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.



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