The Day I Decided to Get Married (Beautifully) Under RM9,000

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As soon as you’ve said yes to the man of your dreams, you’ve officially become a potential customer of one of the most lucrative businesses – the wedding business.

With reports saying that the average Malaysian wedding costs about RM50,000, how does a simple couple go about their wedding? Needless to say, this really puts a lot of pressure on future brides and bridegrooms.

First, ask yourself: are you getting married to each other? Or is your wedding designed to get the most likes on Instagram?

You might argue, there’s still the parents’ expectations to meet. But between meeting their expectations and financial ruin, you really wouldn’t want a “till debt do us part” situation. Talk to your parents to help them understand that it’s more important that the event is meaningful rather than unnecessarily lavish.

Armed with the belief that the wedding day is no representation of our happily-ever-after, my fiancé and I began planning our wedding – for under RM9000.

First unofficial tip as you approach the Big Day – ignore comments that say you’re cheap when you get the cheapest vendors. If you can get past this without feeling a blow to your pride, you’re ready for the rest of the tips below.

1. Know what you want

The rise of e-commerce has been heaven-sent for brides and bridegrooms-to-be. In the past, there were only a handful of vendors you could work with, and even then only “the premium ones” were really good.

But e-commerce has made it much easier and more accessible. There are so many options to choose from.  Many vendors now have Facebook pages or Instagram accounts as their portfolio display, as well as customer service channels.

But with more choices comes the difficulty of deciding what you want.

For example, there are many kinds of wedding photographers – those who just record the big day as it is,  and those who tell a story through their photographs. The latter being more expensive, of course.

Then comes the avalanche of other things to consider.  Do you need a wedding banquet, or will a simple refreshment spread do? Do you really need fresh flowers, or would artificial flowers do the trick at half the price? Will you rent or buy your wedding gown?

Don’t panic. First, work out what you want with your fiancé/fiancee. Remember to keep your budget in mind. Once you’ve decided on what you want, you’re ready to start contacting vendors and bargaining.

For my fiancé and I, the main reason why we could get away with less than RM9,000 for the wedding including food (minus dowry and honeymoon), is the fact that we really wanted to keep things simple. This means no lunch/dinner reception, and having a simple but quality dessert spread instead. I contacted more than 30 bakers and caterers to be able to compare the best prices. In the end, I  landed over 2000 food pieces (including brownies, cupcakes, curry puffs, ice cream kiosk, fancy donuts, fried noodles, fried rice, and more) at less than RM3,000 for 350 pax of guests.

We also opted to rent my wedding gown, fixing the budget at no more than RM600 (there were even cheaper ones!). Our personalised wedding invite would cost no more than RM51. Read on to find out more.

Having helped my sisters research for their wedding photographer four years ago, I could really tell the difference now. Case in point: I emailed countless photographers at the time, with the cheapest qualified photographer charging RM2500 per day.

Enter 2018. With the knowledge of the right websites to go to, it’s not impossible to find cheaper rates for better quality (P.S. I found a Licentiate WPPA* photographer at RM1200 for my wedding this year!)

*Wedding & Portrait Photographers of Asia

2. Know where to look

Once you’ve identified the style and theme both of you want, it’s time to go to the right places. Before going to Google, it’s wise to check the right websites first. Wedding websites like wedding.com.my provide a list of recommended vendors. The difficulty is going through all of them, as it really takes time. But it’s worth every second knowing you’re spending your money wisely.

If you’re looking for specific items for wedding decorations, go to e-commerce sites such as Lazada, 11Street, Shopee, ezbuy, Taobao, Etsy or even Carousell and Mudah. You’re sure to find what you need at a good price. If you can’t find what you need, only then do you start googling. This saves you from going through hundreds of Google search results.

Also, remember that Google search results are largely impacted by how well some vendors optimise their search engine rankings (SEO). The most relevant or cheapest vendor may not be the ones in the top 10 of the search results, since results could be manipulated.

This means that your dream wedding gown, with an affordable price tag could be lurking in a bridal house near you. It would be lost if you depended on just a Google search, and the bridal house didn’t have an online presence.

An alternative is to look at wedding forums for recommended bridal gown rental sites, so that you’re sure that you’re going with a reliable vendor. Using hashtags on Instagram is also helpful, since many vendors include hashtags to be noticed.  They aren’t compromised by marketing tools either.

Hashtags like #malaysiagownrental and #bakersmalaysia are helpful to start with. You’ll eventually discover more hashtags too.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should discard Google searches altogether. Google is a good place to see if the top results fit your preference and budget. If it doesn’t, follow the alternative steps suggested above. For example, through googling, I found a new printing start-up from Thailand who could print 350 of my wedding invites at exceptional quality – for only RM51!

Recommend.my is another useful site to get good recommendations without searching. All you need to do is enter your budget and details, and the site matches a vendor to your budget with a negotiable price. That’s how I found my photographer.

3. Know when to say ‘no’

Alas, with a budget wedding, you cannot get everything you want. Be ready to let go of the less important things.

For example, I knew I wanted at least a two-tier wedding cake when I saw so many drool-worthy photos on Instagram. But when I found that the average cost for one is around RM500 (I did manage to find one at RM300!), I realised that the money could be better spent on a bigger, better spread for the guests. So learn to take a step back and don’t make impulsive decisions, especially if you find yourself saying “it’s so much nicer if…”.

Remember that a wedding is ultimately just that – a wedding. The marriage is the one that lasts. Down the road, your guests won’t remember your beautiful wedding arch, or whether your cupcakes had french butter or margarine, or whether your wedding gown was satin or chiffon.

Learn to say ‘no’ to items you don’t need. You didn’t, after all, get married for the wedding – It’s about each other.

Pro tip: It may be a better idea to save as much for furnishing the new house or rented place!

4. Know when to say ‘yes’

In case I sound like a super-DIY bride-zilla, I must say there are things I needed to say yes to, even if they seemed expensive.

For example, I did think of just doing a DIY bridal car decoration by buying the decoration online via Lazada. It costs around RM69, and I watched a Youtube tutorial to learn how to apply it. Hiring someone to do the same thing would cost RM200, which didn’t make sense to me.

However, when I realised that I could only decorate the car on the eve of the wedding (so that it won’t suffer wear and tear from rain), I decided that it would be safer to pay for this service. If only just to make sure the main thing remains the main thing. I knew that in the rush of the wedding preparations, the day before would be best spent for some quietness and introspection.

5. Stick to your objectives

It’s really easy to lose focus by the second month of wedding planning, to be honest. What I’ve found helpful in wedding planning is to always go back to your objectives when you’re not sure how to make a particular decision.

For example, to the question, “Why did I decide to rent the gown again? It would be so nice to have a customised wedding gown.”

Then I’d remember that renting is the better option. First, because the cost is doubled or tripled when I purchase a gown. On top of that, it’s difficult to resell a wedding gown. Wedding gown tastes are unique to each person, and you’ll not likely find someone who’d want to buy yours.

Many friends I know haven’t found a buyer for their wedding gown after years of putting it up on second-hand sites. I’d also need to spend an average RM100 for dry cleaning after the wedding if I own the gown, but this cost is borne by the bridal house if you’re just renting.

Whenever you get disillusioned by a beautiful, celebrity wedding gown, remember that you’re not a celebrity and repeat the paragraph above to yourself again.

Hopefully, this helps you have a good head-start to a beautiful, but budget, wedding planning 🙂

Is that it??

Okay, okay, here’s the breakdown of costs you’re probably looking for, for 350 pax:

Wedding gown rental: ~RM600
Church venue rental: RM400
Bridal car decoration: RM200
Make-up & hairdo: RM500
Food/Refreshments: RM3000
Legal requirements: RM20
Wedding bands: RM500 (this could go as low as RM200 if you’re going for titanium rings!)
Wedding heels: RM80
Customised invitation cards & envelopes: RM142
Customised wedding bulletins: RM154
Customised wedding favours: RM103
Bridal bouquet: FREE (Using an ex-bride’s past artificial bouquet, or you can get a beautiful one at RM15 at Kaison!)
Floral decorations including corsages: RM400
Photography: RM1200
Tea ceremony angpow: RM1000

That makes a total of RM8299 only, and an additional RM601 to offset things that you may find necessary, and I don’t! 😉 Ping me if you need advice on the right vendors 🙂

Note: You’ll find that the man’s blazer rental is missing because my fiancé got an RM60 blazer for 70% off at a departmental store sale 😀 Be creative – wedding blazers can be found elsewhere! Also, it helps that he is convinced that no one will look at him on that day.

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