We talk wedding bells with this month’s That Bride Vanessa Yeo, Lululemon’s Community Connector and an avid Pinterester with an eye for wedding design! We take a look at her not one, but two crazy hen parties in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as the planning behind her delicate, pastel-themed wedding to Nick Barger. She knows better than anyone what it’s like to be a bride-to-be and has a number of tips for you lucky ladies out there, including why you should work on a fitness regimen with your fiancé and how to make your life easier with the help of a couple of wedding apps.
All love stories have to begin somewhere. How did you two meet?
Nick and I lived in Hong Kong for several years before we finally met each other. Despite the fact we socialised in the same places, we had oddly never crossed paths! A pair of our mutual friends who were new to Hong Kong organised a night out and persuaded each of us to come along. The rest, as they say, is history.
Where was your first date?
The first day was wonderfully traditional– exactly the way I liked it. I can’t stand overly planned pretentious dates. We had a nice dinner at Hullett House and loads of laughs, then we both discovered our tragic mutual love for trashy reality TV shows. By which I mean Jersey Shore.
Can you tell us about the first time he said he loved you?
I think we both felt the same way about each other when we returned from our first vacation to Cambodia (Sassy loves Cambodia, see why here!). It just happened organically!
Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?
Nick proposed to me at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. To be honest, that moment remains one of the most thrilling days of my life because I had no clue. It was a complete surprise! He had strewn rose petals all over the suite, so I wasn’t complaining!
Tell us about the ring.
The ring Nick chose is a perfectly raised solitaire set in 6 prongs. I love the height and classic design. I’ve actually started styling the rest of my accessories around my ring, which has really help streamline my massive collection.
What did you do for your hen party?
I was very lucky to get more than one hen! Since I’m from Singapore and my collective friendship group is a mix of Hong Kongers and Singaporeans, I was lucky enough to have one in both places: one in Hong Kong (complete with a lush spa treatment at the Four Seasons Spa and Isola brunch) as well as a crazy hen party in Singapore. The one in Singapore began at The Westin with a boozy brunch (I’m not kidding, there was a DJ on set at 11am!) and ended at the Tanjong Beach Club. Let’s just say that I’ve never spoken to as many strange men in my life than in that single week.
How did you go about planning your wedding? Did you go the DIY route or did you hire a wedding planner to help you out?
I think the “where to have it?” question is always the first on couple’s minds. Nick and I love Hong Kong and are pretty sentimental about the fact that we met in this crazy beautiful city, so we wanted to celebrate our wedding here too. We picked both our venues together and chose Bethanie Chapel for the wedding ceremony and The Crown Wine Cellars for our reception and boogie. We were sold on the amazing glasshouse and the underground dining room beneath it!
I always knew I would go with a colour scheme instead of an overall theme. I selected pinks, whites, greens and golds and combined them with a modern aesthetic in mind. I also appreciate the power of simple details and wanted to work with a planner that was on the same page. As our intimate affair would only host 56 guests, I chose to work with a party planner instead of a wedding planner. I began by creating a mood-board of my vision on Pinterest and worked with Lauren from Sweet Soirees (check out her That Girl interview here!), who happened to be a friend of my sister-in-law’s.
I also love technology, so to make planning easier; I used the Appy Couple app and website to host all our wedding information and Honeyfund to host our honeymoon fund registry. I also ordered our invitation cards, menu and table cards online from Minted. I must admit that receiving wedding packages on an almost weekly basis from international vendors was a very cool experience. It felt like the world was coming together to make this happen!
Tell us about the dress.
This was the part I looked forward to the most! I started by trying all the various dress-styles in Hong Kong to get a feel of which shapes suited my body. At first, I was honestly convinced that I could pull of a mermaid dress. I had to eventually accept the fact that my height was a massive deterrent and made for an alterations nightmare!
As none of my bridesmaids or family reside in Hong Kong, I went back to Singapore to pick my wedding dress–“The One”, so to speak. A Singapore designer named Blessed Brides made the asymmetric fit-and-flare wedding dress for me. I also bought an additional dress from Grace Loves Lace online, since I wanted to channel some boho spirit into my dancing at the reception.
What was the wedding like?
My most vivid memory is walking down the aisle towards Nick and being overwhelmed by love. It was very emotional. Apart from crying like a baby while exchanging vows, the most enjoyable parts were the games we played with our guests and the speeches. I actually broke tradition (my mother would agree this is a chronic habit) by making a speech at dinner.
Everything was just beautiful, from the baby’s breath along the chapel’s pews to the glasshouse decked in green, gold and pink paper pompoms. Glittery mason jars housed tea-lights all over the dining area and we anchored giant white balloons to blush and gold streamers to serve as a backdrop.
Our favours were a hit! I ordered customised mini muslin bags and filled them with mini tea-temples from Tea Pigs (in our favourite flavours: English Breakfast and Peppermint). It’s a great idea to help your guests soothe their inevitable hangover!
The song for your first dance?
John Legend’s All of Me. We choreographed it ourselves and practiced in our living room. The fact that we executed some lifts without injury remains a huge source of pride for us.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned while wedding planning?
Plan primarily for yourself and for your groom. You don’t need to include things simply because they’re trendy and Pinterest boards are filled with them. Think about who you are as a couple and the rest will fall into place. Be inspired and make your inspirations your own. Weddings in Hong Kong don’t have to be boring- they can be magical if you let your personalities shine through!
Have any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?
- Make sure a photographer snaps your husband-to-be getting ready behind the scenes. He will appreciate it, especially as most grooms don’t usually get photos or videos of this.
- Buy a new perfume to wear on the day so you’ll always associate the scent with the best day of your life. Personally, I chose Chloé’s Roses de Chloé.
- Work on a fun and achievable fitness and diet plan together. Nick and I went to H-Kore three times a week (Sassy loves H-Kore, see why here!). We also started cooking all our dinners and lunch boxes together. It’s a real bonding experience- brides shouldn’t have to go the fitness mile alone!
- Make sure your guests feel included by playing some party games; unfortunately, you won’t get to spend time with everyone on the day. We played Chicken Dance with Unsuspecting Partners. Everyone loved it!
What do you remember most about the entire experience?
Before the bridal march, my dad told me this would be the most important walk he’d ever take with me down the aisle, aside from my first steps as a baby. It made me cry uncontrollably!
Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?
The hardest part was getting to know the Hong Kong wedding landscape, especially with my limited Cantonese proficiency and a small budget. I wish I had had more available insights at the time– which is why I think the Sassy Brides section is a godsend for you lucky brides-to-be!
And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
Technically, our official Italian honeymoon will take place next summer. However, we’ve already gone on a mini-moon to Hua Hin at the Aleenta Pranburi Resort. It was nice to spend some quiet time together in a quieter part of Thailand and recuperate after the festivities. We didn’t have a TV so we read lots of books and became Jenga experts!
Are there any businesses/companies/professionals helped you out on your big day?
We were lucky to enough to come across Sweet Soirees, who helped us plan the whole thing. And then of course my make up artist, Cherry Wong, and my photographer from Urban Decoy made sure I looked my best on the day. I definitely have to mention the photographers that did our engagement shoot as well, they’re called Isa Photography.
Want to see more? Take a look at Vanessa and Nick’s wedding video!
Loved Vanessa’s wedding? We’re sure you’ll love our other That Brides weddings too, so check out some of our other interviews on the site!