Text Sophy Zee

 Is it possible to have a wedding for less than $500? That is less than the price of one table at a wedding dinner here.

It seems you can in the United Kingdom, where a budget hotel chain has launched an affordable wedding package for just £199 (S$415.50). In the midst of the financial crisis, which has hit

Europe harder than Asia, it seems like just the thing.

 The UK Press Association reported that the Premier Inn will offer a bridal reception for up to 20 guests,  a wedding cake, wedding gown and suit for the groom, plus a two-night honeymoon for that price.

 The honeymoon package includes sparkling wine, chocolates and strawberries, rose petals for their bed. An average night at the budget chain starts from about £29, or S$60.

 They will even provide extras such as a nightie and pyjamas for the bride and groom, confetti for the guests and a template for the bestman's speech.

 The wedding gown, suit and cake all hail from Asda, a popular supermarket chain in the UK.

 No matter what the cost savings, I think many couples here would not consider having their wedding at Hotel 81, or any other budget hotel in any country, and they would much rather save up that five-figure sum that seems to be a pre-requisite for a wedding here.

But the price does give us pause, and reflect on our assumptions. We can have a wedding for a few hundred dollars, or millions of dollars, as some celebrities do.

Most couples will have the traditional package with a photoshoot, and 30-50 table wedding dinner,  on top of the ROM reception and a traditional ceremony, or church wedding. On top of that there's the honeymoon, and possibly beauty treatments and gym or slimming sessions before the big day.

At least one couple I know of only had went through the civil ceremony, and had a lunch reception after, while one or two skipped the wedding photo shoot.

Whereas it was reported on Razor TV that for one bride-to-be, her fairy-tale engagement party alone came up to S$30,000, complete with a Cinderella gown, white horse, a flame thrower and tiara.

A friend recently said in jest that we should get married soon because the hotels keep raising their rates for wedding dinners, and soon it will no longer be possible to cover the cost with the red packets from your guests.

There does not seem to be any clear financial guideslines for weddings, unlike for home buying.

For example, I think a useful and simple guide can tell you how many months of your salary you should spend on your wedding dinner, your honeymoon and/or your wedding photo shoot.  

Since it is very likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime type of event, I would think that most couples lean towards over-spending than otherwise.

How much did or do you intend to spend on your wedding and why? What would you save on and what do you think is absolutely necessary?