Currently, my wedding preparation plans are put on hold with the current COVID-19 circuit breaker measures introduced by our Singapore government. But thankfully, we started our wedding venue hunt earlier and had already done several site visitations since January this year. It was no easy task for us because we suddenly realised that there are so many other things to consider. Things would have been so much easier if my partner and I have discussed what are the must-haves prior to the site visits. If you are a bride-to-be like me, here are some tips to help you with your wedding venue selection.
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1. Decide whether it will be a dream wedding of yours, your partner’s or both of your parents.
This is a super important decision to make right at the start of your wedding preparation. Because if both of you decided that it would be a wedding that you want to have total control of, then other people’s opinion should not matter at all. Both you and your partner can decide who you want to invite and determine how the wedding procession will unfold.
However, if it is a wedding organised just to please your parents, then you will have to rope them into your wedding preparation process and ask them who they want to invite. I have friends who hosted weddings just to please their parents so they invited their parents’ whole gang of friends, colleagues, families and relatives. On the other hand, I also have friends who have the freedom to host weddings of their dreams.
But on the whole, Singaporean Chinese parents usually have a say over their children’s weddings to some extent. Thus, some tried to compromise. My cousin, for instance, held two wedding celebrations – one for her close friends and the other for family members, relatives and parents’ friends.
So before you go about planning your wedding, you need to decide if it is your wedding or your parents’.
2. Decide whether you want to conduct your wedding in a hotel, restaurant, church or an event space.
Based on my research, the cost of conducting a wedding at a hotel, restaurant or an event space all pretty amount up to the rough amount. The costs of the wedding does not really depend on the venue but number of guests you invite and other miscellaneous wedding costs.
Traditionally, most Singaporean Chinese weddings are celebrated in hotels and restaurants. It is pretty no-fuss to hold your weddings at a hotel because it usually comes as a package. The package usually includes solemnization ceremony, wedding lunch or dinner, alcoholic drinks, sound system, venue decor and a hotel night stay. And the hotel events manager or catering manager will usually take on the role as your wedding planner assistant to help you ensure that everything is going smoothly. As such, most couples would usually purchase hotel wedding packages. It’s a good deal.
But hotel wedding banquets are pretty standard and can sometimes seem boring. It’s the usual 8-course Chinese banquet dishes that sometimes make you feeling real full after the meal. Do remember those awkward moments of sitting beside someone whom you do not really know at the round table? If you attended a Chinese wedding banquet before, you will understand what I mean.
You can switch things up by asking for long tables instead but usually there’s additional costs to it. Thus, most of the wedding couples would for round tables and opt for the standard Chinese wedding banquet dishes.
A table of 10 usually starts from SGD128+++ per pax. It is great if you are holding a wedding for more than 150 pax.
If you want to go for something unconventional, like having a sit-down western wedding lunch or dinner, then host your wedding at a restaurant. It’s usually slightly cheaper than hotels but it doesn’t corkage fees. And you have to top up for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Most of the wedding restaurant packages include basic wedding decor, solemnization venue and basic sound system set-up.
This is actually a pretty popular option among the younger Singaporean couples who want to organise small and cosy wedding celebrations. Or if you want some sort of customisation in terms of the menu and set-up to suit your wedding theme, it would be best to have your wedding at a restaurant.
Prices usually start from SGD100++ per pax for a sit-down western wedding lunch. It is great for smaller weddings, between 50 to 150 pax.
I initially thought that renting an event space would cost cheaper but it’s not true because they usually have their own preferred caterers. And if you do not use their preferred caterers, then you have to pay extra just to hire your own caterer. In addition, you have to pay extra to decorate the venue and then tear down the set-up by yourself at the end of the wedding. Moreover, there are usually strict rules you have to follow to maintain the cleanliness and condition of the space. If you were to go for this option, make sure you have your team of bridesmaids and grooms to ensure the smooth running of things.
However, you have plenty of freedom to customise your wedding the way you want it to be. You can get to select your own caterer, florist and other wedding vendors. It will be a one-of-a-kind wedding which would probably be rather memorable for you and your guests.
This is probably the cheapest option because it is usually free for church members to rent their church space for weddings. The only costs incurred is probably the buffet reception and wedding decor. But most couples usually have church weddings in the morning and wedding dinner in the evenings.
3. Go with the minimum number of guests you will invite when you are making your venue booking.
Remember to do up your guest list first before doing your wedding venue search.
If you have a list of 200 guests, then make a booking for 150 guests first. The rule of the thumb here is to always go with the minimum because there will always be guests who can’t show up last minute at your wedding. If they don’t show up, you will still have to pay for their meals or seats.
Closer to your wedding date, you can check with your guests again to see if they could make it or not. Then inform the wedding venue organisers that the additional number of seats required. They are usually able to accommodate more guests.
4. Work with site coordinators or wedding vendors whom you can really trust.
This is common sense but sometimes we tend to overlook this and compromises work relations for our ideal dream wedding venue. For instance, I was really keen to hold a wedding at this beautiful event space because it suits my ideal wedding theme. However, during the communicating process with the site coordinator, I realised that she wasn’t prompt with her replies. Maybe because I wasn’t their actual client yet so that I do not have their undivided attention. But if we are talking about work ethics, then this should not be happening knowing that I was a potential client. In the event that I decided to book the venue with her and should things cropped up during the wedding, she might not be there to assist.
Wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and the last thing you want to encounter is a situation where you are left alone to settle the problem. As with any other important matters, you would want to find someone whom you can trust. To me, this is the most crucial factor to consider when it comes to the selection of wedding venues.
5. Food and company matter more than the wedding venue itself.
Time and time again, ex-brides and grooms have told me that what matters the most to their guest is whether the food is great or not. What goes into your guests’ tummies matter the most. If the food is horrible, your guests would not enjoy themselves during your wedding no matter how beautiful the place or decor is.
In my most honest opinion, the venue did not really matter to guest at all. I guess what really makes a wedding memorable is simply the food, company and the entertainment. It is worthwhile to organise some games, live entertainment or performances to entertain your guests. It is a nice way of thanking them for making the time and effort to attend your wedding.
At the end of the day, a wedding between the couple is only made possible by a group of people who have been a pillar of support for you and your partner. It is not just YOUR wedding but theirs, too.