Most cultures celebrate wedding as one of the biggest events in life and Malay weddings are no exception to that rule. Traditions vary a bit throughout the region, but traditionally Malay wedding would take a few days to complete. The most important ceremony and day is the “Bersanding” which actually means “the bride and groom sitting together on the bridal couch”. Some events on the actual day are rather similar to those of a chinese wedding, such as the groom going to the bride’s house and the challenges before he is allowed to be next to his wife.
Traditional wedding venues
I think it would be safe to say that most Malay weddings in Singapore would be bigger in terms of guests when compared to chinese or indian (hindu) weddings. It is not uncommon to have a Malay wedding with 1000 guests. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and specially when it is a mixed marriage, some opt for a more typical banquet at a hotel ball room or a restaurant.
As you probably know, hotels and restaurants generally have round tables for ten people. The venue would then charge according to how many tables the couple want, and what kind of food and drinks are to be served. The rates range roughly from $800 to $1500 per table and lunchtime reception is always cheaper than dinnertime. Most places would also impose a minimum amount of tables that needs to be booked.
Ang pow disaster
Usually guests would bring a token of appreciation in the form of ang pow envelope to cover their share of expenses at the wedding. A simple formula to figure out how the ang pow money is to divide the cost of the table by ten. At the same time you need to be mindful of the fact that some of your guests might think it is enough to put some 10-50 dollars into the ang pow envelope. I totally understand the thinking, but from the point of someone who is planning a wedding at a hotel, there is a big potential for a budget disaster. Lets say you would book 50 tables with the rate of $1000 each. So total bill would be $50k but if each guest only gives you about $50, you end up paying the hotel $25k from your own pocket.
Malay void deck wedding
There are a few reasons why many Malay weddings are not held at a hotel, but rather in a community center or even more commonly at the void decks below hdb flats. First of all, a lot of the restaurants or hotels don’t have the capacity for a very big wedding. Secondly the places that have the capacity, are going to be very expensive. For example the Marina Bay Sands can cater up to 150 tables, but each table will cost roughly $1300 for a dinnertime banquet. Of course this is not a problem if you can afford that. These days a lot of people are looking to get their wedding done on the cheap, but I would recommend spending the money and think of it as an investment.
You might think that having a Malay wedding at the void deck is very low class, but I have to say that these days some of the weddings held there are quite amazing in terms of facilities and decoration. Not only void decks can have a huge number of guests, they are also possible to decorate in any way you can imagine. This is a huge bonus for someone who wants a customized style, as hotels generally have very limited options when it comes to decorations. Of course you need to consider the weather in Singapore and would have to install fans and aircon units to keep the temperature somehow under control. You would not want the bride and groom to faint because it is too hot 🙂