Influencers and Sponsored Weddings, Where Did It All Go Wrong?

PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/MELISSACKOH

In new sites all across Singapore, everyone’s talking about the recent wedding of prominent Instagram influencer, Melissa Celestine Koh and the controversy of it being heavily sponsored by big companies.

To give you a quick breakdown of the story if you aren’t yet caught on this story, a prominent local social influencer, Melissa Celestine Koh, held a wedding last month at Ritz Carlton Hotel and some guests were upset to discover that the wedding dinner was sponsored by big companies like Tiffany & Co, Swarovski, TWG Tea and even Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore itself.

But, the question is, should it matter? Is it a problem? We at Ideal Weddings feel that it shouldn’t make a difference. We are aware it is not a popular stance and before you flame us in the comment section, hear us out. Here are the two main reasons why we feel this way.

PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/MELISSACKOH

Her job as a social influencer puts her in a strange position most are not familiar with.

With the emergence of social media platforms, it has disrupted the advertising media space and have created an opportunity for individual creators and entrepreneurs to capitalize on this new space. One such profession that has emerged from this disruption are social influencers.

So, what does a social influencer do? Most people won’t really know. They only see the surface of their endeavors with the free sponsored products and lavish lifestyles. But there is more to living the high life that most people know.

Being a social influencer means that your entire life, every aspect of it, is your brand.

Most of them build their reputation and followers from nothing by creating content that is either controversial, interesting, meaningful or a random mix of it. But how do you generate content from nothing? As a result, many of these influencers show very personal aspects of their life, often staking their looks and personality to get people to take an interest or emotionally invest in them

Being an influencer is sales heavy as well. They have to convince big companies to invest in them and their platform with the promise of increased sales on their side. They have to plan and prepare media kits and presentations to convince companies that investing in them is not a foolhardy venture.

But then the question is when your life is now your brand and your job, how do you separate it?

We cannot forget that being a social influencer is a real job. Whatever sponsorships and income they get from the job is taxable under our capital gains and income taxes. For the social influencer, not using your wedding as a chance to get sponsors is an opportunity cost of not roping in sponsors for the near future. By roping in sponsors, that allows her to secure income that would carry her for the next few months. After all, being an influencer, getting sponsors is the bulk of the job. It is her bread and butter and since her personal life and her work are one and the same, it is difficult to separate them as two different things.

But we understand why some guests feel cheated. They were not expecting the wedding to act as a platform for her work and were expecting a more intimate and private affair. But therein lies the problem. Her work and occupation are not one most of us fully understand or have seen before.  Maybe on hindsight, she should have included the sponsors of the wedding in the invitation or at the very least at the reception area so people can decide how much to give the bride and groom beforehand. Which, leads on to our next point.

A wedding gift, an ang bao, should not be regarded as the basic entry fee. It should be a token of your sincerity to the newly weds.

It is customary for most weddings here to give a wedding gift. But has anyone asked why we give “angbaos” at weddings? What is the significance of it?

When we first started giving out “angbaos” at weddings, it was meant as a gesture of wishing the newlyweds luck and good fortune in their new journey together as man and wife.

However, we feel that this meaning has lost its value as time went on and the costs of weddings increased exponentially when compared with the past.  There is almost an unspoken rule that when invited to a wedding, they are expected to “give” the minimum of the cost of one seat at the banquet held in the proposed venue per person. It is made worse as it is now a prerequisite to write your names on the red packets to identify how much you gave. In fact, tons of chat rooms and discussions online are dedicated to the question of “How much is enough when giving “angbaos” at weddings?” fueled by the constant fear of under giving and appearing “cheap” in the eyes of the newly weds.

This has caused most of us to forget the original intent and significance of giving that red packet or wedding gift to the newly weds. The message of wishing them luck and prosperity should be the main giveaway when giving them that “angbao” and not the money you gave. After all, isn’t the whole reason why you are attending the wedding is that you care about the persons getting married?

To sum it up, a wedding is a celebration and if you are invited by the groom or the bride, it is an invitation from them to be part of the most important day in their lives. Is that not the most important thing in being invited to a wedding? Why should we be counting the cost when it is for the people we love and cherish? Even with all the glitz and glamour from the sponsored products, it is still a day that the bride and groom will cherish and remember fondly for years to come. We must never forget the true meaning of giving gifts and “angbaos, which is to wish the newlyweds good tidings on the long journey they are about to embark together as husband and wife.

Love,

Ideal Weddings SG

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