Woman in a wedding dress

Lavish vs. Sensible: What Kind Of Wedding Am I Supposed To Have?

A wedding seems to be the end goal for many people—or at least, a major milestone in life. And it should be! It is a significant step in life after all when one decides to wholly entwine their life with another human being. But do you truly want to start your marriage in debt?

Cost of a Malaysian Chinese Wedding

Source: Kaodim Blog


As the years go by, weddings seem to get costlier. Chinese weddings, in particular, can cost up to over RM100,000! Decorations themselves cost over RM5,000-RM8,000, not to mention the invitations, door gifts, photography, videography—the list is never-ending! As someone who got married about 3 years ago, seeing the costs rack up is honestly slightly nerve-wracking. Plus, I only hosted one reception. I can’t imagine how the cost would be like for others who have to hold multiple receptions for the two different families.


But I get it—some people truly wish to feel like a princess for a day, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! It is the one day where all attention falls on you, after all, not to mention the immense parental pressure. Parents would be proud of your milestone and no doubt would want to invite all of their friends to share and witness such a happy occasion.

But again—is starting a marriage in debt really a good idea?


1. Have a chat about moolah!

While some couples have opted to take out personal loans to pay for nuptials, I’m of a slightly differing opinion. To me, while it is entirely fine to have a lavish wedding of your dreams – do it within your means! You are entering into a marriage, not just a wedding. A wedding is a one-day affair, but it is the marriage which one would like to last, no? And with financial problems reported as being one of the biggest causes of divorce in Malaysia in 2019, taking out a personal loan to finance a lavish affair above your means seems a tad unrealistic.


Instead, there are always ways to have the wedding of your dreams and still be on a budget. The key to all of it? Communication and compromise.


Personally, I opted away from a wedding planner (saved RM 5,000 there at least, whew!) and stretched my engagement over two and a half years so I had enough time to plan everything. Opting away from the traditional practice of having a wedding dinner in a hotel or restaurant venue, we instead chose to have a buffet dinner in a nice, ceiling-to-floor glass window hall in the heart of KL – still looks nice and has a lavish feel, but at about half the price. I did away with bands and emcees and merely asked a friend of ours to briefly emcee at the start and end of the dinner.


2. Do you want the extras?

Caricaturist drawing

Image Credits: @giemei on Instagram


Somewhere along the way, weddings have morphed from ‘private, intimate celebration of love’ to ‘everyone has to be entertained’. However, we’ve always felt a wedding dinner to be a time for family and friends to catch up. So, there was no need for over-the-top entertainment. Instead, we bundled ‘entertainment’ and ‘door gifts’ in one, replaced the photo booth with a caricaturist instead, to be on-site the whole time our wedding went on! Who hasn’t had one of those wedding door gifts they never use? I didn’t want our door gifts to be one of those unnecessary ones and figured a caricature of our guest would be the best way for them to remember the night. The cost of the caricaturist was on par with a photo booth, but with far more entertainment value I feel.


3. What about decorations?

Decorations on a table

Image Credits: @giemei on Instagram


For decorations, we hired our own friends who did the decorations for us based on what we had wanted – our own theme of games and anime! Finding a wedding decorator who is willing to customize what you want for you is most important, as they are able to translate what you want into your big day. Much of the problem with the wedding industry these days are that everything is sold in packages, with parts of the package you don’t even want! And personally, I feel like because everything is bundled in packages, everyone’s wedding ends up lacking a personal touch. Being able to add your own flair to your wedding makes it all the more memorable!


4. Think outside the box!

Woman in a wedding dress

Image Credits: @giemei on Instagram,

Hair by @mun.makeupartist on Instagram


We also hired our own friends and my ex-students as photographers and make-up artists. They were newly graduated and needed to build upon their portfolio as well. So, we were happy to pay their charge as newbies in the industry – and was very pleased with their work! What matters at the end of the day is whether or not you are satisfied with this decision. If you get to support your friends and involve them more closely in your wedding, wouldn’t that make it an even sweeter occasion for you and your partner?


Always remember that you don’t always need the best of everything in order to have a great wedding. After all, it’s all about having a delicate balance between creating wonderful memories and thinking rationally of the future.


5. Wedding attire and flowers can get expensive!

Wedding flowers

Opting away from fresh flowers, we chose to hand-make our bouquet and boutonnieres with upcycled books and ribbons. Plus, my dress came off a discount rack! Don’t look down upon those discount racks or dresses off online websites. They can actually be quite gorgeous after you bring them to a tailor to be adjusted to fit your size. We also did not choose ‘special’ shoes for the wedding, but instead simply bought new heels that we knew we’d wear for any other occasion. Yes, it may be a ‘once in a lifetime event’, but I don’t think it’s very astute of us to spend money on something to be worn once in our lifetime, and then stored away. No sense in spending almost RM1,000 for something that would be worn only once, no?


Chinese Wedding dinner

Image Credits: @giemei on Instagram


In total, I’d think our wedding cost somewhere below the amount of RM30,000, and it did not feel any less lavish. Instead, I ended the night feeling warmer, more connected and happier than I ever remember. Plus, when we don’t start a wedding in debt, we can now freely think about buying a marital home, starting a family, or even going on a nice honeymoon without worrying about an incurred debt before the wedding was even over!


At the end of the day, no matter the societal and parental pressure, a wedding is between two people. Communicate and find a compromise between you and your partner. As long as you and your partner stand firm, a big, lavish wedding is unnecessary for it to be memorable. To answer the question of what kind of wedding are you supposed to have? Have one that fits a budget agreed upon by you and your partner, that doesn’t put you in massive debt.

Teacher by day, dancer by night, Crystal holds equal passion in both her hobby and her day job, and seeks to impart a difference to the lives of her students. Left to her own devices, she cooks up a mean meal, and enjoys eating it just as much.

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