Fireworks, Balinese dancers and ceremony on a cliff: Denise Keller reveals all about wedding

4 November 2015 / 11 months 3 weeks ago

*Image: Skyy Woo

Cheryl Ong
Her World Brides

Ahead of details about her bash in our December issue, cover girl and host of TV's Passage to Malaysia Denise Keller, who said "I do" to creative director Robert Gaxiola, talks about her man, love and marriage.

How did you meet?

I can't pinpoint exactly where we met, when or even how. Our paths have always crossed. Robert is the creative director and co-founder of Mangham Gaxiola and I'm in entertainment.

As our offices are quite close to each other, and he loves coffee as much as I do, we started out as catch-up-over-coffee pals. And we are still awesome friends.

We also share similar travel experiences and enjoy books to do with literary realism, as well as collect antiques and old posters. And we both love cats!

Things didn't get romantic until one magical night after dinner at Au Jardin. We were strolling when we both realised that there was more than friendship going on between us.

We started dating soon afterwards - and that's when I found out what an incredibly patient man he is.

In fact, I've never met anyone as patient as he is.

How did he propose?

We were in Napa Valley, which is north of San Francisco in the US. Robert proposed in the warm glow of fairy lights in the orchard of a Calistoga winery.

We celebrated with a lovely bottle of wine and talked endlessly about our future together. We put off announcing the engagement then, so we could spend more time together - and without our phones!

Tell us about your wedding day. Did you have a theme?

We went with a Napa Valley vibe at Banyan Tree Ungasan's Ju-Ma-Na Restaurant & Bar: rose gold and blush blended with earthy and sunset hues, as well as bursts of bright colour.

We both love the cliff-edged Ju-Ma-Na because it's modern and chic, and is one of the best dining experiences in Bali.

Having a small private affair kept the mood warm and intimate, which was perfect for us as we wanted our guests to feel at ease; as if they were on holiday and not just attending a destination wedding.

However, as the night progressed, it got to be more fun and crazier, especially after the huge fireworks display. Music played a big part. We had a jazzy live performance by an amazing Balinese female vocalist, and we flew DJ Beckie in from Melbourne, Australia.

We also had Balinese dances, so guests could have a feel of the island's culture.

How did you go about putting the wedding together?

Pinterest helped a lot! Once I had a proper mood board and we agreed on a budget, we were able to look into the finer details, like costs and logistics.

For instance, Bali is an ideal destination wedding location for Singaporeans, but not so much for guests from Europe and America.

We also didn't want to stress or feel pressured about making everything right by micro-managing every little detail.

What was the most precious moment on the actual day itself?

When Robert and I had some alone time before everything started.

You said in an interview some years back that your dream wedding would be a simple beach affair with close friends and family. Was yours all you ever imagined it would be?

Hah! Honestly, I don't think I knew what I was talking about then. Now, I can safely say our wedding was actually more than we ever imagined it could be.

Celebrating on a cliff was way more spectacular and grand. Ju-Ma-Na has an amazing air about it. Plus, feeling the sea breeze from such a height was so different from being on the beach.

You had some early wedding dress issues. What happened?

There will always be a curveball in wedding plans and mine was the dress! Two weeks before the actual day, I realised I didn't have one to fit me and was majorly disappointed.

Then Trinity Gallery came to my rescue in the nick of time. I was filming overseas and called them in a panic.

The instant I saw the Monique Lhuillier dress in blush in the salon, I knew it was the one for me. It was magical.

Any tips for a bride-to-be?

Weddings can be expensive and things can get out of hand quickly. Don't allow yourself to be sweet-talked into anything by vendors. Some mark the prices up so high and get away with it because there are brides who feel they have to spend more to get everything perfect.

Make sure you read between the fine lines and question everything offered and promised. And remember to add your honeymoon costs to your budget at the start of your planning, especially if you want it to be a priceless experience.

This article was first featured in Her World Brides Sept 2015 - Nov 2015.
For the full story and more, the issue is on news stands and in major bookstores.
For more stories on real weddings, planning and all things wedding-related, you can also look to

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