The average cost of a wedding in Singapore can be more than an entire year’s salary of a new university graduate. This one event can be quite burdensome for a young couple, particularly if they have just started working. Parents may offer to help pay for a portion of the wedding, but this too can result in future burdens to the parents as they head into their retirement years. As mentioned in the previous post, having a great wedding is not correlated in any way to having a great marriage; however, it may set the couple back financially. If you have opted to take the more frugal route, but still want to have a beautiful, “proper”, and memorable wedding, here are some ideas on how to cut costs way down on your big day:
1. Reduce the number of wedding guests. Let’s be honest, if you limit your invites to just those whom you are close to, and have had personal contact with in the last 6 months, that list would probably be a mere fraction of your “friends” list on Facebook. While it’s nice to be surrounded by those who have shared a part of your life, not everyone needs to see you get hitched (they can just see photos from your Facebook). The number one expense for a wedding is the reception, and the fewer people who attend, the lower your costs will be. Don’t think or expect that the more people you invite, the more hong baos you’ll get.
2. Choose a less expensive venue. Five star hotels seem to be the rage, but there are several beautiful and more affordable places in which you can have a memorable wedding. If you don’t want to have your wedding at a Community Club, why not have it at a restaurant or banquet hall (e.g., Ah Yat Abalone, Tung Lok Seafood, Grace’s Court, Mouth Restaurant, Food for Thought), a gallery/museum (e.g., Emily Hill, Asian Civilisation Museum, 7Adam), a park, or at the beach or country club? Many weddings and receptions in the US take place in churches and in homes.
3. Opt for just one outfit change. It’s a wedding, not a fashion show. I’ve been to so many weddings where the brides spend more time with their stylists than with their guests or even their husbands. Many brides will later admit to me that the costume changes were exhausting, and that they did not enjoy their wedding as much as they should have because they were always in the dressing room.
4. Get amateur photographers and videographers. Although it’s nice to have a professional photographer and videographer, nowadays with professional cameras (SLRs that you can rent for $10 a day on Rent Tycoons!), digital editing, along with huge capacity SD cards (which allow you to take thousands of photos), you can get quality photos without having to pay a pro. You may be able to find freelancing (hobbyist) photographers and photo editors, photography students, or friends/relatives who are photo enthusiasts. Photobooths are very popular in the States, but can be expensive to rent. Why not set up your own photobooth, complete with a backdrop, camera, tripod, and a portable photo printer (or maybe just a laptop to display photos and email them to your guests)?
5. Buy a la carte instead of buying a package. Bridal packages can be very confusing. Businesses like to keep all the details and itemized prices hidden so you can’t easily and quickly figure out if you’re getting a good deal or not. Bridal boutique packages can have a lot of add-ons, hidden costs, and the price you end up paying is often much more than what you had originally budgeted. Instead of immediately committing to a bridal package, which can include gown rentals, a bouquet, makeup, and a photoshoot along with prints, create a list of your “must-haves” and price them out individually. You might find that if you buy things separately from different venders, it may come out to be less expensive. For example, the wedding gown itself can be rented for as little as $100. You can also buy a used wedding dress from various online sites (from $100-$300), including Craigslist, Gumtree, and Singapore Brides. Ebay even sells inexpensive new wedding dresses.
6. Get your wedding party or family to help out with D.I.Y. Decorations, Party Favours & Invitations. In the US, this is the whole purpose of having a large wedding party with lots of bridesmaids (they don’t get hong baos in the US either, as they volunteer their time). If you can’t get your family or wedding party to help out with these, you might be able to hire a freelancer. I’ve been to a couple weddings that have even used digital invitations for the majority of the guests and formal invitations only to the elder generation.
I know many people just don’t want to look cheap. After all, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event so there’s enough reasons for a person to splurge and go a little crazy. I respect that choice, and if a person can truly afford such a wedding, than to each his own… However, be honest with that you can afford and don’t let the wedding bill burden you for hears to come. Don’t get me wrong – I love weddings. I enjoy seeing people happy in love, taking vows and committing to one another, and starting a new chapter in their lives. And chances are, these are the exact same reasons why your guests want to see you get married and celebrate with you. It’s not the food, the decorations, the venue, the entertainment, the invitation, the fashion show, or the wedding gown. They come because they want to have a unique and memorable experience, and know that they were part of something truly joyous, fun, and special. And if you still are afraid of looking cheap, you could always play the “eco-friendly” angle, and tell people that you have become environmentally conscious…. (just don’t say that as you’re sipping your shark fin soup!)