Taxing times for wedding plans


Going all out: Khoo and Hu say they are prepared to pay for the ‘once-in-a-lifetime occasion’.

PETALING JAYA: The upcoming increase in sales tax from 6% to 8% is likely to affect the overall spending of those planning to get married, according to a wedding industry player while brides-to-be are hoping for special packages tailored to their needs.

Nurul Dalina Samsudin, 29, said she and her fiancee had already set aside a specific budget for their wedding reception and the announcement of the tax increase in October was unexpected.

Since they have fixed a wedding date in June, which is three months after the additional tax is imposed, Dalina said they are now looking at cutting expenses.

“I am not sure what the exact items and services will be part of the 8% tax but I was told that services like entertainment and the venue itself will be part of it.

“I planned on having a band for my reception at a hotel in the city and I want to have a DJ to manage the ceremony.

“I also want fresh flowers from Cameron Highlands but I was told the transportation would cost more by then.

“These three things are non-negotiable for me. It’s my wedding day but now I have to make cuts and it’s probably going to be the venue,” she said when contacted.

According to Dalina, who is a legal adviser, her wedding planner suggested she hold the wedding at her parents’ house given that they have a garden at the back.

“That will save some cost but I’ve always imagined my wedding day being held at a hotel. I’m hoping hotels will consider providing special packages so that we don’t go broke after the wedding.”

A 32-year-old bride-to-be Malina Wahab, who works in marketing, said since she doesn’t own a big house, wedding halls and hotels are her only options.

Malina is planning for a December wedding next year and although she knew she should start making some bookings, she said she felt nervous about finding out the prices for venues.

“So far, I haven’t made any bookings yet because I believe everything will be expensive.

“I don’t have a house with a big space so like it or not, I will need a wedding hall.

“For now, I am just waiting for wedding planners and hotels to advertise any special packages with discounts so that holding a wedding ceremony won’t be too much of a burden on me,” she said.

Sibu-based businessman Kevin Hu said despite the impending 8% tax, he would still proceed with the wedding banquet next year to coincide with the Year of the Dragon.

“We will be having two ceremonies – one in my hometown and another in Kuala Lumpur – as my partner Carny Khoo is from the capital city.

“It’s a long distance relationship which led to marriage after three years of courtship and getting the blessings from our parents,” he said.

Khoo said they had paid the first deposit at a five-star hotel in Petaling Jaya which offered a good package with discount and other freebies such as complimentary stay at a bridal suite, floral arrangement, VIP parking, food tasting, PA system and LCD screen.

“As it is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion we don’t mind spending a bit more for a lasting memory,” she said.

Paul Kong, founder of Lafame Bridal Mansion and Lafame Family said the additional tax will likely influence couples’ choices and spending.

He said charging an 8% tax on entertainment could have notable implications for the wedding industry.

“Couples may see increased costs for services like music, performers, and other entertainment elements.

“The additional tax on certain wedding elements may contribute to a potential rise in overall wedding package costs.

“For the coming Year of the Dragon, couples may be more inclined to plan weddings during the auspicious year but the impending 8% tax could lead to cautious spending,” he said.

Nevertheless, since problems are usually an opportunity for improvement, Kong said the increased tax will give the wedding industry a chance to innovate.

He said businesses will have the opportunity to be creative with their wedding packages to accommodate brides and grooms-to-be by providing cost-effective alternatives.

During the tabling of Budget 2024 on Oct 13, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government plans to increase the service tax rate to 8% starting March 1, 2024.

While the 8% tax will not include services such as food and beverages and telecommunications, Anwar said the scope of taxable services will include logistics services, brokerage, underwriting and karaoke.

Separately, Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association vice-president Chan Kam said members have not received any notice about the need to revise their existing 6% service tax for those who are eligible to impose it.

“As we know it, the new tax rate does not apply to us, since our business nature is food and beverage provider.

“For now we are following the existing rate of 6% when taking reservations,” he said when contacted.

When asked if members were going to split the charges and specify the type of service with the relevant tax rates, Chan said it was not likely.

“Yes, we do provide additional services such as karaoke and sound systems, but we usually provide them without imposing any extra charges.

“These are not very expensive services anyway,” he said.

Chan, who is also Perak Chinese Restaurant and Chef Association president, noted that bookings for wedding banquets next year saw an overwhelming response.

“Wedding banquet reservations for the auspicious months according to the Lunar calendar in 2024 have been about 90%.

“I think this trend is likely attributed to the Year of the Dragon next year, which is favoured by the Chinese,” Chan said.

Bookings for weddings after the Chinese New Year on Feb 10 and before the Tomb Sweeping Day on April 4 next year have been popular, he said.

“Things tend to slow down as the mid-year approaches, before it picks up again in the eighth Lunar month,” Chan added.

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