Eager to give their wedding guests a glimpse of the different sides of Phuket, Thailand, long-time lovebirds Shaun and Shila tied the knot in Laguna Phuket's cosy chapel on the lagoon, and then ushered their guests to a sumptuous Thai dinner at Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant, overlooking the idyllic charms of Phuket's Old Town. The gorgeous bride arrived to the chapel by boat, and walked down the aisle to Aqualung's "Brighter Than Sunshine". Opting for a laidback, rustic vibe, the couple trimmed down their budget by throwing in plenty of quirky, DIY details, from the bunting inside the chapel, to the felt-and-fabric boutonnieres with Lego figurines worn by the groom, groomsmen, pastor and father of the bride. We're especially fond of the geeky superhero cake toppers, which speaks volumes of their light-hearted approach to the day.
Although the weather was cranky that afternoon, the clouds parted and the chapel was filled with light the moment they were pronounced husband and wife. And as they walked down the aisle, guests threw rose petals and blew bubbles to celebrate their union. Magical, indeed! Shila tells us all about it below....
How they met:
We grew up together at Changi Baptist Church, but weren't friends because of our six-year age gap. It was only in 2000, when we were both involved in a mission trip to Chiang Mai, that we got to know each other better. We made a great team despite our age difference. In 2001, Shaun asked me to be his girlfriend. I gladly and cluelessly accepted. Naturally, there was a lot of opposition as I was 14 and he was 20. We kept things quiet until I was in university, when the age difference wasn't a barrier any more. It's been a 14-year journey from our first date to the altar!
We took the pragmatic Singaporean route, applying for a flat in 2012 and planning the wedding to coincide with its completion date. As such, wedding plans were underway a long time before the proposal. Shaun proposed in May this year, with a beautiful, non-traditional morganite, diamond and rose gold ring complete with filigree work.
Shaun and our friends booked an Airbnb apartment at The Icon under the premise that we'd be having a combined pre-wedding party. One of the games organised was a treasure hunt around Tanjong Pagar, so Shaun and I each formed a team and set off. I was given various embarrassing tasks to complete, from singing to strangers to posing like a Ronald McDonald statue. Alas, before I could finish, I was told Shaun had completed all of his tasks, and was waiting back at the glass pavilion. When I returned, I was greeted by Shaun on his knees, wearing a suit and holding a bouquet. The glass pavilion was lit with candles and had balloons strewn about. It was incredibly romantic and beautiful. I was blown away by everyone's effort, and I was so elated that our best friends were part of this important milestone.
The bride's outfit:
I wanted something comfortable, understated and elegant that also showcased my Indian heritage. I was having trouble finding THE dress, so I worked with the designers at Dolce2Dolce to mix and match several dresses I liked, along with inspiration from sari pleats, to get the final look.
Hair and make-up:
I wanted a simple updo so I wouldn't have hair sticking to my neck in the humidity. I decided on a low bun to complement the blusher veil. Makeup had to be light and natural – no false eyelashes or contouring – as I wanted to look like my normal self as much as possible.
The groom's outfit:
He wanted a casual look, so he went for light colours, a vest without a jacket, and a playful tie. He also rolled up his sleeves.
The wedding party's style:
The bridesmaids had red dresses and the groomsmen had red ties to match the red, yellow and orange floral theme.
The chapel was set in a gorgeous location near the water. Its glass walls also gave us an outdoorsy feel without the humidity or rain that comes with really being outdoors. It was truly the best of both worlds – exotic yet practical.
The dinner venue was almost an hour away, on top of the tallest hill in Phuket town so that it looked down on the lit-up area. We wanted to give our guests two unique experiences in Phuket, and we succeeded. Everyone loved it! And because the food was cheaper here than in a hotel, we could afford to have 12 courses, an open bar and a band.
We went with bright, vivid colours in the chapel, to contrast with its white hue. We kept the chapel simple and clean, as we wanted to showcase the venue as it was.
For the reception, we wanted a rustic, chilled-out feel. We used lots of hipster-inspired paper decor and glass jars.
As it was a Christian ceremony, we started with two songs we grew up with in church that was close to our hearts. One of my bridesmaids did a reading from a bible passage, and our pastor delivered a mini sermon. We picked the reading because it talked about setting your lover as a "seal upon your heart", and that line resonated with Shaun and I. Our hearts were sealed for each other 14 years ago.
The food and drinks:
We had two signature drinks that we both loved: bellinis and mojitos. Dinner was a 12-course Thai menu complete with southern Thai favourites like tom kha soup with pak miang leaves and shrimp. We also had two desserts, mango sticky rice and red ruby.
The wedding playlist was a list that we refined over the years – non-sappy and free of divas and boybands. Our first dance was a ballroom routine to Jack Johnson's "Better Together", which segued into a hilarious routine to Dick Lee's "Mustapha", poking fun at our mixed-race union. Aside from the band from Two Chefs, Shaun also performed Foo Fighters' "Everlong" and I performed Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am".
Shila's advice for brides-to-be:
Before the wedding, enjoy the planning process and consult your fiancé because it's his wedding too. Set your budget, be realistic about what you can afford and stick to it. The last thing you want to be worrying about on the day is money. Also don't pick dresses or shoes you don't feel comfortable in, even if they look great. You want to be able to have fun, mingle and smile on your big day.
On the day itself, remember to relax and enjoy it. I remember lazing by the pool and having pad thai and beer two hours before the wedding. Don't stress about the details any more, it's not the time to micromanage. Trust the people you delegated tasks to and let the show begin!
Last but not least, appreciate everyone who helped you, be it friends, family, vendors or venue staff. Take the time to thank everyone personally. Nothing would've been possible without them.
Number of guests: 85
Budget: $32,000 including accommodation for close family and friends
Photographer: Tua Toh Productions
Bride's outfit: Dolce2Dolce
Jewellery: Leila May
Glitter blusher veil: The Bridal Place
Hair and makeup: Beauty Today
Bridal nails: Kiyone + Lim
Groom's vest, shirt & pants: Frank Tailor
Groom's shoes: Walking Tall
Groom's tie: Luna Touch, Jongno-gu, Bukcheon Hanok Village, Seoul, Korea
Decor: Chapel decor included in its wedding package, reception decor by FAB Event Planner
Cake: Included in the chapel's wedding package
Graphic artist: Frus (two portraits, one couple's story graphic, and one design to print on tote bags)
Stationery: Invitations designed and conceptualised by Marcus Joseph Ng (images by Frus); save-the-date magnets printed by Bachelorette (image by Frus); programme designed by the bride using Piktochart online; Phuket guide designed by bride using Piktochart online
Wedding favours: Customised tote bags designed by Frus and printed in India
Live music: Two Chefs' in-house band
Transport: Hello Phuket
First dance instructor: Kate Lim from Arte Aura
Congratulations, Shaun and Shila!
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