hotel typing a new post.. it has been a long while since I updated my blog.. sorry guys I was busy shifting office, and off my trip to US - Orlando & New York.

I had a great wedding planners conference in Orlando.. and so much I have learnt just observing the folks there.. and of course meeting up with David Tuttera was a bonus.. short 2 hours with him inspired me more than I have acquired in past years. I remembered when he asked who travelled the furthest to this conference? I shouted me, from Singapore... He was surprised, because indeed we travelled long to see him and learn from these gurus.
He makes me feel that I am not alone after all in how I felt as a wedding planner...And he is a genius!!! As a planner, one thing I have decided is I would not plan my own wedding, I just want to have fun.. and seeing him, I have a secret craving : won't it be great if David would plan my wedding.. :)
Most of the things shared by some of the speakers were not new.. but it's the attitudes and motivation that were behind them that inspired me. Being with them makes me feel I am so fortunate to be in the wedding industry.. and being with them makes me realise I am normal, learning to let go, enjoy the journey and create the most amazing weddings we have ever imagined..
Few things I would like to share with all...from this conference that bless my heart..
  1. If you are not the love of your life, there’s no love in your life, so love yourself. You deserve it!
  2. Don’t let negatives sit in you.. the only place that negatives belong is the photography shop, not in your mind.
  3. Give yourself 15 min a day for “why I love me” time. So many of us are so busy planning other's beautiful moments, that we forget to create beautiful moments for ourselves.
  4. Worry is the interest paid of a loan you never take up.. so story worrying. Business will roll as we believe in ourselves and the future.
  5. To the World you may be 1 person, but to that 1 person (our brides), you are the world. So be proud of yourself as the planner.

I have to say the Americans are great marketeers not so much of them knowing how to put their products out there for customers to grab, but rather they understood the human emotions, the experiences one is looking for, and they create services and products that meet those needs and emotions, which is genius...

I went Disneyland, Universal Studio, Toy'R'Us, M&M store.. I felt like a princess and a child in each of the venues.. I wanted to stay and grab everything I saw in there... the performance, the mascots, the parade, the fireworks.. all of them make me feel like a child again.. what can I say.. they know how to bring out the best emotions within us.. and to me, that is an inspiration..

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I am amazed by my couples all the time....

Today, I woke up having a sore throat... and knew ahead of me, it was another hectic I went abt running the errands, I received a call from Chin Seng, a groom I last served, told me he would drop by to pass me something. Next I knew I received a gift from my couple, a gesture of their appreciation to me as their planner.

I looked back and was amazed. Iris & Chin Seng is one couple that never fails to amaze me. They were the first couple that was more concern whether I would be comfortable working with them as well as planning their wedding, than whether I was the right planner for them. Throughout the planning journey, whenever I fell sick, I got loads of sms and email expressing their care and regards. At times, I did feel I was overly complimented for my works than what I have deserved.
At the end of their wedding, I was happy. Their guests were more spontaneous and fun than I ever imagined. Who say local couple with traditional guests cannot have fun.. Every guest turned up early for the banquet, we began our celebration at 7.40pm, contrary to many beliefs that Chinese weddings would always start late. I saw Iris' Dad sings, the old and young guests enjoyed the bubble blowing.. and finally, the couple relaxed and simply being themselves.
And I would never have guessed, Iris & Chin Seng actually called up every supplier they have in contact with, and thanked them personally.

I looked back, Iris & Chin Seng poured love and sincere care for others, and in the end, all are happy to be a part of their celebration.. I have guests coming to me at the end of the event saying they have found this wedding different and fun, ... and all I can say, is the wedding is a reflection of the host more than the planner.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Can't wait to see my new office...

This past one week was a hectic week.. just finished all my Oct weddings, and just enough time for us to prepare the office shift. And since it is a new place, I am even more meticulous in the way I designed the office... I suppose the saying was right.. Artists sometimes stress over working for their own properties more than working for their clients....

I spent much time with my designers and team, choosing colour, materials, choosing how the layout should be in that limited space we have... from an initial small budget for renovations, I ended up spending double of that.. hopefully not tripled... but I knew myself too well.. I would end up spending more unnecessary nitty gritty accessories...

But despite the price, I do love to shop for my own... it's like building your dream place.. and making it yr own and one that you love to be in everyday...This time, the interior is completely different from our usual corporate identity... quite different from my typical neutral tones of shades

The more I think of it, the more I feel the new showroom reflects both extreme characteristics of a woman, pretty vs passionate... dainty vs sophisticated..
haha.. you must be wondering how the showroom is like.. let's wait and see...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great weddings, great couples, great audiences.

I have just finished planning 4 weddings in 2 weeks.. yes, it's crazy but I have to say Oct is my best month so far in 2007. I have the best wedding concepts, great couples, and great audiences.
Tho, in the mist of it, I suffered a chronic pain at my back, and I thought it was a slip disc, thank God it was not, but a serious reminder I need to take good care of my health besides planning for others' dream weddings.

Last night, we have another great couple. We have cabaret dancers in sexy costumes and moves, intriguing magician, amazing band, and great ambience and concept in enchanted One Rochester. Steve Thio wants to feature this wedding even before he sees the pictures. in fact, for all my past 4 weddings, we have enjoyed each of the weddings, even the venue owners and banquet team too have enjoyed serving the couples.

Our couples were really sweet and they took efforts to ensure suppliers are well taken care of, Every one of them was so willing to allow me to explore crazy ideas with them. and best of all, I have never witnessed such a spontaneous crowd in all 4 weddings. It was like watching 4 fabulous movies.
We have Korean and Chinese couple with Hokkien relatives and Korean in laws. We have Karaoke lovers relatives, we have famous singers of the old times... every one of the weddings, I saw guests can't wait to grab the stage and mikes. Korean Opera, Hokkien oldies, Westlife songs, sixties songs in Chinese, Latin Jazz and Blues.. disco dancing, you name it, we witnessed all that in Oct weddings... I can't wait to see all the pictures..

And I believe they will be great pictures.. because the crowd was real.. and the guests celebrated their love with the couples. That is what weddings are all about, enjoy, celebrate and no stress..
afterall, you have done yr part of planning, the rest of it is to simply enjoy...
And as a planner, I have enjoyed thoroughly, got to dance for once in the last night wedding. I should learn from Colin Cowie, he basically drinks and dances as part of the guests in all the weddings he planned...

Now I will be busy with office shifting and designing.. and before I know, I will be off to US and discover what is happening on the otherside of the World...
and back again in Dec, for a crazy Wedding month.. my prayer is simple : May I enjoy every wedding in Dec like the ones I have enjoyed in Oct.

I am sure I will... I choose to believe from now on, all my couples will be great couples to work with, and all my concepts will be amazingly creative and unbelievable fun.... I will inspire more planners and couples out there to make weddings real and stress free... ok time for a good lunch.. ttyl

An accurate review of myself

was busy planning weddings, not realising I was featured in one of the magazines - Bride De Jour, a new and upmarket wedding magazine.. a replacement of Luxx Weddings.
When my colleague first read the article, she called me urgently and said "Hannah, I think the magazine has spelt the company wrong.. they wrote "Hannah's Gift" instead of "Heaven's Gift".

The first reaction I thought was, it couldn't be, Editor Ruchira is a very meticulous person, she couldn't have missed that error.. so finally I got a chance to read the article.. and I have to thank Ruchira, this is the most accurate write up abt myself, the way I think and operate and the weddings I have done among the writeup I have seen.

And she is right to title the article "Hannah's Gift". Indeed, the article wrote more abt who I was before wedding planning,what caused me the change, and my philosophy in managing business in this industry. The article was like a summary of my journey and I was reminded of His grace.. It reminded me again... "Let Go, enjoy it and Let God".
I learnt to enjoy this tremendous journey... and the journey ahead is getting more and more exciting...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

4 more days to go...

Last weekend, I really shopped a lot, bought couple of dresses, accessories and best of all, a super huge luggage.. preparing for my trip to US. I spent a bomb that's all I know.Went up dinner with my sis, and was asked how I would be celebrating my birthday... never thot of that, planner like me hardly plans for my own.. or rather hates to plan for your own events.
This time, I wanted to simply celebrate with my family... but realised my granny is handicapped so not so easy to move abt.. so decided to hold it at my office... and eventually I decided to invite my tenant partner, then some friends and before I knew, it became a party more than I have intended.. but felt different this yr, invite couple of friends whose birthday is in the same week.. and it's pretty cool to celebrate with friends that have their birthdays around yrs..
I started calling the caterer, deciding the menu, booking the cake chef etc etc.. and somehow I realised, I do dislike planning for my own... I suppose you wish you could just relax and not worry abt the logistics, esp u just want to enjoy...

On the other hand, I do look forward to it.. afterall I am celebrating my special day with people I love and enjoy being with... hmm... I am going to be 34... aging each day...hopefully gracefully :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Developing new blood

I just finished writing my lessons on grooming fundamentals and working attributes for the industry. Tomorrow is our staff meeting, and I decided to take time to instill the importance of having good attributes and attitudes as professionals. Often when we are busy with weddings, we overlook how we present ourselves, communciate with one another and how we work as a team. It was good we are all set ready for the coming weddings in Sep and Oct.. and having a training session like this refreshes all of us, even myself when preparing it.

A good planner, must know how to carry herself, how she relates to her clients and the suppliers, and how to be quick to learn, and slow to speak, and constantly looking out to grow in her knowledge and field of expertise. I don't think that there is a time we can tell ourselves we have learnt all that is needed.. this industry is ever changing, ever fascinating.. and I sometimes find myself not sleeping, just thinking of all the areas I can explore and discover...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stay Healthy, Stay Cheerful... and Dream Always

I just came back after a dinner with a dear friend, and got to find out she suffered a slipped disc around her neck, and was on medical leave. Who would have guessed it happened to a pretty lady of age 34, she's more disciplined and athletic than anyone I know.
But I was glad she was optimistic, because deep in us, we know our lives are in the hands of God.

I prayed for her, and on my way back, I told myself, Hann, nothing was more impt than your health and happiness.. We can work our hearts and bodies out for our career, for passion or to survive, but what remains is still back to our happiness, and health enables us to enjoy treasure it...

My brides often want to lose weight to stay pretty for the weddings, I can understand why... but I often will say to them "Pls stay healthy.. you look great just as you are..." and I am telling myself too.. Hann, eat healthy, stay healthy and learn to let go... let go of your daily burdens, duties, ambitions, obligations, and even your dreams.. and let Him prove to you that He's your provider, the one who makes all things beautiful in His time.. so don't over stretch yrself... or allow others to stretch you too... anyway, so much abt health talk..

I just replied to an email for a luncheon invitations for all wedding planners in Singapore... I kinda look forward to see the players here.. you can see them as yr competitors, but I really hope to discover more friends than the former... afterall the market is big enough for all.. and may all realise that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Shopping Style changes

Just came back from a bridal fitting from Tan Yoong... and really like the black cheongsum TY designed for my bride PJ. Tempted to tailor one for myself. Among all my brides I know, PJ is one bride that is the most dressy and fashionable bride I ever know. Whenever we have a meeting, she often surprised me with her attire, and I have to say so far I love all her pieces, even TY is amazed.

I still remembered we went shopping for a bridal shop in Essex walk, and who would have guessed how long we stayed there. In the end we spent almost 2 hours looking at shoes, she bought 4 pairs, and I was lured into buying one unexpected pair for myself costing me $600. This is what I called woman's impulse and influence.

I just bought a new wardrobe, threw away many clothings, and create more space for new designs that I am going for. Can't believe I used to be so slim and petite... and so much clothings I used to buy. In fact, I think I was more daring in my dressing when I was in my youth than now .. what an irony. I realised after 4 yrs in this industry, you taste in life changes, you look for a blend of sophistication within the simplicity.. .. Used to love all forms of designs, but now, you want something sleek and yet depict elegance. Being consistently with my youths in church and my brides, I seem to be surrounded with varied fashion trends change. I am glad in some ways, today's young adults are so much well dressed, yet sometimes I do wonder they too mature much faster than our times... nevertheless, it's a different generations.

Whichever it is, I am glad Singaporeans are getting more dressy than in the past. My friends in London and Hong Kong often says Singaporeans are so casual and sloppy in the dress sense.... now I can see it is changing.. people should dress for the occasion.. esp during weddings..
how you dress reflect how you regard the event or that moment.. and that itself tells a lot abt oneself..

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's ok not to be the superwoman...

I couldn't sleep the past few nights... and I wonder why...then I realised my old habits of pondering over the business matters in late nights has come back.

Have been meeting various industry players and suppliers to finalise most of my weddings in 2007... and each time, there are much sharing and exchange of knowledge in those meetings. I love these meetings, I get inspired to do much more, but at the same time, my mind couldn't stop working..

Often I wish I have mastered all the depths of all aspects in weddings esp the technicalities, from gown & suit making, accessories selections, to cake making, stage setup to even simple elements such as invitation design and production.. but I need to realise my mind has limited brain cells.. and it's ok not to be the superwoman who knows it all... I am afterall a human :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Live Simply

I just came back from my family trip.... and I must say I had a great time. Went up to Cameron Highlands.. where your life there was simple, slow and steady. We lived in the Lake House, great boutique hotel but no TV in rooms.. strange but basically it taught us City Dwellers to forgo the "TV Box" for something better... and we did eventually appreciate.

It's strange for planners like us where we spend most of our time creating and imagining weddings that wow our couples, to realise that simple natural things God created on earth are actually very beautiful without us trying to recreate it.. I took this picture by accident and I love it.. somehow, it was taken at the right angle, no edit, no special lens, mere shot taken with a digital camera.. and yet to me, it shows the beauty of Creations.. from leaves to budding flowers to pretty fruit, growing among the many.. and I just love it.

I came back learning to be contented with the simple things in life.. this yr, I am happy with most of the wedding creations.. and literally look forward for each one to come... looking back, we have grown over the years.. and last week, just b4 I left for Cameron. I received a call from a potential client's mother after reading the article from the Urban... the first things she said to me was "I love your company's name - Heaven's Gift.. it's really nice.., how did you get this name?"

I smiled within : indeed the company is Heaven's Gift to me..." and may every wedding we create be Heaven's Gift to those who receive.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We are closed this week...

Finally, I finished packing my stuff for a breakaway with my family.. for once I am not going to access to my inbox.. as I am not bring any laptop up.. the feeling of away from work can be pretty mixed, one side of you are afraid that clients may require your immediate attention.. the other part of you can't wait to leave work behind and have some personal time with your loved ones...which is long overdue...

Anyway, for my clients, do not fret.. I will certainly be by next Tue to follow up yr details... just couple of days away.
The office will be closed, as we release my team off for this week, so we could be refreshed for the coming month that will be swarmed with weddings and more weddings....

Have a good week...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thus far He has helped us....

Today, I was very inspired. I had a breakfast meeting with Brenda from Fiore Dorato for 2 weddings. Basically, it was so easy to express how I wanted floral arrangements to be done to Brenda. She knew where I was coming from, and we understood each other terminology and artistic inclinations.

We somehow talked abt how we started our business, and only realised we are of the same faith. And when we exchanged our thoughts, I can't help to be blessed by her sharings. Once again, I am comforted to know someone who has also come to realise all business growth came from the Lord. I have to say Brenda is a truly creative person.. when I saw her works, I was really happy, and having her one of my vendor partner allows me to dream even wilder and extraordinary weddings which we can both create together. I can't wait to go States this year to hear from the other planners what they have experienced this year, and knowing I am meeting David Tuttera soon.. just excites me..

Later that day, I went for the national prayer meeting organised by the churches in Singapore...
I was truly blessed.. we were all given a stone that has the wordings "Thus far He has helped us.." Yes, all these times, God has been the one leading each of my step.... be it planned or by accident, Heaven's Gift is where she is today is the fruit of diligence and divine provisions..

Saturday, August 4, 2007

My Photographic moments

This two weeks, I was busy with conceptualization and design. When I am in such design stages, I usually prefer to be alone.. so that I can have my space to be inspired.. but I was swarm with the daily operations, as well as the unexpected number of interviews that came along the way.

I have to admit, I am pretty shy when comes to face to face with camera and being interviewed. Monica from Vividshots took some pictures of me for a upcoming upmarket new magazine.. and I have to tell you, I was totally stiff when comes to posed shots. Somehow, I now understand why I have never promoted much abt pre-wedding pictures to my couples, esp those that are directed and posed. It is so unnatural facing the camera, I wish so much I have a partner beside me whom I could laugh and play with, instead of facing the lens.

But Monica is a great photographer.. a partner that I have grown over the years, and her works I have come to appreciate. Somehow, she knew what would look good on me.. and someone who is willing to go extra mile to touch up, edit and make the subject looks great..
Now take a look at some of the pictures she has taken of me.. I love it..
I was teasing her, if I ever go for pre-wedding pictures, I will certainly go for Monica. At least I know I will look good.. now having to write this.. I felt so embarrassed... afterall every girl still wants to look good.. as much as we embrace journalistic photography, there is still a part of us, that desires the photographer to capture the angle that makes us look the best for the lens...
Hmm... truly I understand the sentiments of every bride.. but what can I say...
We are woman afterall...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I learnt to be gracious to serve Singaporeans

Have been sick for 2 weeks, cough, fever, flu, what have you, I got it... and somehow in those period of being sick, and still trying to run the usual routine, kept me desperate for a touch from Heaven.
I just came back from a leader's meeting. And today, we prayed for our nation - Singapore. It has been a reminder that how blessed we are as Singaporeans and how much we being small has impacted the world that is so huge...

But when it came to my turn to pray, I started confessing my wrongs abt my views abt Singaporeans, and my often expressions made "So Singaporean, Typically Kiasu". Honestly, having being a wedding planner in my 4th year, I must say there are quite many encounters where I personally get to witness the "Kiasu Philosophy" been exhibited among the couples that come along our ways...

- "Can you negotiate with the hotel for the best deals, and ensure we have the best, and the most in all we want to get from them..."
- "Can you help us to bargain with the suppliers for better discounts, but not jeopardise the service level and quality they will provide to us"
- "Can you ensure that the wedding will be perfect, since that was the sole purpose we want to engage a wedding planner."
- "We love your floral and theme creations, but could you compromise to work only with a cheaper florist or the existing hotel florist within the hotel floral budget given"...

There are hundreds of amazing requests and sometimes demands we face day by day... and often, I can't help but feel : Are Singaporeans that Kiasu always..
In fact, it seems internationally people called us that..."Kiasu Singaporeans : everything must be cheap, cheap cheap, and best best best...."
And unknowingly, I have developed a negative perception whenever a couple will to ask me to bargain, trash the suppliers, asking for more and paying less...

To me, when you hire a supplier, price is only but one determinant. The entire value this supplier can offer to you is what really matters. When the value is right, you confirm the engagement. But how do we justify that the value is right? We measure based on the pros and cons presented in the choices we have.
However, often we try to stretch one's value by demanding more benefits than what have already been presented (sometimes I am guilty of that as well). We are demanding for more value, by not paying more...and that often is impossible. I will sometimes call this "Exploitations"

Yet, as a Singaporean myself, I can't deny our government has taught us well - to be diligent, to strive for the best, to attain excellence within that limited resources we have. Something I am proud of. Yet, sometimes I wonder, have we begin to distort the attitude that we can get the most returns at the lowest cost we are willing to invest..

I believe for a society and economy to do well, one has to come to realise we have to give as much as we receive. In fact, the principles of prosperity is not to keep receiving or saving, it is to keep making and never stop giving. The rich makes more money, and distribute wealth to the poor thru more jobs so that they can be sufficient. If the rich simply makes more to keep, and not to spend with the poor, then the poor becomes poorer, and there will be exploitations, and abuse, and the world is no longer a better place to live.

Tonight, after that confession, I heard the Lord reminding me, "Hannah, you are blessed as a Singaporean, and you are blessed because you are Singaporean.. and therefore, channel your blessings back to this nation and to the people you meet in this country. Tell yourself today "Singaporeans will not be Kiasu, Singaporeans will be generous and gracious. Everything will not be cheap cheap cheap . Everything will be great great great.

So couples out there, today when you read my blog, do not find offence in this confession. But let's together as one learns to bless as much as we have received. As I often says "Wedding = Celebration, and not a showcase. And you can celebrate with any budget, big or small. If you have small budget, then work with reasonable expectations and trust your suppliers. If you have big budget, then believe in your suppliers that they will want to wow you as much as you want to be wowed. Do not set demands, manage your expectations. And trust me, every wedding will be blessed, and everyone will be happy. Afterall, isn't this what we are looking for when we plan our wedding.... that everyone, i.e. your family, guests as well as vendors are all happy to make your wedding beautiful...

My 2 cents worth...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Paradigm Shift

I just attended a great conference and was really refreshed... and I am so glad I did not have to plan any wedding on the hottest wedding day i.e. 7 July 2007... ya, many didn't believe.. Straits Times called me and they were surprised, but I think it is all pre-destined so that I could get to hear what I needed to hear today. To be exact, I will have a wedding to plan tomorrow, my bride wanted to be her wedding on 7 Jul, but since so many good artists are fully booked on this date, 8 Jul was the alternative.

Ed Silvoso, a strategic business evangelist and preacher, one great pastor I admire, reminded me of my role as a wedding planner, the reason what my company Heaven's Gift is all about. For the past few months, because of family matters, the busyness of events after events, and the demands many have over my own personal life, I felt stretched and lost.. and yet in the midst of loss, I have to remained confident and contained.. and that often drains me out..

But today, I relearnt some simple and profound truths.. and I am so blessed I was liberated:
1) My Labour is my Worship. Often when we work, we work for a living, we work to survive. But this company was set up from a call to go beyond what I think I can do, a passion to bless the people out there. But sometimes, under the stretch of demands of clients, the logistical elements, I forgot what I have designed the company to be. It is Heaven's Gift. It is a gift from God for me, it is a gift to all who come in contact with Heaven's Gift.

2) Since my labour is my worship, then I should dare to believe I will excel in whatever I do, and eventually be prominent in the industry. I looked back, I have not spent much efforts seeking for clients, clients came to me. Sometimes, I wonder how do I even attract my couples.. often I am convinced, someone supernatural has enabled many to see the strengths in me beyond what I can see in myself. For that, I am amazed.

3) I am called to be a business woman. This sounds strange to you that it should be very obvious to me. Honestly, those who really know me will know my only dream is to get married, and serve my husband. I somehow always believe my husband will be a businessman and all I learnt is to eventually support him. And since he is still in the making or rather me in the making.. I have channelled my energy to my career and ministry as a passing journey in that waiting. Yet the truth is I knew deep within, since the day I started working, I was trained to be a entrepreneur. My bosses often told me, Hannah you have more than you thought you can imagine. Your consolidated mind will bring you to greater heights.. but you need to believe. I often feel guilty am I too career minded, which is why I can't seem to settle down. But now looking back, I have never sought to be a career woman, I was put in position at every step of my life to be molded to be who I am today thru journey that God has allowed me to enter. So, Hann, stop feeling guilty when someone says, it's time you move slow, find a man and settle down. Rather God has your future planned.. and He knows what you need, you simply trust and obey.

4) Be a blessing to the community, remember the poor. One of the fundamentals of my way of running a business is to train new blood and seeing my business impart right principles, attitudes to these new lives. And ultimately raise up a generation that believes in their works, and do good for the community out there, particularly the children. I remembered one planner asked me, aren't you afraid the new interns will steal your ideas, setup a company and compete with you. I remembered this is what I said " The industry is big enough for new players. I can't stop people from stealing my ideas, or learning tips from me to eventually compete with me. But I do not want to stop myself from growing and believing in new talents. When I choose to give, I actually receive more than I thought I have given. Besides, I do not want to stop people from learning from me, I want people to remember whom they have learnt from. The principles they learn from me are far more important than the skills they have tapped from me.

Finally, I am once again reminded.. my God is my source of strength and hope. I am not ashamed to declare it. My life and my company is blessed because of what He has done in and thru me. To God be the glory.. Help me to remember all the above truths again.. and stay focus to what I am called to do.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am back and one wedding that bless my heart...

Yes, I have been missing.. or rather swarmed with work, grandma and family that it seems a long time since you last heard from me... In fact, as I am blogging now, I just lost my voice, and tomorrow I have to face a wedding rehearsal where an entire bridal entourage is awaiting to hear my instructions .. and I am wondering "Oh God, pls help me...."

Then I saw Ead's photo abt Jo & Chak's wedding... I am so happy... it really makes my day.. so pretty. Ead has taken it so beautifully.... One of my best weddings this half year.. am looking forward for another one this coming Sat at Chijmes...

Thank God, this yr, I have couples who are crazy with me to explore new ideas.. and given me the opportunity to seeing myself go beyond myself... Sometimes, when deploying those ideas, it bring me anxieties, but often I knew it is another journey of great discovery and creations... Oh God thank you thank you thank you...
And not forgetting, thank you for bringing granny out from hospital... i am so glad to see her smile... muah...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Designing Placecards

Finally we finished painting all the eggs... It was a placecard concept we created for the coming wedding theme - Country Victorian. We wanted to create a placecard that is fun, unique, personalised and reflects a part of our couple...who also enjoy painting

So instead of the usual printed placecards, we have a personalised painted egg in a customised egg holder. As usual, I am excited exploring new ideas, and my client bought the idea proposed.. But I must say the process of doing that was hilarious.

First we have to source for large white eggs.. not any brown or beige ones.. white.. and I never know shopping for eggs can be so difficult until my colleague went around searching.. Next, we have to master the skill of draining the egg content without breaking the egg shelf.. what a skill.. and finally the exciting moment came, it is the process of painting the egg..

I am fortunate to have talents who are willing to execute the work with great patience. It is definitely labour intensive and time consuming...We get to propose the designs, fine tune it and to a point of exploring the various calligraphy that will look good.. and it was one long process.. But when all is done, and you grew to fall in love on what you have created.. you know it's all worth it.. and that is what it matters..

Friday, May 18, 2007

How to choose a bridal gown?

Sometimes, I marvelled at the fact, that woman can do so many things all at one time.. Usually I have my day planned few days before.. and it can be fully packed, often you wish you have a quick break.

I took a heavy breakfast, knowing that my next meal could be tonight at 11pm.. and true enough, I just had my dinner at 11.10am... Today is another bridal gown shopping trip with my new bride, Kin. Kin is a fun bride, who is not pretentious, basically someone who knows what she wants. I remembered her comment "I do not need Lavish, dramatic gown, something simple that I can mingle around with my friends, but I do have a budget constraint, what will you suggest, Hannah"

And I understood where she came from. To me, I do not believe in shopping down the whole stretch of bridal shops in Tanjong Pagar, and get bombarded with hard pressed sales, claiming theirs the best. Choosing a gown is all about understanding what looks good on you and what enhances you.. and not choosing a gown that is mere pretty, and overwhelms to the point you are shadowed by it.
I have seen simple gowns but when it is worn on the right bride, the bride looks gorgeous, but I have also seen a pretty and elaborate gown, and when it is worn, my bride's been hidden in it.

So how do you choose a gown? I do not claim to be an expert, but having a passion and working previously in fashion, I think I can share my 2 cents worth.

  1. First, buy some bridal magazines, up to date local as well as imported ones, and not some old fashioned, cheesy bridal magazines.. find out what are the upcoming trends, and look at the gown options, even though majority looks good as they are shot at the right angle with the right model, you will find yourself falling in love with consistent designs that you would like to have for your wedding. I called this your dream gown. My dream gown was very different from what people think I would like...My first dream gown was a low back in a chiffon material, with simple short train, and a spaghetti V-neckline. Now do I look good on that, only later I realised I only look good if I work real hard in toning my tummy and wear a four inch stilettos :) that's why I call this a dream gown...

  2. Next, ask yourself, what are your past collections of dresses that look good on you? Was it a empire silhouette, a halter neck with mermaid silhouette, bustier with A-Line silhouette etc. Most of us generally have a good feel what looks good on us. And go for those selections, because usually it will not go wrong. Even if it may not be your best silhouette, you can rest assured you would not hate it when the designers design such for you.

  3. Thirdly, always dare to try something different from your usual collections. For e.g. bustier gown is always safe for most bodies shape, so you may want to try out of the norm -an empire cut with slight tapered waistline. Contrary to many believe that empire cut does not show any figure and may make one looks fat or shapeless... I have seen many women including myself, looking sexy and feminine in such silhouette. Somehow with the right neckline and details, empire silhouette does make many ladies look good.. unless you are really skinny, and your bust line is very very, small... So you never know, you may discover a new silhouette that looks good on you..

  4. After you have tried what's usually good on you, and what's unique, then ask yourself, what kind of details attract you, embroidery, laces, sequence, or crystals applications. coloured details. long or short train/veil etc etc.. and tell those details to the designer.. so they know what draws you... but at the same time, give them the space to recommend what they think may look good on you.. and explore the options together.

  5. Finally, learn to go with your heart. I always tell my bride, if after you walk out of the shop, and you don't remember the gown you wore earlier, then none of that is what you want. Choose that gown or design that kept you pondering and thinking.. most likely you have begun to fall in love with that gown..

With the above tips, it clearly tells you that you don't need to shop for days for a wedding gown, take half a day off, and schedule those boutiques you want to visit, and trust me by the end of the third or fourth shops, you know what you want.. and it's that simple..

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Spending time with Granny...

One part of me working on another wedding theme.. one part of me glancing at my granny to make sure she rest well.. Looking at her brings an inner peace and serenity... Strangely, as long I am with Granny, my pile of workload seems to be cleared pretty fast.. and inspirations seem to come easily.. Maybe this is what we called "Secured and blissed in the love of your beloved..."

I only wish Granny can witness my wedding.. and that day I know she will be most happy...

Like this little girl, may my desires be like wings of prayers that reaches the Heaven...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

First wedding ever held in Cafe Del Mar

God is so good... almost every wedding, I can't help to pray for good weather.. and today's wedding, a good weather is definitely necessary. An outdoor wedding ceremony at a pretty cool new place - Cafe Del Mar - Siloso Beach... clear blue sky, warm tho, but even Kelvin, our photographer admitted the weather was perfect for the great shot. When I saw his shots later this evening, I was so happy.. and I told him, let's aim to be featured in one of the magazines...

I woke up at six this morning, reached the venue at 8.00am, and the place was slowly transformed into a pretty place... and oh how I love the view. I can't wait to post the pictures for all of you to take a look..
And then later that day, we have a dessert party at Harbour Queen yacht. No serious formal dinner, but just desserts, and more desserts.. Simply unique but cozy...
Love the desserts spread.. and it was one ride I enjoyed.. no fuss over the programmes, but simple enjoyed one another's presence. The dance floor was slowly transformed to a Pictionary Game Station. Everyone crowded around as the emcee led games with different teams. It was unlike any other wedding, it was like a school reunion where everyone just basically celebrated and hanged out to rekindle the old loss childhood times.. I can't help but smile... Who says weddings need to be so structured.. it can be just friends hanging out together..

I love such weddings.. simply having fun.. can't wait to see my next theme wedding - Country Victorian at Changi Cottage... I can't wait to see another creation...
God, thank you for allowing me to simply enjoy being a guest other than a planner...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Be selective in whom you want to serve

I pondered for a long while whether to write abt how I felt tonight.. and finally I realised blogging is revealing the truth within, so that all may learn and experience what has been encountered. Hence, I am going to share one true experience of some woes of being a wedding planner.

Tonight, I ended my day pretty lousy...
I have been very busy trying to get ready for the coming wedding, and yet at the same time, have been following up patiently for a long overdue payment from my ex-client on behalf of a videographer for almost a year.. Long story, basically a work done, and payment was not paid until a year later i.e. this week.

The next I knew, a sms came today after the payment was received, stating the video was not working. I was surprised, because personally whenever a project is delivered by our partner, we would have that tested many times.. and besides, this was one video I love. In the end, my videographer has to dig out the raw files that was one year ago.. and reduplicate one set for my client complimentary. I felt bad for my videographer, and I pondered for a long while.. Who's fault was it really???

As professional wedding planner, our role is to recommend the right expert for a job and to ensure whoever we recommend, our couple will eventually be pleased with their works. We took pride in what we do, and in partners whom we commend and work with.
To me, ensuring quality work is what I stress myself on. And when I knew a quality work is done, and yet clients claim otherwise, I am weary because to me, the whole consultation and planning chain is been sabotaged.

Over the years, I have experienced and heard of stories of how clients can sometimes be manipulative and take the advantages of wedding planners' roles as middle agent. I somehow wish an association is setup to protect professionals like us..
One lesson I am definitely forced to learn after all these years : Choose your client, and those whom you want to work, it's no longer abt making money, it's about pursuing your passion and creations with people whom you enjoy and believe in you...
And that's certainly one fundamental I will treasure to remember in my growth as an entrepreneur.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Como Shambhala - a great place to hold weddings

I just came back today from a Bali wedding.. and I had a great time tho this is the first time we did such a big scale wedding for an overseas destination where almost 100 guests flown in to Como Shambhala in Begawan Giri, Ubud from all over the world.. There are special lightings to be installed on the trees for a outdoor concept, African Chant and Bali Ringet, fire dances, rain stopper to hope to stop the raining season in Ubud (which I didn't really believe ), and the authenticity of Bali cultures..

At the end of the day, when you saw the smiles of my couple' and their guests, I know it was a memorable wedding.. guests danced from 8.30am to 12 midnight, and still lingered to chat... My bride danced all night, while the groom has too much to drink... and everyone was happy. Our groom sent me an email today and said "Hannah : Thank you again for a sensational job. Well done!" But what pleased me most is, I witnessed one of the most dynamic, personalised and efficient team of Begawan Giri. Now I would say to my customers, paying US$50K to book the entire estate for a wedding (besides the the F & B cost) is worth it.. you have personalised and willing butler, and the view of the most relaxed place. The butler was so attentive and detailed, and always willing to serve you to a point you feel you are the queen at that villa... I know I will come back to this resort if not for another wedding, it will be for a stay for myself... such is the service level of a boutique and luxurious resort. Much to learn from even for the service level of 5 stars hotels here.

Coming back home, the only thing I look forward is being with my Granny.. seeing her walking independent, and smiles on her face brought such peace within. Tho I have much cares to handle when back home, somehow I know God has been good.. and I determined to bring back the serenity of Bali back to the lifestyle in Singapore..

Friday, April 20, 2007

Customer Service = Your Service Their Experience

I just replied a disappointing email to the Chef Owner of a well known restaurant in Ubud... M.Bali. Today, I ran around hoping to secure a good place for a pre-wedding party for my couple.. and I learnt a new lesson in serving customers.

I called up a particular restaurant and asked "Hi, can I speak to Miss I have made a booking thru her for our couple for their pre-wedding party. This is their big day and I want to make it special. Besides, my couple is a regular patron of your restaurants, and we hope to confirm a few elements. And the reservation staff simply replied"Miss Hannah, I am taking over Miss XX.. I will send you a fax, pls fill up the form, if we do not receive the form and the guaranteed details in 2 hours time, we will not guarantee any booking. And I looked at my watch, that's so much to do in 2 hours, I had to call my client, get his credit cards, and apparently I have to photocopy his passport and credit card and rush to fax over the letter, in the mist of all my meetings in order to secure a booking.. The mere reason was the restaurant was very popular.. and they cannot entertain such bookings even the couple is a regular guest.

What irritated me was not meeting all these booking requirements... it was the way the staff has put forth in processing the order.. She literally forgot who is the customer..
Reluntantly, I have to ask them to speak to my couple directly. And the same crude treatment was given. Later that night, I met up some industry owners, and realised the restaurant was well known for their arrogance and inflexibility.
Eventually, with the help of my business partners, we found an alternative place for our couple. The owner of Lambak Restaurant in Bali, Mr Roland Lickerd was not only willing to accommodate last min request (we called him at 9pm, asking for special customised menu for 8pm tomorrow), he rushed to make some calls, quicky do up a menu for us.. and even arranged complimentary transfers for us..

What a difference in service attitudes.. Sometimes, when one company gets famous, they forgot the fundamentals that make them famous.. it was really not just the food or product they sell.. it's the experience customers are requiring to make their day count. At the end of the day, today's customers are paying to create or indulge in an experience.
My groom eventually sent a email to the former restaurant "If you can't accommodate the booking, then we simply look elsewhere..." They have just make one unhappy customer. I am certain my groom is not coming back to this place ever even if that's the best restaurant in that city.

In our industry, we always must remember, we are living in a changing environment.. we are creating impressions everyday, and everyday's impression overrule the other.. even if we choose to believe it or not. And the more I am in this industry, the more I have to remind myself of that.. Let's not forget the fundamentals of Customer Service - Your Service Their Experience.

The Pursuit of Happyness

I just arrived in Bali.. I recalled on the plane in SQ, I was watching the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" acted by Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith... I must say Will Smith is one great actor, he captured the very essence of desperation and determination..

The movie is abt how a talented and smart sales man can still struggle to meet daily needs.... and how he determined to run and literally run to see his dreams come true.. I was touched by a statement he made to his son, "Dun ever let anyone tell you that you can't.. They may try to use their own experiences and circumstances to demotivate you.. but dun let them make you believe that...
Finally, in the mist of true perseverance and consistent humbling, he eventually was one step closer to his dream. And I looked back.. Hannah, isn't this story familiar...
Ya, when I first started this company, some of my friends questioned : are you sure to give us a director's job for this.... the guy I once liked said "Hannah, you are making a big mistake."
But I knew I was not.. I knew I was cut out to be a business woman, an entrepreneur and eventually a designer...

I remembered pouring out all my savings to this dream, and believed it would be a Heaven's Gift for me.. I recalled not getting paid for 9 months.. and could not sleep for half a year... and when all things seems dim, there was a voice that says.. You can make it.. in my 10th month, I closed a deal that made up all that I have lost in 6 months... God is faithful...

And ever since, all is history.. I dare not claim I have reached.. But I am grateful that today's Heaven's Gift has grown to be more matured, more professional and more innovative... I have also realised how much influences I have been given to shape the weddings my couples dream abt, how much my intuition has become my sense of good judgement for fashion and designs...
At the end of the day, it is like what Will Smith has described.. Happiness is to be pursued ... it's not just given, it's determination to believe and put feet into your belief.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Emotions before a wedding trip...

Today, when I saw my granny, I was so happy.. she's so much better. The past few days since last Thursday was very intense.. My granny got a heart attack on Thursday, and from the state of her being chained to the bed with all medical tubes and equipments, to now, being able to move slowly & freely and seeing her smile and chat to us, I was so relieved..

I must admit I was relunctant to leave for Bali for this week when the whole incident happened... but God is faithful.. I know He will carry us thru. And the last min details for Bali were as overwhelming too... but Elena was really a great help.. and Mindy has been very supportive as well... Thank God for good colleagues...

Now I am more ready to go for my wedding trip... but the mood is different, I can't wait for the wedding to be over, so I could spend more time with Granny... So instead of extending longer, I decide to cut short the trip and come home quickly....

Lord, pls take care of my family when I am busy preparing other families' celebrations and union.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lord, I want a miracle for my Granny...

Wokeup this morning, received a call from Aunt Serene, and my granny woke up, having difficulty in breathing and was sent to A & E straight away...
Thankfully, I have only 1 meeting today... but my heart was overwhelmed.. Granny is one person I love dearly and so close too... and I am not ready to let her go...

Finally we got to see her, with all the tubes and medical equipment.. and her eyes were staring right at me.. she is in pain and discomfort.. and I just couldn't stop my tearing rolling...oh God, pls help her, pls give her strength and energy to press on.. pls do a miracle...
And while i am preparing for the wedding in Bali next week, with the concurrent wedding matters for all other brides.. I just let go all my heart and simply pray..

Lord, give me the strength to be the pillar of the support to my loved ones esp to my granny
give me hope to believe that all things are possible with you..
give me joy to know this year is a victorious year, and a year of blessings from your Lord..
give me peace to just simply rest in You...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Interesting discovery....

Monday is usually my off day..., I suppose most of my couples are familiar now with our operational hours...Yet, me being workaholic usually ends up finishing some calling work on Mon, esp calling the suppliers...

And today, I happened to talk to one hotel, introducing myself since my couple just engaged me to manage their weddings... The catering personnel asked "Hannah, can you give me a profile of your company... so would like to know more abt you, and maybe I can refer clients to you..." I laughed.. no worries, you can know more abt me throught my website and my blog.. they tells a lot abt me...

I ended up later talking to fellow planner, Caroline... and had a good chat and laugh abt working in this industry.. somehow, we have come a point that we do not mind sharing our woes, joys and experiences.. and realise it doesn't matter whether people know us, as long we enjoy doing what we do, and learn to laugh it along whenever, wherever we can...
The almight One above has after taken good care of me and made my company known in such a short time... and I am happy and contented.

After last nite of letting go... I have also learnt to be at peace with myself... to love is to let go, be it love for someone, a love for your career, a love for you passion, etc etc.. when you finally get to that point of willing to let go the very thing you have spent your love and energy on, you know nothing holds you to believe in greater things to come...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Today's decision : Let go & let God...

Today is Easter, seeing all the hard work put in for the theme park and having the children enjoyed themselves in Jewish settings, it really pays off... esp on the part of the crucifixion scene... the emotions were intense and the message was clear.

Yet in the mist of all the busyness... something unexpected happened. Had invited someone I love for this carnival, and the first moment we talked, he said "hey, the girl I like is helping in the carnival too.." And the first response that came out of my mouth was "then you should go and propose to her.."Before I could let my emotions sink into my heart, I was back to the carnival to help again.. and only till later, I realised, that remarks given hurts within...

And eventually today, I made a decision.. Lord I am letting go of my desires.. and let You take over.. After all, having planned so many weddings, and seeing how you are the perfect matchmaker for many, It's too tiring to hold on to such affairs of the heart esp when it is one-sided.. despite all the good reasons that may say otherwise... it's not worth thinking deeper and wondering further... Move on, Hannah, let go and let God.. After all, God knows what He is doing.. and affairs of the heart is not worth pursuing...

Lord, replace my ponderings with Your promises You have made with me. I trust Your perfect plan, and I want freedom and breakthru in this area...Not my will, but thine be done..

Friday, April 6, 2007

Refreshing change - my vision of what wedding is...

Today is a great day for me.. I met up 2 couples that met me for first time, and had a great time shopping with my bride and her Korean hubby. Simply interacting with these 3 couples, I felt an excitement even planning for their wedding...

In the past, I was always quick to accept deals, tried to close as many deals as fast as I could, saying yes to all my couples' requests, and be willing to compromise as much even to the very principles I held on to. But I had soon realised that that was a wrong step in business. After all, business is not all abt closing deals, it is about running a profitable business that you are passionately excited abt, and satisfying clients who trust your expertise and appreciate your works.

Today, I received the most compliments I found within a day.. The first couple walked in, written a brief for me how they wanted their wedding to be. I was really impressed.. this is my first couple that took the efforts to write me a brief.. and at the end of the day, my bride said "Hannah, we really hope you could do our wedding, I am sorry we got our dates confused, pls update me soon how you can help us."Simply just talking to this couple makes me happy.. A Swedish Italian and a unconventional Singaporean, lots of humour and fun just listening to them. Oh how I want to design this wedding..

Next, I met another local couple. Have never met them, but they were ready to sign up with me.. I hesitated and advised them to view my works first, after all choosing a planner is all about believing in their works, and having a connection with whoever you engage.
At the end of the discussion, my bride simply said : Hannah, we are very comfortable with you, we hope you are comfortable with us, and we are ready to sign up with you...

On my way back, I felt an inner peace, God, this company is truly a Heaven's Gift for me.. Over the past 3 years, I have grown to believe in myself for the works I have created.. I have also learnt that choosing your clients is important to a business.. it's better to work with people who are excited abt their wedding, willing to explore with you, and believing in our works, and simply learning to enjoy and have fun thruout the entire planning process.

This is what wedding is all about : Celebrations, celebrations, celebrations. Weddings is never abt making sure everything goes smoothly, it is not about ensuring you get the best deals out from every suppliers, it is not about making it a showcase for all to see, it is not about doing it for the sake you have to.. But rather it is an occasion to celebrate your union with the one you love, to celebrate with your families and friends whom you enjoy to be with, and to be blessed with those who want to bless you and be a part of this celebration...
This is how I feel about real weddings...and I aspire to share this vision with many.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A real joey maybe...

Had a long day.. came back abt 9.30pm.. and received a call from one of my ex-brides - Sue Ann.. "Hannah, I love the video..." and we rattled.. Then she asked, "I heard you are getting a puppy is it true?" No I can't.. where do I have the time to take care.. as much as I know I wish I could have one.

She described her puppy to me, how both of her life and her husband changed ever since this little one came.. I laughed.. She's amazing.. it's liken having a real baby...

I looked at my little Joey.. what will happen if I really get a real Joey...

I am now convinced, as a woman gets older, the maternity instinct grows... and I can't deny mine is growing stronger everyday..

Moments of Stillness

Past few days went off so fast, I finally finished all the props preparation for this coming Easter, completed planning a wedding on 1 April 2007.
So happy that all went well, one of the guests actually called me today and asked me for one of the songs that was played in the wedding, and thanked me for a lovely wedding... It was a pleasant surprise.

After the call, I stared at my screen for a while... I was glad, yet there was some moments of indescribable emotions. Pastor prayed for me last nite that I would find rest in the mist of the busyness.. and this morning on my way to the office, I suddenly felt I was driving on a foreign road, as if I was back in Melbourne again. I recalled the short films I saw this morning too.. and missed the moments of those quaint Colonial houses, with beautiful gardens, and neighbours simply taking their leisure stroll in the gardens.

Ya, I am in my dreamland again.. I do miss the quiet moments I had to myself in a strange land and taking my time to appreciate the moments and surroundings around me. Somehow, my heart aches again for those still moments. This picture is a good illustration of how I felt, longing for a new morn in a new land... and the memories of my beloved one flashes back again and again.. when is the day to come, Lord?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

From delivering concepts to dreaming concepts

Just came back after painting the backdrop for a Children Easter Carnival... now I know painting such a big prop is not easy.. so much patience to ensure the contrast and gradient is correct..On my way back, I was thinking I can never run away from concepts and design..One of my youth was saying she likes to do small props.. and I pondered over what she said.. and asked myself, what abt you, Hannah.

I realised I love to dream concepts and seeing them coming to pass... looking back, these past 3 yrs, I began from delivering concept details to dreaming concept details. I remembered those times you stayed up late till 3am, to see all my floral arrangements completed for next day wedding, and earning only $100 as profit. Yet, the joy and toil was both present. You worked for 12 hours to earn $100.. that's no fun. But when you see your details coming to a complete form, you have that few seconds of satisfaction.

Today, I am fortunate to have a team of artists and designers who are experts in their own field.. and working with them, allows me to dream even bigger concepts. I realise that's the unique talent a human has. You can dream big.. and sometimes you wonder are your dreams too big.. but when you start taking step to making your dreams come true, it becomes closer and easier to what you have envisioned..

As I was painting those props for the Church Easter Carnival, I heard a voice saying, Hannah, see, if only you don't ask for such complicated props or elaborate setup, you won't have to be here doing these works.. then again, another voice of mine kept encouraging me, "No, Hannah press on, you will get to see the joy of the final setup if you perserve..
And indeed I can't wait to see the setup on 7 March...

8 March will be the day for our first theme carnival ever created in Expo 9... conceptualised by Dreamy Hannah, and designed and delivered by her group of talented and incredible youths... I have to say, if not for them, I would have dropped the theme park ideas. Working with youths causes you to go beyond yourself, what you think.. and finally realising you can do it.. if you dare to dream..and put feet into your dreams.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A day in the life of a wedding planner...

I have not been a good blogger recently.. so much to do, besides work, family and church obligations are on the pile...

Today, I was amazed at how much I did. Early in the morning, Grace & Chek Wu passed me the deposits for their next week's wedding.. and we ran thru some final details. Grace teased me "Hannah, you must have loved logistics details... ". I smiled and replied "I grew to love it... haha trust me, I am more a creative person than a logistics guy".

Next, a new couple flew in from Hong Kong to see me, I always felt blessed when you get to have couples who flew all the way to Singapore to meet you.. Lena & Paul is a great couple.. can see their enthusiasm for their coming wedding. When they shared with me their theme,.. my eyes sparkled.. one more great wedding design I look forward to create..

After Lena & Paul left, came Puay Ju & Peter.. my first concept meeting with them.. I did a personality test with them, interviewed them.. and ideas started popping up in my mind.. I can see Puay Ju start dreaming abt her wedding.. and I must say, this year, I have loads of great couples who are willing to explore with me with their ideas... very unballroom, unconventional and one of its kind for everyone of them.. God thank you..

Finally, I ended off my day, heading to Arab Street to accompany my bride and mum to shop for fabric.. Jo has no clue how to choose or tailor a dress for the mum.. so I assured her.. she would have fun in it..I brought them some pictures of gowns proposed.. went about showing them fabrics, laces, silk satin, tulle, applications on some organza etc etc.. As I went abt the description and giving me comments as the sales personnel draped over the materials over my bride and her mum... I can't help to marvel.. the joy of woman in shopping for one another... I was reading my client's expressions, as well as giving my 2 cents worth of comments and eventually seeing my comments took one step in influencing their decisions...until the owner asked me "you must be a designer... i laughed.. no, I am not, a wedding planner, but one who has grown to love and learn more abt fabrics.. And we eventually exchanged name cards... I looked back.. and gave myself a little pat in my heart,"Hann, you have acquired much knowledge over these years...many times I am amazed of the journey He has brought me this far...

So what can I say.. do I love my job.. yes, I do.. Sometimes, you pull your hair over your role.. sometimes, you wonder why you are still in it.. but most of the time, I saw my little dream abt being an artist, an entrepreneur coming to fulfillment.. one day, I dream I will share my experiences with many out there.. as I am sharing with you now too...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Seeking Balance in hectic demands

I am back in Singapore, clearing all the work on my off day i.e. Mon... somehow, the moment anyone touches Singapore, we can't escape from the hectic lifestyle and demands this country brings...Somehow, I often wish Singaporean lifestyle is likened some of the European countries... less hectic, more balanced, more space for us to seek and find what life truly is.

At the Bali airport, as usual was browsing thru the bookstores.. and came across this real life story : " A Patch of Paradise - a woman's search for a real life in Bali". Discovered later it's one woman who was tired of the hectic and busy city life and exchanged all that for a hut on a tropical beach. Tired of the everyday grind, and how she and her family built their home in what they called the Paradise - a hut in Bali...

So finally bought that book..and can't wait to discover what her dream of escape was...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

God is so so good!!!

Tonight is the last night in Bali.. before I head home and face the reality of work again.. But I must say this trip is so fruitful and I am blessed :

  1. Got upgraded to a good room from Conrad and enjoyed the discounts..
  2. Met great partners who are keen to expand the business with you
  3. Met a genius cake chef.. never thought I could find a good cake chef here that is compatible to Singapore's standard
  4. Discover few more great resorts for weddings
  5. Found out so many great entrepreneurs and business man here are ladies... Japanes, Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian.. further inspires me in this area
  6. Got some time to rest and relax.. shop and spa... something unexpected to receive in my job, since I am always work in all my trips
  7. Met a great driver who is so sincere and learn something new abt Bali again...
  8. And most of all, miss the one I love and discovered how much I wish he's here...

Oh God, you are so good.... Bless all the works of my hands and JH's.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Joy and Woes of my role.. I learn to relax and have fun..

I am in Bali now... soaking and looking at the sea ahead of me... in my hotel, as I worked...

I remembered the day before I came to Bali, I had a food tasting with one couple... and I must say it was one of my worst food tasting ever...Had never seen a parent disagreeing so much with their child in every wedding details.. and me trapped in between the emotions was not very pleasant... Anyway, I went back feeling miserable, in one way or the other, I am attached to what I do.. and was miserably packing for my trip to Bali the next day for work..

Had to plan a wedding in Bali in April in one of the most renowned and luxurious resorts : Como Shambhala - Begawan.. and yesterday passed by so fast.. I touched base, met my business partners, deployed the concept for the event.. then head off to have quick dinner..Today, I had a long drive up to Ubud.. and the whole team in Begawan was waiting to receive me and discuss the details..

It was one of my most systematic, and detailed meeting.. since it take me to fly all the way here and planning was very thorough and I was proud of myself.. I must say the day before, I was upset with the emotions in the food tasting in the Singapore, and was wondering being a wedding planer is no fun, and no glamour as many thought otherwise.. and wondered how long I would be doing this.. today, when I saw the resort, the details proposed, and looking at the vast opportunities of beautiful resorts, my imagination ran wild.. I still love to design beautiful weddings.. and still love my job. Maybe I should just concentrate overseas weddings...hmm...

And I bumped into this resident baby - Sandy, 1 year old but huge golden retriever.. oh she's too big for her age.. and I fell in love with her.. she so tamed and she's so "kua", seating near us without no abrupt barking... and she has beautiful fur.. lovely.. maybe I should get a puppy soon.. since I always have my Joey, the doll puppy.. maybe I need a real one soon...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A week of overwhelmed emotions

Today, was so refreshed to wake up late, sent my car for servicing, and then had a leisured stroll down to Mac West Coast to do some work at my own pace... The rain was pouring outside but I was taking my time to enjoy the scenery and the space all by myself... Later that day, I received a call from Caroline from Wedding Entourage, refering a client to me.. have a short but great conversation..
We both laughed at the fact that the market is big enough for all the players, and instead of competing and fighting against each other, today's business strategy is build and strength the network.. And I must say Caroline is one sweet lady to talk to... I believe we have come and grown to a point where business is not all about making money.. it's building relationships and treasuring partnerships..

I was just looking back, last 1 week was crazy for me, all the visitations, the catching up with all old friends (since our weekends are always for clients), preparing for this coming weekend children camp where I am leading the worship, conceptualising the theme details for an Easter Carnival for an outreach... hence today's pace was good for me...
Can't deny the more I am busy, the more I think abt my future, how I want to run it..
Singaporeans' lifestyle is too hectic, and too demanding.. everyone is running a rat race, everyone is somehow been pushed to run that race, and rarely gives oneself to slow down...
And I was reminded I want a life that is fulfilling and at the same time, meaningful and enriching at a pace that I desire. So I prayed a prayer today, God , grant me the time to enjoy the pace you have given, the rest that I needed, the strength to do more, and the peace and happiness to witness and discover the experiences you have created. And of course, not forgetting the prayer.. God, I hope to see my honey soon....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Contentment is great gain

The recent road trip did do me lots of good... I realised how much, stillness and freedom of space can enhance one's life... Since this week is CNY.. and you get to meet loads of people. One of the common questions many asked me was "How's your business, how's doing?" Each time when this question was asked, I marvelled as I looked back... I have not done much marketing really, other than faithfully updating our website, and striving to do something good and something different in each wedding and meeting the right people, and I must say My Lord is faithful. Every time I looked at the calendar, and when a month is quiet, I simply commit that to Him.. and without fail, He knew what I need, and enquiries will be closed at the right time and moment. To me, volume is not the key, it is the quality and passion felt in each project. I want every wedding to be one I am connected, one my team enjoys creating, not mere busy abt. Afterall, this business is birthed out of passion and vision, not out of survival...

I can't deny I am so used to receive enquiries from couples at very late notice.. and often I enjoy planning such weddings..This month alone, the couples whom we have spoken to require to get married in April and May.. and many couples often are stressed that the planning period maybe too short and tight... Now I looked back, my first few weddings were all planned within 2-3 weeks.. and they were some of my best and most enjoyable weddings..
The key thing abt planning such short notice weddings is to be precise in what you need and want, and trust experts that we knew what's best for you... I often tell couples "Wedding is a reflection of the host", so enjoy the process, and not be stressed out unnecesssary.. if you read the word "STRESSED" backwards, it is actually spelt "DESSERTS", likewise, if you look at the piles of planning task to do, you would be overwhelmed, but if you learn to enjoy the planning discovery, and see everything as something new, something different, it would be desserts for you..
Contentment is great gain... My advice for all you couples.... Enjoy and discover each other thru the planning for the journey ahead as a married couple...Have fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Can't wait for another roadtrip...

Have been a while since I last blogged.. am back, refreshed from my road trip to West Victoria Australia... This road trip was special, since it's the first time I was the only driver, as my sister does not drive.. and hence it was my first adventurous trip from Melbourne to Great Ocean Road, and up to the Grampians and all the little towns within West Victoria...

God has been good.. we stayed in the National Park up on the hill.. with Kangaroos roaming around us.. and I remembered in one moment, I asked :Lord, can let me see other animals than Kangaroos alone.. just as I spoke, a reindeer appeared in front of my car on the road.. we were stunned and stand in awe.. We met some great hosts in some of our guest houses..

This trip allowed me to have the space I needed.. Driving itself truly is therapeutic.. you somehow marvelled at the awesome creations of the nature.. the unspoken melody in those winds, flowers, and the forests... I have to say I was so reluctant to be back.. Somehow city life is so fast paced, so impatient at times.. and hardly the space to breathe...
Hmmm.... these are some of the pretty shots taken... you can tell we have our fun.. thru oceans, forests, the falls and the mountains... oh God, when is my next road trip... maybe back to the Alps again...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Finally for once, I am set to travel without worries!!

As I am writing now, I am thinking of what to pack for my luggage... for the flight tonight to Melbourne. Actually, I have not packed.., but can't wait for my break - Roadtrip to Great Ocean Road and Grampians. Just closed a deal today, a couple who wants to get married by 1 April. Met up their parents for the first time who were curious what we could do for their children. It was interesting to see how our conversation evolved from a cold assessment of our capabilities to one we exchanged laughters and ideas with the parents abt the weddings.. I always marvel at such meetings... and that's what I love abt my job, unveil the beauty of relationships and family ties.. and seeing yourself becoming a part of the link.. I just love it!!!

Strangely this time, all my couples were not paranoid, despite they knew I am off for my long break. They just believed that I will know how to go about planning for their wedding..
In the past, we would have received calls after calls from couples to check on the status.. but this round, all my couples simply said, Hann, just enjoyed yrself, we will catch up with you when you are back.. I love that, afterall planners like us do deserve a break.. and having couples who release you to rest is a real blessing.
I can't wait to see daynight today... and hop on to the Rented Yaris for the GOR.... yeah, off I go.. and dun call me on my office mobile... it's off for once... :)

Bridezilla no more: 5 ways to prevent wedding stress and bridezilla moments!

Got to read this article from Ead's blog.. and had great fun simply reading a personal experience from Ami, a wedding videographer when she was a bride... can't agree more what she has expressed.. At the end of the day, all of us brides need to know one thing "Wedding is a reflection of the host, a celebration of love beyond all the details and perfections..."

Personal Experience of Bride Lee Amizadai from The Wedding Paparazzi
Just before my wedding, I resolved that no matter what, (short of death or destruction) I was not going to freak out over anything that might go wrong on my big day. Luckily enough for me, despite my lack of attention to a whole lot of details (because I was in the middle of an insane work week when I got married), nothing went badly wrong enough for me to freak out. Of course, there were things that I would have liked to have run smoother or looked better. I could list them out, but the extensive list would make you ladies gasp in horror at the lack of attention I paid to my own wedding. : )

Still, because I had determined to concentrate on nothing else except have fun, I went through it all in a aura of zen calm. And it did me so much good! I thought I should share some of the simple ideas and coping mechanisms I advice my soon-to-be-wed friends to take. Some I put into action at my own wedding, and some I kinda thought up after the event. They're not groundbreaking ideas and some are pretty common sense, but I figure we need a post that addressed how to prevent and handle wedding boo-boos!


1. PRIORITISE. First off, decide what you want to prioritise on at your wedding. Do you want it to be first and foremost highly meaningful, awesomely pretty, an occasion to honour family and friends, or simply have fun? Having a priority in mind will help you decide what to keep and what to drop when it comes down to the time crunch on your big day. Eg: Do you spend your time personally overseeing the flower arrangements to get the atmosphere just right or spend the time writing an awesome, tear-jerking speech to thank your parents at the dinner?

(For me and my husband, the main purpose of the wedding was to create a memorable occasion where people had fun. So instead of stressing over frills and pretty details, we went for the experience. We got an awesome R&B live band (Walking on Water), laid out rugs and sofas on the lawn outside Burkill Hall, got professional masseuses to give foot rubs and generally encouraged people to flop around the garden, chat and have wine. We had people who stayed till the absolute end of the wedding because they had so much fun!)

2. STRESS *BEFORE* THE WEDDING. Do all your running around, decision making, contingency planning and assigning of responsibilities before your big day. Any details that cannot be attended to before your wedding, either forget about it, or delegate to other people who can handle it for you. Which brings us to the next point -

3. DELEGATE. On the day, you are untouchable. Put all your energy into being the happiest, nicest bride ever. Foist everything off on a good friend. Most importantly, empower her with decision-making, some money, and your word that you trust her decisions intrinsically. Of course, if you have a wedding planner, all the better!
I had a great group of friends from church who volunteered to help me at my wedding. One of them was put in charge as an overseer and she basically delegated, took stock and checked up on details on my wedding day. I am so grateful I had her around - I think the wedding would not have looked or felt as put-together without her and that group of friends!

4. WHEN THINGS GO WRONG and they will, remember that there's no such thing as a perfect wedding. Accept that things WILL screw up somewhere and instead of freaking out or taking your attention from enjoying yourself, find a way to make the best of it and make it into an interesting story. It's often the wedding hiccups that make the best post-wedding stories. But only if you deal with the issues with humour, grace and restraint. And if nothing can be done to fix a problem, shrug your shoulders, close one eye and trust that everyone will be happy for you despite the tear in the dress, the fact that the flowers are not as fresh as they should be or that the makeup artist was a bit overenthusiastic with the blue eye shadow. I know one groom who forgot to bring the bridal bouquet when he went to fetch the bride. In the end he took the entire floral arrangement off the back of his bridal car and presented it to his bride! : ) It was big and bulky, was probably full of highway exhaust, but it did the job and I bet they're still laughing about it to this day.

5. DO NOT BECOME BRIDEZILLA. Keep topmost in your mind the fact that your wedding is a celebration of love, family and friendship. Don't get so caught up on the small details that you forget about the over arching reasons. The wedding is a big deal, but you're shortchanging yourself if you lose friends after the event because you threw a hissy fit, you turn out looking stressed and unhappy in the photos, and half the time you are muttering angrily under your breath in the wedding video!
And if something DOES snap and you are inadvertantly curt with someone, find a way to apologies to the person, be he/she friend, family or wedding vendor. They might be in the wrong, but practice grace and apologise for losing your temper. It will do a great deal of good in dispelling tension, keeping the peace on your wedding day and making sure there's a relationship after the wedding. This applies even for wedding vendors who you will probably not be seeing again - remember they are a part of your wedding too. Nastier ones might actually do things to spite you - think caterers or servers spitting in your food and such! Even for those who don't strike back in any percievable way, its still in your best interest to keep things cordial because happy vendors are much more likely to go the extra mile for you. Think photographers who will help you photoshop out that huge nasty pimple!

So ok, those are the preventive measures. So what happens when things do go wrong? No one can think of contingencies for every single thing, but I thought we could list out a few scenarios (whether true or hypothetical) and accompanying fixers in the comments, just to give an idea on how to approach wedding problems. So please share your wedding boo boos for the good of brides-to-be!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I am so blessed b'cos of my partners...

Today, I was reading one of my photographer's blog, and discovered his works were so recognised that another photographer from another country has requested him to take for his wedding...
Having know a little background of where my photographer has come from and how the Lord has matured and led his growth.. I was touched. Each time, their stories are like showers of blessings to me tt bless my soul.
In this industry, everyone has to work really hard, and plough much to establish himself, the long hours sometimes may strain one out, yet whenever you see how your fellow partners stand strong and press on for the works they believe, it becomes such a booster for you. And to me , many times, my partners are my booster. And I am so proud of each one of them. This is one unexpected blessing you will gain in this journey of being an entrepreneur.

Every wedding has its magical moment...

Have not updated the blog for a while, yes.. have been swarmed with much work. Just finished planning one of the most influential families I have ever known - Mr Oei Hong Leong's eldest daughter's wedding. In fact, to think about it, I have been so ignorant about the background of this couple of mine (only got to know their background a week before the wedding.. mine mine...), that throughout the wedding, I was basically doing my usual role as a planner, providing all the consultations I would have given, and standing firm in my recommendations based on my experiences.

Now recalling back from the first food tasting meeting I had with both families, and how I handled each family member and how eventually I weaved into each consideration into the planning, I laughed and marvelled. This was one wedding where all the high profile personnel were present, from President Nathan and the First lady, from DPM to the various ministers, a supposedly to be a top high security event. Yet I enjoyed every minute of it.

In fact, looking back, contrary to many who would have expected that this to be a stressful event, it was actually very manageable. The first time I got up close to all the VIP, and yet there was not an air of coldness or extreme formality present. Everyone basically enjoyed the party and had fun participating it.
And most of all, I found my moments in this wedding that I was actually touched and felt for the event. And for this wedding, it was the first dance of the couple. Liz and Peter is a very filial couple. Every details of the wedding they planned, they took considerations of those desired from both families.
When I saw their moment on the dance floor, I knew that moment was magical, above all the details they have ever thought of, what matters most was that moment that you are just in the arms of the one you love, and all others became shadows in the light of their love. Amazing, it's so amazing.. I want to fall in love again...

Monday, January 8, 2007

She makes me want to be a better man!!

Just finished a wedding... It was a very short and yet very very meaningful wedding...
This wedding was planned within 2 weeks. Received a call 2 weeks from the sister of the groom, claiming that a wedding must be held in two weeks' time..
So all conceptualization and details were arranged with very last min notices with the sister, and I only get to meet the couple 3 days before the wedding.
But I can't deny every details from the floral setup, to place cards, favours to the entertainments and proposed schedule was elaborate.. We have Victorian lush floral, clown balloon Sculpturer for the children, Acapella for the prelude, Harpist Trio for the dinner... and great singing from the couple.. It was even more elaborate than some local Chinese wedding dinner.
But one thing stands out : the essence of the wedding was intense and romantic, and spoke far beyond the elements and details of the event. The guests that came for the wedding were so real, spontaneous and all came to give the couple with sincere wishes and blessings.

I marvelled that despite the wedding was planned within 2 weeks... yet it was one wedding I was touched. The groom said to the bride"I am so blessed, when I first met my wife, I thought she was pretty... and the more I knew her, I want to give my all for her.. she makes me want to be a better man... " wow that's one touching statement...
I believe this is what every groom awaits for, and every brides long to hear about...
In such wedding... I can't help to pray : Lord, may I become the woman who will make my husband wants to do so too...

Saturday, January 6, 2007

My brides always inspire me!!

Just came back from a meeting. Have a meeting with one of my brides and Sebastian, the florist. Coming from a floral background and with guru like Sebastian, we usually know more terminology abt flowers than most brides. And usually, I am pretty specific with what I want to recommend for my brides.

Yet this time, Liz surprised me and inspired me as a result.. She actually knew the exact rose type and ways of arrangements. Both Sebastian and myself were amazed, her understandings of flowers easily surpasses most of the florists in town.. I can't deny I was inspired to excel even more in the area of our fields. Working with clients like Liz, motivates you to do your area of scope even better... Thank you Liz..

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year and a amazing 2007 to come!!!

First and foremost.. Happy New Year and a great 2007... I am so excited for this year, just cleaned up my room, and my office and all sets to go for 2007...
But other than the physical cleaning, I took some time off just to reflect on 2006, and truly 2006 has been an amazing year of discovery and learnings... There were moments of tears, joy, laughter and love.. and at the end of the day, I am ready for 2007.

There's the difference between 2007 and 2006. I began this year with a new vision and hope for the days ahead... I believe this year is going to be a year of many pleasant surprises, many victories and many inner fulfillment of the dreams and hopes that's within.

Had a great children worship yesterday and met two of my good buddies for drinks.. and did lots of shopping. I hardly shop since I was a wedding planner.. and somehow, yesterday was just great to do the girly stuff with your gfs. Valli mentioned abt her resolution for 2007, and I wondered for mine.. so what's my resolutions.. sounds weird to pen it down.. and eventually I only have 3 simple ones..

  1. I want to see myself happy and contented in every moments. Amidst all the demands and needs arising in everyday, I want to learn to rejoice and be a joy to others, esp to my loved ones and families.
  2. I want to see myself excel in all I do. Be it in the arena of wedding designs, children worship, or simply learning a new skill.... yes, to make every moment count.
  3. Finally, I want to spend more time with my family, my ministry and give time for myself... afterall all, these are what matters to me most than my job and career..