Big fat weddings off the cards for Malaysian couples as cost of living bites post-pandemic

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Malaysian couples prefer tying the knot in close-knit and moderate wedding ceremonies as cost of living skyrockets after the recent sales and service tax (SST) hike.

Wedding planners say couples are reducing the number of ceremonies and trimming down their guest lists, similar to how weddings were held under the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions four years ago.

Wedding Professionals Alliance Malaysia (WPAM) chairman Veatha Kumar Rajagopal said even Indian weddings, often considered the epitome of grandeur, are getting downsized.

“Before the pandemic, couples used to throw grand engagement ceremonies but now, most of them prefer to have simple engagement ceremonies at home.

“And, instead of hiring both photographer and videographer, they opt for only one service.

“Previously, couples hosted a separate reception after having their wedding at temples but now, most of them host a luncheon straightaway at the temple after the wedding,” he told Malay Mail.

Veatha Kumar, a wedding photographer for over 17 years at Byond Pix, said the overall cost for Indian weddings has surged by 20 to 25 per cent over the last four years.

“The venue and food costs saw a very steep rise. The food price, for instance, has jumped from RM50 per pax to over RM70 per pax now.

“But, other sectors such as henna and photography are relatively unaffected,” he said.

Villa weddings, a trend that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic, continues gaining traction among Indian couples hosting exclusive wedding ceremonies with around 100 guests.

Veatha said this option allows couples to enjoy a hassle-free wedding experience and reduce logistic costs.

The rapidly changing wedding landscape post-pandemic also led Veatha to establish WPAM earlier this year as a networking platform for Indian wedding professionals.

The organisation currently has over 200 members.

Mohammad Fadlie said Malay couples seek innovative wedding dais with hydrangea flowers and pastel colours decorations. — Picture courtesy of FadAza Couture
Mohammad Fadlie said Malay couples seek innovative wedding dais with hydrangea flowers and pastel colours decorations. — Picture courtesy of FadAza Couture

Mohammad Fadlie said Malay couples seek innovative wedding dais with hydrangea flowers and pastel colours decorations. — Picture courtesy of FadAza Couture

Seeking fairy-tale elements

Malay couples are resorting to similar cost-saving measures too.

FadAza Couture founder and manager Mohammad Fadlie Mat Said said most couples hold their akad nikah (marriage solemnisation) and bersanding (reception) ceremonies back-to-back on the same day to save cost.

“Many Malay couples are now comfortable reducing their guest list from over 1,000 people previously to about 800 people.

“The brides prefer renting wedding outfits from boutiques instead of purchasing new ones to cut cost,” he said.

Interestingly, Indian weddings make up around 60 percent of Fadlie’s business as he said Malay and Indian couples have similar preferences in many aspects.

“Both prefer innovative designs for their wedding dais and want hydrangea flowers and pastel colours as their wedding décor’s base.

“For traditional ceremonies, however, they still wear traditional outfits like saree and songket,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yours Truly Entertainment wedding planning company owner Lau Yishern said young Chinese couples are seeking wedding experiences with a fairy-tale twist.

Lau, 32, said many couples are keen to include the ‘first look’ segment in their weddings, where the bride walks into the hall and taps the groom’s shoulder from the back.

“It is a walk down the memory lane for the couple, from the day they first met to how their love has blossomed into marriage,” he said.