Wedding banquets in Singapore

Recently, I read an article by Budget Babe titled “No one is going to pay for your expensive wedding“. Basically she was chronicling how ridiculous some couples might have spent for their weddings, from the pre-wedding shots to the banquet itself.

I agreed with most of the points that she mentioned in the post. But at the same time, I totally respect how each couple would choose to allocate their resources for the planning of their wedding. After all, it’s their personal affair, their wedding, and if they do not borrow money from me to host their wedding, I do not have an issue with it.

Just kidding.

Jokes aside, one of the single most expensive aspect of running a wedding, especially for us in Singapore, is probably the banquet itself. However, it is heartening to note that there have been quite a few alternative venues sprouting out around the island in recent years, which are offering an alternative to banquets, at slightly more affordable prices. Again, you define what “affordable” is here.

The cost of hosting a wedding banquet increase yearly, and more often than not, most venues will encourage you to sign up the “package” with them early on to “lock in” those prices. Also, it is well-known that popular dates (according to the lunar calendar and a combination of fengshui and other elements) are more sought after. So, the sooner you make a deposit, you can be more relieved that you will have a venue to host your wedding, which sometimes can be in the next 1-3 years time.

Anyway, a recent check on revealed some of the latest prices for hosting a banquet in Singapore.

It’s quite astounding isn’t it? Note that the figures are for a table of guests, and each table typically sits either 10 or 12 guests. So if you were to invite 100 guests, you can multiply that by 10. Basically, the cost increases with the number of tables. And this doesn’t include the taxes and disbursements (if any) that comes after that.

The most expensive choices are obviously the top 5 star hotels in towns, or in Sentosa, followed by the 4 star hotels. The slightly cheaper ones are probably well known restaurants in town.

The question is then, if I am invited to a wedding at a certain venue, am I expected to give a monetary value equivalent of a per capita figure? For the benefit of non-Singaporean readers, unlike most other countries that has a wedding registry and gifts include handmade items, to towels, to any other physical object, over here in Singapore, we give “red packets”, which is basically a small red envelop, stuffed with money inside (yes stacks of notes!!). It is also a societal norm and expectation that the amount that is contained in the envelope should at least be sufficient to cover the cost of the “per capita” cost for that banquet.

To put it in perspective, for example, if I were invited to a wedding dinner hosted at the Ritz Carlton (according to the website above, it would cost around $2210 per table). Let’s say it sits a table of 12, including taxes, it would essentially cost around $200 per head (that is approximately US$150)! Does that mean that you have to give a “red packet” value of that amount?

Like I mentioned earlier, that is the “expectation” but in actual fact, probably not a lot of people are able to do that. Imagine if a family of 4 attends the wedding, that would essentially mean that I will need to fork out $800, and that is basically an air ticket to Tokyo!

The other day, I overheard a lady who was planning for her wedding about how she intends to invite more friends to her wedding, and less relatives. According to her, friends would give more money compared to the relatives, which is comparatively lesser. And this is how she will avoid losing too much money for the banquet, or wedding, so to speak.

I find this a rather warped up mentality. Weddings are a celebration, and should be less calculative in that respect. Of course you can be calculative during the planning process, by that I mean the choice of gown, venue, etc. However, shortlisting guests based on their ability to pay for your wedding? I won’t say it’s wrong, but neither do I feel that it is something I am comfortable with. 

Also, if you decide to choose an expensive venue for your wedding, that should be your choice. The guests should not be penalised for paying for it.  

A friend asked me about this the other day. She was in a dilemma. She had her wedding a few years ago, and it was held at a “less-posh” location, not a hotel, but the venue was nice nevertheless, and the food was great (I recalled I was raving about it the entire evening.) Because of the location, people had automatically assumed it is cheap, hence she didn’t receive a lot of red packet money or rather, the monetary value were significantly lower than if they were to attend a hotel wedding.

Not that she was upset with it, she had originally chose that venue for it’s affordability, as she did not want to splurge extravagantly for the wedding. However, she was sharing with me that she had a few friends who were getting married, and they were hosting their weddings at really fanciful places – that is, places that cost a lot of money and would easily cost at least $150 per head to host.

When she had her wedding 2 back then, most of “these friends” had only gave her about $100 each, which to her was a fairly decent amount. She was thinking if it would be rude to reciprocate with the same amount, or if she should “top up” to cover for the “per capita” cost of a person attending.

A fair dilemma. My personal advice to her was – give what you think is a comfortable amount for you. If $100 is your comfort level, then just go ahead with it. If you think that she’s your good friend and you will like to give her more and you have the ability to do so, that is entirely your choice. But at the bare minimum, don’t feel like you are compelled to do so because of the venue.

“What if she doesn’t befriend me anymore because I gave so little?” she asked.

“Well, that just reflects how much your friendship is worth” I retorted.

2 thoughts on “Wedding banquets in Singapore

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