Here’s my wedding budget

So after all my budget theory preaching, you’re probably thinking it’s about time I revealed my actual wedding budget.   I’ll do you one better: the line by line breakdown! Aren’t you excited? Doesn’t the prospect of looking at other people’s budgets get you all amped up? No? You don’t find it fun to obsess over numbers?

Jeez. Tough crowd.

I live in Singapore, so my mind thinks in Singapore dollars. Our wedding budget is (*fanfare*) SG$5000.

You probably don’t think in Singapore dollars, so you’re wondering how much money that really is. I’d go ahead and covert the currencies for you, but you know, cost of living stuff in a given area is always relative to incomes in the given area, and if you translated the cost of houses in South Africa into your local currency you’d be all, “I could have a mansion”. Plus, in Thailand you could have an amazing and massive meal for a dollar.

So refrain from using direct currency exchange as a converter, and use the Big Mac Index instead, which isn’t perfect, but at least does try to reflect the actual cost of living. I’ll tell you how many Big Macs I could buy in Singapore with that money, and then you work out how much of your local currency it would take to buy that many Big Mac’s where you live.

One Big Mac round here costs $4.85, So, my wedding budget is 1031 of them.

Ok, alright, fine, I’ll do the work for you. Here is my wedding budget translated into the currencies of various places using the Big Mac converter:

USA: $4.20 x 1031 =  US$4330

Canada: $4.73 x 1031 = CA$4877

New Zealand: $5.10 x 1031 = NZ$5258

Australia: $4.80 x 1031 = AU$4949

South Africa: R19.95 x 1031 = R20568
(see what I’m saying? One US Big Mac would buy you 4.75 South African ones, but the actual exchange rate between US dollars and South African rand is  like 7.8)

Attention England and Spain: Sorry, I couldn’t find the prices you guys have. I really wanted to know how my budget figures in pounds and euros. Maybe you could let me know your local Big Mac price?

Who else is craving a burger all of a sudden?

Ok, now for the line by line break down. I put this together, predictably, using that wedding budget calculator thing you are sick of me talking about. Then I started checking off all the things I know I don’t want to include, which was a substantial number of things (Get lost, Unity Candle!),  and filled in the fixed estimates I do already have.

Actually that last bit was interesting because it drastically changed the picture. The calculator wanted me to spend $1207 on food and $483 on booze. I’m having almost 50 people, so that’s like 10 bucks per person on drinks, which is totally laughable in all scenarios, except maybe if you home brew something, and then it gets downgraded to only pretty laughable. The amount for food is probably somewhat achievable if you’re self-catering too, but is almost half of the price I managed to get for catering.

I just want to quickly say two things here, and then I’ll move on.
1. I have a hunch that booze is much cheaper in parts of the world that aren’t Australia, NZ, and Singapore. How many Big Macs does a beer cost you, USAians?
2.  Nevertheless, these numbers and their apparent break from reality is evidence of the desperate need for a wedding paradigm shift, as I discussed in the podcast. What’s interesting is that this same iteration of the budget also allocated $733 all up for ceremony and reception decor and flowers, which seems excessive. If we’re going to afford our weddings, the paradigm shift is going to have to include a Step Away From the Pricey Decor clause. It’s a major component of wedding spending, and it needs to stop being standard and expected.

Based on the actual prices for food and drinks my venue gave me, I adjusted the catering to $1905, and $1000 for booze. I also already know that transport (ferry to the island) is going to cost about double what the calculator indicated, and I’m going to put our three nights’ stay at the resort down as the ‘facility rental’, and that’s going to be about 550 bucks.

I’m also allowing myself to cheat by not including it in the wedding budget if it’s something I’m going to use again (stay tuned for much more discussion about this in a future post).

So here, finally, is the result:

FrugallyWed’s Goal Wedding Budget

Facility rental                        550
Flowers and decorations  388
Drinks                                    1000
Food                                        1905
Bride’s wedding outfit        297
Attendants’ gifts                      55
Groom’s outfit                         46
Groomsmen outfits             119
Transport                                130
Photography                         447
Invitations                                64


Everything else we’re either not having, or it’s already included in the catering price (fire torches), or it’s something we’ll use again and thus I’m filing it under general life expense and not wedding expense. The main wiggle room comes from the flower and decor allocation – I plan to spend more than $55 on attendants’ gifts.

There you have it folks. Was that, or was that not, a whirlwind of excitement? Whew. Come, let me take you all out for burgers now.


13 responses to “Here’s my wedding budget

  1. Oh, I love the Big Mac index! Too bad I can’t find it for Spain, either… but I’m pretty sure it’s more expensive than the amount listed for the average of the Euro area.

    I’ve also used the wedding budget calculator, though it shows ridiculous amounts for some stuff (and negative in others??). Since we’re self-catering but are hiring photographers our numbers are definitely skewed.

    And I’m really interested in how you define something you’ll use again, because I’ve struggled with that. For example, my mom keeps pushing me to spend $$ on shoes because she says they’re an investment and I’ll use them again a lot, which is true, but since it doesn’t fit in my budget I can’t seem to do it.

    • Well, shoes are not an investment. They don’t appreciate over time or give you dividends 😉 They’re a consumer item. Since I plan on using the shoes again, I’m treating them like any other pair of shoes I would buy – they’re not coming out of the wedding fund. That does mean that my normal month to month spending money needs to accommodate the shoes though, so it’s not like a license to go crazy. So I’d say for you, either your wedding budget can fit them, or your general life budget can fit them, or you don’t get them.

      This is also why the groom’s outfit is so cheap – definitely going to be reusing a lot of that, so it’s more like buying normal clothes. Our fun spending in the next 6 months will be adjusted accordingly 🙂

      I realise it may come across that I’m not being transparent about the true wedding costs. All I can say is I’ll try hard to let everyone know how much I paid for everything, and where the money came from.

      • Haha, I know. Taking it out of the general “fun money” budget definitely makes sense though! My boyfriend will probably only be buying a nice shirt for the occasion, which he’ll definitely wear again, so I’ll take that into consideration.

  2. I just put my budget (2000 USD = 558.66 Big Mac = 2357.542 SGD according to this Big Mac Index converter into that wedding budget calculator. It said I should have spent $191 on my dress (I actually spent $125), but only $178 on booze and $446 on catering. That’s not really how our wedding budget is going to work out, but it’s pretty interesting.

    • It *is* interesting, isn’t it? Good on ya for coming under for your dress!

      I think where the calculator is most useful for me is on the more ephemeral stuff. I mean, most people are probably going to be going over the estimate it gives you for catering. But I really like being able to factor that in, and then get the estimate for like, invitations and decor. If I wasn’t looking at the big picture, I could easily see myself going, “ok, 150 seems alright to spend on invitations” when really, that wouldn’t be a good idea. I like having a line in the sand for stuff too. I need objective criteria of when something is reasonable and when it’s not. I’m a sucker for flowers. Without a boundary there I’d probably go nuts with them.

  3. “1. I have a hunch that booze is much cheaper in parts of the world that aren’t Australia, NZ, and Singapore. How many Big Macs does a beer cost you, USAians?”

    I’m taking this literally. A Big Mac in Los Angeles costs $3.75 (more expensive than in other parts of the US, just like weddings). A cheap beer here costs $2.99/6-pack (Trader Joe’s Simpler Times), and a great beer (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, for example) is $6 for a bottle the size of 2 beers. That’s roughly a range of 50cents to $1 if you buy from a grocery store, but anywhere from $2-$5 at a bar or restaurant, depending on whether it’s Happy Hour. In short, I’d say 1 Big Mac = 2 Beers, if you’re not giving guests the good stuff.

    I am completely incapable of figuring out the math of your booze tab from there.

    • Aha! I was right! You definitely have cheaper beer. Round here, a 6-pack of the cheap stuff will cost 14 or 15 bucks – like 3 Big Macs, for the cheapest stuff. You’re getting a 6-pack for UNDER the cost of 1 Big Mac?? And a great beer would definitely be a lot more than your’s too. NZ and Aus is the same too, so you guys are an anomaly, at least from where I’m standing. I understand wine is pretty cheap in western Europe?

      I mean, this whole Big Mac Index thing probably has flaws, but it’s illuminating to think about this stuff. If I was having my wedding in the States, the estimate for booze the calculator gave me would actual be kind of appropriate.

  4. thebitchybride

    Once again, I am completely in awe of your thriftiness. 🙂

    Also, that calculator is pretty amusing and definitely doesn’t translate to the UK wedding industry. With the budget breakdown it suggests I’m a good £400 short of being able to afford to pay my registrar to turn up. On the other hand, I will be getting a totally blinging ring, so maybe making it official isn’t the most important thing!

    • Huh. So just how much do your registrars cost?!

      • thebitchybride

        £50 if you want to get married in the registrar’s office (which holds a maximum of 50 and looks a bit like a classroom) and £450 if you want them to leave the building and perform your ceremony anywhere else. Then it’s another £100 or so for all the paperwork before and your copy of the marriage license after.

        I don’t mind especially, because at least it’s money for the actual marriage – the thing it’s all about – and not just food or booze, but I find it quite odd that if you get married in a church it’s so much cheaper. My friends are getting married in a cathedral and it’s free!

  5. I see the UK hasn’t exactly achieved separation of church and state. That’s just not fair. Unless,..Are you allowed to have a secular ceremony in a church? This is kind of fascinating. And what about weddings in sacred buildings of other religions?

    In Auckland there’s a big old church in the middle of the CBD (150 years qualifies as very old in NZ), that’s quite amenable to even having atheist ceremonies. Which is useful, because half the kiwi population is atheist anyway.

  6. Only just seen the last part of this very interesting discussion! I told some kiwi friends the other day that you can’t get married outside in the UK and they nearly fainted with shock! You definitely can’t have a secular ceremony in a church (I think it’s cheaper because the church do the job of the registrar), and you also can’t have a religious ceremony (even one single religious-y reading) outside a church. Complete mentalness. Get with the times England! (can’t say UK as Scottish rules are better.)

  7. Pingback: $5500 Wedding budget: Photography (What to do when you have $850 or less for photos) | Frugal Wedding

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