YOUR wedding day is meant to be the day of your dreams. The reality of it all, however, is that it's probably going to be the most expensive day of your life as well!
The cost of a typical Malaysian wedding could range anywhere from RM10,000 to RM500,000, although some can even creep into the millions.
While most people tend to go all-out when it comes to their wedding costs, that doesn't mean one can't practise some frugal spending habits.
Here are some pointers to help you avoid triggering alarm bells - when you're expecting wedding ones.
Avoid auspicious dates
It's quite common for certain cultures, such as the Indian and Chinese cultures, to select auspicious dates for weddings. Places where wedding receptions are commonly held, such as hotels and restaurants, tend to jack-up prices during these times to maximise profits.
“Over the past decade, it's become a popular trend to marry on dates when the digits of the day, month and year of the calendar tally,” says Gregory Lam, a Kuala Lumpur-based wedding planner.
“Dates such as July 7, 2007 (7-7-07) or Aug 8, 2008 (8-8-08) became auspicious days for mass weddings. Each year, this trend is growing, and so are the hotel and restaurant bills,” he quips.
Melissa Ram, who's been married for over three years, says her husband and her chose a date that was “outside the peak period.”
“We avoided the peak season for weddings which usually takes place towards the last two months of the year or on special auspicious dates. Instead, we chose a date somewhere in the middle of the year,” she says.
Akashdeep Singh, who was married in 2010, chose to have his wedding at a community hall.
“We chose a location that was not only cheap, but it was also simple and easy to get to,” he says.
Lam, meanwhile, advises would-be couples to explore their options and compare rates if they want to have their wedding reception at a hotel.
“Sometimes, the not-so-popular hotels can still be posh and look grand but at the same time, offer good rates. You just need to do your research.”
Melissa says having your wedding beyond the city centre can be a cheaper option.
“The hotel we chose was in the outskirts of the city as opposed to having it in the city centre.”
Limit the wedding list
Cutting down the number of people at your wedding is easily one of the best ways to cut down cost, says Gowri Arumainathan, who was married in 2009.
“It's definitely a cost effective way to just keep your wedding small and sweet,” she says.
Melissa, however, believes that “trimming the invitation list” is a task that's easier said than done.
“Limiting the number of guest is one of the toughest tasks of anyone's wedding. You would have to allocate invites to both sides of the family, extended family members and sometimes, their extended families!”
Melissa says her husband and she prepared their guest invitation list some six to nine months ahead of their wedding in an effort to “keep things within their budget.”
“Once you have the final figures, only then can you decide on the venue and whether it can accommodate your guests. It is not an easy task as in our Asian culture, you may offend some individuals if you don't invite.”
In an effort to cut cost, it's not surprising to find many couples doing most of the preparations themselves rather then to outsource it to an expert, like a wedding planner.
“We came up with the concept and design of the wedding card and that helped to cut cost,” says Gowri.
“We researched a lot on the Internet and came up with a design that suit our wedding-colour theme. Many visits to the printers made sure that he got things just right. We didn't use a wedding planner at all,” she adds.
Melissa also says that she did not seek help from a wedding planner.
“We reused a lot of items from the wedding for the reception as well, like the projector for our slide show, which was provided complimentary by the temple management,” she says, adding that having friends that can help out was a bonus.
Akashdeep says he had two “videographer friends” to help out at his wedding.
“They were attending our wedding anyway so it was only natural to ask them to do the video.”
For her wedding, Melissa says the decorations were “kept to a minimum.”
“We kept it to a minimum as flowers do cost a lot. For the ceremonial event, we got our traditional garlands and corsages directly from the wholesaler. For table decorations at the hotel, we just took the standard decor (that the hotel) provided instead of having anything specially made.
“In terms of photography we took a package which had the pre-wedding photos, wedding day photos and videography, which works out to be cheaper.”
Borrow or rent
It's cheaper to rent or borrow an item if you're only going to use it once.
“Of course, to cut cost further, you can also elect to use any of the gowns provided by the photo studio which does your bridal photography, which is offered to you at no cost at all,” says Melissa.
Akashdeep says that for his wedding, he borrowed his brother's traditional shoes while his wife rented jewellery.
“There's a business of renting out these kind of things and it's a cheaper alternative,” he says.
Limit the alcohol (not for Muslims)
In non-Muslim cultures especially, a wedding is often an occasion to get together, drink, rejoice and have more drinks!
Cutting down on the alcohol might tone down the mood a bit, but it would help to reduce cost.
“Bring your own drinks! Buying your own alcohol helped in cutting the cost,” says Gowri.
“We just had to haggle with the hotel sales representative to subsidise the corkage for the alcohol. However, this will only make a difference if your reception included alcohol,” she adds.
Melissa, meanwhile, says that for her wedding reception, it was decided that only wine and beer was provided.
“We did not provide hard liquor as a means to cut cost,” she says.