Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

August 2011

Dealing With Wedding Budget Woes

Congratulations! He’s popped the happy question and you’ve given the happy answer, and now you’re on your way to planning your happy occasion. Only you’ve discovered the only one not too happy about all this is your bank account.

We unfortunately no longer live in a time and age where parents of the happy couple happily foot the wedding bill. But don’t worry, your perfect wedding can still become a reality with proper budgeting and planning. Here are some commonly asked questions about budgeting; we hope they will help you achieve the wedding of your dreams.

1. My parents and future in-laws will be contributing to the wedding. Do they get a say in how I spend it?

Incoming finances? Lucky you! Technically, if anyone gives you money as a gift, it’s yours and they shouldn’t be able to dictate where and how that gift is spent. Be gracious and thank them (profusely) for it, and ask if there’s something in particular they’d like to see the money be spent, and quickly follow up with some suggestions: Wedding photography? Honeymoon? Dinner venue?

If they insist on certain things, like everything having to be in gaudy red, quickly pick your jaw from the floor and invite them to be part of the decision-making process. Hopefully when they meet with your wedding planner, she will be able to convince them to compromise, with you still looking like the good guy. Remember to prompt your wedding planner beforehand!

On some occasions, the Chinese bride’s parents will request for a number of “tables” from the groom’s family for the wedding banquet as part of the bride’s dowry. Together with the red packet the bride will receive in her dowry, this may ease up some of the cost from the dinner banquet as well.

2. What if my family doesn’t come through with the money they promised?

This is a tricky and sensitive situation as it would greatly affect your planning and relationships. Finger-pointing and pondering over ‘what-if’s won’t help the situation so don’t dwell over it – make the necessary alterations in your plans and move on. If your family is genuinely apologetic, you might want to get them involved; they might appreciate the opportunity to ‘redeem’ themselves and do an excellent job.

Freelance designer Stephanie Pang, 29, recalls, “My in-laws were supposed to contribute some money but something urgent cropped up so they regretfully withdrew their offer. Thankfully we managed, and through that, realised that money isn’t everything – my then 14 year-old brother-in-law played the piano beautifully for my march-in as his wedding present to us because he ‘couldn’t afford to buy us anything’. But that was the best gift ever.”

3. One side of the family can’t afford to contribute as much as the other. How do I handle the situation?

Remember that it’s the thought that counts and not everyone has the same financial means. To avoid a situation where one family dominates the decision-making due to a higher financial contribution, try to split the financial responsibilities.

Germaine Tan, 36, a Research Fellow, shares her experience. “My parents were slightly more well-to-do, whereas my in-laws were on a tighter budget. So we asked if my parents could contribute toward the wedding banquet dinner, while my in-laws volunteered to pay for the church reception and choir. My in-laws are also incredibly creative so they took charge of the church decorations and we ended up having the most beautiful floral arrangements. We’re ever so grateful for their assistance, and both sets of parents were pleased to have helped in our special day.”

Dealing With Wedding Budget Woes

4. Are there any hidden expenses, such as GST and non-refundable deposits that I should be aware of?

Take note that most hotels’ per table prices are on a ++ basis so be sure to factor that into your budget. Most venues ask for a refundable deposit, which they are happy to return to you upon the end of your event, if everything is in order (i.e. no broken tables or burnt table cloths). Be sure to check with your planners as venue regulations vary.

Smaller establishments may not charge GST, but don’t assume – ask beforehand so you won’t get a surprise when you receive the bill.

5. How can I avoid going over the budget?

Discuss with your partner on a comfortable budget beforehand, or things can quickly get out of hand. A wedding budget is a good idea, and there are many examples available on the internet. Decide what matters most, and what is a nice-to-have, if you could spare some extra cash. Do update your spreadsheet with every purchase so you are consistently aware of the amount you’re able to work with.

6. Is there a most expensive time of the year to get married?

Generally hotels charge more for bookings on weekends as compared to weekdays. While prices are not known to fluctuate toward the end of the year (traditionally, the most popular time for weddings), your challenge then would be having to jostle for your preferred date before it gets snapped up.

7. Is it okay to negotiate prices, or ask vendors for discounts?

Of course! Every little bit counts (imagine this: if you get a $100 discount from the printer, your guests will be able to enjoy 2 more bottles of good wine) so put aside your pride and just ask. Sometimes vendors aren’t able to give you an outright discount, but can give you more than you ask for instead (your florist can throw in extra petals for your flowergirls to scatter for instance). You increase your chances of getting a better deal if your order is bigger, or if you’re planning a wedding that isn’t in peak season.

Pet Store Owner Tina Song, 35, shares an unusual tip. “We were young and broke, and did away with many things, but I did insist to have a floral bouquet. I saw and loved a particular arrangement but was disappointed at the price. My then fiancé went back to the same florist and asked for that same arrangement, carefully emitting the word “wedding”, and was quoted a price $50 less than I was! I ended up with my dream bouquet without that nightmarish price.”

8. If a vendor delivers a product or service that is not what was agreed on, will I be able to get my money back?

In most cases, vendors are not willing to give a full refund, unless it is stated in your contract. You can, however, ask for a portion of the price to be knocked off since you did not get what you agreed upon.

Marketing Manager Grace Chung, 31, came to an agreeable compromise with her hotel when they misplaced the wine that was delivered to the hotel. “We had to make do with the house wine, which was OK but not exceptional. We understand that things go wrong but our Wedding Co-ordinator was very apologetic and gave us a complementary two-nights’ stay at the hotel. We used that as a gift for our ‘sisters’ and they really enjoyed their weekend staycation!”

Dealing With Wedding Budget Woes

Remember in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”, where the famous quote “Once you figure out who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible!” was mouthed? With proper planning, budgeting, and a little creativity, that dream need not be an unrealistic one. Just remember to take the time to enjoy your planning. It’s very easy to turn into the Bridezilla you swore you would never be, but with good help and a couple of deep breaths, it is possible to enjoy the planning process and the wedding day. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?