Last weekend, I was given a rare opportunity to witness the set up of an outdoor wedding on the resort island of Bintan, Indonesia. Bintan, an island of the Riau Archipelago, is situated 45 minutes away by ferry from Singapore, and is a popular getaway for Singaporeans and visitors alike. What most people may not know is, it’s also an up-and-coming wedding location and I got to gate-crash Shah and Michelle’s wedding at The Canopi, Treasure Bay Bintan, with several other media members over a weekend.
Chilli Padi Vs Bomoh
Honestly, weddings are not usually the things that people want to take risks with, especially when so much is at stake. Perhaps for this reason, most couples’ weddings are unimaginative and typically follow the same template – opting to have a safe lunch or dinner banquet in a hotel ballroom or restaurant locally.
For Shah and Michelle to hold an unconventional outdoor wedding in Bintan is certainly a bit of a gamble. When we arrived shortly before noon, dark clouds could be seen moving ominously overhead. True enough, it started to drizzle over lunch and put a damper on the wedding preparations underway at The Canopi, where the wedding was set later that evening. During lunch, some of us were even talking about the different local practices, such as planting chilli padi in the ground or hiring a bomoh for prayers, in order to ward off inclement weather for outdoor events.
The Magic of an Outdoor Wedding
Sometimes you just have to risk big in order to win big; Perhaps the prayers were heard, or the planted chilli padi worked, the rain abated by the time guests arrived. Not only did the rain stopped in time, it cooled the air and polished the surface of the azure Crystal Lagoon to make it the perfect setting. The lawn chairs were laid out, and the wedding was underway.
When Michelle and Shah appeared across the lagoon, people were probably expecting a boat to bring them across the water. Then I witnessed one of the coolest walk down the aisle – Michelle and Shah stepped into the lagoon and walked on water towards the wedding altar. Everyone got really excited at this point, and jostled for a good view of the miraculous walk down the proverbial aisle.
The rest of the wedding went without a hitch (except for a harmless hiccup with the photo montage). After the vows were exchanged, family and guests adjourned to a cocktail reception which overlooked the lagoon, before the sumptuous buffet dinner got started. The pool-side dinner was a lovely affair with an excellent live band and heartfelt toasts to the newly-weds by family members. With great music and dancing, everyone soon got into a jovial mood. The night’s dinner finally climaxed with guests rounding off the wedding by sending sky lanterns floating into the inky sky.
The all-white themed wedding was truly one of the most beautiful weddings I have attended. Guests, including the media, were all colour coordinated, and against the breath-taking backdrop of the azure blue Crystal Lagoon and the setting sun, it certainly made for brilliant wedding photography. The great company and generous buffet spread added to the magical experience. All in all, I’m certain the family and their guests will talk about Shah and Michelle’s amazing wedding for years to come.
The Canopi and the Crystal Lagoon
At The Canopi, all 40 luxury “glamping” tent suites are fully air-conditioned and each features a four-poster king sized bed with LCD television and a sofa bed, which add capacity to accommodate for two children. “Glamping”, which is a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping”, lets you experience the outdoors with the convenience of modern luxuries. The attached al fresco bathroom further connects the guests with the outdoors and adds to the camping experience. For the added glam factor, 11 of these tents have their own attached whirlpool outdoor tubs too.
The pièce de résistance of Treasure Bay Bintan is the aptly named Crystal Lagoon. The man-made lagoon is as big as 50 Olympic-size pools and about four metres deep in the centre. Using a special filtration technique, the salt-water lagoon is kept crystal clear and stunningly blue for the myriad of activities on and in it.
In addition to the range of water activities on the Crystal Lagoon, couples can also enjoy an exhilarating ride on the All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), motorcross scramblers or race Segways around the lagoon. The private tour of the mangrove reserve on kayak is also quite a romantic experience. My personal highlight over the weekend was nailing the cable-ski on the Crystal Lagoon on my first try, and it’s an additive feeling.
Regardless of whether you’re planning for a magical one-in-a-lifetime wedding, or looking for a getaway destination for some fun and excitement, Treasure Bay Bintan seems to have read the minds of residents in Singapore. With the short ferry ride (my MRT ride to town can sometimes take longer), and the easy custom clearance, it makes a day trip to Bintan more attractive than Johor Bahru – I cannot wait to get on the cable-ski again.