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How we kept our wedding expenses under $20k

By Joce | Apr 14, 2022

I got married recently and we held a small-ish wedding lunch reception for around 90 guests! The actual day itself was definitely tiring, not to mention the wedding preparation leading up to the big day. But I think it went pretty well and my partner and I are both glad that we can move on to enjoying married life. And plan our upcoming honeymoon! I'm very excited to travel again after 2 years😆 

Weddings don't have to be expensive affairs. My partner and I both agreed that we would hold a reception for the elders and our family and that it was more important to make the occasion an enjoyable one, rather than a lavish affair. 

We started out with a arbitrary budget of ~27k (excluding the honeymoon) and the goal was to keep within this budget as much as possible. 

Here's the breakdown of our wedding related expenditure. Do note that this excludes

  • Red packets given by the groom's family during Guo Da Li (过大礼)
  • Gifts bought by our parents and given during Guo Da Li (过大礼)
  • The groom's suit (which was a gift from his dad)
  • Honeymoon (because we haven't gotten round to planning it lol)

MUA: Make Up Artist
PWS: Pre-wedding Shoot
AD: Actual Day
ROM: Registry of Marriages 

Item Budget Actual Spent
Venue (90 pax) $16,000 $13,601
Wedding Favours $500 included in venue package
Venue flower top up  (for my purple theme!) $0 $300
Beer and carpark coupons  $0 $69
Wedding dowry (Guo da li) $3,000 $719
Wedding Bands $1,500 $888
PWS Makeup Artist & Hairstylist $200 $330
Pre-Wedding Photoshoot $1,500 $1,300
ROM and PWS dress not decided $29
Solemnization $42 $42
Gown $1,000 $1,000
AD Makeup Artist & Hairstylist $500 included in gown package
AD Event Photography $1,500 $1,000
Bouquet not decided $52
Bridal shoes + accessories $0 $86
Car Rental $600 $293
Petrol $0 $52
Hotel $200 $0
Wedding Cake $200 decided not to get this
Wedding Invitations $100 $81
Car decorations, Corsages, Photo table $100 $114
Total $26,942 $19,956

 

Here are some ways we deviated from the cookie-cutter Singaporean Chinese wedding. In some ways, these factors helped us save on our wedding. Of course, the trade-off we made is on time spent and effort made.

Many things were DIY or handmade 
    • Bridal bouquet
      Crocheted by me! Photos from the ROM day only as I'm still waiting for the touched up wedding day photos from the photographer. 
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      I decided to make this bouquet for myself as a challenge to myself and because it would be a cool project! I wouldn't recommend this to most people, as crocheting so many flowers is hard work. If you have a creative eye, it shouldn't be too difficult to DIY your own bouquet with some artificial or fresh flowers! 
       
    • AD Manicure
      I did my own manicure with nail polish wraps from this Shopee seller - Nail 'Em Up at roughly $5 for a set. I don't recommend getting the really cheap ones (~$2-3) from China as the quality and colors are hit or miss. This Shopee seller has bundle sales from time to time so you can keep an eye out and buy them for your sisters/mums/whoever is interested. 

      There are also other local nail wrap sellers who list different designs. They are easy to find on Instagram or through a quick Google search! Nail wraps in general are much cheaper than a fancy manicure by a professional. I prefer having bare nails as they get in the way of my hobbies (baking and crocheting) so nail wraps are right up my alley. Affordable, easy to put on and easy to take off.  
    • ROM and PWS dress
      I wore the same dress for my photoshoot and solemnization at the Registry of Marriages. Crocheted by me :) More photos on my crochet IG page.
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    • Photo display table
      Macrame pieces were handmade by me and my partner made the wooden stands to prop them up :) The rest of the props were random stuff I had at home. 
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      HubSpot Video
    • DIY A2 welcome signage
      Designed with Canva and printed (along with some photos) at Botak Sign, which offers really affordable rates and fuss-free ordering and collection/delivery. The restaurant kindly provided us with a spare easel so we didn't have to rent one.

      I highly recommend designing your own welcome signage with Canva as its really easy! If you're curious, the average market rate to get a 'basic' A2 welcome signage designed and printed by someone else is ~$40. Basic means text on a plain background, maaaybe with some very simple floral borders, if you don't mind the lack of design flexibility. 
      I printed my A2 foam board signage for just $7 and using a bunch of free design assets on Canva.   
        
    • Wedding corsages for the bridal party and the groom's boutonniere
      All handmade by my mum! We take orders on Carousell if you're interested! 
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      HubSpot Video
       
    • Bridal car decorations with items sourced from Taobao
      I actually did a version 1 of the main arrangement that goes on the car hood, but my mum felt it wasn't up to her standard so she re-arranged the flowers. What you see in the photos are done by her!
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      A1DF4DBF-3A57-456F-A220-B9956C379E2C843E82D7-51A7-4494-9CB8-F461965289E3

      We plan to list this service on Carousell in the near future. It'll be a nice side gig for my mum who is nearing retirement. 
 
We kept things chill and practical 

We opted for a simple Guo Da Li (过大礼), exchanging mostly fruits, wedding pastries and Si Dian Jin (四点金). None of those impractical "essentials" that couples end up trying to sell on Carousell and FB after their wedding 🙄

My Si Dian Jin (四点金) consisted of a bracelet and pair of earrings handed down through the groom's family, as well as a necklace and earring set that we bought separately. Since I rarely wear jewellery, it was easy to keep it simple and choose functional pieces I could see myself wearing rather than choosing the jewellery for the gold content (which I understand some people do)

 
Look for good deals

We got pretty good package deals at the restaurant where we held our wedding and the bridal studio where I got my gown from. The wedding invitations were also printed at one of the most affordable local printers - W for Wedding

    • Red House Seafood Restaurant at Grand Corpthone Waterfront
    • Yvonne Creative Bridal (gown package included 1 bridal gown, AD makeup, AD photography)
      • I visited 3 places to check out their gowns before deciding on Yvonne Creative. Their SEO isn't the best so you might not find them from a Google Search. I shortlisted them because there were many past brides who recommended them on FB groups
      • I recommended them to a friend getting married at the end of this year and she decided to go with their package too 😀

If you look up "bridal car rental", you'll get a ton of all-in-one services that include the car decoration, chauffeur and car rental with no hassle around picking up and returning the car. The average price is $500 for a half day rental. If you prioritize convenience over price, power to you.

But if you're interested in keeping costs low, I recommend drivelah.sg. We rented a white Mercedes and including the petrol top up, the total cost came under $350, not bad for a 1.5 day rental period. The renter we chose is a part-time wedding car driver who also rents out his car to couples like us who prefer to DIY.

 

More recommendations 

To all of you who are planning a wedding in the near future, here are some tips I have to share with you. I hope you find them useful and all the best for your wedding planning! 

  • PWS MUA: Aoi's makeup (Website / IG)
    I managed to get her 2021 rates before she increased her price 
    Very professional and cheerful! Aoi was super well-prepared and came prepared with a circle light. I liked that her makeup kit (luggage?) was very well-organized and she applied most of the makeup with brushes. She was also mindful about my skin's sensitivity and took care to cover up my super dark eye circles haha

  • AD MUA: Charmaine Lin (part of the gown package)
    Pretty decent all around, I found Charmaine to be very experienced and reliable. I really liked the makeup look she did for me on my wedding day. I asked for a half-updo with curls and the curls stayed in pristine condition long after my wedding reception had ended! 

  • PWS: Senica Productions (Website / IG
    Sebastian and Monica were very accommodating to our questions and are really friendly people! They helped to expedite the photo processing so we could get it before the wedding day and stuck to the deadline they committed to when we made the deposit. We chose them for their creative style and competitive rates.  

  • Bridal shoes: Vaia Official (Website / IG)
    This is an Indonesian custom shoe maker that I chanced upon on Instagram. Custom made bridal heels in Singapore are crazy expensive. Pre-covid, some Singaporean brides would get their shoes custom made in Malaysia as it was cheaper. I don't know how the Malaysian rates compare to this Indonesian shoe maker but I absolutely love my heels and highly recommend them! I have wide feet and usually wear the largest women's' size (if they even have my size) My heels were really comfortable and didn't give me any blisters at all. 

    I did not originally plan to get custom made shoes but I found a great deal on their website that was in my size and was listed at 95% quality. Apparently there was some defect that resulted in it being placed on sale. I never really figured out what that defect was as the workmanship looked great to me. Sizing is a breeze as they provide detailed measurements on their website. 

    If you custom make a pair with them, do expect that it's gonna cost quite a fair bit even if its cheaper than in Singapore. I was lucky enough to get mine on sale for ~S$72.

  • For reviews of all things wedding related, check out the @carefulcouple on IG who recently got married and kindly documented every step of their wedding process. Their wedding had a lot more frills than mine and they also considered more venues and service providers that I did so if you don't find what you're looking for here, you can probably find it on their account! 

Tags: Finances, wedding