Category Archives: Wedding

Cheap Princess Gowns for Weddings

[To my horror, I found these fully-written wedding-related posts from THREE YEARS BACK, before we got married, just sitting in the drafts folder… So I just clicked “publish”. Also, feeling kinda really sad that I have put on so much pregnancy weight since these pictures below were taken!]

Jasmine: I’ve made pretty clear that I’m no fan of the princess gown… Until I actually tried one on, while shopping with my mum at Far East Plaza.

And realised, horror of horror, that with a very simple bodice, the exaggerated train and full skirt could actually look rather… pretty.

I felt like I was cheating on my own wedding dress- the one that I had painstakingly designed and made at Emanuel B.

On a budget of less than $200, I decided that I would search for a second gown that I could rent. I wasn’t planning to have a change of wedding gown on the actual day itself, but just thought I’d rent one for a different bridal silhouette in pictures.

I decided to go really low-end for this because the ballgown style is so overwhelmingly popular at Taiwanese-style studios that there was sure to be much price competition which would drive prices down. I wouldn’t recommend low-end studios if you want a form-fitted sheath or quality materials, but an A-line gown is still relatively easy to do.

Of the low-end rentals I sourced, most charged around $200-300 for a three day rental, inclusive of alteration and dryclean.

The cheapest was Bridal Closet, which offered rentals from $188, which included not only alterations and drycleaning, but also free rental of veils and accessories (though I didn’t need those).

As I needed to have my measurements re-taken for my cheongsam (reached my goal weight… yay!), Bridal Closet had the advantage of being 5 min drive away from my cheongsam tailor, so we decided to pop by.

This was one of the dresses I tried on:

Option 1

It’s got the sweeping train which shows up well in photos and I liked that the beading wasn’t too overdone, but up close I could tell that the skeleton of the bustier had gone awry and the waistline was crooked. Next.

Option 2:

All along, I had been looking for something more modern, like Option 1. However, this dress was decently-tailored. Also, despite my best efforts to veer away from the traditional gown, I kinda liked the way the tulle skirt was gathered and the lacework was pretty, albeit in a retro way.

Even better, both options cost under $200… to buy. Bridal Closet even threw in free alterations and drycleaning.

Here’s what Option 2 looked like after alteration and removal of the sash:

A few key points about bridal shopping for the budget-conscious:

  • Always inspect the garment carefully to ensure that all joinings are straight and seams don’t pucker (looks especially awful on shiny fabrics like satin and gives away bad workmanship immediately)
  • If you are going for a princess gown (or any gown), make sure that the embellishment does not overpower your frame
  • When in doubt, less is more. Remove all annoying accoutrements. Unnecessary adornment is often used to disguise crappy workmanship
  • Shop with one, maximum two trusted friends with good taste. (Especially important for low-end studios, because you’ll really need to spearate the wheat from the chaff)

I saw too many girls at Bridal Closet who were trying on hideous, butt-ugly gowns (Crime Scene Exhibit A: red and black mermaid gown, with TWO sashes bisecting the natural waist and the low waist, thereby successfully showing off her paunch) but their mums and boyfriends were not offering them the wake-up call they really needed.

When Andrew and I were shooting at National Museum, we saw six other bridal couples, and all the brides were wearing princess gowns which were too complicated and looked like they harked from the ’80s. For example, they had pleating on the bust and massive amounts of embroidery on the skirt. The hairstyle (typically, fussy updo with lots of waves and a TIARA on top of all that) never differed from bride to bride and made the whole getup look dated. Someone really needed to tell them that less is more (ironic, coming from the girl with two wedding gowns).

Princess gown or not, I always maintain that the bride should wear the gown and not the other way around.

Wedding DIY: "Here Comes the Bride" Flowergirl Banner

Jasmine: I’d seen weddings where flowergirls carried in a banner bearing the words, "Here comes the bride", and had always found that cute. I thought that making a basic banner from scratch would be a fun (and hopefully, easy) way to incorporate some crafty goodness into our wedding. Following this, I also made another banner that read "I’m not the bride".

So here goes nothing.

Step 1: Cut out ten hearts in two different sizes

Cut out hearts (a mixture of Webster’s Pages and Graphic45) and write the words, "Here Comes the Bride", on them. I had planned to use cardboard letters, but they were way too small, so I had to painstakingly write, colour in, outline and then use 3D accents on top to give the lettering a shiny, raised look.

A pic my sister snapped at random.

Trying to avoid finger cramp

Charlene, our self-appointed New Media Consultant, is really doing a great job, not only helping us capture candid moments, styling her own photoshoots, uploading all pictures and creating our montage (which she likes to point out would "cost us hundreds" elsewhere!).

Step 2: Embellish!

I added crystal accents and Prima flowers to the smaller hearts on the ends of the banner, and also looped the ribbon so that it would be easy for little hands to grasp it.

However, I thought that the scrap of tulle netting provided the best finishing touch, making the banner a tad more whimsical.

Step 3: Secure hearts with ribbons

I used a variety of trim- the music notes ribbon was from Daiso!

 

Layer different textures of ribbon in the same colour palette (in this case, cream) for a rich, dimensional look.

Step 4: Step back and admire!

The back view

The front

Wedding DIY: "I’m Not the Bride" Flowergirl Banner

Jasmine: We wanted to surprise our guests during the wedding processional, so we had our last and littlest flowergirl, Kirsten, hold a sign that said, "I’m not the bride".

We had six-year-old Elliot and four-year-old Faith walk out holding the "Here Comes the Bride" banner, followed by two-year-old Kirsten with a sign that read, "I’m not the bride".

Here’s how to make an easy banner for one pint-sized member of your bridal party to carry.

Step 1: Cut out two hearts

Step 2: Make a border

I actually depleted all my supplies of brown cardstock making the "Here Comes The Bride" banner, so these were actually strips of paper cut from the leftovers of that project and folded concertina-style.

It doesn’t matter if the border is composed of different papers; in fact, that can make for an even more visually interesting look!

Step 3: Decorate!

As you can see from these closeups, I tried to keep the colours (milky jade green and mocha brown) consistent with the "Here Comes the Bride" banner, but also accented it more heavily with purple to tie it in closely with the purple theme as well as my handbouquet.

I used liquid pearls to outline the words with tiny green dots. Added random flowers, a glass button (hidden behind the white flower) a paper cutout and a rhinestone embellishment.

And here’s a look at the almost-finished product. Found myself almost loving the back more than the front! I used distress inks to outline the striped heart and give it a faded, vintage quality.

The back view

Remember what I said about not being afraid to use different papers to make up the same border? I thought the contrast was pretty stunning here!

The front

Alas, we realised that this banner was too small and that guests might have difficulty making out the words on it, hence, I decided to do an "enlarged" version.

Here’s a size comparison:

And here’s the final product!

I simply used a brown marker to write the words, and then went over it with glossy accents, which is a transparent 3D paint which gives a raised effect.

Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of the "here comes the bride banner" as the photog turned to photograph Andrew at this point. Heh. However, here’s cute little Kirsten stoically carrying the "I’m not the bride" banner at our wedding! Check out all the paparazzi behind!

The flower garland for her hair was made by my Ee Ee, and the purple tutu by Andrew’s cousin Evelyn (whose daughter Faith was also our flowergirl!) Daphne, Kirsten’s mum, also rushed to bring Kirsten down to the wedding though her son was ill. Apparently, that morning when Kirsten woke up, she took one look at her flowergirl costume and said, "I want to go". Aww!

Looking at this pic just brings back so many happy memories of all the wonderful people who went the extra mile to make our day possible- thank you once again!

Symbolic Rings on our Couple Journey

Jasmine: Since university days, I have had a thing for rings. They are the easiest piece of jewelry to slip on and off, and can either blend in with any outfit or be a conversation-starter. This post traces the evolution of our journey as a couple through the rings that Andrew has bought me- they are not very expensive, but each ring marks a next stage in our relationship. (Andrew: Really, this is just another excuse for Dearie to showcase her accessories. And I like the inclusion of ‘very’ in the statement above.)

Jasmine: You are uninvited from contributing to this post, Andrew.

1.  Sundial ring from Toulouse, Southern France

Jasmine: Before that, let me just show off my favourite ring when I was a single lass! (Darn I make myself sound so old.) This ring represents my love of travelling- it is a ring bought from a silversmith in the South of France. The ring replicates a traditional design- the story goes that a prince gave a ring like this to a princess as a token of his love. "Carpe Diem", or  "seize the day" in Latin, was very much my motto when I was on exchange  and had the best time of my life exploring new countries.

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However, the most unique thing about this ring is that it is a…. sundial! If you prop it on its face, the little hole allows sunlight to come through and hit a number engraved on the underside of the ring! How perfect for an ancient keepsake reminding a princess to be patient in waiting for her true love’s return! (Andrew: Oh, so by that analogy, am I your knight in shining armour?) (Deletion done by Jasmine)

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2. Michal Negrin ring for Marriage Preparation Course (MPC)

Jasmine: In our church, a guy asking a girl to go for MPC is a serious thing, as it signals his intent to lay strong foundations for marriage. In fact, couples are discouraged from doing the wedding proposal, buying of flats, booking of hotel etc before MPC, as MPC will ensure that couples are ready for a lifelong marital commitment and do not just rush headlong into wedding prep.

Therefore, we did not have an engagement ring at this point, but Andrew surprised me by bringing me on a date, asking me to "shop" at Michal Negrin, an Israeli jewelry boutique stocked at Raffles City, and then sneaking back to Michal Negrin to buy the ring that I liked while he dropped me at Paper Market! (Andrew: I was surprised she didn’t know what was going on, but those were the days where I still bothered with such little surprises and romantic gestures – nowadays I just say ‘Dearie – tell me what you want’, or in more desperate times, ‘Send me the link and I’ll buy it for you.’)

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Jasmine: He then brought me to a spot by Esplanade overlooking the Singapore River, and asked me if I would go for MPC with him, and accept this ring as  a token of his sincerity. Although this ring is very ornate, I love its vintage style and have worn it both for casual days as well as for our pre-wedding shoot:

And just in case you’re wondering, we have written about our Tiffany & Co engagement ring and custom wedding bands (Andrew’s ring is quite striking for a man’s ring!) here.

3. House ring by Noir

Jasmine: This ring was SO unusual, it was love at first sight. It was a double finger ring by Noir, a NYC-based jeweller stocked at Deja Vu Vintage. Dear bought this for me when we were six months newlywed, and it had special significance as we had just bought our first home 😀

Noir collaborated with Mattel to produce this cotton-candy pink mansion ring.

It can be worn closed e.g. snap the house shut and wear it on one finger, or open. When open, the back  reveals the house interior with all these cool touches like stairs and a chandelier charm!

Andrew: I was truly unable to appreciate the beauty of this ring when I first saw it. I thought it was just me and my usual ‘dense-ness’ about fashion-related stuff, then I realised I wasn’t alone- Jasmine’s mum and sis couldn’t appreciate it either. This is truly a mark of Dearie’s eccentric taste!

4. Rubberband ring made by Andrew’s 6-yr-old niece

Jasmine; This may seem like an oddball choice, but it is said that when you marry someone, you also marry his/ her family- for better or for worse. How true that is!

Thankfully, Andrew has many nice cousins on both sides and their children are all very, very cute. Faith is a lively 6-year-old girl (who was also our flowergirl at our wedding) who "made" this ring for me during Chinese New Year- she and her sis busied themselves during dinner churning out rubberband jewelry from a kit they had brought along. This ring symbolises family to me!

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5. Dior "Oui" ring

Jasmine: I had admired this ring for years, even before I knew Andrew! I thought it had a touch of wry French humour, and found the idea of literally saying "yes" both ironic and well, sweet. Dear bought this for me as a birthday present last year- it must have been one of our fastest shopping trips ever, as we were in and out of the Dior boutique within 20 minutes during lunch break!

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The original Insta caption went: two years on and it’s still yes…

6. Matryoshka ring from Noir

Jasmine: This was a happy chance encounter. I actually went into Deja Vu Vintage trawling for vintage dresses I could use for maternity wear, but strayed to their jewelry section- which is really worth a long browse, as it has such a diverse range of jewelry of all time periods (vintage and contemporary designers), countries (local designers and international brands) and styles (punk, retro, 1940-50s vintage).

I really liked this Russian doll ring, which I discovered was from the same designer who made the house ring above! Not only is she intricately enamelled, the top can be screwed off to reveal a peanut-sized mini doll inside! It seemed to symbolise a mother and daughter pair, which was extra-meaningful to me since I am carrying a baby girl this pregnancy.

Dilly likes this ring too, I have to use it to distract him when he is fussing in the infant car seat. Heh.

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Andrew: We actually went back to the shop twice to look at this ring, buying it only on our second visit. During the first visit, Dearie tried to use Dilly as a reason for me to buy the ring, but I had a counter-reason for not buying it – that I was tired and wanted to go soon! Haha… During our second visit, the shop assistant actually remembered our first encounter there – she remarked, “Oh yes, he looks much less tired today. And your son also loves the ring right?”. Oh man, looks like we are remembered at the wrong places for the wrong reasons.

Side-note, being with Dearie has truly brought on some strange conversation topics with shop assistants. When getting Dearie her Mothers’ Day gift at Maternity Exchange, I ended up having an extended conversation with the shop assistant about their selection of brands and which range they should bring in (of course, with help from Dearie thru whatsapp, who jumped on the chance immediately to provide any fashion input). 

Jasmine: Isn’t that amazing? The shop assistants didn’t just recognise me but recognised my husband when he went alone. Hope that doesn’t mean we have visited the store too frequently. Heh.

Our Invitations

Jasmine: My cousin Adeline “models” our flowergirl tutu and our hot-off-the-press invitation cards! There is a reason why she is so aptly designated our Head of Decor. Heh.

I was bent on drawing my own design (hydrangeas or lacework) until I realised how much work was involved in producing a high-resolution image fit for mass production. So we decided to tweak an existing template that the printing company had. The paper and ink colours were chosen by us- the ink was supposed to be aubergine but came out looking more like cappucino brown.

Andrew: Actually, the ink colours were chosen by Jasmine. The lady there gave us a whole set of more than over a thousand colours and their various shades to choose from! I didn’t know that there were more than 12 colours (of the rainbow. Heh). Anyway, we’ll just add a small comment here too that the purple tutu skirt that Adeline had (frightfully) put on her head had been sewed by one of my cousins-in-law.

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Jasmine: We found the traditional style of invitation, with the picture of the couple on the front, tacky and dated. So we decided in favour of a cleaner look. This applied to the text as well, as we did away with the Chinese translation, and pared down the English wording as best as we could (picture above).

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Jasmine: As you can see, the church invitation was designed to fit inside the Raffles Hotel dinner invitation.

But as the Raffles Hotel dinner was family only, most of our friends and students would have attended only the church wedding. We therefore faced the problem of finding inexpensive square envelopes for mass mailing.

Andrew found some cheap ones at Popular Toa Payoh selling for $2.20 for a pack of 10.

We jazzed them up, Jasmine-style, in purple to match the theme:

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Jasmine: It didn’t cost us anything as I already owned these stamps, but if anyone’s interested, an ink pad is $2.90 and the “thank you” stamp in the picture above comes from a set of three that costs $2.90. Both from Papermarket!

And the finished products:

P1090652Time taken to decorate 30 envelopes: under  1 hr

Andrew: Yes, I was rather impressed with how Jasmine was able to transform those very plain envelopes into something so beautiful! I tried to help out, thinking that stamping couldn’t be that hard (or at least, that was the impression that Dearie gave me!). Who would have known that it was actually that hard? My stamps came out rather splotchy and indistinct (as evident from the pictures below) and I embarrassingly stamped some of them the wrong direction (ie. the type-writer turned out upside down when the envelope was right side-up).

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Andrew: Jasmine had a rather fun time repairing my errors – too fun a time, actually. She pasted layers of ribbon all around the envelopes. (Jasmine: It’s called washi tape, dear…) Realising where my gifts weren’t best utilized, I decided to stop stamping and left Jasmine to do all the rest. Division of labour at its best! 🙂

Birdcage Flower Arrangement Tutorial

Jasmine: When Andrew and I conceptualised our vintage picnic shoot, one thing that I knew I’d like to have on “set” was a birdcage (which would not only double up as church decor, but could also be re-purposed for decorating a future home, heh).

(Andrew: When Jasmine said she wanted to do ‘bird-cages’, I thought she was just going to buy some and add a few flowers/decorations here and there. I never knew that it was such an elaborate project – but I should have known – everything wedding-related for my Dearie is a huge project. Heh.).

This is my tutorial on doing a DIY floral arrangement within a birdcage.

Step 1: Assemble all materials

Our birdcage was bought from Exim Arts and our silk flowers from Exim and surprise, Cold Storage.

I decided to keep it to three colours maximum as it was my maiden attempt at floral arrangement and I didn’t want it turning out too messy.

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Step 2: Prep the base

I lined it with some lilac raffia that I had saved from the 1st anniversary bouquet Andrew had ordered for me last year, and proceeded to glue on some leaves. You can choose to skip this step, but as our birdcage had to endure several car rides, we thought it was better to secure as much of it as possible.

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A slightly better shot of the lilac wrapper, cut down to size. I pushed the wrapper down later because I had quite a few flowers, but if your arrangement is sparse, you can afford to have the wrapper peek out more.

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Step 3: Begin with base flowers

A basic flower arrangement should have three layers of flowers for height and dimension, but I made do with just two layers. I began with the first and lowest layer: two balls of silk hydrangeas. (I got the saleslady to snip off the stalks for me with her pro scissors. But when all else fails, kitchen scissors and a great deal of twisting wires until they snap will suffice.)

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By the way, my silk hydrangeas were $5 for a ball at my trusty neighbourhood supermarket. They came to me a little crushed:

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So I opened them up by separating the individual stems, so they would look fuller and larger:

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Ok, this pic may be ever so slightly exaggerated, but the simple action of opening up the flower petals increased the volume of the hydrangeas by at least 30%. Kinda like a good mascara.

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Step 4: Add height to your floral arrangement

I bought a bunch of filler flowers, and after cutting them down to the desired size and removing unwanted foliage, I tied them together with twine (just moved house, couldn’t find rubberbands).

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Arrange your second layer of flowers. For a more 3D, naturally overgrown effect, I pushed some of the fillers and hydrangea petals out from the birdcage.

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Step 5: Add fauna to make the whole arrangement look cohesive.

For me, this simply meant closing the birdcage lid and winding some fake berries around the top and having them cascade down.

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Step 6: Decorate birdcage door and around the birdcage (optional)

My scrapbooking materials came in handy for this step. It took less than 5 minutes to glue on a couple of colour-coordinated Prima flowers.

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I also found an Ikea wreath that my brother had bought for my mum many moons ago, which was just the right size to go around the birdcage.

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And stuck some leftover flowers on the wreath to tie it in with the filler flowers in the birdcage.

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That’s the first birdcage:

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Oh, and did I mention I bought a second birdcage too?

Here’s the mini one:

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The Ikea wreath and scrapbooking flowers on the birdcage door were actually applied to this mini birdcage, but otherwise, I left this one empty as this is the designated angpow box (fear not, we’ll enlist vigilant receptionists!), and only scattered some paper flowers in it.

Both the birdcages!

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Did a “full dress rehearsal” with all the picnic props:

Jasmine: Another tip I gleaned from scrapbooking websites it to always do groupings in odd numbers, in this case, two cakestands and one birdcage.

And here’s how it looked for reals, at Botanic Gardens (again, another of our outtakes):

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(On Andrew: custom-made tux shirt from Rossi; on Jasmine: custom-made “Prada lace” dress from Angelique)

Andrew: The bird cages really added a nice dash of colour and freshness to the whole setup – made it seem rather vintage and had a good out of Singapore vibe. We didn’t have that many nice shots of it unfortunately, but now it serves as a decorative piece in Jasmine’s home. 🙂 Thanks Dearie for putting so much effort into our wedding photoshoot!

Sneak Preview: Gowns & Bridal Package!

Jasmine: After “When is your big day?”, the second-most popular question is “What are you wearing?”

I was tasked with the job of finding a bridal salon that could offer us a reasonable and comprehensive package.

I researched close to a dozen bridal salons, and finally shortlisted two: Bridal Veil and Emanuel B Couture.

I had heard good reviews about the level of service and professionalism about both, but in the end I went with Emanuel B.

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The reasons why:

1) Portfolio and style

Emanuel B’s portfolio was closer in style to the wedding and evening gowns that I had in mind, which involved a fair amount of draping, micro-pleating and lace. In contrast, Bridal Veil by Michelle Huimin specialised in simple, clean lines, and adding pleating and French lace would require us to top up substantially for the additional materials.

2) Professionalism

Of all the bridal studios I called or emailed, only two bothered to even reply- Bridal Veil and Emanuel B.  (The Wedding Present sent me a default email with their rates, but I don’t think that counts.) Of the two, I was more impressed with Elaine because when she called me back, she had already looked through the email I had sent her with my dream dresses, and was able to tell me what sorts of material she planned to use.

On that note, she didn’t charge extra (unlike Bridal Veil) for using French chantilly lace, corded lace and silk chiffon- top-of-the-line fabrics. (Lower-tier bridal studios use polyester chiffon, which isn’t as smooth and doesn’t move as fluidly because it’s more lightweight.)

Lastly, during my initial meetup with her, Elaine was able to make helpful suggestions. For example, I wanted a row of buttons on the torso, and Elaine responded that she “liked things to be there for a reason”, and said she would place a seam there so the buttons would have a reason to be there.

It’s extremely difficult to impress me, especially on all things fashion, so trust me when I say that Elaine knows her stuff and most importantly, she has good taste, which is essential- after all, she is only designing the dress for the biggest day of your life!

3) Value for money

Emanuel B Couture is a mid-range bridal studio that specialises in made-to-measure gowns.

Hence, comparing its price to that of lower-end salons that throw in photography as well is unfair. I’ve seen the gowns and photoshoots done by bottom-tier bridal studios. I admit that when it comes to value for money, Emanuel B simply can’t beat studios that include bride’s gowns, MOTHER’s gowns, flowergirl dresses, groom’s suits, photos blah blah blah. However, when it comes to quality and taste, I am sure Emanuel B outclasses these studios. I cannot stress how important it is to find a designer who has taste, so you can trust that she will execute your design with impeccable workmanship and elegance.

I am rather mortified by the “princessy”, overly-embellished, poufy, outdated ballgowns provided by the lower-end studios that don’t take into consideration the wearer’s figure or age. Elaine and I were on the same page here, as she even mentioned how so many brides want princess ballgowns that even she gets bored of designing them! (Why even go to the trouble of doing made-to-measure if you’re going to show up in the same dress as every other bride… Why not just rent a gown off-the-rack and like, switch the brooch or something? :P)

Don’t even get me started on the budget photography, with the unnatural, Taiwanese-inspired shots, which frankly border on cheesy and contrived.

Here’s the package I negotiated with Elaine, the designer:

1) Wedding Gown (Made-to-measure) – Rental

2) Evening Gown (Made-to-measure) – Rental (the deal was either top up $400 for the extra silk chiffon needed for the draping and keep it, or rent it to waive the $400)

3) 2-Piece Men’s Suit (Made-to-measure) – To keep

4) 2 handbouquets

5) 6 corsages

6) Silk flower decorations for bridal car

7) Trial makeup and actual day makeup

8 ) Men’s vest (Made-to-measure) – to keep *

9) Men’s shirt (Made-to-measure) – to keep *

4) Good Reviews

Although Emanuel B. is not quite as high-profile or prominent in the media as other salons in its price range, all online reviews were unanimous in recommending Emanuel B for the quality fabrics and especially the service provided by Elaine.

Now, the sneak pix you’ve been waiting for! (These are outtakes from our pre-wedding shoot)

You’ll notice that we’ve made very subtle changes to Andrew’s outfit. The beauty of his three-piece suit is that it can be worn in endless combinations. The two looks featured here are:

1) just the vest, paired with a purple shirt and bow tie for a casual feel (made-to-measure vest and shirt from Emanuel B, bow tie from N. Tyler)

2) vest under jacket, with white tux shirt and cravat, for a formal vibe (all from Emanuel B with the exception of the tux shirt, which was custom-made at Rossi)

And I think it goes without saying that my gown has been designed by yours truly and made by Emanuel B. Heh.

Cocktail Dresses!

Jasmine: Unless you are the mother of the bride, a cocktail dress is formal and yet versatile enough for a whole host of dressy events ranging from weddings to D&Ds! Andrew and I actually went to Robinson’s with the express purpose of finding him a suit, but we got sidetracked in the women’s department.

All dresses are from Coast and Jessica at Robinson’s unless otherwise stated.

Andrew and I both liked this lace applique dress, which is tied with two ribbons in the back, but it looked too bridesmaid-ish.

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I was attracted to the slightly retro scallop tiers and contrast edging (see below), but the indeterminate greyish-mauve shade did nothing for my complexion. Avoid unless you are incredibly fair.

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A nice fuchsia pink colour, but let down by the conventionally “sweet” draping and neckline. Plus it’s too long for a cocktail dress, and too short for an evening gown.

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A 50s’ silhouette meets 21st-century print here. The most unusual dress of the lot, with neon yellow floral appliques that lent some textural interest to the piece. However, the taupe hue was dull and drab, and this was their smallest available size and still swallowed me whole.

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Price range: $129 – $439

Overall verdict: Robinson’s merchandise buyers seem to be on the safe side when it comes to formal dressing. If you are looking for wearable and “pretty” pieces at mid-range prices, this would be one possible place to hit since Robinson’s carries multiple labels. However, if making a fashion statement is what you want, go elsewhere.

Speaking of elsewhere, try some of my favourite places for unearthing cocktail dresses:

Dress made from ’70s fabric, worn for my 21st birthday, sourced from vintage boutique at Far East Plaza

Forget the LBD, every girl should have a little red dress in her closet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink dress, worn for wedding at Four Seasons: Lipsy

The blush-pink colour is neither too pastel nor too neutral, so with a soft colour like that, I  like the long drape that cascades from shoulder to knee for a subtly dramatic effect.

Yellow dress, worn for wedding at Fort Canning: River Island

For an outdoor or modern wedding, I like this dress because of its bold colour and origami-style pleats.

All three dresses cost under $200!

Evening Gowns: Far East vs Centrepoint

Jasmine: Is it worth splurging on an evening gown?

Note: my evening gown will be tailored by my bridal studio, but since we were in the Orchard area, I thought, no harm trying on a couple dresses… purely for research purposes, of course.

One of the most ubiquitous styles is the sweetheart neckline so we decided to focus our, ahem, comparative market research on that.

First, we went to Far East Plaza.

This was a fairly flattering blue but the waist was placed a little too low.

Cost: $380

The plus point is that you can rent this gown at $180 (because it doesn’t really make sense to buy a long gown unless you have several formal functions to attend or are royalty), but you have to pay extra for alterations. Unfortunately, alterations to this particular gown will be complicated as you have to bring up the waist and take in the gown through the back seams.

The following day, we went to Robinson’s at Centrepoint, where we saw a nearly-identical dress.

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This is a dress from UK label Coast, in a nice rich shade of aubergine. The pleating is alot finer and especially below the waist, the pleats are strategically centralised, which creates the illusion of added height and slimness. In contrast, the dress from Far East Plaza is gathered all around under the waist, which promotes the appearance of pregnancy (not a good look unless you really are pregnant.)

And get this… This dress from Coast only costs $389, which is only fractionally more expensive than the Far East version!

Verdict: I’m not bowled over by either dress, to be frank- they’re both somewhat generic. But if I’d have to choose, I’d say go for the Coast dress. Not only is it better made, it’s a negligible $9 difference.

On another note, avoid lace up backs like these:

They look rather pretty (if a little ’80s) but it took the sales assistant 15 min to help me lace it up! Not only that, it takes skill to lace you in tightly enough to flatter your figure, while still leaving you with enough breathing room. Unless you have your own dedicated P.A., go for zippered dresses (which are also much faster to change in and out of, for brides-to-be). Under no circumstances should you trust your husband with a lace-up back. It is not as simple as tying a shoelace 😛

Sneak Preview: Tailor-Made Wedding Cheongsams

Jasmine: On my mother’s side of the family, we have a collection of cheongsams courtesy of my grandmother, who used to get a cheongsam tailored for every formal occasion.

Here you’ll see my cousins and I modelling some of my grandmother’s cheongsams, some of which were made as early as the 1950s.

With that history in mind, I’ve decided to splurge on a tailor-made cheongsam of my own design for the upcoming wedding! I’ve been hearing unanimous rave reviews about a specialised cheongsam tailor in the East and last week I went down with Mr Chong for an appointment (don’t worry, it was just me making the cheongsam, not Andrew).

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An array of silks, duchess satins, and laces to choose from

Jasmine: Wilson also made a couple of quick sketches based on the design I had in mind.

Cheongsum

Jasmine: I’d actually envisioned a cheongsam with a streamlined, embellishment-free front but Wilson warned me that it would be too plain and insisted in Mandarin that “your guests will look better than you”.

In the end, we decided to have a little bit of lace running down from the collar to the ankles. The unbroken visual line should give me a much-needed semblance of tallness.

The way that Wilson does lace is also extremely labour-intensive. He cuts out lace flowers, arranges them, sews them onto the cheongsam by hand, and then adds beads or sequins around it so as to help it “blend” into the cheongsam fabric. This ensures that every customer gets a completely one-of-a-kind, made-to-measure cheongsam.

I’m very excited about collecting my cheongsam in three months’ time! I decided on a simple and clean design because I want to be able to wear this cheongsam when I’m 30, 40, 80 and then pass it down to my daughters and grand-daughters!

Andrew: I was really quite impressed with the tailor’s professionalism and advice. We’ve been doing lots of selection of wedding related items like clothes, cards etc. and I’m actually rather overwhelmed every time we go to a store with the whole range of choices of fabrics, patterns, colours etc. I’m so glad Dearie has such great taste that I can trust her to make such complicated choices! Heh.

Jasmine: Now, I highly de-recommend shopping with your man as it is boring for them and stressful for you. But as my appointment was only pencilled in at the last minute, I had no choice but to have Mr Chong tag along. A tip for ladies shopping with men. Before asking their advice, narrow down the choices to three or three options. This prevents them from getting overwhelmed. Also, keep them involved by assigning specific and manageable tasks i.e. “dear, would you help me take a picture of the sketch?” and praise them when they do so.

Andrew: Dearie has worn her grandmother’s cheongsam for her staff dinner before and she looked really good in it! I was really quite impressed with the tailor’s professionalism and advice. I can’t wait to see how this cheongsam turns out too!