4 ways to save on exorbitant wedding costs

People think getting married in Singapore is expensive, but it really costs only $26 to ROM. Yes, even on "auspicious" dates like the 8th of August.

It's the wedding that drains people's cash, and all the bells and whistles that go with it- the fancy banquet, the pre-wedding shoot in some exotic locale, the lavish decor and so on.

Still, most go ahead with a wedding celebration of some kind, some because their parents insist, others because their alcoholic friends insist. No matter what your main goals behind throwing a wedding bash might be, here are four things you can comfortably cut out in order to save some cash, without ruining the ambience of your big day.

Gatecrashing

Not sure where the gatecrashing tradition came from (Hong Kong drama serials probably), but they've been a staple of Singaporean Chinese weddings for the past two decades.

The trouble with this little ritual is that it requires a ton of effort and planning on the part of the bride, groom and their bridesmaids and groomsmen, who are usually forced to get up at 5 am after staying up late the night before preparing games and forfeits.

Gatecrashing can also cost quite a bit. Some couples want their bridesmaids and groomsmen to turn up in costumes of some sort, which have to be bought and paid for. The photographer and videographer also have to come in and document the whole thing, which can add additional hours to your photography package.

Personal trainer and former commando Zachary Lee (centre, wearing "helmet") and his groomsmen dressed up as Spartan warriors for his wedding gate-crashing to fetch his bride, Ms Elsa Kwok. Photo: Benjamin Ho

Then there's also the fact that the couple or their families need to dole out additional red packets to the groomsmen and bridesmaids since they've taken pains to organise the gatecrashing session.

Unless you really enjoy gatecrashing sessions, you'll save yourself a lot of hassle and a bit of cash by doing away with it altogether.

Pre-wedding photoshoot

In Singapore, it is common to stage a pre-wedding photo shoot where the couple dress up in their wedding garb as if they're getting married, except they're really only posing for photos.

Many people even spend extra so they can have their pre-wedding photos taken abroad, whether by flying a Singapore-based photographer to their destination or using a photographer based at their destination.

Okay, we get that there are only so many places in Singapore you can take your photos and everybody's already sick of the Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. But even a simple local pre-wedding shoot adds a few thousand bucks to your total bill.

Really want to save money? Skip the pre-wedding shoot altogether and just hire a solid photographer for the actual day. You'll still have nice pictures to remember your wedding by, and if you've got some time before the banquet you can have more pictures taken then since your hair, makeup and outfits will be all prettied up.

Multiple outfits changes

So, it turns out that a wedding gown and suit aren't the only outfits a couple needs to don on their big day.

At a typical Chinese wedding complete with gatecrashing, tea ceremony and banquet, the bride often changes into as many as four outfits, including a white wedding dress, an evening gown for the dinner and a cheongsam.

At Malay weddings, many brides are now opting to cycle between white gowns, baju kurungs and western style dresses.

Want to save money? Stick with one outfit and wear it throughout the entire event. For many brides, that would mean wearing the same white dress from morning to night, so be practical and don't pick a gown with a train that's longer than the length of your new BTO flat.

Live band

Once the alcohol starts flowing, you're going to want to give your friends something to flail along to, so music is a must.

Some couples spend money hiring wedding singers or a live band, but they don't come cheap. You're usually looking at paying more than $1,000 for just two sets, and that's for a very basic two-piece band.

Worst of all, if your parents get involved, you might end up choosing a wedding singer who looks and sounds like he or she belongs in a cabaret.

To cut costs, just use someone's Spotify or Deezer account, hook your MacBook up to the venue's sound system and use ang baos to bribe a friend to play DJ. As an added bonus, if nobody likes the music you just have to choose a new track rather than fire the entire band.

The article first appeared on MoneySmart.

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