Till debt do they part
Couples are borrowing heavily to splurge on lavish weddings. The result: frayed marriages once the big day is over
One couple's $110,000 wedding left them with a bill that took four years to pay off.
Another spent over $50,000 and their marriage almost ended.
Weddings are supposed to be memorable, not give the couple nightmares. But extravagant weddings are adding to the stress newly-weds face.
Mr John Vasavan, 56, a marriage counsellor for over 20 years, shared an example of a couple he had encountered in the early 2000s, who held a lavish wedding that almost cost them their marriage.
The couple held a 50-table wedding dinner that cost over $50,000.
As a result, they started their married life in debt, says Mr Vasavan, who is from Congruence Counseling Service Singapore.
Mr Vasavan, who has counselled over 50 couples, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "The wife described the wedding cost as 'exorbitant' and the couple were in debt right after the wedding.
"Despite that, they went ahead to buy a five-room HDB flat, changed cars three times over five years and also had a child."
Within five years, they had accumulated over $250,000 in debt.
"To avoid the wife's nagging, the husband borrowed from loan sharks and that led to a lot of complications."
The couple were on the verge of divorce before they sought marriage counselling.
Unusual? Not so, say other counsellors.
Mrs Chang-Goh Song Eng, head of Reach Counselling, says that while wedding costs are usually not the main cause of a divorce, they can lead to detrimental effects in the long run.
Then there are the Lees.
This August, Mr Cayden Lee and his wife will be paying the last instalment of a four-year loan of $110,000 for their 2012 wedding.
TNPS first reported their debt situation in 2014.
Mr Lee, now 35, had told TNPS then: "This is the real regret. We struggle from month to month just to make ends meet."
The hefty wedding bill was a strain on their marriage.
Mr Lee, who is an insurance agent, had said: "We have had more fights since our wedding than in the six years that we were dating.
"Most times, it was over money... and we'd end up blaming each other for the situation."
How did it all go so wrong?
They were smitten when they saw the glossy pictures and glitzy wedding must-haves in magazines.
They wanted a dream night, which included a bridal arch made with 999 fresh tulips from Holland, complete with a tulip-shaped balloon, for their wedding march-in. The arch cost nearly $12,000.
The bulk of the cost was the wedding banquet at a six-star hotel in the Marina Bay area - each of the 45 tables cost $1,688, before taxes.
The total bill? A whopping $110,000.
They had to top up their savings of $20,000 with a $45,000 loan from a financial institution with a repayment period of two years. Another $4,000 was borrowed from a licensed moneylender and $11,000 from a relative.
They also charged a total of $30,000 to their credit cards, says Mrs Lee, 30.
The housewife had said then: "When we first did our calculations, we were confident we could afford it. We gave ourselves a year or two, at the maximum, to work things out."
As a result of their debts, they had to put off their plans to start a family.
Mrs Lee recently tells TNPS: "That upset my in-laws greatly. They started to put pressure on me, instead of their son. It got to a point that I actually walked out for three months and even considered a divorce."
During the break in their relationship in March last year, she went to live with her maternal grandmother in Johor Baru.
"But Cayden came almost every day to visit and started wooing me all over again, with love notes." she recounts.
"In the end, I decided to give our marriage a chance."
"We have had more fights since our wedding than in the six years that we were dating. Most times, it was over money."
- Mr Cayden Lee who spent $110,000 on his wedding
To save money for flat, they 'got the basics'
NEWLY-WEDS: Mr Mohammed Zahid Anuar and Ms Nurul Haziqah Abdul Rahman held their wedding at a HDB multi-purpose hall. PHOTOS: MOLEYGRAPH INC
They needed to save money to eventually buy a flat and renovate it.
So that meant forgoing a hotel venue for their wedding and having it at a HDB multi-purpose hall.
Customer service officer Nurul Haziqah Abdul Rahman, 26, and civil servant Mohammed Zahid Anuar, 27, spent more than $33,000 on their nuptials last Sunday in Bukit Batok.
Ms Haziqah tells The New Paper on Sunday: "My husband and I decided to hold a simple wedding so that we could save up for the renovation and flat."
The couple applied for a Build-To-Order flat three times but were unsuccessful.
They hope to get a four-room HDB flat in about six years and plan to get a HDB loan.
They have already started saving for the renovations, which they estimate would cost about $40,000.
So when it came to the wedding, they had to stint on some areas.
Ms Haziqah says: "I believe it's good to invest in a good photographer and videographer even though they cost about $2,000 each because the pictures will remind us of the happy memories.
"But for other things like decorations and food, we got the basics, nothing too extravagant."
The couple hosted 1,500 guests. They paid $800 over three days for the venue rental, and over $23,000 for food and decorations. Door gifts cost another $2,000.
Ms Haziqah bought one outfit for the solemnisation ceremony and rented another two for the wedding ceremony.
These three outfits and her husband's attire cost over $2,500.
Thankfully, her parents helped to pay for part of the catering cost.
She says: "If I had to fork out everything myself. I don't think it would have been possible.
"The toughest part comes when they (vendors) ask for payment... It's like our hard-earned savings are gone in a flash."