Wedding trends, modern-day ceremonies, bridal inspiration, and more: Industry insiders weigh in

Wedding trends, modern-day ceremonies, bridal inspiration, and more: Industry insiders weigh in

Alternate perspectives

Text: Amelia Chia

Image: Sayher Heffernan
Image: Terralogical
Image: Multifolds

Behind every wedding are the people who work long hours to make it happen — your planner, photographer, videographer, florist, baker, and caterer, to name a few. These are the folk that attend weddings almost every weekend of the year, and know the ins and outs of the day better than anyone else. From timelines to trade secrets, we had the privilege of chatting with them to dig deeper into an industry perceived to be both glamourous and stressful. They reveal the latest trends, offer insightful advice to potential couples, and contemplate what truly brings them joy at the end of the day.

Sayher Heffernan, wedding photographer

After shooting weddings for more than a decade, Sayher still believes the most memorable weddings result from couples being true to themselves and allowing time to interact with their loved ones. He started out by shooting weddings on the side — while working as a graphic designer — after seeing a few industry leaders who were producing work that was different from what was available out there. He went full-time shortly after, and has never looked back.

Sayher Heffernan

What do you think people are looking for these days when it comes to wedding photos?
Stunning images that have the ability to capture key moments that tell a story of the entire day.

What brings you the most joy when it comes to your job?
I absolutely love to create memories for my couples. Most weekends, I have a beautiful love story unfolding in front of me, filled with so much joy and emotion. There's a great mix of calm and chaos, and I find it an honour getting in the mix to capture it all.

What makes a memorable wedding?
There was this wedding I shot recently in a no-frills neighbourhood restaurant and bottle shop in Melbourne. It wasn't the fanciest or most extravagant affair, but it truly brought out the couple's laidback nature. When you see a couple in their element, surrounded by people they love and cherish, having the time of their life — that's where I thrive as a photographer.

Making the most of the stunning Redwood Forest in Victoria, Australia

What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
What sets me apart is who I am. My unique perspective and personable nature allows me to connect not only with my couples but with their guests as well, which allows me to build their trust and in turn, I'm able to capture their personality in the rawest forms. I'm also consistent and pride myself on delivering a strong start to finish result with the final images. No matter what the light was like, the time of day we shot, or challenges we faced, I work hard and go the extra mile to ensure excellent results.

What do you wish you could tell your couples before their big day?
Listen, your wedding day is probably the only time in your life where the both of you have your best friends and family around you for an entire day — make the most of it! I try and encourage my couples to leave margin on their wedding day. While I understand that to some degree the show must go on, if a couple's schedule isn't mind-blowingly jam-packed, it gives them time to really soak in the day. Instead of rushing off to the next thing, being able to celebrate and connect with those they love will allow for unexpected, wonderfully unique moments (that I will also be able to shoot).

Unposed and unfiltered moments are some of Sayher's favourite things to capture

In your opinion, what is the true meaning of marriage?
Marriage is a commitment you make and keep, where you choose to love someone through thick and thin. It's a choice to keep showing up each and every day, no matter what you're going through.

To view more of his work or enquire about wedding photos, visit Sayher Heffernan.

Paulin Teo, founder and cake artist, Crummb

Paulin realised there was a need for bakers with a solid design bent when she couldn't find a baker who could make her the wedding cake she had in mind when she got married. When motherhood prompted her to slow down and quit her journalism job a decade ago, she decided to take the plunge and give cakes a go.

Paulin in her element

How have cake trends evolved over the last few years?
There were several trends that popped up and had their 15 minutes of fame: marbled fondant, metallic finishes, concrete buttercream, drip-icing cakes, and the one that makes no sense to me: geode cakes. Now, people love the organic, minimalist cake.

What's the toughest part of your job?
I'd like to say something profound, like maintaining my artistic integrity while accommodating the needs of the client, but really, it's the washing up.

Tell me about a memorable wedding that you were proud to be part of, and how you were involved?
The couple were graffiti artists and they wanted a cake that paid homage to concrete and architecture. They gave me so much freedom, which allowed me to come up with a design that had a pleated facade, pink and grey shades, and a very minimalist spot of phalaeonopsis orchids. It was urban-beautiful and I'm very proud of it.

Circular fondant panels attached on the side of a cake to create an accordion-like effect

What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
As much as I find the word totally pretentious, my work really is artisanal. I work alone; from baking the cakes, making all the sugar decorations, assembling, right down to delivery on the actual day. I can make no more than three wedding cakes per week, which means I have full control over how each cake tastes and looks. And given that I am a bit of a control freak, every piece that goes out is as close to perfection as I can manage.

What do you think the wedding industry could do better or differently, as a whole?
Many wedding vendors in Singapore take design cues from what is trending in the West. I'd love to see us come up with original ideas that are true to our culture and climate. Seriously, an outdoor wedding in the tropics is a bad idea on so many levels.

Created for a couple who are graffiti artists, the bottom tier resembles concrete while the middle tier is inspired by a building in Spain

Is there a particular style of wedding that inspires you?
Anything that's authentic and full of personality. There was an interracial couple who made the news recently — they held their reception on a void deck recently, complete with lion dancers and an ice cream uncle. I love that.

To view more of her work or enquire for a wedding or otherwise, visit Crummb.

Pauline Ho, founder and creative director, Fleurapy

In 2014, Pauline swapped her job in the advertising industry for something she could call her own and where she was able to tell the stories of her heart. With Fleurapy, Pauline channels the belief that flowers have a mind of her own, and it's all about giving them personality and an attitude to boot.

Pauline Ho

What's the most sought after style of weddings these days?
Intimate gatherings at unique venues for friends and a simpler traditional banquet for family and relatives. Or an all-out grand affair if it is a mash-up of friends and family! I'm also beginning to see couples embrace more adventurous palettes — think unusual colour combinations and louder colours.

What's the toughest part of your job?
I think it'll have to be building trust. We always have to find that balance of giving our clients the right amount of assurance, and showing too much. After meeting up with our couples, we usually put together a design proposal for them which contains a moodboard and a few design references with sketches (if a complex installation is part of the scope). The lovely part is a lot of our couples are like, "Yes we love it, we know you get us. Go do your thing!"

We've also had a bride who wanted her bouquet to be exactly the same as the reference image, down to the position of each flower — even though we'd given her a few caveats that we would not copy the arrangement exactly. We see ourselves as collaborators with our clients, so we always try to add that special pixie dust to every wedding, even if we are doing the colour palette for the n-th time. The pixie dusting is only possible with good chemistry and/or mutual understanding.

Fleurapy's bridal bouquet: anemones, peonies, oncidiums, and lilacs

What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
We approach our venue work by understanding what the vibe and mood should be. That requires building a relationship with the couple to know them — where they've been, what they're excited by, their hopes and dreams, and even what annoys them. We tell clients to focus on what they wish to convey to their guests on the day, and work from there as a starting point.

What do you wish you could tell your couples before their big day?
The wedding is only the start of a journey ahead. Firstly, work on being emotionally and mentally prepared for your marriage and the rest will fall into place. Secondly, pick vendors that you trust and whose work you are familiar with and like so that you really don't need to sweat the small stuff when the day draws close.

Pauline's beautiful florals complemented a weave by Cord x Clay

How do you think the wedding industry could do better as a whole?
I would like to see the wedding industry stop giving in to the pressure of discounting effort. Every wedding requires hours of planning. There's also time taken to care for flowers. I spend hours walking to source for the best flowers or leaves, sometimes foraging under the hot sun from our roadsides just to get that perfect look. Additionally, loading and offloading is physically demanding and vendors are sometimes spoken to rudely by the hotel or restaurant staff. It's easy for guests to look at a flower arch and think that it's "just" flowers. But it's all of those above that had to go into making it.

The industry should also look to reduce the amount of waste we create from weddings. A good initiative that we love and support is Refresh Flowers. They take used flowers from weddings and repurpose them into bouquets for hospices. I've personally been inspired by the Instagram account, @nofloralfoam, to reduce our use of floral foam — a single-use plastic which contains toxic chemicals. As floral studios, we are often faced with the challenge of short set-up time, which means our installations either have to be prepared way ahead of time or they need to be super easy to install. I think opportunities for such dialogue between wedding venues and florists would help.

To view more of her work or enquire on wedding flowers or otherwise, visit Fleurapy.

Cheryl Tan, founder, The Wedding Concepteur

Armed with a background in marketing communications for hotels — and a rich little book of contacts and vendors that she could call on — Cheryl is used to organising events at a whim. After planning her own wedding, she decided to flip the chapter and start The Wedding Concepteur part-time in 2014, before launching into it full-time in 2015.

Cheryl Tan

What do you think people are looking for these days when it comes to weddings?
Personalisation is key. Every couple is different, and they want their wedding to be unique to them as — with social media, couples are more aware of the different vendors in the industry, as well as the options which they have. As such, bundled packages comprising a fixed list of vendors, such as a bridal boutique, photographer and make-up artist, may not appeal to them anymore.

What's the toughest part of your job?
It's tough to match couple's expectations against their budget. Due to the lack of resources in Singapore and expensive manpower, a wedding in Singapore is not as affordable as people might think. For example, some couples think using artificial flowers is a cheaper option [as opposed to real flowers], but that's not the case as they have to be imported into Singapore as well.

Cheryl working on the final touches before the big show

What brings you the most joy when it comes to your job?
Joy comes from seeing the couple walk down the aisle on their wedding day, and receiving encouraging feedback from them and their loved ones. That gives me a sense of fulfilment and recognition that all the effort I have put in for the wedding is worthwhile.

Tell us about a memorable wedding that you were proud to be part of?
There was this wedding I did at Capella Singapore in November last year, where the couple was bold, adventurous, and had an atypical vision of how they wanted their wedding to pan out. Being able to help conceptualise ideas and styles for them was exciting as they were open to trying different ideas. We proposed a ceremony in the round layout for the solemnisation, which is rarely seen at local weddings, and they agreed without any hesitation, which we were surprised by.

A ceremony in the round wedding at Capella Singapore

What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
I believe it's how we always put ourselves in our clients' shoes when planning their weddings. Besides being meticulous, detail-oriented and quick-witted, I strongly believe that wedding planners must have strong emotional intelligence.

Couples engage a wedding planner because they need all the help they can to plan their wedding. My team and I make sure that we try our very best to help and guide our clients with every single aspect of the wedding. This would include being with them at every vendor appointment so as to provide valuable feedback and ask relevant questions they may not have thought of, help them book overseas vendors and plan their schedule for an overseas pre-wedding shoot, as well as being flexible with our packages so that what couples can get the most value out of it. We always tell our couples, "We are your personal assistants," and we mean what we say.

In your opinion, what is the true meaning of marriage?
Marriage is love, and love is about respecting, trusting, being honest, constantly communicating, as well as always compromising and forgiving your better half. Like how our body parts have different functions, there are many roles to play in a marriage which are all vital to its success.

For enquiries on planning your big day, visit The Wedding Concepteur.