Building a lasting boutique: Laily’s Bridal

Noorhayati’s introduction to the wedding business were cakes made by her mother as door gifts 30 years ago. She’s now grown it into an all-inclusive wedding service

Wedding dresses, sparkling crowns and glittering decor adorn the storefront of Laily’s Bridal – an established boutique going on seven years at the BT-Hj Uthman Complex opposite Times Square.

Married couple Noorhayati Hj Awang (pictured main L) and Zulhilmi Hj Asli (pictured main R) run and own the business, a hybrid of a boutique, tailor and wedding planner.

Whether it’s your wedding dress, accompanying jewellery or the pelamin – a decorative platform (pictured below) for the bride and groom to sit and greet guests during their big day – Laily’s has options for just about anyone looking to get hitched.

Their extensive packages, however, began with something more simple altogether; small, colourful rice cakes named Kuih Apam.

“The business came from my mother,” said Noorhayati, who grew up in a household of eight siblings. Raising a large family, her mom would take on orders for the kuih as wedding door gifts, to help make ends meet.

As the eldest daughter, Noorhayati would be by her mother’s side after school, swapping between making batter and steaming the sweetened cakes.

The small business grew gradually, and organically – without much support other than positive word of mouth. Beyond door gifts, they began to construct the decorative gifts presented between the bride and groom’s families known as pelamin. They also helped set up the bebedak, loosely translated as the powdering ceremony, where family members bless the groom and bride – who usually wears an elaborate headdress (pictured below).

Packages at Laily’s generally begin at $1,899 which include pelamin, two bride and groom outfits and an addittional dress for the bride’s solemnization. They go up to $2,599 for two pelamin, an arch, three outfits for bridge and groom, an addittional dress for the bride’s solemnization and two sets of accessories for berbedak. Both packages also include jewellery, furniture and other equipment although the more expensive packages have more variety.

“I learned a lot by watching my mother, especially the way she interacts with her customers,” said the 37-year-old. “When I was 14, I got the chance to learn how to do (wedding) make up at her friend’s salon after religious school, and I remember returning to practice every day for an hour.”

By 2000, Laily’s had evolved to become a busy home business from Berakas – but while Noorhayati’s parents were content – she strived for something more.

“At the time Zulhilmi was already helping out,” said Noorhayati, who together with her husband are now employed by the government. “The (wedding) outfits were really starting to pile up at home, and we needed a place (outside our home) where people could browse through comfortably.”

Her father, however, was worried – the couple were still in their early 20s at the time, and making the transition was undeniably a risk. But Noorhayati, a designer at heart, backed by her husband’s education in business and finance, were able to find a modest outlet in Batu Besurat, and in 2001, made the move.

They upgraded again in 2011, moving into their current space and adding the installation of pelamin and custom tailored wedding clothes – shifting towards becoming an all-inclusive wedding planner, meeting the demands for customer convenience and customisation.

Their two daughters, aged 9 and 11, are already following in Noorhayati’s footsteps, curiously browsing the store and initiating in their own small way, the art of design.

“I found them making bracelets from the beads for the dresses. They told me that they were going to sell them to their cousins and friends who requested them to make it,” laughed Noorhayati. “I had to ask their parents if they were okay letting their kids buy them.”

For more information, visit @lailysbridal on Instagram and their Facebook page. You can visit Laily’s Bridal at BT-Hj Uthman Complex, Unit 11, Ground Floor, Berakas, Brunei or contact Noorhayati at +6738860155.