It’s no surprise that weddings are expensive affairs — in Hong Kong and just about everywhere else. With a bit of financial savvy and careful planning, however, there are ways to keep costs under control, whatever your budget is. From the average costs of typical wedding expenses in Hong Kong to tips on where to save and splurge, check out our guide to budgeting for your special day.
Know how much things cost – and consider cheaper alternatives
Here is a breakdown of the typical expenses in a traditional Hong Kong wedding – and less costly options you can consider.
- Registration fee (fixed): HK$305
- Ceremony at the Marriage Registry (non-working days): HK$1,935
- Ceremony at the Marriage Registry (working days): HK$715
- Civil celebrant* (for ceremony taking place at designated venue): HK$2,000-4,000
- Civil celebrant* (for ceremony taking place inside their office): HK$1,500-2,000
Guo da li cash gift**
- Price range: HK$28,000-68,000
Door games lai see for bridesmaids**
- Price range (total): HK$2,999-$9,999
Wedding photography and videography
- Outdoor pre-wedding photos (8 hours, including wardrobe and makeup): HK$10,000-18,000
- Wedding day photos and videos (10 hours, two photographers and one videographer, including same-day footage editing for presentation at evening reception): HK$12,000-22,000
- Wedding day photos and videos (6 hours, one photographer and one videographer): HK$6,000-9,000
- Chinese dinner banquet at hotels: HK$12,000-28,000 per table of 12
- Chinese dinner banquet at other wedding venues: HK$6,000-12,000 per table of 12
- Lunch buffet at other wedding venues: HK$300-700 per person
* In Hong Kong, weddings must be conducted by civil celebrants. See a list of the government’s appointed civil celebrants here.
** There is no hard and fast rule for guo da li cash gifts and lai see for bridesmaids. See our guide on guo da li here. For bridesmaid lai see, it is acceptable to budget HK$500 per bridesmaid, and add more to make the total sum for the entire group a number that ends with an “8” or “9” for luck.
*** When it comes to throwing a traditional Chinese banquet, auspicious dates in accordance with the Tung Shing will incur much higher costs. If you’re open to going for dates that are considered “inauspicious” — such as the Ching Ming or Yu Lan Festivals, which are holidays associated with the dead — doing a wedding on these dates can save you up to half the typical cost of a banquet.
Spare some money — around 5 percent of the total cost of the wedding — to cover all unforeseen expenses.
Account for hidden costs
Costs can really add up in weddings — and a lot of that has to do with the extras fees, service charges and gratuities.
Ask your wedding vendors about overtime costs and service charges, so there are no unexpected surprises when you pay the bill.
Budget for lai see for the people who will serve you throughout the day — from your makeup artist and hairstylist to the photographer and restaurant manager at the banquet venue.
One way to account for all those extras is to simply plan to go over budget. Spare some money — around 5 percent of the total cost of the wedding — to cover all unforeseen expenses.
Track your spending
Track all your wedding spending, which will help you stay on top of expenses and not go overboard. It is a good idea to open a separate bank account that deals with wedding expenses.
Putting the wedding costs on a credit card that gets you benefits or air mileage is a good idea. This will also help you save on your honeymoon travels.
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Decide where to splurge and where to save
Some things are worth splurging on, while others are not.
Images and videos will be a great way for you to look back on your special day — and it’s best to hire a professional, rather than rely on an uncle who’s a photography enthusiast.
Consider whether you really want to spend a ton of money on bridal gowns and suits — the bridal gown in particular likely won’t get much wear. These are readily available for rental at bridal boutiques around Hong Kong. If you do want to buy your very own, lots of high street labels now offer affordable bridal gown options.
When it comes to decorations and flowers, working closely with your vendors and communicating your budget will help prevent costs spiralling out of control.
If you are having a wedding with music and dancing at the end of the evening, instead of hiring a DJ, consider simply putting together your own playlist.
Forego one-time use items
Weddings are filled with items that can only be used once. In lieu of place cards, print one sheet of paper that contains names of the guests on each table.
Instead of sending paper save-the-dates, collect RSVPs online through a personal wedding website — right here at Our Big Day. Formal invitations can be sent out by paper later.
Wedding favours gifted to guests are a tradition in western weddings. Think about how useful these actually are and whether you’ve used the favours you received at weddings you’ve attended. Keep them simple, or just don’t have them altogether.
Ask friends for favours
Although some skills and services that are best left to the pros, that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of the talents of friends and family in other ways.
If you have opted not to have a sizeable bridal party but still want close friends and relatives to carry official roles at the wedding, ask them to be ushers and readers.
Got a talented musician friend? Get them to sing or play an instrument at the ceremony.
Doing a wedding overseas? Have the official wedding paperwork signed off in Hong Kong — then ask a friend to be a celebrant at your ceremony to give it a more intimate feel.
Chances are, guests want to contribute to your day — and it will make things feel more personal, too.
- Have conversations with both families about who is paying for what. In Chinese weddings, the groom’s family traditionally picks up the tab, but modern-day couples are increasingly paying their own way. Make sure all parties are comfortable with what they are contributing.
- Be cutthroat with your guest list, if you really want to save on costs. With the average wedding in Hong Kong costing some HK$360,000, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to invite co-workers or friends from high school you haven’t seen in years.
- Remember that the lai see you receive at the banquet are supposed to contribute towards the cost of the wedding — which should ease some of the financial pressure.
- Feel the need to have an over-the-top wedding. You don’t want to start your marriage in debt.
- Forget to factor in the costs associated with your bridal party. Aside from lai see for the bridesmaids, which is a tradition that should be observed, there may be other costs involved with your bridal party — for example, you may wish to hire a car to get them to and from places on the wedding day.
- Let wedding planning have a negative effect on your relationship with your other half, or other loved ones. The goal is to celebrate your marriage with people who are special to you, so don’t lose sight of that.
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