They must look back, say, 50 years later, and still be happy about the process and the memories that they created.
Cheryl Tan has planned some high-profile weddings. Fashion entrepreneur Rachel Lim‘s beautiful Balinese celebration. DJs Jean Danker and Glenn Ong’s modern eclectic-themed wedding. And more recently, model Sheila Sim’s unconventional, star-studded affair. Yup, that’s all her.
The funny thing is, being a wedding planner was never part of her plan. Let alone becoming a celebrity wedding planner. In fact, when we called her a “celebrity wedding planner”, there was a long, uneasy pause, followed by coy laughter. “If you’re referring to the frequency at which I plan weddings for famous people, then, maybe,” she eventually said. That’s the other thing, for a celebrity wedding planner, she is unexpectedly down-to-earth, super chill and So. Freaking. Nice.
It all started five years ago when Cheryl was getting married herself. It was a time when the engagement of a wedding planner was still a
luxury. “I asked around for quotes, but everyone came back with a number that was over our budget. So I thought, you know, ‘I have some time, work isn’t so hectic, I could plan my own wedding!'”
So she did. She enjoyed it and, with a little nudge from her sister, she left her hotel job and started The Wedding Concepteur. The rest, as they say, is history — and lots of cherished memories, too. After all, her job entails watching couples walking down the isle and saying “I do”, again and again, having helped them get there.
This may not have been her dream job to begin with, but her job makes the dreams of others come true. Which is even better.
Without further ado, here’s our chat with Cheryl Tan, who has some really good and practical advice to brides- and grooms-to-be.
First things first, tell us how you wound up planning your wedding. What was it like?
Cheryl: Mine was a very simple and intimate wedding at The Fullerton Hotel’s The Straits Room. Both my husband’s and my maternal family are Peranakans, so we went with a modern Peranakan theme. We held a Christian-style ceremony followed by a buffet lunch reception at the hotel. At the time, my father was not a Christian, and I was concerned that he may not attend a church wedding. So we brought the “church wedding” to the hotel. But everything else was pretty simple — we didn’t even have a photo booth.
I planned it with the help of my husband, family members and friends, and I enjoyed the entire process. It did take me some effort and time to let go of the coordination and let my friend take over closer to the day, though (haha). So, I always tell couples to enjoy every part of the planning process — it should be memorable, it shouldn’t stress you out.
Let’s get down to the specifics. What would you say are the essential things a couple should consider in their wedding plan?
Cheryl: (1) Budget. Without a clear idea of how much you are willing and able to spend for the wedding, it can be detrimental. Many couples want to achieve Instagram-worthy weddings without knowing the actual cost that goes behind it. (2) Planning time. On average, couples in Singapore take about a year to plan a
I ALWAYS TELL COUPLES TO ENJOY EVERY PART OF THE PLANNING PROCESS — IT SHOULD BE MEMORABLE, IT SHOULDN’T STRESS YOU OUT.
wedding, mainly because of the limited availability of hotel ballrooms. But if there’s no real hurry, I would advice couples to consider giving themselves more time to plan the process, and to save enough to fund the wedding they want.
What is the very first question you ask a bride-to-be or a couple who come to see you?
Cheryl: The wedding date. We are a lean team, and we want to be sure that all our clients get enough attention from us. So, it’s important that we have enough time to manage each wedding.
What are some common mistakes couples make? What is the biggest no-no?
Cheryl: Never take a photo you like on Instagram/the Internet and ask your wedding vendors to replicate it. Don’t choose a vendor just because he/she offers you a better price — you must actually like his/her style of work, which should reflect the personalities of both the bride and the groom.
Right. So those are the don’ts. What about the dos?
Cheryl: Enjoy the process! That’s very important. Don’t get stressed out. I’m rather afraid of clients who hire a planner but want to do everything. That stresses me out. (Haha.) So, do let your wedding planner do her job. Try to let go. Otherwise, you’re also not getting your money’s worth.
Let your wedding planner do her job. Try to let go.
How do you tell when someone is going to be a Bridezilla? How do you deal with one?
Cheryl: We usually reassure potential bridezillas and groomzillas (yes, they exist!) that everything is in control, and that we will share the progress timeline, which should calm them down a little. Unfortunately, couples panic from time to time throughout the whole process, it’s not just a one-off occurrence, so we just need to be very patient and understanding about it.
What is your idea of a dream wedding?
Cheryl: I don’t have one in mind, but I have helped plan a few where the couples were adventurous and wanted to try new things or do something unconventional. That excites me. Some interesting ones which we have planned includes Jean Danker and Glenn Ong’s modern eclectic-themed wedding, and Sheila Sim and Deon Woo’s adventure-themed wedding.
Do you see your clients experiencing the same challenges you did when you were planning your own?
Cheryl: Yeah, and my own experience has helped me help them. I usually tell couples that communication is very important between the two of them. There needs to be some form of an
agreement when it comes to planning, because it’s not just the bride’s wedding, it’s also the groom’s. So, it should be both their ideas. There’s bound to be issues on which they won’t see eye to eye — it’s sort of like a preview to the marriage. But there’s always a solution, always something we can all learn from.
The other thing I tell my clients is that they must be happy. They must look back, say, 50 years later, and still be happy about the process and the memories that they created. There’s no point doing something you really like if throughout the planning process, there’s a lot of disagreements and arguments.
What’s the most ridiculous request you’ve gotten so far?
Cheryl: A potential client wanted to hold a dinner at Atlas Bar, which has a very Gatsby vibe to it. She wanted fire dancers and animal sculptures… In the end, we decided not to take it up.
In the last four years, has there been any major hiccups or muck-ups? How do you recover from them?
Cheryl: Definitely, there will always be hiccups here and there. We try our best to minimise mistakes, but there are certain things on the day itself that may get out of control. I think the
recovery is being honest about it, then find ways of fixing the problem.
Are you someone who gets over these “mishaps” quite easily?
Cheryl: No. I mean, I think I can come up with solutions quite quickly, but getting over the matter takes a while.
How do you recover? (We want to learn!)
Cheryl: I remember the mistakes, and I make sure we don’t repeat them for other weddings. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time, basically.
What is your idea of “love”?
Cheryl: Good communication and making compromises. What love is not, is changing your partner so that it makes you happier. Communicate well — in person, not on WhatsApp — if you want a long-lasting marriage. Values and ideas are always changing, we’re always evolving, so it’s important to communicate with each other.
What’s your idea of #couplegoals?
Cheryl: Respect, trust, honesty, communication, compromise and forgiveness.