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Author Topic: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding  (Read 28691 times)

Escaped Lunatic

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My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« on: January 17, 2011, 02:57:44 AM »
In December, the thought was "No problem, it's next year, plenty of time."

Oh my.  The wedding is now only 10 or so weeks away.  Insanity aplenty awaits.  Lucky for me that I'm a certified Lunatic! ahahahahah


Chapter 1.  The Dress

I didn't move to the other side of the planet and fall for a lovely Chinese girl to see her in a standard white wedding dress.  I want this to be a proper Chinese wedding party.  That means a RED dress.

There were 2 obstacles.  First, there doesn't seem to be a place to buy wedding dresses in any color, at least not one that I found.  You can use the dresses at the wedding photo studio, and some will also rent you one of their dresses for the wedding dinner.  For a country that's so proud of its heritage, the selection of traditional outfits at most photo studios is surprisingly limited. mmmmmmmmmm

Finally, we went to find a shop that could make one.  After much violence discussion, my fiancee and I settled on a pattern and a fabric.  The fitting is later this week.


Chapter 2.  Wedding Photos

China has a ratio of 1 photo studio for every 4 or 5 potential customers.  Yes, I'm quite convinced that more people work in wedding photo studios than get married in any 4 or 5 year period.  The only greater employee:customer mystery is the ratio of phone stores to people buying new phones.

I thought this would make life easy.  There's a huge concentration of these along one side of People's Park.  Simple task.  We'd just need to go to half a dozen and write down the packages, prices, and what any extras we would like will cost.  I wanted to make sure the shop had a decent selection of outfits, and that the area with the backdrops wasn't so crowded that it would be like rearranging everything in a small apartment between shots (the one where our lovely daughter had a photo shoot recently was like working in a walk-in closet).

Shop number one was very cooperative.  My fiancee was even kind enough to write in English so that I would have some clue about the conversation.  For what was offered, it seemed very expensive, but I'd already braced myself for the need to sell my internal organs on eBay spend a lot of money on this.  Things were going fine until the sales girl said that the pricing structure was confidential and we couldn't take the piece of paper out.  When asked why, she said it was so that people couldn't go from shop to shop to try to find and bargain for the best deal.

I was livid infuriated homicidal apoplectic less than pleased.  The last time I checked, shopping around for goods and services was a major part of how things worked in China.  We left.

Rather than take a chance of wasting any time, as soon as we were out the door, I jotted down as much as we could recall on another piece of paper.  Rather than take the chance of wasting time on this again, for the next shop, I kept a piece of paper and my pen below the level of the table while my fiancee questioned the sales girl and translated the pricing details.  Studio #2 had a significantly better package and the extras cost less.  The only problem was making a graceful exit without signing a contract and leaving a large cash deposit.

We almost turned around to head the other way - towards a larger group of studios, but it was lunch time and the nearest restaurants were ahead.  As we went in to eat, I saw another Studio next door.  As we left the restaurant, we looked at the outside of Studio #3 again.  It was MUCH fancier than the other two (which were both pretty nice as far as such places go), so I almost voted to skip it.  Since we were there already, we decided to take a quick look.  The initial presentation was very impressive.  We asked about prices, but the sales girl wanted to show us the outfits and the studio itself first (ah yes, first we'll make you fall in love with our costumes and sets and then it will be too late when we hit you with the HUGE price uuuuuuuuuu).

The selection of outfits was excellent.  A couple of items I thought were just backdrops or photoshopped in were real props.  The only odd thing was than a male employee was following us on the tour and never got more than an arm's length away from me.  I was really wondering what was up with that.  It turned out he was a brand new employee and was observing.  I was very impressed with what they had, but was worried how I'd deal with my fiancee's growing enthusiasm when the price was finally revealed.

We went back down to the sales area and a sheaf of papers with packages was produced.  I couldn't understand very much, but the 13,999 RMB price tag was painfully obvious.  The other studios started with their lower end packages first and then worked upwards, so I was very worried about what I'd see next when she turned the page.  To my relief, the next page had a lower price, so I resisted the urge to grab my fiancee's hand and run away screaming for a moment longer.  A few pages in, there was a package with two prices.  I asked what was up with that, and it turns out to be the big sale package at half off.  That put it close to the price of the other 2 studios.  I asked for details.  7 outfits, 5 in studio plus 2 outdoors (1 at a place that would have cost and extra 200 RMB at studio #2), a poster designed for the entrance of the restaurant where the wedding party would be held, 3 wall portraits, a couple of albums with 35 prints, a DVD, a CD, and a few other odds and ends.  Even better, the CD would have ALL the pics taken.  The other Studios wanted 25+ RMB per pic for adding any to the CD.

I'm thinking that this can't get any better.  Then my fiancee decides to start negotiating.  Some more extras get thrown in.  More negotiations and the sales girl retreats to the manager's office.  When she returns, I hear one of the words for "foreigner" a half a dozen times.  I'm wondering is this is something like "Why would some rich foreigner not be able to pay the already generously discounted price?", but it turns out that the manager decided to knock a few hundred RMB off as a special deal since they don't normally get foreign clients.

I'm happy with the whole thing, but we wanted to check one or two more places just to be sure.  Hey, if this gets better with each shop,  why not?  Escaping from the sales girl who is VERY eager to get a signature and a deposit proves challenging, but is finally managed.

Studio #4 manages to come close to #3, but can't quite match them.  Studio #5 does the same.  Each place has some unique sets and outfits, but we're only getting this done at one place.  Finally, Studio #6 can't even come close in price.  They do have the best outfits and sets, but the price is the highest of all of them.  Before we get too far away, Studio #3 has called and taken another 200 RMB off the price.

Now we let the sales girl at #3 sweat for a couple of days, then hit her up for another little extra or two before signing. ahahahahah
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 06:42:54 AM by Escaped Lunatic »
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Borkya

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 04:15:02 AM »
I'm so glad you actually explained that to us EL, cause I have been hella curious about the million of studios as well. And seeing as I'm married, and hate pictures, I'd never find out on my own.


NATO

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 04:55:01 AM »
Wow. Sounds like a lot of hard work - trying to prevent customers from getting a better is a very alien concept. Either your product is strong, or your pricing is strong or sometimes both, if you're not confident that you're business is good at either of these then what are you doing in business? Anyway sounds like you got yourselves a good deal besides, I'm sure it will be worth the effort in the end.

Granny Mae

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 05:23:40 AM »
EL you're either a bloody saint or you truly are nuts! I get exhausted just reading about all the hoops you jump through! ahahahahah I must admit to being  a slack young ababababab lady when I married in 1967. I left it all up to my mum and my aunty;I thought this was how it was done. They arranged everything from go to whoa. My haistyle,my borrowed white dress,the minister, the invitations,photographer etc,etc. I only came down from out West a few days before the wedding. Yeah! I have changed my attitudes a lot over the last forty odd years. ahahahahah I'd just go to a Registry Office now. bfbfbfbfbf ahahahahah Can't wait to see your photos! bfbfbfbfbf

The Local Dialect

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 05:41:29 AM »
If you think visiting the studios was exhausting, wait till you take the pictures! That had to have been one of the longest days of my entire life. We were at the studio and out shooting the outdoors pictures from early morning until well after dark. We only had 4 outfits and when it came time to choose pictures we ended up completely scrapping all of the pictures taken in one of the outfits. You get poked and prodded and dressed and undressed and by the end of it you swear your marriage is going to last forever because you never want to go through that again!

We only spent about 2000RMB on our package if I remember correctly (we only got one big print, a poster, 2 albums and then a bunch of table-top photos), although we went to a nice place in Kunming that offered some extremely expensive packages. I knew a couple that spent about 20K RMB on theirs but really, after about 5k RMB or so I think the returns are sort of diminishing on these packages. You only really need so many pictures of yourself afterall and unless you live in a mansion you end up with no place to put them -- especially when you have kids' pictures to take up space as well.

I can't wait to see your pics EL, you'll have to post some when all is said and done.   

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 06:35:45 AM »
Looks like I'm going to get a nice package for around 4k, depending on how many things we add and how well my fiancee can negotiate.

Yeah, 5 on-site plus 2 off-site locations will end up taking up a whole day.  We're going to do it after Spring Festival.  If we wear the outfits we plan to use for the wedding itself for the first round, that saves us one costume change.

I'm told that it's forbidden to bring along one's own camera.  Think I'll send a friend or two with high zoom cameras to at least one of the outdoor photo shoots (I always snap pics when I walk by a wedding photo session, so someone taking pics of us from a distance won't arouse too many suspicions).  I'd love some candid shots of us arguing with the photo crew. ahahahahah

I'm going to hold off on naming (and endorsing or condemning) the shop until after I see the results.  I may end up regretting trying to save a few RMB or I may have the best deal in town.  It's too early to tell.
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Day Dreamer

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 07:34:30 AM »
my borrowed white dress  

 mmmmmmmmmm  really?


 ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah
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Day Dreamer

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 07:38:59 AM »
Don't forget to budget for the invitations. Where's mine? I wanna come and laugh at you toast the happy couple
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2011, 09:53:57 AM »
Invitations?  Let's see - how much does a pack of post-it notes and a pen cost in this town? ahahahahah
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2011, 03:04:58 AM »
Chapter 3  The fitting

Amazingly, this went very well.  No alterations were needed.  I wanted something a little more ornate, but at least it's a mostly traditional red Chinese qipao.

Pics will be forthcoming soon.

Afterwards, I was unceremoniously dragged to the shops above Walmart to add another Chinese jacket to my collection.  At least I'll have plenty of my own stuff to wear if the wedding photo place is running short on male outfits that day. ahahahahah

Now I just need a trench coat to wear over my nice Chinese stuff when I'm outdoors while we visit her hometown for Spring Festival.  Rumor has it that at this time of year in her hometown, water can actually turn solid just by being exposed to the air.
 aoaoaoaoao

I'm hoping to finalize the contract with the wedding photo place this weekend.  I wonder if our sales girl is ready to toss in another freebie to two yet.  I may have to restrain my darling a bit so that we don't put the shop out of business. uuuuuuuuuu
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Stil

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2011, 03:13:58 AM »

 Rumor has it that at this time of year in her hometown, water can actually turn solid just by being exposed to the air.
 aoaoaoaoao


Not a rumour dude. I put things in the fridge to keep from freezing. If wash a piece of meat you need to cut it up right away and cook it because if you leave it on the counter to long it will be solid.

Usually it's colder inside than outside during the daytime but fortunately with all the visitors and cooking going on it might warm up to 5-6C inside. Stay near the foot stoves.

Borkya

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2011, 02:07:15 AM »
I've stopped storing things in the fridge because it is just as cold, if not colder, in the kitchen. And I live in SOUTHERN china!

Granny Mae

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 04:23:18 AM »

Not a rumour dude. I put things in the fridge to keep from freezing. If wash a piece of meat you need to cut it up right away and cook it because if you leave it on the counter to long it will be solid.

Hey guys, this leads me to,um,a rather embarrassing  question apapapapap  aoaoaoaoao Err,Um, You do have RELIABLE heating in the sleeping areas?

Escaped Lunatic

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2011, 05:11:49 AM »
I have a pair of Da 2P rated ACs in the main room that can also heat.  I've also got an electric space heater.

Not sure how those who live farther north cope.  Guess I'll find out when we go to Jianxi in a week.
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: My Big Fat Guangdong Wedding
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2011, 05:35:38 AM »
Chapter 4.  The Wedding Photo Contract.

With Spring Festival looming over us, I wanted to get the wedding photo contract finalized.  Some of my fiancee's friends suggested waiting until later, since the studio might go out of business over the holidays.  My thought was that I'm VERY pleased with the offer, and wanted to lock it down in case the sales girl didn't come back after the holidays.  I've known more than one girl who went to her hometown for the holidays and didn't come back because her family pushed her into a marriage, and didn't want to have to redo this whole thing from scratch.

With our lovely daughter in tow, we stopped by our selected studio. My fiancee kept badgering the sales girl for items and upgrades.  We're now getting a lovely gold marriage certificate in a glass frame and also got a free upgrade the frame on the smallest of the 3 portraits to a much more expensive style.  She was about to go for a 3rd photo album, but finally relented when she saw that the sales girl was almost in tears.

Our sales girl wanted 2000 RMB for a deposit.  Happily, my fiancee managed to get this knocked down to 1000 RMB.  Considering that I only had 1800 in my wallet and won't get paid again until after we leave for Spring Festival, this was a good thing.  Also, the thought of losing 1000 RMB if the photo studio disappears is only half as painful as the though of losing 2000.

As a side benefit of bringing our dearest darling with us, we got to take another tour of the studio, this time without a new employee trying to act as my personal shadow.  We've already begun selecting which sets and outfits would go together best.  Since there will be seven different settings, there will be at least one involving the ultimate rarely observed item - me in a suit.  The most recent time that this was seen was many years ago when I was best man at a friend's wedding.  My fiancee also wants a least one or two uses of a white dress as part of this.

Once we're back from Spring Festival, we'll select a day for the shoot and do final selection of outfits a day or two before.
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