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30. Finances 101: 10 Perspectives - From my point of view. 4. Five Perspectives: Values. Value #3: L

Last week I highlighted some areas to build a financial foundation upon. One of the key areas for me, and to those whom plan to get married and start a family, is the planning for wedding ceremony. Now there are many areas to focus on in the preparation for a wedding, but for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll focus on the financial areas only.

I’ll only share from my own perspective and learnings that I have gleaned. So it may not be extensive enough for all readers, apologies.

My scenario: Chinese Plus Christian wedding ceremony in Malaysia.

Note that my own wedding was in 2004 so numbers would have changed much since then, but I believe the areas to focus on may not have changed much.

Areas of Focus

1. Date of wedding ceremony: try to decide approx one year in advance

2. Date of wedding dinner: usually same date as the ceremony, but venue may be different.

3. Booking of the church wedding: select a church venue as soon as you can. Finance concerns:

A. Cost for church venue

B. Cost of catering if you are doing lunch, or high tea

C. Cost of gift to the Pastor officiating the ceremony

D. Cost of fee if there is an official from Registrar of Marriage

4. Booking of hotel / restaurant for wedding dinner: you may need to get quotes from a few hotels / restaurants you are interested in. Some notes:

A. Based on your invitee list, the number of tables required, you will need a venue that can accommodate your table numbers

B. Cost per table: hotels are usually more expensive, but you can get more stuff from a hotel compared to a restaurant, choose a price that is affordable, between lowest to mid range - remember, your guests will try to give you gifts / Ang pows that will be as close to the pricing range as they can, so try not to tax them too much

C. If you are booking a hotel venue, a few tips:

- book the venue a calendar year ahead, as the costs may go up up to 10% in the next calendar year. For e.g. if you plan to have your dinner in Oct 2018, try to book by Dec 2017, as prices in 2018 may be up to 10% higher than 2017 prices.

- table costs are quite fixed, so may not be negotiated much, but try to get other stuff as part of your package, for e.g. lower/no corkage, free use of day room for the bride and groom, cheaper rates for guests for rooms on the night of wedding and one day before, complimentary flower decorations, complimentary use of bridal suite during one year anniversary, complimentary use of the wedding hall, AV systems, AV person, projectors,

5. Photography costs: One year before, go to wedding houses, but during wedding fairs, when the fairs are almost over. At the shop itself, there will not be many customers, since most are at the wedding fairs. However, they will give you the same deals as at the fairs, but by being at their shop itself, you get better service and don't have to fight with crowds. And since their promo periods are almost over, you can bargain for better prices. Get their packages, within your budget of course, but ask for more freebies and extras, for example, on top of using their costumes for the photoshoots, ask to use one or two of their costumes during your actual wedding day. Then you may not need to rent expensive tuxedos or dresses on your actual wedding day. Do the actual photo shoot a few months before your wedding day, but preplan early to get better deals. Some extra stuff you can ask for may include, decorations for your wedding car, small flower bouquets for your maids of honor, etc

6. Master of Ceremonies for dinner: hire? If possible, get one of your friends to help. Manpower for logistics during church ceremony and dinner, like ushers, etc: also, if possible, get your church members or friends to help. Later, when the event is over, give them all a thanksgiving dinner and tokens of remembrance which should be memorable.

7. Invitation cards: search online, or even better, use social media predominantly and only engage a printer for those whom do not use social media

8. Who pays for the dinner? Some may split the bill between bride and groom family, and the payers get a certain number of table allocated etc. However, my suggestion is for the bride and groom to take responsibility for the total bill. Centralize all gifts, all cash gifts go directly to settle the main bill. Pay the deposit upfront when placing the booking so that you remove a certain portion of the bill from the wedding night. If parents or in laws want to chip in, get them to give you in terms of cash and to give you about a week or two prior to the wedding dinner.

Let me give you an example:

The biggest bill is usually the wedding dinner, and the cost required is usually 10 to 15 percent upon booking the venue, so you need to have the cash for this upfront, up to 12 months before. The next bill may likely be another 35 to 40 percent about two weeks prior to the dinner. Your parents’ and in laws ‘ gifts at this time would really help you in settling this part of your commitment. The last 50 percent of your bill will most likely be due either at the end of your dinner itself or at most the next day. You should then use all the cash gifts received during the dinner to settle the last part of your bill. Any balance not covered by your cash gifts, you then have to cover. If possible, use a credit card to settle the balance. You now have about a month before that amount is due. If possible, settle the whole card bill. If you cannot, well, that’s a different story that needs a separate write up.

9. Car for picking up the bride: can you borrow from someone? Do so. Get one of your friends to be the driver for that day.

The above may or may not work for you, but they certainly help with my cash flow, and the fact that I saved a lot and didn’t need to go into debt at all really helped.

Most finances should go into the marriage, not the wedding, but with proper planning, you can have a fun and exciting wedding day as well!

Next week I'll touch upon another value I hold dear, stewardship….

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