Wedding Preparation is never an easy task in our life. Else it wouldn’t be called “the big day”. But you don’t have to be too stressed with it. With proper planning, you can reduce unexpected things into minimal. Having said that, the reason why I write this article is to help you break the big plan into small details. Then you can have your own comprehensive checklist for wedding preparation.
Before going into the main article, I assume you already read my articles:
If not, you can check them out first.
You’re done? Okay good. Let’s proceed to the main content.
Surveying for Wedding Venue
Before you start to plan anything, the first thing is to survey for wedding venues. At the same time, you should know if you prefer to host in a restaurant, a hotel ballroom, or open space (such as a garden wedding)?
Most of the time, we Malaysian Chinese prefer to have our wedding in restaurants or hotel ballrooms. The reason is that the acceptance of our elders is usually low on unique wedding venues.
Nevertheless, here is a breakdown of 3 type of wedding venues into their affordability, convenience and uniqueness.
Most of the time, you will probably find that a restaurant is the most suitable venue. Not only the booking price is affordable, but also comes with better food quality. After all, cuisines are their main selling point.
Meanwhile, hotel ballrooms are best if you have long-distance families to invite or fewer guests to invite. However, booking a hotel ballroom will cost you a fortune when you have more than 300 guests (> 30 tables). Personally I choose a hotel ballroom as my wife’s hometown is far away from mine and we estimate to have only 250 to 280 guests. It makes our job easier to arrange for her relatives’ accommodation (but at a high price).
If you dream of having an open space wedding such as a garden wedding, then you have to get ready for a lot of upfront works, such as finding food caterer and venue decoration. Having said that, if you can find a host that provides both venue and wedding services, that will reduce the fuss to find external services. Remember, try to reduce the needs of outsourcing.
Oh, and try to avoid hosts that have no proper documents for renting a venue. Here’s a story from someone who shares his wedding nightmare.
Important Questions For Wedding Venue
While doing venue surveying, here are a few questions that you should check with the hosts:
- What is the minimum number of tables required (Minimum pax if buffet style) to book the venue for free?
- What is the pricing for each table? (Per pax if buffet style)
- How many reserve tables available?
- Is there food testing before the wedding day?
- Are Free Flow Drinks Included? (Tea, Mineral Water, Carbonated Drink)
- Can we bring our own alcohol to the venue? (They may have requirement like purchase at least 1 barrel of beer from them)
- Wedding cake and sparkling juice (for champagne fountain) included?
- How many invitation cards will be provided? (Usually is 60% of total guests)
- Are there any free door gifts? If yes, what is the door gift?
- Is an LCD projector available? How many screens available for the SDE video?
- Is PA System available? Is it suitable for live band usage? (Some PA system is not suitable for the live band)
- Is there anyone who helps to set up the sound system on the venue?
- Is PC or laptop provided for playing the background music and videos during the wedding?
- Any included venue decorations? If not enough, is there any in-house decoration team we can hire?
Reserve Tables for Wedding
Reserve tables are important when we book a venue. It’s because the number of guests will constantly change, even on the wedding day. Yes, no kidding. Surprises always happens.
For instance, you decide to invite up to 200 wedding guests. But before your wedding day, your relatives decide to bring their children when you only invite 2 persons. If each family brings 2-3 children, your 20 tables (for 200 guests) confirm not enough! This is when reserve tables come in handy.
If you book 20 tables and the host allows you to have 2 reserve tables, it will be 20+2 tables written on your invoices. If you used up all your reserve tables, the host usually won’t able to add more tables for you on that day (maybe you can ask this question as well
Here are some of my tips:
- You will never get a perfect number of guests as you imagine.
- Try to arrange 9 persons in 1 table, don’t fully occupy all tables.
- It is okay to book extra tables, but it is not okay when it is another way round.
The Wedding Committees You Need
Whether it is a wedding lunch or dinner, you need a team of wedding committees who can help you out and make your wedding smooth and memorable.
Photographer and Videographer
A wedding is not perfect without photos and videos. Thus you definitely need at least one photographer and a videographer to capture the memories of your wedding. It is okay to skip the videographer to save some costs, but personally I think videos are great for reflecting our sweet memories.
For photography packages, they usually come with either half-day photography or full day photography. Half-day photography means we either hire them for the bride welcoming ceremony (迎亲) or the wedding dinner.
To let you roughly estimate the budget for it, I will share the package of the photography team I hired (from Malacca) during my own wedding:
This is just for your reference usage. So it helps you to estimate your budget for a photography team. If you want to know which photography team I hired (in Malacca), please PM me.
Makeup artist (aka MUA) is also one of the essential wedding committees you should have. Even you are a makeup artist yourself, it is wise to delegate this task to someone else. After all, you’re the main character on that day and you wouldn’t want yourself to be too exhausted.
Before hiring a makeup artist, you should check with your bridesmaid whether they need makeup service or not. This is to ensure that they have their makeup covered and won’t tap along your makeup artist.
Do not share the bride’s MUA with the bridesmaid! This is one of the painful lessons we learned from our wedding. Because of sharing MUA with the bridesmaid, the preparation for our bride before the wedding dinner was delayed for an hour. It ends up my wife has very little time taking photos with guests before the wedding dinner starts.
Live Band & Emcee
For the whole wedding dinner or lunch, you need to entertain your guests while they were waiting for food or enjoying their meals. It will be very awkward for a dinner or lunch without any performance or entertainment. Hence getting a live band and/or emcee is the solution.
For your information, some restaurants or hotels have their own emcee included or excluded in their package. You may consider them as they usually come at a lower cost.
If they don’t provide, then it will be a bonus if you can find a live band that also provide emcee service. Even though these live bands will charge you a little bit higher, but you save up the cost and time of searching for an emcee.
You might be thinking, what other choices you can have if you don’t want to get a live band? If you want to save cost, then rent a karaoke system which your aunties uncles can sing and happy. If you want to make your wedding unique, try find a Chinese orchestra (华乐) or DJ from the club (this is not recommended though).
A wedding wouldn’t be perfect without a good backdrop for photography. So you would need a decoration team to make it for you. Some places provide in-house decoration services which usually cheaper if compared with outsourcing. Therefore you should ask the host about this while checking out with different venues.
Some of my friends do the decoration all on their own, so they can save costs. However, you need some friends who can help you to build it. You won’t have time to do it yourself when you’re the groom or bride that day. Besides that, you need time to prepare the materials and have the backdrop design ready.
To avoid all that hassles, just hire a team to do it for you. Some money is meant to be spent anyway.
Having said that, you can exclude the album table from your decoration package to save a little cost. An album table is basically just a table with your memorable couple photos, pre-wedding shooting album book, and the postcards that probably included in your pre-wedding shootings. You can easily set it up by having a table cloth and a few blinking LEDs around it. Well, at least that is what I did.
During our wedding, neither of us have no idea about wedding traditions, even our own family members. Thus we decide to ask for help from my friend, who studied wedding planning for some time.
As a wedding planner, she helps us by telling us more about wedding traditions and reminds us of the items and actions needed to prepare for our wedding day. To be honest, we glad to spend that money on a wedding planner as she helped a lot in reducing our burden in terms of wedding flow arrangement and time management. Yes, she is also our time gatekeeper during our wedding day.
Of course, your scenario might be different from mine. Frankly speaking, having a wedding planner is optional for most people. Moreover, if you are reading this article now, you are already doing homework for your wedding and probably figure out the whole thing.
Having said that, if you are reluctant to put effort and time into planning for the whole wedding, then hiring a wedding planner might be a good idea.
What about Wedding Gowns & Suits?
In the last 4th question of my pre-wedding shooting article, I suggested that you should include actual wedding day gowns in your pre-wedding shooting package. This will save you money and time from having to search for another gown shop and rent another set of gowns.
In short, we will be renting 3 sets for the bride and 2 sets for the groom. But it can also be 3 sets for both, or 2 sets for both, depending on your preferences. In detail, the first set is used for the bride welcoming ceremony (迎亲), and the other 2 sets are for wedding dinner or lunch.
Planning for the Whole Wedding Day
For our wedding, we have our bride welcoming ceremony (迎亲) in the morning and wedding dinner at night, all in the same day. So details planning is really needed as there’s only a little time for us to take a break during that day.
Other than having a wedding planner, another great idea is to have a well-planned itinerary. Literally, we divide our itineraries into two parts: The morning itinerary for the bride welcoming, and the night itinerary for the wedding dinner.
Bride Welcoming Ceremony (迎亲)
Yes, it is 3.30 am, not 3.30 pm. The bride needs to wake up super early on that day. So make sure both of you need to sleep early on the day before your wedding day.
One important thing to take note is the auspicious time (吉时) to bring the bride into the groom’s house. For my case, our best time is 11am to 12pm. Some people are having at 9am to 10am, so you need to adjust your itinerary time.
For the first makeup and hairdo, make sure you ask your makeup artist the time needed to complete the task. We missed out on this one and even have one bridesmaid sharing the same MUA. We regret that decision.
Another important thing is to test run all your wedding music and videos. Try playing them on the PC or laptop you are going to use for the whole event. If you can’t test it early, you must find a time to test it before the dinner starts.
Whether dinner or lunch, they are both very similar and can refer to the same itinerary. You can feel free to take this itinerary and change the time that suits you.
The Expected Cost for Wedding Preparation
Oh, look at that. We reached the section you anticipate the most.
Basically, I will show our expenses in two tables. The first table shows the details of the expenses specifically for our wedding day:
The second table will be all the expenses for our wedding, from engagement ring to actual wedding day.
Please don’t be too surprised by the 6 digits in total expenses. I need to clarify several things before you take that as the final figure for preparing a wedding.
- Both of us are working in Singapore, hence all our wedding rings are bought in SGD and converted to RM by multiply of 3.
- Most of the ROM expenses come from accommodation for the bride’s family (RM400) and a fresh bouquet (RM170). I suggest you use a fake bouquet instead, which is more cost-effective and can be used during the wedding day.
- I think our pre-wedding shooting package is overpriced as we did not survey properly. You should able to find a package less than RM5K and include actual day gowns rental as well.
- We choose a 4-stars hotel ballroom as our wedding venue with 29 tables, with each table more than 1K. It would be cheaper if we choose to host in a restaurant instead (around RM700 per table in Malacca).
- We took the premium package for actual day photographer + videographer (RM5,500). You should able to hire them for around 3K.
- As the emcee and the wedding planner are our friends, we get a “friendship” prices.
- We spent RM7.8K on just accommodation and transports for our guests, which I think is unnecessary if both of you come from the same state. Besides that, we were too generous to include accommodation and transport for our wedding guests, which my friends suggest not to.
- The RM2.8K wedding gown rental for the actual wedding day can be reduced to RM800 only if we decided to opt for it with our pre-wedding shooting package. Really regret it.
- All these expenses haven’t included the “cashback” from parents-in-law during Guo Da Li, the gold and the Angpao money we received from our relatives and guests.
In hindsight, I might save at least RM20K from my total wedding expenses. At least I am still grateful that most things go well for our wedding.
To summarize this article, I just want to say that preparing all this require time and the heart to plan it. Most importantly, both of you should discuss and put effort on this together. Things will be a lot easier to handle when both of you work together as a team! I mean, a couple!
So that’s the end of this Malaysian Chinese Wedding Series! I hope you get a lot of insightful information about it. If you want to ask more about anything that related to the wedding, feel free to comment below. I will try my best to answer your question if I still remember la! Hehe!
The list below shows all chapters for “Malaysian Chinese Wedding Planning” series:
- How to Prepare for a Wedding Proposal To Your Loved One
- Registration of Marriage for Malaysian Chinese
- Frequently Asked Questions for Pre-Wedding Shooting in Malaysia
- How to Prepare for Chinese Betrothal & Bed Setting
- Detailed Breakdown of Our Wedding Preparation with Expected Expenses