Weddings: DIY vs Bridal Package

Hey guys.. It’s monday again and today I am feeling quite under the weather and I am praying for it to go away cause I am going overseas soon!

Today, we will be talking about the most exciting topic on most brides’ minds: the gowns, the make up, etc.

I made terrible mistakes for this one and I hope no one makes the same mistakes as me and this is actually what motivated this blog because there are so many unspoken rules of this industry that I think puts consumers at disadvantage.

Although I must disclaim I am no professional wedding planner and this is just from my personal experience and research, I do genuinely hope this blog will help fellow BTBs make their wedding planning slightly easier.

DIY vs Bridal Boutiques, which one should I do? 

I angst about this for many many weeks with well-meaning friends and relatives chipping in their wedding experience. There really is no right or wrong answer. The best decision is what you think is the best value for your money and time!

What does it means by DIY? 

DIY is do-it-yourself which basically means you source your own sources for all the things you need from a bridal boutique package

What does it means by bridal boutique packages? 

It is a bridal company who provides a package of sorts to cover most of the things you need on your wedding day at a fee (which includes cost of the products)

  • They generally have in-house photography and videography as well
  • In house studios
  • Gowns
  • Make up artistes
  • Flower bouquets
  • Bridal car decors

As you can probably guess from now, in order to decide between these 2 options, you will have to compare them and in order to compare them, you have to make time to know both well.

5 Things to consider when choosing between DIY vs Bridal Packages 

  1. Have a list of items you want/need on your wedding day 
    • Before you start your shopping at bridal boutiques and DIY sourcing, do have a list of items you want for your actual day
    • Below is a list of items I have came up with for my wedding (from the 1st post of the Wedding Series)
    • Disclaimer: I only included items that bridal companies are able to offer in their packages. Other items such as venue decor, etc. are not included here  
      • For the bride: Image result for illusion gown wedding
        • White wedding gown
        • Evening gown
        • Traditional Kua (chinese wedding gown)/tea dress
          • In the modern world now, I think this could be optional for some couples because you can actually go through tea ceremony with your white wedding gown too!
        • Makeup and hairdo
          • Generally consist of 1 trial, 1 morning and 1 evening (if you are holding lunch, you can make the evening one into another session for your 2nd march in)
        • Accessories for the gowns (ie veil, cancan, jewelleries)
        • Floral bouquet
      • For the groom:
        • HAHA, they don’t need much, they just need a suit (or two if you like)
        • Corsage (to pin on the suit): it’s a flower thing, usually a rose Image result for corsage for men
      • For the parents:
        • Corsage! (1 for each parents ie 4 in total)
        • Optional Mothers’ dresses x 2
        • Optional Fathers’ jackets x 2
        • Optional Siblings’ outfits
      • For the brothers (groomsmen):
        • Their outfit for the day
      • For the sisters (bridesmaids):
        • Their outfit for the day
        • Optional wrist bands
        • Hand bouquet if they are marching down the aisle also
      • For the car:
        • The actual car
          • You may be surprised but some bridal companies do provide the actual car itself also
        • Main bridal car decor
        • Ribbons for the other cars in the party
      • Photobooth (optional)
      • Rental of Prewedding shoot gowns and make up if going for freelance prewedding photoshoot
        • For bride: at least 2 gowns: 1 evening, 1 white wedding gown with accompanying accessories (jewelleries, cancan, veil)
        • For groom: at least 1 suit
        • Make up (1 time with optional add on for accompanying make up artiste)
    • Do discuss with your SO what you actually need and what you don’t need
    • Tip: Most bridal companies will force a package down your throat and tell you it is the best for you and convince you to take things they provide in the package even when you do not need it. Don’t accept it! If you do not need a certain item (eg tea dress), you can negotiate for a lower package price or to exchange for something else 
  2. Ask for a few quotations for both DIY and from Bridal Boutiques based on your list above 
    • After your have an idea of what you need, it is time to go shopping!
    • It is wise to start looking at individual components of the list first and find out DIY prices and write down at least 2-3 quotes for each item on your list
    • Below are some places to look for your DIY quotes for the list I have above:
      • Gowns Image result for taobao cheap meme
        • Decide if you want to BUY or RENT
          • If you want to buy, decide if you want to buy off the shelf VS tailor make
        • The brides’ most excited part of the wedding, do look at which gowns appeal to you and TRY THEM ON. The Vera Wang Mermaid gown that looks so stunning on the size 0 figure of 8 model will definitely make me look like I am a runaway mummy with a round figure like mine.
        • Places that generally offer gowns are places like Silhouette the Atelier, Amanda Lee Weddings, The Gown Warehouse, Vera Wang, and you can even look at overseas ones because they do ship over!
        • For less “atas” gowns (which can look equally stunning), you can even go to Bangkok where there are wedding shops selling gowns at really good prices
        • Traditional chinese wedding “kua” can also be bought from Hong Kong or China or Malaysia or Taobao it!
        • Tip: Look for end of season gown sales such as the recent on La Belle Couture held 
        • Tip: If you have a good figure, taobao can also be a steal for gowns and kua! 
        • Tip: Please do not count on recouping your losses from your gown budget because there is no guarantee of having a buyer unless you are willing to sell it really cheap 
        • Do also consider the cost of renting/buying accessories such as the veil, cancan (to make your dress look poofy) and jewelleries to match the gowns as all these will be extra cost as well
      • Suits for groom
        • I think this is way simpler, you basically just have to decide whether your SO wants to custom make one nice suit to keep (or two) because they will definitely get to wear it again whether for formal occassions or business OR to buy off the shelf OR to rent (generally most gown places will have men’s suits as well)
        • Tip: Tailor making a suit can be a worthwhile investment because for guys, they can definitely rewear it! So do check out good tailors whether locally or overseas (malaysia, bangkok, vietnam, etc) 
      • Make up services
        • A good website I used to look was from this blog and this website
        • I then contacted the make up artistes I was interested in to find out the availability of the wedding date and how much it would cost
        • Tip: If you do have sisters/mother who will want their hair and makeup done as well, do highlight this to the make up artiste to see if you can get any bundle deals 
        • Tip: Look out for early morning arrival fee and hidden costs such as ampoules and eyelashes 
      • Flowers
        • Find out from floral shops/companies their catalogue of floral bouquets and its indicative prices
        • Also check if they do decoration of the bridal car as some florist are able to do that
        • Tip: You can also buy raw materials from taobao and make your own bouquet and decorate your own bridal car! (the cost price is affordable for decorative items)
        • Find out how much corsages (need 5-6) will be as well
      • The car
        • find out rental costs (some do come with chauffeur)
        • This is good to source yourself especially if you are looking at special cars like KOMBI or vintage cars
        • Tip: If you want to save money, and your family owns a car, use your own! 
      • Bridesmaid and Groomsmen’s attire Image result for taobao cheap meme
        • Look no further than taobao and malaysia
        • Nowadays, I realise it is also an increasing trend for groomsmen to just colour coordinate the tie or the bermudas or the shirt which is much more cost-effective
        • For bridesmaids attire, I realise quite a few weddings opted for taobao dresses/skirts as well which can save alot of money!
      • Photobooth
        • This is the in-thing and hence, there are tons of photobooth companies marketing their services. Just email them to find a rough quote.
        • Do look at how many hours you need, whether they provide props and backdrop, whether they provide manpower to take the photos vs a self-taking machine and whether there are unlimited prints
        • Tip: If you want each print to have your wedding shot, with your guests own photo, do find out how much more you need to pay for customization! 
    • After you have gone through the quotations for DIY of the items you need, have a rough estimate of the total cost you will spend (a lump sum) and go and visit MANY bridal boutiques where you are interested in their gowns/services to get them to quote you a price for the items you need
      • More tips of how to choose your bridal boutique will be given in the next post Image result for don't take my money meme
      • Tip: DO NOT RUSH INTO A DECISION WITH BRIDAL BOUTIQUES. I better say this early so that you guys won’t make the same mistake as me. Unless the deposit is something you don’t mind parting with, DO NOT PUT ANY DEPOSIT. Fret not, that XXX years anniversary discount/CNY discount/Christmas discount/last-time-ever discount price will still be there even if you walk away from them and return later. 
      • Tip: Do ask to try on gowns when you visit the bridal boutiques to see how good their service is and also to see if you like the general trend of their gowns before making your decision 
  3. You also have the option of having a mixture of DIY and Bridal Package for your list 
    • Do not be fooled that you either DIY all the way or you Bridal Package all the way
    • You can have a mixture!
    • For eg. Mr Cheapo (my SO) was adamant he want to source for his own photobooth
    • For Mrs Cheapo (me), I am adamant I want to buy my evening gown because I want to have at least one formal long dress for future wear to his company dinners (if any, HAHA) and I refuse to buy my wedding gown because I know I will never wear it again
  4. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET Image result for need money meme
    • Do discuss with your SO what is your budget
    • And I think this is the part you guys can save the most money if you are not particular about some things
    • Keep within your budget!!!! Weddings last a day, marriage (and debts) is a lifetime. 
  5. Some caveats 
    • I have no time to coordinate/source for DIY for my wedding
      • As much as you like to DIY for your wedding, some of our fellow BTBs and GTBs may be too busy to do the coordination
      • Bridal packages provide a form of convenience which saves you time because you do not have to coordinate with so many different vendors
    • I absolutely love this particular wedding gown from XXX Bridal Boutique
      • some couples choose to sign with bridal boutiques in the end for their packages because the bride really love certain gowns that may be difficult to find outside or may be too expensive to make again (tailor)
    • The bridal boutique offered me made-to-measure gowns, isn’t that as good if not better than DIY?
      • Not necessarily, because MTM gowns also requires designers to come up with good designs for you so if you really don’t find a particular boutique’s gowns nice, you might not like the MTM gowns also despite them promising you that you can do it any way you like because you still need the designer’s expertise
        • well, unless you are a wedding gown designer yourself? If you are, quickly quit your job and go into this line! HAHAHA
    • Hidden cost from bridal package price
      • There are quite alot of hidden cost in bridal packages to look out for which I will talk about more in the next post
    • Quality of goods received
      • Generally from my research and advice from many people, DIY and bridal packages can be equally price competitive but the difference lies that for DIY, you can ensure you are getting items from your favourite vendor while bridal packages you are at their mercy of who they choose to work with as their vendors
        • In order to cut cost, most bridal boutiques will not go for the top-notch vendors in order to increase their profit margin
    • Pre-wedding photoshoot “offers” from bridal boutiques Image result for what sorcery is this
      • If you intend to take up pre-wedding photoshoot with the bridal boutiques, you will realise the entire package sounds super attractive because PREWED SHOOT IS WHERE THEY SUCK YOU DRY
      • Most bridal companies in Singapore do not offer return of all your pre-wedding photos and only return a certain number of POSES
      • Imagine you have taken a day off, sweat it out under big hot sun, smile until your muscles go numb for 1 whole day, generally there will be at least hundreds of photographs taken
      • These companies will generally edit most of them and make them look super attractive
      • You then proceed down to their shop again on a separate day to “choose” your XX number of poses (ranges from 30 to 48 depending on your bargaining power)
      • This is where they suck you dry: each additional “pose” you choose to purchase from them is generally EXORBITANT (~95SGD) and a trusty bridal company boss actually showed us that in order for them to give you all the photos back, you need to top up at least 3500SGD (yup, if you take each pose to cost 100SGD, it is just 35 extra poses)
      • Horror stories are abound on choosing day where they will tell you: okay, if you don’t want to add anymore photos, we are deleting your photos from our memory card permanently and even if you have money, you cannot buy them anymore
      • Of course, there are good companies who do not hard sell this, but a bridal company boss frankly shared with us this is where they earn money from couples
      • Will give more tips on prewedding shoot and about bridal companies in subsequent posts
      • However, if despite all these, you still choose to do prewed shoot with the bridal companies do negotiate for a good package price because they are definitely willing to grab your business at any cost heehee

Another lengthy post, but I find this the most time consuming and frustrating part of planning.

Today also happens to be my parents’ 40th year wedding anniversary! Their wedding was simple and affordable but their marriage lasted 40 years and counting. This really inspires me that as much as we spend so much time discussing and planning for our wedding DAY with our SO, what’s more important is discussing and planning our LIFE with them 🙂

Do share and like, comment and share your experiences with all fellow BTBs too, thank you! 🙂


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