Couple saved $20,000 with wedding at JB restaurant

IT manager Gideon Tan did not mind splashing out $1,400 to charter two buses to ferry his family and friends across the Causeway for his wedding last month.

The 37-year-old and his wife, teacher Rebecca Goh, 34, estimate that they saved at least $20,000 by holding their banquet at the Pekin Restoran Johor Jaya restaurant in Johor Baru instead of a hotel in Singapore.

"It made more sense for us to do this as my wife is Malaysian and most of her relatives live in Johor Baru and Ipoh. The smaller bill was also a consideration," he says. The couple began calling hotels here in March last year, but "they were all booked on the weekend dates that we wanted, so we decided to try Malaysia", he adds. "Our parents were open to it as well."

They are among a group of Singaporeans who have gained from the falling Malaysian ringgit, which hit a historic low against the Singdollar last month at $1 to RM2.67 - it has since recovered slightly to about $1 to RM2.64.

Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times reported on Jan 8 that half of the 900 wedding banquets held in 16 hotels in Johor Baru last year were thrown by Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents.

Not surprising, as a table for 10 at four- or five-star hotels in Johor costs less than half of what they do here.

For instance, prices for a table of 10 at the five-star Thistle hotel in Johor Baru range from RM1,388 (S$520) to RM1,888, compared with upwards of $1,789 at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore hotel.

Excluding the bus charters, the Tans spent about RM55,000 to host their 300 guests, including an eight-course menu comprising dishes such as abalone, fish maw soup and roast pork, as well as alcohol.

Adds Mr Tan: "The food was great, as was the service. They let us use a banquet hall which came with a stage and lights, there was finger food at the waiting area and ample parking space for our guests. We were happy with the choice."

This article was first published on Jan 18, 2015.
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