Depending on who you ask, the average cost for a couple to tie the knot in Singapore can range somewhere between SGD27,000 to up to SGD100,000. In comparison to other Southeast Asia countries, this might look lavish, but the truth is, getting married is presumably not an affordable affair for many in the region.

For instance, an average working couple in Malaysia that save one-third of their salary would take 30 months to afford an ‘average’ wedding that includes a banquet. This is based on the median monthly wage in Malaysia of USD 585.16, which has the third highest GDP per capita in Southeast Asia.

In Vietnam, it would take more than 6 ½ years to afford an average wedding!

CountryEstimated cost of an ‘average’ weddingSavings per month, based on 30% of the average / median salary for 2 peopleMonths of savings needed to afford an ‘average’ wedding
MalaysiaRM50,000 / USD 12,000RM1,447 / USD 58534
SingaporeSGD 30,000 / USD 21,767SGD 2,300 / USD 1,67013
ThailandBaht 272,000 / USD 8778Bath 8,591 / USD 22731
VietnamVND 263,000,000 / USD 11,372VND 3,300,000 /  USD 14279
IndonesiaIDR 50,000,000 / USD 3,400IDR 1,746,000 / USD 11828
PhilippinesPHP 200,000 / USD 4,135PHP 9,690 / USD 20021
Wedding is not an affordable affair in Southeast Asia
Source: The Asean Post

As a result of this, monetary gifts are usually expected at wedding banquets in most East and Southeast Asia countries as a form of ‘subsidy’. For some, it may even mean starting their marriage life in debt.

In the case of this couple in Singapore, they amassed a bill of SGD 110,000, which took them four years to pay off. They even had a bridal arch that costed almost SGD12,000 at their wedding banquet.

Do not get me wrong, I am not critizing people from having their ‘dream’ wedding, but am rather asking who was the one who defined how a wedding should look like? Was it the mass media (including movies and TV shows), social media, advertisers, custom or our peers? Was it a combination of all the aforementioned?

Is marriage then, and to a certain extent the way we get married, a social construct?

The reality is, if one were to look past all these, the true cost of getting married anywhere in the world cost only a fraction of an ‘average wedding’.  

Look at this table compiled by Seedly. The only compulsory spend is SGD 42 for marriage registration; everything else is optional! In Malaysia, the total fee required to register for a marriage is only RM 30.

Remember, wedding is not a course meal; it comes with ala-carte menu where you can pick whatever you like. Nothing more, and hopefully nothing less.

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