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We interview our bride of the week, Nicole Froelich, a gifted wedding planner who sees culture as a source of inspiration when creating the dream wedding.
By Patricia Yaker Ekall
This interview features the dynamic Nicole Froelich, a wedding planner with a vision to make every ceremony as gorgeous as it would surely be memorable. Based in Hong Kong, the Swiss-Taiwanese polyglot knows a thing or two about seeing culture as a source of inspiration. She believes that a wedding is “an event that cannot be duplicated.” Nicole works tirelessly to ensure the weddings she plans under her company name, Nicole Please Weddings, are the stuff of dreams. Most notably, Nicole is a Galia Lahav bride. Having fallen for the brand when she first lay eyes on a client’s choice of wedding gown, she made a mental note that she, too, would be clad in Galia Lahav on her special day.
We caught up with the entrepreneurial beauty to learn about her philosophy towards wedding planning. We also discovered all of the achingly beautiful details of her fabulous wedding in Morocco, some of which she shared with her followers on her Instagram page. Get to know our darling bride of the week.
What is it about weddings, in general, that made you want to plan them professionally?
Weddings are a spectacular milestone in your life. A wedding marks an emotional, intimate time and every single one is different; reflecting not only a person but the couple together. Everyone has their own understanding of weddings and I find nothing more exciting than creating a reflection of a couple’s love, enabling them to share that with their dear ones. My dream has always been to turn someone’s vision of ‘the perfect day’ into reality. Because I want to give the couple the best experience, I wouldn’t want them to associate their wedding day with any kind of stress. For me, weddings are about celebrating, having fun and experiencing joy and nothing makes my life more meaningful than to share my passion with others.
Can you recall the first strikingly memorable wedding you attended?
That was a wedding in Tel Aviv, Israel, in the summer of 2011. It took place under hundreds of lemon trees. I have this strong memory of the lovely scent and that moment I looked up – it’s as if it were yesterday. It was my first time attending a Jewish wedding and I was mesmerized by the intimate rituals and touched by the traditions. We danced the night away like there was no tomorrow. That is what I call a celebration of love and life!
At the welcome dinner, all the guests were seated in the restaurant: the bride came for the cocktail reception, while the groom joined us later, for dinner. This was in order for them not to see each other. The bride and groom didn’t see each other for seven days prior to the wedding day and all of us could feel the tension and excitement of the first look when she walked down the aisle, by her side her mother and father, accompanied with a deep male voice singing a Hebrew song.
During the wedding planning, the bride showed me all the Israeli bridal designers and one stuck to my mind: Galia Lahav. It took me a split second and I knew, it was the one. In order not to jinx it, I never mentioned a word about it until the day I was engaged.
Did that moment directly inspire your career today?
In 2010, when I first moved to Hong Kong, I was looking for a job and I knew I wanted to be a wedding planner, even back then. During my first interview with one of the biggest agencies in Hong Kong, the founder told me that I was too young, had no experience and wasn’t even close to getting married myself. She decided not to hire me because of those reasons, so I parked the idea in the back of my head and pursued my career in the next best thing: events management. I focused on planning events for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Shanghai Tang. I learned all about production, operations and logistics but most importantly, I learned about the importance of attention to detail and became adept at delivering quickly with quality in mind.
Still, something wasn’t quite adding up so I moved into PR and Marketing. Then I was made redundant. It was during my time searching for a job that I helped a friend with her wedding planning. The moment I realized that it was time to get over my crushed feelings about my dream, I started working on a website. Before I knew it, I had my first client under Nicole Please Weddings. Through word-of-mouth, I got another client shortly after. I was thrilled when the work I did for that got into the Tatler, Philippines. Then I got another commission through social media. I don’t believe in coincidences; my success was not only about timing but the things I’d learned in my previous career. I’m grateful for the years of experience I had in events planning and I’m thrilled about the outcome.
How does travelling and seeing the world influence the work you do?
Every pattern, shadow, flower, colour combination, scent -even architecture – influences my creativity. We travel around the world a lot, which broadens my horizons and helps me understand different people, cultures and traditions. From how they communicate with each other to their relationship with loved ones, their upbringing and the education they had, as well as the exposure they have to art, music and food. Regardless of the country we’re in, we always try out new things to broaden our range of experience. From new restaurants for food presentations, museums and heritage sites for venue scouting, to going to theatres and concerts for staging ideas, there’s always room to find a source of inspiration. I also like to scout fitness trends for new songs, as well as mindfulness tasks that help with personal growth, which could help my clients better connect with their inner self. The way we live our life is a source of influence in its own way.
What, in your opinion, are the benefits of appreciating different cultures?
The world today seems to be more united than ever before, coming together not only geographically speaking but culturally, too. Some of these merges in culture can be attributed to more inter-cultural partnerships being forged. As a result, we become more understanding and adapt quite quickly to each other: so life becomes more interesting. More and more weddings are being created with varying aspects, influenced by each culture that might have touched it. People tend to want to connect more deeply with their roots, thus keeping certain traditions alive while simultaneously creating new ones. All of these factors allow us to reinvent the different ways we celebrate. It’s wonderful because it challenges our creativity in order to make each client’s wedding bespoken for them.
When it comes to inter-cultural weddings, mutual respect is often the secret to a successful wedding day. The trick is simple: the more you include your loved ones, the more memorable they will make your wedding day for you. It is, therefore, my duty to act as a go-between for the couple and everyone else, in order to avoid any additional stress.
Aside from your schooling, how else did you learn to equip yourself for your chosen profession?
The most important characteristic of a wedding planner is personality. It’s a crucial quality to have in order to sensitively manage the expectations of the bride (and groom), but also to be sharp enough to manage all the suppliers. It’s imperative to stay positive and friendly, creative and solution-oriented, active and understanding. Then comes the experience of being the wedding planner while doubling up as an observant guest, in order to understand the other point of view.
My education at the Swiss Hospitality school supported me with the skill of service. Living in Asia for over 11 years gave me the ability for efficiency. Public speaking workshops gave me the right amount of confidence, while creative writing workshops helped me to know how to kickstart my brainstorming mind. Even Yoga classes taught me something about never giving up and meditation empowered me to tune in and align my mind and body.
As you can see, I take every opportunity to develop my personal growth – which should be never-ending.
How did it feel to wear your Galia Lahav bridal gown on your own wedding day?
It was – truly – love at first sight. We’d gotten engaged in the Maldives and the day we returned to Hong Kong, I booked an appointment with the bridal store that carried Galia Lahav, Trinity Bridal. I took my maid of honour and a friend I’d appointed as my personal stylist to be my critical eyes. That moment I took that beautiful GALA 708 dress off the rack, they both screamed ‘YES!’ I hadn’t even tried it on yet, but it was THE dress. I ordered a size up and started my strict fitness routine 13 months prior to the big day. I wanted to look my absolute best.
The dress fit better than a glove on the day. I didn’t show it to any of my other bridesmaids and had so much fun revealing the dress to them while getting ready. Their expressions were phenomenal.
The dress couldn’t have made me feel any more beautiful and I felt absolutely comfortable. I felt sexy yet still appropriately clad to be seen by family and the elderly. I wore it with pride and joy. Galia Lahav made me look my best from any angle and I felt so elegant. It was a complete dream come true and I felt like the dress was made for me.
It was wonderfully nerve-wracking to witness my husband’s reaction when I walked down the aisle. His reaction was priceless and he made me feel like I was the most beautiful bride in the world. Even a few months after the wedding, I still look at the dress and touch its laces and embroidery. It is stunning how much love went into creating such a gorgeous dress.
Having had an inter-cultural, international upbringing, you likely had your pick of destinations. Why Marrakech?
Everyone asked us the same question and we gave them the same reply: why not? My husband, Christopher, is French and I am half Swiss and half Taiwanese. We are both based in Hong Kong. We chose Marrakech because we wanted to have a special destination for our big day. It is not only unique, but it was almost guaranteed to have good weather and would make a great destination for our loved ones to explore. There were direct flights from both our hometowns, it would require no visa for most of our guests, with the option to stay in a hotel that either cost 10EUR per night or up to 1,000EUR per night so there were no restrictions to guests with different budgets. Besides, Marrakech’s atmosphere alone is just so breathtaking that we wanted to experience it together with our loved ones. I was also really up for challenging myself to organise a wedding at a location that was completely unknown and mysterious to me.
What was the most memorable moment of your special day?
If I had to choose just one rare moment, it would be our grand entrance (Christopher and mine) from the cocktail to the dinner area. Until all the guests had been seated, we had been taking a moment for ourselves hiding in the bridal room and actually soaking in what had happened so far. To look into each other’s eyes and realize that this was the moment we’d waited and planned for – the moment we would treasure forever – was incredible. We took a few minutes to consolidate our emotions, then to predict that we will enjoy our day slowly, with pure love. Then we hopped on to the palanquins, which are the Moroccan traditional plates, with eight men carrying us inside to the dinner location. That was the absolute highlight, where we felt the energy from everyone singing along “Alabina” and firing up the sparklers. That atmosphere right there was phenomenal and unforgettable.
What is one tip you’d like to give to any bride-to-be on their wedding day?
The most common mistake most brides make (besides not hiring a wedding planner or day coordinators) is not hiring a videographer! I can’t express how important it is to get a talented videographer whose vision is aligned with what your own preferences are! I looked into 47 different videographers and compared everything. It was a lot of work, but it was well worth it. A video is the only way to re-live those emotions and capture special moments that sometimes deserve to have a “play, pause, loop” button. Even for that, create a wedding hashtag because if you are as impatient as me, it’s great to see some visuals first before you get all the official ones. This is perfect for reminiscing about the good times, even on social!
And, just in case I can add some additional tips, definitely contact me but for now: don’t forget to focus on love because that’s really the sole reason everyone attends weddings. With all the planning, sometimes this gets a bit lost in translation. Also, determine what the three most important aspects of your wedding will be. For example, the goal for ours was that it would be the biggest celebration of our lives. So it’s important to have a rundown and floorplan to be looked at together and not individually. This enables the momentum to continue and allows for smooth transitions. Lastly, try to make it as easy as possible for your guests, to avoid any complications and delays.