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Couples to cut wedding costs: Survey
By Peggy Chan (HK Edition)
Updated: 2009-08-11 07:35

HONG KONG: Couples are cutting a few corners on wedding expenses this year in the face of an uncertain economy. At the same time they are delaying having children in their family planning, a survey has revealed.

The online information service, ESDlife, interviewed 1,781 people, 25 and above who plan to get married between 2009 and 2011.

On average they plan to spend HK$226,352 on their wedding. That's 3.3 percent below last year's figure. Spending on the post-nuptial banquet comprised about 60 percent of the expenditures. Twenty percent was budgeted for the honeymoon and pre-wedding photos.

"Wedding couples tend to spend on various wedding items to create a perfect wedding experience, regardless of the economic downturn since last year," said Desiree Lam, ESDlife content manager.

She added the retail sector is offering a great deal more in discounts and other promotions this year than last, so that is one reason couples can cut down on costs this year.

Respondents said money for the celebration would be saved over 30 months. Most will take money from personal savings.

Only 18 percent plan to use investments to pay for their nuptials. That's way below the 43 percent who did in 2008, when the stock market was buoyant. About 16 percent said they would borrow an average of HK$81,000 from financial institutions for their big day.

Although the financial crunch had little impact on wedding preparations, couples have decided to defer having kids for a while.

Only half of respondents said they wanted two kids or more. That's also down from 2008 by 11 percent. Fifteen percent said they did not intend to have children.

"Raising children is a long-term plan and demands lots of money, so couples are more cautious about having children under an economic downturn," Lam said.

Emily Wong and Stanley Lee, who plan to get married in October, 2010, are among the couples who don't plan to have children.

Their wedding budget is about HK$270,000. The groom will pay 90 percent of the expenses. He's been saving money for two years, since neither has much knowledge about how to invest.

The bride said their spending is a little higher than the average revealed by the survey. She wants her once-in-a-life-time experience to be perfect.

Jeslie Chui, the University of Hong Kong's e-financial services honorary assistant professor, said desire for a unique, memorable wedding is the main reason couples stretch their budget on wedding costs. He noted that couples have to save about HK$7,694.5 a month in order to accumulate HK$226,352 over 30 months.

"Personal saving is the usual method but the return is too low. Repaying debts to banks will increase the financial burden. Therefore, proper use of financial tools is relatively desirable," Chui said.

(HK Edition 08/11/2009 page1)