Finding your one true love may be priceless but walking down the aisle in Singapore 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.
- Engagement ring and proposal
- Wedding ring
- Wedding gowns, suits and photography/videography
- Bachelor parties and hen nights
- Wedding day and wedding ang bao
Engagement ring and proposal
Just because you’ve been exclusively dating for years doesn’t mean that you’ll magically end up married without the nerve-wracking ordeal that is the proposal.
The proposal can be as modest as your pocket will allow, or as extravagant as your imagination can dream up. But whatever the budget or style, the engagement ring is the most important and most expensive part of the proposal, so we’ll cover the ring options first.
There’s an age-old rule that says that the ring should be 3 times your monthly salary. But that, as we said, is an old rule. As a token of love, engagement rings can cost as much or as little as you deem appropriate.
If you really want the traditional diamond ring, it needn’t be as expensive as you think. Of course, there are also non-traditional rings such as precious/semi-precious stones (which are now popular), vintage rings and even custom-made rings.
Here’s a look at the options:
|Type of engagement ring||Where to buy||Price range|
|Diamond ring (one carat)||Fine jewellery shops e.g. Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, Chaumet, etc.||$6,000 to $40,000|
|Diamond ring (pave and <1 carat)||Same as above||$169 to $2,000|
|Precious/semi-precious stone ring||More Than Diamonds, Carrie K. Atelier, Madly Gems, GIOIA Fine Jewellery, Choo Yilin, Joanne L.||$120 to over $20,000|
|Vintage/handmade ring||Online stores e.g. Etsy||From $27|
|Loose diamond for DIY/customised ring||Online stores e.g. Blue Nile, James Allen||From $260|
Today, you can get diamond engagement rings for as little as $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 options going up to $40,000. Prices depend on the 3 other Cs – colour, clarity and cut.
You can buy diamond rings at any fine jewellery store like Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Harry Winston, Chaumet, including the local jewellers like Lee Hwa, Soo Kee and Poh Heng.
Precious/semi-precious stone ring
Of course, you needn’t stick with tradition. Precious/semi-precious stones have been increasingly popular with millennials, especially those aware of the ethical issues around buying diamonds.
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!
Not all gems cost less than diamonds. 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.
Some options for rings with precious and semi-precious stones are More Than Diamonds, Carrie K. Atelier, Madly Gems, Gioia Fine Jewellery, Choo Yilin and Joanne L.
As with most things, you can get your engagement ring online as well, for as little as $27.
Another ethical (and also eco- and wallet-friendly) option for an engagement ring is to go for vintage ring or a quirky handmade ring from online stores like Etsy. You can go for something that reflects your partner’s unique character too.
If you really like the idea of having a completely unique ring, you might want to commission a bespoke ring.
You can buy a loose diamond online, from Blue Nile or James Allen, for your jeweller to set. A 0.3 carat loose diamond will only set you back from $260. This is an increasingly favoured option because it’s cheaper and it allows you to customise your ring. A win all around.
There are several places you can turn to for bespoke engagement rings:Love & Co, Fairy’s Inc, Kristine Wong Fine Jewels and JannPaul. At Love & Co, you can even have your signature, fingerprint, photograph or personal love notes inscribed on the ring.
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 nice dinner.
Of course, the most memorable proposals can cost next to nothing except for some creativity, and maybe help from family and friends.
After the drama of the engagement ring, it’s easy to forget there’s another set of rings you need to get (assuming your partner said yes) – wedding rings.
This time, you have to spring for two rings instead.
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.
The wedding rings will cost anything from $500 to $10,000 per pair. Having bought the engagement ring, you would have a better idea of what your budget is and tailor accordingly.
Wedding gowns, suits & photo/videography
The next big-ticket item is the wedding outfits, and photography or videography for the event. There are 2 ways to do this: (a) purchase a wedding package with a bridal studio or (b) you can go to individual vendors for each item. Which you pick comes down to whether you prioritise convenience or customisation.
Wedding packages (pre-wedding & wedding day)
For the couple who wants a one-stop shop for all their wedding needs, your best bet is a bridal studio. Some popular ones in Singapore are: My Dream Wedding, Kelly’s Bridals, Digio Bridal, La Belle Couture, The Louvre Bridal, The Gown Warehouse.
However, you should know that there are actually 2 types of packages to consider – pre-wedding packages and wedding day packages. (Oh, the choices!)
|Pre-wedding package||From $2,000|
|Wedding day package||From $1,988|
|Full package (includes both)||$3,288 to $6,000|
|Extra photos||$70 to $150 a piece|
|Made-to-measure wedding gown||Surcharge (from $100) added to the package price|
Pre-wedding packages are primarily for posed photographs before the big day.
Generally, the package would include the photoshoot itself (indoor and outdoor, and in some cases overseas), several changes of outfit for bride and groom, bridal shoes, bridal bouquet, props, and hair and makeup. The outfits and shoes are usually rentals.
The final result is an album with 24 to 26 photographs, blown up portraits (small one for table top and large one for hanging). 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!
Some bridal studios practice unethical bait-and-switch tactics. So, after checking the portfolios of the photographer, makeup artist and stylist, make sure the studio commits in writing to the ones you want.
Also, don’t assume that the wedding gown you want for the actual day will be available for the photo shoot. Some studios also don’t let you take your actual day gown out for your outdoor shoot.
Wedding day packages are, obviously, for the wedding day itself.
These include the wedding gown, traditional outfit, evening gown, groom’s suit, bridal bouquet, corsages, hair and makeup for the wedding day and evening, decorations for the wedding car, photography and videography.
Be aware of what type of wedding gowns and suits are covered as these are where there might be hidden costs. Some bridal studios have different “tiers”. The last thing you want is to find that perfect gown or suit only to be told you have to “upgrade” to a more expensive package to get it!
Again, outfits and shoes are usually rentals. However, you have the option (yes, more choices) of upgrading for a made-to-measure gown, meaning they make a brand new gown just for you to rent.
Full package (pre-wedding + wedding day) is often more affordable than buying them separately, but then, it does require confidence in the bridal studio.
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.
Sourcing for individual vendors
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 quite a hassle, finding and working with your own vendors for each item allows you to control both quality and cost. Going à la carte may save you a bit of money, especially if you have multi-talented friends and family who can chip in.
Here’s a list of major items and expected expenses for each:
|Wedding gown (rent)||$380 to $1,280|
|Wedding gown (buy)||Anything from $50 (on Taobao) to $18,000 (for a Vera Wang)|
|Wedding gown (bespoke)||$400 to $5,000|
|Suit (rent)||From $89|
|Suit (buy)||From $250|
|Suit (bespoke)||From $700 (through tailors like Kevin Seah, Mr Bulli & Sons, CYC)|
|Photography (pre-wedding)||From $800|
|Photography (wedding day)||From $1,000|
|Makeup & hair (pre-wedding)||From $180|
|Makeup & hair (wedding day)||From $250 (half day) / from $450 (full day)|
|Bridal bouquet & corsages||From $10 (buy online)|
|Car decorations||From $50 (DIY)|
Bachelor parties, hen nights & other festivities
In the lead-up to the wedding – the most important party of all – there are often at least 3 or 4 pre-wedding celebrations. Obviously, these are optional. But since you only get married once (hopefully), you might want to go the whole hog.
This is basically a gathering for the people who matter in your lives to tell them that the deal’s been sealed. Hoorah! You can go as cheap or as expensive as you want.
This can be a simple dinner for family and close friends (costing a couple of hundred dollars for the entire party) or a sophisticated soirée (anything from $100 per person), depending on your inclination and finances.
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 ang bao), the groom’s family has to present the prospective bride with 4 pieces of gold jewellery.
Some families still observe this practice, minus the picking of the date which is mostly left to the couple now.
This is a more costly affair as the gifts are part of the custom. Expect to spend from $1,000 onwards for the jewellery, from $300 for the gifts plus $88 onwards for the ang bao.
This is a western tradition that Singaporean brides have only been too happy to adopt. It’s 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?
Get your maid of honour or best friend to throw this one for you. It will probably cost you nothing, or just a little bit if you want to pay for the snacks and decorations.
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.
It’s free for the bride- or groom-to-be. You just have to sit back and enjoy (or endure).
Wedding day – reception, invites and ang baos
Are you exhausted yet? Hang in there. There’re still a couple more things to consider for the big day.
First, there’s the wedding banquet or reception, undoubtedly the biggest and most painful cost of the wedding day itself. Then there’s also venue rental for the solemnisation, ang baos to give to everyone involved in the wedding, and all those little things like wedding invites and favours.
In 2016, the Julius Baer Lifestyle Index, which shows the cost of luxury goods and services across Asia, ranked Singapore the 5th most expensive city in Asia to hold a wedding banquet.
Having your wedding dinner in a decent hotel here costs over $1,000 per table, or $2,000 and up at 5-star hotels. Multiply that price tag by 20 for a guest list of 200, and even the most responsible of couples might feel the urge to elope and never come back.
To keep costs down, you can keep the affair intimate and hold it at a cafe or restaurant rather than a hotel. These can bring the price per table down into the hundreds. But it only works for a relatively small group.
Another option, if you must go the traditional hotel banquet route, is to hold your wedding dinner on a weekday night, which can save about $200 per table.
For a comprehensive list of prices, see this article on wedding banquet prices in Singapore.
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, like a church. Wedding venues don’t necessarily need to be in buildings – you could also do it by the beach, in a park, or go super-budget and just say your “I do”s at the ROM.
Note that these places typically provide only the venue, so you’ll also have to settle your own F&B and decorations.
|Registry of Marriages (ROM)||Free (but marriage registration fee of $42 applies)|
|Outdoor location (typically min. 4 hours booking)||From $963 (HortPark) to $20,000 (MBS SkyPark)|
|Church (usually only for members)||$500 to $3,000 ($15 per pax at Armenian Church of St. Gregory)|
|Food catering||$13 to $50 per pax (depending on how many in total)|
|Flowers or decorations||$300 to $3,000|
Wedding ang baos
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).
|Recipient||Amount to put in ang bao|
|Parents (both sides)||Up to you. Some choose to give gifts instead|
|Maid of Honour||$68 to $108|
|Best Man||$68 to $108|
|Bridesmaids||$48 to $88|
|Groomsmen||$48 to $88|
|Flower girl||$28 to $48|
|Ring bearer||$28 to $48|
|Door opener (traditional weddings, where a relative is tasked to open the door of the wedding car)||$48|
|Kid that rolls on wedding bed (Chinese custom where a young boy jumps on your bed for fertility and stuff)||$48|
|Musicians||$48 per person|
|Wedding car chauffeur||$48 to $68|
|Wedding coordinator||$28 (vendor) or $68 to $108 (friend)|
|Florist||$48 to $68|
|Emcee||$48 to $68|
|Ushers||$18 to $28|
|Religious leader who solemnised your wedding||From $88|
|Pastor (for Christian ceremonies)||From $88|
|Hair and makeup artists||From $28 (vendors) or from $108 (friend)|
|Photographer/videographer||From $28 (vendors) or from $108 (friend)|
Other wedding costs to budget
Nope, that’s not all. There are also assorted little things to sort out for your wedding day. Common ones are:
|Wedding cake (customised)||From $55 (1 tier) / $165 (2 tier) / $450 (3 tier) / $1,280 (4 tier)|
|Wedding favours||From $1.50 a piece|
|Wedding invites||From $1.50 a piece|
|Programme (church weddings)||From $0.10 a piece|
Wedding cake: 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 fake cake made of styrofoam. 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. You can get a customised one at most cake bakeries, but it’ll cost you and the price can go up to the thousands for a real “fairytale” multi-tier cake.
Wedding favours: 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). They don’t have to be very expensive.
Wedding invites: 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 money to get them customised.
Alternatively you can DIY and print your own wedding cards, or even send e-invites which cost nothing at all.
Programmes: 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.
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. Alternatively, you can go for a staycation at a nice hotel here, or just go on an affordable getaway in Asia. Of course, if you want to splurge on a $10,000 holiday in Europe or the US, no one is going to stop you.
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? Share your thoughts with us.