Why couples are saying I do, DIY-style

The escalating cost of getting married is pushing more young couples to take their ‘I Do’ a step further, as they embrace do-it-yourself (DIY) weddings.

With weddings in Singapore costing up to $100,000 these days and with wedding websites and apps like Pinterest rising in popularity, DIY ideas from around the world are mere clicks away. From video tutorials to free templates, anything is possible - if expectations are managed, of course.

Laureen Goh, 29, and her fiancé Kenneth Yong, 31, are going down a more unconventional route in an attempt to cut the zeros at the end of their bill.

Although they have three months to go, Goh and Yong are already busy preparing for their big day.

The couple has been dating for the past eight years and only started thinking about their wedding, which they are funding on their own, after the proposal.

“Cost is the main reason we decided to DIY our wedding. But I think it’s also about doing something different that we both enjoy,” says Goh.

They aren’t commissioning a florist. Goh has already begun making felt flowers for her bridal party, hall decoration and even her own bouquet.

Laureen Goh made felt flowers for her wedding.
Laureen Goh made felt flowers for her wedding.

Their door gifts? That’s homemade too.

“I make the flowers while Kenneth makes limoncello (lemon infused in vodka) for our door gifts,” says Goh.

The couple, who are passionate about cooking and plan to open a restaurant in the future, also want to cook for their 300 guests on the day, although the plan hasn’t been confirmed.

While they’re fortunate to have parents who give them full reign of their wedding, friends say they are “crazy” to be doing it all on their own. It hasn’t stopped them helping out whenever possible, though.

“It’s fun but I think it’s very important to have time. This can’t be a last minute thing because you’ll tend to rush and it can get frustrating.”

Noorshahidah Suradi, 27, who got married in May this year agrees that time and help from others is important.

While cost wasn’t the primary concern for Noorshahidah and her husband Mohamed Firdaus, 30, they didn’t feel it was worth outsourcing decoration and spending so much when the end product wasn’t what they wanted.

“Usually, companies that provide the dais for Malay weddings will have fixed packages, and their websites will show the dais designs. Customisation is possible, but is an added cost, so we decided to do it ourselves.”

The unconventional DIY dais at Noor Shahidah's wedding.
The unconventional DIY dais at Noor Shahidah's wedding.

The couple decided to create their own version of the dais ­– which was mainly decorated with paper crepe – and ended up spending less than S$2,000 for decorating their wedding hall.

“Usually, the dais alone would already cost S$8,000 to S$10,000,” she said.

A big fan of Australian cake designer Katherine Sabbath, Noorshahidah requested for a Sabbath-inspired lychee and rose flavoured cake to be made.

The <span style=font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;>Katherine Sabbath-inspired lychee and rose flavoured cak at Noor Shahidah's wedding. </span>
The Katherine Sabbath-inspired lychee and rose flavoured cak at Noor Shahidah's wedding.

“I like funky and colourful cakes, and that’s exactly what I got,” the visual merchandiser said.

“The DIY wedding wasn’t just about us, because our family got involved. During solemnisation, we were crying because all our hard work had finally paid off.”

Both Goh and Noorshahidah got their inspiration from the Internet and sites like Pinterest and Etsy.

“When we started planning, my husband and I started a Dropbox where we threw in anything we found online that caught our attention.

“From there, we decided on the theme of our wedding, and got an idea of what we both liked,” Noorshahidah said.

Make your own dress

While most people DIY their wedding decoration, Diana Chan, 28, and her husband Gerald Shen, 28, who got married in 2013, made their own clothes for their big day.

Chan had taken up a dressmaking course prior to the wedding, and later a course on men’s shirtmaking, but her tailoring experience goes way back.

“When I was growing up I used to take apart and re-sew clothes my mum bought for me because they didn’t really fit well. In a way, that was my informal training with dressmaking.”

The couple, who now run a business making handsewn ties and pocket squares, believed they should put their skills and knowledge to good use for their wedding.

When asked if she was worried about whether she would be able to pull it off, Chan said it wasn’t about getting it perfect.

“I’m not really a perfectionist, but if I like doing something I’d go ahead and do it.”

Chan designed and sewed two elegant pieces for both her solemnisation and her wedding lunch three months later. Her husband, who can also sew, made his.

She spent under S$300 for her gown in material costs, while her husband’s entire suit including the shirt costs about S$600.

Money aside, the outfits also added a very special touch to their wedding.

“In many years to come we can still tell our friends and family we’re proud to have made our own outfit,” Chan said.