First of all thank you Tie The Thali team for hearing me rant through DM and encouraging me to submit this.
Weddings bring out the best and worst emotions in every couple that are about to be wed and I was no different.
As the bride, I wanted everything to be perfect – all the details to be in place, the timeline to be correct, etc. My husband and I spent months planning and are now happily married. So why is it that when I look back on my wedding, I have this nagging feeling? I know exactly why, and when I mention this to my mother, she always reminds me that “As long as you are happily married and your marriage is going well, forget about the events that have passed.” While I agree with my mother, I also felt the need to share my experience so that others can maybe learn from what happened to me.
When I got engaged and started planning our wedding, my husband and I had a pretty good idea of who we wanted to book for everything. We discussed all possible vendors to use and we pretty much liked all the same ones. We decided to do our research amongst them to see who was available and had the best rates etc.
As the bride, one of the first things I wanted to book was my makeup and hair artist. I knew who I wanted and when I emailed her with an inquiry, the response I got was “ I charge this much,” there was no pleasantries, no greeting, just a plain and blank rate. (this should have been my first red flag) I assumed with this artist being a popular one, she was incredibly busy and didn’t have time to write out a proper reply to my email. What did surprise me was the rate she had quoted me. I decided to do some research and I contacted 2 other Tamil makeup artists only to receive similar prices from them.
I have to be honest, I never imagined these makeup artists charging so much. I understand that with Tamil Hindu Weddings it is a longer commitment as the bride has a saree change and that the price did include hair, makeup and saree draping, but even then I felt the prices were too high. I started exploring other options like hiring a non Tamil makeup artist to do my hair and makeup and hiring a separate person to drape my saree. When I mentioned this to my mom, she was dead set against this idea. She said a Tamil makeup artist was the way to go as they had experience working with Asian skin tones and would be able to make sure the hair withheld the long day of a Tamil Hindu wedding. With this in mind, I went back to the drawing board with trying to find a Tamil MUAH. After much debate, I ended up hiring the original artist I had consulted with as I had always been impressed by her work. I knew I was paying an arm and leg but my fiance convinced me that he wanted me to not have any regrets.
Before finalizing my booking, I had specified with the artist as to how I wanted my makeup and hair to be done. My hair especially, I had wanted done like she had done for another bride of hers so I had attached the image along in the email. She had replied saying she could do it and that it would be no problem, followed by her deposit amount that was to be due to finalize the booking. I agreed to pay the deposit and asked that she send over a contract for us to sign. I waited a week for her to respond with no avail and so I finally decided to give her a call in regards to my booking. RED FLAG # 2 (Mind you, up until this point we had only been emailing back and forth). She promptly responded to my phone call and when I asked her about paying the deposit and the contract, she replied she had been incredibly busy and that we could meet up in a couple of days to exchange the money and contract.
When I met up with her, she handed over the contract and since everything seemed to be fairly standard, I signed and paid the deposit. During that meeting, I had mentioned to her that I had to now find muah’s for my 2 sisters and mom and for my 3 bridesmaids. She informed me that she had junior artist she had trained and that we could add that on to my packages. She told me the price per person and it seemed pretty reasonable so I agreed to hire 3 more junior artist for my bridal party. She quickly added that into the contract and mentioned we wouldn’t have to pay an additional deposit for the junior artists and we could pay the full cost on the day of.
For the next few months leading up to my wedding, I tried over and over to have a trial done with my makeup artist only to have things comes up the last minute or her not respond for weeks at a time. Because her Instagram account was active throughout this time, I really did chalk it up to her being really busy but I now realize how unprofessional her behaviour was. Despite my multiple requests, I never did end up getting a hair trial, with the last response from her being “I have done this look so many times, it will not be an issue.” I wanted a trial not because I doubted her skill, but because I wanted to know how to look and feel for my big day.
My wedding day came and there had been no trial done. My makeup artist arrived at the set time to begin working on me. We had asked that the junior artists show up a little bit later as it wouldn’t take as long to get the others ready. She started getting me ready and once she had done my hair, I was not at all impressed. I guess she could see it on my face that I wasn’t very happy so she tried to assure me that it looked beautiful. My hair was nothing like I had seen on her other brides and all in all, it looked like a rush job. Once my makeup was done, she draped the saree on me but didn’t bother to fix or pin things into place let alone help me accessorize or straighten out the final look. She told my mom where to pin things down and then asked us to pay her as she had to rush out to do another event before my koorai change. I know most artist take multiple bookings at times, especially on busy wedding weekends but that is not an excuse to do a subpar job.
My mom had the cash ready to pay her and when she handed the MUAH the money, she counted it and stated we had short paid her. I stated the amount, as per the contract but she stated that her junior artist fee she had quoted me was for hair & makeup only and that it was an additional 60 per person for the saree draping. I started to argue with her but my mom being a typical Tamil mom, didn’t want any bad omens (or saavam ) on my wedding day and went and got the extra money from my dad and paid her.
My mother and the rest of my family did their best to assure me that I looked beautiful despite me not getting the look I wanted. The thing with self perception is that no matter how beautiful everyone says you look, if you aren’t satisfied, it doesn’t really matter in the end because you will be unhappy. I was able to put aside all of this and focus on the fact that I was marrying the love of my life and in the end I ended up enjoying my big day. You learn to let all the little things go as your day gets going, all the trivial things get pushed aside amongst the nerves and excitement.
I thought I had let this incident go until I found out a couple days later that after my koorai change, my artist who had wished me well and said was off to her other booking had gone up to my aunt and said she was still owed money for my booking. My aunt had been in the vicinity when my mom had paid her so she asked her “didn’t they already pay you?” My MUAH told my aunt that we still owed her the 360 (the additional 60 per person) for the saree draping for my sisters and bridesmaids. My aunt, being superstitious like my mom, sent my uncle to an ATM to grab money and paid her as well.
As you can imagine, I was livid when I found this out! The whole experience with her put me off so much that I called her and demanded the money my aunt paid her back! She claimed my aunt was lying and that she never asked my aunt for any money. Because there was no one around when she asked my aunt, she played it off like my aunt had made the whole thing up! It caused quite the tension in my family because my aunt and uncle were so upset that someone would try and create animosity amongst the family like that. My uncle even showed us his atm receipt with a timestamp of when he withdrew the cash. I wanted to take her to court but my parents and hubby talked me out of it. They told me that money comes and goes but our happiness is the most important thing and they really didn’t want me to waste time and energy on this.
The really sad part of this was that as I told my experience to friends, colleagues and other family members, the consensus was that this was common amongst the Tamil & Other Asian vendors. People started sharing stories with me about how there is no customer service amongst asian vendors and that you really had to be careful when dealing with them. My one friend compared it to like eating at a hole in the wall restaurant. She goes “You don’t eat there because they have the best service, or the nicest ambience, you eat there because they have good food. Hiring asian vendors is the same: you hire them because they know how to satisfy your cultural needs. You hire a Tamil Wedding photographer over a non Tamil one because a Tamil Photographer will know which moments are significant and get you the epic Thali Tying shots at the wedding. You don’t hire them for their customer service or people skills.”
This was incredibly shocking to me as with social media, all these tamil vendors put out such a professional version of themselves and I guess it really opened my eyes as to the power of social media. I really don’t believe this is something that should be deemed as acceptable.I’m not saying all vendors are like this, but looking back, there was a lack of customer service and general people skills with most of my tamil vendors (not just my MUAH). The lack of professionalism amongst Asian vendors is really heartbreaking and unacceptable, especially considering the rates they charge. This is why I wanted to submit this to you guys, in hopes of you using your platform to spark a change.
VENDORS: If a customer is looking to book with you, put your best foot forward and woo them; make the effort to respond to their emails, ask them if everything is to their satisfaction, and most importantly – work with them to better their experience and yours.
CUSTOMERS: Do your research, and if a vendor is not meeting your basic satisfaction, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Any professional will work with you and do everything they can to ensure your utmost satisfaction. Do NOT Settle for anything less than your satisfaction!