He was based in Singapore, and his then-girlfriend, in Malaysia.
But Project Superstar (2006) winner Daren Tan, 34, and doctor Nadia Lum, 30, overcame the distance to get hitched in a floral-themed wedding at the Grand Hyatt Singapore last week. And in a few months, the actor-singer will be relocating to Malaysia to be with his wife.
Speaking to us over the phone from Nadia’s hometown Kuala Lumpur, Daren, who was last seen in Ch 8 drama The Queen, says: “We just bought a house in Bukit Jalil that’s slightly over RM$1million (S$329,000) and near her parents’ place. And since Nadia is based in KL for her hospital residency, I will move there.” Daren, who set up influencer marketing agency Cahoots Social Network, shares that he will be expanding his social networking business in Malaysia and is also planning to launch a food business there.
“It hasn’t been easy for us for the past three years. She was based in Sabah before this, and we took turns travelling to and from Singapore to meet up. Sometimes I took the bus or drove there, but flying saves us the most time,” says Daren.
“In fact, we made a promise to each other that we wouldn’t be physically apart from each other for more than three weeks at a go and I’m glad we managed to accomplish that. It was definitely tiring and expensive but it’s a small sacrifice that’s worth it.”
Even though most of Nadia’s relatives attended the couple’s Singapore wedding, Daren lets on that they may also throw a small intimate dinner in Malaysia.
The Singapore wedding, which cost $90,000, included an outdoor solemnisation ceremony held at the hotel garden, and a 22-table evening banquet. Daren’s showbiz pals such as Benjamin Kheng, Shane Pow, Dennis Chew, Aileen Tan, Hossan Leong, Alaric Tay, Cheryl Wee, Alfred Sim and Tay Kewei attended the banquet.
“I did tear up during my thank you speech to my parents,” he tells us. “At least three of my buddies told me that things would get very emotional, so I kind of expected it. I’m not embarrassed lah! (Guffaws)”
8 DAYS: Congrats! We hear there’s an interesting story behind the floral theme of your wedding.
DAREN TAN: We did our pre-wedding shoot in Jeju, Korea, where the popular K-drama Secret Garden was filmed. Both of us watched the drama and loved it, so we wanted our wedding to have a garden and floral theme. Plus Nadia loves flowers too. In fact, we told our wedding guests to come in floral outfits. But some of my male friends told me that they don’t own floral suits, so I told them to put on a floral tie or something. As for me, one of my outfits was a brocade floral blazer.
How did you meet Nadia?
She was in Singapore for a short visit, and a mutual friend introduced us. We met up for coffee and I took the first step to woo her after that. She was based in Sabah at that time, and I’d fly there to meet up with her.
So was moving to KL an easy decision to make?
She’s a resident in a hospital, and she’s also studying for her master’s in radiology now. It’s not easy to be studying and working at the same time, which is why I’m moving to Malaysia for now. However, if we plan to have kids after she finishes her studies in two years, we will return to Singapore as I think the education system here is better.
What does she think of you being in showbiz?
She has no objections. In fact, she’s very supportive and told me to continue acting to increase my onscreen exposure. She’s very understanding of my hectic schedule, especially when I have to work very long hours ’cos of filming.
So why did you decide to take the plunge into married life with Nadia?
At the beginning of the relationship, I was the more domineering one, while she was very accommodating. However, the longer we dated, I started giving in to her more. As a guy, I find that giving in first is very effective as it helps to stop all arguments (laughs). We seldom quarreled though. If we did, it was usually about flight arrangements or last minute changes to our schedules. We really click with each other. She’s very smart and funny, and I find her very attractive (laughs).
How did you propose?
We went on a cycling trip to Japan last year, and my plan was to propose to her after we’d cycled 70km. It was a rather long distance so I was really scared that she’d find out about [my proposal] before we reached the beach, where I would propose. Thankfully, she didn’t realise anything and said yes immediately when I got down on one knee with a [one-carat] diamond ring and asked her to marry me. Perhaps she was so tired after cycling for so long that she agreed! (Chuckles)
ALL PHOTOS CREDIT TO JOHN LIM PHOTOGRAPHY