Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Japan - a land of wonders

I am back, refreshed and feeling a bit tour-sick(if there is such word) from Hokkaido... Not sick of tour, but rather I wish I am on a tour again..
This trip to Japan was quite different from the previous, I got to discover the natural beauty of Hokkaido, enjoying every bit of being a tourist, not sourcing for wedding products, simply enjoying the luxury of being a tourist. You get to wine, dine and be merry.

And in the mist of enjoyment, the Japanese creativity and attributes does inspire me.

So what have I learnt from this amazing land, amazing people :
1. Nature is a true beauty and an unimaginative creation. I saw the growth of spa resorts at the valley of the active Volcanoes. Despite the volcanoes can explode, human beings seem to get used to that, and leverage on such high risk resources. Opportunities vs risk - I can now see the rationale...

2. Japanese are a breed of creative genius. A simple wild flower like Lavender is converted into vast rangeof beauty products, beverages, yummy lavender ice-creams, household items etc etc...

3. This is a land that consistently work to serve the consumer. Just as in the last visit, I am always amazed at some these inventions : warm seated toilet bowls with great functions; highways built with sound proof high walls to reduce noise pollution to the nearby housing estates; wide range of awesome toys, music boxes minatures, loads of pretty lavish sweet goodies that can turn a food market to a food garden, more than one can imagine..

4. Genuine, authentic products... I love this, no more pirated products, no imitation goods, everything you see is authentic and true. You don't have to be worried about getting the best bargains, because everything is the same.. fair, and the only difference is the element of creativity and innovations..

In many ways, I love Japan, particularly Hokkaido.. and the smiles you get from the Japanese promoters always make your day.. so much we can learn from them... They are a true inspirations..

Friday, July 18, 2008

I am having my annual break

It's past 3am, and I am still working... some last min instructions and follow up before I head off for my annual break... I will be away only for 10 days in Japan (it seems long, but actually not), and I really hope I do not have to bring my laptop(in the end I still bring my mini Vaio just in case).. have been working very hard the first half of year, and felt I needed to go away before I continue for the next half of year...
Always believe a refreshed soul and mind goes a long way..
So in case I don't reply to your email, rest assured all will still be well... and Hannah will come back more inspired and refreshed to create more beautiful weddings and moments...See you after 28 Jul... God bless.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Everything is possible!

Last night wedding was awesome. I was aware the setup was huge when I designed it.. but never have I expected the 2 hour turn around was truly challenging... I wanted to create a 7.5m square structure of 4m height to build it like a huge Indian Mandap (where live band is positioned at the main stage, and guests dancing within the Mandap) - with details that have a twist between modern European design and Indian detailing..

We had the ballroom at 5.30pm, everyone from lightings, sound, floral, band .. and we have David Gomez Quartet, so all expectations of quality details were high...When the last min clocked in i.e. 8pm.. all was up, one last step - photography of the details.. and I have to say the atmosphere was intense... last instructions for lightings and ok, all ready, the banquet door has to be opened.. when guests walked in and started taking their cameras out to take the stage and setup.. I was happy, once again, we made it for the setup we wanted..
I did panic when I saw the truss erected and seemingly leaning forward to the hotel chandeliers. Everyone held their breath.. and once again, my team has not disappointed me. Thank you guys for all the hard work. Even Tama Goh turned to me and said "It's amazing to see such a setup in such a short turnaround time"... and I have to say "Tama, thanks for rolling up yr sleeves and gave us a hand. I did not expect to see him smiling as he assisted in supporting the ladder for my floral team. After all, he's a celebrity himself. But I suppose everyone was united to see a setup completed as envisioned...

When the host, Uncle of bride came to me and said "Hannah, I have to say, looking from the two wedding setup this week, I saw yr strengths and the way you conceptualise - the word is "Understated Elegance", not loud nor tacky, that's your talent as a wedding planner. I was honoured to receive this new compliment: Yes, that is always what I wanted for all my weddings and parties... and hearing those words, once again brings me comfort and assurance in all the steps I have taken in creating the weddings I have envisioned for each bride.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Almighty One reigns !

Wednesday Indian wedding ceremony was great.. Though I have to say, this short statement has travelled through much thoughts and efforts both from Planner and Host's point of view. My bride's granny felt and fractured her hip, and she was sent to A & E early in the morning.. while the rest were preparing for the wedding.. Yes, it was a period of intense emotions.

As a planner, I can't do much to ease their anxiety at home.. all I want to do is to pray for her granny just as I have prayed for mine (my granny fell and her spine bone suffered compressed fractured, took her almost 6 months to have her walked properly without pain, so I knew the pain having seen her endured thru). And I have to say, I do love this bride.. Nisha is so cheery and so assuring all the time.. that I just want all to go best for her..

And of course, the day started well, my team could build the tentage, set the stage, and set the dining, stalls and kitchen area before caterer coming in to setup the dishes. Yes, it's one wedding where we have live kitchen, food stalls like a little carnival. It was great fun, seeing the moments pass by.. with the final touches from the floral team.. and finally waiting for the arrival of the guests. Interesting, when all was done, it started to drizzle.. and my heart wondered for a while. Lord, you did say today would be another great wedding... hmmm... I decided to just be still...
Finally when the guests come, the rain stopped.

Kuang, the photographer came to me after the ceremony shots was over and said"Hannah, tonight's day light is awesome, one of the best.. look at the pictures.. " He was happy that he could have such great lightings... and I was smiling and thanking God... now God I know why the rain. For normal day, it will be sunny, glaring and humid.. but You set the time, the weather, and even the moments for us to able to capture it with mere human hands.. and truly the Almighty One reigns. My prayer : You will reign in this family.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eve of each wedding

This week, I have 3 celebration events for a couple. You would have guessed it, it is an Indian wedding. In some ways, I could say it is my first traditional Indian wedding that I am planning. or should I say not that traditional.. esp it is still an Inter-racial marriage of an Indian bride and a French groom..
This wedding has enabled to see how knitted Indian families can be. Last night, we had the Mehndi & Sangeet, I hardly see the crowd eat, but everyone was dancing and partying till 2am.. the friends and relatives offered dance items and special dedication as a blessing for the couple.. it was colourful.. Tomorrow is the wedding ceremony where couple will be prayed for in a Mandap. It will be interesting, my first witness of an Indian ceremony.

Yes, you must be wondering why am I still up late writing my blog... ya, that's always happen on eve of a wedding. It was not stress, not last min work (as all have been settled, my colleagues are a great when comes to completion of work). I never understand why.. the eve of a wedding, my energy level is extremely high... I will be checking websites, blog.. or reviewing my marketing plans... haha.. ya I have to agreed that I am a workaholic..

Or maybe after all the planning... you left only one area you know you can't plan - that is the Mother nature... and often I spend quite some time on bed just talking to God above... Lord pls help me to believe that tomorrow's another great day you will provide : cool wind, no rain.. and great weather... esp when it is another outdoor wedding, and I took a step of faith not to erect any tentage, and rely on existing shelter alone...
Then as I was reading my blog.. when I saw the text I wrote for my own profile and it was a reminder :
"Every wedding is a dream fulfilled, every wedding is a gift from Heaven"
So Father, I simply trust this wedding in Yr great hands... You will great the desires of my heart.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How to manage your dream wedding vs the wedding obligations

2 days ago, I met up with one of my couples for 2009 to walk thru the concept. The meeting was interesting, before I even got to share the concepts I have personalised for them, they were sharing all the concerns they have to manage from families' expectations, requests, to weddings traditions etc, and all that literally drained them out.
I was sad when the groom said "It is becoming so different from what we have envisioned in our wedding, I can't wait to get it over having to manage so much obligations." (paraphrased) It was only after the concept was shared, I finally could see their eyes lighten up, and suddenly hope arises, there is still something to look forward in a wedding.

And such emotions are apparently quite common in Asian families. Or should I say in all families. Marriage is never a two person affair, likewise wedding is never a two person celebration. It is a family affair, a gathering of the loved ones and friends whom you love to share your celebration with . No wonder, we are stressed, simply because we do not want to disappoint those whom we love.

So how do we manage family traditions, expectations vs what we desire in our wedding. I will share my two cents worth in this area :
Before you even start planning for your wedding, ask yourself the following questions :
  1. To what extent will you involve your family in the planning, i.e. from wedding budget, wedding designs, wedding traditions, wedding program etc?
  2. Other than you and your partner, who will be the people you want to seek counsel from for your wedding ?
  3. At the end of the day, how much of your guests' comments are going to affect you, or rather how much do you want that to affect you.

The above questions sound rhetorical, yet the more certain your answers are to those questions, the better you can to manage your fear, your expectations as well as those of your family.

To put it simply, if I decide that my parents are the ones I trust to seek council from in my wedding, then I will tell myself, whatever they advise me of, I will not allowed myself to be uptight in their final decisions, simply because I trust them. And how much I am allowing them to be involved, will be the same amount of grace I am extending to them. At the end of the day, I will choose to be happy, contented and not be affected by any, other than those I have entrusted my faith in, simply because it is my wedding - a celebration of our joy, and the joy of my loved ones. The same applies if you decide otherwise.

At the end of the day, I will reiterate what I always learn : Wedding is a reflection of the host... how it will begin, and end is a true reflection who the host is and expects of.