With so many bridal studios in Singapore and their respective wedding packages, it’s easy to get confused with which ones to narrow down, much less pick one. What elements of a wedding package are usually included, and what can be specially given? What else should you look out for before committing to a package?
Here’s an in-depth look at how wedding packages work, and tips on how to get them to work for you:
Wedding package vs Individual vendors
Wedding packages or bridal packages are like the bundle deals and combo plans of the bridal industry. As with all bundles, you get a slew of things for an agreed price and it saves you the trouble of having to source for them individually if you were to go “a la carte”.
While these packages usually give you more value for money, they do not come with the same kind of quality assurance you would have if you’d engaged individual vendors yourself.
Couples do not get as much freedom in regards to conceptualising their wedding since the packages are tied to fixed service providers.
If your wedding co-ordinator does not have timely planning – suck thumb.
If your photographer took wedding photos that you found too outdated– suck thumb.
If your make-up artist’s skills are like Ruhua’s…
In all cases, you just have to suck it up. There’s nothing else you can do once you’ve signed up for the package.
Unless you manage to find someone desperate enough to buy over your bridal package, you’re pretty much stuck with it.
On the other hand, engaging your own vendors would probably yield more satisfying results for the fussy bride. Since you’d be doing the coordination yourself, you are given absolute control over the wedding decor, choice of photographer, etc.
The downside is the cost. Doing your wedding a la carte would mean you’ll need to pay vendor prices, and this difference can range anywhere between a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your choice of vendors.
So it really depends on what you feel is important for your wedding.
If you absolutely cannot compromise on your standards and want Instagram-worthy pictures, go for the a la carte choice and do the coordinating yourself. To save on costs, you can always source for lesser-known vendors to or ask friends for help.
In conclusion: If you’re a control freak when it comes to making sure your big day is absolutely perfect, don’t risk it. However, if you want to save money, effort and time, then by all means go for a wedding package. They’re popular because most Singaporeans don’t have time for planning anyway.
What does a wedding bridal package include?
Different bridal houses offer different items in their packages. But most revolve around things like these:
- Gown rental: Wedding dress, tea “kuan kua” dress, evening gown
- Bridal accessories
- Suit rental
- Bridal makeup for trial, photoshoot and actual day
- Bridal bouquet
- Pre-wedding photography: Studio/outdoor/overseas/local
- Selected photo-prints (limit is pre-set) (in CD-rom)
- Customised photo album
- Framed portraits (hanging/ tabletops)
- Miscellaneous extras like car decoration, signature book, ferris-wheel photo decoration, parents/bridesmaids’ attires
Most packages typically have 25-35 free photos, a selection of 3 to 5 made-to-measure or off-the-rack gowns with complimentary bridal accessories and 2-3 changes of suits.
What they do not include though, are videographers, the “guo-da-li”, “5-piece gold”, your banquet dinner, and a live band (duh). It also does not include that 7% GST. Which could be a matter of hundreds of dollars. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!
Bridal packages typically cost between $3,000 and $6,000.
Taking a closer look at the photography/ videography, gowns and makeup services provided
Outdoor and overseas shoots also tend to have miscellaneous hidden costs such as transportation fees, facial ampoules, lashes, hairstyling etc.
Costs for these are not included because the makeup artists are outsourced by bridal studios and you’ll have to negotiate and pay them directly for “extras”. What’s more, depending on your bridal package, some charges are separated. E.g. re-wedding and actual day makeup. Which means more top-up!
Check with the bridal studios if actual-day makeup and its elements are included in the contract and if you can opt out of them by, for example, bringing your own ampoules instead of using the MUA’s.
Some bridal studios bring in their gowns from bridal couture houses like Monique Lhuillier, while others have gowns imported from Taiwan, Korea, or are designed in-house.
If you would like a unique gown without the high price, you can also consider for bespoke gowns! Some bridal boutiques such as AnnTeoh offer customization of gowns at an approximate $3,000, as opposed to the $6,000-$19,000 price range of couture houses like Galia Lahav.
Whatever it is, common sense tells me if you’re going a particular look, don’t pick a bridal house that does not have gowns that go with that (obviously).
You may choose an average of 4-5 gowns from a selected “tier” – yes gowns have social classes too – ranging from normal gowns, to the grade “A” ones.
Some packages allow you to choose different gowns for both your pre-wedding shoot and your actual day, while others don’t. And because rental gowns can get dirtied or damaged, some studios only permit you to select from a fixed range of gowns for outdoor shoots.
So be sure to check on the gown details before you commit to a package. Because that’s when you can bargain!
What elements are worth swapping out and what you can swap them out for?
Basically, any elements that fit the criteria below can be swapped out:
- You already have them at home (ie in-laws’ attire)
- They are unnecessary or you can easily do without them (ie ornamental photo frames)
- You can DIY them (ie car decor)
- They can be bought someplace else at a cheaper price and/or better quality (ie bouquets, “qun kua”, bridesmaid attire)
- Things you can exchange these items for:
- Additional gowns
- Upgrades of gown “class”
- Transportation for pre-wedding shoot
- Night pre-wedding shoot
- Free lashes, ampoules…other miscellaneous beauty items
- Upgrade of photo album material
- Rental car
Only you would know what you want for your wedding. So stay focused on it and eliminate the unnecessary items. It’s common for couples to bargain for more photo prints as each additional photo can cost up to an additional $100.
While you can swap out items for others, it’s tougher to bargain down package prices. So when in doubt, just swap.
Questions you should be asking before deciding
Before you decide on which bridal package to take, you need to be sure you’re picking the right package and studio for YOU. Not the one that some random person online reviewed. Not the one your friend recommended. Ask yourself these questions before placing that deposit and signing the contract:
- Have I done sufficient market comparison for the package? Get at least 3 quotes so you can compare and get a sense of the market rate.
- Have I viewed the gowns and suits in person? (You’ll be surprised at how many couples decide just based off on pictures.)
- Is this the best value for me?
- Does this package give me all the items I need?
- Am I deciding on this package because I feel flattered by the sales antics people use, such as saying they “want to feature us as their model” or because I truly feel the package is worth the money?
- Am I giving into the aggressive sales pressure?
- Is my partner happy with the price?
- Has everything that’s agreed upon been written formally in black and white?
After you’ve done all your homework and reflected on all the above points, you can truly say you’re ready to say “I do” to a package.
This article was first published in Moneysmart Singapore, with additional text by Cassandra Koh.