$$$ KPO and CZM $$$: Ten Lessons Learnt from the Wedding

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Ten Lessons Learnt from the Wedding

Like any major project, I was discussing with KPO the other day whether we should have an After Action Review for our wedding. Of course we will not be holding any more wedding, but hopefully this can benefit other future couples who are intending to tie the knot. So below are the ten things which we feel that we have done correctly / it can be improved:

1. Choose your wedding venue early
We started looking for wedding venues a year and a half in advance. As such, we were spoilt with choices as all the venues we inquired were available. We started by attending the BOWS wedding fair and also emailed other hotels which weren't on BOWS on their perks. We maintained a spreadsheet of all the hotels/restaurants, including the prices quoted and their perks so that it is easier to compare.

Some words of advice:
(1) It will make things a lot easier if you have a date in mind when you want to hold your wedding before attending bridal fairs/emailing vendors. You won't want a case where you have spent massive amount of time haggling on the perks, only to realised that they are fully booked on your wedding day.

(2) Personally, I feel that couples should start with wedding venue first. You will probably be enticed to sign up other packages during the wedding fair such as bridal, photo booth, live band etc, but all these can wait.

2. Choosing banquet in a hotel (over restaurant)
Though restaurants may have better food quality over hotels, I think people generally feel that hotels are pricier/more "atas". While this may be accurate to a certain extend (especially for those atas five star hotels), some hotels are in fact cheaper than restaurants. For e.g., I was reading online that the wedding at Summerhouse will cost around $160 per pax, while wedding at some four star hotels will typically range around $100 - $150 per pax. Not to forget, hotels will typically throw in free hotel stays, and may also provide free flow beer and wine to attract customers. Hence, even if you are on a tight budget, you should not rule out hotel immediately.

On another more sensitive note for consideration:
(1) Given that people's general impression is that hotels are more expensive than restaurants, people may generally "bao" more for weddings at hotels, especially for the older generations who do not due diligence online prior to attending the event. Though I must emphasize that this is definitely not the most important factor and guests definitely do not have any responsibility to cover your cost. This is entirely up to goodwill. After all, wedding is about celebrating this important event with your relatives and friends and we are glad that all our closest relatives/friends/colleagues graced our wedding.
(2) Also, there may not be readily available angbao rate information available online for restaurants which are less "famous". So you may end up getting more or less than what you can cover.

What do you think - will you bao more for a hotel vs restaurant? Leave your comments below.

3. Wedding venue - any pillar/restricted view?
One thing which made us felt very bad was that some of our guests had to sit with a partially blocked view as our venue had pillars. It was no fault of the hotel as our wedding coordinator did mention to us about the blocked view if we exceed a certain number of tables, but we simply have too many friends we would like to invite! I guess couples should either choose venues which are pillar-less or be really selective of who they invite (if the venue has pillars).

4. Choosing bridal package - do remember to try on their gowns before signing the package
I am glad that we did not choose our bridal package during the wedding fair despite seeing super attractive packages. I have read up horror stories of how people were "conned" to sign up packages at the spur of the moment, only to regret later when they realized that they have to pay extras for the gown they like, or when the bridal shop did not fulfil their promises.

The safer way is to set up an appointment to visit the bridal shop(s), try on a few gowns, before signing any package. The bridal booths at the wedding fair often do not allow you to try on their gowns naturally due to the limited space. Typically they will only show you their gown selections in their ipads but you will never know if you look good in them until you try it on.

I am glad that I have visited and tried on a lot of gowns before deciding on Rico-a-Mona. There was one bridal shop which sells its bridal package at less than $1000, including pre-wedding photoshoot and Actual Day photography. Though the price is really cheap, I was glad that I didn't take up because all the dresses look like they come from the 70s. Though Rico is pricey, I love their dresses and they will introduce new dresses frequently. They do not have any hidden cost, and any extra cost required is made known to us upfront before we signed the package.

5. Taobao, Carousell, Daiso are our best friends
Yes, wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but many items required for a wedding will only be used once, e.g. bridal bouquet, xi wall stickers, brothers' and sisters' outfits etc. Hence, I don't agree with splurging on decoration items.

We started looking for our wedding photoshoot props and actual day items on Lazada as (1) online products tend to be cheaper (especially when Lazada has Taobao collection); (2) This is considered an online payment, hence we get 4 miles per dollar; (3) We have free delivery as we signed up for free 60-day trial Liveup Membership. We bought many items there, including paper cups for jing cha, wedding angbao etc.

Carousell was also another platform where we can get cheap second-hand items. And more importantly, you can haggle. We bought our groomsmen's bowtie there for $1.50 and suspenders for only $3. I also bought 5 xi wall stickers for $5 when retail outlets are selling one for $15 (and the owner decided to throw in a few more xi stickers for free as he wanted to clear stock).

When I first learnt that wedding flower bouquet typically cost around $100 - $200, I decided to DIY. The Daiso sells fake flowers at $2 per stalk and my entire flower bouquet costs around $25, which is a quarter of the market price. Of course real flowers will look prettier, but I think the difference is less significant on photos.

6. Join a Brides Facebook group
I was thankful that my friend invited me to join a Facebook private group for brides. It was a platform where brides shared their good and bad experiences, and also provide advice on things to look out for. I also bought several second-hand items there, including my kua shoes. It was also through that platform that I decided to approach Mr Tam Chee Wah to be our solemnizer, as many brides highly recommended it. Check out our review of Mr Tam here. Unfortunately, this group is only meant for females and only by invitation. Do check out with your female friends who had gotten married if they are in the group so as to extend the invite to you.

7. Check your vendors' schedules
One major improvement area for our wedding is that I failed to take into consideration my make up artist's schedule on our wedding. I only learnt on the actual day that she had three wedding venues to attend to and she was late for my make up. As such, everything was pushed back. Fortunately, I had some buffer time to play around with. Read more here.

I also learnt from some other brides that their solemnizers had agreed to attend multiple weddings. As such, the solemnizers were late for their wedding and made guests wait.

Hence, for brides with tight schedules, you may want to find out if your vendors have agreed to multiple weddings and either buffer time for any unexpected delays, or choose to look for another vendor.

8. Plan and allocate tasks equally among myself and KPO
Though KPO and I share many similar interests, when it comes to work, we can be very different. I like planning things in advance. KPO, on the other hand, loves leaving things to the very last minute. To avoid arguments and to ensure that we don't miss out anything, I decided to list down all the things needed to be done, and allocated tasks (including deadlines) to him and myself equally.

9. Ask for help
Don't stress yourself out! That's what the brothers and sisters are for! Set aside some time to go through your wedding day programme flow and you will be surprised that their opinion/suggestions may be very useful.

KPO and I are really fortunate to have a bunch of super helpful brothers and sisters who not only gave us useful advice but also loan us lots of wedding props and this helped us saved quite a bit on the decoration.

On the actual day, I was actually quite blur as everything seemed to happen so fast. Fortunately, our brothers and sisters were a reliable bunch and ensured that everything went smoothly and on schedule.

10. Managing in-laws expectations
Sometimes your in-laws don't explicitly express their opinions or wants and it becomes very difficult to meet expectations. Hence, it is important to manage your own parents' expectations. I asked my parents about what they require for Guo Da Li and gave KPO a heads up way before our meet-the-parents session. Hence, KPO and his family were aware of the requirements even before the meetup and everything went smoothly on that day. We also asked our parents how many tables they require before looking for hotel venues so that we know roughly how many tables to set aside for our relatives. No shock, no surprises.

Wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and nobody wants to screw up his/her wedding. Hence, we hope that our after action review can help some of the brides-to-be and grooms-to-be out there! =)

Aside, KPO and I would like to wish our readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year! Huat ah!

You might be interested in these articles too:
An Honest and Brutal Wedding Vendors Review
Our Wedding Expenses is Within Our Budget!

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  1. Thanks for sharing! Able to share on how you all save up for your wedding?

    1. Hi KO/AL,

      We contribute an equal amount of our salary to a common expense fund every month and all the wedding expenses are deducted from there. The wedding ang baos collected went in as well if you are wondering. Hahahaha