18 November 2014, by Tan Li Lin
I could not have been happier with the outcome of our ‘Barefoot Bali Sunset Wedding’ that happened on 20th September. From villa hunting, to confirming our stunning location, preparations, and pre-wedding jitters, everything came together perfectly on our dinner day.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect. We started late (when in Indonesia, do as the Indonesians), my make-up looked all ready for Halloween 2014, guests were shivering from the night sea breeze, main course was delayed because strong winds kept blowing the stove out, fire-dancers almost colliding into each other…
But by ‘perfect’ I meant these little rustic inperfections didn’t overshadow the overall guest experience. Friends said it was the most memorable wedding they have been to and absolutely enjoyed themselves. I’m guessing its the authenticity of chatting barefoot on the cliff edge enjoying wind, para-gliders and that freaking awesome Red Velvet cake.
All in all, you CAN do an awesome wedding without breaking the bank. It is common knowledge that all too often young Singaporean couples spend way too much on a 1-night affair, with some going into loans which can be better used for housing or children. Of course, some couples are obliged to because of parent’s expectations, but Ronald and I would advise creative ways for doing something meaningful and affordable. After all, it IS your big day BUT this is barely an event with much ROI (red packets don’t count – you’d get them even without holding a dinner). You don’t need big bucks for a bang of an experience.
Here’s how we did it:
1. NOT doing it in Singapore
Hotels will charge an arm and a leg for substandard food and a cookie-cutter experience. We didn’t feel it was meaningful for us or our guests who are obliged to pay for a predictable experience. Inviting selected guests to join us overseas meant they are paying instead for mystery, excitement and a personal holiday . Plus in Bali, costs of practically everything there is significantly lower.
4-bedroom villa + view + compound which can comfortably sit 50 guests cost us S$8222 (with 4 days 2 nights accommodation and villa staff. Actual ‘event’ fee is only S$2000).
You can always count on Mother Nature to take breaths away.
2. Engaging a local Wedding Organizer
She took care of EVERYTHING (vendor coordination, generator, sound system, lights, decor, balloons) and was there on that night to oversee the event. Her services cost us S$520 in exchange for all the headache and worry that we’d get cheated by locals.
3. Ordering THE CAKE from a local bakery
We threw out the need for a 3-tier (3 layers each tier) wedding cake and ordered a 2 layered Red Velvet Cake directly from a local bakery. It cost us only S$90.
And it was the BEST RED VELVET I’ve ever put in my mouth. My foodie guests agree.
Cake didn’t come with flowers, but the simplicity was GORG.
Our designated photographer was iPhone and Samsung. Figured there wasn’t a need to engage one (or fly one down!) because guests would end up taking candid shots with rich stories to tell. Going through their photos allowed me to view our wedding in their eyes – and that was the fun bit! Cost: S$0.
5. DIY Odds & Ends
Those photo-props? Found online and printed out. Less than $10.
Bubbles? Borrowed Coco’s bubble machine. Free.
Guest favors? Customized metal luggage tags that doubled up as name placecards. $8 each, shipped right to my doorstep. Bundled in twine and a thank-you card I printed myself.
6. Getting practical with my GOWN
“Here comes the… gown”. All eyes on the gown means brides end up splurging on fancy dresses. Of course, nothing wrong with that. I just wanted something that won’t sit in my wardrobe for the next half a century. Something I could still pull off at other events. Plus it helped that our theme was quite
This, in all its humble glory, cost me S$90. Dressed up with a headdress (S$40), ALDO accessories ($40) and Charles & Keith bling bling sandals ($50).
Hoping I won’t cringe at our dressing 30 years from now, or get laughed at by our kids for being old-fashioned.
7. Ridding the “Pre-Photography” or “Wedding Album”
So, we all know that stuff is never looked at once the wedding’s over. I attribute it to that it’s too dressy and posed for it to be an integral part of our daily lives. I wanted to make sure we were captured naturally. I hope I can still stand to look at our wedding photos years later. So, Ron and I took a ‘walk’ along the cliff, caught the best sunlight of the day, and crossed our fingers that my brother and dad could work their phones to make us look good.
Here’s the S$0 outcome:
8. Focusing on the KEY ingredient of any party
Our SENSES. What we hear, touch, feel, see, taste, smell comes together to form an orchestra of feel-good. The cheapest form of enhancing any experience is the music. It’s known that good music is the life of any party. To make sure my guests loved the music, I compiled all their requested songs. Including disco. Seriously. How could anyone resist DISCO. Other things like, the unexpected view, the smell of sea in the wind, the sound of waves, nibbles, little props to get busy with like sparklers and wise love quotes kept people busy taking photos, blowing bubbles and releasing balloons bring out the kid in people and (highly optional), super strong light beams that shone right up into the sky and across the cliffs. Just. Magical.
Of course, a pool helps. By the end of the night, we found ourselves frolicking in the cool water, staring out into the comforting darkness of the ocean with the stars shining down on us.
All these elements come together and binds the story of the couple into the whole experience – making it personal, memorable and meaningful for everyone, because they were free to do what they liked.
(Did I forget to mention some friends gathered in the living room to play a chinese card game? At a wedding?! Love how it’s so brutally casual.)
And that’s what made the wedding perfect. Simply, the freedom to be themselves and enjoy our union with us – feet and soul bared.
Don’t crack that piggy bank; crack that brain instead. Being creative and a lot less hard on yourself can produce a beautiful wedding at a low cost. Remember that most importantly, your presence is what counts, not the pennies.
All in all, our wedding came up to S$10,000. That’s before any offset with the red packets 😉
Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies (for now). Follow her blog on ilovechildren.sg/blog and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30′.