"I do!" With these 2 words, every Singaporean's nightmare begins. The cost of holding a wedding in Singapore has increased exponentially in the last decade, and many of my peers are really starting to feel the pinch now that we're reaching the "marriageable age" and plans to get hitched are underway. My boyfriend has also raised this issue with me, and I thought it'll be interesting to explore what exactly happened to the state of weddings in Singapore. Aren't weddings supposed to be a celebration of joy over a couple's union? Since when did it become a contest to see who has the most picturesque / Instagram-worthy / most hashtags generating / my-wedding-is-grander-than-yours event? Today, this obsession with making things perfect for our guests has eclipsed the personal significance of this momentous event in the couple's life.
We were arguing over the type of wedding venue, and the boyfriend was talking about how he's in favour of holding it at a restaurant as long as there's good food to satisfy the relatives. I, on the other hand, wanted a place where my friends could entertain themselves by taking photos of the gorgeous food and environment.
STOP! I suddenly realized, why were we debating over this based on what will guests get out of our wedding? Isn't our wedding supposed to be for us, instead of making others happy?
Budget Babe is still trying to figure out how she can best plan her beautiful, memorable and yet inexpensive wedding under $20,000, so I'll leave that to a later post. But for now, here are some wedding traps I've discovered: 1. Cost of the average Singapore wedding today is INSANE
I read about a couple who spent $110,000 on their wedding last year and ended up in debt. (Funny thing is, the groom is an insurance agent. Now you know why I don't trust insurance agents to advise me on my money?) We looked around to gather a rough idea of the budget we needed to save up, and this was what we got: Pre-Wedding package: $3,000 - $6,000 Banquet: $20,000 - $50,000 Photography & Videography: $11,000 Wedding gown: $900 - $15,000 Bridesmaids & "Brothers" outfit: $500 - $2,000 Proposal ring: $1,000 - $6,000 Wedding bands: $800 - $4,000 Seriously?!
2. Restaurant banquets and void deck weddings aren't as cheap as you think
Some money-saving ideas we got were to hold a lunch banquet vs. dinner, look at weekday options, and consider restaurants instead of hotels. But after researching and looking at quotes, we realized they're not that much cheaper. For approx. 200 - 300 guests (we both have big families and a wide circle of friends), hotels ranged from $30k - $40k on average. Furthermore, we calculated based on 30 tables, but 4 or 5-star hotels usually require you to book a minimum of 40 tables!
Restaurants were much cheaper at $15k - $28k,but still painful on the wallet. You can check out more rates here. We considered a void deck wedding as we thought it'll be pretty cool, and it should be cheap. Right? Apparently not. I found out the average Malay void deck wedding costs $30,000! So that option went out of the window as well. Some asked us not to worry, saying that we'll "recoup from ang paos", but I refuse to spend money I don't already have. It makes me uneasy.
2. Say the word "WEDDING" and you'll get charged a premium If you were to book a venue for a birthday party / gathering / corporate event / wedding, the price quoted also increases in that corresponding order. When I sourced for quotes for my 21st birthday bash vs. my clients' corporate events vs. my upcoming wedding, the costs were unbelievably different! It is no secret that the word "wedding" or "solomnization" will cost you a premium these days. Does that make financial sense to you? Which brings me to my next point... 3. Blame the media for glamourizing this big once-in-a-lifetime occasion
I agree that marriage can be one of the biggest milestones in one's life. But at the expense of debt? No way. The media has bombarded us with messages throughout the years about the "dream wedding", and tells us that we cannot afford to skimp on our wedding costs or we'll regret it later on in life. Bullshit. I don't know any couple who ever wished they had spent more on their wedding day. But I do know of many other couples who have regretted the exorbitant prices they paid, admitting that many expenses were actually unnecessary on hindsight. Stop buying into this trap. 4. Unnecessary expenses? According to a local wedding planning service, some clients spend up to $50,000 on floral decorations. One couple spent $12,000 on a gorgeous tulips bridal arch. Another more common practice is for couples to spend on overseas wedding photography packages that range from $8,000 - $30,000 inclusive of airfares and depending on your shooting destination.
Unless you can afford to spend, these luxuries honestly will not be missed too much at your wedding. 5. There ARE cheaper ways to hold a wedding in Singapore I'm still planning mine so I don't have much conclusive information to share yet, but some of these real-life Singapore weddings under $10k really inspired me and showed that getting married in Singapore doesn't have to cost a bomb.
This couple hosted their wedding at their newly-renovated flat and spent just $900.
This couple held theirs at a bakery-cafe and spent under $1,600.
A dreamy wedding at Fort Canning Park was accomplished with $10,000.
If you're willing to go the extra mile to plan properly, look at alternative venues and DIY your decorations yourself, having a beautiful and memorable wedding need not be the expensive wedding trap that many Singaporeans fall into. I want my wedding to be beautiful and memorable, but I don't see the point of spending the equivalent of my annual salary on just one day in my life. Don't feel pressured to have a fairytale wedding that you cannot afford. Frankly, after the wedding, nobody really cares what happened. Who is going to remember about your food or venue decorations a few years down the road? How often will you look at your wedding video and photographs? Yes, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but spend within your means. Save the money on your wedding, but spend on your marriage instead. It's more worth it. With love, Budget Babe