I was one of the unfortunate bride of Sophia Wedding Collection.
On the evening of 11 October, I received a call from my close friend. She told me she had heard news that the bridal studio with which I had signed a bridal package with was in trouble. I was out for dinner then, and quickly whipped out my smartphone to search for the news.
My heart sank.
My fiance and I were supposed to have our pre-wedding photoshoot on the following Tuesday. We had just chosen our gowns and suits for the photoshoot earlier in October.
What went on for the following two weeks is now a blur – rushing around to perform all the administrative duties of reporting to the police, going to the small claims tribunal, connecting with affected couples on Facebook, calling up our credit card issuing bank and looking for another bridal studio.
While we felt consoled by the fact that there was still sufficient time for us to look for another studio to fulfil all our preparation requirements before our wedding next year, it also exposed the amount of risk every couples take when they sign up for a wedding package.
Instead of crying over spilled milk, I think it’s best everyone affected learnt whatever they can from such a lesson and move on to proceed with the preparations of their nuptials. After my experience, I’d like to share some tips for couples to be when choosing a bridal studio.
I’ve spilt up this article into 2 parts, with Part 1 focusing on the financial aspects of the wedding and Part 2 on what you can expect from the service standard of your bridal studio by comparing between my experience with Sophia Wedding Collection and my current bridal studio.
What to look out in your Bridal Studio – The Money Edition
Do not ever just walk along Tanjong Pagar road(where all the bridal studios are) and drop in to ask for a quotation. My fiance and I had a comprehensive list of bridal studios we had shortlisted before going with Sophia Wedding.
Your spreadsheet should include:
– Quotation (send enquiry online)
– Price range (check on bridal forums)
– Items provided: such as pre-wedding photoshoot, make up, how many pieces of gown rental, make up services, how many photo poses you are entitled to
For us, we narrowed the list down to 3 studios which suited our budget and had good reviews.
Special Tip: An additional step you might want to take now after my experience is to go to the credit bureau to check up the credit history of the studio owners. You can buy the ACRA profile of the company to do that. It’s a very small price to pay for a peace of mind.
2) Set An Appointment
Set up an appointment with the bridal studios you have shortlisted. Be ready to negotiate for the items you want on the list. For instance, if you don’t care for free floral arrangement on your wedding car, exchange that for something else such as more photo poses.
You will have a stronger bargaining power if you have already done your research and know what other brides are getting. If there are other quotations you received that offer similar items that are cheaper, use it to your advantage.
One word of advice, leave this negotiation to the last step when you are ready to make your choice of bridal studio.
Special Tip: Do not sign up on the spot. Bridal studios often throw you huge discounts when they see that you are interested so as to tempt you. That was our mistake with Sophia Wedding.
When we signed with them in August, they have just moved to a new venue and the lady boss told us that we were their first customer so they gave us a 50% discount. We didn’t even visit the other 2 studios that we had intended to because we were told the discount will not be valid after we leave the studio.
When it comes to payment, it’s really up to you to pay by instalment or the full amount, but best to use a credit card instead of cash. Why? After the experience, some couples were able to raise a fraud dispute with the card issuing banks and notably, American Express’ clients were able to get back their money.
Other banks were a little reluctant and most are still in the investigation process.
Unfortunately for those who had opted for instalment payments on their credit cards, banks were unable to do any refund since they have pre-paid the merchants. However, some argue that by paying in instalments, you reduce the amount of potential loss should anything unfortunate happen with the bridal studio.
Whichever studio you choose, there will always be a risk. Sophia Wedding had a great reputation in Singapore, so no one really expected this to happen. You can only perform the above due diligence to make the best choice!
Read Part 2 here for the service standards you should expect from your bridal studio!