updated 2 Jul 2012, 08:56
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Mon, Apr 30, 2012
The New Paper
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Couple's big day hit by blackout
by Teh Jen Lee and Kwok Kar Peng

[Above: The groom and bride, Mr Benny and Madam Koh Geok Eng, consoling each other over how the power outage had ruined their wedding dinner.]

It was to be a joyous occasion to celebrate the culmination of more than 10 years of courtship.

But barely an hour into the wedding dinner at the Grand Hyatt Singapore on Thursday night, the couple's dream of a happy banquet became a nightmare.

Guests were laughing over video highlights showing what had happened earlier in the day when a fire alarm started ringing.

The next thing they knew, the Grand Ballroom was plunged into darkness.

This was at 9.30pm, after the fourth dish of the eight-course dinner had just been served.

Besides the lights, the air-conditioning also broke down. The microphones, too, were not working, so guests sat in the dark wondering what was going on.

It wasn't until 45 minutes later that a hotel manager made an announcement that the banquet would not be continuing.

So the guests began to leave, and there was nothing the wedding couple could do but to apologise.


At 10.45pm, when The New Paper team arrived, the lights in the ballroom were still off and the room remained stuffy.

The 33-year-old groom, who should have been relaxing with his wife in a comfortable hotel suite, appeared tired and dishevelled.

Most of the guests had left by then, but a few close friends remained behind, surrounding him as he took a smoke break outside the hotel.

The groom, who gave his name only as Mr Benny, runs a family business selling building materials.

He said there were almost 400 guests at the banquet, many of whom were his business associates and potential clients.

Said Mr Benny: "This has affected my reputation to a certain extent. It is embarrassing.

"I am in a tight spot because I feel like I want to return the red packets, but the guests will not take back their money because they want to give me face."

He declined to give his full name as he felt that news of the incident would further affect his reputation.

His wife, Madam Koh Geok Eng, 32, a sales coordinator, said: "There were a few times when I felt like crying.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing - why did this have to happen? Who can we blame?"

Mr Benny felt the ruined dinner was also a let-down for family members from both sides, especially the older generation of relatives.

The couple had started preparing for the wedding dinner a year ago.

He said he chose the Grand Hyatt Singapore, a five-star hotel on Scotts Road, because of its reputation.

The couple paid the hotel around $23,000 as a deposit before the dinner and was supposed to pay them another sum of close to $16,000 after the dinner.

Almost chose another hotel

A long-time friend of the groom, who gave his name only as Mr Chong, 30, said: "They almost chose to have the banquet at St. Regis (another luxury five-star hotel near Orchard Road). Money wasn't an issue."

Mr Chong had also taken his business associates to Mr Benny's wedding. Some of them flew from overseas just to attend the dinner, he said.

"We had to do our 'yam seng' (traditional toast to the couple) in the dark. It was so pathetic," said Mr Chong.

When TNP called the hotel's conference and banqueting manager, Mr Gary Chin, at 11.15pm that night, he said: "We are still trying to identify the source of the problem and we will be in touch with the groom's brother to follow up on what has happened."

Mr Chin said that to his knowledge, such an incident has not happened in the hotel in his 11 years there.

When contacted yesterday, a spokesman for the hotel said: "Any discussions between the hotel and the couple is a private matter. Nothing has been concluded at this stage."

Mr Mark Teo, 44, the official photographer for the wedding, said he has never encountered such a serious blackout in his 10 years of taking photos at weddings.

"I was at a wedding dinner where the lights went off for about 20 minutes, but the problem was fixed and the dinner could go on after that," he said.

"This one, the fire alarm kept sounding on and off."

Yesterday morning, the couple told TNP that they had had a 30-minute meeting with two hotel staff members.

Said Mr Benny: "I asked them to think of a proper compensation package. I also said I would not be agreeable to complimentary hotel stays or F&B vouchers for my wedding guests because they do not have faith in them any more."

He added that the hotel is prepared to refund his deposit, but he wants more, and is now leaving the matter to his lawyer.

He will approach the Consumers Association of Singapore if his lawyer so advises, he said.

"I think I have to make up with another dinner at my own cost. The ripple effects of this is beyond my imagination," said Mr Benny.

"Nothing I do will be enough. Family, friends and business contacts will remember this for a very long time."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
Then go straight to the room and 洞房 la.
Posted by goondoon on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 at 16:18 PM
How will you feel if it happened to you on your wedding day ? I'd feel shocked and stunned, despite trying to laugh it off.
Posted by small small fish on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 at 16:00 PM

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