A #ShubhKiRani Fairytale
इश्क जैसे है एक आंधी, इश्क़ है एक तूफाँ
इश्क़ के आगे बेबस है, दुनिया में हर इन्साँ
इश्क़ में सब दीवाने हैं, इश्क़ में सब हैराँ
इश्क़ में सब कुछ मुश्किल है, इश्क़ में सब आसाँ
देखो प्यारे ये नज़ारे, ये दीवाने ये परवाने हैं इश्क़ में कैसे गुम
तुमसे मिलके दिल का है जो हाल क्या कहें
हो गया है कैसा ये कमाल क्या कहें
These are the excerpts of the lyrics of a famous song from a bollywood movie Main Hoon Na (2004). These and many more songs truly captured our overwhelming emotions: the first time when we understood that we have the chemistry to be partners for life and the second time, when we decided to get married in Singapore.
We had our Roka or an engagement ceremony in Feb 2020, before the covid outbreak. As soon as we came back to Singapore, borders started getting closed for international travel. But as we know, umeed pe duniya kayam hai meaning that ‘hope makes the world go round’, we and our families (like everyone else in the world) kept hoping for the situation to normalise in a few months. By June-July, it became clear that it would be many more months before it’s safe for everyone to travel and have any kind of ceremonies. Thus during this time we, along with our families, decided that we would have a civil marriage in Singapore.
The wedding took place on 17th August 2020, with just 8 guests at home and 300+ guests joining over Zoom!
We decided to pen this blog to share our experiences preparing for and having a DIY wedding in Singapore. We have shared every hack, every paperwork, every arrangement and all the minor gaps that went unnoticed and the ones that we realised later. We feel that the virus has made a permanent dent in the way events are attended. Even when the world becomes safe again (from the virus), there will be virtual life events. We hope that this blog can help you adapt and plan for any event that you wish to host virtually, with your families and friends.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
1 Month Before
Choosing a date
The very first thing to do was to narrow down on a date & time of our wedding. Our parents wanted it to be an auspicious day for both of us, so we took an appointment of the head priest in Sri Mariamman Temple. We were asked our names, horoscope signs, birthdates & if we had any date in mind in particular. We didn’t want our wedding to be on the only famous days of the month — 15th August (Indian Independence day!!) or 9th August (Singapore national day!!) so we agreed on 17th August (which also happens to be the groom’s birthdate — two celebrations in one, sounds extra special, right?). The priest gave us a ‘muhurat’ (auspicious time window) for 17th and a time window during which it would be auspicious to have wedding ceremony facilitated.
Choosing a Venue
Given the fact that we’re going to do the wedding all on our own alone in Singapore, we had pretty much made up our minds to go for a court marriage. We landed on the Registry of Marriage (ROM) website, and found that we can have the ceremony either at the ROM’s venue or at a place of our own choice (even at our home!). We initially prioritised to tie the knot at the court, that is, the ROM’s own venue but while digging further we got to know that there wasn’t a single date available in the month of August and the only ones available were in September, which was too long to wait as per our plans. There were few (exorbitantly expensive) external venues which had started opening up after a strict lockdown but most of the smaller / reasonable venues were not yet ready and declined that they can’t yet host events for more than 5 pax. That was when, the idea of having a DIY wedding sparked in our minds.
Choosing a Solemnizer
Soon after deciding the date & venue, the next step was to find an authorised Solemnizer who could come to our place, and solemnise the wedding. A Solemnizer is a Government authorised personnel to officiate the wedding. This is a voluntary service performed by them, out of their own interest and belief to help newlyweds. We referred to the list of Solemnizers available on the Registry of Marriage (ROM) website and reached out to one of them. Our Solemnizer willingly agreed, and we finally felt things were in motion!
Legal paperwork & processes
The overall process looks fairly straightforward for getting married in Singapore.
While you file the notice of marriage online on ROM’s website:
- Keep the name & licence number of the solemnizer, full names & NRIC/passport details of your two witnesses handy.
- After the form submission, you will be assigned a date & time for your documents verification & statutory declaration (abbreviated as VD/SD). So block your calendars, and do not miss the appointment.
You will have to visit the Solemnizer in person and get his consent form signed — which will be submitted in the VD/SD appointment. Always carry your passports along.
On the day of VD/SD — you will be provided with the original & a copy of the marriage certificate, which will be used on the day of marriage. Keep it safe and secure.
As a good practice, call the Solemnizer 3 days before the wedding to remind him/her of the date, time & location. Ask them specifically if they have any special requirements of arrangements to be done.
2 weeks before
The first thing to do was to set up a layout of our living room. We referred to some online examples and agreed that the dining table should be in the centre of the room, followed by chairs scattered around (1m apart — thanks to social distancing!).
I created a sketch of how each wall would look. I wanted to dedicate one wall to our family pictures since we wanted their virtual presence with us while we get married. Another wall was dedicated for a DIY area, where I put up hand painted frames, decorated wine bottles and return gifts. One wall was the full curtain wall — which was the backdrop of our main frame with a dining table. And the last wall — we just decorated it with some fancy stuff to make it look festive.
We ordered most of the decor items from lazada.sg (note: Items come from China — so they may take upto 2 weeks to come). Remaining last minute things we got from Spotlight, Mr DIY and IKEA in Singapore.
We wanted to go for some fusion food, with a pinch of local touch. We ordered a nice combination of Gujarati + Chinese food from a Singapore based caterer — Gourmet Ready. Additionally we asked them to provide bento boxes so social distancing is followed while consuming dinner as well.
We were going to have a simple home wedding, hence we didn’t want super heavy clothes. We got my lehenga from India, and a husband’s suit from Zara — that’s about it. Thankfully, I had carried some jewellery back when I last returned from India — so I just wore them to go with the dress. Little Indian accessories we could manage from stores at Little India in Singapore.
Hence, the most important part — sorted!
We knew everyone was excited to be a part of our ceremony, so we were quite excited to invite all our near and dear ones to join via zoom. We reached out to a freelancer to help create a customised invite for us. We wanted a caricature theme, highlighting us as well as the feel of Merlion city — Singapore — where we’re situated and getting married. The freelancer patiently understood our requirements, dealt with back and forth edits and came up with the following caricature invite.
Florals — this has to be in the setup of a wedding, isn’t it? We searched around for some local florists who agreed to make us a centrepiece & some garlands in our wedding colour theme (red & gold/ champagne). We had to do some DIY arrangements to put up the garland — but boom! Flowers turned out to be the charm for our function :)
The wedding decor took about 5 hours to put up. Here’s a 5 minute time-lapse of the efforts!
As a part of safe distancing protocols, we played this part by the book. We had hand sanitisers, masks for everyone, well spaced out seating arrangements, temperature log of the guests, food in individual bento boxes, and individual cutlery packs. Besides risking hefty penalty fees for any violation of safe distancing practices, it was more in our conscience to have a safe and healthy environment for everyone.
Lights, Camera, Action!
This was stated to be one of the most challenging and exciting parts of our wedding. Our entire family was joining via zoom. Any hitch, any glitch, would have ruined their experience — the sentimental & emotional value — of attending the wedding. So, it was natural for us to spend quite a lot of time perfecting the camera positions, sound quality, viewing angles and doing a couple of dry runs with the core family members.
Zoom setup highlights:
- We used the phone’s back camera to stream the wedding. The phone was mounted on a tripod and manoeuvred to stream some specific sequences of the wedding like the entry of the bride-groom, a toe-ring ceremony, etc.
- We also used a laptop and casted the zoom attendees on TV (connected via HDMI cable) in the galley mode.
- We had a couple of zoom moderators. One, from our side in Singapore, who used to update what’s going on at our end. Second, from our family in India, who was coordinating with the attendees, muting-unmuting, managing chats, etc.
We were under immense pressure whether the Zoom streaming would work out or not, given not everyone is tech savvy. We didn’t want anyone from our family members to miss out on any moment and thankfully, the entire process was pretty seamless. No glitch, and no hiccups. However, after the event we retrospected a few areas which we felt went quite well in our favour and some we could have improved. So, we decided that we would talk about the best practices for anyone who wishes to stream their family function over Zoom.
Zoom best practices:
- Keep a dress code! This will give a feel of togetherness — even virtually ❤
- If you are hosting a meet & greet event, ask people to raise their hands on Zoom to wish the couple.
- We prioritised the wishes of the immediate family members (who were called out to speak in a sequential manner). Rest, you can decide to alternate between friends and family. Key is to keep everyone as engaged as possible.
- You can give a heads-up to people who will be speaking next (through DM or a quick call) — so they’re prepared.
- You can choose to have a soft time limit (~2 mins) for those who are speaking. It’s a tricky part but you have to be mindful of others’ time and patience as well.
- Have a Zoom moderator (host) from both the bride and groom’s side.
- Ask people to pin their screens to the one which is casting the wedding. The moderators can repeatedly call that out and write that in chat too. Otherwise, if somebody doesn’t mute, their screen will show up.
- If possible, disable screen sharing by participants — unless someone has to show the screen for some reason. Sometimes people unknowingly start sharing the screen — and that’s bit of distraction from the main event.
- One of the most sensible things which the host would be (and should be) doing is — recording the event. So while you are doing that, pin the screen which is streaming the event. Also go to the galley view once in a while, so you can record a glimpse of attendees, too!
- Even though a lot of people have gotten acquainted to the Zoom (or any other similar platform’s usage), still it’s a best practice to highlight the dos and the don’ts — especially, which icon to tap to mute/unmute.
We wanted to give a token of love back, to the people who participated in making our wedding a great celebration. For folks who were present on the day of the wedding, we prepared a gift pack of a couple of perfumes in small decorative handmade bags.
For folks who joined us virtually, we gifted them handmade accessories (candles, earrings, coasters — more designs on instagram — kalakari.sg) from our preserved & dried wedding flowers. Our friends & family have loved these precious gifts.
Needless to say, our sweet little home wedding coupled with virtual zoom arrangement was possible due to receiving enormous support from our family and friends who wholeheartedly participated in making this day memorable and special to us! All of them deserve a big hug and thank you from both of us.
Now that the covid wave is settling in, and things are getting back to normal (slowly) — we hope and wish that the in person weddings gets back on track, and you rather enjoyed reading this blog as one kind of adventure that we took on, in 2020. Reach out to us if you need any suggestions for your virtual weddings or if you have any questions regarding setup, DIY decor (we ended up creating our instagram DIY page & Etsy store post wedding!) or anything that you may want to know.
If you made it till here, then there’s a surprise for you — the wedding highlight video. Enjoy this 10 mins highlight capturing us in action and full enjoyment!