Being in Singapore meant that “nature” is in abundance and we had originally envisioned our wedding reception to be held away from a hotel, in a restaurant, on a lawn or something. We like the space and brightness. However, there aren’t many locations that fall within our budget. We scouted a few outdoor locations, purposely making sure to steer away from hotels but they are fell short on our expectations. Thus, we went back to the drawing board, and settled for what we didn’t want initially: a hotel banquet dinner.
First site recce: Vineyard @ Hort Park
The location looked gorgeous online, very romantic and it being located in Hort Park, had the best of nature. However, its maximum seating capacity of 150 pax was spread out among 3 locations: on the deck, in the restaurant itself and the alfresco dining area. The deck area was also open to public, and we felt it would be very strange for us to hold our celebration there with strangers gawking and walking past. Unfortunately, we had to strike this place out immediately.
Second site recce: The Lawn @ Hort Park
This place/space belongs to NParks, and therefore rental is affordable (2014 price is $900 for whole day rental 8am-10pm). However, the contract with NParks states that we will have to use their appointed tentage vendor and choose from their list of food caterers. I wasn’t so keen on having a buffet dinner as the popular items such as seafood and desserts would always run out before everyone had a chance to taste it. And the food would not be freshly cooked too. Oh, another detractor would be the need to end the party at 10pm, which is hard to do if you’re doing buffet style. I’m definitely not going to be rude and chase my guests out after 10pm.
Third site recce: Tamarind Hill @ Labrador Park
I hope by now you can see the common factor in our site choices. I was really trying to aim for the “not your usual wedding dinner” event. I read about this place while searching for unique wedding dinner locations and the colonial style restaurant attracted me. However, when we were driving to the site, we soon realised that we definitely could not have our wedding here. 1) Location was inaccessible. While most of our guests would be driving, we definitely didn’t want to inconvenience the rest who are not driving. 2) Even if all of our guests drive, there isn’t sufficient parking lots within reasonable walking distance. 3) The restaurant is being housed in an old colonial styled bungalow, which means tons of pillars. 4) Lots of stairs climbing required. I just couldn’t make my grannies and his grandpa do the long walk up.
After Tamarind Hill, we added another criteria to our site hunting checklist: no steps for the older generation.
Fourth site recce: Rochester Park
We went to Rochester Park with the hope of finding Seb’s Bistro suitable. Somehow, we didn’t manage to find Seb’s Bistro, but the current restaurant in its address was definitely too small for our intended 150 guests. Popped by Graze, Min Jiang and One Rochester. All the same – too small. Parking would be a nightmare and our #1 no-no: mosquitoes. In the 30 minutes that we walked while trying to find a suitable place, Mr Goh and I got bitten at least 5 times. I’m a magnet for mozzies, and I definitely don’t want to be scratching in my wedding gown!
Feeling dejected and resigned, we went back home and discussed our options. Non-hotel wedding venues didn’t seem so plausible for us since we have a huge guest list (by restaurant standards), most places would have pillars, many of them in fact, and are located in hard to reach places. So we decided to look at hotels. It also happened that my mum was back for the NY, so I had a chat with her about finding a suitable location for our wedding. The issue with hotels is that they have a minimum table policy and our original intent to keep the celebration small at max 130 pax is too small for any hotel. Mum took a look at my intended guest list and promptly increased it by another 60 pax. Wow. I didn’t know we had that many relatives! *oops* So now, we are looking at inviting around 190-200 pax.
Hotel #1: Regent Hotel
We were offered the Tanglin room, which coincidentally happens to be a room my company used for a training seminar not too long ago, so I’m familiar with the hotel and room layout. Tanglin room is made up of 3 rooms (I think) and is narrow, only being able to accommodate 1 table on each side. But the glass windows allow natural day light to enter the room, making it look wider and more comfortable to be in, during the day. At night, I think it would be a little too close for comfort with the blinds down. The march in is also quite long, the entire length of the room. Decorations are pretty though, as seen in the picture below. Since the room was long, it means that guests seated at the back won’t be able to see the action in the front. Thus there are projectors in each ‘mini’ room, but no live feed. You’ll need to get yourself a videographer.
Solemnization ceremony can be held in either Grange room or Cuscaden room. Unfortunately, the smaller Grange room does not have windows and was being used as a temporary storage room when I visited, so I was quite disappointed. The wedding coordinator, Sandra, showed us another bigger room, Cuscaden room, which I felt was much better and befits the solemnization ceremony. Both rooms are complimentary for use when you book a banquet package.
The price per table was within our budget, but unfortunately we had to give up Regent Hotel eventually as our guest list ballooned to around 20 tables, with the possibility of increasing further as we decided to allow the other 3 parents to invite their friends too (the FIL insisted on inviting 4 tables of his friends, so can’t possibly deny my parents that).
Hotel #2: Riverview Hotel
Riverview Hotel had a number of different menus to suit our budget, so we decided to pop by to take a look. Unfortunately, we were greatly disappointed by the facade and interior of the hotel. Very dated and “ching chong”. Exactly the opposite of what we wanted. To be honest, when we were walking up the stairs from the carpark, Mr Goh even mentioned “it smells like a Chinese restaurant already”. I almost wanted to U-turn and run.
Then we were brought up by the friendly coordinator, Jasmine, to the Lily ballroom. The reception area is huge, I think it can comfortably house 120 pax, reception style. If we wanted, we could even hold our solemnization at a corner of the room before reception starts. However, Mr Goh was disappointed to know that the area behind those cream/gold curtains is “storage area”. You could actually see the banquet tables and chairs peeping out from the sides of the curtains. There isn’t any partition, which means KPO guests could lift up the curtains and see the storage area behind. Me, on the other hand, wasn’t so keen on the warm colours of the room.
The ballroom was even more “er…”-inducing. *gives Mr Goh no-no shifty eyes* I didn’t mind the lone pillar that much, but the shape of the room was odd. The wedding couple had to do a pseudo L-shaped march in. It was like one side of a hexagon, if you can imagine. The room can fit up to 34 tables, which means it was too big for our (then intended) 20 tables. When I enquired how will they manage the extra space then, the reply was “reception will be held here then”. But what about after reception? Nevermind her answer, because I just couldn’t imagine my wedding to be here, even though the price is very attractive.
Hotel #3: Holiday Inn Atrium
I arranged our site recce visits such that we don’t have to do so much travelling around that day. After Riverview, I managed to fix an appointment for HI Atrium, just opposite the road. HI Atrium also offers very attractive pricing. We liked the outdoor solemnization location, however it’s shared with the smoking bay. Very disappointing because we can’t possibly stop people and other hotel guests from smoking if they wish to do so that day. Ivan, the catering manager, offered us use of the other room, frequently used for indoor solemnization. Sorry for the blur photo. The good thing about the room is that it also faces the outdoor location, so at least you still get a “garden” feel. Room was also big enough for 30 pax, and was complimentary.
We didn’t manage to view the actual Changi ballroom that day as 2 of the 3 rooms that made up Changi ballroom were occupied for a corporate event. However, we were disappointed to know that the small reception area was shared, and could be shared among up to 3 weddings, if that date is popular. Mr Goh wasn’t so keen on that idea.
Hotel #4: Carlton Hotel
A primary school friend of mine held her wedding at Carlton last year and was strongly recommending it when I seeked her feedback. What I liked about Carlton is that the food comes from the Wah Lok kitchen – superb stuff I tell you. Food is VERY important to this bride, even though she’s not going to eat much of it. I was informed by the Carlton coordinator that there was a wedding the day I wanted to do a site recce, so I can pop by to take a look even though no coordinators were available to walk me through the package. We snuck in and took some pictures of the actual set up. To be honest, I didn’t mind the low ceilings and the pillars in the room.
Reception area was also exclusive so our guests will not get lost.
Solemnization room is also just next to banquet venue. And I really liked the lights. But Carlton was slightly out of our budget and we didn’t want to exceed our budget at all.
Hotel #5: Grand Copthorne Waterfront
My cousin’s wedding was held here, 13 years ago, and I still remembered how majestic the grand ballroom looked like. I also remembered that it was the first wedding in the family and I had done acrylic nails for the first time specially for this event. Totally regretted it because I couldn’t get used to the length and had difficulty using the chopsticks. Haha. But in any case, the events manager, Xavier, showed us our ideal ballroom, Riverfront Ballroom. Cozy setting, with full length windows allowing natural daylight and the view from the Singapore river into the room. The room is also pillar-less!! We realllly liked this ballroom.
The huge reception area was shared between Riverfront & Waterfront ballroom, but still distinctly separated. Below is the exclusive area for Riverfront. So liking the classy wooden reception tables. Of course there will be wedding decor included, but just saying, I wouldn’t mind the dark brown wooden tables.
Waterfront ballroom is bigger, able to accomodate 22-28 tables. It doesn’t have such a view as Riverfront, but still it has the natural daylight. It has got 2 pillars, but I think they are manageable. Xavier was also very friendly and gave us ideas on seating plans.
Waterfront ballroom has a slightly larger reception area.
Hotel #6: Holiday Inn Orchard
When we finally got to viewing HI Orchard, we had already shortlisted GCW Waterfront ballroom (we liked Riverfront more, but it could only hold max 20 tables. DARN). Though we originally shortlisted Orchid ballroom, we now had to ‘upgrade’ to Crystal ballroom. However, upon entering the ballroom, I immediately didn’t like it. The side of the ballroom had an evidently much lower ceiling than the main area, and that is where most of the tables will be located. And there were 2 huge pillars as well. A lot of mirrors were used to give the illusion of space but I thought it was just freaky. The sides of the ballroom, all 4 sides of the pillars, the ceiling, were all covered in mirrors. The only area not covered in mirror – the carpeted floor.
The Crystal ballroom also had a minimum table policy of 30 tables for Saturday dinner, though Gerrayn was willing to negotiate and allow us to have 28 tables.
We knew we wanted to make a decision before CNY so we could arrange for both sets of parents to meet up during CNY and thus we did our comparisons quickly after viewing HI Orchard. Mr Goh was in favor of HI Orchard because the nett price was about $70 cheaper per table, and that meant a cost saving of about $2000 for us. HI’s package also included free invite printing and free flow of beer and wine. I was in favour of GCW because I really liked the ballroom there (Mr Goh liked the ballroom better too) and while the price was higher than HI, it was still within our budget. In the end, we realised that 3 factors that helped us come to a conclusion.
1) GCW is now having a promotion that includes free flow beer too.
2) HI Orchard, whilst having a lower nett price per table, had a higher minimum table policy. We probably won’t be able to reach 28 tables, because that would mean our guest list will need to be around 350 guests (we estimate 20% dropout). We aren’t keen on inviting more of our parents’ friends.
3) The deciding factor->The cost of printing of invites. Though HI included printing, we did a simple calculation and realised that it will only cost us around $50 to print if we go with GCW. And so, the choice was clear! We ain’t going to deliberate long and hard over $50. Besides, I have so many contacts in the printing industry, I could probably get it done cheaper.
And so, it’s fixed! We are going to have our celebratory dinner at Grand Copthorne Waterfront. With the venue now settled, we can focus on the parents’ dinner and then DIY-ing our “save the dates” invite!