The happy couple: Gabrielle Riggir & Klas Eriksson
From: New Zealand and Sweden
Wedding destination: Phuket, Thailand
Bride’s dress: BCBGMAXAZRIA
Photographer and florist: Our wedding planner Fab Event sorted everything out for us
Head count: 35
When did you get married?
29 March 2013.
Who designed your invitations?
Klas and I designed our invitations together, which may not have been the smartest idea! We chose to get married quite quickly after we got engaged, and given that our family and friends live all around the world, we felt that sending e-invitations was the best option.
Why did you pick this destination?
As everyone knows, Singapore is expensive when it comes to weddings, and after looking around at the options we quickly realised that even though Singapore is right between Sweden (Klas) and New Zealand (Gabrielle), it was unfortunately not a financially viable option for us or our guests.
We looked at a few options around the region, and the reason we ultimately chose Phuket is because the flights to Phuket from New Zealand and Sweden are affordable and direct, the accommodation is cheap, and it made it easy for our guests to get around to different destinations if they wished to continue their holiday after the wedding.
Although Klas and I did not see Phuket as our dream wedding destination, it was a great compromise as we managed to find a really nice restaurant right on the beach in a relatively quiet area. At the end of the day, your wedding shouldn’t be about the destination, but who is there to celebrate with you.
Did you use a wedding planner?
I knew from the get-go that there was absolutely no way I was going to get married without a wedding planner. That might sound a bit snobby, but it really was for unpretentious and practical reasons.
The amount of work you have to do to pull a wedding off is absolutely huge, and as a video producer I really do understand this. I see it in my work every day, where people try to take on projects they aren’t familiar with to save money, but due to inexperience, end up spending more money and time than if they had hired a professional. (Not to mention the stress.)
I wanted our wedding to be our day. I didn’t want to be stressed that we were missing one chair, or that the flowers were an hour late.
The planner we hired – Yai, from Fab Event planners based in Phuket (fab-event.com) – was an absolute magician. The price was also extremely reasonable – in fact it was an absolute steal, but not at the cost of the big day. He also provided flowers and a photographer at the last minute.
What was the biggest challenge?
Guest logistics. For many people, coming to a country halfway across the world on short notice to attend a wedding is a difficult thing to do, so we had to be flexible on our dates and understanding about the wedding venue and location.
Second biggest was probably the dress, because I’m fussy and I hate frills and sparkles, and it’s pretty hard to find anything else at bridal shops in Singapore!
What was your biggest expense?
We did it really cheap, and it was great that way. The most annoying expense was the alcohol. The restaurant where we held the wedding had some very strange pricing options for free-flow drinks, making it quite difficult to gauge what we should do. I think it all worked out in the end though. As a foreign couple in Thailand, you have to be careful that you aren’t being ripped off.
What did you serve your guests?
An array of very nice Italian and Thai food. I honestly can’t tell you how good it was, because I was so nervous and excited I barely ate, but the guests really loved it.
Mandy, my step-mum, made our cake. It’s way nicer to have a cake made by family than to buy a cake from a shop, I think. Growing up, the only time I ever ate cake was if someone I knew had baked it. Then you are kind of forced to eat it!
Any complications with the marriage formalities?
We personally didn’t have any difficulties, but if I were to give advice to other people about having a destination wedding, it would be not to bother getting officially married in the country you will have your ceremony in. It’s so easy to sign the papers in Singapore first, or afterwards, as in our case. The process of becoming officially wed in Thailand is really long and difficult, and some parts of it can only be done in Bangkok.
Top tips for brides-to-be?
Don’t get caught up with what everybody else wants your wedding to be: make it what you want it to be. And don’t over-think it – it’s only a wedding!