The Wedding Atelier founder Lelian Chew on wedding trends, budgeting tips, and how to choose the perfect planner
The big day
Putting a ring on it isn't the hardest part; it's throwing the main party that would really rally the troops. A squad for flowers, one for the grub, one for the event flow, one for entertainment...indeed, pulling off a wedding takes a village. Which is why most of us turn to planners — they wave their magic wands, conceptualise and then execute the biggest, and possibly the most important day of our lives.
Of course, as with your deemed life partner, your wedding planner needs to be the right fit as well. But how will you really know? Founder of The Wedding Atelier, Lelian Chew who has personally pulled off some of the world's most magical unions (from a UNESCO site in Lijiang to a century old mill in Hawaii), shares her entrepreneur acumen, golden tips for aspiring newlyweds, and how to pick the right planner for your big day.
You were previously in investment banking, how did you make the switch to planning weddings for a living?
Choosing to leave the finance industry was a very conscious decision as I wanted to learn more about being a business owner. While there were many exciting ideas that came up, I thought The Wedding Atelier would fill a void in the events planning at that time. I wanted to establish a professionally-run, regional-focused company that stands out from a crowd of local players.
What are the key traits that a good wedding planner needs to have?
A good wedding planner takes on many other roles, besides actually planning the wedding. I've acted as a mediator in tricky family situations, a fashion advisor to aid with gown selection and an etiquette consultant to coach on the dos and don'ts of a wedding. Always be ultra-meticulous as clients often tend to make changes to their guest list, seating plans, or even design preferences.
How do you actually know if the wedding planner is the right fit for you?
Find a wedding planner who you feel can bring out the best of your visions and truly represent your love story. I cannot stress enough the importance of going with a professional and well-run planning or design company — one that you have good chemistry with.
What are the first few things you ask your client during the first consultation?
Besides the necessary information like dates, venues, and preferred style, I love understanding the love story of every potential couple who walk through our doors. Who they are, where they came from, and what brought them to this day. We take on just 12 clients a year, it's imperative that we know we are the best representatives to make their ove story come to live.
How long is the average process of planning a wedding?
The process is different for each wedding but our average client signs us up 15 months in advance. Customising the perfect haute couture gown for our bride, selecting the best island for a buyout, or even booking a world-class entertainer to perform can take months of preparation.
You're used to planning weddings for the high net worth, but what piece of advice would you give to a couple with a tight budget?
No matter how privileged, all couples ultimately have a budget. Our advice is the same for all: Be honest from the beginning to what aspects you would want to prioritise. Are you a stylish bride who needs a show-stopping dress? Are you a gourmand who places emphasis over the food and wines over anything else? Figure out as a couple what best represents you or is most important for your big day before slicing up the budget accordingly.
What are some emerging wedding trends seen this year so far?
Multiple wedding destinations. Clients like creating different experiences for different groups of attendees and it has become the norm for us to be hosting two or three weddings for the same couple. Other trends include coloured wedding gowns and the conscious decision to seek out Asian designers!