Back when I was planning my wedding, I learnt that flowers cost an arm and both legs. And what some wedding photographers charge for a day's work is more than what I earn in two years (Hi boss, hint hint).
Yeah, weddings ARE expensive. But how expensive?
Before you get down on one knee to pop the question or even say "Yes, I do!" Let's find out how much you need to save every month if you're planning to have the "average" wedding of your dreams in one year's time.
Disclaimer: the numbers and figures here are all based on assumptions and estimations, so feel free to adjust them accordingly to better reflect your situation.
ROM & SOLEMNISATION
It doesn't cost much to get legally married in Singapore. If you're a Singapore citizen or PR, it'll cost you $42 to get registered at the Registry Of Marriage (ROM).
Your cost for getting that legally binding document: $42.
End of article.
Heck, if you're feeling generous, you can even invite those present to a 1-for-1 buffet.
But… Because we're all about that dream "average" wedding, let's look at what it'll cost if you did the whole she-bang. Prudently, of course.
WEDDING VENUE AND BANQUET
Yes, I know that it's arguably cheaper if you hold your wedding in a standalone restaurant or cafe.
But imagine THIS scenario when you tell your parents or in-laws that you're planning to have your wedding at the kopitiam downstairs:
Your parents will insist that you have it in some hotel's grand ballroom because "What will (insert name of important relative) think of us?"
You didn't want to sell a kidney to afford this luxury, but they threatened to disown you. Or better, they used emotional blackmail: "You're the only the daughter/son in the family! I did not raise you for (insert number of) years only to marry you off in a kopitiam!"
You decide that since you bobian have to do it, that you'll prefer to have your banquet in a reputable, mid-tier hotel
You're going to have your banquet on a Sunday afternoon which is arguably cheaper than Saturday night
You manage to cap your guest list at 100 people. And at 10 people to a table, that means that you're looking for a venue which allows a minimum of 10 confirmed tables.
Looking at Singapore Bride's wedding banquet price list for an affordable wedding venue that fits this bill, I found: Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.
Booking Grand Copthorne Waterfront also means that you get standard perks like:
- Wedding favours for your guests
- Free flow of soft drinks, mixers, and tea throughout the vent
- One bottle of house wine per confirmed table
- Wedding decor the wedding cake and floral decorations for the stage, VIP table, and reception table
- One night's stay at the hotel
- VIP parking for the bridal car
And assuming you choose the 7-course set menu option, you're looking at $1,038++ per table of 10 guests. Or $1,222 (after service charge and GST).
Your total cost of wedding venue and banquet for 100 guests: $12,220
In line with our budget-friendly "average" wedding expectations, we shopped around and managed to find a pair of 18K white gold wedding bands for $800. The bands are 0.3cm thick and are just plain bands with no customisations - like pave diamonds, for example.
And where pray tell can you find such budget prices? Well… I'm going to let you in on a little secret here.
This weekend, visit Tiong Bahru Industrial Estate and have a walk around. You'll find workshops with master metalsmiths who make rings for big name brands like Tiffany & Co and Poh Heng. If you don't mind the same quality rings without the Tiffany blue box, then you're going to find plenty of deals there.
Assuming you keep the wedding rings simple and honest like your relationship: $800 (for two bands)
BETROTHAL GIFTS AND DOWRY
If your parents or in-laws are Chinese, then you'll have to observe the tradition of giving betrothal gifts (Guo Da Li aka 过大礼) as well as a dowry (Pin Jin aka 聘金) to the bride's family.
There's NO minimum market rate and it really comes down to understanding what the parents or in-laws are expecting when preparing this gift (be it in gifts, cash, or jewellery).
If both of you are really lucky, the bride's parents will only take a token sum, say… $8. And give you their blessings. P.S. Treasure those folks.
We'll hazard a guess and say you can expect to gift: $888 - $1,888
I'm sure you've heard horror stories of bridal studios who promise a selection of 20 beautiful gowns, only to inform the couple that their first choice suddenly requires an "upgrade" after they've signed and paid a hefty deposit.
While not all bridal studios are like that. There's a general belief that bridal packages, offered by bridal studios, are the cheapest and most convenient way to get things done.
To give everyone a better idea of what the individual items in a bridal package cost, let's see what the cost breakdown will be like if we choose to do things a la carte.
1. Wedding Gown & Suit
Guys. Your options are as follow:
Online shops like ASOS have suit options starting from as low as $150.
Rental shops offer a variety of suits and their prices start from $200 to $500
Visiting Thailand for a vacation any time soon? You can pick up a bespoke suit for about $300.
If you do not own a suit and will need to wear one sometime in the future. Consider buying one that can double up as your go-to suit for anything from company dinners, a wedding anniversary dinner, or a friend's wedding.
Ladies. Unless you really want to keep your dress, you'll probably never ever wear it again after your big day. The price of gowns ranges widely and can start from as low as $500 to higher than $1,500. And because we want an "average" wedding where the bride at least gets one gown change, we're looking at renting two gowns minimally.
Of course, the options presented here are not exhaustive.
If the groom buys his suit, and the bride rents two gowns: $2,500 - $3,500
2. Bridal Make-Up And Hair
It's the bride's big day so all eyes will be on her. Naturally, she'll want to look her best. For everyone else, erm… They can just do their own makeup lah, the focus is not on them anyway.
Note for grooms-to-be: Take it from a man who's been through it before. Your lady deserves to look her best, so as budget as we're trying to be here, you should at least give her this.
Let's say we get an experienced bridal hair and make-up artist like iheartblooms:
- 1 studio trial: $300
- 1 hair and makeup: $380
- 1 touch up/hairstyle change: $280
For the already beautiful, blushing bride to look her best on her special day: $960
3. Pre-Wedding Photography
If you have a close friend who is a photography enthusiast, you can probably do this for no charge - remember to buy him or her a good meal though, or prepare a small token of appreciation (aka hongbao).
And if you think that a pre-wedding photography session is unnecessary because you can very quickly whip up a presentation of embarrassing childhood photos that people will ignore at the wedding as they're busy on Instagram or reading personal finance related articles on the Seedly app… Then that's even better!
But if it's your significant other's fervent wish to immortalise his or her mug in a photo shoot where you both look like you're in some Korean drama… Then tough.
A realistic expectation for pre-wedding photography: $800 - $1,200.
4. Actual Day Photography
A dream "average" wedding means that we probably don't have the budget to hire an actual day wedding videographer (usually more expensive than a photographer, due to the equipment and expertise involved). But that doesn't mean that we can't splurge a little on actual day photography.
Similar to bridal makeup and hair, you'll want to get a professional wedding photographer with a proven portfolio to cover your big day. So let's go with an established wedding photographer like Bloc Memoire for example.
Based on their rates for 2018/2019, 10 hours of actual day coverage, with all good images edited, and 60 4R prints returned: $3,800.
This is where it can get really expensive, especially if you use fresh flowers. I mean, just look at this gorgeous bouquet by Bloomen.
Because Grand Copthorne's package already comes with flowers for the stage, VIP table, and reception tables. We just need to get the bare minimum in order to make this budget wedding work.
Here's an agar-ation of what I believe we'll need as well as the prices (Disclaimer: prices depend a LOT on the flowers you choose, the season it's available, supply, the skill and name of the florist, and etc.).
Bridal bouquet: $150 - 250
Boutonnieres & Corsages for Groom and Family: $10 - 20 each
Bridal car decoration: $100 - 200
A guess-timate of the cost of flowers: $600
BRIDAL CAR RENTAL
Here's a novel idea for those who wish to skip renting a bridal car and your other half is totally cool with this.
Negotiate with the hotel for an extra night's stay - by the way, they're totally expecting you to do this for everything from more complimentary car park tickets to no corkage charges if you decide to bring your own wine for the event.
The bride will be able to stay at the hotel the day before the wedding. And since she's already at the hotel, you don't have to rent a bridal car to "fetch the bride". The benefits of doing this are as follows:
- The couple saves on the rental fee for an ostentatious bridal vehicle
- The bride gets to enjoy the hotel room and does not have to wake up at a ridiculous time just to get her hair and makeup done since she's already at the hotel.
- The hotel room is the perfect venue for a Hen's Party (read: savings) where she can invite her best friends over for an intimate party. Think hotel staycation with manicures, chilling by the poolside with drinks, etc.
- Should the best friends - who should also be the bridesmaids - stay over for the night, they can save on taxi surcharges (read: more savings) and the stress of having to reach the bride's place in the wee hours of the morning.
While we're talking about reaching in the wee hours of the morning, consider scraping the morning gatecrash as it wastes time and money. Why? Simple.
The bridesmaids have to wake up extra early to think of creative ways to torture the groom and his bunch of merry men. While the groomsmen have to contort themselves into unrealistic yoga poses because it somehow reaffirms the groom's willingness to overcome any obstacle to be with his significant other…
And seriously, haven't we all seen enough cliched footage of men in matching bowties and white shirts, eating Korean spicy noodles?
In fact, your photographer or videographer might thank you for skipping the gatecrash as it frees up their time to capture the special moments between you and your loved ones on your wedding day.
You might be going, "Hmmm… But the groom still has to make his way to the hotel what…"
This is where you can exercise your imagination.
Instead of pulling up in a rented bridal car to "fetch the bride", you can:
- Borrow a rich relative or family member's car and dress it up as the bridal car
- Borrow a groomsman's car and have your bro chauffeur you (the understanding here is that you'll do the same for him when his time comes)
- Dress your own personal car up as the bridal car and have your bro chauffeur you (make sure you do the same for him when it's his turn)
But if you really have to rely on a rented bridal car, be prepared to fork out: $300 - $600
It's the 21st century. Get with the times and send an e-invite.
The great thing about doing this?
It's environmentally friendly, and you can choose from a variety of designs and possibilities at almost no cost. Better still, you can even use Google Forms to create an online wedding RSVP invite to easily track your guests' attendance.
Cost of sending out wedding e-invites: $0
Think of this as a fund for stuff like hongbaos that you need to gift (for eg. for your bridesmaids, groomsmen, hotel staff, banquet manager, helpers, etc.) as well as for anything that you might not have thought of. Trust me on this, you're going to need some wiggle room for things like matching bridesmaids dresses if your significant other cares about stuff like that.
Prepare at least: $1,000 - $2,000
SO HOW MUCH DOES AN "AVERAGE" WEDDING COSTS?
After totalling the costs, you can expect to spend between $23,910 to $27,610 in total for your big day.
Let's assume that you wish to get married exactly one year from the date of your engagement. How much would a couple need to put aside every month in order to afford their dream "average" wedding in 1 year's time?
Here's the breakdown:
Average cost of wedding: $27,610
The time you have to save for your wedding that is exactly 1 year's time from your engagement date: 12 months
Assuming no interest accrued on your savings, the amount you need to save every month: $27,610 ÷ 12 months = $2,300 a month
I can already hear the couples going, "Walao eh! So EXPENSIVE?!?!"
$2,300 a month is the amount that a couple has to save TOGETHER. So if you split that between two people, you'll have to save $1,150 a month each, in order to afford an "average" wedding in 1 year's time.
Yeah… That's still pretty steep though.
For reference, here's how much you'd have to save every month, as a couple, if you gave yourselves a little more time and plan to get married in
- 2 years: $1,150
- 3 years: $767
- 5 years: $460
Again, this is assuming that the cost of everything is not subjected to inflation and adjustment. Word of advice: the prices of popular wedding venues and vendors appreciate at a higher rate than property prices in Singapore.
And don't even get me started on getting a place to call your own or having children after you're married…
But seriously though… You need to start planning and saving now.
This article was first published in Seedly.