Back in Oct 2016, I got married to my boyfriend of 7 years. Our wedding of about 150 guests took us a year to plan in between juggling work and our new home renovation etc. It was to say the least one of the toughest times we had but I am glad it is done and dusted.
I had read about people getting into debts over their wedding banquets, as well as home renovations. Hence i guess if one doesn’t have the luxury of dating for a long long time before deciding to get hitch then yes I guess it would be very challenging financially.
Here are some tips which I hope will help couples that are soon to wed. These are my wedding hits and misses – my honest take on it which I hope benefits you when it comes to your own planning. Here’s how we survived.
First things first:
Talk about your budget and ideal venue, bounce your ideas with each other at least a year ahead. I think 12-18 months is good time. Work out a list of the essentials [food], and items which are considered luxury which you can evaluate along the way [example between getting a rented gown or a made to measure one etc, or things like a wedding band etc].
For us, we agreed to keep it small, to just close friends and a small bunch of relatives. I would say we were lucky our parents gave us alot of leeway and didn’t impose their guestlists on us. We had also agreed that it was our wedding, and we were paying for it ourselves hence we will call the shots. lol [Yesyes no demanding parents or in laws were going to change my mind oops]
A typical banquet would cost about $150 a head but there are always cheaper options such as buffet style weddings, or even a cozy one at a cafe/ restaurant which is quite fast becoming the norm here as weddings get more intimate and personal. Bear in mind that friends who have diet preferences / of requirements – might incur you some extra cost
Since I was someone who loved the whole old British colonial thing so I set my sights on either the Raffles Hotel / Intercontinental Hotel’ / Fullerton Hotel. From the start the Intercon had a minimum of 25 or was it 30 tables which was beyond what I wanted.
The Straits Room at fullerton was lovely but too cramp , and Raffles hotel wasn’t accepting bookings as they were due to renovate so just when i thought I’ll just do without a dinner, I had met with a Mother in Law who really wanted us to have 1 , I guess him being the eldest son, so I obliged much to the protest of my pocket lololl.
I started looking at smaller venues and chanced upon The Halia @ Raffles [that is now no longer there since the hotel is renovating], we then attended the wedding show and decided there and then on a whim that we liked it so we signed up with them. On hindsight – it was probably a better decision to work out all the nitty gritty and questions you have on things like your guests list and perhaps on whether kids chairs will be charged for etc before jumping into it like I did – then by my own fault only to realize I would sit only 100 guests inside and the rest have to be outside lol [without aircon] Sorry my 50 noble friends who endured the heat hehehe.
Actually I had written to Halia prior to the wedding show and making a booking to ask for things like corkage waive and etc but they weren’t so flexible on those things so we had to then forgo our plan of bringing our own moscato for our guests . Which was actually no issue as there was already lots of pick from since we had our Monkey Shoulder whisky bar, Ginger Beer , Tiger beer , Ice Tea and etc for guests. lol
Here was the beautiful bar that I didn’t have a chance to par-take in not again ahahaha.
I designed that signage for the bar myself
And here’s some of the amazing food….that I didn’t get to eat. Wished there was an option to ‘dabao’ lol. Well prior to the dinner I had ordered room service so I had some food at least !
I thank Jo and Riduan of Halia lots as they were both professional and really efficient. With prompt replies and great hospitality, Jo took on my seating plan changes with great skill and had not charged for the kids chairs I needed on the day of my banquet. Those were pleasant surprises despite the waiver of corkcage issues etc.
I had also opted out our their wedding cards because Mas from Creativekad did those for me and Jo ever so kindly converted the value of those cards into parking coupons for me. so very kind! <3
Mas did the invites, the wedding signages, the stickers for my wedding favors .
And Halia quite kindly provided me with the easel stands.
Not wanting to blow an extra $700 on a photobooth I had my own staff come to help with my photobooth using my own equipment? lol
My fellow MFP blogger Jean goes into very good details on what to look out for in your wedding venue and package which you can read here http://jeangan.com/wedding-101-how-to-choose-the-right-hotel-venue/ so I do not have a to repeat.
I’ll just share my experience here:
Pros about a hotel banquet
-Often includes the wedding favor
-The wedding cake
-Lots of parking space of guests
-Has basic AV system
-Includes hotel room
-Some throw in perks such as extra rooms for the entourage or even photobooth services etc / dessert table
Cons about a hotel banquet
-There’s typically a min or 25 tables which means easily $1500 x 25 = $37500 ? which is alot.
-Food is typically boring and standardized.
Pros about an independent venue: like halia
-More room to customize.
We picked the communal dinner which had our friends sharing of platters to kind of break the ice. Some items such as the soup were still individually served.
-No price difference between dinner and lunch banquets at Halia back in 2016 at least hence we opted for dinner as it gave a more romantic feel.
-Challenges about our venue as Halia is just a tenant of Raffles Hotel so the hotel perks don’t apply
-we forked out extras for parking tickets, for the wedding favors, hotel room and sound system and cake etc.
– There was no tasting session for you and your parents/inlaws etc. Or rather you would have to pay for it.
-Signages not provided unlike at most hotels. [tho nothing i couldn’t solve with the amazing Mas from Creativekad -[my wedding stationery designer]
It’s also very important you have chemistry with the wedding coordinator as you want someone you can trust and is responsive and gives good input/suggestions.
Wedding favours and customization
Since my banquet did not include wedding favors -it meant i could then buy wedding favors that I approved off – you know. Enough of salt pepper shakers or things like bottle corks. SO I picked rose bud tea and purchased them in bulk and then stuck on personalized stickers that the Lovely Mas from Creativekad designed for me <3 https://www.facebook.com/creativekadbymas
Tho I burnt a lil hole in my pocket to get the favors I must say oh and the logistics… lol
I also bought these laser cut butterflies and birds online and had them placed on each of the wine glasses as a scene setter.
I ordered a 2 tier cake from Cupplets that I didn’t even get to taste lloloolol . But of course I had tasted it before ordering it and frankly in my own opinion it looked nicer than it tasted. The cake cost $320 and I had to pay extra for delivery ..
I also ordered some macaroons from https://www.mydessertcup.com/ which my bridesmaid conveniently helped to collect at raffles city before the wedding.
On cakes: I guess one could always do with a cheaper one! Or do without it totally as hardly people eat them after the dinner. Or get a friend.home baker to have it done for cheap. I felt the $355 I paid was abit steep and given a chance would have probably chose a cheaper option.
For my gown
I had it customized because I wanted a piece I could keep and I had gone with a Seamstress who operated from home, It was a rather hands on process where I had to selec my own lace, buy lace appliques, as well as other fabric etc to have it all put together, it also required about 5-6 sessions of me dropping by her place which I think wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t self employed. On hindsight, honestly I wouldn’t have mind just renting. Actually my pre-wed shoot included gowns but I decided not to take those as I already had mine MTM. For those who are curious, the gown cost me about $2000, whereas rental gowns probably cost about $600-$800 or less.
Oh and I had my gown designed in such as way there there was a convertible skirt which I wore during the solemnization which I could remove during dinner for easy maneuver – also because my gown reveals quite abit of legs.
For dinner I just wore a gold gatsby inspired gown which I bought on the internet for cheap. The great thing was that it had a lace up back so it made it easy to cater to your size, the bad thing for me was that I think I lost some weigh due to stress and the dress was a tad loose.
By the way the lady in green here is our Justice of Peace: She was really professional, sweet and succinct. I personally think a solemnization is a serious affair and do not like JPs cracking inappropriate jokes hence i went with Ms Rosemary Lim who also was my good friends’ JP .
The Hubby’s dark blue suit was tailored at far east plaza – Picadilly custom tailors , 14,Scotts Road #02-86 Far East Plaza, 228213 which great service and again allowed for customization of your lining etc. They even bother to have your name emboidered inside of it. It cost about $450 If i recalled correctly for a coat, pants, shirt and vest.
This can be done just about 2 months ahead of your wedding to avoid weight fluctuations.
Our entourage gowns and get-up.
Buy these well before hand – and head to the tailor if need be.
For the guys we got them white shirts and kaki pants from uniqlo as the husband wanted to tho I felt it wasn’t necessary but the funny thing was his friends didnt have white shirts. Ok then *chuckle*.
For my ladies, I bought them dresses off taobao and again I chose gowns with lace up backs to allow more room for the difference in sizes between everyone.
That side one way to save money really was to be more flexible on the bridal entourage get up You can simply get your bridesmaids to wear a certain color dress which all of them already have. Similarly with the groomsmen.
I also handmade each of them a babys breath floral crown.
Things I’ve DIY-ed
I had handmade all the lapel pins and corsages with the same lace appliques used on my gown.
And these’ baby breathe floral crowns for each of my bridesmaids
Wouldn’t want to have it any other way hence I splurged a little on the decorations since I loved fresh flowers so much and my theme was enchanted forest. Of which Ive to thank my friend and trusted florist Regina Mae of https://www.facebook.com/Regina-Mae-Fleurs-Atelier-169963573192086/
She made my bridal bouquet, bridesmaids posies, wedding arch, table centerpieces and main wedding decor + car deco.
The photoframes that you see were bought online at taobao by me and then framed with my photos – afterwhich I left Regina to work her magic with it.
Florals however easily cost some $5000 and up, the skies’ the limit really. There are however some ways to have it cheaper – ie: Going for cheaper types of flowers, and believe it or not, the month is really important too, expect your florals to cost easily twice as much in December all the way up till Chinese New Year hence not a good idea to hold your banquet in those months. If you think foilage and greens are super cheap – they aren’t either. You could however save money by ordering say a hand bouquet from a neighbourhood florist or have a talented bridesmaid DIY for you. I had a friend who did up all her table centerpieces herself with babies breath – so nothing is impossible when you have a will.
Alternatively go to Far East Floral wholesale to buy flowers and make your own hand-tied bouquets for you and your entourage. It really isnt’ that hard! better yet, be open to non floral bouquets, it could be a paper flower bouquet, a crystal bouquet, a seashell/lollipop bouquet, – you name it.
Our bridal car was our friends’ car. I came this close to renting on from Carousell and then our good pal offered his super comfy ride . Thanks for waking so early D and going to my florist the day before to deck your car <3 Here’s the amazing flowers done by Regina once again. Check out the giant Protea – this saves me at least $388- $500 but of course we gave a big angpow to our friend lol. I rather benefit a friend lol.
Back when my brother got married, he chose to drive the family car – aint no need for a fancy car that doesn’t even belong to you right?
Guestbook – consider forgoing it as I’ve been to many weddings where just the first 2-4pages are filled up. My other girl pal personally regret splurging $35 or so on a little box only to have it go to waste.
I instead brought along a scroll for signatures, as pictured here. Which seemed more well received and appealing. Consider even a canvas which you can hang up for memories after too. Or skipping it because you won’t be looking at it that much frankly. Our scroll was included in our prewedding package so we put it to use for the wedding.
On Hair & Makeup and my nails
I chose the lovely Bejeweled nail salon at BreadTalk IHQ close to where I lived to have my amazing Bambi themed nails done . Thank you Eileen for the constant support. The details in the nails were a dream come true for me. Bejeweled was also the nail salon behind my many manicures: From my prewed photos manicure to my japan trip and even my hens party for me and my bridesmaids.
This was my prewed photoshoot manicure
My makeup was done by Sally & Malena from https://www.malenabridal.com who were the ladies who did my Hens Party make up as well!
I went along with 3 hair changes and 2 makeup changes – I reckon I should have just done with 2 so that I would have made more time with my guests. Ahhhhh see what happens when you’re vain.
I had an up-do for the morning to keep cool, and and braided look for my solemnization ceremony and lastly big vintage curls for dinner.
p.s my teardrop earrings here were bought on the internet – real cheap actually. I think it was less than $15. Did
Did I mention I also had a super capable MUA to doll up my Mother, MIL and bridesmaids?
So since I’ve also brought up my hens party :
The goodie bags for my bridesmaids were sponsored by the wonderful beauty direct
It contained Starlash glue and falsies, Chacott oil based makeup remover, hand cream and lots of other japanese brand beauty goodies for my girls <3.
What I DIY-ed for the hens party – Hair ties! for my girls <3
To sum it up:
- Go for only what you are comfortable with spending, please do not get into debt it aint worth it.
- Work out your guestlist before looking for your venue. Be prepared for a few drop outs on that day so always invite more people than you require. Out of my 150 guest, about 5 dropped out. Tip, Expect a 4-5% drop out rate so invite just a couple more than you are expecting.
- Work out the tiny details with your venue coordinator before signing and placing a deposit.
- DIY whatever you can and are comfortable doing, rope in your entourage if you need to.
- Look at the big picture and don’t sweat the small stuff [A number of things went wrong on my wedding day but that’s common, so just be happy and mentally prepared that somethings will not go to plan.
- Don’t be afraid to explore Taobao lol it’s a wedding treasure trove.
- Oh get your prewed photos taken in places like Korea/New Zealand where they return you all the photos [instead of upselling you each and every shot..]
For me my wedding banquet cost about $18000 + [for just the food alone] and it cost about $42500 if I added everything from tailoring, to the cake, photography on actual day, prewedding photography, angpows for the entourage and helpers, makeup,decor, wedding gifts and more.
I think I could have had a wedding below $25000, should I have wanted something much simplier, but I think we quite happily spent what we felt was necessary and we were ready for. We thankfully broke even on the dinner which was not something I was expecting – I personally think you shouldn’t expect your guests to cover your cost. ie someone who chooses say a really grand wedding at the St Regis should be able to afford it themselves and not expect their guest to pay the $300 and up to cover each seat because franktly not everyone is as wealthy and even so, they presence is a gift and their angpow a token of blessing – so it shouldn’t be expected. I had a friend or two who asked how much dinner was and I declined to reveal and just told them to give whatever they felt like. hehe
I’m also thankfully for my childhood friends who took the time to come over from bangkok and china to attend my wedding.
Special thanks for Creativekad, Stanstills, Bejeweled Nail Salon, Dr Vanessa Phua, Dr Chiam and MaryChia’s Huang Ah Ma Spa for the kind sponsorships. Regina for trying to keep to my tough budget.
The team from High notes for all the assistance with the sound system and the musicians
And my family and friends of course of which all these wouldn’t have been possible.
We took our prewed video at Mitzo and Halias so thanks to both management teams of these places for allowing us the use of venue.
Once again a list of vendors just to summarize
Wedding Planner: Alethea [Me!] www.partyparlour.com.sg
Spa: Huang Ah Ma Spa www.huangahma.com/
Aesthetics Doctors : www.drvanessaphua.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/drchiamct/
Gown: Kim Seamstress (Tampines)
Bridesmaid dresses: Taobao
Groomsmen attire: Uniqlo
Florist: Regina Mae https://www.facebook.com/Regina-Mae-Fleurs-Atelier-169963573192086/
Actual Day Photographer: Chris Xie www.chrisxie.com/
Prewed video: Stan from Stanstills www.stanstills.com/ [ love in motion film]
Nails: Ucher/ Wen from www.bejeweled.com.sg/
Mother and Mother in laws nails: https://www.facebook.com/De-Nails-Art-161383553873868/
Makeup for sisters and mothers and groom: Shirley 9880-0289 [super reasonable, and super experienced not to mention the speed!!!]
Makeup for Bride: Sally & Malena https://www.malenabridal.com
Wedding stationery: Mas from Creativekad https://www.facebook.com/creativekadbymas
Hens party photographer: ChorHui hp: 9001-1828
Justice of Peace: Ms Rosemary Lim Hp: 9751-3822
AV: Robin hp: 9820-2265
Wedding Jazz Band: Highnotes , Kelvin Kong on vocals www.highnotes.com.sg/
Venue: Halia, coordinator Jo thehalia.com/sbg/weddings/villa-halia/
Wedding jewelry: ‘si dian jing’ from Global Jewellers & Goldsmith Pte Ltd , Peoples Park #01-61AI also bought some teardrop earrings online to go with my gown Other than that I didn’t wear much jewelry as I don’t have the habit of putting on a necklace.
If any one has questions about any of these vendors, feel free to drop me a note at curioustrades @ gmail . com