Room for 2

The plan is for ZH’s younger brother to move out of the room and move in with their elder brother. So we need to do some renovation works for both rooms, and at the same time, his parents also wanted some custom carpentry work done for the living room and to change the laminates for the kitchen cabinets. So my future in-laws decided to start renovations for the house in June when the weather is still dry.

It started with the boys packing all their stuff into boxes and putting them out onto the (half-sheltered) balcony. The beds were shifted out to the living room (the old sofa set was discarded). I took some pictures of the room when it was totally bare, except for the built-in wardrobe which has yet to be hacked away. As you can see, we didn’t have a lot of space in this room. The estimated dimensions of the room are 2.6m wide (wall to wall), and about 3.5m length (window to door). TINY!!!

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His parents also requested for the contractor to do floor polishing. It was then I decided that there will be no parquet flooring in my future home. It costs quite a bit of money, and yet it is not maintenance free. You can’t vacuum the floor, can’t mop the floor, can’t drag stuff across it (for example, luggage or chairs with wheels). To be honest, the parquet floor is still driving me mad because I’m quite an OCD freak. I can MagicClean the floor and still see dust particles immediately after. Or perhaps auntie just bought fake MagicClean wipes that don’t clean so well. I’m also not allowed to mop the floor, which I can understand because water warps the wood. But she doesn’t even allow wet wipes on the floor, even though those wet wipes are suitable for wooden flooring!

ZH's new room Layout done using FloorPlanner.com

The room was completed in a month – flooring, new built-in wardrobes, the new mirror storage and delivery of the new bed. Since the room is puny, we cannot have a normal-sized dresser, so I was obsessively surfing around on the Internet, taking measurements etc and finally found the perfect size – the BRIMNES Mirror Storage from IKEA. The length of the mirror was 138cm, just enough to make it a full length mirror when I stand away at a distance. The price was even better, only $99!

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Our bed is a queen size one from Getha – we chose the Eco Kingdom 10 mattress. It features a plush top and is full latex. Actually, we don’t really care much about whether it is full latex, coils or whatnot. We just went along with what felt right to us. We did a whole day of bed testing and still liked the Getha mattress the most. I also don’t feel much disturbance when ZH turns his body, and that boy is quite a “turner”! When we used the old coil mattress, it feels like I’m going to bounce off the bed when he turns his body!

I’m quite picky about bedsheets, and so I often go for minimum 300 threadcount or my latest obsession, microsatin material. There’s a new (expensive) material called Tencel which is much smoother than any other material I’ve come across. The flowery auntie bedsheet set you see below are of Tencel material and was only $69 for a queen size set (considered cheap since Tencel sheet sets usually retail for around $200-$300!). 

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The boy couldn’t do without a proper computer desk (we were using a bar trolley previously) and so his parents bought this table for him. Not my favorite piece of furniture in the room because it’s not a must have IMO, and it takes up my walking space. We got this from V.Hive. The table is one of the most compact desks available (trust me, I’ve searched for a suitable table for ages, but the only ones of our required dimensions are those similar to Table Mate), but yet it’s not small enough.

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The wardrobe had non-adjustable shelves and I was quite annoyed by it because there is a lot of wasted unused space. For example, the space meant for my dresses is far too long (ok, I’m short so none of my dresses are long enough to fully utilise the space). I decided that we needed some storage units for better wardrobe organization. However that part of the wardrobe has got some weird dimensions – it is very narrow, but deep. It measured 28cm wide by 50cm deep.

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I searched high and low for a drawer unit that would fit the dimensions of the darn wardrobe, almost for 5 weeks. I tried IKEA and Daiso, and finally found what I wanted at Muji. It is a little expensive at $16 per drawer, but it was the only storage drawer that could fit the narrow space. I’m currently using it to store the extra set of bed linen, and put the box of undies on top of it. Finally, some “sanity” restored!

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Proud homeowner now

The flat was a major push factor for Mr Goh and I to get married. If you understand Singapore, you have to be married in order to qualify for a public housing flat or wait till you’re above 35 years old, then you qualify to purchase a public housing flat on your own. HDB flats now take up to 5 years to be completed, so we decided to try our luck for a Bukit Batok launch last Nov.

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We applied for the 5 room flat (floor area of 112sqm) since we don’t think we want to move soon after starting a family for more space. Urgh. The flats nowadays are getting smaller and smaller. It’s a “chicken and egg” situation because on one hand, the government says family sizes are getting smaller thus the flat sizes can afford to be smaller, but on the other hand, the government is asking us to increase the birth rate. If the flats are so small and expensive, how to have more children….

Ideal unit floorplan

There are 2 different layouts for 5-room, but we liked this one where all the bedrooms are on one side, and the household shelter is accessed from inside the kitchen (makes storage of the pantry easier).

Another reason why we decided to apply for a flat one year into our relationship was because we’ve heard many stories from around us that the flats are hard to get – too many people vying for them. It’s either we are extremely lucky or that no one wants to be neighbours with us because we managed to get a ballot number on our first application. And it was a pretty good number too: #50 out of 270. Me, being kiasu me, selected 6 units and 5 levels, so we have 30 units to choose from… cannot be all 30 units are taken up before it’s our turn right??

We kept monitoring (ok, I kept monitoring) the HDB website to see if our choice units are still available and lucky for us, our first choice was still available, right up to our appointment time!

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Completion date is in Q1 2019, so that means we’ve got 5 whole years to save up for renovations and furnishings! Before we get excited about the house, we’ve got a “test” room to furnish – which is my study room. My mum’s going to renovate that room as my matrimonial room coz Mr Goh’s room is just too tiny for 2 to live comfortably. I came across this website while browsing another home decor blog and thought the site is extremely useful!

Bridal package

We were lucky that there were 2 bridal fairs over the same weekend we decided to be serious and move forward with plans to get married. So, we visited both fairs, with the mindset of just browsing and collecting ideas for the pre-wedding photoshoot, gowns and suits, hair and makeup and actual day photography, together with venue quotations. We certainly didn’t intend to confirm anything that weekend, but it turns out that Mr Goh was particularly taken by a photo from Thomson Wedding Collection. Now, the man isn’t really excited about all these stuff and I could easily tell from his expression if he likes or doesn’t like the bridal studio within seconds. So, when he said “wait a minute, go back to that photo”, I knew he liked that particular photo and feel. So we sat down and looked at more past albums TWC has done, before going into details about pricing and packages.

Just some promotional shot from TWC. Obviously I won’t look as gorgeous as the model, but I like their studio settings.
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Some people place more emphasis on the hair & makeup portion of the photoshoot, some the range of gowns available, some the photo feel. We belong to the last group. Mr Goh and I are the sort of low-key couple who likes to chill out with friends at home, or some place casual. T-shirt & shorts are our default attire for the weekend, and thus we didn’t want anything frilly for our photoshoot. I have actually thought of skipping the pre-wedding photoshoot and asking friends who are into photography to help us take those casual couple photos instead, but the price difference is only about $800. So might as well to go professional eh? After an hour and a half, and numerous negotiations, we signed up for a package. With this package, a lot of the nitty gritty details have been settled such as the AD evening gowns and suits for both sets of parents and also AD photography.

Some real-life couple photos done by TWC
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Venue secured

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.

Hort Lawn

Hort Lawn

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.
Regent Tanglin room 1 Regent decor

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.
Regent Grange solemnization room 2 Regent Cuscaden solemnization room 2

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.
Riverview lobby

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.
Riverview reception

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.
Riverview Lily ballroom side

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.
HI Atrium indoor solemnization

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.
HI Atrium reception 2

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.
Carlton Empress room

Reception area was also exclusive so our guests will not get lost.
Carlton reception

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.
Carlton solemnization room

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.
GCW Riverfront 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.
GCW Riverfront reception

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.
GCW Waterfront ballroom 1

Waterfront ballroom has a slightly larger reception area.
GCW Waterfront reception

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.

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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!

Preps are underway

I apologize if I’ve shocked any of my friends with my previous entry. It’s a huge life-changing decision and while we’ve agreed to take the step forward, we just couldn’t agree on WHEN. I know, it sounds ridiculously silly. But in any case, I felt so much better after venting out to my dearest friends and mom who happened to be back in Singapore over the NY. We both had some cool-off time out to think things through, and fortunately, it was the same decision that we agreed upon.

So, we’ll be starting with site viewings this weekend (6, to be precise!), and probably more over the course of next week. It’s a rush to have that many site viewings but Mr Goh’s going to Korea next weekend till just before CNY, so hopefully we’ll be able to find something we both like and can afford before he travels. The date will be fixed by this weekend as well – that’s another topic that nearly got both of us in trouble. Let’s just say we are not traditionalists.

Since mom is coming back for CNY, I wish we could ‘present our findings’ to both sets of parents then, and also get their blessings.

I’m hoping to do our invites & wedding favors ourselves since we like a white or ivory & blue theme, inspired by Santorini. Most of the themes provided by hotels would be red or ivory.