Wedding bells ringing more often in Singapore this year, back to pre-Covid-19 levels

Mr Saurabh Dutta and Ms Huang Mei Ling had planned to have their November nuptials last year, but they postponed it to May this year.
Mr Saurabh Dutta and Ms Huang Mei Ling had planned to have their November nuptials last year, but they postponed it to May this year.PHOTO: DARREN & JADE PHOTOGRAPHY

SINGAPORE - The number of couples who tied the knot in the first seven months of this year has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Sept 28) that 14,981 couples had got married between January and July this year. This is similar to pre-Covid-19 levels, she added.

Ms Sun also said more couples said "I do" in the first half of the year, compared with the same period last year, without citing any numbers.

A total of 12,980 couples wed up to June this year, 46 per cent more than the 8,862 couples in the same period last year, a check by The Straits Times found.

Wedding planners interviewed say the number of weddings this year has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels for a few reasons.

For one, some couples had postponed their wedding last year to this year, boosting this year's numbers.

Reasons included the circuit breaker period from April 7 to June 1 last year and other restrictions, such as the limit on the maximum number of guests allowed to attend a wedding.

Ms Cheryl Tan, founder of wedding planner The Wedding Concepteur, said: "As we are still stuck in the pandemic after more than a year, many couples prefer to move on with their lives and plans by holding their wedding this year."

Then, there are also the couples who had planned to wed this year.

Ms Zhang Wen Xin, senior principal stylist at The Wedding Stylist, said: "People have also realised that Covid-19 is going to be here for the long term, and there is some fatigue from the changing restrictions.

"Couples have decided not to wait for restrictions to be completely relaxed since this might not be likely at this point, so they are proceeding with their weddings for this year and next."

The rules covering weddings have changed multiple times since the pandemic struck early last year.

For example, most of the solemnisations scheduled during the circuit breaker last year had to be postponed as couples were not allowed to solemnise their marriages in person, unless their appeals were successful.

Ms Huang Mei Ling, a 38-year-old analyst, was supposed to marry Mr Saurabh Dutta, 37, in November last year. The couple, who met three years ago through dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, had planned for a year to have their November nuptials last year.

But they postponed it to May this year, hoping the border restrictions would be eased after vaccinations are rolled out. This would make it easier for their family and friends overseas to celebrate their wedding with them.

Mr Dutta, a general manager in an aviation firm, is a Singapore permanent resident from India who has been living here for almost 20 years. His parents flew from India to Singapore for the wedding.

Ms Huang's best friend and cousins, who were supposed to be her bridesmaids, are also living overseas and ended up attending the wedding virtually on Zoom.

The Singaporean said: "I felt it was too much to ask my bridesmaids to do the 14-day stay-home notice here and also back in their country.

"But we also felt that Covid-19 is not going to go away soon, so we went ahead with our wedding in May."

She added that it was extremely stressful planning a wedding with ever-changing rules due to the pandemic.

Mr Dutta said that it was also "socially challenging" inviting a guest but not the partner or children, due to restrictions on the maximum number of guests allowed.

Their big day took place on May 2, an auspicious date based on astrology, with 98 guests attending their solemnisation and lunch banquet at the Regent Singapore. The occasion was live-streamed on Zoom to their relatives and friends overseas.

Educator Kayne Kwa, 42, proposed to Ms Louise Koh, 39, last year and the pair tied the knot on Jan 16.

It was one of the dates their church had available slots for a wedding mass.

About 100 guests attended the nuptials in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Upper Thomson Road, where the couple had met during a spiritual programme. They had been dating for about three years.

After the wedding mass, they held a lunch reception at the Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine restaurant in Newton for about 30 family members.

Ms Koh, who heads a marketing department, said: "What was important to us was to marry in church with our loved ones around to witness that, rather than to throw a big party."