A wedding is a defining moment in a person’s life and it is common to hear couples parting with huge sums of money to ensure that the special day is as memorable as the Mona Lisa. This is all good and fine if the couple is sitting on a gold mine and wouldn’t mind doling out a little extra to have a better Kodak moment, but more often than not, newly wedded couples have a tendency to shake their heads after the wedding ceremony, and ask themselves, “Where did all that money go to?”

Being part of the wedding industry, I have witnessed the craziness that couples sometimes lose themselves in when deciding on their wedding photoshoot or choosing their gowns. While I certainly agree with paying for quality, I definitely do not condone wastage and vendors ripping off their clients.

Here are some tips on how to avoid wastage based on the stories I’ve heard:

1. Research, Shortlist and Meet
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When deciding on your wedding professional, make sure that you put in enough research! By research, I don’t mean going around haggling like a fishwife for the cheapest deal, or who can give the lowest prices. Instead, carefully study which professional can provide you with the style and quality that you want. As a starting point, go to resources like Signature Weddings and Wedding Guide Asia because they have a team of talented writers producing good articles with useful advise…

Follow up with coffee/tea with your girlfriends asking about their experiences because nothing beats first-hand advice. Then you’ve got to put in the leg work and meet your shortlisted professionals. Don’t be lazy and meet just one or two! But don’t over-do it either or your decision tree will look like a bowl of spaghetti.

2. Stay firm on what you want

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Imagine this: you’re in a bridal houseand you’re happily choosing the 50 photos included in your package out of the multitude of shots that the trigger happy cameraman took during the day-long session out in the hot sun. You’ve just reached your fiftieth photo, when suddenly, you notice an amazing shot that you missed selecting. How ’bout adding just one more photo? Ooh, we look great in that one as well! Another two shouldn’t be too pricey right? Before you know it, your actual bill is higher than budgeted.

Bridal houses know that most couples succumb to their emotions, and will purchase more shots beyond the number included in the package My advice is to stand firm on the planned total number of photos, and have no regrets later on, when it comes to tallying your total expenses for your wedding. Alternatively, find a professional with transparent pricing and avoid bill shocks!

As for renting a bridal gown, make sure that the gown you’ve selected was not collected from another bride a few days before…and it hasn’t been dry-cleaned yet! Ask the designer/assistant when will the gown be rented out before your wedding. If the timing is too tight and they ask you to select another design, stay firm…unless you’re ok to repeat the entire gown selection process again or choose the next best thing (which, in my opinion, should never be an option). Give yourself enough time to go for alternative choices with THAT gown.

3. Communication is a 2 way street

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There is a common misconception that throwing loads of cash at a photographer will somehow guarantee amazing shots worthy of framing up, and in a similar manner, paying bucketloads to a designer will instantly lead to a gown that even celebrities would be envious. Frequently, people are disappointed when seeing the final results (photos or otherwise) because it didn’t turn out exactly the way they wanted, even after paying its weight in gold. This is simply because not every glove fits the hand, and no matter how much you’re willing to pay, that glove isn’t going to miraculously reshape itself.

To get the best out of your designer/professional, share your ideas, concepts and vision. A good designer/professional should always listen and understand the client first before providing a proposal. But if it’s overly difficult to communicate your ideas to him/her, you may want to reconsider your choices.

4. “Great value” does not equal “cheap deals”

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As I earlier mentioned, there is a tendency to haggle when it comes to bargaining for goods. Sure, there’ll be the occasional request for a discount or perhaps a closed eye when it comes to that extra pillow ring. But if you start arguing with your designer/ photographer till the last dollar, chances are he/she won’t even be in the mood to do a proper job for you anymore.

On the other end of the spectrum, certain vendors exist offering prices that are so low it’s almost unbelievable, and immediately, you find yourself making a booking for their services. Be wary, however, of such vendors because low prices are paid at the expense of quality, and always keep in mind that the cheapest deal in town may be so for a reason. (Also notice how I used the word ‘vendor’ rather than the words ‘designer’ or ‘professional’.)

It’s always better to shop with a planned budget, and get what you want from there, rather than gunning for extra savings but end up with heartache and disappointment.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with topping up your costs to enjoy a little exclusivity. After all, it IS a very special occasion, and it’s worthwhile to ensure you’ll look back with happy memories. But if you sense that the unscrupulous sharks are circling, just to prey on your emotional vulnerability at this juncture of your wedding, it pays to keep an eye out on both the waters, and on how watertight your own boat is.

Cheers!
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