As the founder of My Hong Kong Wedding and Liv Magazine, Sarah Fung (not our founder 🙂 ) knows a thing or two about weddings. When we met her on a Monday morning, she was busy getting her 3 year old daughter’s day started, sending her husband off to work and getting dressed for our shoot, which was set against the retro backdrop of Kennedy Town, Hong Kong. We also took the chance to get her two cents on a few things: what she loves about publishing, best wedding destinations in Asia, and of course, what her own magical wedding was like!
How did you get into publishing?
I was hired by HK Magazine, at the time Hong Kong’s biggest English-language weekly, straight out of university. From my first job as an intern and then staff writer, I did pretty much every job in the editorial department: reporter, features editor and special projects, before becoming Managing Editor of HK Magazine in 2013. After leaving HK Magazine, I set up my own publishing company, Liv Media, and launched Liv Magazine in October 2015.
What do you love about what you do?
I love that publishing requires me to use a variety of creative skills that all need to complement each other: writing, editing, art direction, coming up with creative solutions for clients and networking. I work different parts of my brain for different tasks, and every day presents new challenges to solve.
What is your advice for someone who wants to be a publisher / start their own digital magazine?
Don’t – haha! Seriously though, it’s a high stakes, competitive industry with a huge risk of failure, so you need to know what you’re doing. Start lean, roll up your sleeves and do as much as you can by yourself at the beginning. Be true to your principles when running your business. For example, if you’re not a shark by nature, then don’t try to be ruthless when dealing with people. Finally, read up on libel law and make sure not to libel anyone.
What have you found most challenging about working for a publisher versus starting your own?
I don’t come from a sales background, so that was the steepest learning curve for me: pitching and closing sales, hustling, selling the magazines, and talking about money without embarrassment. But it’s a crucial skill for all business owners and one I’m glad to have now.
What made you decide to launch Liv magazine?
I had just made the decision to leave HK Magazine and was planning to freelance or perhaps even change career. An ex-colleague walked by my desk and casually said to me: “you should launch a wellness magazine.” That throwaway sentence hit me like a lightning bolt and the idea crystallised very quickly as to what Liv should look like, what its mission should be, and what topics it should cover. I felt strongly that it should cover all aspects of wellbeing, and that it should never make its readers feel “less than” – we never talk about weight loss, bikini bodies or imply that our readers aren’t good enough – they’re perfect as they are!
How did your idea come about for launch my HK Wedding?
I had the website Myhkwedding.com for the longest time – I started it as a hobby and to sharpen my digital publishing skills, and though it had great SEO I never took it any further as I was working full time. Then after I launched Liv, I was pondering my next move and remembered that I had a great website already up and running! So I launched My Hong Kong Wedding in April 2017.
Tell us a bit about your own wedding!
I got married in October 2012 at the United Services Recreation Club in Jordan. It was a fantastic party with drinking and dancing until after 3am! We were all about keeping things simple and keeping unnecessary costs down – we wanted to celebrate with friends, have a great meal and an open bar, but didn’t see the point in spending excessively on extras. We used orchids for table centrepieces (at HK$250 a pop), sourced chiffon bags and sugared almonds from wholesalers as gift favours, and went to Guangzhou for the dress and accessories. One thing I splurged on was a custom-made cheongsam from a traditional sifu with a shop on Queen’s Road West. It’s made from a beautiful red lace and fits me perfectly.
Where would you say are the best wedding destinations in Asia?
There are so many, so it really depends on what you’re looking for! While beach weddings are beautiful, there are some truly special places in Chiang Mai, and city weddings can be really charming as well. Vietnam is an emerging destination, and Cambodia is extremely photogenic. Lots of couples are actually going beyond Asia to Europe or South Africa as you can get some fantastic deals. Friends are willing to go further as long as the destination is amazing and can be tied into a longer holiday.
What is the best and worst thing about getting married in HK?
The best: The level of service and the sheer number of quality vendors to choose from. Hong Kong is really set up for weddings and everything will run as smooth as clockwork, especially if you book a hotel. Pragmatically, The Chinese tradition of giving laisee instead of gifts is super practical and can help to offset the cost of the banquet. And you don’t end up with six toasters!
The worst: For couples having a traditional Chinese wedding, it’s a gruelling day. You’re up at the crack of dawn for the tea ceremony, then it’s straight to the registry or ceremony venue, followed by the evening reception. You’ll have multiple outfit changes and you have to pose for about five million photos. The couple always looks exhausted, and I wonder sometimes if they’ve really been able to step back and enjoy the day.
If you could get married again (to the same guy of course!) what location / venue / dress would you choose?
2012 was the height of strapless gown tyranny, and I wish I had more options available to me that had bardot-style sleeves or a sweetheart neckline. I ended up going strapless as the options with sleeves were so limited and honestly, not that attractive. If I have to choose a wedding dress now, I would probably go for something more relaxed and that i could even wear for another occasion!