Their wedding in May last year spanned three days and cost $600,000. But Ms Natalya Twohill, 28, an associate in a private investment firm, and her husband, business development manager Sanjey Chandran, 33, think it was money well spent.
“We realised early on that weddings are really about family and, given our huge extended families and different cultures, we knew from the get-go that it was going to be a big affair,” Ms Twohill explains. She is Eurasian while her husband is Indian.
The festivities kicked off on May 23 with a henna party at Mr Chandran’s home and included a tea ceremony and a Hindu temple ceremony.
The celebrations culminated in a grand 90-table banquet at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore that cost $500,000.
To pamper their guests – think a photo booth, bhangra performers, a live band, open bar, dessert buffet and candles in ornamental silver tins sourced from Bali as wedding favours – they decided to cut down on their clothing and grooming budgets.
For example, instead of getting a professional make-up artist for each event, Ms Twohill had a friend do her make-up for free.
She also skipped the expensive bridal boutiques and chose to have her gowns made by a home-based tailor, spending $1,200 on her two pieces.
The couple also tried to save in other ways as they were renovating their new home, a two-bedroom apartment in River Valley.
“The cost of everything, from lighting to customised menu cards, can add up, so we were constantly negotiating with our vendors for the best deal,” Mr Chandran says.
In the end, they managed to pay for the wedding with help from their parents and by spreading out the payment period as they could clear the bill for services such as videography and photography later. They also postponed their honeymoon to later in the year.
The couple decline to reveal how much their hongbao takings were, but say they have no regrets as their wedding was “an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience”.
Ms Twohill says: “Our families and friends had a blast – that’s the most important thing to us.”