Just got engaged? Congratulations! We know what follows might be the daunting task of planning and working around a budget that is suitable for every couple. Speaking from personal experience, it will be that much more memorable when things are laid out clearly from the start.
As I’m sure many of you have attended enough weddings to know just how wide-ranging it can be. The cost of wedding services can be as simple or extravagant as you choose, and it’s important to note that wedding services always come at a premium. Whichever the choice, always remember that at the end of your wedding day, you’ll be married to the person you love.
We hate to tell you this, but you won’t be able to go on a single website to reliably compare prices like you could for flights or hotels. So, the most important starting point is doing your own research. First up, set aside some hours a week to do research in the months leading up to the wedding. This could include things like- setting up a Pinterest account to figure out what style you like, speaking to multiple service providers (e.g. various videographers, bridal stores, photographers) to compare prices, and talking to friends who were married recently to get their recommendations.
We’ve sourced prices from the most common quotes, but some vendors could definitely be sweet-talked. Likewise, some vendors might lowball the price, but will attempt to upsell you later. With doing your own research, you’re prepared with a budget in mind which will enable you to negotiate further or just walk away completely. For a typical wedding, you can expect to fork out at least a five-digit sum.
Choosing the right vendors can make the difference between a $25,000 event, and a $70,000 splurge. Here’s our how-to guide on working out the finances leading up to the big day:
Planning your wedding budget
The main questions you’d like to ask yourself are:
- What is our budget?
- How are we going to pay for all this?
- Rings, rings, rings
- Should I buy Wedding insurance?
- Bridal packages or DIY?
- How much does a banquet cost?
- The Honeymoon
What Is Our Budget?
Have an honest and open conversation.
Is it more important to have a once-in-a-lifetime grand wedding, or to save up for your first child? Would you rather go on a longer honeymoon, or save up for home renovations ? Leading up to the big day, have a candid chat with your future spouse to discuss a number you’re both comfortable to take on for the wedding. It should be a balance between having your dream wedding and putting it in context of your financial situation.
Discuss your current financial situation.
For example, if you need cash for the down-payment of your house (e.g. you are using a bank rather than an HDB loan), then find out how much you need to set aside. Likewise, be frank about any debt that needs servicing, and how much more you can take on. If you’re using a loan, try to budget such that your debts < 30 % of your household income. If your monthly household income is $5,000, then your total debt repayments (inclusive of any credit cards, car loans, or personal loans resulting from the wedding) should not exceed $1,500 per month. If you decide to apply for a home loan later on, the total of your home loan repayments (including your other existing debts) – cannot exceed 60 percent of your monthly income. If it does, your loan application would likely get rejected, and you’ll have to borrow less which means a bigger down payment)
How Are We Going to Pay for All This?
For the various wedding costs described below, never use a credit card except as a mode of payment. It’s okay to pay using your credit card as you’ll get rebates and reward points, but ALWAYS pay back the credit card in full. If you need to borrow amounts that you can’t pay back immediately, always use a personal loan instead; not a credit card. WHY? Because credit cards have an interest rate of about 26 % per annum, whereas most personal loans are 6% per annum or less. You can visit various loan comparison sites to get a sense of the types of personal loans available, and choose the best option available. (This changes every few months, so remember to stay updated). When taking on a loan, remember what we mentioned earlier: keep the total debt repayments at 30% of your monthly income or below. Anything higher would be at risk of pushing the bounds of affordability, so definitely consider cutting some costs if that happens just to be on the safe side.
Rings, Rings, Rings
Engagement rings are typically the more expensive of the two. Lower cost engagement rings (with 0.18 to 0.23 carat diamonds) can be had for between $650 to $1,000. Engagement rings with a 0.5 carat diamond start from around $2,500, and rings with an actual 1 carat diamond will probably set you back $8,000 or more. Of course, you can always opt for precious stones instead if you’re looking to find something more unique. With Wedding bands, you can always opt for something simple (e.g. plain gold bands, without diamonds) which will land in the range of $2,000 to $2,500.
If you want to save on engagement and wedding rings, there are two alternative ways to do so: The first is to look at pre-loved/owned rings- which might offer a limited selection, but would be able to be bought at a much lower cost. The second option is to go through a local jeweller to make a design similar to one you’ve come across at one of the big brands or even online, at a fraction of the cost.
Bridal Packages or DIY?
This largely depends on personality, and if you’re comfortable putting someone else in the driver’s seat to make all the big decisions for your wedding day. But for those of you self-proclaimed Bridezillas and Groomzillas, the better option might be to DIY.
A bridal package typically has a base cost starting at $2,888 or $3,888 for a set number of services (e.g. S$3,888 inclusive of make-up, venue hire, and a set of 24 photographs). The main advantage to buying a package is that you save time on hiring independent professional services which might add up to more time and money spent. If you do choose a bridal package, avoid paying for everything upfront. Paying a deposit is the norm, but the rest is usually paid up upon completion of the service so you can be assured you’re getting what you’ve paid for. The DIY approach isn’t for everyone, but gives you the peace of mind that you’ve done the necessary homework to get the best vendors for your day. This typically means paying more working with vendors you’ve selected, but will give you the best return for your investment.
Should I Buy Wedding Insurance?
Wedding insurance provides a pay-out in the event of situations such as bad weather (forcing a cancelled photoshoot), the potential closure of your bridal salon, or cancellations forced by illness or accident. Most wedding insurance policies also have add-ons. These provide coverage for damage to bridal gowns and rented vehicles, or even liability coverage (If someone gets sick because of the food at your wedding dinner and tries to sue you, this can mitigate some of the legal costs). If you have an existing financial advisor, speak to them about getting the right wedding insurance policy. It’s not necessary, but could be a good consideration.
How Much Do Banquets Cost?
A simple rule of thumb is to estimate $100 per head for a typical hotel dinner banquet. For most banquets, which seat 10 to a table, this amounts to $1,000 per table. However, with a wide range of hotels, there are also multiple menu options available. This explains why packages can range from $888 per table, to over $1,888 per table. Notably, Capella Singapore and St. Regis were the most expensive for banquets in 2016, at a whopping $1,988 per table. First, start planning for the number of people you’d like to invite and send out “Save the Dates” to get a sense of the number that would be able to attend. This will also help you to shortlist the number of venues based on your number of guests. Assuming you send out the invitations a few months in advance, the typical attendance rates are around 80%. Just prepare yourself for last minute drop-outs as that always tends to happen! The other more affordable option could be to hold a lunch banquet which typically costs less, and allows for a much less tiresome day for the wedding couple.
This is the part worth waiting and saving for. How much you decide to spend on your honeymoon depends on where you’re going. If you’re planning on visiting Europe or the United States, flights will probably range from $1,200 to $1,600 per economy class ticket. A decent hotel can cost between $150 to $250 a night, although Airbnb could also provide a fun and cheap alternative! Adding on additional cash for leisure and transport (say $100 a day, for two weeks), you should be looking at around $6,000 to $7,000 for a two-week honeymoon at the very least. Of course currency fluctuations do vary so timing is key! If you choose to honeymoon close by in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia or Thailand, will reduce prices significantly especially with lower airfares and hotel stays. If your budget is too tight to honeymoon right after the wedding, do seriously consider a deferred honeymoon. Take a short, mini weekend honeymoon now, then save up and take the honeymoon you both have always wanted further down the road.
Finally, Set Aside Another 10 % for Emergencies
Most Singaporean couples, after taking into account all of the above costs, will find the total amount for a wedding falls somewhere between $20,000 to $25,000 (the lower end) to upwards of $50,000. On top of this final estimated price, set aside an additional 10 percent of the costs. We can’t pre-empt what might happen, and it’s good to have this on hand to cover emergency needs such as having to hire another photographer, if yours turns out to be unreliable. As stressful as it might seem, always remember to enjoy the process and make decisions together as future husband and wife. And when it finally comes to the big day, remember to let go and have a good time after all the hard work and effort you’ve put in. The celebration of your marriage should be used to create memories with close friends and family that will last a lifetime.