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Wedding. Banquet. The chairs and round table for guests, served with cutlery, flowers and crockery and covered with a tablecloth from Shutterstock.com

Wedding costs continue to grow in Singapore: Can you still afford to get married?

by ValuePenguin

As the cost of weddings continues to rise, we analyse the impacts for consumers as well as some potential explanations.

The cost of weddings has increased substantially over the past decade. Unfortunately for consumers, 2018 did not prove to be an exception. As a result, couples must now consider their wedding as a major financial event. In this article, we analyse the growing costs of weddings and discuss the implications for future brides and grooms.

Wedding Costs Continue to Climb

Wedding banquets are typically the largest expense associated with weddings. To analyse the relative change in banquet prices, we compared the cost per table from 43 venues in Singapore from 2011 to 2018. The average prices of banquets have increased by more than 50% during that time period. This dramatic increase outpaced inflation during the same period (7.96%) by nearly 6.5 times.

This trend has continued between 2017 and 2018. In our most recent analysis, we compared cost data from 96 venues. We found that banquets at lunch on weekdays increased the most by 7%, to S$1,098 per table, while the cost of dinner banquets on weekends increased by about 2%, to S$1,302 per table.

Notably, the average cost of a weekend lunch banquet (S$1,135 per table) is now nearly as expensive as the average dinner banquet on a weekday (S$1,179 per table), creeping up by 6.5% since 2017. It is possible that the high cost of a weekend dinner banquets has shifted demand to relatively less expensive lunch banquets.

Why Are Weddings Becoming More Expensive?

While it is nearly impossible to find any definitively causal factors for the rise in the price of marriages, we noticed a few trends that are worth exploring. First, Singaporeans are getting married later in life. The median age of first marriage for grooms increased gradually from 30.2 in 2007 to 30.8 in 2016. For brides the median age for first marriages increased from 27.6 to 28.7.

Similarly, the average age of all brides and grooms is increasing. In 2016, 41% of all brides were older than 30 years, compared to just 33% in 2007, and 60% of grooms were over 30, up from 56% in 2007.

This phenomenon could be influencing the increasing cost in weddings, or simply a symptom of this rise. Because Singaporeans are getting married later in life, they may be more capable and willing to pay for an expensive wedding. On the other hand, it is also possible that the significant cost of marriage is forcing couples to delay their wedding plans in order to save up for their ideal ceremony and banquet.

Another factor that may be impacting the rise in the price of weddings is the rise of income in Singapore. The median income of employees has increased by 29% since 2011. We suspect that as incomes have grown, couples have become able to afford more expensive weddings. Still, the growth in median wages since 2011 is much less significant than the increase in the average banquet.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married?

The cost of getting married varies greatly depending on size and grandeur of the event. We estimate that the total cost of getting married in Singapore ranges from cheaper options of about S$36,000 to more expensive affairs of approximately S$75,000. This wide range indicates that couples are able to have some level of control in managing the price of their reception. Also, it does not include any contributions made by family or friends, which can be used to offset the total cost of the wedding.

How to Pay for Your Wedding

Images of a great celebration and the sheer cost might cause couples to consider going into debt in order to pay for their wedding. While taking out a loan for your wedding could help you realise your dream, we strongly suggest that you avoid the financial burden of debt to pay for your wedding. Alternatively, you can make your wedding more affordable by planning ahead to get the best rates on your venue, inviting fewer guests, scheduling your banquet during the daytime, reselling the wedding dress after the event or even using a 0% instalment credit card to pay for your wedding in order to divide up your payments into smaller parts and recoup your costs through rewards.

If you must take on debt to pay for your wedding, some forms of financing are better than others. For example, you should avoid accruing credit card debt in order to pay for your wedding. Credit cards charge average interest rates of about 25%, which can accumulate into a significant financial burden quite quickly. Instead, the best personal loans charge effective interest rates of 8 - 10%, making personal loans a better option for a large, one-time expenses such as a wedding.

This was first published at Value Penguin's website, "Wedding Costs Continue to Grow in Singapore: Can You Still Afford to Get Married?".