Ruby and Fadzly’s DIY Budget Wedding

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I got married on 3 Dec 2016 and had nothing short of a spectacular and beautiful time. I thought of writing a post on how we managed to have a magical set up, without spending a ton. I haven’t calculated fully, but our wedding costs an estimated SGD$5,000+, for a guest list of about 100 people. I’ll give you guys the breakdown later (and I guess, find out for myself what the final cost is too, haha!). This article is mainly inspiration for other couples who might want to do the same! I don’t think the rest of my friends want to be inundated by the details that will follow.

I also need to include a disclaimer, that I was blessed enough to have some things sponsored/discounted/gifted:

1) Photography
2) Parts of the decor
3) Floral services (like the bridal bouquet, groom’s boutonniere)
4) Wedding favours (with complimentary personalisation)

Out of these, I understand that photography is pretty expensive, and I will not be one to tell you to scrimp on the photographer. If anything, I think you should splurge on the photography because after everything is torn down, done and dusted, the photos are the only things to help you remember the day.

The rest, you can easily get help with, manage yourself, or keep costs low still.

So let’s get on with it!

The concept

Faz and I – okay, I – wanted a simple, intimate, outdoor wedding with a midsummer’s night / garden picnic theme. So think mats on the floor, bottles with wildflowers, fairy lights and beautiful trees. Our Pinterest had pictures like these:

garden-2garden-3gardenparty-unedited-129

With the help of my friends, this is what we achieved:

INSERT PICTURES HERE

Here’s how we did it!

Location

Faz and I accidentally rode by Aloha Changi Fairy Point Chalet 7 when the Pokemon craze was happening and he was there trying to catch Pokemon. He remarked that it’s a really popular one because it faces the sea. Realising that it would fit our wedding theme, we decided to aim for it. Civil servants are able to book these chalets a month earlier than the public, and get a discounted rate too, I think. So we asked our two lovely teacher friends to help us. Because the chalet was very popular, and our date was a weekend in December, we would need them to be on the website the night of 3rd September, to book the place at the stroke of midnight when the system opens. They helped us (despite the wife being pregnant!) and we got it.

Cost: $412

Decoration props and materials

Wooden poles and planks

We needed poles to string the fairy lights, and planks to lay between the mats for guests to place their plates and cups. We tried Carousell with no luck, and none of our friends had contacts. We went to Ban Heng Long, who had what we needed, but cost way too much. Each plywood sheet of around 2x1m would give us 10 planks, but while each sheet costs $14.50, each cut would cost an additional $1. This means it isn’t just $14.50 x 2.5 (we would’ve needed 2.5 sheets), but around $60+ after including cutting price. We thought that was too steep a price to pay for something we were using only once. It was wasteful both in terms of money and resources.

We decided to try the Sungei Kadut industrial area, which we found through our research in Google, has lots of manufacturing/supply companies dealing with wood and timber.

We struck gold at Hock Hin Leong / Teckching Timber (56 Sungei Kadut Street 1), where we met Uncle Huat. After telling him what we needed, he told us (in translated Mandarin): “Oh, you only need it for one evening? Then don’t waste your money! Will my scrap wood do?”

He showed us the pile, and would you believe it, they were in the exact dimensions we needed. AND the planks all came in beautiful designs. BLESSED OR WHAT. We had to pick up all we needed, in three trips, so we bought food for them the next two times we came back.

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This was how we transported the 2.4m poles, which were tied securely to our bike.

I’m also happy and proud of this because we were re-using wood that would’ve been burned anyway, instead of buying new ones.

They had some other shapes and sizes too, which he was happy to give away. He kept telling us to come back and take more, haha. If you don’t manage to find what you need from him, his supplier is also on the same compound, and can customise what you need for you.

Cost: FREE

Textiles for mats

My friend Leyna who volunteered to take care of the decor, went to Spotlight and found everything really expensive. Fadzly and I decided to check out Joo Chiat Complex to see if we had better luck.

After much discussion on what type of cloths and in what dimensions, we decided that we would need:

  • 4 strips of 10m thick cloth as a base
  • 12 pieces of 2m, coloured/patterned cloths as accent picnic mat pieces

We found what we needed at Yishun Textiles & Garments (yes, inside Joo Chiat Complex, #01-1067, tel:6743 0664). Uncle Do Re Mi (yes, that is his name as printed on the name card) was incredibly helpful and very honest with us. We told him what we were using it for, and again, when he found out that we were only using it for one evening, he directed us to only suitable cloths that would cost less than $5 a metre. Every time I picked up an expensive one, he would say, “Aiya, don’t waste your money, that one is expensive.”

He also advised against getting 10m, saying it would be too much. Because of him, we settled on 8m, which was perfect and costs a bit less. He checked the length of the roll of textile and guess what? There was exactly 32m (4 strips x 8m) left on the roll. WHAT!

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Cost: $137.60 ($4.30 per metre)

We then proceeded to walk around to get the accent pieces. Our colour theme was blue and so we decided on these three in the end.

cloths

Japanese print: $15.60 for 2 pieces of 2m x 60″ ($3.90 per metre)
Polka dot print: $33.60 for 4 pieces of 2m x 60″ ($4.20 per metre)
Batik print: $32 for 4 pieces of 2m x 45″($4 per metre)

Total costs: $218.80

Here’s what my friend Leyna sponsored for the decor:

Fairy lights and waterfall fairy lights (I believe she spent $108)
Glass bottles
Flowers to put inside bottles

This was what it all looked like, laid out:

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Looks even better with people on it ;). We also told our guests to be dressed in blue!

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Entertainment

We created our own playlist and brought our own awesome Harman Kardon Go+ Play bluetooth speaker to the event!

Cost: Free

Food

Gustos / Four Seasons catering

So, I originally wanted to go with another company, whose branding I liked because they were unique, gourmet and out of the box. Sadly, they disappointed me with the fare that they suggested, and took almost two weeks to reply to me each time. I ended up looking for another company and found Gustos, which is under Four Seasons catering (separate from the hotel chain).

Now them I was really impressed by. Basically, there was no request they said no to. I picked their Secret Garden Buffet as a base, and customised it to how I needed it to be. I told them to omit the desserts as  I was going to have that catered separately. I had many vegetarian guests, and I also wanted to have more vegetable-based dishes, which was in line with my own lifestyle and personal choice to eat less meat for environmental, ethical, spiritual and health reasons. I also needed food to be easy to eat since people were going to be sitting on the ground, holding the plate in one hand and eating from the other – in other words, no bones, big chunks that need to be cut, or peeling. So in the end, my menu was made up of:

Apple, apricot, raspberry, walnut salad
Open-face mushroom sandwiches 
Pumpkin and beetroot mash
Pan-seared salmon with pomegranate salsa and sauteed spinach 
Spicy rempah chicken 
Braised beancurd with assorted vegetable
Vegetable croquettes (breaded croquettes made with I think potato, onions and other stuff)
Sambal prawns (de-shelled)
Crumbled scallops with orange strawberry marmalade sauce
Californian saffron pilaf rice with raisins and almond flakes
Coffee, tea, ice water and passionfruit cordial

Basically, every dish was on point. My personal favourite was the salmon. The mushroom sandwiches, chicken, prawns and vegetable croquettes were cleared out. My vegetarian and vegan friends were happy, and so were my meat-eater guests.

Gustos even included a beautiful garden set up to match my theme and somehow synchronistically used blue and white flowers – I never told them the colour theme of my wedding!

Delivery was also free – the previous company was going to charge me $120 for delivery, as well as $45 a head for the menu which did not have as many dishes as this.

The original price for the Secret Garden buffet was $32/pax ($34.24 w/ GST), and the staff from Gustos, Jerine, shaved it down to $30/pax for me.

Cost: $3,200 ($32 x 100 guests; including GST)

The Love Crumbs desserts

I got my friend, Nancy, who makes amazing cakes and desserts, to cater for my wedding. Again, I wanted out of the box stuff. Her expertise and specialty is in melding flavours together, so I was super excited. She asked for a list of flavours to work with and I settled on this:

  • Gula melaka, or something Malay in taste
  • Reverse carrot cheese cake (coz I saw her post it once)
  • Lychee
  • Bandung
  • Lemon meringue something (coz I love lemon meringue tarts!)

Here’s the final spread (my own descriptions except where mentioned – so I might’ve missed an ingredient!):

Gula melaka cake – “Pandan Chiffon with molten Gula Melaka sandwiched between layers of Malibu Creme Chantilly and Preserved Palm Seeds (aka “Attap Chee”), top layered with a generous scatter of Caramelised Coconut in Gula Melaka.” (Description taken from her FB page, The Love Crumbs)

Everyone RAVED about this – myself included. The blend of the flavours as well as the different textures in the mouth was just, RIDIC. PLEASE, do yourself a favour and find an occasion to order this.

Carrot cheesecake cupcakes – carrot cake (with huge sultanas and visible grated carrot) with what tastes like a tangy apple sauce layer before a yoghurt-y cream cheese layer, and light cream on the top. I am literally eating one as I type this. Yay for leftovers hahaha.

Salted caramel lemon meringue crumble slice – I never imagined salted caramel on lemon curd but that is Nancy’s genius for you. A tangy lemon curd topped with salted caramel, on a a cripsy, crumbly base (I need to find out what was in it!!).

Rose lychee profiteroles – oh my god, this is another of my favourite. A light vanilla cream filling infused with rose and lychee flavours, WITH AN ACTUAL PIECE OF LYCHEE, in fluffy choux puff pastry ball! I had some friends said this was an orgasm explosion in the mouth, hahaha!!!

Nancy also gave me a gift of one extra strawberry cake which, looks unassuming but on closer look I realise had many intricacies. In between each sponge layer was some kind of delicious strawberry cream and strawberry chunks, and under the main layer of exterior cream (which was white), I noticed a light pink layer too.

Everyone couldn’t get enough of the desserts and I still have friends raving about it the day after the wedding. Haha. Get in touch with Nancy via her FB page, The Love Crumbs!). She will advise you well with regards to quantity if you’re worried about food wastage.

Cost: $1200 (for 90 pax with delivery, after I gave her a budget of around $10-$12 per person)

Our special requests to guests

We asked our guests to bring their own plates/tupperware, utensils, and cups, because it was very important to me that my party was environmentally-friendly. I feel deeply for our earth and it pains me to see bags and bags of plastic plates at parties, that people use once and throw. We still had some disposable plates, cups and utensils but at least they were biodegradable cornware, that the caterers provided. Those were for people who missed the memo or forgot to bring their own things. I’m proud to say that we generated only one trash bin worth of waste, that is mostly biodegradable as we barely used any plastic. I think that’s amazing and am super happy about it.

We also asked them to be dressed in blue because I thought it would complement the theme and the variety of shades and hues would give us really nice pictures!

Wedding invites

We invited our friends and family via Facebook, Whatsapp and phone calls.

Why spend money on a card that is going to be thrown away right after the event? It is wasteful both in terms of money, and the earth’s resources.

Wedding favours

I wanted our wedding favour to be from a social enterprise so that we could support their cause. After some discussion and research, we decided on something lovely that people would actually use: natural soap bars from Sensatia Botanicals. I had come across this company while doing an article for Asiaforgood.com (a DBS website focused on social enterprises around the region) and really liked them. I was in touch with Ethan, the distributor in Singapore, for the article, and so I reached out to him again to see if I could get the soaps at wholesale price.

I found out that wholesale price is only applicable for an order of 500 pieces and above – I only needed 100. However, Ethan was extremely kind and generous to give me that price anyway, in appreciation of the article that I wrote. I don’t think I deserved it but yes, I was very thankful for the discount. He even personalised them with these gorgeous bags and fabric flowers, and delivered the soaps himself to the chalet.

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Soaps! With an explanation of Sensatia’s cause, and why it’s better to switch to bar soaps.

I know that typically people keep the cost of wedding favours low, maybe between $1 and $4. Since we had a small guest count, and the proceeds were going to a a good cause, we spent $5.70 per soap.

Cost: $570 ($5.70 x 100 pieces of soap – 20 pieces of 5 different scents)

Hair and makeup for Ruby

I decided to go with my polytechnic friend Stella, who is a producer and freelance makeup artist. She very kindly offered me a friendship price of $250 (U.P $300) for makeup and a simple hairdo. She already charges slightly lower than market rate because this is not her full time job.

She basically gave me what I wanted without me having to explain too much. I just wanted a natural smokey look, matte eyeshadows, natural falsies, some contouring, and natural, long-staying lip colour. For hair, I wanted a side braid, with some flowers stuck into my hair.

She nailed it!

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Look at my glow! You can’t see the flowers coz they are mostly stuck behind. The best thing? My makeup stayed flawless all night, in the humid Singapore weather. I remember staring at my pores at the end of the night thinking, holy shit, this still looks so good. I provided my own foundation but she layered a few other products under and over it. I loved the natural coverage and contouring!

She waited patiently for me when I was late to our appointment. We experienced an unexpected inefficient check-in process, and ended up getting the keys 40 minutes later than the agreed upon early check-in time. She still managed to complete the look in less time than we had without compromising on anything.

Cannot be more pleased.

Contact Stella through her website Makeup Your Mind.

Cost: $250

Photography

Now, I know how important wedding photography is. I read enough articles to understand that scrimping on the wedding photography is a bad idea. Besides the fact that the photos are going to be the only physical memories you have of your special day, photographers deserve to be paid fairly for their professional training, equipment, time, effort and expertise.

All that said, we needed to keep costs low – professional photography was costing at the low end $600, and at the high end around $1500 for around 3 hours of photography (and editing and etc). We weren’t really satisfied with the $600 portfolio, and loved the $1500 one but… It was $1500.

Two beautiful, big-hearted friends offered to be the event photographers for the day, they said that they considered themselves amateurs, and that they would not be offended if we also had a professional photographer on that day as well.

My partner and I looked through their photos on Facebook, talked about this, and we agreed that, because it was a simple affair, with no walking down the aisle, and mostly shots of us standing/talking with friends, and etc, that we will choose to forgo super professional photography. Besides, our friends’ photography was actually pretty damn good!!

We also decided that we would spend the money on taking more couple shots when we were in New Zealand (I’m moving there to study for two years), with the jaw-dropping scenery there.

I thought this all sounded very fair. Our simple outfits had been bought and not rented, and so we could always take them to New Zealand and use them again.

With that, we decided on getting our kind friends to do the photography for us. Here are some of our favourite shots 🙂

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Our outfits

My outfit was bought from Vaingloriousyou on Haji Lane.

  • Top $62
  • Skirt $95 (the website says $88, did I get overcharged?!)

Fadzly put his outfit together from a mix of places:

  • White top $39.90, H&M
  • Navy blue vest $49.90, H&M
  • Pants $49.90, Uniqlo
  • Shoes $129.90, Pedro

Total cost for her: $157

Total cost for him: $269.60

Bridal bouquet and groom boutonniere

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I wanted a blue-themed bouquet!

Cost: Free. Sponsored by my dear friend Leyna.

Her cost for all the flowers needed for the event (decoration, bouquet and boutonniere) was $108 from Far East Flora after a 10% member discount.

Wedding rings

We wanted something simple and hardy. We never believed in splurging on rings, so we went to Couple Lab to get a simple pair of surgical steel ones. Tarnish and rust-resistant. Fadzly got this other material which is also scratchproof.

Total cost: $72 ($34 for my ring, and $38 for his)

Miscellaneous items

Questionnaire Guestbook from Kikki.K: $25.25 after I used a 20% discount code sent to my email (U.P $31.90). We LOVED this! The book has questions that guests answer – we got some funny and lovely entries!

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Pens for guestbook: Free. We brought the ones we had from home.

Posters explaining guestbook and gifts, and sign for clean up area: Free. I used Jukeboxprint.com to create beautiful posters, and brought my Ikea frames from home. Sneakily printed posters at the office where I am temp-ing – it was only three sheets! One of the posters:

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Extension cords: Free. Borrowed one 25m-long one from the work place, the rest we took from our home.

Fan rental: $40 x 2 with free delivery and pick up. This was the cheapest and BEST service. I had looked on Carousell and searched from Google. The next cheapest one was $60 a fan, excluding delivery charges which was $20 one way! Fans were in great working condition, they arrived on time and were picked up on time by two nice young chaps. Contact them here.

Extra stools rental: $1 per stool, free delivery for 21 pieces and above from Mr Daylen (9847 1704). Super friendly guy who delivered promptly and picked up the next day with no issues. On hindsight, we didn’t need the chairs because the chalets had enough! Nonetheless it was only $25 for 25 chairs.

Sustainable bamboo toilet roll for guests to clean up plates/tupperwares: $6.65

Photos of us: Printed at a shop in Bras Basah Complex. $12.25 for 35, 4R-sized prints. Collected in 2 hours.

Locally-made Hush Candles to gift to our set up team: $144.45 (for 10 candles. with 20% discount; U.P $18 each), from Mondays Off, my friend Leyna’s retail business. I recycled some cards with nice prints to make thank you cards.

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Total cost: $253.60

And the grand total is…

SGD$5,926.40!

I excluded my make up because it was something that I covered myself since I was the only one using the service. It is $6,176 if I add the $250.

The total goes up to $6,603 if we include our outfits, which we can continue wearing after the event.

The best thing about all of this was how not stressed, Fadzly and I were throughout the whole process. I always found it silly to be stressed out about such a joyous occasion, and I’m glad I stayed true to my principles. I didn’t sweat the small things and trusted that everything would go well in the end. The only thing I was worried about was the weather. But my prayers were totally answered by Mother Nature. We had beautiful cool day and the most gorgeous sunset.

So!

I don’t know if anyone made it through the entire article, as I know it is a long and detailed one. If you’re planning a wedding and read the whole thing, then thank you, and I hope it was helpful. Please feel free to reach out at rubytan.work@gmail.com if you have any questions. Faz and I are happy to answer them!

Happy planning!

 

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