How to Plan an Affordable Outdoor Wedding

Following up from my last post, here’s a guide that you and your partner can work on, together planning for an affordable outdoor wedding.

Outdoor weddings can be pretty costly (tentages, fans, blowers, rain curtains, tables, chairs, etc) but it can also be affordable, if you know how to plan and if you are willing to cut corners! That said, if you’ve never been the type of person to plan for anything, this is a great start for you to start learning how to and to start saving money!

With that, planning for an affordable outdoor wedding is all about DOING IT YOURSELF! (well, for the most part!)

To begin, both you and partner need to be on the same page about how the wedding is supposed to look and feel like and how much you are willing to spend on it, keeping in mind family culture and traditions as well as any religious obligations to work around – if any needs to be adhered to.

Here are the 3 big criteria to talk about first before the nitty gritty details.

1 – ENVISIONING

Envision how your wedding is going to look like. Some things to keep in mind when envisioning that would add into the cost will be accessibility by public transport, special needs for invited guests, sheltered area(s), weather conditions, etc.

2 – TIME CHECK!

Some wedding functions can take up the whole day and night. The shorter your wedding, the lesser guests you’ll need to invite, the lesser food you need to cater for, the more affordable it becomes. Plus, you’ll have more energy for time at night – if you get what I mean!

3 – BUDGET

Needless to say, weddings cost a lot of money. Money that you’d rather not part with. Money that you’d rather spend on a holiday. Money that you could have used to pay off your student loan. Money for anything else except for an event that is essentially, a loss-making event.

So, set aside your budget beforehand and work around it.

Now that you’ve ENVISIONED, PLANNED YOUR TIME and BUDGETED YOUR MONEY, it’s time to get into the details of planning!

  1. Research & Book Venues

Having envisioned how your wedding is going to look like, the next step will be to research on all possible venues.

Singapore is a great city to hold outdoor weddings, provided you get lucky with the weather. Some venues are enclosed and air-conditioned which makes it wonderful, but could be pricier. Some venues have certain restrictions which could inhibit how the flow of the wedding runs.

Having decided on a venue, you’ll need to book it quickly once you have decided on  a date. Venues in Singapore are scarce. Affordable venues could be even rarer. Some venues need to be booked a year in advanced.

We were initially disappointed when several locations we had in mind were no longer available or were out of our budget. So, we were pleasantly surprised when we found Berlayer Shades at Labrador Park to not only be available, but also fit most of our checklist for an outdoor wedding.

One of the things we wanted to avoid, was the need to set up tentage as it would be too costly and we also wanted the space to be open enough for guests to move around freely. And of course, a toilet had to be close by!

We decided on Berlayer Shades, which is not listed in the list below!

Here’s how our research panned out! (Easy to use when you’ve got Excel sheet!)

Wedding Venues Capacity  Per Pax   Price   Remarks
Pavillion @ Angsana Green  $        800.00
Gurame Restaurant 1000  $  19,500.00 (All in)
Void Deck  $          50.00
Alkaff Mansion
Villa Halia @ Botanics
Piai Plaza  $        421.00 (Venue ONLY)
Tang Tea House  $    28.00
ACC – Poolside Pavillion 280  $    25.00  $    4,280.00 (With tables & chairs)
ACC – Poolside Pavillion 280  $    25.00  $    3,210.00 (No tables & chairs)
Gardens By The Bay – Flower Field Hall  $  15,800.00 (Venue ONLY)
SPGG 1000  $    25.00
NTUC Downtown East  $  12,500.00 (Before Catering)
Changi Cove 200
Joyden Hall 380  $    9,800.00 (Actual Day Rental)
Pasir Ris Viewing Plaza 800  $        421.00 (Venue Only)
Hort Park
Aliwal Arts Centre 120  $        600.00
Flame & Spark Event Spaces 200  $        250.00
Chijmes  $    2,000.00
Arts House  $    1,600.00
UE Convention Centre 500
Grassroots Club at YCK 1000  $  19,000.00
Balestier JOM Ballroom  $    2,100.00
Warung In The East
  1. Set a Theme

This isn’t a necessity but if you’re having an outdoor wedding, typical themes normally associated are garden, rustic or beach themes.

Having a theme could help you decide on all the accessories and decorations that needs to go along with your wedding. Plus, it gives everyone helping you out an idea on how to ensure it meets the theme.

We utilized Pinterest to help us with our theme. We had a mood board of sort to help our friends know how the wedding was going to feel like. That way, everything we planned for should follow the theme.

Mood Board

  1. Book Caterer

Caterers either make or break an event, what more a wedding, YOUR WEDDING. Choosing the right caterer is essential to the success and happiness of your wedding.

Guests may not remember how your wedding was like or what you wore or what went on at the wedding, but they’ll always continue to talk about the food they ate. So, choose your food caterer wisely.

Make time to try out their food, when invited, and get recommendations from as many people as possible.

Ours was decided pretty much from the start by my wife. She knew exactly what she wanted. She had tasted the food before and dead set on this caterer, Mayura Catering. Well, no qualms about that! Food is spicy and absolutely delicious!

Side dishes/desserts were catered from my cousin, Zaqiah Yunus, who also happens to be a pastry chef! If you need to cookies or cakes, she takes orders too!

  1. Book Solemniser

Solemnisers are probably the key to you having a wedding. Some solemnisers are extremely popular and are booked way ahead in advanced.

Know who you want, why you want them and book them early.

We just needed an English speaking solemniser who wouldn’t take too long with his sermon. I’ve been at several weddings where the sermons took quite a significant amount of time. So, I pretty much knew who would fit the bill and thankfully, he was available on the date and time that we wanted.

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Nuff Said. You know who he is. You probably do!

  1. Design & Print Invitation Cards

Wedding cards are the first information anyone receives about your wedding. The wedding card, if designed to the theme provides invited guests knowledge about how to plan to dress for the wedding.

Wedding planners for some companies charge a premium for design and printing as it requires additional work. Find a good friend who’s willing to help you design the card that you’ve envisioned and go to the printers yourself. If you don’t have a friend that’s willing to help or a friend talented enough, you could learn to do it yourself. Takes a bit of time but hey, you’ll pick up some new skills along the way which could prove to be useful in the future!

Sending the cards to the printers yourself is also a better option as you’ll get to feel the texture of the cards and choose one that meets both your budget and quality desired!

We were pretty lucky with this since this was done in-house at By Definition Pte Ltd. We do design work and printing, so my wife provided with the draft of her idea and I passed it on to my business partner who did the necessary to give us the beautiful design work. Next, I brought it over to the printers which was right next to my office to send it for printing! Talk about convenience!

So, if you need some design work to be done, email info@bydefinition.net

  1. Wedding Outfit(s)

You could tailor or you could rent.

Needless to say about the benefits of tailoring – fits you snuggly, you can wear it again in the future and it’s designed according to how you want it to be! Downside is, it could be pricey, IF you have an ‘atas’ taste and purchase expensive material or visit an expensive tailor.

Renting on the other hand could be considerably cheaper and more affordable but it might not be the design you wanted, nor would it fit you comfortably and you could never wear it again.

AND of course, the more wedding outfit changes you have, the more it’s going to cost. So, keeping it to one outfit change would be ideal but that would also depend on how long your function is going to be.

My wife had hers tailored at Tekka Market. I had mine done in Batam, apparently its by the same guy who does it for all the tailors in Singapore. You think your tailors in Far East Plaza tailor it themselves? They send it over to Batam for less than half the price! And we decided that we only wanted and needed one outfit since our event was not going to stretch more than a few hours.

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  1. Make-Up Artist

Selecting the right make-up artist is crucial to ensuring the bride looks gorgeous. With an abundance of make-up artists out there, how does on choose the right one?

Start asking for recommendations at the earliest time possible as they are booked quite quickly! Then, check their portfolios either on social media or request for one so you get to see how they work with past clients, who may have different skin tones and features.

And then of course, arrange for an appointment to meet up with them to have a trial so you can experience what it’s like to have their magic work on you and most importantly, to assess your comfort level working with them.

My wife knew who she wanted. She had already seen her work online and trusted this person enough without the need for a trial because even a trial will cost some money!

‘Looks Studio’ did make up for my wife but she also recommends ‘Sue Afad’

  1. Book Entertainment (if required)

Entertainment come in different forms; a live band, a DJ, an emcee or some other live performances that may require not only a space but also a sound console and speakers which may require a power generator if electricity is not readily available.

All of which, could add on to your cost significantly!

So, if you’re having it only for a few hours and don’t require such a technical set-up. I recommend going wireless on bluetooth stereo as how I did with the Audiobox 500. It comes prepared with a wired mic and can be wireless connected via bluetooth to a laptop that has my songs downloaded into a playlist on Spotify (another great recommendation to save cost on songs!)

Our venue was a bit unique as they didn’t have electricity available for us to tap into and bringing in a generator for a short few hours wasn’t feasible so we worked around it with a Bluetooth stereo speaker, AudioBox 500 courtesy of By Definition Pte Ltd and Faiz. We had one system hooked up to my laptop which had our songs all downloaded on Spotify and the other was for our Emcee to move around to use.

We had a ‘live band’ performance as well by my dear friends from poly who also happens to work with me at By Definition Pte Ltd. Guitars were hooked up to the speakers and voila! We had a live band performance going on. Unfortunately, while music is great to be played from laptop, it doesn’t sound as good once you have music equipments plugged in. But well, while it’s not an amp to begin with, the show’s not for a concert anyway!

If you need to know who they are, well look out for Reyza Hamizan, Jeffri Natawate and Irsyad Marican!

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  1. Book Wedding Car(s)

If you need to travel between locations, then a wedding car is needed. Booking a luxurious wedding car could be costly, not forgetting the cost to decor the car as well. And since most weddings are held on weekends, that also means you’ll need to book the car over the weekend and if you only need the car for a day, it’s going to be money not well spent.

So, try to check around for a friend who drives who don’t mind helping you out!

I was lucky with this. I had my groomsmen who for the most part, most had cars. So, we had 4 cars available on hand to help me out including the car for the bride and groom. So, I guess we were lucky with this. Many thanks to my wonderful groomsmen from The Good Boys Club (a gentlemen’s club made up of professionals from different background but with an interest for the community).

  1. Book a Hotel Room

If you were holding your wedding in a hotel, usually it comes in a package but if you’re booking an outdoor location, you might want to consider booking a hotel room for your after-wedding rendevous.

Great deals are available online these days and you should totally make good use of it!

My wife decided to use Booking.com to book for us a room. She got a great deal for 2 days 1 night at a hotel. We got a free upgrade and we were given first class treatment from the moment we arrived!

  1. Book Transportation (if required)

If your wedding location is not easily accessible by public transportation, then you might want to consider booking transportation to ferry your guests to and fro to the nearest public amenity.

Because our wedding venue was a bit out of the way. Guests would need to walk about a good km or so, we decided that booking 2 mini-buses over a 5hr period would be great. And well, I guess it helped most of our guests!

I highly recommend Poh Lee Bus Transport Pte Ltd. Great service and affordable too!

  1. Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are not like birthday cakes, although they can be if you want it to be. Most couples would prefer a proper tiered wedding cake though so if you have a theme, planning for the type of wedding cake to have will be easier.

Finding the right baker is just as important as the rest of the items above – it must be a good match. Get recommendations from people about bakers who are able to bake the type of wedding cake you want. View their portfolio and read reviews about them. Get in contact with them and meet up with them. You must be comfortable to work with them.

If all is good, then work with them on the type of cake you want and work out the deliverables. I’ve been to weddings where the wedding cake became the cause of the disaster of the entire wedding – either it didn’t come out right according to specifications or it was delivered late or not at all.

For some couples, no cake means no cake cutting ceremony. So, decide on this together.

We had our wedding cake done by a great friend of mine. If you ever need a wedding cake or a birthday cake done, I strongly recommend you check BakesByMun out! Tell her you got the referral from me.

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Baked by BakesByMun

  1. Photographers/Videographers

Another list on the item that could make or break your wedding. Mementos from your wedding are important keepsakes that you want to have, to share with your friends and family.

Finding the right photographers/videographers also requires good recommendation. Things to keep in mind will be how well can they deliver what is promised – especially the turnaround time.

Most photographers/videographers  would require about 1 – 2 months to work on your photos/videos, edit/print and have them ready to be delivered to you. Most couples want to get their photos and videos fast to show to friends and family, so make sure you have deadlines agreed upon beforehand.

Most importantly again, be sure you are comfortable with them so meet them with them, have a chat with them and view their portfolios! Each photographer/videographer have their own style and treatment, so learn as much as you can!

We placed our trust in my poly juniors, Filzah and Safiah also known as Qitareqa. They gave us a great package price for 2 photographers and to have it printed in a book. The photos were passed to us in a thumbdrive and I brought them over to Batam to get one of the photos printed and framed up for my parents home.  And it looked wonderful even when blown up!

  1. Decorations

Decor is perhaps one of the first things you had in mind the moment you envisioned how your wedding is going to look like and decor could eat up into your budget, BIG TIME. If you’re thinking of fresh flowers to be propped up all around the room and on the table, probably curtains draping from the top and the sides – all that is going to cost A LOT.

The more items required, the more items needed to be hung up, the more manpower and equipment needed = more cost to pay for.

So, this is probably one of the few things that you may not want to DIY too much as it may take significantly a lot of time and energy. My suggestion is for you to work out a deal with the caterer. Most caterers already have contacts for decor and keep in mind that before the food arrives, the decor must be ready.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense for you to have the major part of the decor done by the caterer’s affliate which helps you save time and energy, and possibly money too! While its entirely possible for you to engage your own decor team, it may not be wise to have to juggle coordinating between two different groups of people who have different goals in mind.

So, get a caterer and decor person under one person whom you can liase with and make your life easier.

For the smaller parts of the decor, you can order those online and have your family and friends help you out with the decor.

We engaged our decor through our caterer mainly for the rain curtains, dais, tables and chairs. The accessories to spruce up the wedding were purchased online via Ezbuy (before it had problems with Alibaba) and of course, were also prepared by By Definition Pte Ltd and the set up was done by The Gentlemen’s Club (groomsmen) as well as the bridesmaids who helped make the event a success.

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My wife and her bridesmaids

Last but not least at No 16 – HENNA

Brides at Malay and Indian weddings are usually spotted with henna designs on their hands. The darker the shade of the henna, the more the wife loves the husband and for the Indians, hennas also serve as an ice-breaker for your first night!

We didn’t have to look far for someone we trust to do my wife’s henna as her very own sister is a henna artist!

So, if you’re looking for a henna artist, lookout for HennaBySharifah!

Henna

All said and done, the biggest takeaway towards having an affordable wedding if you haven’t already noticed is actually to DO IT YOURSELF!

It’s not that difficult to plan it yourself and hopefully, with whatever has been shared, you can save a lot of cost on hiring a wedding planner!

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