Till debt do us part?

Till debt do us part?

SINGAPORE - The couple wanted two separate weddings - one for each side of the family.

Yet, their finances just did not make the maths, recalls financial adviser Helmi Hakim from NTUC Income.

The couple, who had approached Mr Helmi last year, could barely muster $1,000 a month in savings towards their big day in 2015.

The bride-to-be was in her early 20s earning about $2,000 a month while her partner was still doing his national service.

"So naturally, I suggested the couple do a combined wedding to save money," says Mr Helmi, 28, who set up a blog listing the cost of an average Malay wedding in 2012. He estimates it to cost about $32,000.

"What I got instead was an earful from the woman who said that I shouldn't look down on her status. I just wanted to advise her not to go overboard if she can't afford it."

It is natural that couples want their once-in-a-lifetime event to be a day they will grow old and reminiscence happily over, a panel of experts tell The New Paper on Sunday.

But many fall into the trap of not planning prudently, often "led astray" by the ritzy choices, so much so that they do not work out their sums properly.

Ms Pink Cheong, 38, a wedding planner of 10 years, says the trend is fuelled by how TV shows and magazines celebrate glamorous weddings.

"In the past, we get couples coming in for the 'lowest-priced' packages, but now, we are often 'challenged' into topping the last best," she says.

Another wedding consultant, Miss Elisa Koh, 30, describes: "Often, couples will walk in with some samples of past weddings, then ask, 'Can you do something like this or better?'"

Miss Koh says she sometimes points out the costs to couples whom she thinks may be unaware of the rut they could get into.

"This is especially when I can sense apprehension in either one. You know what it is like, one - usually it's the woman - would be going on enthusiastically, while you can virtually see the man's mind trying to catch up with the calculations of how much they'd have to spend."

But it is not always couples who bear the responsibility of splurging on weddings.

Sometimes, it is about "face", says social psychologist Richard Lim.

"I think it is more of an issue with Asians - we are more concerned about impressing relatives and friends," he says.

"And if it's like the eldest or only child - more so, if it involves the son - parents tend to want to flaunt or show off even more."

Madam Nor Tan, 50, a wedding decorator who charges between $2,500 and $3,000 for simple weddings usually held at HDB void decks or community centres, says she has had pretty outlandish requests.

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