I have been through ups and downs in my love life but finally found the one for me. We got married in 2019 but the entire journey has not been easy, especially the financial aspect.
Organising a Chinese wedding in Malaysia can be a really costly affair. I’d like to share my personal experience so you’d get an idea how ridiculously expensive it is and plan ahead.
- Chinese Wedding Cost Breakdown
- My Big Fat Malaysian Chinese Wedding Cost Grand Total
- Thoughts about Chinese Wedding in Malaysia
- Financial Implication
- How to Save Money on Wedding
Chinese Wedding Cost in Malaysia
Chinese Wedding Cost Breakdown
What is a typical Malaysian Chinese wedding? From my personal experience, it entails the following:
- Tea ceremony
- Fetching the bride from the house
- Evening banquet
These 3 are the main events that I figure is pretty universal in Malaysian Chinese culture. There are some differences among the dialect groups though, so it might not apply.
Since we are Christians, my other half wanted an intimate church-style wedding with close friends and family only. So we did 2 ceremonies, 1 in the afternoon and 1 in the evening. This was in Kuching, so the costs in Klang Valley is definitely higher.
So let’s talk about the breakdown of the major costs.
Technically this is before the wedding, but I included it to give a more accurate picture of the total cost if you were to get married. Girls love diamonds, there’s no other way around it.
- Damage: RM8000
Food & Beverages
The afternoon ceremony was done in Old Courthouse which we paid for ourselves.
The evening banquet was held at a hotel restaurant. We invited 37 tables (including parents’ friends, far-flung relatives etc). Food consisted of 8 courses. No free flow of alcohol (beer is expensive); and we allocated only 1 bottle of red wine for each table. The whole thing was fortunately paid for by my parents (not everyone is as lucky as I was).
- Afternoon Western-style ceremony: RM5100 (venue + food)
- Evening main banquet: RM30600 (food + wine)
Decoration and Coordination
Our decorator did quite a good job of handling the decor for both the afternoon ceremony as well as the evening banquet.
We also hired a professional freelance coordinator for coordinating between the emcee, food serving and the general flow of events, and another to help to help the bride with the gown during the night.
Got our bridal bouquet and bridal car decor from another vendor.
- Venue Decor + Professional Coordinators: RM10000 (Plushed Event Management)
- Bridal bouquet + car decor: RM1000 (Pretty Petals)
Edit 26/1/2021: cost above was for groom’s side ceremony in Kuching. For bride’s side ceremony in KL, it was more than RM15,000 which was graciously paid for by my mother-in-law as a wedding gift. KL side included:
- Wedding arch
- Coordination service, including coordinating with the hotel’s provided arches & flowers + miscellaneous logistics with the night’s flow
- Vendors: XO23 + Eastin Hotel
My parents helped us get this done at some local vendor. The wedding invitation cards were provided for by the hotel, luckily.
- Damage: RM640
Very important component to control the mood of the evening. Ours was the same for both the afternoon and evening events.
- Damage: RM1300
We really liked the photographer for our registration of marriage, so we hired back the same guy. Photograph is a highly subjective thing and every photographer’s style is different.
Before the actual day ceremony, we had a photoshoot done locally from another studio so it came with all the usual bells and whistles (album, printouts; dresses included) – this was paid for by my mother-in-law as her gift to us.
- Pre-wedding photoshoot: RM6000
- Actual day photoshoot: RM1800
Needed something to liven the evening up and to capture things photos wouldn’t be able to capture. We also ask the studio to create a short animation for our ‘how we met each other’ story.
- Damage: RM6900
Music band with live singing. They brought their own instrument + amplifier. Do coordinate closely with your venue as some do not provide extra microphone etc.
- Damage: RM3400
Shoes and Clothing
The highlight for the day is mainly on the bride, so she needs to be pretty. The gowns play a huge role in this. I also had 2 tailor-made sets of suits for myself. We also paid for the bridesmaids’ dresses.
- Damage: RM6900
Hair, Makeup and Accessories
My bride chose the makeup artist whose style she’s comfortable with. We also paid for the groomsmen’s accessories.
- Damage: RM2000
Eventually you’ll need plenty of close friends and family to help in terms of logistics and guest reception. It’s kinda expected to give goodwill ang pau for those who helped out. This includes the cost for ‘gatecrashing’ whereby the groom and groomsmen ‘gatecrashes’ at the bride’s place before fetching her back to the groom’s house for tea ceremony.
- Damage: RM1150
Needed car for my buddies as well as an official bridal car, so rented 1 and borrowed my uncle’s. Also paid for accommodation for relatives.
- Accommodation: RM1600
- Car rental: 400
- Laptop rental + PA system: RM150
- New bedroom furniture: RM4500 (kinda unavoidable since it’s customary for relatives to go see the bridal bedroom)
- Chinese customary decor items (red slippers, red bedsheets, knick knacks): RM300
- Dowry and gifts for the bride’s family: RM8000
My Big Fat Malaysian Chinese Wedding Cost Grand Total
So what does it cost in total to get married?
Grand Total Damage: RM99,740
Portion we paid for out of our own pocket as a couple (excluding ring and dowry): RM46,500
(Do note that this amount is not including those paid for by the bride’s side, including the dinner at a hotel in PJ).
Thoughts about Chinese Wedding in Malaysia
Chinese weddings cost a shitload of money, especially if you want the whole experience.
I’d say a lot of the costs involved could’ve been avoided if we didn’t give a crap to anyone’s feelings or family reputation. But that’s near impossible in Malaysia. Plus, if you are going to plan a wedding, remember this key phrase: It’s not about you.
See, your parents spent their whole lives toiling away to raise you up and they finally get to see you get married and start a family of your own. From their perspectives, it’s something worth celebrating and they’d like to tell all their friends and families about it. This inevitably increases the cost of entertaining said guests.
Resentment, arguments and fights can occur just because of a wedding, especially the planning part. Since it involves money, it’s a highly emotional subject. Just remember these 3 things to help keep you sane:
- It’s your wedding, yes, but it’s not about you only
- Be prepared to spend money like water
- If point number 2 scares you, just think that it’s once in a lifetime thing
I ended up taking out a personal loan alongside incurring hefty credit card debt to finance all the above costs. My wife had to take out her savings too. Until today, I’m still paying off my debt.
Was it a stupid move? Perhaps, from a personal finance aspect. Even after knowing for a fact that taking a personal loan to finance a wedding is really stupid, I did it anyway. But the value lies in something money can’t buy: everyone’s happy at the end of the day. And this does my mental health some good and it’s hard to put a price on that sort of thing.
How to Save Money on Wedding
I gotta insert a bit of disclaimer here: what we did for our wedding is not really typical. Most people would only do either a Western-style ceremony or a Chinese-style banquet.
We did both due to personal preference, and to save a bit of cost (time, hired help), we had to compress everything into a day.
If you’re a Chinese in Malaysia and are going to get married soon, congratulations! Just brace for the unavoidable stress and work things out with your partner. Keeping a level head, being objective and mature will help to smoothen the whole process.