Finding your one true love may be priceless but walking down the aisle will cost you. If you’re preparing to get married or are even just considering tying the knot, this one’s for the both of you. Yes, men, too. The costs around wedding engagements involve tons of things that blindside most couples – from wedding dresses to venues, photography to wedding invites and the nitty-gritties in between.
We will be distilling all the wedding intricacies and putting a price tag to the items to help you make smart money choices. Yes, counting the cost isn’t romantic. But it’ll save you lots of headaches and heartaches, and make your journey to wedded bliss that much more smooth. So, buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.
- Wedding Engagement and Proposal – Engagement Rings
- Wedding Ring
- Wedding gowns, suits and photography/videography
- Bachelor parties and hen nights
- Wedding day
- The Honeymoon
Wedding Engagement and Proposal – Engagement Rings and The Actual Deed
Men, never assume that just because you’ve been exclusively dating for years that she’s going to marry you without you asking. Ladies, take it from Queen Bey – if he likes it he should put a ring on it.
The proposal can be as extravagant as your imagination can dream up or as modest as your pocket will allow. Whatever the budget or style, the engagement ring is the most important and most expensive part of the proposal.
There’s an age-old rule that says that the ring should be three times your monthly salary. But that, as we said, is an old rule. Today, you can get diamond engagement rings for $169 to $1,000. One way to have your diamond without busting your budget is to go for pave diamonds (tiny diamonds set close together) instead of the diamond solitaire.
For $2,000, you can secure a decent 0.3 carat diamond. This is the smallest one certified by GIA (Gemological Institute of American). The traditional one-carat ring will cost upward of $6,000, with the priciest ringing up (note the pun?) a tab of almost $40,000 depending on the three other Cs – colour, clarity and cut.
Cost: $169 – $40,000
Some options for diamond rings: Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Harry Winston, Chaumet Jewellery, JannPaul, The Canary Diamond Co, Larry Jewelry, LES Precieux, Michael Trio Jewellery Showroom, ORRO, Meyson Jewellery, Lee Hwa Jewellery, Soo Kee Jewellery, SK Jewellery, Poh Heng Jewellery, Vivo Diamonds, Citigems, Fonder Diamond
Beyond diamonds – precious and semi-precious stones
Of course, you needn’t stick with tradition. Coloured gems work, too, and they are particularly popular with millennials because they come in myriad hues and because they, well, aren’t traditional.
Once you go beyond diamonds, your options are plenty. Emerald, chrysoberyl, topaz, tourmaline, spinel, ruby, sapphire, garnet, amethyst and pearl are always popular. You can even have a jade engagement ring!
Admittedly, coloured gems may cost less, but that isn’t always the case. Prince William gave Kate Middleton a sapphire engagement ring that cost a whopping over $650,000. For commoners like us, the starting price for such rings would be about $120, with some setting you back by over $20,000.
Cost: $120 – over $20,000
Some options for rings with precious and semi-precious stones: More Than Diamonds, Carrie K. Atelier, Madly Gems, GIOIA Fine Jewellery, Choo Yilin, Joanne L.
Since your love is unique, why not your ring? There are several places you can turn to for bespoke engagement rings. At Love & Co, you can even have your signature, fingerprint, photograph or personal love notes inscribed on the ring.
Some options for customising rings: Love & Co, Fairy’s Inc, Kristine Wong Fine Jewels, JannPaul
As with most things, you can get your engagement ring online as well. This option is favoured by those who have quirkier requirements. For example, if you want an eco engagement ring, you can shop at online store, Etsy, which specialises in vintage items. Or if you want to get your hands on loose diamonds for your jeweller to set, you can turn to Blue Nile or James Allen. This is an increasingly favoured option because it’s cheaper and it allows you to customise your ring. A win all around.
Cost: from $27 (for eco rings) to $260 (for a 0.3 carat loose diamond)
Where to shop: Etsy, Blue Nile, James Allen
Once you’ve gotten the ring, you have to pop the question. There are so many ways and so many places this can happen. One local celebrity got her proposal on a rickshaw ride through the Arashiyama bamboo grove of Kyoto, Japan while being serenaded by a string quartet brought in from Osaka. Lesser mortals usually do it over a fancy dinner.
Of course, the most memorable proposals can cost next to nothing except for some creativity, and maybe help from family and friends.
Cost: from $100 per person (for a fancy dinner)
Wedding Rings – Same Same But Different From Engagement Rings
After the drama of the engagement ring, it’s easy to forget there’s another set of rings you need to get. This time, you have to spring for not one but two rings.
It’s always a good idea to go back to the jeweller from whom you bought the engagement ring. This is because the blushing bride will wear both the engagement and the wedding rings, and would appreciate it if they match.
The wedding ring could be the same metal as the engagement ring. If the engagement ring features a unique pattern, the wedding ring can echo the curves. Or if the engagement ring boasts a coloured gem, the wedding ring can feature the same gem. You get the idea.
Cost: $500 – $10,000 (per pair)
Wedding Gowns, Groom’s Suits & photography / videography
The next big-ticket item is the wedding outfits, and photography or videography for the event. There are two ways to do this: a) you can purchase a wedding package with a bridal studio b) you can go to individual vendors for each item. Which you pick really depends on how much convenience you want versus how much customisation you crave.
This is for the couple who wants a one-stop place for all their wedding needs. Bridal studios island-wide offer such packages. What you need to know when you shop for a package is that there are not one but two packages to consider (oh, the choices!):
This package is primarily for posed photographs before the big day because on the big day you won’t have time to snap stylised shots of yourselves or take pictures in places that have particular sentimental value to you.
Some couples have been known to go overseas for the shoot either for a better backdrop or because the location beyond our shores hold some meaning for them.
Generally, the package would include:
- photo shoot (both indoor and outdoor, and, in some cases, also overseas)
Ask for the portfolio of the photographer. Some bridal studios have more than one photographer. Make sure they commit in writing to the one you pick.
- several changes of outfits for the bride and groom (along with props, we kid you not)
Make sure to check if that wedding gown you want for the actual day will be available for the photo shoot. Don’t assume. Some studios won’t let you take your actual day gown out for your outdoor shoot. Check.
- bridal shoes
- bridal bouquet
- album with 24 to 26 photographs
If you think you might need more, negotiate for freebies. To buy more as an afterthought would cost anything between $70 and $150 per photograph. Gasp!
- soft copies of photographs
- portrait for table top
- portrait for hanging
- hair and make-up for the bride for the photo shoot
Like the photographer, ask to look at the portfolio of your make-up artist and stylist and get the bridal studio to promise in writing you’ll get the one you want. This is to avoid being a victim of bait-and-switch tactics.
- wedding planner
This package is for the wedding day itself and it would usually include:
- wedding gown
This is where the hidden costs can be. Some studios have gowns of different “tiers”. Make sure your package covers gowns of all tiers because the last thing you want is to find that perfect gown only to be told you have to “upgrade” to a more expensive package to get it.
- traditional outfit
- evening gown
- groom’s suit
As with the wedding gown, make sure you don’t get persuaded to take a more expensive package just for a better suit.
- bridal bouquet
- hair and make-up for wedding day and evening
- decorations for the wedding car
- photography and videography
You can pick either packages or both. Picking both would usually cost you less than the price of the two packages combined. It’s their way of retaining customers.
Depending on how flexible your bridal studio is and how skilled you are at bargaining, you can sometimes swop out certain items in the package that you don’t need to have more of what you actually do need. For example, you may not want a bridal bouquet because your best friend is a florist. You can try to get something else you do want – another evening gown, perhaps – in exchange.
Before you heave a sigh of relief, there’s more. The outfits and shoes for both packages are usually rentals. However, you have the option (yes, more choices) of
- off-the-shelf wedding gowns, meaning you pick something off their racks;
- made-to-measure, meaning they make a brand new gown just for you to rent.
The made-to-measure option allows you to design your own gown, which is always a bonus but it comes at a price.
|Pre-wedding package||from $2,000|
|Wedding day package||from $1,988|
|Full package||$3,288 – $6,000|
|Extra photos||$70 – $150 a piece|
|Made-to-measure wedding gown||from $100 more added to the package price|
Some options for wedding packages: My Dream Wedding, Kelly’s Bridals, Digio Bridal, La Belle Couture, The Louvre Bridal, The Gown Warehouse
While packages are convenient, quality for all the services may not be even. It’s also hard to keep to a certain style or colour theme because the bridal studios tend to have only a few selections for the details like bridal bouquet and decorations for the car.
While it can be a hassle managing so many different people, there are two main reasons you would go with individual vendors. Firstly, if you want to control the quality. Secondly, if you want to control the cost. Going à la carte may save you a little, especially if you have multi-talented friends and family who can chip in.
|Wedding gown||Rent: $380 – $1,280
Buy: $500 – over $18,000 (for a Vera Wang)
Of course, you can get a $50 wedding dress online as well.
Bespoke (this means it’s custom-made for you to buy): $400 – $5,000
|Suits||Rent: from $89
Buy: from $250
Bespoke: from $700
Some options for customised suites: Raffles Tailor, Kevin Seah, The Prestigious, Aston Blake, Mr Bulli & Sons, Victor York, Q Menswear, CYC The Custom Shop, Vanda Fine Clothes, Kingsmen Shop, The Bespoke Club, Dylon & Son
|Photography||Pre-wedding: from $800
Wedding day: from $1,000
Videography: from $1,200
|Make-up & hair||Pre-wedding: from $180
Wedding Day: from $250 (half day) and from $450 (full day)
|Bridal bouquet & corsages||from $10 (if you buy online)|
|Car decorations||from $50 (DIY)|
Bachelor Parties, Hen Nights And Other Festivities Before The Big Day
There are three (or four, if you can afford it) parties you might want to throw before the most important party of them all. They are optional but since you only get married once (fingers crossed), you might want to go the whole hog.
This can be a simple dinner for family and close friends or a sophisticated soirée, depending on your inclination and finances. It’s basically to gather the people who matter in your lives to tell them that the deal’s been sealed. Hoorah!
Cost: from $300 (for a home-cooked, intimate affair), or from $100 per person (at a fancy restaurant)
This was a common practice in many cultures in the past. It’s less a party and more an asking-for-the-hand-in-marriage ceremony. The groom-to-be or his family usually visits the bride-to-be’s family bearing gifts to formally get the family’s permission for the wedding.
Amongst the Chinese dialect groups, this is also a time the families come together to pick an auspicious date for the wedding. In the case of the Teochews, on top of an extensive list of gifts (mostly food and an angbao), the groom’s family has to present the prospective bride with four pieces of gold jewellery. Some families still observe this minus the picking of the date which is mostly left to the couple now.
Cost: from $1,000 (for the four pieces of gold jewellery), from $88 (for the angbao), and from $300 (for the gifts)
Get your maid of honour or best friend to throw this one for you. It’s a Western tradition local brides have only been too happy to adopt. This is typically a girls-only party during which friends and relatives of the bride shower her with gifts. Forget the household appliances and the practical stuff (unless the bride specifically asks for them). The gifts are usually the sort to aid action in the boudoir. What’s not to love about it?
Cost to you: free (unless you want to pay for the snacks and decorations, in which case, from $150)
Bachelor party, hen night
Another Western tradition, this one is a final fling for both the bride and the groom to enjoy a night out (or in!) with your respective social cliques. It’s usually the best man’s and maid of honour’s job to organise the party for the groom and bride respectively. You just sit back and enjoy or endure.
Cost to you: free (usually)
Wedding day – Costs Involved For The Actual Day
Are you exhausted yet? Hang in there. There’re still a couple more things to consider for the big day.
If you’re holding your wedding reception at a hotel, they will usually throw in complimentary wedding invitations for you to give out. This will save you some money. But, if you have a theme in mind or want a kooky invite, then you may have to spend a little (time or money).
Cost: free (if you make e-invites), from $1.50 a piece (cards), from $10 (for 100 sheets of paper, if you’re making your own invitations), from $4,39 (for 50 envelopes), from $100 (for professional printing)
Ang baos or gifts
This one will set you back a bit. It’s a predominantly Chinese tradition though other East Asian cultures practise this as well.
Here’s a list of people you need to give an ang bao to and a very general guide to how much you should fill their red packets (usually in numbers that end with 8).
|Parents (his and hers)||This one is up to you because no ang bao can ever repay your parents for decades of love and support. Some couples choose to give gifts.|
|Groomsmen||$48 – $88|
|Bridesmaids||$48 – $88|
|Maid of Honour||$68 – $108|
|Best Man||$68 – $108|
|Flower girl||$28 – $48|
|Ring-bearer||$28 – $48|
This is for very traditional weddings where a relative is tasked to open the door of the wedding car when the bride is brought to her new family’s home.
|Kid that rolls on your wedding bed
This is a, again, a Chinese custom. A young boy, usually a relative, is asked to roll on your wedding bed so that you will have sons.
|anyone who has volunteered his services for the wedding (free labour isn’t all that free)||Musicians (if it’s a church wedding and friends are performing out of love for you or you want live entertainment for your wedding reception): $48 (per person)
Chauffeur (of the wedding car): $48 – $68
Wedding coordinator: $28 (vendor) or $68 – 108 (if it’s a friend)
Florist: $48 – $68
Ushers: $18 – $28
MC: $48 – $68
Religious leader who solemnised your wedding: from $88
Pastor who preached at your wedding (for Christian ceremonies): from $88
Hair & make-up artists: from $28 (if they are vendors), or from $108 (if they are friends)
Photographer / Videographer: from $28 (if they are vendors), or from $108 (if they are friends)
This is only if you are having a church ceremony. You can dispense with paper programmes and save cost (and trees) by putting up a slideshow. Otherwise, you can get templates online and print your own.
Cost: from $10 (for 100 sheets of paper)
Couples these days like to give door gifts to their guests. Wedding favours can range from edibles (chocolates, candy, cake, cookies and nuts) to collectibles (bookmarks, magnets, hand towels, salt and pepper shakers, candles, photo frames, measuring spoons).
Cost: from $1.50 a piece
Again, if your wedding reception is being held at a hotel, they usually also provide a wedding cake. Don’t imagine the cake will be the likes of those tiered confectionary delights you’ve spied on cooking channels. They are usually small and fit atop a styrofoam multi-tiered cake. Sigh.
So, if you want that customised wedding cake reflecting the theme and style of your wedding, you have to get it on your own. Most bakeries that do fancy cakes do fancy wedding cakes, too.
Cost: from $55 (for single tier), from $165 (for two-tier), from $450 (for three-tier), or from $1,280 (for four-tier)
Some couples hold their solemnisation ceremonies in a separate place from their wedding receptions. This happens when you want the ceremony in a particular location (maybe a church or in a garden) but the place doesn’t provide food.
Wedding venues no longer need to be in buildings, though. You could do it by the beach, at a dock, in the sky or go budget and say your “I do”s at the Registry of Marriages.
|Registry of Marriages||free (though you still need to pay $42 for the registration of your marriage)|
Most places require a minimum four-hour booking.
|$963 (Hort Park) – $20,000 (for the North and South Garden of Marina Bay Sands’ Sands SkyPark).|
This is usually for members. There are only a few churches that rent out their premises to non-members.
|$500 – $3,000 (for a party of 200 at $15 per pax at the Armenian Church of St Gregory)|
Since these locations don’t come with food., you will have to bring in caterers.
|$13 (min 200) – $50 (min 50 pax)|
|Flowers or decorations
These locations also don’t provide decorations. Once more, bring your own.
|$300 – $3,000|
In 2016, the Julius Baer Lifestyle Index, which shows the cost of luxury goods and services across Asia, ranked Singapore the fifth most expensive Asian city to hold a wedding banquet. It’s no wonder because having your wedding dinner in a hotel here can cost you upward of almost $24,000 for a guest list of 200 people. If you want fancier venues like the S.E.A. Aquarium, expect to pay a premium.
To keep costs down, you have some choices:
- hold your wedding dinner on a weekday night (saves about $200 per table)
- have it at cafes or Chinese restaurants (this may not work if you have a larger celebration)
|Hotel||$1163 (Copthorne King’s Hotel Singapore and Park Royal on Pickering) – $2919 (The Clifford Pier @ The Fullerton Bay Hotel) per table|
|Cafes||from $36 per pax|
|Chinese restaurants||from $501 per table|
For a more comprehensive list of prices, check out our other article on wedding banquet prices in Singapore.
There is just one last item on the list. After all the hard work, you should get some couple time and go away on a honeymoon. It doesn’t even have to be abroad (several hotels offer complimentary stays when you hold your wedding dinner at their banquet halls). It just has to be about the two of you.
Cost: free (if you have complimentary hotel stays), from $300 a night (for a staycation at a nice hotel), under $2,000 (for two weeks in Asia), about $10,000 (for two weeks in Europe or the US)
You can’t put a price to love but your wedding certainly has a price tag. If you’re smart about your choices, you can keep the budget to under $10,000. But if you want to splurge, the sky really is the limit. One local couple spent $110,000 on their wedding (and they weren’t even scions of tycoons). Remember, though, the size of the bill for that one day is no demonstration of the depth of your love.
You have the rest of your lives together for that.
What are your thoughts on wedding costs in Singapore?
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