Weddings in Singapore can be a costly affair, easily costing anywhere between S$14,000 to S$54,000, if not more.
Not only that, wedding banquet prices alone have already increased by more than 50% between the years 2011 and 2017. (See also: WHY ARE WEDDINGS IN SINGAPORE GETTING MORE EXPENSIVE?)
If you are planning to exchange wedding vows soon, how long should you have to save in order to afford the banquet you’ve always wanted?
How Long Couples Have to Save for Their Wedding
According to our calculation, an average couple in Singapore could expect to save for about 1 to 3 years for their wedding if they were to fully pay for it on their own.
For example, an average Singaporean earns S$3,500 per month after from CPF contribution. To save the S$14,000 to S$53,000 required for the wedding, then the couple would have to save 20% of their income for about 1 to 2 years.
Given this, it seems rather difficult for couples in Singapore to be able to afford a lavish wedding without outside help from their parents or personal loans from banks).
Of course, people with different income level should have different expectations around how long they need to save for their wedding.
For example, certain industries pay higher wages, with the median wage in financial services being around S$5,500 per month (after CPF contributions).
A couple making this level of income could save for a wedding in half a year to two years. For those in less lucrative industries, it could take them 1.5 to 5.5 years.
Can You Prepare for Weddings More Quickly?
As our above analysis shows, financial planning for a wedding has to be done well in advance.
When setting your budget for the wedding, it is prudent to consider different factors such as your and your partner’s income, financial liabilities and ability to raise funds.
Still, there are few ways for you to be able to shorten the time you need to afford your wedding.
Reduce Your Wedding Budget
The fastest way to afford your wedding more quickly is to reduce the amount of money you need for it.
For example, you can decide to do the hair and makeup yourself since bridal packages cost a lot. You could also either rent a wedding dress for the day or buy one using a credit card and sell it off at a discount immediately after.
You might also consider bringing your own alcohol if the banquet venue permits it, as most banquet halls charge much higher for alcohol than their marked prices.
For the wedding banquet itself, there has been a growing trend of choosing weekday dinners or weekend lunches that tend to be much cheaper than Saturday dinners.
You might also want to consider a venue that does not insist on an unreasonable minimum number of table bookings and has more economical choices on the menu.
Another area to save on is the honeymoon package.
For instance, buying a pre-built package at a travel fair could be an excellent way of reducing your cost compared to making your flight, hotel and travel insurance books a la carte.
Not only that, you could actually save a substantial amount by using credit cards to pay for your wedding’s various expenses. Wedding expenses are large and thus are excellent opportunities to rack up airline miles, which you can in turn use to book your hotels or flights for free.
Some miles credit cards in Singapore even provide special perks like automatic hotel gold status, free room nights and complimentary airport lounge access.
Consider Other Sources of Funding
Last but not least, couples with less patience could consider other sources of funding when preparing for their weddings. Many couples’ families, their parents in particular, often pitch in some financial help to help their loved ones celebrate their union.
Also, various forms of gifts from the wedding guests could come in handy: in some cases, ang baos and red packets could come in as high as 60% of a banquet’s cost.
Also, there has been a growing trend of using registries to help couples finance their honeymoon by asking guests to purchase various tourist packages of their trips like scuba diving.
Finally, personal loans, while somewhat expensive, are still the cheapest source of debt if a couple decides they are willing to borrow to get married. If used prudently, they can be a decent way to stretch your budget temporarily to celebrate one of the most important moments of one’s life.
Duckju is the Senior Vice President of ValuePenguin Singapore. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting, and investing. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital.
This article was first published in Value Penguin.