Moots and Vanessa Chong

HELLO! Magazine, Issue 69, December 2011

Moots and Vanessa Chong share the joy of their dream wedding in Bali

By Sophia Goh

The weather was wonderful – clear, blue skies with a hint of breeze. The setting – a picturesque white chapel perched on a scenic cliff in Uluwatu, Bali. As guests entered the Wedding Chapel at The Ritual Bali, they were greeted by the scent of pandan leaves and rose petals. It was 15 October 2011, the wedding day of Moots and Vanessa Chong, and here, away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, with just the closest of family and friends present, everything was perfect.

At half past five, Moots, wearing a suit by Bon Zainal, took his place at the altar. Standing beside him was his best man, Riza, a close friend from his university days. As the song ‘Chapel of Love’ began to play, all eyes turned towards the bridal procession.

There was a pageboy, Kaden, and a flower girl, Lucie, then the maid of honour, Vanessa’s sister and Amazing Race Asia 2 partner Pamela. Next were the five bridesmaids – Pooi Leng, Olivia, Valerine, Rozie and Christina – on the arms of the five groomsmen – Moots’ four bandmates from Pop Shuvit, Rudy, Uno, JD, and AJ, as well as Takesh, another close friend from university. The girls all wore individually tailored green and white dresses, and looked beautiful.

Then, finally, the radiant bride made her entrance, on the arm of her proud father, wearing a strapless, intricately detailed wedding gown by Alvin Tay Couture. The groom, who had chosen the song for the walk down the aisle, didn’t take his eyes off his bride, even for a second.

Vanessa, 33, later told us: “When I told my mum that Moots had chosen that song, she cried and said it was so touching because it’s such a loving song. When my father walked me down the aisle, my mum was crying, and when my dad passed me to Moots, Moots looked like he was gong to cry. And his manager was crying, and Pamela was sniffling. But I think that’s what weddings are all about.”

Against the backdrop of the breathtaking Bali sunset, Moots and Vanessa exchanged vows and were pronounced husband and wife in a short, simple ceremony. Then it was on to the releasing of doves by the newlyweds and the throwing of the bridal bouquet, before everyone proceeded to cocktails and the outdoor reception, which featured a sumptuous international buffet spread. Vanessa’s brother, the singer Vince, was the MC. “I asked Vince because he knows us both and he’s funny, and he did a fantastic job,” she said.

There were surprises in store for everyone. Instead of numbers, each table was named after a precious stone – a personal touch from the bride – and guests received disposable cameras as wedding favours – Moots’ idea. Everyone also got cookies in the shape of a wedding dress, a heart with either a bride or groom motif, or a wedding cake, all of which had been specially baked by Vanessa’s brother, Sean.

Vince played a video that he had spent days putting together for the newlyweds, complete with pictures, interviews with the couple’s friends, and even reenactments – E! True Hollywood Story style, according to Moots – and Sean also performed two songs, Moots’ favourite song, ‘Kau Ilham Ku’ by Man Bai, and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’.

When it came time for the speeches, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. The fathers delivered speeches, as did the best man and the maid of honour, as well as the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Moots, 34, admitted: “That was cute because I’m the one who’s always talking in the band, being the frontman, so I’ve never heard the four of them talk. For once, they were talking and I was sitting back and listening. Each of them spoke from the heart and it was nice to see them there.

“In hindsight, we’ve always been together overseas and on tours, but it was always for work, and this was the first time ever that everyone just came and enjoyed themselves. It was nice to see them relaxing with their other halves and not worrying about work. I could see everyone was happy being there.”

Vanessa, who changed into an evening gown midway through the reception, agreed. “It was just a good night. It was so precious, everyone laughing and smiling. The smiles on everyone’s faces were gold. I wished I could just absorb all of it.”

The couple eventually took to the stage to give their speech and cut the wedding cake, before their family members joined them for the toast. And this was when their guests had the biggest surprise of all. As soon as Moots popped the champagne, the night sky lit up with a four-minute fireworks display that left everyone – even the newlyweds – overwhelmed.

“Our guests had come all the way, so we wanted to give them a treat,” explained Vanessa. “It’s something you can’t always do. After that, we did our first dance, and it was like a scene from a movie. Everyone got up to dance, and then there was an improvised jamming session.”

“Which we knew was going to happen, with all the musicians there,” laughed Moots, who also gave an impromptu performance that night. “One of our friends turned a cookie container into a makeshift drum, the boys grabbed the guitar, and a jam session started. And then suddenly, everyone wanted to come up and sing. I’ve got to give a shout out to AJ for that. He just took charge, started playing songs, and people started singing along, which was kind of cool.”

Speaking to Moots and Vanessa just days after they returned from their honeymoon at Gold Coast, Australia, we noticed that, despite having to jump straight back into work, there was still a hint of that newlywed glow about them. Often interrupting each other to tell their stories, and occasionally laughing out loud as they recalled everything that had happened, the couple opened up to HELLO! as they shared all the details from their dream wedding.

The photos look absolutely amazing. Were you stressed out by the preparations?
Vanessa (V):
I had decided to embrace every moment and not stress about anything, even my dress, because to me, the most important thing was the people who were coming. But in Bali, a few days before the wedding…
Moots (M):
[Laughs] She had a few moments. But looking at the fact that she organised and managed the whole wedding herself, for her to have those little moments, I think that’s acceptable. It’s only natural, when it’s a wedding that you’re doing on your own, that you tend not to delegate.
V:
I must thank my siblings for helping so much. Pamela, as my maid of honour, helped me with so many things, and she and all my bridesmaids were just brilliant. We were also very lucky with the wine because Pamela’s boyfriend’s parents own a winery in Australia, Malcolm Creek Wines, and they gave us 50 bottles of wine as a wedding gift.

Why did you pick Bali?
M:
I think because we’ve gone and stayed there so many times, and we wanted to share that experience, that view and the sunset and the whole Bali vibe, with all our close friends. I think everyone who was there felt that. It was very personal.

Moots, how did you feel when you saw Vanessa walking down the aisle?
M:
I was nervous. Actually, to be honest, when I saw her walking down the aisle, I saw my manager, her dad and her mum, all crying, and it was easier to look at her than to look at everyone else. I liked her dress. I have to say it took me by surprise. I didn’t expect that. But it was nice. Everyone loved it and was quite impressed.

Vanessa, did you cry?
V:
I kept it in; I had my veil on. I cried a few days before the wedding because I was so touched by all the people who were coming. And I cried so much throughout the evening, especially during the speeches.

Did everything go smoothly?
V:
There were a few hiccups, but those weren’t important. Like, Moots chose the song ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ for after the ceremony, as we were walking out…
M:
We were supposed to grab everyone to dance – her mum, my mum – and walk out. And I left Vanessa behind [laughs]. And she doesn’t know this, but Riza forgot to bring his shirt to the chapel. The shirt arrived when I was supposed to walk out, so I walked out first. He was supposed to be there to calm me, but he was stressing out.
V:
That’s interesting to hear. I forgot my bouquet of flowers when I was walking down the aisle! But at the end of the day, the most important thing was the people. We had friends and family fly down from Germany, Hong Kong, Thailand, UK, Australia, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines. My Amazing Race Asia 2 friends came, which was very touching for me. I hadn’t seen them for a long time and it was like a little reunion. It’s so nice that all these people took the effort. My cousin Joanne from the UK even took unpaid leave to come, and that was a nice gesture. Overall, I knew I wanted my wedding to be personal, and I think it was. It was a night to remember.
M:
It was a true Hollywood wedding. Like the ones you see in movies. It didn’t feel stressful, we were having fun, and we had time to speak to everyone.

If you had to name one moment that really stuck out for you, which would it be?
M:
Besides the actual wedding ceremony, I guess the moment when I popped the champagne and the fireworks came on. And seeing the boys up there giving their speeches. But there were too many great moments.
V:
For me, watching the video was my highlight. I couldn’t stop laughing, and I think I cried too. And, of course, walking down the aisle and seeing Moots standing there.

Was there a point when it sunk in that you’re married?
V:
For me, I felt it after Bali. On the plane to Australia, I was like, ‘You’re my husband?’
M:
I think it’s a gradual process. You know that you’re married and your perspective on life changes, but most importantly, we’re now on this journey. I think once we move into our own place, that’s when it’ll really sink in.

Any plans to start a family yet?
M:
I’m ready to go! For me, I’m ready anytime. But to be realistic about it, we’d like to do a nice long honeymoon next year in Europe, and we don’t have our own place yet.
V:
Of course, if anything does happen, it would be a blessing, but for now, [I’d like to] give it a few months. The thing is I’m not getting any younger, so I cannot wait too long either. In a way, I’m ready to be a mum, but at the same time, my career is kind of picking up as well. At the end of the day, I think we both feel that if we’re ready, we should just go with the flow and let it happen. The worst thing is to stress about it. But we definitely want kids.
M:
She’s managed to convince me to go up to three [kids]. Before that, I was thinking two. In fact, I’d be happy with one. For me, it’s whether I can afford three or four kids. You want to give them the right education and future, and financially support them and give them as good a life as our parents gave us. But like she said, it’s a blessing so I’m not going to say no.

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