A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Vernon and Sara-Ann’s Wedding at The Majestic Theatre, Penang

With each invitation carefully placed in jars illuminated by fairy lights, the stage was set for our friends Vernon Tan and Sara Ann Krishnamoorthy’s nuptials, shot by LiveStudios Interactive Photography. The couple took pains to pamper their guests and the festivities began with a retro kopitiam-themed welcome dinner at The Edison, where the couple served traditional Penang hawker favourites to their friends and family. On the night of the reception, guests entered The Majestic Theatre to find themselves transported into the enchanted forest of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Planned by Floralsense Creation, the couple’s Malaysia wedding featured a wedding cake made entirely of cheese wheels and fruit, as well as ring bearers and flower girls dressed up as woodland critters and faeries. The couple also invited each of their guests to personalise scarves that were silkscreened with an exclusive print designed by Raksasa Print Studio. The three-day long celebration ended with high tea at Macalister Mansion, where everyone turned up in hats of different shapes and sizes in the spirit of the weekend’s theatrics.

How did you meet?
“We met at Butter Factory’s closing party on the 3rd of January in 2015. I spotted him standing on a couch, right in the spotlight – peacocking. I pegged him a douchebag right away, but I admit that I found him attractive.My friends and I sat at the table next to his, and I started dancing on the couch too. When DJ Andrew T came on, Vernon stopped dancing and started texting on his phone. I saw him and the only thing I could think of was that the DJs that were spinning that night were spinning at the Butter Factory for the last time. Thousands of people have so many good memories of the place, and the closing party was a big deal.

So… I hit him on the back. Hard. (Note: I don’t drink, so I wasn’t drunk.)

He looked at me rather shocked, and I said, ‘When the music is good, don’t disrespect the DJ la!’ He blinked and said (a little too smoothly I might add), ‘But what if I was using my phone to get your number?’

Seeing as how all my guy friends knew him, I figured he wasn’t interested. He was there with a rather pretty girl too. I thought, ‘Okay, this dude either wants to be polite or just be friends.’ I keyed in my number. He went right back to dancing and jumping, and promptly fell off the couch. His friend helped him up and tried to introduce Vernon to me, and I realised that he had already forgotten my name after all of twenty seconds!

We actually remained friends until he realised he had stopped talking to other girls and that he would always rather be talking to me.

We realised later on that we had missed quite a number of opportunities to connect. Two weeks before we met, my friend and I were searching online for someone with the same Chinese name as his, when Vernon’s profile popped up instead. Even then, I wondered how I had never met this reasonably good-looking guy, despite having many mutual friends with him.

Three weeks before he met me, my profile started coming up on his Facebook feed under ‘People You May Know’. Back then, I had silver hair with frosted blue tips, so when he saw me at Butter Factory, he recognised me right away.

The strangest thing is, about two months after we started dating, I introduced him to one of my friends. She looked utterly confused, because our paths already crossed a month before the closing of Butter Factory. She and I were talking at another event, when she turned to speak with someone standing next to me. I was distracted then, because my ex also happened to be at the event, and we had only broken up a month or two prior.

But yes, you guessed it: that guy standing right next to me was Vernon. And yet, despite all our mutual friends, we only met at the perfect time, when both of us weren’t looking for anything.” ~ Sara Ann

How did he propose?
“They say the third time’s the charm. He proposed three times, and I said ‘yes’ every time.

The first time happened on a dark and stormy night, literally. It was his birthday in December, and he kept insisting that we release sky lanterns. His timing couldn’t have been any worse, but even with the winds blowing and the rain pouring like crazy, he was determined to release that lantern. All I could think about then were all the worst case scenarios, and I tried to convince him that releasing the lantern might land us both in the hospital with scars on our faces. He got pretty grouchy, and I eventually gave in because it was his birthday.

As soon as the lantern was released, I turned around and he was kneeling in a puddle with a giant lollipop ring sticking out of a ring box. He said, ‘Will you marry me?’

When his friends heard this story, they made him redo his proposal with an ice cube shaped like a diamond ring. This time, though, he barely improved on ‘the speech’.

The cincher happened on the second anniversary of the day we met. I didn’t think he would have something big planned because he had already proposed twice. I figured when he got the ring, he would go, ‘Nah.’ and shove it in my face. I only suspected that he might officially propose that day when he reminded me to wear something nice out because he planned to go for drinks after dinner.

He said that we would get takeout to bring to his parents’ place, but little did I know that he planned to lure me Ka-Soh at the NUS Guild House instead. I got there to find my army of inflatable floats scattered across the pool. (I collect floats because they make me happy.)

He knelt down and said a beautiful, romantic speech to the theme song of this Korean drama series we were both watching at the time. I couldn’t really register any of it then, because there was so much blood rushing to my ears. 

He opened the ring box to show me the stunning ring, and I was about to tear up when I saw a familiar face running toward us. He yelled out a war cry while brandishing a confetti bomb like a warrior with a machete. Confetti started exploding out of it and people spilled out of the cracks! There must have been at least 60-80 members of my friends and family hiding behind the trees and crouching in the stairwells. They all rushed out to hug and congratulate us, and I was so overwhelmed that my tears receded into my eye sockets. 

I learned later that he had contacted at least 100 of my friends just to come down and help with the surprise. The people who bothered to come down to be a part of the surprise really made my day. Not only were they willing to show up and be a part of it, but they also managed to keep the surprise from me for two whole weeks – that took some planning on Vernon’s part, for sure. It was really sweet of him, and I’m still really amazed by how he managed to keep it all a surprise.” ~ Sara Ann

What was the theme of your wedding?
“Our theme was ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and we welcomed all our guests with gift packs that included local Penang snacks like tau sar piah and kueh bangkit, as well as cup noodles, Super Rings and mosquito patches.” ~ Sara Ann

How did you decorate your venues? Did you undertake any DIY projects?
“We wanted to have something very magical to suit our theme, which is essentially a Shakespearean romantic comedy that takes place in an enchanted forest.

I DIY-ed all the invitations: illuminated cookie jars with snacks that when lit up, were meant to look like jars of fireflies or stars. Vernon loved the ‘Save The Date’ that I hastily came up with on my phone, and we were lucky to have Emily of Paper Tiger Press to help me bring my vision to life. Assembling the invitations was a little troublesome for sure, but we wanted our guests to feel special. The snacks were just a taste of things to come. 

We also really wanted to write something personal to thank everyone for coming but we ran out of time, so in the end I drew out everything in the welcome pack we gave out that weekend.” ~ Sara Ann

What sort of wedding favors did you opt for, and why?
“We wanted to give gifts that were practical, and I hoped to give something that people could personalise as well.

Since I chanced upon the work of Rakasa Print last year, I had always wanted to work with them. I thought the wedding favours would be the perfect excuse for us to work together, so I engaged their services even before we decided what the favours would be. We were warned that The Majestic Theatre can get pretty chilly, so we decided to give out scarves in a gender-neutral shade of grey.

The people behind Raksasa Print came up with a beautiful Midsummer Night’s Dream-inspired design that they silkscreened onto all the scarves. Over the course of the night, each guest was invited to personalise his own scarf with quotes from the play. My favourite is definitely ‘Methought I was enamoured of an ass.’ Guests also had the option to silkscreen their initials or names on the scarves as well.

Surprisingly, the scarves were received very well, so much so that people are still asking us for them, as well as for the butterfly magnets we used as place cards. Angeline did such a great job with the calligraphy that the people who lost their butterflies during the course of the evening wanted new ones!” ~ Sara Ann

Any tips or wedding advice for other brides and grooms-to-be?
“We had three weddings when all we really wanted was to have an ROM. Our advice would be to manage your expectations, because there are some things that you will have to do for the sake of family.

In the end, we had a beautiful, intimate registration at Tung Lok Private Dining, with just our immediate family present. That was all we could really ask for: something small, simple yet meaningful.

We had another wedding in Pekanbaru, and that turned out to be tons of fun because we decided to just embrace everything that came along with it. Vernon’s father is the third sibling in a family of thirteen and karaoke was the main source of entertainment for the night, so you can imagine the kind of fun we had.

We originally planned our wedding in Penang for our parents, but it turned out to be the one we enjoyed the most. Perhaps it was because we planned different activities over the course of three days, and that gave us the opportunity to really mingle with our guests. We didn’t feel rushed like most people do at their weddings. We enjoyed ourselves, and in turn I think our friends really enjoyed themselves too.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let everything go before the wedding. If possible, avoid touching your phone on the days before and after your wedding. Know that things will go wrong, and that’s okay. Your wedding is only one day in the story of the rest of your life together.” ~ Sara Ann

What do you think makes a strong marriage?
“Learn how to fight well, and fight fairly.

Vernon and I have fighting rules and relationship conflict resolution tips taped to our fridge. Of course, we don’t always adhere to them, but that is why we need them to be there – to constantly remind us that we should fight fair. 

Love is a choice. Choose to love the person you married every single day, even when you don’t really like them.” ~ Sara Ann

Congratulations on your marriage, Vernon and Sara-Ann! May it be every bit as beautiful as your wedding!