Welcome to our wedding lunch

When Ms Janice Wong and Mr Tang Bo Wei got married last month, they knew that they had a number of financial considerations ahead - such as housing, a honeymoon and transport costs.

So, instead of splashing out on an expensive traditional wedding banquet at dinner time, they decided to hold a wedding lunch.

"As we were paying for the wedding out of our own funds, we chose to save for something tangible and which can serve us for a longer time, like our house," said 28-year-old Ms Wong, a senior staff nurse.

The latest Julius Baer Lifestyle Index reveals that wedding costs at top hotels have increased by 14 per cent since last year, making Singapore the sixth most expensive city in Asia for luxurious nuptials.

The index, compiled every year by the private bank, noted that a traditional banquet for 250 guests at a top hotel in Singapore now costs $100,000. Tokyo topped this year's list, with a banquet coming in at $167,000.

"Gone are the days when a hongbao (red packet) of $100 or $150 was sufficient to help young couples cover their wedding cost," said Ms Hannah Chong, creative director of Heaven's Gift Wedding Concierge. "We are now talking at least $250 per guest."

Couples who want to eschew expensive weddings for other luxuries are opting for wedding lunches or running the whole show themselves without the aid of planners.

Miss Kristin Tan, 25, and Mr Alan Tan, 30, who will tie the knot next month, chose to save on their ceremony so they can have a longer honeymoon.

The couple will hold a lunch buffet at the church after their ceremony and organise their big day with the help of friends and family.

"We'd rather splurge on our honeymoon, instead of spending so much on one expensive day," said Miss Tan, a payroll administrator.

"We can better grow the relationship together with weeks of memories while travelling."

A check on wedding packages at top hotels, such as the Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt Singapore and Shangri-La, showed that wedding lunches are generally between 15 and 30 per cent cheaper than dinners.

A weekend lunch table for 10 at Shangri-La, for instance, costs $1,188 without taxes or surcharges, while a table for dinner will set a couple back an additional $300 at $1,488 without taxes or surcharges.

As well as providing a cheaper option, Ms Anna Lim from Spellbound Weddings said that lunches appeal to couples who want to break the mould of traditional marriage ceremonies.

"Most find dinner a little staid," she said. "The lunches that we are going to do for our clients revolve around the concept of champagne brunch - free-flow champagne, wines, juices and table service for some of the courses."

Four Seasons Hotel marketing director Austin Watkins said inquiries for wedding lunches have more than doubled in the last four years.

"We have also seen a steady increase in bookings from less than a quarter to nearly one third of our wedding packages," he added.

Ms Chong said that large wedding dinners are also losing favour among couples today as they seek a more intimate and personal atmosphere on their special day.

"Couples are actually willing to spend more to create their dream wedding in unique places or smaller ballrooms," she said.

"Couples now want smaller, more intimate weddings and invite only people they are close to."


This article was first published on Oct 22, 2014.
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