Thursday, May 08, 2008

Package vs Ala Carte

Getting married does not stop at just the proposal. There's actually quite a lot of work that needs to get done before one actually gets married.

There's the most crucial task of all - getting a venue for the banquet. For those who are looking for an auspicious date, they really need to book their venues early on those popular dates. Even for those who do not follow the tradition, one still need to make reservations early, at least 12 months before the wedding date!

Venue aside, then there's the other tasks that needs to be accomplished, such as photography, bridal gown, make up artist, hairstylist, wedding cards, flower decorations, other traditional items (for those following the chinese tradition) etc etc. Noticed a lot of items involves the brides? Guys are just so lucky, but some are not coz they get dragged into this because of budget constraints.

There's where we are generally given two options :
  1. Go for a bridal studio package; or
  2. Go ala carte (independant vendors)
Here are my two cents on these two options based on my personal experience :

Bridal House Package
This is the most conventional and practical choice for many. Judging from the amount of bridal studios which - literally - mushroomed around SS2 within a short span of time, this looks like a good business to venture into. However, the competition is now very healthy as different studios will differentiate their packages to suit the customer's needs. Nowadays, the bridal studio serves more like a one-stop centre, offering not only bridal gowns and photography, but some even provide services such as wedding planner, florist, card printing, 'tai kam cher', emcee and more. So for those who really do not have the time, or need not go through further hassle can visit these bridal studios, who will be more than happy to serve you.

I visited three such studios in SS2 with Link, who is also getting married this year. I quite like the first outlet as their dresses are quite nice and we can just choose from what's available in the studio. I didn't like the 2nd one as customer services was bad. Apparently their entire sales force was in 1 Utama for their roadshow so their tailor had to entertain us instead. Also, we have to pay extra in order to 'upgrade' to rent their so-called VVIP gowns. The third was OK, although Link loved it a lot as she found THE dress, but she hesitated on the pricing as it was higher than the rest. In the end, I didn't chose from any of these bridal houses.

Reason? I didn't like their packages as they did not suit my needs. As much as I needed to rent the wedding and evening gowns, I really do not want their pre-wedding photography. When enquired if I can exchange for Actual Day photography, they were all unable to do so. (I initially thought of taking pre-wedding photography ONLY if it was at Sentul Park, but since finding out their charges, I gave up that idea altogether.) If need to, I was willing to settle for the first bridal house, but having seen their pre-wedding photography where all the brides will pose with the same apple with the same background, I decided to give it a pass. In the end, all the brides who pose with the apple will look the same, and that's something I did not want. When I wanted to rent a gown only, it was really expensive, something like over $1K for the rental, which really makes no sense to rent and take up the package instead.

It looks like I did not have other option but to go...

Ala Carte
I'm thankful there's such a book called Weddings Malaysia out in the market. Basically it is like a directory of all independant wedding vendors. So for those who really do not want the bridal package, they can buy this book and look up the options available. Another option is to look up the internet. I found a few vendors through the internet but have yet to visit them.

Once the bridal house option is out, I already know where to go for my wedding gown as I know someone from the shop :) I took up the option to make and sell back my wedding gown. The headache comes when I needed to choose the wedding photographer, make up artist (MUA) and hairstylist as it wasn't provided by the gown shop. After much research and discussion, I already settled my photographer and MUA as well.

The process wasn't easy though. I had to call and make appointment with them individually. The photographer was quite hard to get hold as he usually have photoshoots during weekends. For the MUA, i had to pay for a few sessions of trial make up with different MUA before settling for the right person. As for my gown fittings, I had to discuss with the designer on what pattern and designs I want for both of my gowns, and also take measurements so they can start working on my gowns. These are not covered during one visit and most of them are done during weekends, so basically there's no break for me at all!

Next up on my list are the wedding cards, wedding bands and florist. We have yet to schedule some time to visit their shops, hopefully can settle them by end of May.

Conclusion
In terms of $$$, bridal package is definitely more convenient and value for money. However, I think it will also be ok for those who wants to take pre-wedding photographs and AD photography, but do not want to spend so much on the gowns. In terms of choices, one really have to visit each shop to determine whether the gowns suit your taste or not, and then book the gowns early. As there is healthy competition in this type of industry, your final package really depends on your negotiation skills.

Going ala carte definitely cost more money, but again it depends on one's expectations. I had a friend who was able to keep the cost low by searching real hard for vendors who could meet her budget. If you want more variety and choices, again ala carte will be the best option as well. Some of the shops actually have association with other vendors (think it as a business partner). The gown shop i patronised share the same office space as the photographer I took up with. The MUA also has affiliation with another photographer. Hence it may not be a bad idea to visit those shops as they have some package as well, only not so comprehensive.

Again, it boils down to what you really want for your wedding. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so it's up to you how do you want to define your BIG DAY :)

1 comment:

lilium said...

Ooo..u've found your MUA. GREAT!