Last month, a Singaporean couple tied the knot and it was a grand affair
Melissa Celestine Koh, a full-time social media influencer with more than 236,000 followers on her Instagram account, got married to James Chen on 12 August.
A wedding reception was held at Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore to celebrate the momentous milestone they have achieved in life.
While it was a happy occasion, the guests were apparently upset that they had given ang pows (red packets) for a wedding that was heavily sponsored
According to The Straits Times, most of the expenses for the wedding were paid for by sponsors — from the lavish decorations, scrumptious dinner and the bride’s beautiful gowns — in exchange for social media mentions.
However, Koh has drawn criticism for not declaring that the wedding was being sponsored by so many parties. People only found out when she was giving shoutouts to brands involved, days after the event.
To date, she has made special mentions to crystal brand Swarovski and luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co, among others.
It is learned that the list of sponsored items include 27 dresses made for her bridesmaids by designer brand Juillet worth SGD5,000 (about RM15,635), bespoke shoes from Gianvito Rossi, artisanal soaps and bath supplies provided by Sandome Cura, and more.
Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore also confirmed with The Straits Times that it had some "partnership" with Koh that included a food tasting, bridal spa party, and the wedding banquet itself.
This discovery caused guests to be disgruntled. They questioned the need to give ang pow to the couple, since large costs involved in the wedding would have been sponsored.
A guest even said that she felt "cheated".
The guest, who only wanted to be known as Min, has expressed her disappointment and said that she felt like a money tool.
"I felt cheated. The sponsorships cheapened the wedding, made it insincere, and I felt as though she had made money off me through her wedding," she told The Straits Times.
It was reported that the 27-year-old has known Koh since university.
Another guest, who is also a friend from university, said that Koh has "created an ethical problem" as she did not disclose the wedding sponsorships prior to the wedding.
Despite the controversy, a fitness blogger, Cheryl Tay, said that she enjoyed herself at Koh's wedding and that it would not have bothered her whether the wedding was sponsored or not.
"The objective of giving an ang pow is not to help the person getting married recoup their spending. It's about celebrating with them and wishing them well," she was quoted as saying.
It is customary for guests to give ang pows to the newlyweds when they attend a Chinese wedding dinner as a way to celebrate and wish them well.
Although it is not mandatory, it is an unspoken rule that guests give ang pows in amount that is enough to help "cover" the costs incurred during the couple's big day.
Closer to home, a Malaysian celebrity couple received flak last year when they accepted wedding sponsorships worth SGD50,000 (about RM156,000)
TV personalities Amyra Rosli and Amar Baharin tied the knot on 11 November 2016 and celebrated their marriage with three wedding receptions.
They held two receptions in Kuala Lumpur for their families and friends while the third reception was held in Singapore — all of it was fully sponsored.
The reception in Singapore was a lavish one as the costs reportedly amounted to about SGD50,000. It was organised by Asliani Abdul Ghani, who heads the Aamyra Rosli Supporters Singapore fanclub, and events company FA Event & Entertainment.
Singaporean daily The New Paper reported that the couple and their fans received backlash as some people felt that the money could be better spent for those in need.
Do you think social media influencers should let their guests know if their wedding is heavily sponsored? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.