Planning a wedding is stressful at the best of times. Let alone in the middle of a global pandemic. But it is possible to make getting hitched at home an extra special (and eco-friendly) occasion. If your plans have been scuppered thanks to COVID-19, here are some tips to help you create a sustainable wedding at home in Singapore.
What a bizarre year we are living through, I don’t think anyone will be forgetting 2020 anytime soon. Everyone has been affected in some way or another. Whether it’s losing a job, struggling physically or mentally, or being robbed of special moments, it’s not easy. Having said that, there is an unprecedented opportunity for us to imagine a different world, a different life.
I was supposed to get married in Croatia this summer with over 100 friends and family to my incredible fiance. But COVID-19 had different plans. It was heartbreaking coming to terms with the fact that the dream wedding I had been planning for 18-months and imagined my whole life wasn’t going to happen. But once I had grieved, there was room for something else to grow. After a tough year, and a two-year engagement, we decided that we wanted to reclaim our joy and have something beautiful to remember 2020 by. And thus we decided to do our solemnization ceremony, we called it our Love Signing, in Singapore, the place where we met, but in our own way.
The most sustainable way to have a solemnization would be to just go to the Registry of Marriages to sign the papers. And there is nothing wrong with that, many people do it. But for me, it was a little too sterile. You receive a paper number and wait for your number to be called and go into a room to do the official process and then exit through an automatic sliding door into a small garden. (More tips on the process to get married in Singapore below).
My love signing was due to take place in phase two during Covid-19 times, so we decided to host it at our apartment so that we could have 10 people present in total. We wanted it to be a celebration of our love, so planned a few special elements to keep things magical despite the circumstances.
Steering well clear from what our original wedding was supposed to be like, we chose not to do our official vows or exchange rings. We’re saving that for the time we can have a ceremony in front of our family and close friends at some point in the future; ideally in 12 or 24 months, on the exact same date, as a final commemoration of our life long bond together. For the love signing, we sat in a circle on the floor, where we began with a cacao ceremony. Then, to activate and open up our hearts, we sang together, uniting and bringing vocal joy. There is something really magical and connecting about singing with your loved ones.
My actual wedding dress is resting peacefully in a special cotton, anti-discolouring bag in Sydney. It was a pre-loved wedding dress that I managed to find on stillwhite.com, the largest marketplace for pre-owned, used and sample wedding dresses. It was a very smooth process researching, trying on, and purchasing the dress. I actually managed to get my dream dress at a third of the price, in near perfect condition. Result.
As I was planning the solemnization in less than three weeks, I didn’t want to overcomplicate things but also wanted to have something different from what I will wear for our actual wedding. First stop was Rentadella, a ‘dream closet’ filled with beautiful designer dresses for any occasion to rent. Ming, the owner, was fantastic, suggested a lot of different outfits and was very patient as I must have tried over 20 dresses. It was a fun afternoon with the girls and the showroom is quite something. I selected a short white dress for $80.
But then I started being targeted on Instagram for dresses. And with the hippie chic vibe, we were going for with the occasion, I decided I needed something more ‘flowy’. Luckily my dear friend Raye Padit, founder of clothes swapping store The Fashion Pulpit, is good with a sewing machine, so whipped me up a skirt with some fabric I bought. While I didn’t get the skirt until two hours before the love signing, I managed to find a top in my wardrobe that matched – and with borrowed earrings from another friend – et voila; I was ready.
Jan (my now Husband) had a linen shirt made in Singapore at Oxford Tailors for $150. Linen is one of the most sustainable fabrics, as the flax plant requires very little energy and water, leaving a very low footprint, unlike the very thirsty cotton crop. Linen is also naturally biodegradable and recyclable. He has already worn the shirt a few times since and will continue to wear it.
We even had our face masks custom created by sustainable bridal designer Elizabeth Grace Couture.
The Hair & Makeup
Having natural makeup was important to me. Asking around I was introduced to Mary Victor, a make-up artist who uses cruelty-free makeup and is a body-positive advocate. She came to my apartment to do mine and my girlfriend’s makeup with a beautiful calm energy. I was very happy with the finished look.
For my hair, I went to Fiorucci Salon, a stylish salon at the Fullerton Hotel. Diego is a warm, Italian man with magic hands. Every time I go I walk out feeling like my hair looks the best it ever has. And to top it off they are a natural botanical salon.
I’m a huge fan of The Nail Social, a socially conscious salon, so I turned to them to create my beautiful bridal nails. It only uses polishes are non-toxic, eco-friendly, fair-trade and/or cruelty-free. And the team upskill marginalised women with vocational training to become the nail technicians. There are two cosy outlets in Singapore, and they give you an iPad connected to Netflix so you can catch up on your favourite shows while being pampered.
Even though we were getting married in our apartment we wanted it to feel special and different. We cleared out all of the furniture, bought some fabric and hung it from the ceiling to the walls to create a little ‘love sanctuary’. We used the cushions from our couch and borrowed a few extra from a friend so we had enough to create a circle on the floor. While it took a bit of planning and a few hours of hanging, it was relatively easy and affordable.
But if I had known about Estilo & Co styling for different occasions and their very reasonable pricing, we probably would have just worked with them (approx. $150-400 for a beautifully chic set up depending on what you want).
While we did have to use single-use velcro tabs to stick the material to the wall, I did repurpose them to the bottom of our dining room chairs to avoid the scratching sound as we move them across the floor. And all the fabric has already had a second decorative life at a friend’s Dad’s 70th.
As our actual wedding was supposed to be the week before, our beautiful friends and family had showered us with lovely messages and flowers from around the world. There were a few in particular who went the extra mile to ensure that the flowers came with no plastic or excessive packaging and in reusable glassware. The companies were:
– Charlotte Puxley – its flowers are regional, reducing the footprint and come in a brown paper bag. You can have them delivered in beautiful Hungarian hand-blown vases which can also be returned or purchased.
– 5AM Flowers – came in a small upcycled jar and the flowers were dried out so didn’t require any water and will last for one to two years! Plus, they were hand-delivered with no additional packaging.
– The Enchanted Tree – came in a small glass vase in a small brown bag with no additional packaging.
I’d managed to convince Jan to have a vegetarian wedding originally, mainly to keep our footprint lighter but also to show our friends and family how amazing veggie food is. Of course, our love singing was no different. I asked around and got the contact details of a private chef who designed the menu, bought all the ingredients, cooked a four-course meal, and cleaned up after, all for less than we would have spent if we had gone out. Donny was wonderful and the food was fantastic. And it was a very novel and delicious experience having a chef in our home.
One thing I completely forgot about was the mini honeymoon. I was so focused on organising the solemnization I didn’t think about what came next. Normally before we go to a hotel or vacation, I always do my research to make sure the hotel is sustainable and that there won’t be any single-use plastic surprises. But this time I forgot (gah!) and because they knew it was our minimoon, they very sweetly prepared balloons and there were plastic water bottles everywhere. But it was a beautiful room and we were very well taken care of.
You have to register 21 days before you want to get married which you can do online at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) website. There are a few options you can choose for your legal ceremony, from holding it at ROM, where you will be assigned a solemnizer on the day, to selecting a location from your home to other venues, where you will need to arrange your own solemnizer.
You will need to select and reach out to a solemnizer before you submit the online application form, and you can find a list here. While they donate their time, it is customary to pass them an ang bao with a sum that you can afford (typically between $80-150). Once you have submitted your online application, you will be given an appointment to check all of your documents, and need to bring scanned copies of your witnesses documents as well. We had to go in on the day of our solemnization for our appointment. If you are getting married during COVID times, you will have to wear a mask during the ceremony, but can remove it afterwards for photographs. Be sure to organise a nice pen and table to do your signing.
In the end, it was a really magical and hilarious day, with moments very appropriate to the weird year we’ve been having, but also completely filled our hearts with joy. If you would like any further information on how we created a sustainable wedding at home, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @stephldickson.
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