Planning a Wedding


Money can be a hot topic in any relationship. When planning your wedding, be open about your expectations from the start. Set the tone now rather than later, for how you want to deal with your finances throughout your married life.

Family members from both sides are likely to want a say in the planning process. More so, if they are contributing to the costs. Everyone has a dream wedding in mind and there could be strong views about ideas and traditions to be included. Be open to their suggestions but remember that it is your big day (not theirs) – so take control to have the wedding you want and to avoid spending money on something you do not want.

Budget

Decide together what your overall budget is and the items you need. It could be a very long list. Remember to include honeymoon expenses and also miscellaneous costs, like for the games played or traditional gifts given on the wedding day. Keep a buffer for any unexpected costs. A lavish wedding is not necessarily more fun for everyone, especially if it leaves a severe hole in your savings. Keep to what you can afford and remember you need not keep up with your friends or relatives’ expectations if you find them unrealistic. If you are considering a wedding planner, do make sure you check out their services and work out the full costs before you engage one.

Check out bridal magazines/websites and make an informed decision to allocate your budget appropriately. A possible guideline is:

  • Bridal package – 15%
  • Wedding ceremony – 5%
  • Wedding banquet – 60%
  • Honeymoon – 20%

Start planning early and watch out for early-bird promotions.

If the wedding of your dreams is going to cost you more than you can afford, see if you can make do with less. A simple wedding can still be a great wedding. Or consider holding your wedding later when you have saved up money for the wedding you want. Borrowing money should be the last resort - you could be paying for your wedding years after the event.

If you really have to borrow money, consider these before taking out a loan:

  • Decide how much you need and can afford to repay in monthly repayments and how long it will take to repay this debt.
  • Shop around for the lowest Effective Interest Rate (EIR) on your loan

Bridal package:

Shop around and compare the different packages on offer. Visit exhibitions and attend promotional events to find out what is available. Here are some important considerations:

  • Are a dress and bouquet included for the Registry of Marriage Solemnisation ceremony
  • How many gowns are provided for the photo shoot and the actual day
  • Does it include hair and make-up for both bride and bridegroom for the Solemnisation ceremony and a photo shoot on the actual day
  • Is there any additional charge for the loan of accessories
  • How many photos are included and are softcopies provided
  • How much do they charge for additional photos
  • How many albums and photo frames are included
  • Will they take photos /shoot a video of the actual day
  • Does it include use of a bridal car?

Decide which parts of the package are essential for your wedding day, and which are just "nice-to-haves" that you can omit to save money.

Here are some other tips:

  • Consider renting your wedding gown instead of buying it. Wearing your mother’s or another family member’s wedding dress is a common tradition in some parts of the world.
  • Ask if there are credit card partnerships with bridal studios or banquet venues which give you discounts. But remember to pay your credit card bill in full at the end of the month or any discount you receive will end up paying for the interest you are charged.
  • Negotiate with the supplier to see if you can get any extras thrown in.
  • Think about asking some friends to help photograph you and your partner in an idyllic location rather than paying a professional photographer.

Wedding ceremony and solemnisation

Discuss with both families the kind of ceremony you want and any customary and religious traditions you want to observe. For instance, the Chinese tea ceremony is a traditionally held session where the couple greet the elders of the family either on or around the wedding day. You might wish to provide refreshments, plus hong baos for the helpers and the children.

Whether it’s at home, at church or in a temple, think about where the ceremony will be held and what you will need. There may be rituals to be performed like candles to be lit, hands to be washed, and you should factor in the costs of the necessary items. If you plan to decorate the venue, remember to include this too. You could also get your family and friends to help with the decorations. Do make a donation to these religious venues to bear their costs of hosting the ceremony.

It is mandatory by law to register your Civil Marriage at a solemnisation ceremony. The solemnisers are volunteers who officiate at your wedding at no charge. Do thank your solemniser with a token of appreciation and reimbursement for his transportation costs. The ceremony can be held at the Registry of Marriage (ROM) or elsewhere.

ROM offers no-frills solemnisation rooms and services to keep marriage fees affordable. Learn more at the Registry of Marriages Website.

The Wedding Dinner

The number of guests attending will have a huge impact on your overall budget. Start discussions with both families early about who to invite. If money is tight, try to limit your guests to close families and friends, i.e. people who matter to you. Your list need not include people you could be meeting for the first time at your own wedding.

Find out which venues fit your budget. Shop around and compare what is on offer. Good questions to ask are:

  • Will it seat the number of guests you are having?
  • Will there be any complimentary tables?
  • Can you personalise the invitations and is the price of printing included?
  • Does the venue provide:
    • drinks – e.g. welcome cocktail, wine, beer
    • small gifts for guests
    • Master of Ceremonies (MC)
    • a projector for the backdrop
    • onsite AV and technical support
    • hotel room for the wedding night

Here are some money-savvy tips:

  • A wedding lunch could be a cheaper option instead of a dinner.
  • Have your wedding banquet on a weekday – it is usually cheaper than the weekends.
  • Negotiate with the venue owners - ask for extras such as free bottles of wine.
  • Do not feel that you have to stick with the set menus. See if there is room for negotiation.

Note that popular venues are booked six months to a year in advance, so book your desired venue as soon as you have set a date.

Honeymoon (optional for some, compulsory for others)

For most couples, a short break is a nice way to wind down from all the excitement of a wedding and to start your married life in peace. It might be a short stay in a hotel or a holiday abroad. If you have spent a lot on the wedding, maybe your dream vacation can wait until your finances have recovered.

If you are planning to go away, here are some tips to help your money go further:

  • Set a budget. Apart from flights and hotels, remember to budget for meals, transportation, and ad-hoc expenses, e.g. the cost of converting money to a foreign currency, airport taxes and tips, entrance fees to museums and parks.
  • Start planning early as flights are often cheaper when booked in advance.
  • Shop around for the best deal first and compare prices between travel agents before committing to one. Look out for any promotions and visit travel exhibitions as well.
  • There may be interest-free credit card instalment plans available (only if you remember to pay your instalments on time and in full though).

Tips for managing your wedding costs

  • Set a budget you and your spouse-to-be can afford on your own. Spend within your means – don’t wipe out your savings and avoid being burdened with debt (or other obligations) long after the wedding.
  • Consider giving yourself time to save up for your wedding rather than holding it sooner and borrowing money to pay for it.
  • Start planning early. You may be able to get early bird promotions or other promotions if you plan early.
  • Keep the wedding banquet guest list manageable. Not all your guests will cover the cost their share of the wedding banquet with their hong baos – but remember that you are inviting them because you want them to be there.
  • Consider enlisting the help of family and friends for decorations, photography, etc.

Remember, an expensive wedding is not necessarily a better wedding. Celebrating with those that you love and who love you is the most important part of the day.

 

The above information is prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development .