Getting married is far more than being “just about the dress”. Marriage today is a multi-faceted, multi-billion-dollar industry, embracing everything from catering and flowers to travel, hotels, limousines, champagne, photography, entertainment, invitations – and so much more. Unfortunately, with myriad choices available, the once-in-a-lifetime dream can quickly become a nightmare, even months before the moment comes to say “I do”. That’s why Prestige Hong Kong has done much of the work for you, by searching out some of the most professional wedding planners, spas, photographers and venues in town.
In the Picture
“My husband and I are launching our new wedding-photography biz, and we are having a small press conference at the W hotel,” Jocelyn Sandstrom says over the phone. Having worked with Sandstrom – one of the best-known models in the city – and her husband Anthony on several occasions, we joined the throng as the much-photographed couple launched Transcend Photography,
“At Transcend Photography, we love capturing the most memorable moments of people’s lives and helping them share their story through great images,” says photographer Timon Wehrli, who has partnered with the celebrity couple on their glamorous enterprise. With the trio’s extensive experience in front of and behind the camera, they work with leading fashion, make-up and hair stylists to ensure wedding photography that’s as good as you would find in the glossiest of fashion magazines.
The Sandstroms have starred in several advertising campaigns over the years, several of which were shot by Wehrli. Transcend is a natural progression. “We can create your wedding story and make it unique and memorable,” says Anthony Sandstrom, “from the simple and easy to the opulent and grand.”
His wife continues: “Whether it’s telling the love story of your engagement, so you can share this romantic adventure with family and friends, or capturing those special moments on your wedding day, we can prepare something for you. Plus, if it’s creating fantastic moments with family, pregnancy, babies and children, pets or your own portrait, the team is there for you too.”
New Best Friend
Wedding planners have recently gained unexpected celebrity thanks to reality-TV shows. Essentially the bride’s temporary “best friend”, a wedding planner skilfully navigates through the vast and confusing rigmarole of details that are involved in the production – and it is a production – of any wedding.
The Wedding Atelier, founded by Lelian Chew in Hong Kong, is one of the top wedding planners in Asia. Whether yours will be an extravagant beachside affair in the Maldives or an intimate gathering in the mountains of Hawaii, Chew and her crew have forged an enviable reputation for delivering unforgettable weddings. She also started a couture florist called The Floral Atelier, which creates the artistic arrangements necessary for a signature wedding-party look. To top it all, last year The Wedding Atelier was named UK-based Luxury Travel Guide’s Wedding Expert of the Year, a first for an Asian company.
“Some brides speak to us on a daily or hourly basis,” says Chew, “while others want us to take charge of everything on their behalf. It’s a personal preference, and we make both situations work. For brides of the latter type, we’re essentially their eyes, ears, hands and mouth. We curate everything from gowns to florals before the bride reviews our final selection; we audition artistes and performers to suit each event, and taste test culinary creations from all over the world to create that perfect wedding menu.”
So does she become a new best friend for the bride, whose worries become her own? “Her worries should indeed become my worries,” Chew explains. “It’s my duty to make the bride feel completely assured from the day The Wedding Atelier is engaged. My team and I wear many hats, acting as a mediator in tricky family situations, a fashion advisor to aid with outfit selection, an etiquette consultant to coach on the dos and don’ts of the big day – and more. We only take on a handful of brides each year and spend on average 18 months with each bride, so they definitely become more than clients.”
As to her favourite part of the job, Chew is unequivocal that it’s definitely the day it self. “It’s the culmination of all the hard work over the past year,” she says, “when you witness the magical transformation of the venue over the next 24 hours – just like a time-lapse video! Throughout these 24 hours, you’ll be constantly surrounded by love: the tenderness in the father’s eyes when he places the veil over his daughter, the adoration the groom has when he first sets his eyes on his bride, the choking up in the bride’s voice when she recites her vows to her groom. There’s nothing more tiring than event day for a planner, but it reminds me and my team time and time again why we do what we do.”
Every bride wants to look rested and radiant for her wedding, but the weeks leading up to the big day can be stressful. Fortunately, The Peninsula Spa offers a selection of results-driven programmes – ranging from a revitalising two-hour spa experience to an invigorating eight-week schedule – to ensure every bride feels and looks her very best. We looked into two of the treatments – the long and short of it!
First up is the Bridal Bliss package that comprises two hours of indulgent pampering followed by a well-balanced (and delicious) three-course poolside lunch. The treatment begins with a 30-minute Detoxifying Salt and Oil Scrub, and is followed by a 30-minute Destress Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage and a 60-minute Personalised Margy’s Collagen Facial.
Secondly, there’s the pinnacle of pre-wedding pampering that’s aptly named the Ultimate Bridal Experience. Essentially, it’s a four-part programme taken over an eight-week period. The indulgence begins with an Ultimate Radiance Aesthetic Facial and is followed by an invigorating body treatment that includes a Destress Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage (first visit), an Invigorating Salt and Oil Body Scrub (second visit), a Deep Muscle Relief Massage (third visit) and a Detoxifying Body Wrap (fourth visit). The first two sessions each last two hours and 15 minutes, while the second two continue for two hours and 40 minutes a piece.
Guests can also enjoy a three-course Naturally Peninsula lunch on two of their visits, and a signature Afternoon Tea on the other two, as well as full use of the Spa Heat Experiences and swimming pool. An exclusive Margy’s Monte Carlo travel pouch – containing six specially selected travel-size skincare products – completes the deal.
Flipping through the Prestige archives – and the many happy snaps from celebrity and society weddings we’ve covered through the years – the stunning venues at the InterContinental Hong Kong make frequent guest appearances. Now the five-star hotel is making the “big day” easier to organise than ever with its Terrace Suite Wedding Reception Package.
For an intimate gathering of family and friends, the hotel’s Terrace Suite offers panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and can accommodate up to 60 guests, the shimmering
sea view – brocaded by the city’s iconic skyscrapers and twinkling lights – providing a dramatic backdrop for a memorable wedding ceremony and reception.
Picture, if you will, a magnificent floral arch and designer decorations by Blooms ’n’ Blossoms (the gorgeous florist preferred by the InterContinental), elegantly attired staff floating in and out of the glamorous venue, and golden Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne for toasts. And then, in a city that swarms with designer-dining venues, add something no other prime location can: not one but two celebrity-chef restaurants under one roof – Nobu InterContinental Hong Kong and the new Rech by Alain Ducasse – both of which can provide catering for the wedding, as well as lunches and dinners before or after the main event. And let’s not forget the InterContinental’s acclaimed Cantonese restaurant, Yan Toh Heen, which now boasts two Michelin stars.
The hotel also houses three signature suites, each with expansive harbour-view terraces: the spectacular Presidential Suite (at 7,000 square feet, it’s the largest in the city), the CEO Suite and the Terrace Suite. All three can be reserved for weddings and honeymoons.