Cut the high price of tying the knot

There are simple ways to save money on a wedding - such as holding it on a Friday …

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 1:15pm

Tying the knot may be one of the happiest days in a person's life, but it can also be one of the most expensive. A poll by ESDlife (a government services portal) last year found Hong Kong couples spent an average of HK$282,317 on their weddings, up 6 per cent from the year before.

There is nothing that will fade marital bliss faster than an overstretched budget, so here are a few solutions to cut costs.

Cindy Carthy, who writes about weddings on her site, says couples should try opting for non-traditional venues. Hotels often enforce packages which come with extras those getting married can do without, or may not even want.

"What I would say is to rent out an art gallery, which means you have a blank canvas to work with. You can control how much or little you have to do," Carthy says. "The Space [in Sheung Wan] is a good venue. Basically, [try] anywhere that isn't a hotel or high-end restaurant."

Many people assume the local tradition of gifting red packets to the couple means the reception breaks even, but that is not always true, Carthy says. When she got married two years ago, she had her banquet at the Grand Hyatt. "People think you can make money off of receptions but at the big hotels you don't. And if it's Westernised, guests give you gifts rather than money."

Another cost-savvy trick is to hold the ceremony and reception in the same place. That may not be possible if you want a church wedding but it will save on booking two separate places and arranging transportation.

Second, limit how many people are involved in the wedding. This goes for the entire guest list but is vital for the bridal party. Sandra Chau, who writes the wedding blog Simply Peachy, warns couples not to rush to ask their friends to serve as bridesmaid or groomsmen.

"I fell into that trap personally," Chau says. "There were 10 including my husband and me. It's hair and makeup, shoes, and dresses [for each] and then transport. Unless you get a limo it's very hard to fit 10 people."

The bride's wardrobe bill can quickly add up, since most brides will change at least three times; the bridal gown, Chinese dress, and an evening gown. One way around this is by renting the gowns. The Dressing Room offers a rental package for HK$7,688 which includes a wedding dress and evening reception gown.

Second-hand gowns, some which have only been worn for a few hours, are another option. Miss Bride offers pre-owned designer gowns such as Carolina Herrara and Vera Wang at a significant discount. Post-celebration, brides can also sell their gowns through Miss Bride.

When you get hitched can impact the bill just as much as where. The peak wedding season runs from September to March, so anything that falls outside of those months will be significantly cheaper. Non-traditional days such as Friday and Sunday usually come at a discount too.

Finally, make use of the web. "There's a lot of do-it-yourself stuff people can do, even the save-the-date invitations. I recently featured a couple who did their own invitations. Neither of them are artists but they used an iPad drawing app to design their invitations," Carthy says.

"It should reflect the couple rather than what you think other people would like. Ultimately, it's about the couple."