Finding a wedding venue sucks. With few exceptions, they are all insanely expensive. Their prices have numbers you’d expect to see somewhere else entirely, like on a population census of mainland China. Although a wedding is basically a dinner function with more froo-froo, it justifies selling dishes of peanuts or whatever at $3.50 a pop. And also, the hotel will be charging your children’s inheritance, just so your guests can sit around and chat.
Because MoneySmart loves you in a platonic and not-inappropriate manner, we investigated the alternatives. We climbed mountains, crossed oceans, and had fierce arguments. After that, we did some actual work. So here’s a list of seven less painful wedding venues:
1. Two or Three-Star Hotels
The hotel rating is usually accurate, but bear in mind: it’s not like you’re staying there for a week. This is ONE dinner, and that’s it. Fewer stars might reflect differences in rooms and facilities, but food quality alone may well match a five star hotel.
These hotels shave your dinner cost by half (about $1000 per table). Amara Hotel and River View Hotel are good choices, with packages that start at $718 per table. Changi Village Hotel can reach as low as $598 per table, depending on your custom eight course menu.
2. Banquet Halls
Due to a traumatizing event involving two bridesmaids, a reel of dental floss and a poorly timed joke, I now avoid ballrooms. I much prefer banquet halls, and you might too. Banquet halls are cheaper, and they’re designed to host weddings. Your guests can get as loud and rambunctious as they want; it’s expected.
Ah Yat Abalone Banquet Hall (no points for guessing what they specialize in) ranges from $468 to $888 (auspicious!) per table. They’re also generous, and make a habit of giving free tables when they can. Minimum booking is just 11 to 20 tables, which is a low figure. You can also try Grand Banquet, which has packages from $498 per table.
Over the past five years, restaurants have become increasingly popular choices. It just makes sense: guests are going for a meal and a chat. That’s precisely what restaurants are for, and their prices are a lot lower. Most restaurants are just as capable with decorations as hotel ballrooms.
Tung Lok Seafood is an old favourite for weddings, at $408 to $628 per table. Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant has a special “All In” wedding package, starting from$498. These include gifts, use of VIP rooms, free flow of alcohol, and several months worth of embarrassing Facebook pics.
4. Country Clubs
Once the province of men in tweed suits and funny shaped pipes, many country clubs are now open to the public.
Orchid Country Club has packages from $568 to $738, with a minimum booking of 10 tables. Serangoon Country Club has comparable rates, and offers added perks like free flow of alcohol, full day limousine use and a complimentary one month membership. An incidental advantage to country clubs is the ample parking space, and possible use of club facilities.
5. Gardens and Parks
This is one of the cheapest options you can find. If your guests are into nature and scenery, there are places like the Botanical Gardens. Apart from nature’s glory, there are also packages that send caterers there. The biggest upside to all this, besides the cost, is that the wedding photos turn out better. It’s outdoors and there’s a range of backdrops, so your photographer will have an easier time.
Just watch the weather: rain is not an issue, thanks to the shelters, but heat is. Your guests might be eating their curry in the sweat of their own faces.
Villa Halia in the Botanic Gardens has packages that start from $88 per head. This includes champagne, a placecard, more champagne, an invitation, and a champagne tower. Also details like wedding solemnization, but did I mention champagne? GardenAsia has a comparable deal, which includes an in-house florist and a 44 seater bus.
You can also try Seb’s Bistro at Rochester House, which ranges from $60 per head. Package includes decor, flowers, and invitations as well.
This is pretty much the cheapest option. East Coast Beach is romantic, spacious, and almost free. Beach weddings also have an informal feel, which you may be more comfortable with. In most cases, they result in a higher guest turnout. People can drop in “just for a while”, and won’t have to spend two hours getting their hair done first.
Just be sure to avoid Fridays and Saturdays…it gets crowded, and there’s a chance that someone will be playing a Fifty Cent song too loud (i.e. any volume at which it can actually be heard). You’ll also want to have a contingency plan if you run out of food. Even if you have a caterer, remember that there’s no kitchen nearby; they won’t be able to just crank out more dishes. The weather is, of course, the biggest concern.
7. Community Clubs
This is less romantic than the beach, but the cost is just as low, and it’s more practical. Combine the comfort of the indoors with a very decent price, and you have the community club. Caterers and florists are up to you, and the space is yours to do with as you like.
Within reason, which are the words they added when they realized it was me on the line. But seriously, check with the club authorities if you plan anything loud. Getting a slot here can also be tough, because of the number of activities they host. Make sure you book long in advance.
So there you have it, seven cost effective wedding venues. If your big day is coming up, tell us if you’re considering any of these! Or share other venue ideas with us!