It's undeniable that Singaporean weddings have become increasingly expensive. However, the costs of attending are also quite high–perhaps higher than most guests realise.
The average cost of weddings in Singapore has been rising for years – even faster than inflation. Weddings aren't just expensive for the bride and groom, but can be quite expensive for guests as well, with all things considered.
Here are some common expenses guests incur – perhaps without even realising it.
Taking Time Off for a Weekday Luncheon?
Est. Cost: S$277
Local wedding luncheons are less expensive for the bride and groom, but they can certainly be a hassle for guests. For those who are full-time employees, a weekday wedding may very well mean giving up a vacation day.
Given that the average Singaporean now earns a net salary of S$72,351/year, with 261 work days in 2019, 1 vacation day is essentially worth S$277. While the wedding itself may be enjoyable, it's certainly an expensive "donation" of time.
There's also the idea of opportunity cost, which considers the valuation of other ways such time could've been spent, if not at the wedding. If the personal happiness gained by spending a day at the spa (for example) is more rewarding than attending the ceremony, a guest is sacrificing greater potential satisfaction, in a way.
Still, individuals close to the bride and groom or their family – or who simply enjoy the festivities–may place high value on the event, and therefore gain from attending.
Heading Overseas for a Destination Wedding?
Est. Cost: S$160–S$2k+
There's no denying that destination weddings can be financially challenging for guests. Regardless of location, several costs are almost always incurred: flight, lodging, food and local transport. While there are many ways to save – like booking your flight early or checking your miles credit card for promotions–travel still inevitably involves payout.
Even if a roundtrip flight to Kuala Lumpur costs a rather affordable S$95 on average, many destination weddings take place further away, with ticket costs rising to S$300–S$1,300+.
Hotels and any meals outside of the wedding also add expense. However, this spending isn't necessarily "lost." Consolidating travel expenses and vacation days into an extended getaway, wherein the wedding is just one part, can cut down on overall costs.
Kids, Dresses & All the Extras?
Est. Cost: S$50–S$450+
Attending a wedding can also come with a variety of ancillary expenses. Couples with kids may need to pay for childcare or babysitting, especially if most of their family will be attending the wedding as well.
On average, the hourly rate for a babysitter in Singapore is S$22–so even a short, 3 hour reception with 1 hour roundtrip commute can add up to S$88+. Guests with pets may also need to pay more, especially if they're attending a destination wedding; boarding rates in Singapore range from S$30–S$60+/night.
Finally, there's always the question of what to wear. While some may have outfits set aside for such occasions, young adults who may be attending several weddings per year might not want to be seen wearing the same thing, again and again. Purchasing a new evening dress costs between S$50–S$200+ in Singapore, depending on brand and degree of formality.
While there are many "rent-a-dress" companies, pricing is roughly in the same range (though there's a greater selection of luxury brands). While shopping comes with perks–ranging from boosted health to simply earning cashback on purchases–spending can just add up so, so quickly.
Conclusion: Make the Most of Your Spend
Fortunately, spending doesn't necessarily translate to loss. The value of what's purchased can more than make up for the list price. Whether it's the joy of seeing a loved one fulfilling a dream, or welcoming a new member into your family, the experience of attending a wedding can ultimately be very valuable.
In addition, there are ways to save along the way–planning ahead to coordinate and reduce travel costs, leveraging credit card promotions for retail discounts, or even taking out a personal loan to ease the stress. When thoughtfully managed, it's possible to work through expensive challenges in a manageable way–while also enjoying a night full of celebration.
This article was first published in ValueChampion Singapore.