In Lelian Chew’s six years of running The Wedding Atelier and The Floral Atelier, she’s gleaned one important truth: That everyone is a ‘bridezilla’ when it comes to their weddings. And that’s perfectly understandable.
“I believe that there’s nothing too impossible, or too demanding, from clients,” she says with a serene smile. “Because on their biggest day that happens only once in their lives, you can’t say no to them.”
In some ways, Chew’s life as a wedding planner is not too dissimilar to her time as a financier for Goldman Sachs—in fact, she thinks her current job might be even tougher.
“When I was in finance, my job was to manage the toughest clients in Asia for ten years,” she says. That meant having people who’d ring her up at 2 in the morning and demand to know why their stock was trading down by two cents, and that she do something about it—right away.
“But if you lose a million dollars for a tycoon, you can always make it back for them next week,” she says. “Compared to screwing up someone’s wedding… There’s no coming back from that!”
Still, Chew wouldn’t give it up for the world. She’s a hopeless romantic and she knows it: Chew sheepishly admits to crying at every wedding she attends, even the ones she’s planned and laboured over for months on end.
And now Chew wants to bring her vision of love and romance to Singapore. It all culminates in The Atelier & Co’s new global headquarters, located—in all places—on the top floor of an unassuming industrial park at Alexandra Road.
Located in Delta House, the Atelier & Co’s headquarters opens officially to the public on Saturday, August 17. It consolidates The Wedding Atelier and The Floral Atelier’s base of operations to a singular floral-scented and endlessly Instagrammable loft.
The jewel in the crown is the dreamy Crystal Cube, a climate-controlled cold room that houses fresh florals and blooms from around the world. They’re even lovingly arranged by colour, like a botanical rainbow; It is as redolent as it is pleasing to look at.
And Chew has been pulling out all the stops to ensure that the public launch goes according to plan. She might have left her old life in finance behind, but leaving things to chance is something Chew is simply incapable of.
“I want the launch to be as perfect as can be,” she says. “In fact, my team always scolds me for being too obsessive about things.”
Given that Chew’s clients up till now have mainly come from Hong Kong and China, the decision to set up her headquarters in Singapore seems like a rare blip in her meticulous business plan.
But Chew is nothing if not sentimental. Setting up her headquarters in Singapore was as much a calculated decision as it was an emotional one: “I’m still a Singaporean at heart, so this was kind of a homecoming for me.”
As for how Chew fell into wedding planning, it was pure serendipity. After a decade in Goldman Sachs, Chew left the finance world. At the time, she had nothing on the cards, save for planning her own wedding. She summarily told her legion of former clients, who misheard her—they assumed she was becoming a wedding planner.
The broken-telephone effect went on, and Chew inadvertently found herself as one of seven planners for the wedding of a client’s son.
“And there I realised it was a crazy industry. The lengths that people are willing to go for this one day were enormous—I mean, millions of dollars and months of hard work,” she says.
“But being able to create that sort of magic was so incredible. There’s no bigger satisfaction for me.”
After all, Chew is used to high-stress environments: But given the choice between numbers on a trading floor and planning the wedding of a lifetime, Chew very much knows where she wants to be.