Jasmine: After “When is your big day?”, the second-most popular question is “What are you wearing?”
I was tasked with the job of finding a bridal salon that could offer us a reasonable and comprehensive package.
I researched close to a dozen bridal salons, and finally shortlisted two: Bridal Veil and Emanuel B Couture.
I had heard good reviews about the level of service and professionalism about both, but in the end I went with Emanuel B.
The reasons why:
1) Portfolio and style
Emanuel B’s portfolio was closer in style to the wedding and evening gowns that I had in mind, which involved a fair amount of draping, micro-pleating and lace. In contrast, Bridal Veil by Michelle Huimin specialised in simple, clean lines, and adding pleating and French lace would require us to top up substantially for the additional materials.
Of all the bridal studios I called or emailed, only two bothered to even reply- Bridal Veil and Emanuel B. (The Wedding Present sent me a default email with their rates, but I don’t think that counts.) Of the two, I was more impressed with Elaine because when she called me back, she had already looked through the email I had sent her with my dream dresses, and was able to tell me what sorts of material she planned to use.
On that note, she didn’t charge extra (unlike Bridal Veil) for using French chantilly lace, corded lace and silk chiffon- top-of-the-line fabrics. (Lower-tier bridal studios use polyester chiffon, which isn’t as smooth and doesn’t move as fluidly because it’s more lightweight.)
Lastly, during my initial meetup with her, Elaine was able to make helpful suggestions. For example, I wanted a row of buttons on the torso, and Elaine responded that she “liked things to be there for a reason”, and said she would place a seam there so the buttons would have a reason to be there.
It’s extremely difficult to impress me, especially on all things fashion, so trust me when I say that Elaine knows her stuff and most importantly, she has good taste, which is essential- after all, she is only designing the dress for the biggest day of your life!
3) Value for money
Emanuel B Couture is a mid-range bridal studio that specialises in made-to-measure gowns.
Hence, comparing its price to that of lower-end salons that throw in photography as well is unfair. I’ve seen the gowns and photoshoots done by bottom-tier bridal studios. I admit that when it comes to value for money, Emanuel B simply can’t beat studios that include bride’s gowns, MOTHER’s gowns, flowergirl dresses, groom’s suits, photos blah blah blah. However, when it comes to quality and taste, I am sure Emanuel B outclasses these studios. I cannot stress how important it is to find a designer who has taste, so you can trust that she will execute your design with impeccable workmanship and elegance.
I am rather mortified by the “princessy”, overly-embellished, poufy, outdated ballgowns provided by the lower-end studios that don’t take into consideration the wearer’s figure or age. Elaine and I were on the same page here, as she even mentioned how so many brides want princess ballgowns that even she gets bored of designing them! (Why even go to the trouble of doing made-to-measure if you’re going to show up in the same dress as every other bride… Why not just rent a gown off-the-rack and like, switch the brooch or something? :P)
Don’t even get me started on the budget photography, with the unnatural, Taiwanese-inspired shots, which frankly border on cheesy and contrived.
Here’s the package I negotiated with Elaine, the designer:
1) Wedding Gown (Made-to-measure) – Rental
2) Evening Gown (Made-to-measure) – Rental (the deal was either top up $400 for the extra silk chiffon needed for the draping and keep it, or rent it to waive the $400)
3) 2-Piece Men’s Suit (Made-to-measure) – To keep
4) 2 handbouquets
5) 6 corsages
6) Silk flower decorations for bridal car
7) Trial makeup and actual day makeup
8 ) Men’s vest (Made-to-measure) – to keep *
9) Men’s shirt (Made-to-measure) – to keep *
4) Good Reviews
Although Emanuel B. is not quite as high-profile or prominent in the media as other salons in its price range, all online reviews were unanimous in recommending Emanuel B for the quality fabrics and especially the service provided by Elaine.
Now, the sneak pix you’ve been waiting for! (These are outtakes from our pre-wedding shoot)
You’ll notice that we’ve made very subtle changes to Andrew’s outfit. The beauty of his three-piece suit is that it can be worn in endless combinations. The two looks featured here are:
1) just the vest, paired with a purple shirt and bow tie for a casual feel (made-to-measure vest and shirt from Emanuel B, bow tie from N. Tyler)
2) vest under jacket, with white tux shirt and cravat, for a formal vibe (all from Emanuel B with the exception of the tux shirt, which was custom-made at Rossi)
And I think it goes without saying that my gown has been designed by yours truly and made by Emanuel B. Heh.