Wedding Planning Chapter 8 – The Hunt for A Solemniser!

All along, Sunshine wanted to have a simple solemnisation at the Registry of Marriage (ROM). Since my mum have always felt that there is no need for a solemnisation outside of ROM as this would increase costs for the couple, she is supportive of Sunshine’s decision. Thus, I have, at a much earlier stage, do not mind solemnising our marriage at the ROM. However, as Sunshine stubbornly refused to hire a photographer to take photos of our solemnisation and that I would have to use my free trial make-up and rental of ROM dress for this 15 min of procedure without any pretty photos, I felt that it was not worth it. Additionally, as we would then have a ROM date and a Chinese customary date to remember for our wedding, I felt that it was not ideal. Hence, I brainwashed Sunshine to solemnise our marriage on the actual day (same as the Chinese customary). Haha. Thankfully, he was easy to brainwash for this issue and we soon secured a function room for our solemnisation in the evening at Novotel just before our banquet dinner.

Despite giving in, Sunshine explained that he explicitly expressed his reluctance for a solemnisation outside of ROM because (i) he finds it a hassle to find a solemniser on our own and (ii) of the additional red packet we have to give to the solemniser to thank him for his service and time. Therefore, I had reassured him early on that I would find a solemniser for us and rationalised that the red packet would still be cheaper than hiring a photographer for about 3 hours to shoot our solemnisation at ROM.

I always thought that one should only start looking for a solemniser six months before one’s solemnisation. However, ever since Sunshine shared that he knows one of the solemniser (an acquaintance), I have been egging him to invite that acquaintance of his to solemnise our wedding. My requirements of a solemniser are (i) punctual, sincere, pleasant, friendly, humorous, would give a bit of marriage advice yet not too naggy, able to move the crowd (instead of just a solemn, boring solemnisation) etc and (ii) being able to speak in English, Mandarin and Hokkien as we are both Mandarin-speaking at home and for the benefit of our parents and grandparents and hopefully, has a grandfatherly feel. Haha. A bride shared her experience of her solemniser introducing her father as he walked her into the function room to the signing table and that sparked a light in me! Although I would not be married in a church, I suddenly wanted my father to walk me down across the room from outside the function room to the table, down an “aisle”. I feel that the act of my father walking with me, arm-in-arm and handing me over to Sunshine is one of the sweetest thing my father can do for me. My father dotes on me most and he has repeatedly voiced his reluctance at me growing up and moving away so far from him. Hence, to me, the act of walking me down the aisle and handing me over to Sunshine signifies his enormous love for me: entrusting someone whom he has raised for 20+ years to a man who he can only pray and hope would treat her well (He knows Sunshine would though =) Hehe). It’s a father’s hope, a father’s dreams and a father’s saddest yet proudest moment. Thus, I hoped my solemniser would be able to (iv) introduce and announce my father as he walked me down the make-shift aisle. This would be one of the highlights of my wedding and I hope the solemniser would help make it memorable. However, as our wedding is in October, I did not bother noting down some names of solemnisers with good reviews as I felt that I still had a lot of time!

One fine day in January though, Sunshine told me he approached his acquaintance to ask if he could help to solemnise our wedding. The acquaintance checked his schedule and told us that he would not be free on that day of our wedding at the timing we wanted! Omg! So… fast…? He is already booked for October in January?!?! I panicked! I immediately went to read reviews on solemnisers and thought of who to shortlist. My top choice was Mr Teo Cheong Tee. I heard he is superb! He is grandfatherly, friendly, patient, gives marriage advice, sincere, pleasant, cute (!) etc etc. However, some brides shared that he is not really comfortable in speaking Mandarin. Oh no! =( As I wanted our parents and grandmothers to feel included, I really hoped that our solemnisation would be conducted in a mixture of both English and Mandarin or even with a bit of Hokkien! Haha. This is truly Singaporean and truly us! My second choice was Mr Tam Chee Wah. The only peeve I have about him is he is not old enough! Haha! My guess is he is at most about 60+ years old. He definitely does not have the grandfatherly feel that I want. Oops! However, reviews about him (though lesser than Mr Teo’s) were all positive! Many shared that he was patient and sincere, not getting angry when they had to start their solemnisation later than planned, did crowd control, was able to engage the couple’s families and friends, making the whole process warm and unique for the couple. He would also “emcee” for the couple! Yay! I had no third choice and was just banking on Mr Tam to agree!

As I was afraid that Mr Tam’s calendar would be booked for the slot that we wanted, I immediately messaged him after Sunshine raised no objections to inviting him to be our solemniser. I wanted Sunshine to find someone he is comfortable with as well to solemnise our marriage. Mr Tam replied within minutes to tell us that he is available on the day and time we wanted!!! YAY! I was so thrilled and felt so lucky when I read his text! After this confirmation, he emailed us a consent form for us to sign for his own record purpose, asked us for our solemnisation venue, told us to prepare our own wedding vows, shared the timeline to file our marriage online and asked us to remind him about this three days before our actual day. Lol. Yay!

The hunt for a solemniser was originally something I thought was very chill and fuss-free. However, things changed when the first solemniser we approached cannot make it, which made me panicked (and that was how I came up with the title of this post, to capture how I really felt at that point in time). The final confirmation of the solemniser was very fast and fuss-free and I really felt very thankful and lucky that we managed to secure someone I like so early! Cheers!

Update on 4 Mar: I recently read more and more reviews about Mr Tam as a solemniser online and as his popularity increased with the positive reviews, I had read at least two other people not being able to invite him to solemnise their wedding because he was already booked on the same date and time I had previously agreed upon with him. Omg! I feel so lucky, thankful and relieved. Hehe. I could have been one of them if I had not started early. Wow… Singaporeans are really quite kiasu, myself included =p

Read about my bridesmaids in Wedding Planning Chapter 7 – Bridesmaids Choped! here.
Read about my gown selection in Wedding Planning Chapter 9 – Our Gown Selection! here.

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A novice baker =)

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