It’s been over a month since our big day, thus this post is long overdue. I’ve been adjusting to my new role as a wife, and my first full-time job post-graduation.
Alhamdulillah our wedding went smoothly. It was a combined wedding but we managed to limit the number of invites to below 500 pax. When we first started planning the wedding 2 years ago, we decided on a budget based on our savings then and alhamdulillah we managed keep the total cost of the wedding below that budget without incurring any debts or borrowing, nor imposing on our parents.
In this post I will not be disclosing the price of the packages I took, but if any bride-to-be wishes to know, drop a comment with your e-mail address and I’ll be happy to share them. Disclaimer: I’ll share what we paid, but the actual costs of the packages are bound to differ according to time periods or promotions.
I hope this post will be useful to couples planning for their wedding and I welcome you to the comments section for any queries. If anyone is planning for a combined wedding, I have a few sample itineraries that I can e-mail to you as well.
In this post the vendors are arranged in the order we booked them
Marriage Preparatory Course – Sapphire Pearl Management Consultant (SPMC)
We chose their course over others as there weren’t many at that time that offered courses in English. The teacher wasn’t an ustaz but I believe he was training to be one. Nevertheless, the content between different vendors won’t differ much, as it has been streamlined by MUIS. The teacher was very friendly and approachable but I would recommend to go for a course held by asatizah so you can pose your questions to them and be a little more sure that their answers are credible.
We went for a separate talk on marriage preparation by Ustaz Noor Deros and I would highly, highly recommend his talks.
Note: I heard (not sure how true it is) that the marriage preparatory course has ceased to be compulsory. But I would still recommend couples to go for it even as early as the “dating” phase (the certificate is valid for 3 years). Even if you feel you have enough knowledge on the topics, a revision wouldn’t hurt.
The package included the following:
- Food for 500 pax, including tables, chairs, cutlery, utensils. They offered flexibility in that we could change the number of pax between 500-1000 up till the last meeting, which was 3-6 months before the wedding
- 50 sets berkat nasi (I.e. food packed into containers for some guests, usually close relatives, to bring home)
- Kendarat (busboys/ busgirls and dish-washers), including tentage for their dish-washing/ cooking area
- For voiddeck weddings, portable toilets are included in the package
- Venue deco including pelamin (dais)
- Gift tray deco for maximum 10 trays
There was also some flexibility in the package in that instead of getting gift tray deco, we could substitute it for bilik pengantin (bridal chamber deco) or DJ.
FDCS has always been well-known for their food and we bore witness to that when we attended their food-tasting session at the wedding expo prior to booking them. There was a vast variety of food and lauk (dishes) to choose from – even if you’re not into the typical briyani rice served during weddings, they offer alternative sets like tomato rice. They also offered a variety of live stations which we felt weren’t really needed so we didn’t take them up. Their sambal goreng pengantin – to die for! There was also a large variety of malay kueh and western desserts to choose from – we let our parents choose the malay kueh, and for western desserts of course I chose my all-time favourite brownies (without nuts!) and eclairs!
Some of my makciks arrived before the nikah with lauk and kueh (without warning!). FDCS went out of their way to heat up and serve all this extra food, which I think is very commendable!
Quantity-wise, FDCS has this policy whereby they will cook more than what was ordered, so none of their events will go through the embarrassing scenario of running out of food. For our event, there was quite alot of extra food so we were able to pack and give out to more guests to bring home. (Tip for BTBs: Bring extra tupperware containers and plastic)
Taste-wise, some lauk seemed quite spicy to my own personal taste, but we received a lot of compliments about the food – my father-in-law even said that the rice was so nice, you could just eat it on its own.
The kendarat were very very efficient in their table-clearing! It was something we noticed even from onstage, and our guests commented on it too.
Tip for BTB: Remember that catering is very much tied with venue. Some caterers who don’t have their own kitchens impose extra logistics cost for venues such as Community Centres (CCs) or parks. Be sure to get details from your venue like is cooking allowed, and if so, do they allow overnight cooking and relay the details to your caterer.
Secondly, venue deco:
Early on, we decided our wedding theme to be black-and-white, and I’m really happy with the result. The dais was so breathtakingly beautiful with its fresh flowers, that even our sireh dara and sireh junjung seemed to fade into the background.
The only issue we had was that there should have been more tables and chairs. The venue was spacious enough for more. At “peak timings” during the event, some guests had to wait for seats, even though the table-clearing was already so efficient.
Thirdly, the gift tray deco was outsourced to another company called Matrimonial Bliss. Kak Nora was so pleasant to work with, and was willing to cater to our hectic schedules and travel to our houses to get the items and deliver the decorated trays to us. We were pleased with the final results as well.
We limited the trays to include only the most significant items: The Quran and its English translation & transliteration, the mahr (ring), the groom’s ring, the hantaran “cheque”, prayer items such as telekung, kain and sejadah, and Islamic books.
I think it’s the couple’s prerogative if they want to include other items like shoes, bags, etc. but we figured we didn’t need more of those items and we shouldn’t buy them solely for the sake of displaying them. Hence we left them out.
FDCS is a wonderful reputable vendor to work with. We liaised with Kak Diana throughout the 1.5+ years, and Kak Ana on the event day. Even though there were some issues/ queries that they raised quite last-minute (a day before the wedding!!), these weren’t big issues. Most importantly, I feel that their package pricing is reasonable (much lower than some other vendors we’ve enquired) I would highly recommend them!
Our package included:
- 2 outfits including make-up, hair-do/ tudung* (headscarf) (for Bride) and accessories (for both Bride & Groom)
- Actual-day photography (8 hours) with soft copy provided in CD (We received 739 photos) – photographer will follow you if you have more than one venue
- 4A photo album (300 pcs, chosen by us)
*They called it tudung but honestly all of their tudung were more of like anak tudung instead.
There were options to include a videographer, and photoshoots (pre-wedding and post-wedding) but we didn’t think they were necessary. However they were flexible in that we could choose to include or exclude items into/ out of the package or change the number of sets of outfits, up a few months before the event day.
Bridal Concept is a company that does Chinese and Malay weddings, both in Singapore and Malaysia. The liaison people, make-up artists and photographers were all definitely very pleasant to work with but overall, I regretted engaging Bridal Concept. We booked them back in January 2015 which was before I started wearing the hijab (and with no idea that I would start wearing it a few months later). Unfortunately, even though they did have outfits with tudung, they weren’t really hijab-friendly in the true sense of the word. Their western outfits, however, are very vast in number, designs and colours – I believe their store in Liang Seah Street has 2 or 3 floors.
The make-up was gorgeous in photos but in person I felt like it was abit too heavy and wasn’t really “me”. The make-up artist (MUA) was very very friendly but had a hands-off approach in that after doing the make-up, she would not stick around much to do touch-ups. My make-up stayed on, but throughout the event my baby hair kept sticking out of the anak tudung they provided. My husband, bridesmaids and even some of my guests had to be the ones to help tuck my hair in.
Note: The tudung belongs to me, and was put on by myself as well.
Note 2: The wedding bouquet was semi-DIY by us and the total cost was only about $20! Fresh flower bouquets can cost up to $250, and even artificial bouquets can cost quite a bomb at about $80.
The photographer was very friendly and paid attention to the itinerary we sent him. We’re pleased with (most of) the final photos (P.S. all the photos in this blog post are from the official photos taken by our photographer). I think he did a commendable job with the photos of the hadang to capture the “feel” of the ceremony.
Price-wise, they’re quite affordable. Other bridal companies offered the same package with the same price, but without photography.
Tip for BTBs: Remember to ask (and negotiate) the terms for what happens after the wedding i.e. how long till the photos are ready? 2 weeks after the wedding I had relatives asking to see the official photos, but we could only get the (soft copies!) of the photos about a month after the wedding, and the album would be ready about 2 weeks after that. Also, we had to travel all the way to Bugis to get the CD, then go there again to pass a thumbdrive with the chosen photos, and travel again a last time to get the final album. Given our hectic schedules after the wedding it would have been better to deal with everything through (registered) mail instead.
Overall, due to their variety in (Western) outfits and immensely good service, I would highly recommend them to my Chinese friends, but not to the Malays/ Muslims.
Entertainment: Music In Silence (MIS) Entertainment
(I don’t think they update their online sites, but I found them at the wedding expo and I also have their contacts if anyone is interested)
This is a vendor I would highly highly recommend! A bunch of very friendly and very lively people. During our appointments with them, Kak Lia also doubled as sort of a wedding planner for us, going through our itinerary, giving vendor recommendations for items we haven’t booked yet, and also giving feedback for vendors we’ve booked. You can tell they’ve been in the industry for a long time.
They understand that different couples are different – some prefer loud, in-your-face DJs with games and all, while others (like us) just prefer someone to fill in the silence and help with the flow of the whole event. They make sure they know what you want for your event.
Unfortunately Kak Lia fell sick on our event day, so Fahmi took over. He did such a great job – not just emcee-ing, but also coordinating the event according to our itinerary. He even did the photographer’s job of arranging guests around the dais.
The only issue we had was that the song playlist we had prepared beforehand wasn’t followed. I’m guessing it was because of the last-minute change in DJs, and the message wasn’t relayed. We’re not too particular about that though so all was good.
Venue: Nee Soon South CC
The liaison person from PA was sometimes quite hard to reach and slow to respond to e-mails. However the venue is quite spacious for our number of guests. For those who have more guests, there is an option to extend to the basketball court. The venue is very comfortable and air-conditioned. However the backstage area and the changing room is quite dusty and dirty, so be prepared to do some cleaning up the day before your event.
The venue allows cooking, washing and re-heating but only on the day itself. One of the best things about this venue is that it’s right beside the shops in Khatib Central (including Sheng Siong, CK, NTUC Fairprice) so if a last-minute emergency occurs (e.g. not enough tupperware containers to distribute out leftover food), someone can just drop by the shops to buy.
This CC seems quite popular for weddings (throughout August till September almost every weekend had a wedding), so do remember to book earliest you can (i.e. exactly 6 months before your event day).
Our caterer FDCS required us to book the neighbouring voiddeck so they can cook overnight. This booking had to be done separately, through the Town Council. It was very very frustrating to work with the Town Council; I think they generally (for whatever reason) are not keen on booking out the voiddecks for the sole purpose of having a caterer cook there. We ended up not booking the voiddeck and asking our caterer to look for their own venue to cook overnight, hence resulting in additional logistics cost for us – fortunately it was still within our budget for catering.
Cake + Cupcakes Tier: Little’s Spatula
As you can see from the photos, the cupcake tier is absolutely gorgeous, complete with fresh flower decorations on the cake at the top. There were overall positive reviews about the taste and we managed to distribute the cupcakes to many of our guests present at that time. Natasha is so pleasant to work with and we’re impressed with the final results, especially considering the fact that she hasn’t done much work with weddings before (although she has much experience with baking, generally).
Tok Kadi: Ustaz Nuzhan
He was punctual, gave a succinct and meaningful khutbah. Doesn’t stress you out or try to test your religious knowledge.
We engaged them for:
- Berkat (Door gifts) – 7pcs Ajwa dates + 7 pcs Cadbury Choclairs in damask boxes, with stickers of our names & event date
- 25 pcs candy cones for kids provided FOC
- Bunga Rampai
- Sireh dara & sireh junjung
A day before the wedding, our sireh dara & sireh junjung seemed to have wilted, but her contact was quite prompt in rectifying the issue and re-doing the items before the event.
Kak Liza is so wonderful to work with, providing us with exactly what we wanted even though it was something she was not used to doing. Apart from dates, she also offers other Islamic gifts as berkat such as mini sejadah, tasbih, and mini books/ compilations of doa. Would highly recommend engaging her!
For those curious to know why we chose to give out 7 dates:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Once the Prophet (ﷺ) distributed dates among his companions and gave each one seven dates. He gave me seven dates too, one of which was dry and hard, but none of the other dates was more liked by me than that one, for it prolonged my chewing it. (Sahih Bukhari)
Narrated Sa`d: I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “Whoever takes seven ‘Ajwa dates in the morning will not be effected by magic or poison on that day.” (Sahih Bukhari)
For wedding cards, we engaged my friend Syazana who was also one of my bridesmaids. We made it such that the card design would match with our berkat design (right down to the font type):
One of my bestfriend’s sister. Wasn’t a fan of complicated designs, so opted for something simple. Was also in love with “lace-ish” henna designs and she did it for me really nicely! (Although you can’t see it very well in the photos as they’re closer to my wrist). Her designs are really pretty, and her price is much lower compared to the big names.
I think that pretty much covers all the vendors we booked! There were a few other things which most other couples would have but we felt were redundant so we excluded them. This included bridal chamber deco, live stations, kompang, photobooth, wedding car. If we had things 100% our way, we could have opted out of a few other things as well but at the end of the day, it’s important to negotiate and compromise with your parents and in-laws.
All the best to those planning for their weddings! Try to look for packages that cover several things (eg venue + deco, bridal + photography) because towards the end it may be a hassle dealing and communicating with several vendors at once. However, don’t go for all-in-one packages because I’ve heard countless bad reviews of them (trying to do too many things resulting in compromised quality).
For big stuff like catering and deco, it’s better to look for well-known reputable vendors. However for smaller stuff such as photography, make-up, henna and cards, there are many amateurs or people new to the industry that will do a good enough job. If you have friends who can offer you these services, it’ll be good to engage them to save costs. Hey, even if they screw up, who cares? The nikah is still valid and nobody is hurt. It’ll be a good opportunity for them to build up their portfolio and experience as well. But that’s just my opinion.
And if I could extend one last piece of advice, it would be to make sure whatever you sign up for offers some flexibility. For example, being able to change the number of pax, or the number of outfits. You (or your parents) may change your mind and want a completely different kind of wedding a few months after you’ve booked your vendors (that was what happened to me). Even if you’re a non-hijabi, please book a vendor that has hijab-friendly outfits (and I mean proper, chest-covering hijab, not the turban kind please) because you may never know Allah would grant you the hidayah to make that hijrah within those 1.5-2 years.
Really grateful that everything went smoothly. Thank you to all our vendors, all who attended and anyone else who helped make the event happen, especially our parents and relatives, my two wonderful bridesmaids and my husband’s best man!