Last April, when Covid started to really affect Singapore, many of our lives were affected by the many changes that came about. From lockdowns to safety distancing to stricter regulations, we all had to navigate our ways in this new normal. At NotSoCrazyRichAsians, we wanted to dive deeper into how Covid-19 in Singapore has affected, specifically, couples having their weddings during a pandemic in Singapore.
While we initially found much helpful information scouring the internet, we decided that the best advice and sharing would come from a couple who actually had the first-hand experience of getting married and having a wedding during a pandemic.
We sat down (in our own homes, through Zoom of course!) to speak with Fiona and Wilson where they shared with us their experience with several first-hand insider budgeting tips and things that you should look out for when planning your wedding during this new normal.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
NSCRA: Hey guys, congratulations on your marriage! And, thank you for taking the time today to share with our readers. We have heard a lot about the horrors of planning a wedding during a pandemic and are very curious to hear about your first-hand experience. Would you like to begin by sharing the initial and eventual plans of your ceremony?
Fiona: Thank you! And of course. It was really quite a roller-coaster ride thinking back. Let’s throwback to last year March, where we were supposed to hold our ceremony at “Food for Thought” at the National Museum of Singapore. We planned to have a small ceremony of approximately 120 to 140 guests and were excited about the intimate affair to celebrate our special day. But, as you know, that was right smack when the Covid-19 cases began to rise rapidly and the potential of a islandwide lockdown seemed to be looming near. There was nothing much we could do but wait for more news and updates and soon, the DORSCON level did eventually changed from Yellow to Orange and many new restrictions that were un-navigated started to kick in rapidly, and you can only imagine the fluster we had then!
There were several worries we had back then, including concerns over the safety of our guests and not wanting to pressure them into attending the wedding of course. We knew that we would also feel really bad if someone dear caught the virus because they wanted to celebrate our special day. (Fiona: Frankly, I was also really worried my wedding would appear on the news, for the wrong reasons, haha!) Thankfully, the decision was made much easier for us when many vendors were nice enough to postpone their services, allowing us to take the option of postponing our wedding ceremony cost-free. It seemed like a no-brainer for us to then to push the wedding a year back, in hopes of a better situation.
Unfortunately, the situation worsened with an extended Circuit Breaker and plans for the wedding could not be confirmed with no clear sight of the future. Being very law-abiding citizens, Wilson and I really did not meet for months and naturally missed being apart. It also did not make sense then for us to live separately and that was when the idea of simply proceeding with our ROM first so that we could move in together came to mind. Long story short- with much support and persuasion from both parents, we went ahead with a Zoom wedding registration to celebrate our special day and did not proceed with a formal ceremony in the end and I moved into Wilson’s place shortly after. We collected the keys to our own home in December 2020 and decided to simply host our friends (in groups of 8, of course) for small gatherings as a replacement for our celebration and also, informal housewarming.
NSCRA: Wow, that was really quite a roller coaster ride! With all the different challenges hurled at you, what were you say was the biggest challenge then?
Fiona & Wilson: We think one of the biggest difficulties would definitely be the uncertainty of the COVID-19 regulations. We would say we were the unluckier bunch because back then we were the first batch of couples who were affected by the increased regulations. This means there weren’t any newly-wed couples for us to emulate or seek advice from. (Fiona: I actually went around asking my fellow bride friends and researching on bridal Facebook groups too, but we were all pretty much equally lost sheep in the situation.) We were simply going with the flow and crossing bridges when they came. We did realised how important it was to adopt a flexible mindset in our planning and to always have a contingency plan. With the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, it is definitely crucial to always be constantly updated with the news on new restrictions in place as well.
NSCRA: Apart from these learning points, we do know that many brides have their own personal tips & tricks having experienced a wedding. We’re sure you have some up your sleeves as well that perhaps you would like to share some insider budgeting tips with our readers?
Wilson: Haha, I’ll leave this question to Fiona as she pretty much did most of the planning!
Fiona: Firstly, instead of having a physical wedding card or an e-card, we created a website using Wix. It is so much simpler and convenient and a lot more information can be added in. This is especially useful during a pandemic as restrictions are ever-changing, I can simply update the website to notify my guests of the latest changes in my wedding. You can also attach a google form for RSVP and helps you save on paper and track attendance better! When our wedding photos were out, we could also simply upload them to the site for our loved ones to view.
For your wedding decoration, if you have the time and energy, perhaps you can choose to DIY or purchase them via Taobao or Carousell for cheaper alternatives. However, if you want something more aesthetic, it might be better for you to hire a vendor. (Fiona: For myself, I didn’t have the time to DIY anything, so I decided to hire a vendor instead to help ensure all my wedding decorations were taken care of. It was really a worthwhile investment for a one-stop service as well). Be sure to check out several bridal Facebook groups or websites for reviews of the vendors before engaging them too!
Lastly, don’t save on videography/photography! This is very IMPORTANT. While the celebration is fun, it is only for a night whereas the photos & videos will immortalise the event forever. In fact, when we called off our wedding ceremony, we actually made use of our wedding photography package (as we had already paid a 50% deposit) to conduct a small and personal photoshoot instead for our memory’s sake (and of course, put my makeup & gown to good use!). I think this is definitely a good investment as these photos/videos can be kept for a long time. Also, an additional tip from us, we prefer things to be digital. It helps to save some costs and also, allows for easier viewing and sharing. We simply uploaded the photos to our website and social medias for all to view.
Wilson: While Fiona did most of the planning and budgeting, I do actually have 1 tip for grooms out there too. For my groom and groomsmen suits, we actually brought the boys to Thailand to get our suits done. It is definitely a much cheaper option than getting it done in Singapore. Would highly recommend you to do this as well when the borders are open and it’s safe to travel as a getaway trip + cutting on costs! In the meantime, there are some shops that allow you to send over your measurements, and they will get them done for you and mail them over to Singapore too.
NSCRA: Wow, that’s quite a number of tips you’ve provided. We really liked the idea of a website and would definitely encourage fellow couples to do so too! Now before we end off this interview, do you have any final advice to share with couples out there planning their wedding during the pandemic?
Fiona & Wilson: JUST DO IT NOW. For the couples out there who secretly want to have a small wedding, but is unable to do so due to external pressures, this is really a prime opportunity for you to host a small wedding with the pandemic as an “excuse”. We cannot stress how much money you’ll also save on a smaller celebration.
Even with our deposits being forfeited from our cancellations, we realised that we actually still saved much more money than if we were to carry on with our wedding plans. These money saved can be better channeled to funding our house or honeymoon in the future. (Fiona: Especially with the pandemic, it made so much more sense to invest in a good living environment instead.)
It also helps that with this new normal, there are many weddings that have took place during a pandemic and couples have more people to seek advice and inspiration from, as compared to when we were planning our wedding during a pandemic. Things are definitely much simpler and easier to execute for you couples out there. So, if you’re still thinking about it, don’t wait on it anymore and start getting your wedding planned!
NSCRA: That’s great advice to our fellow brides & grooms who are still on then fence! Thank you again for your time today and we wish you all the best in your journey ahead.
While Fiona & Wilson were, unfortunately, the first few couples who had a wedding during Covid-19 with no blueprint to follow, you aren’t! Their sharing has definitely helped us understand how the process can be simplified and hopefully assure couples out there in their wedding planning.