Talk finance first on how to SAVE money – the ‘put in bank’ kind
Start With a Well-Defined Budget
Just like with any big purchase, you need to set a well-defined budget for your wedding. There are two types of budgets you need to be aware of – The big picture budget, and the itemised budget.
Big picture budget
The big picture budget is basically a whole figure you set for the entire wedding. For example, you want your entire wedding to stay within $25,000. So no matter what you do, all your expenses will have to fall within this budget. This budget is a good start, but you need to also be flexible because your budget might actually be too low for a wedding that meets your expectations.
Once you have your big picture budget, it’s time to itemise your costs – basically, everything that will cost you money when you are planning your wedding. Here’s a list of items you might be familiar with, and some you might not be aware of. Keep these in mind and do your research.
Solemnisation venue & reception catering
Gown & suit
Gowns & suits for parents
Coordinated outfits for bridesmaid & groomsmen
Alteration of gowns & suits
Laundry of gowns & suits
Gifts and angpao for helpers & vendors
Ang pao for JP
Facial and skin care products before the wedding
Dyeing and trimming your hair
Mani and pedi before the wedding
Actual wedding day photography
Videography (pre-wedding & actual day)
Hair & make up for bride (2-3 looks + make up trial)
Hair & make up for bridesmaid
Hair & make up for mothers
Gifts & Dowry (Guo da li)
Flowers (including bouquet for brides, bridesmaids, boutonniere, etc)
Venue decoration (for solemnisation and lunch/dinner venue)
Emcee and/or musicians
Bridal car rental
Helper car rental
Gatecrashing props/food items/other expenses
Bridal accessories (necklace, earrings, bracelets, hairpiece etc)
Wedding stationery (welcome signboard, invitation cards, church booklets)
Hens night and bachelor party
Pro-tip! Always do your research on what the market rates of the services are before setting your itemisied budget. We have many couples who were disappointed because they thought that many of the services were cheaper than they thought. Many times, that’s not the case. Don’t blindly believe what you see online. Do research first and ask for actual quotes.
Split it up
We’re living in the modern world where we ladies are strong and independent. Unlike the super olden days of our grandparents and parents time, the grooms are no longer the sole breadwinners while the women make babies and do household chores. Many of us are also good income earners, so let’s be the right type of feminist and support equality by chipping in for the wedding! After all, it’s a wedding between you and your partner, right?
Follow the Knotz wedding formula – 40%-20%-40%
40% – Personal daily expenses (fixed + discretionary spending)
20% – Personal savings + investments
40% – wedding expenses
Assuming you and your partner earn ~$3,000 each (after 20% CPF deduction). This would mean:
$1,200 for personal daily expense (food, transport, paktor, entertainment, groceries, bills etc)
$600 for personal savings + investments
$1,200 for wedding savings
Combining the wedding savings together, that would make it a whopping $2,400/mth set aside for the wedding. That’s $28,800 for the entire year!
Don’t get married immediately, take your time to save up
If you’re between the ages of 25-30, it’s highly likely that you’ve only had <5 years of solid working experience. This means that many of us would only have <5 years’ worth of personal savings. That’s honestly not a lot and we don’t encourage anyone to blow this bit of money on a one-day event. Besides, there are also other things like BTO, renovations, engagement ring, etc to consider BEFORE the wedding. What we recommend is to assume the day of engagement as a blank slate. Start saving for your wedding ON THE DAY YOU GET ENGAGED.
From there, refer to our 40-20-40 rule and start a savings plan with your partner. If you want a $50,000 wedding, but your income only allows you to save $2,400/mth combined, then get married 2 years later!
Pro-tip! You can always go to ROM to get married and pay $42 for your wedding certificate and leave the partying to a later date when you’ve saved up enough.
Pro-warning tip! Don’t ever ever ever take a loan. You don’t want to start your marriage with liabilities and money issues. Spend what you can and never spend on things you cannot afford. Not to mention, those interest rates are crazy high!
Start a combined fund
When you and your partner have decided on how much to contribute to the wedding, start a savings account with higher interest rates so that you can get a tiny bit more out of your contributions!
This fund also helps you to not overspend. You can set it to automatically deduct from your main account whenever your salary comes in at the start. And all wedding related expenses can be deducted though that one account. This makes the transaction cleaner and no one will be complaining about who contributed more.
Pro-tip! You can also use credit cards to get additional rebates and cashback. Even for a 2% rebate, you can save up to $200 for big ticket items like venue and decoration. You can also choose to use a miles card to collect miles for your honeymoon!
Reduce your daily expenses by 30%
Loving that Chanel bag? Sorry, no go. 5 cups of Starbucks a week? Cut it down to once a week and drink your office pantry 3-in-1 coffee.
There are many ways to save money and to cut down on your daily expenses. But whether or not you want to do it, is completely up to you. We can’t dictate your lifestyle habits, but if you think you can live without the extra frills, we strongly encourage you to try to do that.
Pro-tip! Give yourself a daily limit on your spending. We’re not asking you to record everything. But keep an eye on how much you are spending on a daily basis. Here’s an example:
LiLing earns a salary of $3,500 at her job. After CPF deduction, she is left with $2,800 to take home. Using the 40-20-40 formula, she now has:
40% of personal expenses at $1,120
20% of personal savings & investments at $560
40% of wedding savings at $1,120
Using personal expenses at $1,120, Liling’s fixed expenses include her Ezlink card at $70, phone bill at $50, insurance at $80, gym membership at $100 and income tax at $20 per month. After these deductions, she is entitled to spend $26 per day as part of her daily expenses. Sounds reasonable? Yes! If you choose to eat simple and not blow your money on alcohol, Starbucks, and fine dining, spending $26 a day is completely reasonable and do-able.
Now let’s talk about how to SAVE money – Being a cheapo nemo kind
Bridal Package vs A-la-carte
Bridal packages are great if you know that the bridal studio is trustworthy and you absolutely love all the services they can provide. However, If you think taking up a package is saving money, you may be quite wrong. The market rate for FULL packages are between $5,000-$7,000 (that’s almost the same as if you were to go a-la-carte, we’ll do the calculation for you later). If you’re paying any lower than that, be careful!
If you see packages that are ridiculously cheap at wedding fairs or shopping centre atriums, you need to be on red alert. Here are the reasons why:
The business may not be based in Singapore, which means their costs are lower and they can offer you great deals in their home country (pre-wedding shoots in Taiwan, for example). But it can be more risky to you as a consumer, because there isn’t anyone based here that you can chase down if things go wrong.
There will be a lot of hidden clauses – The dress you want may require you to top up or upgrade your package. You might end up spending more that you intended.
The photographers and MUAs are sometimes in-house or hired for very cheap. This means you might get sub-standard services for your wedding like AD photographer cancelling last min, or your MUA might get swapped out at the last second.
Pro-tip! Always ask for options. A good bridal studio will always give you the option of choosing the photographer and MUA. This is very useful as you can choose the photographer and MUA based on your own personal preference and style.
Insider tip: we know that a bridal studio closure has put people on edge. One good indicator of how well a studio is doing, is that they are frequently updating or adding to their gown collections. If their last new batch of gowns was from 2018, you might want to reconsider, or limit your exposure by only getting them for gown rental instead of a full package – see the next section.
Here at Knotz, we strongly encourage couples to go a-la-carte. Mainly for these reasons:
You get to choose a service provider that matches your style and preferences. Like photographer, MUA and florist.
You’re limiting risk – If *touch wood* a bridal studio suddenly closes, you will lose your money + all the services that came with it (AD photographer, gowns, suits, MUA, flowers, etc). By purchasing separate services, you can limit your losses and focus on replacing only what you’ve lost.
The wedding industry is very saturated so you don’t need to worry about not being able to find a vendor.
You get to pick and choose and find one with the best price.
Find your gown(s) & suit(s) separately (look out for clearance sales and pay $100-$300 to keep!)
On average, renting a dress a-la-carte would cost $800-$1,500. This option is great if you plan to have a simple wedding that doesn’t require multiple outfits. But if you require more than one dress, here’s how to get your dream dresses and save money too!
Bridal studios are constantly clearing out old stock to bring in new dresses. So if you were to get a clearance dress, you may be able to find one for $100-300 per dress! This means you can get 2 dresses for just $600. And we dare say, some of these clearance dresses are in great condition and ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! All you need to do is just top up $150-$200 for alterations and you’ll be good to go!
Suits are a different story, however. Many times the suits in bridal studios are very limited in size and style, and we’ve often seen our friends in very ill-fitted suits (yikes!). Thankfully, getting your very own bespoke suit is not that expensive!
Don’t rent BRIDAL cars
The only 2 differences between a bridal car and a non-bridal car are:
Price difference – Expect 2-3 times the cost more if you get a bridal car
State of the car – Bridal cars are usually very new and in pristine condition.
If you’re on a tight budget and still need to rent a car, go for the usual car rental companies. There might be minor scratches and the interior may not be as pristine, but you can expect the cost to be at least 30%-40% cheaper than a bridal car rental.
For example, a series 5 BMW from a bridal specific car rental company will set you back at $788 for 10 hours. However, if you were to go to a neighbourhood car rental company, the same 5 series BMW will cost you a LOT less!
Get your friend to MC for you
A single emcee can cost upwards of $600 and if they also have the capability to sing, the price can go up to $800-$1,000. So why not get your loud mouth friend to do it? Simply gift them with a $88 angpao and they will be more than happy to do it for their good friend.
Enough with the wedding favours
We can’t say this enough – please stop giving us wedding favours that have no value whatsoever. We don’t need any more measuring spoons in the shape of hearts, teddy bear keychains, bottle openers, freakishly small spoons, and most importantly, we don’t need a picture of you and your partner (would be super weird if I were to frame a picture of you up, right?).
Instead, do FOOD favors. Get your jiemei and brothers and make some delicious baked cookies in the kitchen. The total cost of pretty plastic bags, flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and chocolate chips will be approximately $150 for 300-400 servings. Assuming you put 3 bite sized cookies in 1 bag for a guestlist of 100, the total amount of cookies would be 300. That’s only about $0.50 per person!
Of course, if you are afraid of poisoning your guests, there’s always the option of not giving any wedding favors. Many times, your venue would also be able to provide wedding favors as part of the venue package. Opt for edible favors like chocolate or cake. Trust us, it will be far more appreciated.
Have a small ROM + 5-10 table lunch with close friends and families
Weddings in this day and age are no longer about the big banquets of 300 guests (unless it’s what the parents want and you have no choice). Many couples these days are going for non-hotel venues. And they should! With the rising cost of houses, renovation, and family planning, the wedding should not be the highest spending priority.
Restaurants are a great choice for non-hotel venues, and they tend to be 30-50% cheaper than hotels. For hotels, it costs at least $999++ per table for 4* hotels, and can go up to $2,500++ per table for the most luxurious hotels. Chinese non-hotel restaurants range between $688++ to $1,288++ per table. Non-Michelin Star Western restaurants range from $80-$130 per pax. And Michelin Star restaurants cost between $180++ per person to $250++ per person.
Being the ultimate cheapo nemo, one might think that the best way is to do your make up yourself and spend ZERO dollars on your hair and make up. Unfortunately, that’s not what we would advise. Never ever underestimate the work of a MUA. As a bride, you need good make up because at the end of the day, your face will be in every single photo and it needs to look good and last for 5-6 hours at a time. If you think that you can do your own make up, you’re also wrong. Cameras are harsh and if you’re not a YouTube make up artist with 500,000 subscribers, then it can go VERY WRONG.
Many times we get asked by our users if makeup is absolutely necessary, and the answer is always yes. Daily make up is NOT wedding day make up. Even a “natural” look from the make-up artist can look super cakey in person because that’s how it’s supposed to be otherwise you’ll look washed out in the camera. Also, phone cameras are different from the professional cameras photographers have. Bear in mind, no filters hor!
The price of a decent make-up artist should range between $400-$800 (note: for AD wedding, bride make-up only, should include eyelash, ampoule etc). Anything more will be considered premium. Always check reviews and go for a make-up trial!
Phew, thanks for staying with us to the end! Let’s wrap it up with a few key points for you to take away:
Plan and research your overall budget, and how much to spend on each wedding service
Both of you should set aside monthly contributions to the wedding budget
Don’t rush to get married! Take time to save up instead of getting in debt to pay for an extravagant wedding
Reduce your daily expenses – it may take some getting used to at first, but you’d be surprised at how much you can save!
Beware of cheap bridal packages. Go a-la-carte instead for better choices and no hidden costs.
Look out for promos and clearance sales
If you’re not fussy, rent a normal luxury car instead of a bridal car
Get your friend(s) to emcee
Go for non-hotel venues, and consider smaller intimate celebrations with the people who matter to you
Opt for artificial flowers
Spend a reasonable amount for a good make-up artist
Hopefully this info will give you a good start to your planning! We’re also constantly working to bring you more deals from wedding vendors, to help you save money. So keep watching this space and stay tuned for more!