6 Mar 03  -  Chance or Choice II
>> 24 Feb 03  -  Once in a Lifetime...
  9 Feb 03  -  Chance or Choice
  4 Feb 03  -  Belated New Year Wishes
  15 Jul 02  -  Wedding tips for the day
  4 Jun 02  -  Purple Bliss

^ Generous splashes of purple and pink brought more colour to the poolside wedding.

^ After 5 years of courtship, Derrick and Sheralyn decided to tie the knot.

^ The wedding cum birthday cake was a delicious delight.

^ The romantic evening continued with music, food and lots of merry-making.
24 February - Once in a Lifetime

*Received 24th February from a dear friend and ex-colleague, with thanks.

Once In A Lifetime…

The phrase you will most likely hear more than any other during the planning of your wedding is "once in a lifetime". Now when it comes to the wedding preparations in particular, my wife and I (and apparently for many couples I've spoken with) agree that it's something you'd really *never* want to go through again. It's nothing short of a roller-coaster ride with lots to do and thousands of opinions from everyone on how to do them… and all this with the pressure of knowledge that you really only have once chance to make it "perfect".

I know that while I was going through it, good advice was invaluable amidst the countless opinions I received. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you some of my wedding experiences and some of the important lessons I have learnt - in the hope that they will make your once-in-a-lifetime journey to your wedding day a wee-bit smoother.

- Let someone else coordinate.
Trust me when I say that there are a million things to do and it's good to make it someone else's responsibility to keep track of what needs to be done when. Trying to do it yourself is tough because there'll be so much to keep track of. This may or may not be the best man, but it's good to find someone who has had experience planning weddings. When my wedding preparations started, I basically tried to be the coordinator myself, but soon I found that trying to be the lead coordinator for the church ceremony alone was already quite a task… let alone coordinating two other dinners (one for my family and another with my friends). Besides, I soon realized that as the main "participant" in each of these occasions, I really needed someone in the background to oversee and give the instructions there and then. A HUGE load was lifted off my shoulders when I finally found friends who were willing to take complete care of the different functions. I gave my instructions/expectations and they took over, checking back with me whenever necessary. With the right persons in the right places, my wife and I were free then to concentrate on the things only we could do - like testing her gown, food tasting, getting RSVPs, etc.

- Delegate and Trust.
I found that sometimes in wedding preparations too much time is spent on insignificant things (like searching for that "perfect" ring pillow… when was the last time you noticed the ring-pillow?) and too little time on some very important things. One thing I would spend time on is thinking of people you trust to attend to things they are good at. After you've found them, trust in their tastes and let them run the show. Don't second-guess them all the time and don't try to have a say in everything (e.g. all the color themes, what flowers to use, how they should be arranged, choosing and buying the clothes for the flower-girls or pageboys).

- Know Your Deadlines.
Reading all the magazines in the world are useless if you don't do what you're supposed to do. Planning a schedule is essential when trying to reduce stress when planning weddings. But planning isn't the easiest thing in the world when you realize you don't know how long it takes to do the many wedding tasks - e.g. how long does it take to print program sheets/ invitation cards, how early should I book a caterer, when do I need to arrange for the photo-shoots, etc. Having someone with experience really helped - I was then able to plan reasonable deadlines for tasks and ensure that things that needed more time were given ample time (at least for most of them <grin>).

- Expertise.
Besides knowing when, you also need to learn how and what to do. To be honest, it's really overwhelming to realize that there are so many different vendors to work with - it's hard to know where to look for them, how to choose between alternatives, what are reasonable packages/prices, what to expect/demand from them. I was unsure about all these when it came to ordering a wedding cake, finding a wedding photographer, looking for a caterer, sourcing for a car… Thank God for friends I could call for expert and experience. The truth is that recommendations become exceptionally important during this time because with such little time to make so many decisions, they are the only things you can rely on.

- Helping Hands.
I have never been one to like to trouble others - always feeling very much like I am imposing when I do seek help. A good friend advised me that during a wedding, it's okay to impose. Truth is I would never have had my perfect wedding without the wonderful help of all my friends. Don't be afraid to ask, and while you should be appreciative, don't worry about telling them exactly what you want or don't want, making clear your expectations - and of course, a thank you card/gift goes a long way after.

These are just a few of the many precious lessons I've learnt about wedding preparations. At the end of the day, I think the most important lesson of all is that the couple needs to spend more time preparing for the *marriage* then for the wedding - since the latter lasts for a day or two but the former is for a lifetime. That is not to say that the wedding preparations are not important - but rather to find the right people to attend to them so that you and your spouse may ready yourselves to enjoy that "big day" and to be ready for all the days that follow after.

~ A Word of Thanks ~
Having said all that, I'd like to express a personal word of thanks to Kim for all her wonderful help during my wedding. Your advice, expertise and referrals were truly invaluable!