Even as the number of Covid-19 cases has been stabilising, it may be a while until friends and families can gather to celebrate. According to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Singapore will take a slow approach in opening the economy to prevent any chance of a large spike in new Covid-19 cases. This means that couples who are planning large scale wedding events in the months ahead may need to reserve their urge to lock in details and commit to wedding packages. If Covid-19 cases surge again, it may spell financial trouble for those are forced to cancel their events without recourse for their bookings. Considering the average wedding in Singapore costs tens of thousands of dollars, any rash decision may be a costly.
Understanding Current Social Distancing Guidelines
Even before the Circuit Breaker (CB) lockdown, social distancing guidelines have already impeded the possibility of hosting a regular wedding reception. It is projected that even with the lifting of CB on June 1, it is likely that the distancing measures will still be kept in place for some time. Therefore, couples planning a wedding should be aware of the current regulations. Currently, these regulations do not support gatherings of any kind until further notice. Additionally, temperature taking, physical distancing and the SafeEntry national digital check-in system, are basic measures that must be enforced. Even for those planning a wedding that is scheduled for several months in the future, it is important to be aware of the logistical issues caused by the type of restrictions that might still be in place.
Virtual Weddings Growing in Popularity
Many couples would rather get married than wait around for weddings burdened by such regulations. In fact, there has been an increased buzz surrounding virtual weddings, recently. Some have even used video conferencing software such as Zoom and Google Hangouts to conduct their weddings. While these ceremonies are certainly non-traditional, they have provided a manner for eager couples and their families to celebrate love. Are these virtual weddings here to stay? It seems quite possible. For example, under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnisation and Registration of Marriages) Bill, even civil and Muslim marriage solemnisation can now be conducted remotely during the COVID-19 period. This means that marriage solemnisation can be streamed virtually via a live video link with the virtual presence of licensed solemnisers and witnesses.
While virtual weddings are more convenient given the current atmosphere, they are also inevitably more affordable than large, in-person weddings. But how much does a virtual wedding actually cost?
To give consumers a sense of the total cost, we've laid out some typical costs in the table below. Please keep in mind that this is just an illustration of some typical costs. Depending on your own preferences, you can adjust your budget accordingly. For example, most free streaming services can accommodate up to 100 guests, but there are also paid options that can host an even larger group if required. Additionally, some individuals might already have a great WiFi connection and laptop already set up in their home. Finally, some couples may want to have more (or less) food and drinks at their virtual wedding.
Of course, the budget is subject to the couple’s taste and preference, but our table provides a basic cost projection that is realistic virtual weddings in Singapore. As you might expect, this is drastically cheaper than a traditional, in-person wedding, which can cost anywhere between $22,200 to $52,800. Therefore for those who are eager to tie the knot, a virtual wedding may be an option that is worth considering, especially since there is no clarity on how long the Covid-19 will affect wedding planning. Plus, it will also minimise the danger of losing your deposits if there is a need to postpone the wedding reception.
Stay Well-Informed About Future Covid-19 Social Distancing Policies
With no clarity of when social distancing measures will be dissolved and fears of another wave of Covid-19, it can be tough to plan a wedding involving a substantial number of guests. Before making a move to commit on a wedding date or format, make sure to stay well-informed about the policies that will affect the smooth running of your wedding event. Imagine having a long queue of guests arriving early just for temperature checks and the possibility of asking a guest to leave because his temperature is slightly off the mark. These measures may quickly turn an intimate wedding into an awkward affair. Because the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented, taking a wait-and-see approach may be prudent until more clarity is published after the CB ends.
Paying for Your Wedding
While it is good to stay optimistic, it may be worth exercising caution when considering a big wedding package at this time. If your wedding gets caught in another CB down the road, there is no guarantee that the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill can protect you from losing your deposits. Moreover, engaging in such dispute cases can be a long-drawn affair that can waste even more resources.
For now, it is crucial to engage in detailed discussions with your vendors to understand their cancellation or postponement policies to ensure that you are financially protected. We recommend that couples and families only commit to contracts if there is clarity on the matter. When it comes to managing wedding expenses and payment, couples who have not saved cash should consider taking a personal loan rather than accumulating debt on a credit card. This is because borrowing costs of credit cards (25-30% p.a.) typically dwarf those of the most affordable personal loans (7-8% p.a.). However, if you have the funds to pay for your wedding up front, using a credit card can help you accrue cashback savings or benefits like air miles.
Keeping It Simple
With so much uncertainty, it may not be a bad idea to keep wedding plans simple. Hosting a small virtual wedding may not be your fantasy wedding, but it allows couples and families to enjoy the romantic affair without the hassles of a traditional wedding during this lockdown. On the other hand, it may be wise to wait and see, and perhaps push back your wedding date. Either way, many experts expect that the economy will experience a long recovery period, which highlights the importance of a well-planned wedding.