You may have heard of The Floral Atelier Co., a florist that provides the most beautiful and captivating bouquets that whisk you (and your Instagram feed) away to an ethereal wonderland. But have you heard about its parent company, The Wedding Atelier, and its founder, Lelian Chew? And why is she the one to go to for wedding planning advice?
Simply put, she’s a ‘Million Dollar Wedding Planner’ who – for the past six years – has been planning the most lavish and out-of-this-world weddings that you can imagine. From pulling off a ceremony on a clifftop to getting hold of a customised bottle of wine and even a wedding with a million-dollar budget dedicated solely to florals, Lelian has quite literally done them alll. If you’re imagining the wedding scene in Crazy Rich Asians, that’s kind of the scale of the weddings that Lelian has planned before!
While she has a clientele made up of those who would spare no expense for their, or their children’s wedding, she doesn’t turn her back away from weddings with a modest budget. In her words, “If there’s chemistry between us, and if you’re willing to engage us for our services, we will be there to make that (dream wedding) happen for you.”
If you’re getting married and are torn between planning it with your partner and engaging a planner, read on to see what advice Lelian has for you.
Planner or no planner?
1. If you can afford it, get a planner.
She says without hesitation, “I truly think that planning a wedding is a full-time job, so if the couple has the ability to have somebody professional to help them, I really think that that’s my best advice.” Besides helping you to create a memorable, completely customised wedding, here’s why wedding planners should be on your mind.
Lelian says: It’s such an important day for you. You want a professional to let you know what things to look out for and what’s really important is that we planners help to create this for our clients. They help them (you) to enjoy their wedding planning. We do all the things you don’t want to do – it could be the guest list, it could be arguing with your family over how many people to invite, it could be stressing over seating plans, or it could be talking to 200 guests about what they want to eat.
And then you are left with things that you truly care about and want to be involved in. Sometimes it’s flowers, sometimes it’s wine, sometimes it’s music. And it makes this whole planning journey so much more enjoyable. You want to remember that part of wedding planning. You don’t want to remember fighting with your family or your spouse over these small details. So my advice really is to find somebody who can assist you.
If you’re getting a planner
2. Make sure they’re the right fit for you, and be prepared to spend a lot of time with them
The latter is definitely reflected in the amount of time Lelian spends with each client – the typical period being 18 months, during which she and her team typically fly back and forth between different cities every week as part of their job.
Granted, she works with other clients at the same time, but even I – someone who’s just met Lelian – can feel the love, dedication, and attention to detail she puts into each project she works on. To her, every wedding is memorable. She reassures us that no matter how cliche it may seem, “It’s hard for a wedding to not be special for us because everything is really customised from scratch.”
That means spending a lot of time, so much that they’d meet practically your entire family and almost feel part of your own as they discover your love story. In Lelian’s words, “It’s such an emotional process.”
Lelian says: You’d want to find a team that you have chemistry with. Sometimes even before you say anything that person knows what you want, your taste – everything. So I think to speak to more people in the industry, from the wedding planning or the florist or something else, find someone that really speaks to you. Sometimes I say its the same as trying on a wedding gown. You’ll know it when you see the right one. You’d think, “This person is who I trust my biggest day with and I want her to be by my side when I’m organising my wedding.”
View this post on Instagram
If you’re not getting a planner
3. Call in the calvary
By this point, I was honestly convinced that there was no way anyone could really truly enjoy their wedding and all of its moments without the help of a planner. I know that I’d be the worst bride, obsessing over the littlest detail and worrying about something going wrong. But what about those of us – like myself – who would keep it a family affair, or want to spend a more modest budget?
Thankfully, Lelian has a comprehensive list of to-dos and what not to-dos. But before we get to that, her top tip is to rope in at least one person to help you do the thinking.
Lelian says: Even if you don’t have a planner, have somebody to help you on that day, because you’re taking in all the beautiful memories. You are beginning to make memories, so don’t focus on looking at the timeline and saying, “Oh my god, I have five more minutes before I need to get out.” You’re not the person. Have your bridesmaids, or your planner, or the hotel coordinator help you. Your big day should be a fuss-free one for you, where you wait for people telling you what to do, turning up, looking beautiful, and taking beautiful photos.
4. Do your research
Her tips are easy. No, it’s nothing that makes you so convinced that you have to get a wedding planner nonetheless. In a nutshell, it all boils down to research, having a good backup system (of bridesmaids/ best men/ family), having enough knowledge, and not sweating the small stuff. If this seems like a lot, then perhaps consider a wedding planner.
Lelian says: Read up about the industry, find out who are the different vendors – photographers, makeup artists, wedding gown designers – that you like. So do your research – don’t just go with the most popular brand. Find something that is truly representative of you. There are loads of wedding fairs these days, there are loads of things you can see on Instagram the different vendors for you. Do your research before firming up anything.
Also, talk to friends who’ve gotten married before – if you don’t have a planner, those are the people that can shed some light into this crazy event that you need to plan once in your life.
View this post on Instagram
Soon to be forever's walking under the ruins of Haiku Mill, draped in vine leaves. Want to see the aisle? Swipe and indulge in nature's serenity! #theweddingatelier ?: @erichmcvey | florals & production: @mandygracedesigns #twaonthego #destinationwedding #hawaiiwedding #mauiwedding #haikumill #outdoorwedding #wedding #weddingday #weddinginspiration #weddingideas #weddingplanner #weddingphotography #weddingdress #beautiful #amazing #stunning #decor #luxury #luxurywedding #luxurydesign #weddingflowers #bridalbouquet #ceremony #ceremonydecor #flowers #bouquet #florist #floral
5. Highlight what makes you and your partner special
Lelian emphasises the importance of this and it definitely applies to all couples who are planning their wedding, with or without a planner. And I can honestly see why too, especially since we may be easily swayed by trends we see online.
Lelian says: Focus on what makes you and your partner unique and special. Try to highlight that in your wedding because you don’t want someone to come in and be like, “Oh it’s a beautiful wedding, but whose wedding was it? I don’t really remember,” because it was not really representative of you and your spouse. Focus on yourself, and at the end of the day, you’re gonna have fun with it. Don’t be so stressed out about it. Celebrate on the day of your wedding, that’s what I always say. Don’t focus on anything else.
6. Did you forget anything else?
Tablecloths? Wedding invitations? Maybe, but Lelian says that there are actually so many things that lovebirds don’t realise goes into a wedding, simply because they usually haven’t planned one before.
Lelian says: They are bound to forget to invite certain people, or miss out certain etiquette and customs. There are also many traditions involved at times. You could forget to seek advice from different elders in the family to find out how things should be done, or forget about an heirloom in the family that needs to be passed down, or that you need to hold when you’re walking down the aisle. Because it’s an event filled with so many details, it’s common for things to be missed out. So involve the family. That’s something we try to do a lot too. Because at the end of the day it’s a happy affair for the entire family. Let them come up with some ideas for the wedding as well!
Wise words for everyone – with or without a planner
7. Envision a wedding that reflects you and your partner, do not be led by trends.
In the 21st century, it’s normal for us to hop onto our phones and see our feeds bombarded with Instagram posts and stories of weddings. But is it really the best idea to have a case of FOMO (fear of missing out), and take a cue from weddings we see online?
Lelian says: Don’t be led by trends. It’s so easy these days to go like, “Oh my god this friend of mine had such an Instagrammable wedding, I wanna make sure that I do that as well.” It’s not about that, it really isn’t. It’s about really understanding what you wanna do for your wedding – what ambience, what vibe – do you want to have for your friends and family, and staying true to that. There’s no point having an Instagrammable wedding if you and your husband are truly private people who don’t even like to take photos. It has to be authentic.
Your wedding can be such a conundrum because it is the most public display of your most intimate feelings. I feel like there’s no other time you’d be telling the world that you love this person. You’re crying in front of them, you know! So stay true to that and make sure you can balance how much lavishness it needs, with the intimacy that your relationship deserves.
View this post on Instagram
"A sky full of stars and he was staring at her.'' – Atticus #theweddingatelier ?: @ktmerry | florals & production: @flora.lines | bridal ?: @zuhairmuradofficial | groom suit: @tomford #twaonthego #destinationwedding #maldiveswedding #outdoorwedding #beachwedding #wedding #weddingday #weddinginspiration #weddingideas #weddingplanner #weddingphotography #beautiful #amazing #stunning #decor #luxury #luxurywedding #luxurydesign #weddingflowers #weddingreception #afterparty #fireworks #love #marthastewartweddings
8. Go for special and unique, and do what you can to make it a reality
With six years of wedding planning under her belt, Lelian mentions that following trends really is one of the biggest mistakes couples can make when planning their weddings. So it’s no surprise when she told us that every wedding she’s planned is unique. There are clifftop weddings, vineyard weddings, and anything you could possibly imagine. There’s always something different about each wedding Lelian plans – because she emphasises on the love story of the couples.
Lelian says: All couples want something that is unique. All couples want something that is special. We don’t have a budget for our clients. We don’t say we can only be your wedding planners if you can afford to spend this amount on the wedding. We charge a flat fee, so it doesn’t matter to me if you want to spend a fortune, or you want to spend something more modest. If there’s chemistry between us, if you’re willing to engage us for our services, we will be there to make that happen for you. I want to stay true to the story of the bride and the groom, I wanna stay true to the craft of what we do.
Having helped countless couples live out their fairytale dreams, one can only imagine the final advice that Lelian would give to her clients on the most nerve-wracking day of their lives. It’s as simple as can be, but her words are definitely one you’d want to hear on your big day.
Lelian says: Enjoy. Enjoy the moment, don’t stress out. Obviously, brides – especially – are very nervous; it is a presentation of them to the world, to their loved ones. They walk down the aisle, all the eyes are on them, everyone’s going to be like, “What’s the bride gonna wear, how’s she gonna look.” Don’t get caught up in that. Enjoy the moment, and leave it to us (or whoever is in charge of the operations). Trust that we will make it as beautiful as you deserve. Be present at your wedding because it’s probably only going to happen once.
For my own wedding, I made sure that I had time to spend with all the 100 people that were there for us, because that’s what you’re going to look back and remember. You’re not going to remember that drape on the ceiling that was a little bit off-centre. You remember the conversations you have, you remember the tears that you shed. Make time for that.