[Ultimate Singapore Malay Wedding Guide 2020] – How much do I need to save?

Malay weddings were once called upon to be a ‘cheap’.

Don't take my word for it.

Back in 2012, ex-NTUC Assistant Director Amy Cheong made a controversial remark that Malay weddings cost only ‘50 bucks’ and they should ‘pay for a real wedding’ instead.

The golden question is - how far is the '50 bucks' wedding from the truth?

I was secretly wishing that was true, because - oh boy, once you've done your calculations - you will come to realize that she didn't do her math well (and emotions got the better of her, unfortunately).

For that amount, you would probably get to book the void deck space for football, that is if SPF permits and you don't break any common lights.

Hence, for the benefits of our soon-to-be brides and grooms who are reading this, I've decided to compile an extensive list of the wedding costs - detailed by line item breakdowns - for a 'typical' Malay wedding.

To keep it consistent, we will assume the following:

  • You are doing your own separate wedding reception
  • You are the groom
  • You are inviting 1000 guests
  • You are not engaging an all-in-one wedding planner

Instead, you're handpicking the different wedding services based on your preference (which saves costs but with extra effort of course). 

Without further ado, let's begin. (You may click on the Table of Content below for quick navigation).

ROMM and Solemnization

The basic but the most compulsory cost that you will definitely spend on will be registering your marriage at the Registration of Muslim Marriage (ROMM).

Well... unless your parents forbid your relationship and both of you decided to run away and registered in Hat Yai instead. (Please, keep the gila-gila pengantin remaja shenanigans in dramas only)

With only $39, you can be legally married so long one of you holds at least one pink or blue NRIC. Else it will be $128.

There is also a separate pricing if you are getting married without a guardian's (wali) consent ($100) or for under 21 years old ($120).

Additionally, you will also need to engage a wedding solemnizer (naib kadi), for your solemnization ceremony.

Though they are considered volunteers and provide solemnization services as part of their contribution to the community, as a goodwill gesture, it would be highly encouraged to give the naib kadi a token of appreciation.

Based on personal feedback among friends, it ranges from $100 to $200.

ROMM Marriage fee = $39

Naib Kadi contribution = $150

Total = $189

Mahar

The Mahar is essentially the gift given by the groom to the bride after the solemnization ceremony.

This is also another compulsory item that you have to include as part of your expense sheet.

As per ROMM website, it can be in a form of ‘cash or benefits, such as gold, silver or money’ and the current minimum rate in Singapore is $100.

mahar fee = $100

Marriage Preparatory Course

Marriage Preparatory Course (or Kursus Rumahtangga) was once made mandatory for Muslim couples who are getting married. However, since the turn of 2015, it was no longer made compulsory.

However, it is still highly recommended for those who are getting married to enroll in one so as to be better prepared for marriage life.

It normally runs for 2 full days, over the weekend, and the packages cost around $260 - $300 which includes lunches and tea breaks.

Recently, a Muslim programme called Bersamamu (Together with You) is also being introduced to inspire Muslim couples to build a strong marriage.

Essentially, the engagement between the naib kadi and the marrying couple starts months before the solemnization ceremony and continues in the next two years to share useful advice and guide the newlyweds through their early years together.

I personally find this to be a brilliant initiative, and the best of all, this comes at no additional costs. Peacefullymarried.com covered this in-depth well.

(ASSUMING EQUALLY SPLIT)

marriage course fee = $150

Wedding Venue

Traditionally, Malay wedding venues are chosen to accommodate for a large number of guests, so as to enliven the atmosphere of the kampung and gotong-royong spirit.

Hence, weddings at neighbourhood void decks are a pretty common sight.

Increasingly we're also seeing a trend among Malay weddings to go for better accessibility and facilities in the form of community centres, restaurants, country clubs, and hotels.

Hence cost-wise, it depends largely on the type of venue you're looking for to comfortably accommodate all your guests on the invitation list.

Based on our earlier 1000 guests assumption, reserving a 100-seater restaurant will not cut it.

Hotels might be an option, but that doesn't cut it either if you’re budget-conscious.

And if you’re someone who perspires easily and don’t mind paying extra for an air-conditioned venue, a community centre will be the best choice in terms of comfort, accessibility and affordability.

Whichever you option is, here's an idea of the various venues:

1. Void Deck

  • Range from $50/day to $100/day (including electricity and water usage)
  • Some required up to $500 deposit which is refundable
  • Varies across different town councils (check out CCK, Tampines and Sembawang examples)

2. Community Centre

  • Range from $800 to $2,500 per day

3. Restaurants

  • Range from $50/pax to $80/pax
  • Number of guests are mostly capped between 150 to 400 guests
  • Costs usually include décor and food (and some include door gifts too)

4. Hotels

  • Range from $55 to $150 per pax
  • Some excludes catering and décor (have to check with the hotels)

For point (2) to (4), Kahwin.sg has compiled an extensive list of the individual venues.

(ASSUMING A MID-TIER OPTION: 
COMMUNITY CENTRE)

venue booking = $2500

Food Caterer

Besides the number of guests you’re inviting, the price varies depending on the types and number of dishes you're opting for.

These days we're seeing more wedding food caterers also double up as decor service providers. For the purpose of this article, we will separate them.

The price normally goes by per person, ranging from $15 to $40 per person.

So if you're expecting 1000 guests, you can easily fork out $25,000 for the $25/person food package.

($25 per pax * 1000 pax * 80%)

food caterer = $20,000

#SmartMamatTip

Expect 10-20% no-shows from your invitees (even if they have RSVP-ed). Instead of 1000 pax, order food for 800 to 900 pax instead.

Decor

Decor normally covers the overall layout of wedding venue.

The price varies based on the type of venue. It is understandably cheaper if the wedding venue is held within the HDB estate (void deck, multi-purpose hall), and it gets pricier as you progress from community clubs to hotels.

This is normally due to the function room size and high ceilings that you would normally get in those venues.

Price ranges from $ 3,500 to $7,000.

(ASSUMING A MID TO HIGH TIER DECOR SERVICE)

DECOR = $6,000

Wedding Rings / Bands

I guess I can't really say this is optional, isn't it?

Normally for ladies, they would go for diamonds or gold while the guys will have platinum, titanium or silver for their rings.

Diamond rings for the ladies could start from $1,300 while the men’s platinum rings vary
from $1,200 to $3,000.

So guys, be prepared to set aside at least $2,000 to buy that diamond ring.

DECOR = $2,000

#SmartMamatTip

Instead of buying a Diamond, consider buying precious metal ones.

White / rose / yellow gold, platinum, silver and palladium hold a better intrinsic value in the long term while diamond loses value over time.

Bridal & Makeup

Unless you’re going to buy your own suits / gowns and do your own makeup on that day, you will probably have to engage a bridal & makeup services.

Many vendors are already offering these two services hand-in-hand, but of course, they are also other independent too such as make-up artists (Mak Andam they called it) who offer make-up services only, and vice versa.

The market rate as of now ranges between $2,500 to $4,500.

If the groom needs a male make-up artist (Pak Andam), this will add up even more.

(ASSUMING you split $3,500 equally with your partner, 

a total of 2 outfits each and makeup)

bride & makeup = $1,750

#SmartMamatTip

Instead of renting an evening suit, consider buying a high-quality, tailor-made yet really affordable one from overseas (Bangkok, Vietnam to name a few).

Most likely you will be wearing it more than once, especially for future formal events.

Wedding Cake

Wedding cake is normally being cut after the 2nd walk-in section of the event when the bride and groom have changed to their evening attire.

This would also be the time when they deliver their thank you wishes to their families and friends (and possibly shed some tears too).

For a typical wedding cakes (or cupcakes), this could range from $150 to $450.

Wedding cake = $300

Hantaran Gifts

Hantaran are gifts exchange between the bride and groom.

This is purely based on the Malay culture, and is not grounded to Islam in any way. What that means is it is optional.

However, the ONE gift that often stood out and mostly being discussed about is the duit hantaran.

It is essentially a sum of money that the groom gives to the bride's parents, pretty much like a dowry.

Why duit hantaran is hotly-debated about we'll have a separate article to elaborate that.

For the sake of today's topic, we can expect today's 'market rate' for duit hantaran, based on my own observations, to be from as low as S$7,000 to up to S$15,000.

(ASSUMING $10,000 DUIT HANTARAN 
+ $2,000 WORTH OF GIFTS EACH)

HANTARAN GIFTS = $12,000

Invitation Cards

With the rising awareness of being eco-friendly, we're seeing more young couples choosing the e-card method, be it through WhatsApp or online invitational platforms.

Some popular ones are evite and PunchBowl.

Other pros of the e-card approach are:

  • Lower Cost: Printing costs and design could easily add up to S$200-$700, depending on the quantity. You could probably save some cost by printing it across the border.
  • Less Hassle: Think about it…you don’t have to lick envelopes or writing of names on the cards till your hand cramps. To put it simply, you will save a lot of energy and time.
  • RSVPs are simple: This is especially relevant to those who booked a specific number of tables in hotel venues in which you need to confirm your guests’ attendance. Your guests will be directed to your wedding website where they can immediately check yes or no.

Of course, I’m pretty sure we all have some family members or relatives who prefer the physical card for a more personalized touch.

Not to forget, you may also want to reserve some of that for the more important guests (hint: your boss or company’s CEO)

So you may want prepare a small batch of printed cards for this group of guests.

(ASSUMING $0.50 per card x 500 cards.

each card for 2 pax)

invitation cards = $250

Door Gifts (Berkat)

Door gifts prices vary greatly depending on the item that you would like to give to your guests.

I don’t think you would want to leave this out, as you would want them to leave with a tangible memory of your big day.

To save costs, Singaporeans normally go over to JB to buy their door gifts which are undeniably cheaper.

Door gifts can be as low as $1 for the traditional salted egg that comes with a pretty box.

Or if you would like to break free from the traditional egg or pulut, you can find other daily practical items that your guests will appreciate such as food items (honey, Redondo chocolates, sweets) or daily use items (towels, soups, mugs).

Do also consider cost of the packaging that comes with the gift to ensure you won’t be surprised on the final costs.

We can expect to spend anywhere between $1 to $3 per pax.

(ASSUMING $2 per pax x 1,000)

door gifts (berkat) = $2,000

Photo & Videography

Unless you have friends or families who willingly volunteer to take photos of you on your special day, you might probably have to engage a photography service.

If you have the means, you may also consider engaging a videographer too.

Personally, I think photos would suffice and more practical as you can use to frame and display it in your house.

Photography service could easily cost $1,500 to $2,200, while videography will add-on a further $1,200 to $1,800.

We will omit pre-wedding photoshoot for this discussion as it is traditionally not a recommended practice, unless of course #halalgap is observed.

(ASSUMING you split $3,400 equally with your partner)

photo & videography = $1,700

DJ & Sound System

This depends how much entertainment you’re looking for on your special day.

Some prefer to have a simple music playlist played throughout the day, while others would want to have a renowned DJ/emcee and a karaoke system in place.

This could range between $300 to $1,000.

To save cost, you can have a family or friend to volunteer as a stand-in emcee who will manage the mic only during the key events such as first (kompang) entrance, evening outfit walk-in and cake-cutting.

If you book a hotel venue, they might throw in the sound system package for free.

(assuming you hired a dj and sound system)

dj & sound system = $600

Additional Costs (for both Groom and Bride)

Honeymoon

I was contemplating if I should add this as part of wedding costs. Technically it is not part of the wedding setup, and you can always go for your honeymoon travel at a later time.

But for this discussion sake, let’s assume you decided to go soon after your wedding day, and you are looking for a 10 to 12 days’ Europe trip.

A quick check on travel aggregator websites such as TripZilla.sg will set you back around S$3400 for a tour package for two, excluding own personal expenses.

To be safe, I would multiply that amount by roughly 1.5 to cover the personal expenses too.

(assuming you split $5,000 equally with your partner)

honeymoon = $2,500

Live Band

This is optional, but if you do want to consider a live band, it may set you back around $1,000 to $2,000, depending on its popularity.

Do not get me started on Coldplay or Maroon 5.

LIVE BAND = $1,500

Gubahan (Gifting services)

This is mainly for the exchange of gifts, or hantaran.

You may consider doing it yourself or getting some help from your experienced relatives to save costs, else you may consider engaging this service.

There are aplenty on Carousell.

It ranges from $15 to $30 per tray with a minimum number of tray required. Some examples here and here.

(ASSUMING 5 trays at $20 each)

gubahan (gifting services) = $100

Henna Art

This is traditionally used in Indian weddings, but we have seen over the years how this has also being incorporated into Malay weddings too, which is called Majlis Berinai.

If you do consider one, go for professional Henna artists who can offer various creative designs with reliable and safe paste ingredients used.

Quick check on Carousell and you can see such services here and here.

henna art = $150

Costs = $150

Other Costs (usually for Groom only)

Kompang Service

Thisis traditionally used as official entrance for the bride and groom to the wedding location. It normally costs between $300 to $800, depending on the reputation of the kompang group, and whether you need their service for a day or two.

(ASSUMING you need a 1 -day service only)

kompang service = $550

Duit Salam (Gatecrash gifts)

This is usually given during the bertandang (gatecrashing) ceremony, where the groom will be coming over to the bride’s side.

Depending on how many hurdles, roadblocks, gantries or ERP (or other terms you prefer), the groom will have to prepare different cash value denominations in envelopes to pass through them successfully.

This is normally being carried out by the families and relatives of the bride’s side.

The last hurdle will most likely be the Mak Andam (make-up artist) herself who will be seating with the bride, and normally the most expensive one.

duit salam (gatecrash gifts) = $200

Bus

If there are separate events at two different venues happening on the same day, one on the groom’s side and the other on the bride’s, some couples may want to rent a bus to accommodate for their travelling relatives.

Screenshot on GrabCoach

A GrabCoach, with seats for 9 to 40 people, could range between $60 to $120 for a one-way trip.

For the purpose of this calculation, we’ll assume it is a two-way trip for mid-tier bus.

(ASSUMING a two-way trip, average $90 for each)

bus = $180

Langgar Bendul Gift

This tradition has somewhat being passed down through generations in the instance when the younger sister is getting married first before her elder sister.

It is essentially a gift to show respect and appreciation, as chronologically the older sister would settle down first.

Once again, this is purely tradition and in no way made compulsory to do so, but I will include this in nonetheless.

assuming you bought a nice mid-tier watch as a gift

langgar bendul gift = $500

Other Costs (usually for Bride only)

Bridal Bouquet

This is optional, and really depends on whether the bride would want to hold on to a bouquet while seating on the dais while waiting for the groom to arrive.

bridal bouquet = $100

In Summary…

grand total (for groom) = $54,619
Grand total (for bride) = $41,450

This is definitely higher than the $50 cost mentioned at the start of this article.

Before you start telling yourself “heck this amount is crazy, how do I even have enough to settle down”, do not fret.

These are conservative numbers.

There are various ways to shave the costs down further and you do not have to spend this much.

For example, you can choose to reduce the number of guests or arrange for a combined wedding event with your partner instead.

Remember that your wedding is just a one-day (or two) event, hence you do not need to splurge.

What is more important is the marriage that you will go through together with your spouse and the money saved could be better utilize - from purchasing your first home, having your first child and your eventual retirement.

Now it’s your turn

I have compiled the estimated total cost of a typical Malay wedding.

Now I want to turn it over to you; how much would you be comfortable to spend for your wedding?

What other costs do you think that I have missed out?

Or other pro-tips that could potentially shaved some of the costs shown here?

Let me know by your thoughts by leaving a quick comment below.

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