Sunday, February 27, 2011

The other passion of mine...other than wedding planning...

Today marks the last time where my kids band get to play and worship with the children in Singapore expo.. It has been 5 years in Expo, time really flies.. and for me, it has been almost a decade since I last joined the children ministry... from sunday school teacher, to a team leader, to a worship leader. Been with the children is always so refreshing and heartwarming, they show you how sovereign God is and He can do all things through you if you believe (like the way the children will believe in God)...

Yes, I am their Auntie Hannah...
the Seniority Title I have learnt to accept and be thankful..

I always feel, if I am not a wedding planner, I don't mind being a nursery teacher... Yes, sometimes the children do drive you nuts, they challenge you to manage them, and you are humbled before God to learn to lead them, and yet at the end of the journey, you are amazed how they grow and are transformed to the very persons God want them to be..
I would never have imagined at the age of 38, I have a chance to sing, dance and be crazy with these kids. Yes, they called me Auntie Hannah, and they learn to give me the room to catch up with them, musically, physically and mentally...It is a lifetime experience I would treasure always.

My prayers for this generation will always be :
1) God, make them to be the next generation of godly leaders, who learn to seek Your voice, and stay close to Your hearts. They will be the history makers for You.
2) Teach them to always be bold to be Your voice to their generation. Always excel in what they do and believe, and be the best Artists, Doctors, Lawyers, Entrepreneurs, Politicians and many more in their generations...
3) Finally, teach them to always remember You as their creator, You are the one who put in them the talents to shine, and on the day when they attain the world platforms and achievements, they will always remember to give you back the very glory that is due You.

I can't wait to see the next generation of leaders ... and I pray I will always be a part in building this generation with the others that have pathed the way for them....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

3 important steps to begin your wedding plan...

Met a very nice couple last night, and I could understand the stress they might have gone through to begin their wedding plan. After all, for most couples, it is their first time planning a wedding. At the end of the meeting, when I saw the smiles of the couple, especially from the groom, I knew somehow they understood and knew how to begin the planning, and that itself brings a refreshing joy to my soul.. we have helped them addressed all their concern and worries they have had about their big day.

Now, I thought it would be good for me to share some of my thoughts I have shared with them to couples who are now planning your wedding and may have encountered the same stress level. My prayer is that you would find insights with these little tips I have concluded from my 7 yrs of experiences as a wedding planner.

1) Before you engage anyone in the industry, always start your wedding plan by forecasting your own budget or investment you would allocate for your wedding. You realise I call them "Investment"and not "Cost". To me, a wedding is a celebration where you get to invest your efforts and money to make a day you would share with your loved ones, creating memories you would desire to create and be remembered. A couple once came and told me planning a wedding is a huge waste of money, and I was very surprised to hear that. I differ from that thought. Whenever you create an occasion to celebrate with the people you love, the money spend on such occasions are never regarded as a waste of money. In fact, it is an exchange you give to create the experience you desire. Whether you are planning a birthday, a party or a wedding, you do it for yourself and for the people you love, you spend to celebrate the occasion, you lavish for the fact you want to create memories with whom you cherish. Weddings expenses would only be perceived as wastage when the money incurred are not for people you cherish or value. So be it small or large weddings, as long as you know very clearly your objective of creating an occasion i.e. to celebrate and be remembered, these expenses are never regarded as cost or wastage, they are in fact investments you incur for the people you love.

So allocate reasonable budget for each item. Do not compare your allocated budget with friends who have done their weddings some times ago. The market rates for many wedding vendors and details have changed drastically over the last 2 years. Prices have gone up, and a lot more new intricate details and efforts have been put in by vendors to make today's weddings personalised. Besides, whatever your friends had decided then for their wedding may be of different expectations/dreams compared to yours for your wedding. Every one's dream wedding is different, so understand your desired expectations, and you would manage your budget.

I thought I might as well quote an example of a good estimate of an investment for a wedding. Averagely for 300 guests weddings, even before you allocate details budget into the actual day wedding, you would have easily spent an estimate of S$70K on food & beverages plus your own bridal items such as wedding gowns, suites and accessories... By the time you add in the intricate extras to create a wedding that you can call your own (from staging, floral, lightings, entertainment, DJ, photographer, videographer, stationery etc etc), you would easily reach about S$120K and more for a wedding that is personalised. Nobody knows better the budget you are comfortable more than yourself. So decide between you and your partner, the budget you want to invest, and match them against your desired expectations. Once you know your comfortable investments you want to put in for your wedding, then you can begin your selections of the various venue, artists etc.

2) Now when selecting the vendors you desire to work with, check around their works first on their websites prior to meeting the various players. These days, the Internet is the best media for sourcing and information referencing. In fact, couples would have known much about us as vendors even before you come to visit us. A good vendor or artist should have a decent website to draw you to want to find out more about them. Their good works should be consistently showcased from the websites, to the magazines. You can even gather constructive feedback from vendors they have worked with.
Once you have determined whom you want to explore with, schedule a face to face meeting with the vendors you are keen. Nothing expresses better than a direct encounter with the people you are considering to hire. Emailed quotations alone are never the best way to determine a selection. Finally, you always choose a vendor whom you are confident of their works, and whom you have a chemistry with. I always tell my couple : whatever you do, do it with your heart. Deep within us, we know what we want, and even when everyone advises you otherwise, if your heart decides a plan, follow through with that plan. And at the end of the day, you will discover the joy of following your heart.

3) Finally, after you have determined your investment, after you have selected your desired vendors, the last step and the most important step to do as a couple is to learn to let go and learn to enjoy the planning process. I often remind my couples, planning your wedding is a "catalyst process" (if I may call it), to give both of you a glimpse on how marriage could be liked with each other. You are invited to an experience where both of you make decisions together from major milestones to very minute details. You get to understand how each other think, verbalise or even behave. I always marvel at simply watching my couples respond to each other. Often I discover, when a couple truly loves each other, the wedding planning process will be an illustration to confirm that, and even God above will support their dream. I have witnessed from so many weddings that weathers were altered by God to demonstrate to couple that He is on their side. For those of you who believe in God, let this wedding process be more than mere monetary investment, let it also be an emotional and spiritual investment where you learn to understand the dynamics of love and standing by with each other. If you can see God answering your prayers during your wedding planning stages, I can guarantee you that you will see God present in your marriage and every step in your journey as husband and wife.
My prayer is that more couples will spend the same amount of intensity in their marriage journey as they have done for their weddings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pray, Live and Love...

It has been a while since I last blogged.. and I just have had a great dinner and catch up moments with one of my ex-client/couple. Beyond weddings, we discussed about life goals, dreams and our perceptions in life. Such time of exchange is always treasured, because often we are reminded that life is precious, and life is beyond mere possessions and achievements, it is a journey where one learns to pray, live and love.

This trip back from the US was not only fruitful, but it was enriching. I had much time left alone, reflecting the past 1 year of experiences and learnings, and coming to conclusion of what I really want in life. When one takes time to smell the rose, you really get to discover new outlook at the surroundings, the people around you, the way you even think and behave.. and everything looks different and feels refreshed when you put on a new perspective thru a new pair of lens.
Usually when I come back to the States, I have many agenda Iwant to achieve : looking at the new trends in weddings, looking out for the different vendors, browsing through all the magazines you can find, and this time, I decided to give myself a break from work, simply enjoying the country like a tourist. Instead of spending time working or shopping, I was blessed simply visiting the museums, the library, the markets, and exploring the different eateries we could find in a place. It was like what Juliet Roberts did in the movie, simply eating, praying and loving every bit of life. Hers in Bali, mine in Seattle.
So what did I discover at the end of the trip, here are my conclusive findings / statements :
  1. When your heart is at rest, you will hear the voice from Heaven. On my first day when I woke up in Seattle, instead of experience jet lag, I stood wide awake on my bed, and the first voice I heard was the Lord - and when I wondered did He really speak, He confirmed again and again with signs that blew my minds away. God does speak, my friend...
  2. When you decide to let go all agenda, and take moments to smell the rose, you discover that life is in fact filled with many beautiful roses, and everyone is special, everyone is awesomely created. When you are busy, you often have no time to discover the surroundings around you. This time, I paused to take time to appreciate the beauty and people around me, and I have found new friends and refreshed experiences. All of a sudden, you are convinced : life is never lonely... there are many God has created along the way to bless your heart, and in return you learn to bless others.
  3. Finally, I was encouraged to once again reminded : love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. There are so many who came to the States because of a love for someone, a love for their passions, a love for their dreams... Nothing could stop them from pursuing what they believe, as long as they continue to love and believe in love. I have witnessed some of the most amazing entrepreneurs who stood up for what they love, some of the most amazing couples who stood by each other... and yes, I was encouraged to love again..
Coming back home was a joy, especially coming back home to spend time with families for the Chinese New year. I was reminded I am able to do what I love to do, because I was fortunate to have my loved ones back home who are willing to release me to continue to excel in what I do.
So to all my friends and readers who continue to dream to do what we want to do : Remember - to be able to do what you love, you have to know you are loved. And there is One from Heaven, who loves us all beyond our imaginations.