Planning a wedding (on a budget) Part 1

Planning a wedding (on a budget) Part 1

So it’s about 2 months to our wedding and I thought it’d be good to follow-up on my last pretty frazzled post! You guys who’ve been reading my blog for years probably know me well enough to guess what kind of person I am. If anything, I’ve always defined myself as someone really kiamsiap/stingy/frugal/thrifty – you name it. I think I’m a lot better now as I grow older as my spending power has increased, but money is still something I’m very careful with because.. well it’s just who I am.

So put that trait together with having to plan a wedding, and you can imagine just how difficult it is!

But I think in the last 4 months, I’ve gotten the hang of it and have progressed quite a bit in the planning in a thankfully as pain-free as possible way. I’ve documented a fair bit in my dayre but I still like keeping a footprint in my blog so I’ll write a post here on how I’ve been planning my wedding on a budget!

I know this may not be the most popular post as we’ve grown quite accustomed to elegant, classy, expensive and lavish-looking weddings, all thanks to social media and societal expectations, but if more people can be proud of sensible and more down-to-earth weddings, then perhaps we won’t be in this quandary in the first place.

Anyway, I got comments from a troll recently (gasp! first hater in years! almost forgot how that feels..) on how cheap I am, but I guess what better way to prove him/her wrong by being as proud of it as I can! Hohoho

Troll comments, which admittedly are quite funny:

Anyway, so here goes.

1. You have to just accept the fact that you’ll never get the exact perfect wedding you’ve always wanted/may want

I’m not even the kind of girl who has dreamt of my wedding day since I was a little girl and I didn’t even have any expectations of what I wanted, or so I thought…

When I started researching on weddings, it’s hard to not expect anything when you’re constantly surrounded by all these pretty images on instagram and Pinterest on other people’s weddings and then you start forming these images of what you want in your head too. Nice cosy intimate but elegant dinner by the beach/in the garden with close friends, heartwarming speeches, cute little door gifts and TONS of flowers, long flowy princess-looking dress and perfect hair and makeup, crazily adorned tables with a million candles and dainty-looking trinkets..

Sigh, who doesn’t want this?>

But of course, then the families come in and start talking about how it should be and before you know it, it’s just this MASSIVE thing that you have to do. Doesn’t help that we’re from different cultural backgrounds too so we have to do two kinds of ceremonies (Chinese and Indian) AND neither of them fit into what I wanted (Western)!

So after months of researching and compromising, we’ve decided to combine everything into ONE wedding. Yeap, just the ceremony followed by a luncheon, the end. It was quite hard for me to agree with it as I really wanted the intimate dinner, but the cost was just too much + we can’t do away with the cultural ceremonies so..*shrugs

2. Lots of compromise

Now that you know you can’t have THE perfect wedding, it still costs a lot to plan A wedding. There are so many items to consider and it gets a bit too overwhelming, which I find really unnecessary but necessary at the same time? As in, you need the photographers and you need a dress no matter what, but why oh why do they cost so much??

So in the end, you either just have to compromise on not getting the best, or be willing to put in the time and effort to search like crazy for a good deal. And you have to know what you’re willing to spend on and just try not to fuss over the rest.

I knew there were 3 things I’d spend more on:

1. Food

2. Photography

3. Make up

And we spent the most time and effort on these, and were lucky to have found vendors that charge quite reasonable prices for all of them.

Next came the hardest thing I had to compromise on: decorations.

So so pretty, but also so so expensive

I think this is probably the bane of all weddings. They cost SO MUCH and it’s very hard for us girls to not care about it cos..well PRETTY THINGS!

But the prices just don’t make sense and no matter how hard I looked (trust me, I received quotations from at least 30 vendors!), they’re all averaging at RM8-10,000 (for decorating the entire hall as we’re not doing it in a hotel/restaurant). We just couldn’t possibly imagine spending that much on something that is so…temporal and impermanent.

Working in a non-profit, we know how much that means to the people we serve and it can probably feed 3-5 families for months.

Anyway, long story short, we found a much cheaper vendor and had to compromise a little on the quality (using fake flowers, minimizing the decor and forgoing things like photobooth, pretty table set ups etc).

The dress is also one of those potentially expensive things, so I finally settled with a mid-priced saree (RM500) and a nice bridesmaid dress for my “white dress” during the tea ceremony (RM180), instead of renting (~RM800) or buying (~RM2000).

3. Negotiate your way out of things

I know negotiating may not be the most comfortable experience, but if it involves money you don’t have/can’t afford/can’t imagine wasting, then you gotta do it. We first had to negotiate quite a bit with our parents to reach a middle ground with what they want for our wedding to be, and what is practical for us. That means cutting down the guest list, not doing everything like giving dowries etc)

Then there was also negotiating with the vendors to decrease the budget. For eg, the makeup artist was going to charge me RM1,600 but I cut out the two saree changes and two sets of accessories so we brought down the price to RM800. The photographers and videographers were RM3,500 and RM4,000 respectively in the beginning but we reduced the hours and other offerings like albums etc and brought it down to RM4,700 for both (~RM3,000 saved!).

4. DIY/get help where ever you can

I’m not a huge fan of DIY-ing stuff cos it takes a lot of effort and energy (especially for things like decorations) and I don’t want to impose on our friends/family for help but there are really some items that you can totally do yourself.

We’re DIY-ing our invitation cards (thanks to help from a reader, Dayna, who does beautiful calligraphy and is incredible nice and patient) and our door gifts (with help from my best friend, Esther).

RM0.37 each card, as opposed to the usual RM2-3/card that shops charge. But will be a pain tying them up lol

Oh! We also cut out the redundant pre-wedding shoot and just got our friends to take our pictures for us during our holiday in Bali (destination pre-wedding woot! lol).

Pretty good innit? Thanks to the talented Ida!

Connie took this beautiful one at the beach 🙂

They’re definitely not like the usual pre-wedding shoots with beautiful white dresses and great lighting, but hey it’s free! We also took a few with self-timer which turned out quite ugly hahaha but we had a lot of fun trying it out 😀

Anywayyyy, I think that’s all I have for now, and I’ll write another one after the wedding to see if there’s anything else (and hopefully everything goes well so I can share more tips after) and I’ll share with you guys some of the vendors and their prices k! I did a lot of online research looking for them and really wished there were more reviews so I’ll do my part to add to that collective knowledge management.

Until then, hope it’s been helpful and if you’re on this journey as well, good luck and let’s rejoice in the fact that we’re all embarking on an exciting life journey together and the wedding is but a small part of it all!

p.s: disclaimer: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to spend more on your wedding, if you want to and can afford to! I love attending nice weddings and secretly feeling the real flowers and admiring the beauty of it all, but I’m writing this for people who can’t and don’t want to spend too much on their wedding but feel like they have to.