The Internet went berserk earlier this week when The Straits Times reported that prices for wedding dinner has hit record high, with some hotels already surging past the $2,000 per table mark once GST and service charges are included.
Interestingly, the article did not cover anything that frequent wedding goers did not already know. The table prices for wedding have always gone up each year, without fail, for many years.
The common reason cited would usually be inflation. However, inflation is just a lousy excuse given by salespeople to justify the incredible year-by-year price hike in the industry.
Based on the information presented by The Straits Times, the annual increment for wedding price is about 8%. When you consider the fact that annual inflation is usually 3%, there is no logical explanation besides the fact that top hotels are making a killing from the wedding industry, while they still can.
Full Price Transparency
In recent years, it has been easy to find on the Internet wedding price guide for various hotels and popular restaurants in Singapore. The most completed list of all being the one found on SingaporeBrides.com.
The guide not only provide information on the price of wedding tables, but also the breakdown of cost depending on what day it is, and the minimum number of tables required for booking.
With such price transparency available, wedding goers now know exactly how much each table costs the bride and groom. They know how much their seat costs, and how much to give to avoid “undergiving”.
Having this knowledge also means that most wedding goers, being either family member, close friend or colleague of the bride and groom would prefer not to undergive the newly wed. On the other side, the newly wed also have greater assurance that their invitees would know the cost of the wedding, and would try their best to cover the cost, which most people do.
When A Good Thing Starts Turning Bad
Unfortunately, a good thing can sometimes turn bad once it becomes the norm.
What is this norm that we are talking about? This norm is the habit of wedding goers checking the price of the wedding and ensuring they give enough to at least help cover the cost of the wedding that the newly wed incurred.
This is a great idea except for one big problem. The hotels know it. And because they know this, hotels are able to freely price their wedding package at an exorbitant rate which couples would normally not be able to afford.
Why It Will Not Be Sustainable Soon
15 years ago, you could buy a plate of chicken rice for $2 at the coffee shop. Today, a plate would cost about $3.50. That’s inflation at work.
Inflation works fine when the increase in prices go in line with the increased in earnings. In the case of our chicken rice, a year-by-year increment of about 3.5% is reasonable and more importantly, sustainable.
In the case of our wedding dinner, the price, in our opinion, is unsustainable. A moderate increase of about $30 – 40 per table per year could still be manageable, a $100 a year increment is not.
We understand that the hotels may face the cost pressure and perhaps staff cost and food prices may affect the bottom-line. In this instance, hotels should innovate to find ways on how they can keep their prices manageable. They can provide no frill packages, such as to refrain from offering complimentary cheap wine that nobody wants anyway. They can do away with giving away stayactions as part of their package.
We are not saying that these things are not important, or that people wouldn’t want them. We are saying that these should be optional add-ons that the couple can choose to add on if they want to, rather than to be seen as a compulsory part of an expensive package that will not be sustainable in a few years time.
We love a good wedding meal in Singapore as much as the next person. But let’s be realistic, at the rate of increase that we are currently seeing, it wouldn’t be long before the cost of wedding easily becomes $250 per person. And unless we see our income enjoy a sudden spike (which isn’t going to happen), it is likely that the average Singaporean will start being priced out of the wedding from their relatives or close friends.
Our generosity when it comes to supporting our newly wed friends is being exploited by the hotels, and it is time we realized that for ourselves.
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