I just received an email from a Malaysian couple who’s taking their wedding blog to a whole new level (ah, the perks of being ‘famous’ – more spam).
This is how it went:
As blogs continue to gain popularity and credibility, two bloggers from (blog URL) are aiming to have the first fully sponsored wedding in Asia (turns out it’s in Malaysia). The bloggers are offering free publicity for any company that chooses to sponsor their wedding.
C and his fiancée M, are two influential bloggers from the largest blogging networks and understand that often blogs are a go-to source for consumers. The blog serves as an information source for future brides and grooms, with the couple sharing details on how to find great wedding deals.
With a wedding planned in December, the groom-to-be and the bride-to-be blog about companies that have helped finance their wedding event via Paypal (how they get their money is itself a business since Malaysians can’t withdraw money from their Paypal accounts).
In addition to writing about these companies, the couple includes a sponsor’s logo on their blog. Sponsors of the wedding include (list of sponsors).
"With the winter wedding season under way, and couples planning for their 2008 weddings, many future brides often turn to the internet, especially our blog, for advice," said the bride-to-be. "Companies who choose to sponsor our wedding will gain exposure for their organization from a global audience, as well as an increase in traffic to their Web site."
It took me a moment to digest what I was reading since I was neither
a) an Internet savvy bride-to-be; or
b) a company that could sponsor something unless what they wish for is a free lesson in What Not To Do To Cheapen Thy Wedding, in which case, here you are – my heartiest congratulations.
But I am glad their email found me because now I have something to blog about that’s not about nothing.
Firstly, a summary on how a typical traditional Malaysian Chinese wedding goes (you’ve not seen cookie-cut until you’ve seen one of these):
1. Couple determines budget. Traditionally, Chinese weddings are big budget events that are expensed to the bride’s family, who in turn receives a sizeable dowry from the groom’s family in the form of gold, jewellery, a barbecued pig, a nice big house, so on and so forth. These days, such formalities are often just that – the cost of the gold, the bling, the pig, are shared by both families or even by the couple themselves. In the case of C and M, their wedding will be paid off by sponsors, who in return receive mentions in the former’s wedding blog. Ingenious, no? A little tasteless, but what do you expect from a couple of pro-bloggers? Monetizing is in their blood, they’d say.
2. Couple determines auspicious date using birth dates and birth times and perhaps even conception times to ensure health, wealth, fertility and a long and happy marriage.
3. Couple consults with parents (living and dead) on appropriateness of date.
4. Couple makes invite list with parents (only living) to determine how many tables of guests to book. This is also a great time to make some projections about future earnings from ang pow or ‘red packets’, which are little red or pink gift envelopes containing money – a timeless tradition. The going rate these days, I believe, is RM50 per person (correct me if I’m wrong), AT LEAST, depending on how ‘classy’ the restaurant where the wedding dinner will be held is, which determines the going rate per table. Each table typically seats ten. If it costs RM1,000 a table, you will need to bring a RM100 PER head (so if you are attending with your family of five, you’d better make sure there are five big ones in that tiny little packet). This ensures that the happy couple can at least cover their cost of feeding and entertaining you for the evening even though you are a guest. Question: C and M have a restaurant sponsor for their dinner. Are guests still expected to bring ang pows?
5. Couple books wedding dinner restaurant.
6. Couple books wedding photography studio, which is an institution in itself in Malaysia – and an exceedingly lucrative one. You go in, select a ‘package’ that includes the photography, the rental of gowns AND the make up as well as hair. The price eventually comes down to how many gowns you wish to rent but more remarkably, how many pictures you wish to have processed into fancy hand-made albums or enlarged to epic proportions to be placed at the head of your bed. These days, couples love having their wedding photos taken in the great outdoors, parks or atop hills, perhaps reminiscent of movie stars in similar locales. You may have started with a measly RM3,000 package but can end up paying RM13,000 because the thought of tossing the other 2,000 shots they took of you, who spent 12 hours changing into 13 dresses, posing and smiling in two inches of make-up and 12 inches of fake hair, just seems irresponsible. Question: C and M have a sponsored photographer. How does that work? Did they get the full deluxe premium platinum package? I am curious.
7. Couple books the wedding matchmaker-wedding-usherer-lady-person (‘tai kum che’ in Cantonese – my Koo Ma was one). I have no idea how much they cost. When my Koo Ma used to do it (in the 90s), she charged RM100 for a whole day, since she provided make up AND the ‘ushering’ itself, where she shouts good tidings at the top of her voice during the tea ceremony (where most of the ang pow and gold are given by relatives) and is also the ‘MC’ at the dinner reception, crucial during toasts. These days, I believe they sing as well as flirt shamelessly with uncles who have had too much to drink. Another RM200 for ‘value-added services? Any Internet-savvy tai kum ches around who need some link love?
8. Couple goes for honeymoon (which is a non-event, unless of course it’s also sponsored and thereby the couple has to blog about their impending trip). Business is business, right?
I am not sure how I feel about the whole affair. On one hand, I applaud C and M for their brilliance – and audacity. Not a lot of people will think of asking total strangers to pay for their wedding and fewer still will gather up the nerve to be so bold as to mail-blast the blogosphere. On the other, I’m wondering if all this does not cross some line somewhere – the line between entrepreneurial and just plain cheap and/or greedy (particularly so when ang pows are undoubtedly still expected). After all, this is a wedding, a momentous event between two people, a celebration of love and commitment.
What next? Sponsor my pregnancy blog? The birth of my first child? My funeral?
And how is this different from what I’m doing now, with my Kontera and Text Link ads and my asking for Amazon donations?
Crass or not, this is a sign of things to come, dear friends. Of sponsored soirees, monetized marriages and pay-per-pregnancies.
Welcome to new media!
Now who wants to sponsor a blog post about me making a trip to the bathroom?