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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Wedding - Search for a Bridal Studio

God, all these wedding preparations are really giving us a huge headache. So many things to consider, so many things to plan! I didn't think there'll be such a long list of things to do, not until now when the date approaches.

Okay, we haven't got a date yet because we're still waiting for the tong shu (the lunar calendar) to be released so we can calculate 2014's auspicious dates. Will update once I get the dates!

I have no idea why Simon and I are so superstitious about it since both our parents are pretty relaxed about such stuff. Same for the wedding banquet, it seems as though we are the ones who want to get married the traditional way, instead of our parents' wishes. Weird. It's usually the other way round for people our generation. But for some reason, it doesn't feel complete to me if we bypass all these traditions.

Anyway, speaking of the many things to prepare for, one thing we stroked off our list is finding our bridal studio for our Actual Day.

We booked our pre-wedding shoot with IDo-Wedding and we'll be shooting it in Korea. Pricey as it was, we went ahead with it because we really liked the photos. Since an overseas shoot doesn't include gowns for the actual day, I needed to either buy or rent gowns for my AD.

Some people go to China or America to buy gowns since they're more affordable over there, I decided against it because there is no way my wedding gown is gonna fit in my wardrobe. Even I'll be shifting to my new home in future, I'm pretty sure I won't have space in my wardrobe. If you bought your wedding gown, surely you'll want to keep it. It'll probably turn yellow and end up in the storeroom years later.

So we shortlisted a couple of bridal studios and visited them to find out more about their AD package. The two studios that we considered were: La Belle Couture & My Bridal Room.

Both studios were personally recommended by people I know who had engaged their services so both I knew I could trust on in terms of services. I shall share my experience with them here for the benefit of others since I myself greatly benefited from those who shared their experience online too.

My Bridal Room:

First studio we visited because of the raving reviews we found on forums. Also the studio my brother & sister-in-law engaged for their shoot.

Service:
Service is top-notch.
I doubt anyone else will argue with me on this. Everyone I know as well as the reviews online all agree that Uncle Quek (the boss) has a very warm and friendly approach. That's MBR's entire business approach. You can trust on every staff to be absolutely warm and patient.

Even if you're not signing up with them today, they're definitely not pushy and won't pressurize you into signing up with them. Feel free to walk-in, or make an appointment and still keep your options open. No black faces nor offers that last only for that day. Just tell them your concerns and negotiate for something you want. They'll do what they can. If you need more time to consider, just let them know to hold your package and they'll do it. Of course, they will tell you not to take too long as prices can increase anytime.

I must emphasize again that service is top-notch. I particular like Wendy as she served my sister-in-law two years ago and she was so sweet. She'll give you suggestions on what type of gown suits you best since she's a gown designer herself. She's also my friend's coordinator this time round and my friend is absolutely pleased with her.

The lady who served me this time is Grace and she's also very sweet. She's of a little more age and says all the right things. She knows very well how to handle people and made all the appropriate small talk to my sis and mum who accompanied me there. We never once felt a tinge of discomfort with her around. She volunteered to show me the selection of gowns to help us decide. Most studios won't bother unless you've already signed up with them.

She even let me try loh! I tried two very gorgeous ones and fell in love with both instantly. Didn't dare to try more since I was still open to options and felt very paiseh trying on those heavy gowns when I still wasn't a customer yet.

One thing I'm sure of, service at My Bridal Room will never disappoint. 

Gowns:
Here are a random few photos of the gowns I took from their website.





Chio right?! I randomly select the gowns still can be so gorgeous.

Another thing to note is that MBR's gowns are all included in the package. They aren't separated into premium range or normal range so you can select any one of their gowns without having to pay extra.

Here's a sample that MBR posted on singaporebrides.com's forum and it so happens that the bride involved is my friend! So I thought I'd share it here.

This was quite interesting because the horse later on had an erection and it was more strikingly obvious than it already is now. HAHA.

Anyway my friend had a fabulous time and she looks great in the photos. Also, she didn't have a single bad thing to say about Wendy, her coordinator!

Photoshoot Quality:
Photos wise, I was greatly impressed with my brother's wedding album and that was 2 years ago. Till this date, I am still impressed by their photos. They remind me of the Taiwanese style kinda of photo shoot. They're very good at taking lively, cute, bright photos. They made my bro and sister-in-law looked so awesome!
Take a look at their sample photos, they'll be most happy to show you. There was a wide range of album cover material for you to choose from too.

Negotiation:
Grace got Uncle Quek to speak to us when we wanted to negotiate and it was pretty simple with him. He laid everything flat on the table. What will cost money and what not. What he can't bend he's also very straightforward about it. You may feel that he's very inflexible but he'll also explain and justify why he's being so inflexible about it. It's also good because you know he's pretty standard with all the other couples. You don't feel as though you're not bargaining hard enough and you're losing out. I liked it that way because he doesn't make you feel like you owe him a favor when he grants you one of your bargains.


Here's MBR's website: http://www.mybridalroom.com/
Ask for Wendy or Grace if you're making an appointment.



La Belle Couture:

The second studio we visited. Overall feel was that La Belle was much more negotiable than MBR. We generally felt as though they were more flexible than MBR as we were able to play around with our package more. But we later on realised that it's a tactic because they don't lay everything out on the table, you gotta bargain for it. AND BARGAIN HARD because you can get it. It's a very different approach from MBR so it's really what works for you.

Service: 
Not quite the same family/homely atmosphere I got from MBR. The staff were generally younger and hence the studio also felt more modern, sophisticated. I wouldn't say service is bad, just that the salesperson we spoke to wasn't particularly nice to negotiate with. I shall not mention names since he's also trying to make a living.
I'd choose to talk to MBR staff over him anytime but that's just ONE person in La Belle. I don't want to generalize the whole studio that way. Will update on this part again.

Gowns: 
Note: La Belle's gowns are all included in the package.

La Belle's gowns are known to be gorgeous. They're always having shows to display their latest collection and I can tell they're absolutely proud of their gowns. Simon also commented that La Belle's gowns seem more sophisticated and classy compared to those at MBR.

But when I went to look at their gowns, none caught my eye the way the other two gowns at MBR did.

Though I have to mention that it was because Grace at MBR made the effort to show me those two gorgeous ones that she thought I'd like.

The salesperson at La Belle didn't, he left me there to explore on my own but I didn't because I could only take a quick glance. Who knows, I might find something I love since they're famous for their gowns? (please let me find something I love!)

Oh, and their outdoor gowns range is definitely more extensive than MBR. Their outdoor gowns also include quite a wide range of the long gowns, while MBR mainly offers short dresses. This was a huge selling point for me since we are only considering outdoor shoot.

Here's one that I found on their FB page and I think is gorgeous.


This one also not bad! Their gowns are also all available for you to choose from. No separation into premium range.


Photoshoot Quality:
Photos wise, I prefer La Belle's photography style. Not that MBR's isn't great, but it's a personal preference for Simon and I. We felt that MBR focuses alot on the couple and their shooting style is generally more close-up. La Belle's photos seem to focus more on the scenery/background and their graphic editing also has more variety. Again, they seem to take on a more classy look while MBR offers the bright and cheery style.

I must say the graphic designer is very proud of his works so he'll be most happy to show you what he can do.

Negotiation:
Bargain, bargain & bargain.
BARGAIN AGGRESSIVELY!
Had two other couple friends who signed with them and it was only after comparison that we realized our packages are different. I think Simon and I weren't aggressive enough so we didn't get the best deal. :( We were so soft-spoken the salesperson was actually louder than us.

You can say they're more flexible than MBR because they offer small things, which you don't really need and can be traded off for other things while MBR doesn't really. (MBR offers all the basic essential stuff hence they're cheaper)

To sum it up, BARGAIN.


La Belle Couture's Website:
http://www.labellecouture.com.sg/
Ask for a lady because the guy we spoke to like not very flexible. haha. I felt like I was begging each time I bargained.


PRICE:
Do note that there's a difference in $400 between the two studios. They each offer different things. You can email me for more details if you like, I'll try my best. :)





After the extensive research online and making two trips to each studio, we decided on La Belle. I don't know if it's MBR's softer approach that lost or what but I was a little sad when I signed up with La Belle. I felt like I was missing out on MBR's good service and I was actually sad to not be able to continue my journey with them. I knew I was in safe hands with them but I can't help but like La Belle's photographers more.

It was the photography style than won me over. It was the style that I wanted and I knew MBR wasn't able to produce that. It doesn't make sense paying for good service but the end product doesn't deliver what you want. Deposit paid, and we're looking forward to gown-fittings and further discussions with our coordinator and photographer!



I mentioned earlier that all these preparations are causing us headache and I must admit, they're a hassle and waste of money really.

But I've never felt more excited planning for something. I think Simon feels the same way because it seems to draw us closer together and we both have a greater sense of reality that it's really happening. Speaking to professionals and asking around friends with experience really gives us a heads-up on how to plan a wedding. Previously we had been so lepak because we thought we still had plenty of time, but honestly, it's never too early. Start early so you can get things settled first!

Deciding on a bridal studio can take so long, what about the other things?!

Next up, selection of gowns I'M VERY EXCITED. HEEE.