Practical tips for wedding budgeting
Every couple’s wedding journey is different, but it’s safe to say that most of us don’t have the spending power to go all over-the-top Crazy Rich Asians. However, that doesn’t mean your wedding can’t be special. It’s all about finding that right balance between what you want and what you can afford. Here are some practical tips to help in your planning, centred around 4 key questions.
What are we spending money on?
Start by listing out every wedding-related item and its associated cost. We know, this isn’t fun, it’s like planning the budget for a big corporate project. But if companies do it to make sure they manage their finances properly, then shouldn’t you do the same?
Your list should include everything from the point when you start planning, up to the big day itself (at this point, you might want to create a spreadsheet in Google docs or Excel for you and your partner to easily keep track of stuff). Here’s a typical list:
- Wedding venue (and/or ROM/solemnisation costs, reception)
- Wedding rings
- Pre-wedding photography
- Wedding attire (for both bride & groom, and don’t forget the bridal party! Bridesmaids, groomsmen, as well as both your parents)
- Make-up and hair (and other beauty treatments to get you ready – think facials, mani/pedi, etc)
- Actual day photography/videography
- Decoration and flowers
- Wedding favours
- Ang paos for your wedding party
- Car rental and various logistics
- Wedding cake
This is definitely not an exhaustive list, and you may also be considering things like a band to play at the dinner/reception, photo booth, table decorations and props, and a whole other bunch of stuff. Costs add up, so always have some buffer on top of what you initially project.
At this point, you and your partner should also have the conversation about your other big upcoming expenses. Many couples prefer to cut down some of the wedding expenses and put aside more for the honeymoon and/or new home (including renovation). Make sure both of your priorities are aligned, and if you have to reduce the wedding budget, try not to scrimp on important things like photography.
Don’t forget to also include both sets of parents in the discussion. While this can sometimes complicate things, it’s important to understand and manage expectations. If the bride’s parents expect some form of dowry, or a certain number of tables at the banquet, then these have to factor into your budgeting as well.
How the !@#$ do we pay for all this?
Finances are always a tricky conversation with your partner, but good communication is essential here. Some couples opt for a joint account with a set amount of contribution every month, while others may choose to separate the costs among each other (or with parents, if you’re lucky!).
Whatever the case, make sure you both come to an agreement as to how much the entire wedding should cost. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you end up in debt after an extravagant wedding bash, or to have one partner feel like certain expectations weren’t met. There’s always a compromise to be found! Talk it out and find that balance.
If you’re intending to save towards a lump sum figure, make sure you’ve done your sums properly and figured out how much you need to put aside every month to hit that target. Alternatively, come up with a wedding budget based on a conservative amount that you can definitely manage. If you can save more than that, then you can look at selectively adding some lavish touches.
Pro-tip! Make the most of your credit card perks. Many of the things you’ll be paying for are big ticket items, and depending what card(s) you use, you could be earning significant amounts of cashback, points, or perhaps miles to help defray the cost of your honeymoon!
Why does this cost so much??
Wedding-related stuff is always expensive, and some vendors may even charge more for the same product or service if they know it’s for a wedding. Some couples opt to go for the DIY options, but if that isn’t for you, here are some practical tips:
Beware of hidden costs and add-ons
This applies particularly to those items which you’ll be signing an agreement on, like your banquet dinner or bridal studio package. General advice is to read the fine print, and make sure you know what you’ll be getting for the price! For banquet dinners (or other F&B venues), don’t forget about the ++ that will be added on, and check the type and quantity of alcohol that is included.
Add-on costs for bridal services are something that we could almost do a separate article on. The most common ones to look out for would be:
- Gown selection: basic packages may not include the studio’s higher tier range of gowns. If you’re taking the gown for an overseas shoot, there may also be other charges involved. Do take note of any additional charges for cleaning too.
- Photography: packages may only include a certain number of photos from your shoot. Be sure to clarify what exactly is included and be clear if you have any specific requests.
- Makeup: common add-ons would be for bridal party makeup, touch-ups during the actual day, and misc items such as ampoules
Don’t get too carried away by perfect weddings on Instagram/Pinterest
Let’s use flowers as an example here. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of having beautiful floral arrangements at every step of the way. However, don’t forget that flowers are (mostly) imported because they aren’t native to Singapore, so all that flower power is going to cost you a LOT more than someone who had their wedding in the US/Europe.
Do we really need all this?
If you’ve read all the way up to this point, you might be wondering if all this is really necessary (also, well done for getting this far! We know it’s a lot of info to take in). Chances are you’ve also heard lots of recommendations from family and friends about what you should have for your wedding. At the end of the day, you and your spouse-to-be should be the ones making the decisions. Don’t let other people’s opinions get in the way of what you really want!
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