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How to slash your wedding budget and still be happy – Malaysian edition

Organizing a wedding has always been a tug-of-war over what the perfect vision of the special day would be. Over the years, consumerism and the increasing amount of services and options (ohhh the options!) has led weddings to be the most expensive day of your life, not the most important day of your life.

Some people are willing to do anything just to have the so-called ‘the happiest day’ of their lives: In February 2019, a 28-year-old man in Sibu allegedly printed fake money to fund his wedding.

There is always a new trend when comes to wedding and sometimes these trends are mistaken as ‘traditions’.

So it is time to take a step back and ask why we do the things we do for that special day.

When you understand the reasons behind them, you might be able to skip certain things and eventually cut down your wedding budget.

So here are 15 ways to trim your Malaysian wedding budget and still be happy:
1.Skip the bridesmaids or groomsmen

It seems that having bridesmaids or groomsmen these days are for photography and social media purposes.

Admit it: You have seen it happen to some brides or as a bride yourself. The bridesmaids were more concerned with their own appearances or taking wefies rather than helping the bride.

The main job of bridesmaids during a wedding in these modern days is to help the bride, shadow her and attend to her every need.

However, I personally have seen more than once how the bride (or the groom) had to carry her own train or fix her look when needed while she had half a dozen bridesmaids somewhere at the wedding.

Unless you are having the wedding gatecrash tradition, it is unnecessary to have a long line of bridesmaids and groomsmen, especially for a church wedding.

Speaking of traditions, originally bridesmaids would wear the same dress as the bride and their faces veiled. This was to confuse jealous suitors and evil spirits.

Unless you strongly believe there are jealous suitors and evil spirits out to get you on your wedding day, consider not having bridesmaids and groomsmen.

It is okay not to have bridesmaids for your wedding. Credits: Pexels.
2.Don’t have children in the bridal party

Sure, having children as part of your bridal party adds extra cuteness on your wedding day. But, just like the bridesmaids and groomsmen, you can skip this part of the wedding arrangements.

While bridesmaids and groomsmen might be able to fork out for their own outfits, you would need to add in the cost of children’s outfits in your wedding budget.

What about the page boy in a church ceremony, you might ask? How will we ever get the rings delivered to us for the exchange?

You actually can have the ring readied by the altar for when the time comes. One of your family members or even the altar boy can walk over with the rings. Besides, it is less fussy this way than having a page boy who might not know what he is supposed to do.

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3.Say ‘No’ to a tiered wedding cake

Do you know what’s the tradition behind a tiered wedding cake? It is believed that the tiered wedding cake started during Anglo-Saxon times when guests would bring small cakes to the wedding and stack them on top of each other.

Fast forward to this day, guests no longer bring cakes for the ceremony so the price of the cake is added to the wedding budget and borne by you.

Instead of having a tiered wedding cake which would partly be artificial, opt for one cake that you definitely would enjoy.

Why spend so much on a tiered wedding cake?
4.Be strict with your wedding list

This is the hardest part for any Asian, not just Malaysian weddings. If you are having your wedding reception in the village or longhouse, then life might be easier. Your relatives can come together gotong-royong style and prepare the food. Furthermore, your parents will be happy because they can invite as many second cousins or friends along with their children as they want.

But if you are having a reception at a restaurant or hotel, then this would definitely cause you a headache.

Regardless, narrowing down the guest list can definitely help to cut down on your wedding budget.

If your parents insist on having a big fat wedding guest list, try to negotiate with them like the FBI in a hostage situation – with patience, empathy but with your end goal always in sight. In the end, try to make sure the odds are on your side.

5.Do the environment a favour and go paperless with your wedding invitation cards

Make full use of the technology and invite your guests through chats and social media.

For those who are not digitally connected or you still need the feel of good old wedding cards, design and print them out on your own.

There are so many free, beautiful and printable templates for wedding invitation cards found online these days.

There are plenty printable wedding invite template found online.
6.Skip the wedding favours

If you are planning a Malay wedding, it is nice to keep the tradition of giving bunga telur. It is a symbol hoping the newlyweds will have a child soon. But some couples replace it with sweets since you can only prepare the bunga telur a day ahead of the wedding.

Honestly, since you have already pored over the wedding menu and done the food-tasting ahead of the day, I don’t think your guests would mind if they don’t have a small pouch of chocolates or sweets to bring home.

7.Skip the pre-wedding photos

Most Malaysian couples would be horrified with the idea of not having pre-wedding photos.

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The saddest part about pre-wedding photos these days that some of them are heavily edited. In some photos, the groom’s double chin or the bride’s flabby arms magically disappear.

A tiny tweak may be acceptable, but not to the point that the couple is beyond recognition.

Can you imagine 50 years from now your grandchildren might ask, “Grandma, why do you look so different when you were younger?” The best way to reply them in all honesty, “Oh honey, those were ‘photoshopped’”.

If you want to slash your wedding budget, you can skip the pre-wedding photo shoots. Then save the money for the photo shoot on your wedding anniversary.

You can skip the pre-wedding photos if your wedding budget does not allow it. Credits:Pexels
8.Go minimal but still keep it beautiful with the decorations

Yes, there are some people out there who can afford fresh flowers for decorations like a certain former Malaysian premier’s daughter.

But for the average Joe like the rest of us, we just need to be creative.

Be crafty, go to Pinterest, use everything in your sight (or storeroom) for your wedding.

Do not spend hefty part of your wedding budget on decorations that will only last for a few hours.


9.No fresh flowers for your bouquet

“WHAT’S THAT?” You say, “NO FRESH FLOWERS FOR MY WEDDING BOUQUET????” Before you flip the table and refuse to read any further, we look at the several origin stories on why brides carry bouquets.

In the Middle Ages, brides carried mostly herbs not flowers to ward off evil spirits and mask the smell of body odour.

Meanwhile in Victorian times, lovers often sent different flowers to express their feelings.

Since every flower have its own meaning, the brides would carefully choose the flowers depending on the flowers for the sentiments.

If you do not stink on your wedding day or if your husband does not know the difference between a daisy and baby’s breath, why use fresh flowers for your bouquet? Ask wedding vendors if they provide fake flowers for bridal bouquets in their packages, then you won’t have to worry about the additional cost and hassle of fresh flowers.

There are realistic fake flowers out there to use fo your bouquet.
10.Create your own photo booth

No, do not follow the trend of having instant photobooth unless you can afford it. Even hiring a decorator to set up a wedding photo booth backdrop can cost you a lot these days.

Just channel your creativity from the right side of your brain or Pinterest, enlist your friends or family and build your photobooth background for your guests to take photos with.

11.Limit the alcohol

Most East Malaysians, especially the Dayaks and Kadazandusuns would be horrified with this idea. But let us be honest, the price of alcohol takes a huge chunk of your wedding budget.

If you really need to pump alcohol into your guests, limit the amount of alcohol.

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As the bride and groom, it is definitely sad to see your guests are there not to celebrate your wedding but solely to get drunk instead.

As for the guest, do not complain if you are not being served with enough alcohol. If you want to get wasted, go to a bar not a wedding.

12.Consider a wedding brunch or lunch

Speaking of alcohol, you can actually skip the drinking portion entirely if you are planning a wedding brunch or lunch.

Go against the norm. Have an intimate reception with your friends and family by picking a more casual setting.

Additionally, the wedding brunch menu in particular is more affordable than the dinner menu.

Wedding breakfast or brunch reception is definitely cheaper than wedding dinner reception.
13.Get items secondhand

Since nobody is going to say it, then KajoMag will say it; it is okay to have something borrowed or something from a thrift shop for your wedding. Be it decorations from your friends or cousin’s wedding or a secondhand evening dress, just borrow it. Who cares?

14.Skip the colour theme

Have mercy on your family and friends, just skip the colour theme. Why ask them to spend money on one attire that they will most likely only wear once in their lives?

If you are the one forking out the money for these themed-coloured outfits, more reason to skip the colour theme.

15.Know your priorities

The whole idea of a wedding is to celebrate the start of a new life with your partner as husband and wife. To go broke or in debt just for that one day of your long life is ridiculous.

It is okay to have a dream wedding. Some girls have been dreaming about their weddings since they were in kindergarten.

But things change; set your wedding budget according to your priorities. Know what are the things important or matter to you.

If you have always wanted that beautiful wedding dress -something that is not rental or off-the-rack, invest in a custom-made dress. Have it in a timeless design and keep it in a good condition after the wedding. Perhaps in the future, your daughter would want to wear it.

Let say it is important to have all your relatives and friends to be there for your wedding day. Then splurge on a big wedding reception at an affordable location while skipping things that do not matter to you.

Bear in mind that these ideas are for those who are looking to cut down their wedding budget. If you have all the money in the world and you want to indulge on one of the most important days of your life, splurge on!

Do you have any more tips on how to slash down your wedding budget? Share it with us in the comment box.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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