A bold voice of Hannah Chong has spoken

I have been silent for many months.. in fact since 2010, I have been quiet in the blog. One part of the reasons was I was really busy creating weddings I have dreamt to create, the other side of me was there were so many gossip and rumours which some players in the industry strive to create about me, that I was really really angry and disturbed. And I think it's high time I speak what I need to speak to the readers and to the local industry players who are certainly watching me.

I have left the corporate world because I want to pursue what I love, but at the same time I don't enjoy the politics in the corporate world, and I thought starting a small firm like mine will not erect much politics anyway, until I became popular, famous etc whatever you call it. The unkind words that were circulating around have affected me and the people I love and respected, and all these years, blogging to me was only a form of education to the readers as well as a form of self therapy where I get to review my thoughts life.. so often I am careful what I write, because I do love my readers, esp my couples.

Today, I decided I need to be bold to express how I have gone and still going thru as an entrepreneur and as a wedding planner in Singapore , a country that is supposed to be very efficient, very open-minded.. but in reality we are in many ways pretty narrow-minded in the ways we think or compete with one another. I wish we are truly open and I still believe one day, Singaporeans can embrace excellence as much as be gracious to one another, esp to people in the industry and to those who serve us.

The last few months, I was so busy, but I have no time to catch up with my contractors/artists I respected. And only in July, I finally got to meet some of them. The news that came around to me were shocking and unfair :

Someone spoke to my florist , "Why should you be loyal to Hannah if she's not loyal to you. Afterall, you are the one that made her famous?"
Another gossip "Hannah isn't the concept creator, she just copy designs from Preston Bailey or from the magazines"
Another remarked "Hannah doesn't take commission from suppliers, but she takes more margins than anyone.."
Another concluded "Hannah is not as good as she claims to be, she overcharges etc etc etc"

I pondered for a long while, and wonder why are people in this industry so unkind.. why are they so foolish not to realise by killing their very own kind, they are killing themselves. I never need to explain to anyone what I do, because I do have the guts and the capabilities to do what I do. Today, I intended to take the risk to share who Hannah really is to you, and let you be the final judge.

Yes, I get inspirations from magazines, and my benchmark of success is never measured against anyone in Singapore. I have always been taught by my mentors, the world is the standards, look beyond the borders. I spent money and time travelling across to the other side of the world to be inspired and to believe this is where my benchmark should be. I admire Colin Cowie, Preston Bailey and David Tutera and many others out there who hold a vision of what they do. They are what they are because they never stop learning, never stop believing, never stop inspiring and be inspired. And every of my works are indeed inspired by these great men in the event industry, but it is also coupled with the personality and creativity of Hannah Chong. Take a look at every of my designs, you will understand what I mean. It is never just Preston Bailey's duplicate, etc, it is always a product I have created with all the inspirations we gathered and further developed, and most important, it is an inspiration derived from my couple's story. That's the reason our corporate tagline is always "Your Story, Our Inspiration".

Which player spends more time than me to critique the staging designs, hires a team in house to do the sets drawings before hiring any contractors, takes time to do press check of all printings even as simple things as invitation cards, goes to meet cake chef and discuss about the designs on her own, spends time reviewing the lightings in every event, instead of leaving to the contractor, spends overnight in the hotel to ensure all setup is accurate and precise as what she has presented to the couple, and even willing to threw in money for more flowers, more lightings, reprints etc to ensure what is delivered is perfect as what she has envisioned, when her own couples didn't even expect that of her. I think no one is as crazy as me..

We are not claiming we are the best. But we do know what we do, and we truly strive to do every part of our works to the excellence level I believe in. Yes, I don't believe in taking commissions, because commissions to me is a fee a contractor pays to a planner/agent for recommending a client. It is a marketing fees. And that's no right or wrong about taking commissions. But for us, we never behave like an agent, we take time to do research, take time to conceptualise, take time to design and redesign, we owns our own internal team of designers I build to do what we do. And for every concept, it is more than just the decor, it is an integration of the concept, the staging, the floral sets, the lightings, even the musicians and the special corners to become the final product of what we envision.

And because of that, I am very fussy, I choose my suppliers, and I don't allow couples to determine the suppliers. The reason is simple, the drawings are from us, unlike some.. and the vision is birthed from us to the couple. Who knows better than ourselves to decide the vendors whom we think can do the job. And our vendors are like my close siblings, without them, I won't be what I am today. But without me, they won't deploy the vision I am seeing.. The cherry blossom trees wedding is a good example. It is not complete if we are not the one that create the painting ( with my in house designers) and give to the florist, without Brenda, the trees will not be erected to be as pretty as it was.. and without my lightings crew and my photographers, it will not become trees that can blossom like in a spring to an autumn time (all in a day).. it is not just one vendor who did the job and make it a wow factor.. no no no... it is a combination of many vendors with their expertise, and with Hannah as the brainchild for that vision. All my vendors from florists, sets contractors, lightings, photographers, musicians etc etc are my beloved, and I protect them as close to my own. Yet there are people who are jealous because they do not believe I have the favour of men.. and to tell you the truth. I am favoured not just because of what we do, not just because vendors like me, but because there's a God up there who takes care of us. Period. I love what I do, I believe in my team (in house and my vendors), and no one can take away that, except God.

And I have seen how gossip and rumours have killed the players in the industry for stupid reasons merely caused by jealousy and envy. Someone told me there are approximately 300,000 weddings in Singapore in a year, and think about that, even 0.1 percent of that is equivalent to 3000 weddings. Can 2 contractors serve 3000 well, can 10 planners serve 3000 well? let's say I make a mistake, and that is only 30,000 weddings in a year, isn't 300 weddings for those who can pay us still too many for the players.. In other words, there are enough weddings for everyone.. so why kill one another.. we are not open minded enough, we are very very narrow-minded.

In conclusion, this is Hannah, all my blog posts are true reflections of who I am. I can't bluff long in my blogging. Ask my staff, ask my vendors or even my couples who have been with me for years, they will tell you who we are. And trust me, we will go beyond Singapore.. I am just tired of the narrow-mindedness here... the world is the real market, why spend time talking behind someone's back killing one another, when we have so much to do in the real world.

My prayer is this : God, open our eyes to see beyond ourselves.. and let you be the judge of all words and works.. To God be the Glory. Amen


Unknown said…
Dear, dear Hannah, frankly I'm shocked at this pettiness (or should I say jealousy) you've encountered. I never enjoyed the corporate world either and like you, I thought doing my own thing would distance me from the politics that goes with it. But who knew, people are people, and there's gossip and malice just about everywhere. Even if/when I'm not the target, I've seen how people who consider themselves "artists" can act towards their competition. It's unbecoming. Anyway, I salute you for having the guts to write this. I've long admired your passion and integrity. And I'm sure you will go even further! ~Jasmin
t|ng said…
there is nothing wrong with being inspired from the work of others, period. whoever that made the comment about copying designs clearly doesnt have any idea what the definition of copy.

while i understand why you will not allow your customers to choose suppliers such as for flowers and setup, i am curious about what if there is a photographer that the couple would really really like to use because they go way back? to a certain extent, isnt the spark between the couple and the photographer important to the success of a wedding as well?
Hannah Chong said…
Hi tlng, thanks for the note.
When I mentioned we don't allow clients to choose suppliers, I meant contractors whom we chose to deliver what our concept designs and drawings we envisioned I.e from staging, lightings, floral or printing. As for artists like photographer and makeup artists etc, yes certainly couples are free to choose their own, they have to have chemistry with the artists like the way they will choose a wedding planner. But as for designs related to wedding, if we are the one who came out with the designs, we will know the right contractors to deliver what we have in mind well.
t|ng said…
dear hannah,

thank you for your clarification. indeed as the person who comes up with the designs, it would be better to leave the choice of suppliers to you because you would have better chemistry with these providers and it is less likely that they will fall short of delivering what you have in mind. it's just like how the couple can choose the photographer and makeup artist because they have the chemistry and can communicate better.

Adnil said…
Hello! Wow Hannah, sorry to hear about all that cattiness, sounds quite awful for an industry that is supposed to be pretty tight.

Anyway thought I might add a bit to what Hannah wrote (hee i think we were the 1st cherry blossoms couple? :P)

I believe Hannah's strength is indeed in conceptualizing the event itself, and you can tell she really has a huge passion for it. She also has a solid team to back her up (yes, Brenda!) and I would strongly advise future clients to go with the suppliers she recommends. I'll be honest, they're not the cheapest but hey you get what you paid for. We were VERY pleased with the final result, though we were a bit worried initially coz the mockup didnt turn up quite as expected. But when we saw the setup on the actual day, it simply blew us away.

What I want to say is, trust her and her team coz after all you must have seen her portfolio to even consider her in the first place.

As for the choice of photographer and makeup artist, yeah I agree with Tlng, that's very personal and while Hannah did recommend people she thought would be suitable for us, she also respected our decision and understood that we needed to go with someone we were comfortable with.

I really wish to comment on the accusations of "copycat". Yeah i dont think any artist has ever NOT taken references from someone/something else? The planner's job is to conceptualize a holistic theme and she'll need to draw ideas from all over and execute that. I dont see any issue with this and well if some pple want to be ridiculous about it, that person just has to deal with his/her own insecuritites. It's not your responsibility to counsel them...
bronzejean said…
Dear Hannah, though my husband & I have not worked with you for our wedding but we are well impressed & taken by the beauty of your works!

After reading your blog, even more so, you ARE an inspiration, and an encouragement to me as I've also kinda shared the same road, finally mustered courage to enter the "narrow gate" after much prayers. Exited e complicated corporate world to a beautiful world of music education.

Though the process & some people (being humans!) can be difficult (esp during a start up period for me), but take heart & soldier on, for this is your gift from God.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to Life, and only a few find it."

Matt 7:13-14.

trinity said…
HI Hannah,
I have been reading up about wedding planning and have come across Heaven's Gift. I just want to say that I admire you and am thankful that there are people like you in the industry. If ever there is a chance, I would love to meet you face to face and to listen to you.

In His love, your friend
Sze Min
Mwaaaah! mwaaaah! mwaaaaah! Hannah you just said what i wanted to say for a long long time ago....held your head high and walk down the street like it belongs to you, cares no one but you yourself and the love of your life, your work and peoples around you, the rest leave it to HIM, he will take care of it.......whao nicely said Hannah, again reading it alone gives me a booster to be better person and do what i do best more than ever......thank you Hannah for your wonderful "wordings".

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