Cheap Wedding Ideas: How Frugal Will You Go?

10th November 2017
cheap wedding at the beach

Weddings are never known for being small events; nor are they cheap. Whenever there’s a wedding worth talking about that’s not celebrity calibre, it’s usually about how expensive it was, how grand it was and how good the food was. Actually it’s more memorable if the food was bad, so pick your food carefully! However, the younger generation seems to have become savvier and less splurgy when dealing with weddings. A cheap wedding is the new champagne and designer gown on the scene!

So last time I talked about tips for planning a wedding budget. A few good (and amusing) comments I got were how people would just do simple things like:

  • a small signing ceremony on top of a hill with 50 attendees or so.
  • “I’d just do Nikah + Berian (note: parts of a Malay wedding) then pizza and LAN party,” Another chimed.
  • The cream of the crop was one who said “I’ll just send you guys an app and you can attend in Virtual Reality.”

While you can say this is just funny banter, there’s possibility within each of them! For some couples, a fancy schmancy wedding may not be what they would want.

Cheap wedding… but how cheap?

1. Just registering

The most basic way to being legally considered husband and wife is a through the Registry of Marriage. Many people abbreviate to simply “ROM”. You know, like Harry Potter’s best friend’s forgotten twin brother? Anyway, to register and officiate your marriage you need to do a few things:

  1. Book a date at the Registry (High Court in Bandar Seri Begawan)
  2. Pay $110 when booking. $100 is for issuing a Notice of marriage and $10 is for 2 stamp duties (one for now and the other for the next phase).
  3. On your selected date (usually a Saturday), you attend with your significant other, witnesses and guests, read your vows, sign a document and voilà! You’re legally bound!
  4. You will also need to pay $100 on the day for the Certificate of Marriage.

This applies to non-Muslims because I am pretty sure there are lots of rituals and other things that cannot be avoided in weddings of other cultures but I’m not familiar in those.

Regardless, your very, very cheap wedding now costs only $210! Come on, this is as cheap as it will ever get for a wedding! But usually people don’t stop there because this calls for a celebration! There are usually also cultural fiery hoops to jump through to appease your ancestors (usually parents and elders).

I can think of a few other ways you can push down costs that might not be sign-a-contract-cheap but as a cheap wedding, good enough.

2. Intimate, small scale wedding reception

This option is very personal for the couple and the guests. Usually it’s only close friends and relatives that are invited. But beware, there’s a chance where this wedding could cost as much as (or even more than) a typical ballroom one. The reason is because you can see you’re saving a lot from not doing a “big” wedding and therefore be tempted to funnel the budget all into it. Rather than scale downwards, this could mean a beach wedding in Bali or something more exotic.

Don’t think too much into making it too fantabulous if you want to scale down. The winning point is the people you invite to be a part of it.

This kind of reception could potentially still cost a couple of thousand dollars. The price can explode if you opt for things like overseas venues, resort hotel bookings and whatnot.

3. Ballroom reception

Though not the cheapest option, a toned down reception means you minimise decorations and unnecessary extras. No bands, party favours or even just getting one of your charismatic groomsmen to be your emcee. You can invite far more people this way (mostly your parents’ and in-law’s friends anyway) if that’s what you’re aiming for.

This reception will probably still cost you a couple of thousand dollars because of venue rental and food.

But truth be told, it could lack flair and if the food is subpar… That’d be a disappointing event indeed! It’s your time and it really doesn’t matter what others think. But bear in mind if you make it too bad of an event, you’ll have a half-empty ballroom pretty quickly. So if you’re not willing to go for that, you can try…

4. Simple dinner party

How about having a dinner party instead? It’ll lack the “feel” of a wedding, but if you’re not concerned with that, this is a great option. Invite friends and family for a dinner of predetermined formality. Add in a bit of decor and video montage, and voilà; done. Nothing much can be said about this to be honest. It is just a dinner.

Price depends on the food you choose, it could easily go up to $30-40 per person for high end restaurants but can be pretty cheap too! Just… don’t serve nasi katok (a Bruneian packed rice with chicken which costs $1). You want to keep it cheap, not be branded as one.

5. House party

Sometimes wedding receptions have after-parties usually at the groom’s place of residence. If you omit the reception and just make it a party at home, it could serve the same purpose. Similar to a dinner party, you’ll lack the feel of a wedding, though. But this is the most stress-free method when it comes to hosting a reception. I’ve been to one that’s very free and easy; t-shirts and shorts all around. That’s how frugal you can go!

Typically this should easily cost less than $1,000 to pull off because all you have to pay for is food and drinks.


People nowadays are getting more financially savvy and often would opt for a cheap wedding rather than a bombastic one. There are many ways to slash your budget and make sacrifices when it comes to planning your wedding but why not just simply go for a basic event? Oftentimes weddings are calls to celebrate one way or another and like Christmas parties, you can have a quiet dinner or a full-on ball. Regardless of your choice, the most important thing is that you (and your significant other) are happy. Personally I think that even if you saved or even earned money, if you’re unhappy, it’s a bad trade.

Making money is a happiness. And that’s a great incentive. Making other people happy is a super-happiness.

– Muhammad Yunus

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