SEZAIRI SEZALI, 29. He was the third Singapore Idol as well as the final winner to be off the market when he got hitched to girlfriend of seven years, Syaza, a 25-year-old business development exec, at a solemnisation ceremony in January in front of 120 guests. The couple will hold their traditional wedding later this year. Also akan datang: Sezairi, who made his acting debut in the SG50 commemorative drama 1965, is releasing his second English album later this year.
Home is: He moved into a five-room flat in Loyang three months ago with his wife, his mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their six cats. “That’s as many cats as we can handle financially — we spend a few hundred dollars on them each month. I firmly believe in adopting, rather than buying, cats. I’m trying to work with some organisations for my upcoming album to [raise awareness about cat adoption].”
His ride is: Bus, MRT and the occasional Uber.
What’s in his wallet: Two EZ-link cards, two debit cards, one credit card, membership cards from Takashimaya and Kris Flyer, his IC, a photo of him and his wife, some ringgit (“I just got back from Malaysia”) and $1.80 in cash (“I don’t keep cash in my wallet ’cos I hate it when my wallet is thick”).
8 DAYS: Two wedding ceremonies in a year. Does that mean double the spending?
SEZAIRI SEZALI: I don’t believe in [spending a lot] on weddings. I spent very little — less than a five-digit sum — on the solemnisation. The wedding industry creates an illusion that makes people believe you need something really grand to profess your love. I don’t think it’s true at all.
Taufik got married last year. Did you take any notes?
I was very sad that I couldn’t make it as I was overseas. But I watched the live feed — there were 3,000 guests! It looked fun, though.
That’s more people than some concerts we’ve been to.
We’re expecting 600 to 1,000 guests at ours. [We’re told that] if you invite 1,000, you plan for 1,500. It’s a cultural thing. At Malay weddings, we like to surround ourselves with a lot of people and invite everyone you know and everyone you know who knows someone, even your cousin’s cousin’s cousins and your cousin’s sister’s friends. But Syaza and I aren’t really like that. We like to keep our private lives private, and getting married [in the public eye] is the first time in seven years of being together that we’ve done something so public. It’s quite crazy, so thank goodness we have a wedding planner. But I think the whole fun of a Malay wedding is having everyone together, like, you cook rendang together in a pot that’s so big that you have to stir it with something like an oar from a dragonboat. (Laughs)
What’s the biggest challenge about planning an event of this scale?
The venue. We don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money. I’m trying to cut it down and spend about a mid-five digit sum. But the problem is that not many places in Singapore can accommodate so many people. There are venues that cost $50,000, and I’m like, “That’s normal?” It’s equivalent to about 100 tables at a Chinese wedding dinner. But a Malay wedding is less of a sit down thing — people come and go all day, and it’s kinda like a festival. We have a couple of places in mind but we don’t wanna reveal it ’cos of gatecrashers! We had some [uninvited] people show up at our solemnisation at the Arts House. They probably figured out where we were from my Snapchat or something.
Were they fans or just there for free food?
I don’t know, but thankfully, we had a guestlist and the ceremony was on the second floor, and it was quite private.
Some couples plan a wedding expecting to “recoup” the money they’ve spent.
I think you shouldn’t go in with that mindset. I’ve always believed that you should spend within your means. Why take a huge loan to be happy for this one day and suffer for the next three years [paying it off]? I don’t care if people say, “Sezairi’s wedding isn’t as cool as so-and-so’s wedding.” Hey, at least I’m not in debt. That’s what’s most important to me.
How much did you spend on your first date with Syaza?
Probably around $50. We went to the supermarket to buy snacks and ate them from the plastic bags while walking around Marine Parade. I tricked her into going out with me. She needed to go to the doctor, and I told her I was sick too, so we met to go to the clinic together, even though I had to travel all the way from Bukit Panjang to Marine Parade. The worst thing was that we accidentally turned up in matching T-shirts. I had on a ‘Looking for Little Miss Naughty’ tee and she was wearing a ‘Little Miss Naughty’ T-shirt. You think that it’d be like a movie moment, but it was so embarrassing. That was the last time we ever wore couple things.
Was that the cheapest date you’ve ever taken her on?
Actually, in the early days of our relationship, she’d pay for dates. I quit school and my job to join Idol — it required full-time commitment but it wasn’t paying. So for those six months, if we wanted to celebrate something and go for hot pot, she’d pay. That was good. But there was a period where she quit school to pursue other things, and I’d pay for everything. It’s funny ’cos now we’re both working and have a shared account, so we pay for stuff together.