I came across an article in Her World once which I found insightful. It was a list of questions to ask yourself and the significant other before taking any big leaps. Not just referring to marriage here. Could be moving in or getting engaged.

I tore that article to keep and made a mental note to run through it the day I had to make 'grown up decisions'. Then of course I met The Boy overseas and ended up marrying him while my useful article protested in my home drawer.

To make amends, I hereby reproduce it and hope it serves you well.

Moving In Together

- Am I moving in with him/her mainly to get distance from my parents or to prove that I’m an adult?
- Am I doing this because I don’t think I can make it alone and I assume he/she will take care of me?
- Was this decision prompted because it makes life more convenient or is it a great financial deal?
- Am I running away from a bad living situation or roommate?
- Can I tolerate their daily habits?
- Do I feel relaxed enough around them to reveal my flaws?
- Have we discussed duties? Who cleans and when? Or have we agreed to hire someone?
- Will we split our rent down the middle or does it depend on whose salary is bigger?
- Have we set rules about how often friends and family may stay over?
- How will we merge our decorating tastes? Do either of us have items we’re not willing to give up?
- Am I prepared to have someone always in my space?
- Does he/she drink/smoke too much?
- What is his/her financial track record?
- Has he/she been financially dependent on prior girlfriends/boyfriends?
- What do our recurring fights tend to be about? Do we believe that cohabitation will fix those issues?
- Could our routine spats get worse when we share such close quarters? How have we prepared for that?
- Am I hoping this will lead to getting engaged? If so, does he know that and share the goal of marriage?
- If we split up, how will we divide our assets?

Before Getting Engaged

- How much do I expect him/her to spend on a ring relative to his income? Does s/he know this?
- What is the first thing I’ll be excited about when they propose: the ring or spending our lives together?
- Does being with him/her make me truly happy - happier then I was before - or am I just relieved to have a fiance/fiancee?
- Am I doing this because it feels right or is it because I have an internal time lime?
- Do I feel pressured because my friends are engaged or my family is pushing me?
- Does he/she take responsibility and know how to say “I’m sorry” or does he/she stonewall me?
- What kind of friends and friendships does he/she have?
- Does he/she put their friends ahead of our relationship?
- Are we moving at the same pace or is one of us rushing the other to take this next step?
- When I have pangs for old flames, are they random and fleeting or do they leave me longing?
- Has he/she ever flirted or been touchy-feely with others while dating me? If so, am I convinced they now understand appropriate boundaries?
- Do we have the same ideas about where to live?
- What are his/her long term values and goals in terms of his/her career? Wealth? Relationships? Family? Health? Are those compatible with mine? Do I expect any of those to change - for either of us - down the line?
- Would I be prepared to move if they got a great job in another state?

Before Getting Married

- Can he/she put up with my relatives and can I put up with his/hers?
- Are either of us cut off or over-involved with our families?
- Have we discussed our family health histories?
- Have we discussed whether or not we want kids, how many, and how we want to raise them?
- Are we on the same page about our careers? Does one of us want to stay at home?
- Would he/she be cool with my desire to work - or not - after kids?
- Would I be okay with if if I were the breadwinner? Would he/she?
- Would he be okay with it if I keep my last name?
- Do I feel comfortable “marrying” into his social circle of friends?
- If one of his/her parents turned on me, would s/he stand up for me or would I have to fight for myself?
- What’s his/her idea of the right way to discipline children?
- What are our values (family, religion, politics) and do they mesh?
- Do we have similar definitions of what quality leisure time is and how our vacations should be spent?
- Will I be incurring any of his/her debts or will he/she be incurring any of mine?
- Do we plan on having separate bank accounts or creating one that we will both share?
- Is he/she open to going to therapy to work through problems if we need to one day? Am I?
- If he/she doesn’t change and what I’m getting now is exactly what s/he’s going to be and nothing better, will I still be content with he/she?


According to the Chinese Almanac, the year 2008 is a good year for marriages. Somehow the Chinese Almanac did not predict that by the time I am writing this post, the global economy is ailing and Singapore is now in a technical recession.

I don't mean this post to be dreary or a wet blanket on floating, fancy dreams of big, white weddings. As a very practical person, with a license for financial advisory and countless training hours of Economics and Investments, I am obliged to point out the financial pitfalls in doing up a wedding.

I have a couple client who got married during the last recession. They ended up heavily in debt. It did not help that during the trying times, guests were more stringent with red packets and gifts. They only recently recovered financially, had a child just born a month ago and now, the next recession is looming again.

How could they have avoided the financial strain? Most importantly, how can brides and grooms-to-be hold their dream wedding during this economic gloom, in the most possible wise manner?

1. State the Budget upfront

Use an excel spreadsheet, software or a notebook to help you follow your budget. Ilane and I have shared many tools in our earlier posts.

2.  Stick to the budget

Warning: Sticking to your budget can indeed be very challenging. Couple A visits a vendor and get charmed by the ideas that the promotion is ending, that it is more worth it if they include extras etc. Bad move! Promotion is all-year round. Now that business is bound to slow down, take advantage and push for more freebies or discounts. Consider properly if the extras are even essential. Take express highlights for example. Other than entertaining the guests, what other use does it have? If you can't think up of any, then consider entertainment alternatives that are cheaper or even free.

3. The wedding banquet is not a Business

We Chinese can be pretty incorrigible. We like to commercialize literally everything, including the wedding dinner. Never assume that you can get huge red packets to cover the cost of the wedding banquet. Act like you are not going to get a single cent out of it. Then ask yourself, how much do you need to cough out? If the wedding banquet costs 25k, then get ready 25k.

4. Trim the invitations

I feel very strongly for this. Having been to numerous weddings, I can only conclude that the number of invitations is not a gauge of popularity. It is a huge waste to prepare 50 tables with each table missing a couple of guests. What's more, some guests are those the bride and groom had not met for years. Always refer to item 3. The wedding banquet is not a business. We don't need browsing customers or high traffic. What we love is warmth, joy and best wishes from guests who make you feel thankful for what you are today, not fearful of what the profits or loss could be like. Control your parents if they are on the irrational rampage to invite as many people as possible.

5. Overfeed the guests

The Chinese is guilty of this. We like having 8,9 or 10-course dinners. Frankly, only the first few dishes get wiped out. By the time we reach the rice or noodle dish (the 6th or 7th dish), 50% and then slowly towards 80% of the dish remains untouched. Excessive alcohol is another problem. Unless you want your guests to leave in the drunkard state, trim down the bottles. If you don't believe me, visit the wedding forums and observe how many people are trying to sell off excess bottles of wines after their wedding banquet.

6. Flesh out Creativity

Nothing beats Do-It-Yourself. See, if you trim down the number of invitations, you can even make wedding favors personally. If that can be done, you could have more room for negotiation with the hotel to give some extra freebies, if you do have a hotel package. Do up the venue with the help of friends and relatives. Visit IKEA, Daiso, Spotlight etc for ideas. Browse through wedding and photography sites and forums for examples. If you can't spare the time, browse through our site to get it all.

7. Give and Take

You are not a budget bride and groom. Repeat that to yourself. You are only being money smart and conscious, a quality that somehow dims often when people get married. Decide what are the things you just cannot bear to cut down. It could be gowns, the decorations, the invitations for that matter. Having decided on what that could be, work around alternatives or push for better deals. If you must invite 300 guests, holding the banquet in a restaurant could be more economical than having it in a hotel. 

8. Glam it up

Less money does not mean poorer quality. That's a myth, thanks to malfunctioning market competition. If you must have a gown that spells grandeur, be realistic to know that to have one custom-made would cost a bomb. Seek high and low for a good piece to rent. Some gown designers offer rental of custom-made gowns.

How are you feeling now? More inspired, I hope.

Cheers! 10/08/2008

If you are thinking of getting extra bubbly/alcohol for the wedding dinner, here's a great way to gauge how much to buy.  ~Ilane


It can get overwhelming to meet so many wedding vendors. What questions to ask? Am I getting the most out of their packages? That was how I felt.

First rule of thumb, for each service you require, always source for at least 3 vendors and 1 of them should have a higher end package. That way you know what you are missing out. And if you decide to go with the more affordable vendor, try asking if they can throw in some freebies or extra stuff at a discount.

Secondly, besides mentally ticking off a checklist, spend some time getting to know your vendors. Particularly their style of working, their personality and the results. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask for their references. Sometimes the best package might not come with the ideal person or results. You definitely don't want an overbearing photographer on your wedding day ordering your family and friends around. Or the cheapest flowers but really awful arrangements.

Lastly, here are the checklists I used to assess my vendors. They help a lot!
What to ask your venue?
What to ask your caterer?
What to ask your baker?
What to ask your bridal salon?
What to ask your photographer?
What to ask your videographer?
What to ask your florist?
What to ask your planner?
What to ask your officiant?
What to ask your musician/deejay?

All the best! Ilane

Easy Planning 10/08/2008

I saw Clarie's post on wedding planning and I had to share the 16month planning checklist I'm using with all of you. :) I don't have 16months to plan my wedding so at a glance I immediately knew which tasks I have to catch up on till the actual month I started planning my wedding. The list has served me very well so far! Any delays is entirely due to my catching up on Sex and The City and Heroes and reality Tv. ;)

~ Ilane


For obvious economic reasons, you decide to skip hiring the wedding planner. Faced with a enormous pile of tasks to do, either you pare it down to short and simple, or you get organized. Since this is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime event, the reluctance to make it too simple will mean you better get proper organization.

Fret not. There are resources out there to help you get focused and systematic. You have your pick of pen and paper, software programme or good old simple Excel spreadsheet.

I first found this book in Wood Would at The Cathay. What I like about this book is the concept of togetherness, that a wedding is organized not by one but by two people. Both partners' opinions are to be written down in the book. Then, the book help the users to organize their thoughts through categories of budgets, guests lists, decorations, rings, timeline etc. A list of priorities is being built up via this method. No more haphazard mad rush, no more wastage of resources, no more post-buyer syndrome.

For the computer savvy people who have forgotten how to use pen and paper. iDO wedding by Elm Software.

ExtraOrdinary Weddings have created an Excel spreadsheet for budgeting. It's very simple to use and cater for almost all races and religions.


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