Happy Chinese New Year, everybody! I hope everyone is having a joyous celebration with their families and friends, and enjoying this long weekend! I managed to finish most of my visitation in the past two days, so am spending today at home catching up on sleep. Is crazy how Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year’s Eve, Day 1 and 2 just went by in a blink of an eye. Don’t think I’ll be doing anything special for the rest of Chinese New Year, except for a family dinner on Day 9?
So since I’m somewhat free today, I shall catch up on my overdue blog post. Shall continue with the rest of my wedding updates. I’ve already done three entries on that, but I thought I would continue with the preparations I did prior to my solemnisation, before I move on to write about the actual day itself.
In today’s entry, I will focus on choosing our wedding venue (a quick review on Tóng Lè Private Dining) and solemnizer (Dr Phua Tan Tee). I thought of squeezing everything into one blog post, but I don’t think it’s possible judging on the number of points I wanted to touch on. As such, I shall start with the first three things that are on the top of our list when it comes to solemnising our marriage:
- Choosing a Wedding Date
- Picking a Venue
- Confirming our Solemnizer
I will write about the other stuff like wedding cake, flowers, wedding dress and suit in my subsequent entry.
Hopefully, these will be useful for those planning to solemnise their marriage in Singapore.
The first and most crucial step when it comes to getting married is deciding on a wedding date.
One of the main reason why we chose to get married in 2017 was due to the arrival of our BTO. Due to the fact that we received a housing grant for our flat, we would need to submit our marriage certificate at the time of key collection.
For those who bought their flat without a housing grant, they could choose to submit their marriage certificate no longer than three months after their key collection. We didn’t have that option available to us; even if we did file an appeal, I believe the most they could extend to us is a month or two after key collection? Based on my understanding, even then, you would need to submit documents to back up your appeal (e.g. invoice of your booking of the wedding banquet, an acknowledgement that you have filed your notice of marriage, etc.).
We weren’t planning to host our Chinese wedding banquet in 2017, that we are sure. So we knew we would need to do our solemnisation close to our key collection appointment. The estimated key collection date for our flat was in Q2 of 2017, so that’s the time frame we have to work with. We were considering either on end-May (the day we met) or on 7th July (our 10th anniversary).
My mum was okay with either of the date. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, prefer 7th July, after looking at the lunar calendar. Between the two dates, I do also prefer 7th July since the date hold more significant to us. Plus, it would also mean we got married exactly a year after he proposed to me.
So, with that, we decided to hold our wedding on Friday, 7th July 2017.
Once decided on the wedding date, the next step is to decide on the venue and solemnizer. You can skip this if you are planning to do your solemnisation at ROM office. However, because we chose to hold ours at an external venue, we would need to secure a place and a solemnizer.
Before we went on to find a solemnizer, we thought it’s far more important to lock down the venue. Afterall, if the intention is to host the solemnisation outside ROM, the solemnizer will undoubtedly ask about the location and timing. The key is to ensure the solemnizer is available on our wedding date and is willing to travel to our chosen venue at our preferred time.
To save the trouble, I thought we should just have a simple solemnisation done at ROM. However, the Husband thinks otherwise. The plan was to gather our families and have a dinner together right after the ceremony. If I’m not mistaken, our parents/families have only met once, and that was many years ago on the Husband’s 21st birthday.
Since the Husband was the one who suggests hosting our solemnisation outside of ROM, he’s tasked to find a suitable venue. I left it to him to do all the research and contacting the various places. All I did was to follow him to do an on-site visit after he booked the appointment. Some of the venues he shortlisted include Swissotel, Super Tree, 1 Altitude, Yan Restaurant, Peninsula.Excelsior Hotel Sky Lounge and Tóng Lè. We went to each of them and eventually, decided on Tóng Lè Private Dining.
Tóng Lè Private Dining
Located on level 10 of OUE Tower, Tóng Lè Private Dining is housed in a revolving tower, offering diners a panoramic view of the stunning Marina Bay waterfront.
We went there on a late-afternoon; while the weather was rather gloomy when we visited, we were immediately sold when we saw the view and the fact that the restaurant is housed in a revolving tower. It happened that the view was facing the Marina Bay waterfront/Marina Bay Sands when we visited. Since the restaurant is situated in a revolving tower, we could choose which direction we would like to face at the time of the ROM ceremony. Thereafter, once our guests are seated for the meal, they could resume the rotating. We thought it was pretty cool since it would provide our guests with a complete panoramic tour of the Marina Bay area within two short hours, all while enjoying the specially prepared Chinese cuisine.
Aside from the view, we were glad to know that they have a private dining room for us to host our lunch/dinner after the ceremony. The venue seem perfect for our group of sixteen guests. Between the two Private Rooms, the smaller one can accommodate 10 – 14 pax, while the other can accommodate 14 to 22 pax (or 24 pax if we are looking at two separate long tables).
The operation hour is 11:30 to 15:00 for lunch and 18:00 to 23:00 for dinner. As such, we have the option to choose either to have our solemnisation held in the late morning or early evening. Ideally, we could arrive half an hour before the start of their operating hours to have our ceremony, before proceeding to have our lunch/dinner.
We only planned to invite our immediate families, so we were looking at around sixteen guests. Unlike some places that required a minimum spending, Tóng Lè Private Dining serves prefix set menus, so the price is based on the number of guests and the menu we selected. The price is the same for lunch and dinner, with a minimum of 12 pax for the ROM package menu. The ROM package menu comes with a 7-course meal (inclusive of dessert), with complimentary canapes for half an hour during the ROM ceremony, a bottle of champagne and the set-up of the ROM table with flower centerpiece.
The package, unfortunately, does not include drinks. A non-alcoholic package is available at SGD15++ per person for the first hour and SGD8++ per person for every subsequent hour. Beer or wine package could also be arranged at additional cost, based on the number of bottles.
Other things that could be arranged (additional charges applied) includes fresh floral arrangements for the table and small bites (to be served with the canapes).
All in all, we were pretty pleased with the restaurant, the arrangement and were comfortable with the price. As such, we decided to put a deposit to secure the booking. At the time of our booking, we confirmed an attendance of 16 pax and paid a deposit of SGD800. We have the flexibility to increase the number of guests, so long as we inform the restaurant at least one week in advance.
Once we have the details for our venue worked out, the next step was to contact our solemnizer. (Those who intend to solemnise or have booked a solemnisation slot in the ROM office do not need to look for a solemnizer as ROM will arrange for an in-house solemnizer to officiate the ceremony.)
On ROM website, you can find a list of licensed solemnizers. We wanted one who is bilingual and is comfortable with both English and Mandarin. In the end, we decided to go with Dr Phua Tan Tee, who is also the solemnizer my sister engaged for her solemnisation a few years back.
I heard of couples who started looking for solemnizer six months before their wedding day. Based on ROM website, the recommended time to do so is actually 3 – 4 months before the wedding. I sent my first email to Dr Phua in early-April. Back then, he told me he couldn’t confirm if he would be able to solemnise our marriage on our preferred date & time. (I provided him with two timings but mentioned that I would prefer to have our solemnisation done in the evening.) *I was honestly panicking at that moment.
Dr Phua also asked if we could shift the timing of our ceremony, but due to the operating hours of the restaurant, they wouldn’t accommodate to the timing Dr Phua proposed.
Aside from confirming the date, venue and timing for the solemnisation, another thing that needs to be arranged was the parking lot for Dr Phua. As he would be driving on that day, he asked if we could get him a complimentary parking coupon. (This wouldn’t be a problem if we were to host our solemnisation + wedding banquet at a hotel.) Unfortunately, Tóng Lè Private Dining does not own any parking since they are a standalone tower itself. They did however provide us with the map for the nearest parking, which we later informed Dr Phua. I felt that it wasn’t fair to let Dr Phua pay for the parking, so I told him we would reimburse on the parking fee. In the end, I just gave him a bigger hong bao as a token of appreciation.
Luckily, everything worked out in the end. It was slightly over three weeks since I first contacted Dr Phua before he came back to me with the good news that he managed to re-adjust his schedule and was able to help us to solemnise our marriage. I can’t even tell you how worried I was within that three weeks.
Filing Notice of Marriage
Once Dr Phua gave us the confirmation via email, the next step was to go to ROM website to do the e-registration. The earliest date to solemnize your marriage is 21 days after the date of notice (excluding the day on which you file the notice) and the last date which you may solemnize your marriage is before the end of 3 months after the date of notice (excluding the day on which you file the notice). You can easily view the “Earliest Solemnisation Date” and “Latest Solemnisation Date” on the homepage of the ROM website.
To file our notice of marriage, we would need details of the bride and groom, the two witnesses and the details of our solemnizer. As stated on the website, we would need the ‘Invitation to Solemnize a Marriage’ form duly signed by our solemnizer (if the solemnization venue is outside ROM) at the time of the filing of the notice of marriage. However, the fact is we didn’t meet up with Dr Phua to get the form signed. We didn’t meet him until the day of our solemnisation.
The Consent Form was prepared and signed by Dr Phua and mailed to us by post. (We were in Bali back then and our e-registration was done in Bali.) Thankfully, we only need to bring the document with us when we go to ROM office for Document Verification.
At the time of our filing, it only costs SGD26, but I understand the fee has since been revised to SGD42.
It was after we have successfully filed our notice of marriage that we were able to relax and be sure that we are indeed getting married on 7th July 2017!