Wedding Costs & Expenses – How to Create a Budget

Client (Boy): We are thinking of starting a joint investment account to invest $1,000 a month. $500 from her and $500 from me.

Me: Great, it’s always good to build up your assets early.  How long do you intend to invest?

Client (Boy): Hmm…not really sure, about 2 years?

Me: It seems to be too short a period to consider investing.  What do you intend to use this money for?

Client (Boy): It’s for our marriage.

Me: Congratulations!  Have you calculated how much do you actually need?

Client (Boy):  We’ve been talking and going for wedding shows but we will really like to keep it simple.  Just family and close friends.  Hopefully it is not going to cost a lot.

Me:  Have you spoken to your parents to gauge their expectations?

Client (Girl):  He haven’t even propose!

It’s common knowledge that getting married in Singapore can be an expensive affair. Typically, couples are likely to spend within a range of $30,000 to $100,000 on this once-in-a-lifetime event, depending on how lavish they want their wedding to be.

While increasingly, more and more couples are keeping to a simpler wedding in order to keep their expenses in check, there can be times where there are social expectations to fulfil and they will have to accede to an increased budget.

As we can guess, spending a 5-figure sum on a one-time event is a big budget, and unsurprisingly, some couples may not be ready for it. This is why it is essential for the couple to sit down together to decide on a wedding budget they can agree with. On the plus side, it can help the couple to understand each other’s attitude towards spending and budgeting, and hopefully through the process, shape their attitudes towards how they will handle the sensitive money issue when they start their life together.

I recently spoke to a couple who is looking to get married and found out that they face the common problem of not knowing where to start when planning their wedding budget. So here are some tips to help couples budget and stay stress-free when planning for this happy event.

Fact-finding Stage: Before you work out your budget

Many couples assume that organising a wedding is a two-person affair, but it is actually an affair between two families! This is why it is important to get an idea of what your parents are expecting. It is not uncommon for some couples to go ahead with their wedding planning, only to have to change it halfway to suit what their parents wanted instead.

Some questions to think through at this stage include:

  • Wedding style – small affair at the Registry of Marriage, church wedding, hotel banquet, beach wedding, overseas wedding
  • Size of the wedding – only family and close friends or a larger one with business associates and parents’ friends
  • Dowry & jewellery – find out what your parents are expecting as they differ with regards to customs
  • Bridal package – do you want to take up a package that includes photography and gown rental? Would you prefer to customise your wedding dress or pick an ala-carte package with a photography studio you want?
  • Honeymoon – a short getaway or a longer holiday to mark the start of a new life together? Do you want to do it immediately after the wedding or can you delay it for 6 months?
  • Would you prefer to have a wedding planner? Are you prepared to pay a higher price for someone to handle the work?

Once you’ve gone through these initial steps and questions, you will have a better idea of what are your individual expectations of a wedding, as well as any social obligations you might need to fulfil. 

Research Stage – information gathering

At this stage, you can start to gather quotations and online information about the price of the individual items above. As a possible guideline, your wedding cost may be broken down into the following percentages:

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Let us look at some price estimates for an average wedding in Singapore:

(click on the image above to enlarge)

As you can see from above, the average amount you’d spend on a wedding is slightly more than $50,000, which can be a pretty shocking figure to some couples. You can almost buy a car with this amount!

Before you go ahead to think twice about having a wedding, the good news is that you’d most likely have some of your wedding banquet’s cost reimbursed by the red packets you will receive. Assuming you receive an average of $150 per person, you will be relieved of $30,000, which means your total cost is closer to $22,250.

In any case, it should be safe to say you’d need to prepare to save up about $25,000 for an average-sized wedding celebration without too much frills.

Once you’ve arrived at the estimated figure, you can now work backwards to find out how much you’d need to save per month to get there. Most couples typically take about a year to prepare and plan their wedding, so if you are sharing the costs between the two of you, you’d most likely need to save up about $1,000 to $1,200 per month per person.

Tips For A Cheaper Wedding 

The amount a couple is prepared to spend on their wedding is a very personal decision. There are others who are happy to spend just over $10,000, whereas there are those who are willing to splurge $100,000 on it. It is however, very important to remember that the wedding itself is simply the start of a lifelong journey together, and the road ahead is long and accompanied with many different financial responsibilities. Thus, it is essential to think ahead and spend prudently.

If you prefer to spend less on the wedding and live a more comfortable life ahead, here are some additional tips for you to save on your wedding expenses:

  • Hold a smaller wedding in a restaurant – it is becoming increasingly popular to hold a smaller but more intimate wedding for those who matter most to you. Since most hotels require a minimum number of tables, you can consider restaurants instead.
  • Consider holding your wedding during weekday evenings or weekend lunch for cheaper rates
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for extras – there is always room for negotiations especially when it comes to the wedding banquet. Flowers, wedding favours, menu and decorations might be able to be changed for free.
  • Start your research early to take advantage of early-bird discounts, especially at wedding shows
  • Check for credit card privileges – certain credit cards give discounts for banquet bookings, as well as travel privileges for your honeymoon
  • Consider asking your friends and relative for help instead of outsourcing. Some possibilities include using a relative’s car as your wedding car, asking someone with good photography skills to help you take pictures on the actual wedding day, having a hand-made bouquet by a friend or asking a talented friend to sing at your wedding instead of engaging a professional band.

Going through the above steps can help you manage the financial costs of your wedding more successfully and help you enjoy the wedding planning rather than see it as an emotionally and financially stressful period.

Settle the Big Ticket First

Of all the items to plan and prepare for, the Wedding Banquet is likely to be the major financial item.  Get this right and you are at least 50% of the way there.  Download this Wedding Budget Checklist which includes an updated list of 60 hotels and restaurant wedding venues with price list (per table) for lunch and dinner receptions to help you get started.

(NOTE: Get our Wedding Budget Checklist to help you create a budget for the major wedding items. Get your copy here)

Have fun and don’t stop loving each other!

Article by Lee Meng Choe, FChFP

Email: mengchoe.lee@proinvest.com.sg

<strong>Lee Meng Choe</strong> (FChFP)
Lee Meng Choe (FChFP)Financial Services Director

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