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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Getting Married: Thoughts on Expenses

I am getting married. The past few months have been dotted with sporadic ideas of home decorations, wedding dinners. In these two weeks some photographs have to be taken. By next January, there will be a dinner. Out of this whole process, I have come to form some ideas that may be of benefit to readers. Here are some things that couples getting married may like to consider.

Wedding Photography

According to a good friend, wedding photographs are basically for show. Most albums that a photographer takes will wind up under the bed, gently gathering dust. Granted, a few albums will be kept in the living room, glorified coffee table books. That friend spent the minimum on his photo session, RM2,xxx/=, but it eventually came up to RM4,xxx/=. How so? He says the photo people will  offer you a fixed number of pictures, but they take hundreds of photos. In the end, if you want more than your quota, you will buy photos, each at a premium. They may promise you many props and costumes, but you will find that "I want 10 photos with this dress" and another 15 with another dress. That's how bridal photography makes its money. He discussed with his wife, and they agreed to get a more expensive diamond ring ("solitaire", so it's called) and save on the photos.

My wife-to-be has other views. It's important, since it's "once in a lifetime", and these photos are part of the run-up to that special day. People who get into arguments with their spouse, will find their anguish and unhappiness quelled by looking at their wedding photos. Nostalgia, timelessness, and the need to show the grandchildren "That's what we looked like when we were young." It's not going to be wasted but will be displayed at the wedding, like a slideshow, or a poster. Our package will consist of a storybook (detailing how we met, our compressed version of "How I Met Your Mother") and a photo album that will be shot over two days in Malacca... It cost RM6,xxx/=. I was assured however, that it is a good deal, since I got it at a bridal fair. 6 changes of costumes, plus a DVD containing several hundred photos.

My thoughts on this: It may be better to go for a more affordable package -- making it possible to hire more freelance photographers during the wedding dinner. The savings can translate into future photo sessions, over the following years, with parents, and family, and the soon-to-be-born new family members. The founders of Yeo Hiap Seng made it a tradition very early on to take family photos. They also took photos with the members of the staff. I think this tradition makes sense as there is continuity over the years. Besides, my parents are getting older and I may not have many opportunities to take photos with them.


Renovations have been made to the condo which I purchased. These were quite minimal in nature, mostly to do with tiling -- removal of the old parquet, and replacement by ceramic tiles. These were carried out over time, stage by stage, room by room, over the past year (as and when I could afford it). I used an Indonesian contractor for the painting and tiling work. There was also some replacement of bathroom accessories, windows, air-conditioning and lighting. These were done by Chinese contractors.

Things we have yet to install: kitchen stove, kitchen cabinet, and bedroom wardrobe. The condo remains bare until all work has been completed. In the meantime, I continue to pay maintenance and to service the bank loan.

My thoughts on this: Renovation generally increases the value of a property, and makes it more personalized and livable for a new family. It helps to rid the feeling that "Someone else lived here before", and makes it "Yes, we are now living here".


I've put some downpayment on a couch, a dressing table, a bed, and a mattress, but I've yet to collect them. Needless to say, renovations take priority, and the wedding photos even greater priority, because of the urgency of payment in that particular order.

My thoughts on this: There is nothing wrong with purchasing cheap, or discount, furniture. It should be durable and pleasing to the eye. Where there is a need, get it. Otherwise, excessive spending on furniture can lead to a cluttered home.

Wedding Ring

I spent about RM3,000/= on a set of matching rings. Viewed side by side, they look plain, with faint glints of shininess. I told her that I cannot afford a solitaire at this moment, which would cost RM3,xxx/= to RM5,xxx/=... which has yet to take into consideration my own ring. In the end, my wife-to-be chose that more economical matching set of rings, on the understanding that I will purchase her a solitaire in the next few years, when my financial status has become more stable. Thank goodness for that...

That friend which I mentioned at the start of this post bought his wife a ring that cost RM5,xxx/=. His own ring cost RM800/=. He said, "For what? Me, a guy, getting a diamond? That's not my style. But for women, they love to compare rings. When they sit together, they compare rings and diamonds. They don't compare photo albums." And that's why he chose to spend RM5,xxx/= on a diamond ring for his wife, knowing that she and her friends would be more likely to compare rings instead of albums, during their casual outings. It would make his wife smile with pleasure to know that she had not been shortchanged...

My thoughts on this: The ring is important, but it must be balanced against personal financial capacity. I am terribly saddled with burdens at this point of time. Thank goodness she understands. Unless a couple is expecting trouble to brew somewhere down the road, unless they are expecting to split up, unless they expect their union to be less lasting.... what's wrong with waiting for a while? It is said that the journey is as important as the destination.