100+ BUDGET TIPS & TRICKS
Here’s how you can save more on everything from wedding decor to bridal fashion.
Cover all your bases with advice no soon-to-be-wed woman should be without.
PLANNING • CHOOSE YOUR CELEBRATION
Knowing what kind of wedding and/or celebration you want from the start makes the process a lot simpler and focused. When you and your husband-to-be finally decide, stick to your plan, and you’ll find that you won’t be overcome by stress and the possibility of wastage and overspending.
• BUDGET REALISTICALLY
Determine your budget at the very beginning and be strict about it. It will ultimately decide the kind of celebration and the number of guests you can have, and so on. Without one, you risk running into financial difficulties. You should make changes only if you have money to spare.
• PRIORITISE YOUR PLANS
Just like work, you should take note of the three most important elements – and no more than three – that need the most attention, resources or help. Once they’re settled, you can work on the rest of your funds and timeline for the other aspects of your preparations without becoming overwhelmed.
• RE-EVALUATE, ESTIMATE, CREATE
Along the way, some plans and costs can get derailed. Take stock of and re-evaluate the unexpected changes. Do you need to spend less on decor and more on your gown? Or cancel the videographer for a better photographer who’s slightly more expensive? Or consider DIY to balance your budget better? Remember also to always set aside time to
check on the actual progress of things and deal with unforeseen issues early instead of allowing them to turn into major problems that are hard to resolve. STICK TO THE BASICS Unless you have additional funds to spare, stick to the original packages you wanted and avoid pricey upgrades. Vendors will always try to push for higher-priced packages, merchandise and services. If you haven’t got the money, say so and you shouldn’t explain why you don’t have it. MAKE TO-DO LISTS Checklists help to keep you organised and give you a better overview of your entire plan – the budget, tasks and everything pending. If you plan early enough, you may be able to benefit from promotions and sales that can help cut your costs significantly. Negotiating deals with vendors in advance can also get you the best deals, especially if your booking is during an off-peak season. ASK FOR HELP Many brides who’ve done it on their own will tell you that managing your big day solo is not such a good idea. It will leave you so overwhelmed and exhausted that you will not enjoy it. Rope in your groom, close friends and family members and, instead of immediately assigning specific tasks, ask how they’d like to help or what they are really good at. This way, the right tasks go to the right people who will not disappoint you. FINANCE HAVE A BUDGET CHECKLIST FOR EVERYTHING If you’re having a simple celebration, one should be enough to accommodate all your expenses. If your wedding has many different aspects, it’s better to have a separate checklist for every category, such as wardrobe (your gowns, his suits and gear for everyone else in your bridal party), decor and flowers, food and even favours. This will help you to track your expenditure, and keep you disciplined. CUT THE EXTRAS Many wedding packages come with extra as well as hidden costs. It’s best to go through every item in the package and determine whether you need it or not with your vendor. Ask for the estimated bill at the same time and tell him that you expect the actual one to be very close to that. WATCH THE TIME Most vendors, as well as venues, will charge overtime rates for their services. Unless you’re prepared to fork out more money because everyone is having such a great time and doesn’t want to leave the party yet, it’s best to avoid overtime charges and keep to your timetable. TRIAL COSTS Most makeup artists, hairstylists and florists factor one trial into their packages; more than
one will cost you more. However, if you can do without one, negotiate for a cheaper package. UNFORESEEN COSTS Always set aside money for unexpected costs that may pop up at the last minute, like tips, transportation costs for guests who’ve had too much to drink and can’t get a ride with anyone else, additional items to get at the last minute, and if your party runs into overtime. If you plan your budget well, you may not have to fork out anything extra and this sum of money will end up as savings. GIFTS ASK FOR HELP OR MONEY If your friends should ask what you’d like as a wedding present, don’t be shy about asking for a red packet or a voucher from a store you’re planning to buy things from for your home. Alternatively, tell some close friends that the best gift they can give you is their time and help with the preparation. PERSONAL FAVOURS Most hotels and wedding venues now provide small favours as part of their packages. If you already plan to have your own favours, ask if the cost for their favours can be subtracted from your package. Favours that you make yourself are significantly more meaningful. SKIP THE GIFTS Buy your bridal party a meal instead of getting them gifts. It will also be a great time to catch up with them after the wedding. VENDORS KEEP MUM ABOUT YOUR WEDDING Vendors have been known to raise their prices when they know it’s a wedding. So when talking with them for the first time, don’t say the ”W” word! SEARCH FOR DEALS Once you’ve shortlisted your preferred vendors, follow them on Instagram or Facebook. You’ll be the first to know when they post their promotions and special deals on social media. TESTIMONIALS COUNT Every smart businessman will know the value of a good testimonial online. If the vendor is particularly pleased with what he/she has done for you and asks for a testimonial, see if you can get a discount in return. KEEP A DISTANCE Try not to be overly enthusiastic when you’ve found the right vendor; most vendors will try and cut their prices if they think you have other suitable options. INVITES EDIT YOUR GUEST LIST Rule of thumb for your guest list: family first, close relatives and best friends second, office colleagues third and distant relatives and acquaintances last. Once you’ve reached your quota, no more invites! And that goes for your parents’ guest list too. ONE OR TWO? Always be clear if the invite is for a single guest or with a plus one – you don’t have to include the plus one if you’re not familiar with your guest’s partner. WEDDING INVITATIONS & STATIONERY MAKE YOUR OWN INVITATIONS With so many online apps, you can create your own unique invites in a jiffy! This will cut out costly design fees and you can either bring yours to a printer or if you’re not too fussy, print them from home. EARLY RSVP DATE Get your invited guests to RSVP early so that you have more time to rearrange and assess your invitation lists. DIGITAL INVITES Do your bit for the environment and send digital invites instead of printed ones. Besides saving tons, you also get to have fun invites with a host of digital features! Just check out the numerous apps online. Remember to get your guests to RSVP digitally too – either through e-mail or through a site you set up specially for RSVPs.
Note: For your guests who aren’t too tech-savvy, it’s best to send the traditional printed invitations. DIY CUSTOMISATION You can always get more affordable generic wedding invite cards from the stores and customise them yourself using ink stamps, pretty trims and even creative calligraphy. ONE INVITATION SAYS IT ALL Although an invitation suite looks impressive with its many sheets of invites and details, save paper by printing all the wedding details in one sheet instead. Get your graphic designer to work with a fold-out invite – double or tri-fold which can accommodate all your information in an organised layout. Having everything in one sheet is also easier for guests to refer to. Skip the extras – like belly bands or wax seals – and you’ll save a pretty penny, too. CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK AND TRIPLE CHECK Before you send your invitations to the printer, be sure to proofread. Making a mistake can not only be embarrassing (you don’t want to get dear Aunt Macy’s name wrong), it can also burn a deeper hole in your wallet if you have to reprint all the invites. POSTCARDS INSTEAD? If yours is a theme wedding, consider fun postcards or even personal photo prints that can be sent as invitations. Not only are these unique and fun, guests will also get a feel of the mood of your celebrations in advance. And it’s so much cheaper than designing and printing customised invites! HANDY MENUS If you’re planning to place escort cards at your tables, you can cut down on costs and paper by having your guests’ names printed on the menu. Guests can then refer to the menu. If your venue is using a standard menu for your lunch/dinner, you can do an A4 mini standee sign with the guests’ names instead. PROGRAMME SIGNAGES Instead of individually printed programmes for your celebrations and ceremonies, why not have all the details laid out onto nicely designed signages? Not only will you be able to save some moolah, these signages add to your wedding decor as well. VENUE OFF-PEAK DAYS AND TIMES Most couples prefer to tie the knot on an auspicious or ”convenient” date but having your wedding on days that are not ”hot” will save you tons! Working weekdays from Monday to Thursday are generally less popular for wedding lunches and dinners as these days would not be convenient for most guests. Lunch and tea celebrations are always less popular than dinners in general so you may want to consider having a daytime affair instead of a dinner. If you’re not into auspicious wedding dates, pick a date that most couples avoid – you will definitely get a better deal. MORNING CELEBRATIONS Start your day with a romantic ceremony followed by a breakfast brunch! You will save a lot on your food and venue, and also get the rest of the day to chill out with your loved ones. 2 INSTEAD OF 1 Another way to cut costs is to have two separate celebrations instead of one grand one. It may mean more time and effort to plan two affairs, but you will probably save a lot. You can choose to have a small and more intimate lunch celebration with your close friends and the traditional dinner for your family and relatives. Or vice versa. These separate celebrations can be held on two different days instead of the same day so you won’t be too stressed or tired from non-stop festivities and entertaining. UNIQUE WEDDING VENUES There are so many alternative venues jumping onto the wedding bandwagon these days – couples now have a wide array of options for a unique and alternative celebration. From beach bars at Sentosa to sky-high cafes and restaurants with spectacular views, these non-traditional wedding venues also have wedding packages that can be customised to your requirements. There may be limits to the number of guests you can invite. Refer to http://www.herworld.com/ weddings/ideas-we-love/venue-awards-2017list-award-winners for our pick of the best alternative wedding venues for both indoor and outdoor celebrations.
HOLD THE CEREMONY AT HOME, OR OUTDOORS If you are living in a landed property or have a friend who lives in a house with a large garden, you can hold your wedding festivities there. There are also couples who have their weddings at sheltered function areas within HDB estates – these areas can be dressed up prettily for a casual celebration. Or tie the knot with a lunch or dinner reception at the void deck, like how Malay couples do. The rental for these areas is a lot more affordable than a restaurant or cafe. STAND UP • If your venue requires you to rent your own chairs for the ceremony or reception, you may want to have a standing ceremony instead. Rent some small tables for guests to gather around during your short reception and ceremony. But do have some chairs for the elderly. MENU SIMPLIFY YOUR MENU • Wedding dinners used to have a minimum of 10 dishes to imply the wealth and generosity of the couple and their families, and how grand a feast it is. But couples can stick to eight dishes (a lucky number in Chinese culture!) and cut costs by having two fewer dishes. For lunch or casual dinners, opt for buffets instead of sit-down affairs as these are a lot more pocket-friendly. SMART MENU PLANNING • Most Chinese wedding dinner menus offer dishes that have auspicious meanings for the couple. If you’re not fussy about these things, you can opt for dishes that cost less. Pick one or two mains that are pricier and stick to more affordable fare (like noodles and vegetables) for the rest of your menu. DO THE CATERING YOURSELF • Shave costs for your reception and lunch celebration by having your family and friends chip in with the food and desserts. With more people taking up cooking and baking courses, you’ll be able to find contributors easily. BYOB BENEFITS • Always check with your venue if you can bring your own booze. Friends and family can contribute bottles, and you can get them to buy you more from Duty-Free shops if they’re coming home from an overseas holiday. HAVE A POURING SERVICE • A pouring service for your sit-down meal, instead of placing wine or champagne bottles on each table, will help you save tons. This will reduce wastage from leftover wine if guests don’t finish the bottles at their table. TOAST THE GOOD STUFF • Keep your best wine or champagne for the wedding toast. After downing the more affordable stuff during dinner, your guests won’t know the difference. GET A REAL CAKE • Have an authentic cake instead of a mock-up one that most venues use for newlyweds to cut. This may save money, but it does spoil the real meaning behind the cake-cutting tradition. If you’re planning to have a real wedding cake for your celebration, you don’t have to get a large creation with many tiers; a smaller version can be just as pretty. For the guests, have your baker create mini or cupcake versions of your wedding cake – these will be more cost-effective. Avoid all the frills and decorative details to save more. KID’S MEALS • If you’re having kids at your wedding, you may want to consider a cheaper and more kidfriendly menu for them. Work with your caterer or venue to create a simple menu featuring perhaps a maximum of four dishes that the young ones will love. THE DESSERT BAR & BUFFET • Forget the wedding cake servings! Treat your guests to a dessert bar and buffet which you can stock up with contributions from friends and
family. Most local venues and caterers now offer this option as well. WASTE NOT The best thing about having a dessert bar is that you can pack any remaining sweets, cupcakes and other delish delicacies into pretty boxes and hand them out as favours or gifts to the kids. Or you can keep them to snack on after the wedding! ALTERNATIVE SWEETS There are so many pretty and creative alternatives to the wedding cake these days. Why not have macarons, doughnuts, cookies or even stack loaves of your favourite bread instead? These will definitely cost a lot less than the usual customised wedding cake. ENTERTAINMENT BRING YOUR OWN SOUND EQUIPMENT If you intend to hold your celebrations at a venue without any proper sound equipment, you can always bring your own if it’s small enough. Or loan it from a friend. With brands like Bose and Apple coming up with speakers that are big on sound but small in size, transporting your sound equipment won’t be a problem. GET FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO PERFORM It can be expensive to hire a professional musician, a band or a DJ, but luckily, there are many ways to save in this category. You can hire a student musician, or consider having a friend or family member perform. USE STUDENTS AND BUSKERS Many local universities and polytechnics have small bands and music performing groups you can tap on for your wedding entertainment. You can even check out some of the young and talented buskers playing along Orchard Road – some may be willing to perform for weddings for a fee. BRIDAL WARDROBE BUY DRESSES OFF THE RACK – AND ON SALE The earlier you plan for your wedding, the more time it gives you to do research and go sourcing for what you need. Take advantage of sale periods during the year; you can find great bargains and buys from decor to gifts and of course, even your wedding dress. Wedding dresses are a huge expense, especially if you have your heart set on a designer gown. Look around for sample sales, where you’ll be able to purchase your dream designer dress at a steep discount. Or consider an off-the-rack option, which can be tailored to look custom-made without spending a fortune. Other wedding vendors like photographers and makeup artists will also have promotions during low seasons which you can take advantage of. GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR WEDDING DRESS If your wedding dress isn’t your biggest priority, consider ordering a white bridesmaid dress or purchasing a white gown off-the-rack. You can have it tailored for a perfect fit (and even include a train!) for a fraction of the cost of a designer gown. There are also tons of stylish and affordable options from online sites and stores like Asos, Zara and H&M. Just pick a style that’s more dressy and formal. SAVE ON GROOM SUITS Online shopping sites like Asos have a dedicated section for groom suits – and there are some very affordable styles that are a steal. If you plan early, you can also get the perfect suit during the sale period instead of buying at the regular price at the last minute. For more mileage, you can also consider getting a suit your man can wear after the wedding for work or other formal occasions. Just add stylish accessories that will help make the suit groom-appropriate. WEDDING JEWELLERY If you can afford brand new bling for your wedding – go ahead! If you have a strict budget for jewellery, then opt for cheaper alternatives (smaller diamonds?) or get really lovely costume jewellery. Hand-me-downs or loans from your mum or family members will help save a lot too. Vintage pieces can add more significance and meaning to your bridal wardrobe as well.