Picture this: you’re going to your friend’s wedding and you’ve prepared a plump Ang Pao because you know they’ve forked out a lot for preparations.
You’re going to eat a fanciful dinner there, after all.
And then the twist: his wedding is practically 100% sponsored, and your Ang Pao’s effectively just going into his pocket.
Would you be indignant? Furious?
Apparently, that’s how a lot of people felt when it was revealed that a huge part of the wedding they had gone to were sponsored.
What exactly happened?
Instagram influencer Melissa Celestine Koh got married last month, and if you weren’t aware, she’s BIG on the social media platform.
And she even has another sub account!
Even her husband, an influencer is his own right, is pretty famous too.
The chief photographer of many of her wife’s artistic shots, one can say that he’s been holding her hand for much of her journey to Influencer stardom.
And with a presence that big, her wedding was naturally pretty lavish too.
With a photo booth, a flower bar (guests could make their own hand bouquets), a styling counter (with Make-up artists available to give you a makeover using Dior cosmetics) and availability of gin and tonic, the event was pretty grand.
And when guests entered the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore hotel ballroom, they were presented additional favours like TWG tea, macarons and artisanal soap.
At this point, some guests have already smelled a rat.
When they saw the wedding dinner menu (it had a TWG Tea letterhead, and each course had tea to accompany it), they saw the rat, and their curiosity turned to irritation pretty damn quickly.
Fortunately, it was still tolerable, even though they could tell that the wedding dinner was sponsored, heavily sponsored.
And then shit hit the fan.
Ms Koh started giving shout outs to brands that had been involved in the wedding, days after the event. She also dedicated thank you posts to big names such as crystal brand Swarovski and luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co.
Guests confirmed what they had been suspecting. Dear Ms Koh and her husband had not needed to pay much for their wedding.
So what were the red packets for? Additional income for the couple?
In an interview with the Straits Times, a wedding guest who wanted to be known only as Min, said that she felt cheated.
The 27-year-old, who had known Ms Koh from University, expressed that the sponsorships cheapened the wedding, made it insincere and she felt like a money tool.
Another guest, known only as Tim, felt that Ms Koh should have declared the various sponsorships to her guests beforehand.
By not doing that, the 32-year-old university friend said, she had created an “ethical problem”. He added that had she told them, he would have still given a red packet but changed the amount.
There was, however, a guest that didn’t mind giving the ang pow even after learning of the sponsorships.
Fitness blogger Cheryl Tay said that she had enjoyed the wedding, and the fact that nearly everything had been sponsored didn’t bother her.
To her, a red packet’s primary objective is to allow you to celebrate with them and wish them well, and not help the couple recoup their losses.
It’s common for celebrities and well-known personalities to have had sponsors during their weddings, but considered pretty rare for influencers.
In fact, several sponsors for Ms Koh’s wedding told the Straits Times that it was the first time they had presented such privileges to a non-celebrity.
Even the hotel, Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, had a “partnership” with Ms Koh, in which they exhibited the planning milestones in a wedding couple’s journey.
Food tasting, a bridal spa party and the actual wedding banquet were all included.
Famous blogger Xiaxue, whose real name is Wendy Cheng, was one of the first to accept sponsorships during her wedding back in 2010.
There were other influencers, however, that chose to turn down sponsorships at their weddings.
Aside from feeling that it was an insincere act, it also requires more effort on their part.
Event host Sara-Ann Krishnamoorthy, 38, was one such influencer. She got married in July but chose not to subsidise her wedding costs.
When asked why? She replied that it was because a wedding’s supposed to be intimate and special. By accepting sponsorships, it makes the whole thing kinda ‘fake’.
Entrepreneur Cheryl Wee, 30, had accepted sponsorships, but she made sure to reward her sponsors with red packets after the wedding, as well as hiring some of them for events later on.
What did the ‘guilty’ couple have to say about it?
When contacted by the Straits Times, the couple admitted that they pursued sponsorships, but most came to them.
They feel that there’s nothing wrong with the way they worked with the sponsors. In return for their services, the couple provided them online exposure.
They had also wished for their guests to feel “special” and “pampered”. Well, I guess it backfired real bad then. Because some probably felt “cheated” and “angered” instead.
They also claimed that they did not gain any profits (because there were large costs involved that were not sponsored), although they did not disclose the amount they actually had to pay for everything.
I guess this is yet another one of those old vs new mindset clashes?
Traditional mindsets would have preferred the wedding to be more authentic, in the sense that you really put in the effort for your own wedding and services.
Not saying that Ms Koh and her husband did not put in any effort, but when half your wedding is a practical advertisement, people aren’t going to quite look at it that way.
On the other hand, hipper mindsets would have seen the bigger picture, instead of focusing on the authentic aspect.
Oh, the sponsors could cut some costs? Hmm, sounds worth it. Can they make the guests feel more welcomed? That’s something I want! You know, thoughts like that.
However, I do feel that the couple at hand should have at the very least disclosed the sponsorships to their friends and acquaintances.
That would have been fairer to them, and the red packet would have been a real ‘out of respect’ kind of thing, instead of a ‘they are going broke; I should help them out’.
But that’s just how I feel. What do you think?
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Featured Image: womensweekly.com.sg
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