It’s been about three weeks of proper wedding planning (we’re making use of Marcus’ brief interlude before he starts work next month) and I take it all back about my expecting it to go smoothly. A marriage is the bringing about of two people and their families, so naturally everyone’s different working styles will come to the fore. But we learned at our Marriage Preparation Retreat in August (yep, before we got engaged) to not let your differences become difficulties, and it’s been a trying but wonderful opportunity to put that in practice.
BONUS TIP: Please, please, please get your parents to write down their guest list EARLY, especially if you’re booking a hotel banquet on a November or December Saturday evening. Saturday dinners are the norm, and November/Decembers are hot wedding months, so one way to make hotel-hunting less of a headache is to figure out exactly which venues you can strike off from the get-go.
That said, I thank God that Marcus is heavily involved and enthusiastic about the process and I look forward to our ~* ~* lifelong partnership ~*~* Of course, it helped that most of these hotels offered juices and teas, which was a lovely touch. (Unfortunately, it also made those venues that didn’t, stand out in a slightly bad way.)
Anyway, I’m both impressed and shocked by the number of hotels we’ve visited so I’m commemorating our 11 visits here. Hopefully when one or two online visitors stray by next time, it may prove to be of some use.
Hotel-Hunting with Rachel & Marcus
We started off our search thinking we needed about 25 tables for a Sunday dinner, but that number eventually grew to 38, and finally shrank to a more manageable 32. Have a good idea of how many guests your families need beforehand to save time!
- Regent’s Royal Pavilion Ballroom
Minimum 35 / Maximum 50
Why we visited: A hotel that houses Basilico and award-winning bar Manhattan? We’re in!
What we liked: We were a little unimpressed, to be honest 🙁
What we didn’t: Some of the lobby’s sofas looked old; pillars that would probably obscure the view of some tables; a lack of a private foyer / welcome area for our guests
- Four Seasons’ Four Seasons Ballroom
Minimum 20 / Maximum 32
Why we visited: It was near the Regent, so we decided to drop by on a whim.
What we liked: The secluded and slightly exclusive feel of where the hotel is located; the narrow but sufficient welcome area; the ballroom’s high ceiling and beautiful windows; the option of a live Peking duck station for early birds; the professionalism of our wedding specialist Chai Ping
What we didn’t: Bridal suite did not look like it was anything to shout about
- Goodwood Park Hotel’s Windsor Ballroom
Minimum 25/ Maximum 38
Why we visited: We love admiring heritage buildings and this former German clubhouse is quite a beauty.
What we liked: The ballroom’s unusual octagonal shape + mirrors (okay, we were divided on this)
What we didn’t: The unsheltered carpark is a little far from the hotel’s entrances, which may prove difficult for older guests; bridal suites appeared to be dated based on the photographs we were shown; the specialist who served us seemed very keen to emphasize that perks could be taken away haha; the wedding reception area is very close to a passageway of hotel rooms, which may not suit those looking for a venue with a more exclusive feel
- Grand Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom
Minimum 30 / Maximum 38
Why we visited: Like the Four Seasons, it was near Goodwood. Yes, we are very spontaneous.
What we liked: High ceilings
What we didn’t: A bit too modern-looking for the crowd we’re having; the price!!!
- The Ritz-Carlton’s Grand Ballroom
Minimum 50 / Maximum 100
Why we visited: At this stage, we thought we needed a bigger venue for our parents’ guests. Also, it’s the Ritz.
What we liked: THE SUITE. PLEASE. *heart-shaped eyes emoji here* The wedding specialist, Sharon Yeo, was very adept at her job.
What we didn’t: We had a bit of a shock when the server who gave us our juices threw the coasters onto our table, proceeded to not place the cold, condensing glasses on said coasters, and went on to get our straws and… toss them at us. He didn’t do it in an angry manner, just nonchalantly, which made me a little concerned about the standard of service at the hotel. Not that it was a real concern since the price made it a little prohibitive to truly consider HAHAHA.
- Mandarin Oriental’s The Oriental Ballroom
Minimum 35 / Maximum 40
Why we visited: Again, it was near a hotel we were already at.
What we liked: I set my expectations really low for this place, but the private reception area was great, the bridal suite looked more modern than most we had seen, and our specialist, Jeline, really helped to beef up the package with extra perks and even discounts. It also fit our ideal size of 35+ tables at the time. Later, many of our friends praised the food they had at the hotel! A true contender.
What we didn’t: The low ballroom ceiling; the main lobby can appear to be dark and stuffy; we visited a second time and there were bathroom towels strewn across the sinks.
- Hotel Fort Canning’s Legends Ballroom and Grand Marquee
Minimum 25 for both / Maximum 46 (LB) and 50 (GM)
Why we visited: We had our marriage preparation retreat here and enjoyed the greenery immensely.
What we liked: The lush surroundings of the park
What we didn’t: The marquee, while beautiful, may make for warm and uncomfortable sitting for older or more temperamental guests; the layout of the Legends ballroom is rectangular which could end up with a good proportion of your guests feeling left out from the action of the centre stage
- Shangri-La Hotel’s Tower Ballroom
Minimum 40 / Maximum 55
Why we visited: If it’s good enough for dignitaries, it’s good enough for us.
What we liked: Spacious + high ceilings
What we didn’t: A little surprised our specialist did not offer any drinks (this was a particularly hot day!); it appears to gravitate towards the Chinese market, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea
- JW Marriott Singapore South Beach’s Grand Ballroom
Minimum 25 / Maximum 35
Why we visited: Have you seen the Instagrams? Also, my dad used to play badminton here, and it is near where my grandfather used to work, so there’s historical significance to this place.
What we liked: The pure gorgeousity of the ballroom with its high ceilings, out-of-this-world crystal lights and dome-shaped projector screen. Our specialist Lianah also saw us on very short notice but made us feel at ease and very welcomed.
What we didn’t: If you need to maximise all 35 tables, 5 of them will be on a second floor, which could make them feel either too special or left out. Also, given our older crowd, it is a little inconvenient that the bathrooms are located at the basement. Dinner prices are also among the most expensive in Singapore, and given that we weren’t too familiar with Chef Leong, it seemed a bit of a risk. That said, we would definitely have considered this if we were doing this for a younger crowd!
- The St Regis’ John Jacob Ballroom
Minimum 35 / Maximum 42
Why we visited: We are considering this place for a Sunday lunch, and even though it wasn’t originally on the list, it fit a lot of tables, and we thought we would give it a look.
What we liked: Quite a bit! Our specialist Christine was very professional and even threw in a number of perks to sweeten the deal, including the Four Seasons’ Peking duck station I mentioned. The ballroom is obviously very beautiful (8m high!) and I do like the suites too, having had a staycation there before.
What we didn’t: Ideally, we would have a Sunday dinner. But that would have been very exorbitant and not very us.
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa’s Siloso Ballroom and Horizon Pavilion
Minimum 25 for both / Maximum 32 (SB) and 36 (HP)
Why we visited: We arranged this weeks back but only managed to see it recently, and decided to just go along with it.
What we liked: The Horizon Pavilion has a beautiful view of the South China Sea; Marcus loves the Sentosa peafowl.
What we didn’t: The long walk from the carpark to the hotel may be troublesome for our older guests; did not like going down the steps for the Siloso ballroom; was not offered any drinks (maybe a Shang thing?); ultimately, the resort vibe of the hotel was not very us at all (not that I am any clearer about what ‘we’ are HAHA)
So that’s our list for us. And the hotel we picked in the end is…
We loved the ballroom but to be honest we were torn between this and St Regis. St Regis is beautiful and the wedding coordinator was very generous with the perks. Thankfully, some family connections helped to sweeten our Four Seasons deal (they are notoriously inflexible) and made it a really competitive one.
Now that the tedious part is down, we’re off to secure the ‘fun’ vendors, like our photographer and videographer, gown provider, etc.
This is a useful at-one-glance website to go to.
All images taken off the hotels’ websites.
Gratuitous cover photo taken on the way to a hotel viewing