Saying 'I do' does not mean breaking the bank

Marital bliss: A couple listens to the recital of doa blessing them in Kampung Keriam, Tutong. Picture: BT file

Sunday, November 8, 2009

COUPLES planning to tie the knot can still have their dream wedding, without having to break the bank.

A traditional Bruneian wedding could be costly because the wedding ceremony could run through several days, which means hosting guests more than once, not to mention different sets of wedding attires for the bride and the groom.

"Normally, for a wedding in Brunei's traditions, we would spend close to $20,000 or even above," said Aisamuddin Ali, who got married in August.

He said his wedding incorporated Malay practices, which may not have cost much individually, but could add up they inflate the wedding bill.

Aisamuddin said by scrimping and doing his homework, he was able to save on his wedding expenses, while still retaining Brunei's wedding traditions.

He told The Brunei Times he was able to save money on the catering costs, souvenirs, invitations, among others.

Just how did Aisamuddin do it?

To save on catering expenses, he said he did his homework by first surveying catering services to compare prices. In the end, he said, he decided based on the price and the quality of the service.

Also, he asked for changes in the menu then had some family members take on some of the cooking.

"Let's say the price was $5.50 per head and that included special menus like big steamed or fried fish. I took out the fish from the menu, which lowered the price. We just cooked the fish ourselves," he said.

"Almost every catering services now also offer tent service, at the same time lending a nice continental car like BMW or Mercedes for the groom's journey to the bride's wedding site," he said.

By choosing such a package, Aisamuddin said he was able to save.

He said, while they sent invitations to 1,000 guests, when he placed his order with the caterer, he didn't actually order for all 1,000, knowing not everyone would be able to attend anyway.

"Just removing one or two people from the guest list makes a big difference in terms of savings," he said.

"Brunei is so small and everyone is related. Lots of people are married on Sundays so not all of the guests or even our own relatives would be able to attend," he said. "Bit by bit, I saved almost 20 per cent off the actual estimate just on the catering," he said.

Ak Erwin Pg Hj Othman, owner of Jessamine Café and Restaurant, said that whenever they received an order for wedding catering service, he would ask the couple's budget. And from there, he would work with the clients on the menu they want.

Another area where Aisamuddin was able to cut costs was on the wedding venue.

For the akad nikah (marriage contract ceremony), he said that they chose to hold it at the Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque.

He said he was advised by his father in law to have it at the mosque to seek for Allah's (SWT) blessings.

By choosing the mosque, he said, he actually saved some money as he did not have to rent tents as opposed to having the ceremony at other venues.

The choice of venue also worked out well because they had an opportunity to have a photo shoot at the mosque's grounds, with a view of the lagoon, garden, the water village, among others.

For the souvenirs, Aisamuddin said he ordered from Indonesia where souvenirs are cheaper. "Plus, they were more unique," he said.

"Our invitations were also ordered from Indonesia at the same company," he said, adding because of the volume of orders, he was able to get a good bargain.

"As for my honeymoon, I thought of performing the Umrah. Apart from touring the holy city, I am performing my Ibadah (religious obligation) with my wife as well," he said.

Rina Suzaila, who is going to get married in December, said she wants the akad nikah, hantaran berian and majlis bersanding on the same day to save costs. "For some couple, they would do the functions on different days in order to cater for different people who could not come on a certain days. But for me it is better to do it in one day," she said.

This way, she said, they could save on the catering budget.

To save on wedding attires, another bride-to-be said they explored the option of just renting or even borrowing from siblings.

On the bride's wedding attire, Aisamuddin said he gave his bride the free hand to choose and buy what she needed.

In buying the shoes, handbags, prayer veil, among others, he said, "I let her do it. If I did it, I might have bought something she didn't want. Also, when it came to those things, she knew how to find them cheaper."



Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahim, a consultant at Exeltrac Training and Services, said couples need to have strict discipline for saving so they would not be trapped in a financial sinkhole after the wedding ceremony.

He advised couples who have no choice but to stick with the Bruneian traditions, to plan ahead and start saving long before the wedding.

While some could count on financial support from families, he said, others would have no choice but to take out loans.

"But the best option is always savings," he said.

If a couple plans to get married in the next three years, he said, they should save at least $500 per month. After three years, he said, they would have saved $18,000.

For extra savings, he said couples should consider setting aside yearly bonuses.

"Set the target and discipline yourself.

"Open an account purposely for this objective. Save more whenever you can or earn extra income through bonus or part-time business," he stressed.

"I understand that $500 a month is a big amount especially for those who earn small salaries," but they have no choice, he said.

Other means of saving, he said, include driving a car that is fuel-efficient, using credit cards sparingly, spending wisely, and making a record of everyday expenses.

He also advised couples to negotiate between their families to determine a reasonable amount on the expenses.

Also, he said, "negotiate the catering cost, limit wedding guests, do not have the wedding in a hotel if you can't afford it, book cheaper wedding venue ... do not choose expensive gifts for the guest ... and avoid multiple functions," he said.

But if there is still no other choice other than getting a loan, he said couples should go for the minimum amount. "Remember, a loan is a long-term commitment with interest," he said.

Aisamuddin realised others would not agree with some of the measures he took to cut costs. "I know I may sound stingy, but I don't care. That is the fact because I don't want to be happy only during the wedding ceremony, but also after the wedding It is not fun living with debts," he said.

"I don't want to make my wedding as a burden. What I want is a happy ending," he said.The Brunei Times


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