A friend was grumbling about a video of a posh wedding making the rounds in Facebook recently, and brooded over how weddings these days have become an expensive and complicated business.
I guess everyone wants a fairytale wedding that may or may not involve wearing a toga and travelling to your wedding reception in a chariot drawn by a bunch of half-naked men. It is entirely possible that the dream wedding features an elaborate akad nikah ceremony, and a grand wedding reception with pelamin that looks like some kind of throne that Darth Vader might install in his secret lair.
To most of us, dream and fairytale weddings are just that: dreams and fairytales. Unattainable, and beyond reach. Our desire and yearning often far outstretch our, urm, economic viability to realise it.
Even without a horse-drawn carriage, royal families in attendance, “live” nationwide TV coverage and other lavish trimmings, a couple probably still has to spend upwards of RM50,000 for a wedding that hopefully does not involve human sacrifice by an Eastern cult for the goddess Kali.
There is also the massive amount of detailed preparation to be taken care of and crammed into our brains, even if you want something that is nowhere near the wedding-of-the-year variety.
Beyond the wang hantaran, the following are just a selection of things that couples have to carefully consider, agonise over and pay for when they want to get married:
Choosing the wedding reception venue
The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is considered by some to be the height of cool when it comes to wedding reception venues because Siti Nurhaliza held her wedding reception there, and — perhaps more importantly — because Pak Abu  has given the state-of-the-art convention centre his seal of approval.
Of course, for most mere mortals, a more viable option is probably a low-key reception at the Dewan Felda or something more downscale. This usually entails rental of chandelier-fitted canopy from Pak Soep Sdn Bhd, a more restrained catering menu, and a corresponding price tag that won’t raise eyebrows — not to mention blood pressure — of whoever is paying for the wedding.
There is just so much to think about when it comes to a wedding. The whole thing can be a stressful affair, and does take up a lot of time and energy. Enter the wedding planner, who is probably the only living soul with the necessary stamina to ensure that (a) no aspect of the preparation is overlooked, and (b) the wedding will be free of any of those “funniest home videos” moments.
The options are pretty limitless, really. There are freelancers working closely with a handful of service providers, and there is a cavalcade of commercial wedding planners who can get the job done. Even event organisers — who normally specialise in planning and co-ordinating corporate events — have lately branched out into wedding receptions.
For the convenience of not losing sleep presiding over every detail of the wedding preparations, be prepared to part with anything from RM2,500 to RM5,000 of your pinjaman koperasi, depending on the scope of services and type of wedding planner chosen. Of course, expect to pay more if you want Pak Abu to be the one staging your glittering wedding.
Like it or not, this has become a lucrative franchise with some truly serious money to be made in this industry, as the line between the requirements of the religious authorities and the requirements of the religion gets blurred.
Kursus kahwin would normally feature some folks pontificating in fairly condescending tone about what would-be brides and grooms are getting themselves into. Sometimes you get the feeling that it’s nothing more than a mass gathering where everyone turns up, goes through the motion and gets certified that thou shalt now get married.
What to wear
Everyone would want to look resplendent on their wedding day, and couples can choose anything from the simple to the understated to the extravagant. Women probably have a lot more room to manoeuvre and play around with all the contemporary designs, vibrant shades and motifs, intricate details, embroidery work, fabric etc.
Unfortunately for men, their options are probably a little more restrained. After all, how creative can they get with the conservative baju Melayu? Men don’t really do anything flamboyant, lest it makes them look like the cast of Cirque du Idiot. So they invariably refrain from venturing forth and going over the top with, say, a tanjak (too pendekar), a keris (too Perkasa), or an elaborate sampin (too “Madu Tiga”).
It’s probably every woman’s dream to have a solitaire diamond ring from Tiffany & Co.  But unless the groom is (a) filthy rich (b) has a father who is filthy rich (c) successful owner of a strip joint, or (d) all of the above, he will have to sell one of his kidneys, an arm and — depending on gold market fluctuations — one of his testicles in order to afford the ring.
Closer to reality, reason, and the average budget is something from Habib. This is a pretty good choice because Habib is a leading Malaysian jeweller founded in 1958 that has always taken pride in providing superior quality jewellery at the fairest prices.
A more interesting alternative is also available if you are a geologist or petroleum engineer or happen to work on an oil platform. You can save a fortune in wedding expenses by purloining one of those tri-cone, rotating head Polycrystalline Diamond Composite (PDC) oil well drill bits. Yes, you might get mutilated or crushed by some heavy equipment in the process, but it is a truly unique way of declaring your love. The bride will be suitably impressed, and remember, it’s all for the glory of love, Romeo!
Honeymoon often constitutes a healthy portion of the wedding budget, especially if we are talking about overseas locations. The good news is, going on a honeymoon these days cost a lot less than it used to, thanks to the advent of budget airlines pioneered by a certain entrepreneur who shall remain unnamed.
Even the most budget-conscious couples can now fly to honeymoon destinations of their choice — be it Bali or something more Malaysia-Truly-Asia. This is, of course, assuming the planes actually take off on time (as opposed to being stranded on the tarmac) and the newly-weds don’t starve in the plane (because they forgot to pre-order their on-board meals).
The wedding cake tradition originated from post-Napoleonic France, when a pastry chef got bored with baking the baguette, experimented in his kitchen, and accidentally invented the Croquembouche, which is basically sweet rolls piled up into a tower. The name comes from the French words croque en bouch, meaning “it’s just pastries, you idiots.”
These days, people usually go for a large, multi-tiered  cake so spectacular that it would leave everyone gasping for breath and frantically reaching for their cholesterol-lowering medication. Obviously there are key decisions to be made when it comes to wedding cakes: shape, size, style, flavour, covering, filling/frosting, etc., and that’s why wedding planners are indispensable (see above) or it could be catastrophic.
Quite apart from the kompang group, a “live” band could be hired to entertain the guests with a selection of Awie’s songs from his “Sembilu” days as well as haunting ballads written by KRU.
Inviting local celebrities to perform would incur a higher cost, although this can be kept relatively low by engaging washed-out artists looking for a comeback at any cost. Expect to pay through the nose if you insist on having Mawi to serenade and permanently damage the newly-weds’ eardrums.
In lieu of “live” bands, the more adventurous couples may opt for hiring a professional disc jockey or deejay to spice things up. This is often an unmitigated disaster, but not as completely FUBAR as adding karaoke  into the mix.
There’s also the silat pulut. Strictly speaking, silat pulut is not a proper branch of silat, the indigenous martial arts of the Malay Archipelago. Rather, it is a carefully choreographed and well-rehearsed performance for the guests at the wedding ceremony, not unlike professional wrestling.
It’s hard to believe all the money involved to get all the above things in place, and it’s amazing how weddings have morphed from a thriving cottage industry into a powerful economic multiplier. And for what exactly?
Starting a new life together is stressful enough — the financial commitments, the adjustments, and in the case of men, the expectations to perform without the help of suspicious-looking prescription medication — so why do we have to make the whole process unnecessarily cumbersome?
Just think about the headaches and all the stuff we create for the bride and groom who simply want to get married. It’s probably cheaper and easier to convince Claudia Schiffer to elope to Hungary.
Actually, the English have a word for this: bollocks.
Marriage is — and should remain — sacrosanct and pure, rather than being treated like some business or commodity. The search for the elusive happily ever after should be kept simple and unsoiled by all the commercialisation nonsense.
 As if falling in love and finding that one true soul mate is not hard enough.
 I am not sure what’s the going rate these days, but it is likely to be RM10,000 or some funny numbers like RM8,888 or RM22,222. Unfortunately (for men), there is no cap or ceiling, so good luck with that.
 In case you have been living in a cave somewhere in Nepal the past few years, Pak Abu is a highly sought after wedding planner who boasts an upscale clientele that reads like the Who’s Who of Malaysian society. Not to be confused with Dina Zaman’s fairly famous cat Abu.
 For some, actually showing up sober on the day is hard enough.
 So it is probably safe to assume that there is some serious money to be made as wedding planners.
 Some people go as far as saying that if you don’t get Pak Abu as your wedding planner, then you are no one. No kidding.
 Before you start whacking me, let me just make it clear that I do think the intention of kursus kahwin is good, but I must say I am not sure about the execution.
 Otherwise known in the fashion circle as “avant-garde” or “WTF.”
 To some, the humble and more prosaic Emas 916 from Kelantan may not be quite upmarket enough.
 According to their Facebook page.
 And I don’t mean Singapore.
 Actually it means “crunch in the mouth.”
 And hopefully edible.
 I once attended a wedding where the “cake” was made of pulut or glutinous rice. It was probably someone’s misguided idea of traditional-modernity fusion. As the night wore on, the three-tier pulut cake increasingly looked like the leaning tower of Pisa, and was eventually carted off the ballroom stage.
 It’s debatable whether a group of spotty teenagers furiously tapping a goat skin nailed to a wooden frame can be considered entertainment.
 Eminem, anyone?
 The name is apparently derived from the “pulut pengantin” (bridal glutinous rice) served at wedding ceremonies where the silat is most often performed.
 A simulated sport promoted by World Wresting Entertainment (WWE) that legalises groping between sweaty men.
Oleh :Suhaimy Kamaruddin - is a corporate boy who loves F1, footie and writes insightful notes in Facebook. He enjoys talking to his daughter and buys too many books. This is his first foray into writing for the media
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.