DIY Wedding

Meet Lelian Chew, the Singapore-based wedding planner to Asia’s ultra-rich

A BEAUTIFUL ACCIDENT

Funnily enough, it was a case of “lost in translation” that led to Chew’s start in the wedding industry. For several years, Chew was a private banker with Goldman Sachs, servicing a high-net-worth clientele. She had also moved to Hong Kong to cover the China market.

“At one point, I just decided that I had spent 10 years, fresh out of school, with the same bank, doing the same thing. It wasn’t so much a push factor, but a pull factor to really sit back and think, is there anything more to life than this? Could I be doing something else?”

Chew eventually left banking. While contemplating the next steps in her career, she decided to focus on planning her own wedding. That was when she got a call from a former client. “It was a call to find out where I had gone to. I told him that I wasn’t going to join another bank and if I was going to do something, it would be something different. I said that I was just going to take my time to plan my wedding,” Chew recounted. “English is not this client’s first language. So he said, ‘What? Are you planning weddings? My son is getting married. Why don’t you help?’”

Chew decided to run with it. She flew to Indonesia for an interview, and eventually became the eighth wedding planner hired by the family. There were 3,000 guests at the wedding, and the family needed planners to take care of different aspects of the event.

Soon, word-of-mouth began to spread among Chew’s former clients that she was now in the wedding industry. By the end of the year, she had done enough weddings to build a portfolio. “Some people say that it was a beautiful accident. I almost feel like maybe it was meant to be,” Chew said of her start.

The Wedding Atelier was founded in Hong Kong, but Chew has since moved its headquarters to Singapore. Besides weddings, the company also organizes and styles events for luxury brands. Her second venture, The Floral Atelier, was founded to complement the wedding and events business by providing floral decorations, but it has also expanded into a retail business selling unique floral arrangements and other products.

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