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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

UPDATE: Grand Hyatt Our Choice For Wedding Venue Part 2

First and foremost, I've got to apologize for the long hiatus from blogging and an even BIGGER apology to those that have emailed/commented on my post on choosing Grand Hyatt for our wedding. Life has been busy busy busy, earning money for our upcoming house and what not. On top of that, I've been suffering from some slight health issues. (not life-threatening ones but well, serious enough for me to not focus on putting my life out on social media)

In any case, I think I owe many poor couples a reply at least, on this post in particular. So here I am!

I think that post http://esthan.blogspot.sg/2015/11/grand-hyatt-our-choice-for-wedding-venue.html is hands-down the post that channeled most traffic to my blog. I've been bombarded by emails and comments asking me to further elaborate the details of what went wrong at our wedding. Initially I did reply some people super lengthy emails and went into every single details. And then, I just couldn't keep up with replying the emails anymore.

So I've decided to create a new post which everyone will have access to.


This post will not reveal every single nitty-gritty detail of how my wedding screwed up, because you know, that's just ugly lah.
Let's not be that woman in the foodcourt who went berserk and railed nonstop in public at something she couldn't let go off.
I'm definitely over this so going public about this now makes me seem damn petty.
But the numerous emails that I've received made me realize the concern and anxiety of many engaged couples who are genuinely concerned about making the right choice in their wedding venue.

I know that feeling. Especially when you are paying this price, you need that piece of mind that you've not made a wrong decision for your big day.

Overall I had an awesome wedding, because of my helpers and all the loved ones who attended.

What I was disappointed in was the way the staff handled us and the service rendered to my guests on that day. 


But please take note, my experience was purely a personal one and it definitely was/will not the exact same for another couple. I've had friends who held their wedding there and were perfectly happy with the way it turned out.



This post will be aimed at couples who are planning their wedding to look out for issues that could potentially go wrong. Hopefully it will be of some use to you guys!


FIRST THINGS FIRST, CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING ENGAGED AND MOVING ONTO THE NEXT STEP IN LIFE! MARRIAGE IS BEAUTIFUL AND I'M SO GLAD FOR YOU THAT YOU'VE FOUND THE ONE. :)

I just had to congratulate you guys first right?



Ok, so basically after our wedding was over, Simon and I sat down and talked about it. We decided that we had to highlight our displeasure about the way things were handled to someone. And that person would be the Director of Events at Grand H****.

DIRECTOR. Apparently the biggest shot I could find.



DIRECTOR FAILED TO SHOW UP AT ARRANGED MEETING


We rang him up and scheduled a meeting with him 2 days after the wedding so he could address the hotel's mishandling of our wedding face-to-face. It was on our checkout day and we deliberately checked out early in order to accommodate his schedule. He didn't show up. You can imagine our disappointment.

Our co-ordinator did though, and said he wasn't feeling well. Ok, give him benefit of doubt. We're humans, we fall sick. Especially when dealing when tough situations at work.

But Hello? I'd have the decency to inform you BEFOREHAND that I couldn't make it, and ask if it's OK that I send my subordinate to meet you. And schedule another meeting if that's not OK.

BECAUSE IT'S REALLY NOT OK TO NOT TURN UP AFTER SOMEONE SPECIALLY demanded REQUESTED TO SEE YOU AND YOU SEND YOUR SUBORDINATE INSTEAD.

I could have slept in, or had breakfast, or go for a morning swim.
But I did not.
I checked out early to meet YOU.  *rage*


Since I couldn't meet him personally, I sent him an email directly. There's no siam-ing now.

And guess what? No reply on the first email.

Sent another one and he replied saying he didn't want to disturb us on our Honeymoon. (ok, this one I give it to you but you still could have replied saying we'll arrange after we are back from our Honeymoon?)

Thank Heavens he finally met up with us and came back with "findings" about what went wrong. But there really wasn't any point in those "findings" because we didn't want anyone to blame for those mishandling since our wedding is already over. Most of his findings were defensive even though he did try to appear not defensive of his staff.



So here are the "findings" which he returned with, and like I said, I'm not being nitty-gritty about things now. But I honestly think these are good pointers for couple to take note of during their wedding, no matter your venue.
I hope you guys find them useful!




Briefing for Banquet Flow Prior to Banquet DID NOT START ON TIME


Ok, We were the ones who were late. We were at fault.

But given the circumstances the groom and the bridal party is overwhelmed, and very likely suffering from lack of sleep, this very well could happen to any other couples.

Honestly, my groom fell asleep and I was busy with my MUA, and the entire bridal team simply lost track of time. They were exhausted.

The service captain could have called us to remind us of the briefing to ensure we have ample time for the briefing before the solemnization.

She said she waited for us. (I'm sorry we were late, but why didn't you call us dear?)





Details of our contract were mixed up, dragging the briefing due to confusion

During the briefing itself, the service captain mentioned that we will be serving canapés and cocktail drinks. 

No we did not select canapés and Simon was honest and clear-minded enough to point out that we do not have canapés. 

So if we hadn't said anything, would the kitchen have been able to whip out the canapés there and then?

Honestly, at that point in time, we were started to doubt if she really got everything under her control. 

I suspect this could have been the fault of our co-ordinator who drafted the details of our contract wrongly. I can't remember now and don't want to pin-point anyone too.

A mistake is a mistake. 

The briefing dragged. And dragged. 



Solemnization could not start on time

At 630 pm sharp when our JP arrived, there was no one to receive him as our bridal team were still in the midst of the briefing. The bride, myself, welcomed him and reminded those involved in the briefing that the JP was here. The briefing continued on. The JP waited. 5 to 10 minutes later, I had to step forward and stop the briefing so the solemnization can get going.

Yes we allocated someone to receive the JP. But he was at the briefing, listening intently. Because the briefing was still on-going.

The Service Captain should have taken charge and paused the briefing for the solemnization to begin. The briefing can resume after the ceremony. I came up with a schedule with exact timing and sent it to the hotel days ahead of the Wedding.

Everyone knows it's rude to keep the JP waiting.

In this case, we were all there.

But the briefing was still on-going.

The Service Captain did not have it under her control.


How to prevent this: 

Do allocate a helper and remind him time and again, to receive the JP and ensure the set-up is ready by the time the JP arrives. 

We did allocate a helper for that, but our mistake was involving him in other banquet duties, thus involving him in the briefing that ate into our Solemnization start time.)





Wrong Info on Microphones for Solemnization


During the AV testing 1 week before the wedding, our co-ordinator told us very clearly that microphones were not used in the room as it was too loud.

I conveyed this exact same message to my JP and photographers.

Microphones were however, present on the day itself and it had to be my JP (who arrived on time and had nothing to do) to inform me that microphones were available.

Just imagine the embarrassment. Didn't start on time and still give wrong info. :(

After which I asked my co-ordinator how come there are microphones when she said there weren't. And she kinda went blank and asked me if I'd like them to be removed.

Ok, I forgive her. She made a mistake but she tried her best in recovering from it.


How to prevent this: 

Double confirm, triple confirm and confirm 10 times. And if still wrong info, too bad you are just suay. (like me) haha







AV Station Located on Different Side

Again, wrong info given!

During the AV testing, it was on the left facing the stage. We checked with the soundman and confirmed the placing of the AV station.

We took that into consideration and deliberately arranged our AV coordinators to be seated nearest to the AV station. So the poor fellas will have lesser distance to run and hopefully, eat more food!

On the wedding day, the AV station moved to the right side, complete opposite end.

So we not only made unnecessary arrangements, we also inconvenienced our AV coordinators who ended up being further away from the AV stations.


How to prevent this: 

Double confirm, triple confirm and confirm 10 times. And if still wrong info, too bad you are just suay. (like me) haha

(This is a small matter but during the rehearsal before doors were opened, the AV personnel told my emcees that sound could not be heard from the outside so my emcees spoke into the microphones loudly and freely. However, it was loud and clear according to my guests who were waiting outside. Kinda spoilt the show but well, small matter lah)



MISSING GUESTBOOK

Do you call it "missing" if it never even appeared at all?

We were supposed to have a Guestbook provided by the hotel, as in our contract. 

But it NEVER showed up.

Thankfully, we had our own guestbook. 

Upon asking them, they admitted that that they'd overlooked that.  

I'm sure they'd be able to quickly find a guestbook if we had pointed it out on the spot. It's not a big issue, but it honestly adds up to their mistakes!


How to prevent this: 

If the Guestbook is important to you, prepare your own. You could just be damn unlucky and have the hotel run out of it on your wedding day. If it's not important to you, then I guess it doesn't matter at all.






Lack of Professionalism from Servers

At the VIP table, this particular server who brought us our 1st dish, actually put my father-in-law's plate down, took a look at it, and took it away within seconds. 

She returned later and placed the plate back down nonchalantly. 
There was no explanation from her as to why she did that. 
She didn't even make eye contact or looked sorry. 

We were all puzzled by her action and kinda looked at each other at the round table awkwardly. I didn't know to laugh or cry at that, honestly.

Mind you, this was the 1st dish served at the VIP table.
I can only imagine the service at other tables!!!

The Director later on identified the server so they could address this more directly.
But really, it's my wedding banquet at THIS particular hotel, which is what, 5 stars?
And the last thing I should be worrying about is what these servers are doing.

I'm not faulting the poor young girl cos I know this is a part-time job for her but seriously?!
Couldn't you have sent a more experienced server to the VIP table??? 





Drinks were not actively refilled. 




Servers were unstable when presenting heavy dishes. 

As mentioned in my previous post HERE, some of my guests mentioned that hot claypot dishes were served over baby chairs/strollers. 


How to prevent this: 

Unfortunately, nothing you can do about this. If you have an idea, do let me know.







Lack of staff to offer Assistance, Confusing Locations of Ballrooms

Ok, The Gallery which on paper, is on Level 1.
But you actually got to take the escalator one level up from Ground level. 

The other ballrooms, on paper, are on Level 2. 
So that's taking 2 floors up from Ground level. 

Now that is just confusing. 


I mentioned during the Food Tasting about how confusing it is for guests to locate the correct ballroom and they reassured me that there will be staff around on the actual day to assist guests.

On the actual day, however, guests for the other ballrooms kept walking into our ballroom and my helpers ended up redirecting them upstairs.
It happened so constantly that it was actually frustrating.
My reception table helpers were not the hotel's ushers. 

Where are the staff she previous reassured me? Even if there were, I guess they lacked so much initiative that people could not spot them at all.


How prevent this: 

IDK, tell the Hotel that this is just silly? Why call it level 1 when you gotta take the escalator up? 
Erm, nothing. It's the architecture of the Hotel. 

Apparently, giving feedback in advance didn't help much. But this is a small issue lah. Your guests get confused for a while but they'll find their way. 







Confusion on which door to be used for my 2nd March-in

My 2nd March-in was more like a Dance-in which was in the middle of a song.
Hence, the timing and which door to enter from is of absolute importance.
We had to dance in! Simon and I met through dance so we had to do this RIGHT.

You CANNOT start the music or draw the curtains at the wrong timing for any sort of performance.

We were specifically told prior to the 2nd March-In which door to be used.

However, at the exact timing that we were supposed to enter, the OTHER door opened and naturally, we went for the other door.

Then the staff inside got confused and the door closed as we were going towards it and had to ran back to the original door, which opened slightly later than it should have.

Simon and I regained our composure despite the running back and forth behind those doors and continued with our March-in.

It's amusing when we think back about this, and we always have a good laugh.
But the amount of stress that day - Higher than my grandparents and parents' blood pressure combined.

They later on explained that they couldn't lock the door in case guests needed to exit. That I understand. But better co-ordination should have been in place. what if someone wanted to exit as the moment that we were doing our 2nd March-in?

I honestly don't know what went wrong at that moment. 

They could have just ensured the other door remains closed momentarily. 




How to prevent this: 

We rehearsed this with the Service Captain and staff 1 hour before the banquet, and made clear that only 1 door would be used. We thought they understood. 

How else could we have done it better?








Couple Told Very Bluntly Not to "Jump" On Stage


We danced in and naturally ended it on the stage. This is prior to champagne toasting.

During AV testing, we were explained very clearly how the stage set-up would be.

We are well aware of the podium on the stage right and the champagne fountain on the stage left.

We even managed to rehearse the actual dance THRICE before the  doors opened, in my huge ballroom gown and with the music.

The Service Captain was was there, she saw how the dance would be like.

During the wedding, after our dance, while handing the champagne bottle to us (who were onstage), she told us very matter-of-factly not to jump.

She was concerned about the champagne fountain, I understand. But if this concern of hers has to be brought up, shouldn't it done earlier and not during the dinner itself, in front of 220 guests, and as I'm about the pour the champagne?

We had finished dancing (jumping, as she calls it) when she told us to be careful of the champagne fountain.

My guest who witnessed this asked me later on what she said to us because she didn't look like she was saying something nice to us.


I hop you understand where I'm coming from.

At this point in time, I really don't care how she put her message across to us. But it's the fact that she witnessed our rehearsal thrice prior to doors opening, yet she seemed taken aback when it was the actual performance!

Let me assure you we were nowhere close to breaking the champagne fountain, since we managed to rehearse it in advance. Isn't that what rehearsals are for?




How to prevent this: 

If you are going to do something that's not usual, highlight it multiple times to them in advance. And ensure they get a good look of what exactly will happen.

But then again, lots of people dance at Weddings nowadays.








Lack of Carpark Slots For Guests

On paper, we were not promised us availability of carpark slots. 

 But I must say when we brought up this concern at meetings prior to the wedding, we WERE given the impression that parking would not be much of an issue since there are approximately 500 parking slots. 

TWICE. We were told that parking is usually not of an issue. 

Unfortunately, it was a problem to many of my guests, who arrived late due to parking issues.

Apparently, there was a big group of people from elsewhere that used the Hotel's carpark and it was completely unexpected.  

My sister, who was my decision maker on that day, decided to bring this up to the attention of the hotel. The Director, then told my sister to take note of how many guests failed to park at the Hotel, and they will give parking coupons for a later date as a form of compensation. 

The coupons were unfortunately, not for collection on the Wedding date. We could only collect it later and give it to our guests later as well. Imagine the trouble, please!

Not very helpful since the coupons were for a later date and also not readily available on that day. 

But better than nothing.




How to prevent this: 

Always look for a back up for parking, and inform your guests in advance.  Even when the hotels tells you parking is not a problem with them. Just in case, you know. Because stuff happens.



Last but not least, here comes the highlight!

Welcome Card in Bridal Suite with Misspelled Last Name

We went back to the room after a long day and was in a good mood thanks to the blessings of our guests, despite the hiccups and bad service.

Tried to log in using the wifi password which was supposedly our last name and failed. Then we realised that our last name was misspelled on the welcome card.

CHIU. A fairly common surname in Singapore but they spelled it as CIU.

This is a major disappointment.

In fact, I was absolutely appalled.

Are we really in the bridal suite at Grand Hyatt?

As newly weds who just held their wedding at the hotel, we felt so small, so unimportant.

We signed the package months ahead. Yet I feel like I checked into a motel last minute who could not be bothered with my last name.




How to prevent this: 

Well, find a hotel that cares?







SERVICE RECOVERY After Meeting the Director 

High Tea buffet (the remaining 1 hr of the buffet timing during which we had our discussion with the Director) and
2 extra nights stay within 1 yr at the hotel. (just a normal room, not suite)

But they did upgrade us to a corporate suite when we checked in for Valentine's weekend though.



Many thanks for the upgrade though! :)

Overall, I think their staff are really inexperienced. Our sales coordinator quit 2 months before our wedding and the one that replaced her was nice, but inexperienced. Our service captain at our wedding day did not handle our event and stress well, and I thought she was quite rude too.

But still, the venue is amazing and food is out of the world. But at my cost price of 1,800 sgd per table, I'm not too sure the service is up to this price at all. My pictures were beautifully taken at their ballroom though.


Our Wedding is over. There's nothing we can do to turn back time and correct any of these mistakes. If good food and ambience was the only thing I could say about this hotel, then we might have been better holding the wedding at a restaurant.


I don't know after reading this long post of rants, you might perceive me as a very unhappy and not easy to please lady? Perhaps being the service industry myself, makes it more difficult to forgive these mistakes?


We confidently placed our trust in Grand Hyatt and its team to hold our wedding. But all of these just accumulates and it's upsetting when there were so many things surprised us at our Wedding. Really testing the bride's limit leh.


We're over it now and I've contemplated allowing this to go public because it has never easy giving bad reviews. But the number of emails I've received regarding this is honestly quite a concern. I wouldn't want other couples to go through the same experience on their big day.

Again, I'd like to highlight that we've had other friends who held their Wedding there and had absolutely positive things to say about them. So it could just be our bad luck.

It has been an ultra lengthy post and I hope some of it was useful to you guys, Mr & Mrs-to-bes!

Congratulations once again and may you have a wonderful Wedding!