20 August, 2008

There's no such thing as a Free Wedding

Back in January, one of the city's most prominent wedding venues, Oakfield Farm, had their annual (or is it bi-annual?) Wedding Expo. There were all sorts of competitions to enter throughout the day for giveaways that would happen at the big Fashion Show at the close of the expo. Having just got engaged the month before, I naturally I entered everything, as did all the brides, I'm sure! There was a big prize-giving at the end, and people won things like gift vouchers from dress designers, R5000 photography from certain studios, etc. Then they came to the grand prize of the day, which was to have your wedding at Oakfield Farm, to the value of R30 000, which would include everything from the use of the chapel, the hall, flowers, decor, horse & carriage, food, honeymoon suite, pretty much the whole shebang. A dream come true, right? You'd think. So they drew a name from the hat, and the winner wasn't there. Yup, she'd left. And the rules state that you have to be there to collect the prize. So they drew it again. She also wasn't there. Couldn't believe it. So they drew it a third time...and...it was ME.

Yes, I won the free wedding at Oakfield Farm! So why aren't I jumping around like a nutter, and why didn't I say anything before? Well. I WAS jumping around for a while. I cried and called Mr Slippers, who was away in Cape Town at the time, and everyone kept coming up and congratulating me. Then when I wentto the office after the expo to collect my prize, the two ladies there didn't seem to want to tell me anything. They kept going, "Oh, we don't really know what it entails, and the lady who does know isn't here today." And as much as I tried to ask them ANYthing, they wouldn't tell me. So I took down the name of the lady I was speaking to, Karen, and she said she would get this "other lady" to email me the next day. So the next day I waited but heard nothing. Meanwhile Mr Slippers kept having to field all my calls that something wasn't quite right, and he started getting pissed off that Oakfield Farm were not helping me out, and that I was getting upset because I was starting to think it was all a big scam. (My mother thought so too; she was all, "Don't get too excited, this is too good to be true." And boy, was she right.)

So my fiance phoned Oakfield himself and just explained to the person who answered the phone who he was, and asked who the person was to speak to about the prize. And she said Karen. Yup, same Karen who told me she was NOT the person to speak to. Oh and Karen wasn't in that day either. Funny, because she had told me she was going to ask "someone" to email me that day...how could she do it if she wasn't going to be in? I smelled treachery. So eventually two days later we got an email from Karen. And, as I was beginning to expect, it was more full of provisos and limitations than anything else. "Your dream wedding at Oakfield Farm for R30000?" Sure, BUT:

1)We could only hold it during 'the quiet period', which is May to August,or it might have been June to August, even.
2) It could only be on a Monday to Thursday.
3) (And this is the clincher) The date can not be booked more than 60 daysbefore the function. Which basically means that even if we wanted to get married in the freezing cold of June, we would have to wait until April even to begin picking a date. And guess what would happen then? Probably everything would be booked up and we'd have to wait till the next month to book forJuly, when the same thing could happen! And if it goes past the end of their quiet season, it's goodbye to your prize, which expires January 2009.

So maybe we could, at a push, find a date...ok, BUT - two months is not a lot of time to give your guests as notice. The invitations have to go OUT then, not start being printed! And the worst part is you wouldn't be able to get any vendors you liked - Photographer, DJ, hairstylist, make-up - who is going to be available at such short notice?? It's the stupidest idea ever! And I am somewhat shocked that a reputed wedding venue, who KNOWS what it takes to plan a wedding, would expect someone to be able to put up with all of this, and still have the nerve to use the term "your dream wedding". I'm sorry, but my dream wedding does not include having it in a month I don't want, on a day I don't want that half my guests aren't going to be able to make anyway (who comes to a wedding during the week and parties till late?), using a photographer, DJ, etc that I didn't want either. Assuming I could even FIND vendors in 60 days. Seriously, it was SUCH a scam. But wait, there's more. On the Oakfield website they listed the prizes for the expo, and made specific mention that this prize could be exchanged for 30% of its value. So we asked Karen about this. She ignored the website entirely(at this point it had been taken off the site, conveniently, though I had copied and pasted the info beforehand) and said that the most they could offer in cash was R5000. At this point we were so hacked off with the whole dodgy issue that we just went,"Fine, give us the money!". Which they did. About the only thing they did that wasn't veiled in promises of something else.

Sooo...we got R5000 out of the deal. Which, in itself, is awesome. I just wish that I didn't feel like Oakfield completely tricked me. And my mother pointed out later that the other prizes were probably just as iffy. For instance, the R5000 photography voucher - no photographer is that cheap! Which means that you would probably get R5000 off one of their package deals, and that photographer's packages were probably like R20000 anyway, so if youwanted to use it you would still be shelling out R15000 which you probably can't afford anyway. And that's how they get you. You THINK all these people are winning all this fabulous, cool stuff, but in reality they're probably never able to use it because it comes with so many limitations. So I just wanted to warn everyone going to any of the up and coming wedding expos - don't get excited about prizes, because apparently no one will give you anything for nothing in this world. There's always a catch.

Thanks for reading! This was more of a rant than a blog. Regular scheduled blogging returns shortly.

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