Selecting Your Bridal Studio (Checklist On How/What To Bargain For Pre-Wedding Shoot)

Ok, I've been procrastinating over typing this post for ages but I finally decided I should do it. I have received quite a number of requests from fellow btbs that they need a checklist when they go to a bridal studios. So, here I go again!

There are so many ways for us to select a bridal studio.
  1. By word of mouth. Hearing it from friend's experiences, reviews from other couples or maybe through avenues of blogger's reviews etc... I think that is basically still the most accurate information as of date. Nothing beats first hand experiences.
  2. By wedding magazines/websites. I personally have my reservations towards such advertisements in magazines or websites because it's basically paid advertisements. Only the best will be highlighted and the rest will be like a Pandora box, only to be revealed when you are with them. Surprise surprise!
  3. By attending hotel wedding showcase/wedding shows. Usually if you were to attend wedding showcases or shows, there will definitely be some bridal studios who are also present as one of the vendors. Be ready for sales talk!
No matter how we select it, you cannot deny that if you want a bridal package, you have to go through those torturous moments of being sales talked. So let's make sure we are at this mode now.

When bargaining for the PRE-WEDDING SHOOT with your bridal studio,
  • Number of bridal gowns and evening gowns (for bride)
    • Made to measure or Off the Rack? 
    • Include accessories?
    • Note: Bridal studio packages do not include shoes. So you will have to prepare your own. Usually they will recommend silver or pearl coloured shoes to match wedding gowns.
  • Number of suits (for groom)
    • Made to measure or off the rack?
    • Include accessories?
    • Include the shirt or just suit?
    • Note: Similarly, shoes are not provided. for groom.
  • Number of edited soft-copy photos returned to you after pre-wedding shoot
    • If you think it is only natural that you get back all your soft copies after a wedding shoot, you are absolutely wrong!!!! Most bridal studios generate the bulk of their income from selling these photos. Thus, the more photos you can bargain for, the better it is.
    • Some studios will offer you soft copies all returned and only a number of edited soft copies will be returned to the couple. But usually such studios offer a higher rate.
    • The number of photos offered is usually based on the base price of your package. But you may estimate yourself to be offered at least 30 edited images if you were to purchase a basic package (usually costing in the $3000++++ range) . If not, bargain for it or look for the next bridal studio!
  • Number of Studio shoot and Outdoor shoot
    • Ask for sample photos of studio shoot
    • Number of locations? - Securing about 2-3 locations would be most ideal
    • Inclusive or exclusive of transportation costs? (aka the bridal studio will provide the car and fuel) If not then you have to take into account these costs and other additional costs such as parking fees, admission charges etc.
    • Any additional costs for night shots?
  • Make up and hair styling for the pre-wedding shoot
    • Make up artiste (MUA) costs are usually inclusive but just double check on that. (MUA will usually not follow you out for outdoor shoot.)
    • Ask for free fake eyelashes (if not, how much extra for that?)
    • Ask for free ampoule (if not, how much extra for that?)
    • Type of bridal make up (The trend now is to go towards korean style, more natural and less bombastic. So most studios will promote that they are using korean style make up. Instead of listening to them, spend time to go through their sample photos and see if their style of make up is what you are looking for.)
    • Change of hairstyle for every change in outfit?
  • Hard Copy Prints (that bridal studios will usually throw in... but it will usually be presented as something extra given to you)
    • Acrylic cover photo album (with number of pages accordingly to the number of photos they offer you) As a guide, usually for 20 pages, you will be offered about 26-30 soft copies to be returned. For 30 pages, they may offer about 35-40 soft copies to be returned. This depends very much on individual studios actually. Either glossy or matte print.
    • Table top with frame, usually 8R (at least x1)
    • Big portrait with frame, width of at least 20 inches (x1) This is usually printed on canvas print.
  • Miscellaneous items which may be included for all studios (not applicable for all studios)
    • Guest book
    • Wedding bears
    • Additional photo of various sizes to be reprinted for you (duplicated poses)
    • The CD that will contain your soft copies.
    • Thank you cards
    • Mini albums of the photographs
    • A separate album of behind the scenes during the photoshoot
And that's it for pre-wedding shoot, as per what I have consolidated based on my experience so far. I will add in and update accordingly if I chance upon any other points which I may have left out. Just note that the checklist is just for you to have an idea what you can bargain for and to look out for. It's still advisable to read up reviews and check out the studio's gown collections before you sit yourself down for the sales talk experience. =)

I will be coming out with a checklist for Actual Day (AD) packages that usually comes together with pre-wedding shoot in my next entry.

Update on 29/1/15: Read the checklist for AD packages

Meanwhile, I hope this helps you in planning your search for the right pre-wedding shoot studio.

Happy Planning, 
Mrs To-Be OOPS


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