Organising a wedding can be as smooth as silk, or as messy as a mudbath. For the reception, there are two main groups of people you should get on your side as soon as possible: those at your reception venue, and those at a wedding studio of your choice. While choosing a venue will largely depend on your personal style (see Wedding Receptions), wedding studios are less differentiated but can be just as vital in ensuring your wedding is memorable.
What do wedding studios do?
First made popular in Taiwan, wedding studios kicked off in Bangkok seven years ago and their focus remains on the wedding photos themselves – which are taken three to four months before the wedding day. "The process of manually retouching the photographs does take some time," says Jittima Manachaiyarak, assistant manager at Surrealist Studio.
The busiest months for weddings are May, November and December, so as with venues, it’s advisable to book well in advance.
Prior to the day wedding studios can arrange invitation cards, thank you cards and personalised giveaway gifts for your guests. On the day itself, they will hire the bride and groom the same outfits they wore for the photographs, and provide a make-up and hair service. A photographer can also attend the wedding.
Most recently, studios have started to provide CD-ROM or video packages about the couple and how they met and fell in love, which are shown to the guests at the wedding. "These are very popular among the hi-so," says Piccha Prakalylerdluk, marketing manager at the Marriage Studio.
What do you pay?
Three main categories of studios have developed in Bangkok: low-priced, mid-range and high-end studios. The low-priced are mostly located in the Banglamphu area, where attention to touching up photos is minimal. Although the quality is lower, the pricer is lower as well.
Then there are the mid-range and high-end studios, both of which are mostly in the Thong Lor and Ekamai areas, were much more expensive when the market first developed in Bangkok. "Now there is a high supply, so we have to compete," says Jittima. "People are getting better value than they did in the past – most studios are willing to give the customer as much as they can."
Couples at the Surrealist Studio spend on average around Bt20,000 on a basic package. However, Jittima says, once they see the photographs, they will often order more and end up spending a total of Bt40,000.
At Thailand’s first Thai-owned operation, Marriage Studio, the most popular package is Bt39,500. "Some people are price sensitive, but most couples don’t care about the price because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing – quality is much more important to them," says Piccha. "And you do get what you pay for."
Studios will offer promotions at different times of the year, so Jittima advises shopping around. "Some couple cover three studios a day. It’s very competitive, so do ask if there are promotions, and try to negotiate."
You may also wish to consider where the photographs themselves will be taken. "We have our own garden out the back, so photos can be taken there," says Usamas Aiemlaor, account executive at Viva Forever Studio, where package prices range from Bt16,000 to Bt88,000.
Jittima also suggests that couples sit down early on and plan their time carefully. "There will be so many tasks to do. Write a To Do list, and then ask your friends and family to help."
You want more?
Or perhaps your wedding studio can help if something extra needs doing. "We had a couple come in last week asking if we could decorate the restaurant cowboy-style for her reception. We have an art department, so they’ll do it," Jittima says.