Friday, March 30, 2012

The journey in creating a wedding show in 4 weeks...

I have not been sleeping much past 1 week, and one question keeps running in my mind : why Hannah, why... you have done everything, why are you not sleeping... maybe I am fighting against all the questionings fr within and with out...

Tomorrow's wedding show with Raffles Hotel is something very special to me. I could still remember clearly in my mind when I first had my discussion with Raffles in end Feb, they wanted me to be the partner as usual in past shows to support them like any typical wedding show. I think that lunch appt, I must have spoken much... I was raising the question : do we really need to do a wedding show? There are so many wedding shows in Singapore that basically sell wedding packages and booth spaces.. but I think Singapore needs a change... couples have become bored going to wedding show, shows have turned out to be perks and bargain exchange, and honestly deep in my heart, I really do not like booth spaces. I don't want to sell a product, I want to create an experience. I think this is what the couples need - to understand "Complete Wedding Experiences".

Wedding industry is a very special industry, and there are many passionate artists and designers. We are not selling products, we are actually selling ourselves. We sell what we believe, we sell who we are, we sell literally our dreams, our desires, to couples who truly appreciate what we do. At the end of the conversation, the director said : Hannah, let's do it. I was speechless and very touched, a hotel who believes in changing and dare to run the race with us. A change we believe not for immediate short term, but truly for a long term fruitfulness.

The next 4 weeks following were crazy, a part of me was running my events in Penang, the other part of me was gathering partners whom I really really want to work in the shortest time. To me, a show is a partnership, I didn't want to create events with people I am working for mere commercial reasons. Yes, I am a very sentimental lady, I believe in my partners, and it was a dream come true to work with people whom I have respected and grown to be friends for the last 8 years. And for Raffles Hotel, it was a hotel who has given me room to grow with them since I began my first wedding with them - and it was my best friend's wedding in 2005. A hotel who has given me room to create spaces and directions, a hotel who has allowed us in to lead and be included even in the aspect of educating their people. A hotel who truly treasures partnership. God, thank you for giving me the favour... it has to be you.

There are many questions that arise : it is such a rush, is it worth it? are you able to gather couples etc etc..?? Honestly, I do not know, because as I write this blog, those questions are very real. But I do know something, someone must begin a change, and it is time to believe for a change. Either we do it now, or we just dream on.

We wanted to create a show, where concepts are expressed, where artists get to say who they are thru their works. I have seen beautiful works from many of my photographers in the industry, but when people are comparing them with newbies, and packages, I sighed. Singapore is a very very competitive industry, you have photographers, florists, wedding planners birthing forth every day, all claiming they can do what they do. I hope everyone realises, good works take years and years to develop and sharpen.. success doesn't come overnight.

Once, someone made a sweeping statement to me : Wow, photographers earn so much, we might as well send our kids to study photography. I was stunned : An artist is likened to any professional, they are not second rated compared to doctors and lawyers, they take years to learn a skill, and they are not selling photos, they sell moments. Likewise, not everyone can arrange a good table centrepieces, because you give them flowers, and not every wedding planner can create a good wedding, just because you can do mood boards. This industry is not a hobby industry where one decides to turn a hobby and make some money out of it. Hello, is anyone listening...

People who do not know me will always say Hannah, you are gutsy... you speak your mind always. But those who know me well, will tell you : I speak what I believe and envision, and I defend for the people I believe in. I think a true artist needs to be tactful in her conduct, at the same time, an artist must continue to be bold to express his or her vision consistently without compromising.

So what will be the outcome of tomorrow's show? I anticipate as much as one awaits....
But one thing I am sure, it is an event where I will enjoy, because every player is a beloved friend.. and we will have fun creating together.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What I discover about PASSION

This past 1 week, I have received couple of comments from friends and partners who reminded me : Hannah, you should blog more often, you should start writing again...

Yes, I need to blog more regularly, and stop giving myself excuses that I have been busy. On a honest note, I think I am going thru a season where I start to evaluate everything I do, what motivates me and what sets me apart to be who I am. And during this moment, I am pretty speechless... because you are in the season of soul searching, reflecting every step you make... there are moments of fear, moments of doubts, moments of tension, but at the same time, there are moments of anticipation, moments of envisioning, moments of faith. It is at times daunting, but it is often exciting.

This year, I really want to do something different, something that will make me look back and be happy that I pursue something beyond my norm, creating something that goes beyond natural thinking. Often, when you are in the same business for almost 9 years, you sometimes forget to pause and think what's next in life... and I do not want to end up in that state.

Being an entrepreneur is about making business senses, creating a business that you believe in, but I have also learnt being an entrepreneur is not all about closing orders, and running about fulfilling orders.. an entrepreneur needs to always be aware what is next in the pursuit journey.. what will be the next leap in your business, and most of all, what will be the next chapter in your career life that will still make you passionate about doing what you do..

And yes, I am in this current phase of life. Last week, an unexpected guest arrived in my office, and reminded me that life is a journey of pleasant surprises.. I bumped into an publication director who I once blogged about in one posting, we have a good closure or rather I would say a renew beginning. It was interesting when he said : Hannah, can I be honest with you, you need to blog more often, your blog is very transparent (I paraphrased), you are very bold in revealing who you are in your postings. Your blog is not about wedding ideas, the blog is about who you are, and in many sense, you put yourself as the product of your business.. wow, I was speechless. He was right, unintentionally, I am one of the products of my business, and maybe this is why I put a lot of hard pressure on myself, perfecting how I see, perfecting what I create. Thankfully, I have a group of ladies and partners who believe in me, and are willing to allow me to lead them in the way I believe in my dreams.

Today, I saw the pictures I have from our Penang wedding, and I was touched.. It was a wedding of detailed work, and much precision. The number of hours we put in for each wedding often make me appreciate of my committed team. Imagine doing concurrently two events setup, one after another with only 3-4 hours of rest per day, for consecutive 4 days. Imagine creating personalised menu cards with guest names and their choices of main courses individually printed and packaged. Imagine having only 1 lifter to hang the 120 parasols for the ballroom and 10 large floral arrangements, and having to take them down all over again in perfect order for the banqueting team to turn over for the next wedding within 5 hours... Yes, no one can imagine. I will always remember this event, I saw myself running about in my long evening gown, directing remaining guests from the ballroom to another pub (across the street) to continue the post party after past 2am... assuring everyone was well taken care, before we headed back to hotel after 3am plus... it was hilarious, but it was a night I took a long while to wind down, in fact I could not sleep the whole night. Yes, that's the extent we serve our couples, and their guests, from the moment they touched ground to Penang, to the moment they left this island.

Often I wonder, does every planner go through what we go through... but at the end of the day, I concluded : regardless what others do, given a chance again, I will still do what I do, to serve the host and family to a point that we know we have truly understood what "entertaining with style and sincerity" means. This is what I called "Passion - a desire and belief to be excellent in whatever you do or envision to do".Lord, give me a new strength and faith for the next leap, there are still much to learn and grow.

To God, be the glory.. These are some of our favourite pictures from the Penang weddings - A Welcome Party to experience local Penang street food in a Art Decor Chic Styling, as well as a separate day Wedding Reception in E & O Hotel that combines Penang Charm and Old English floral touches...