They say the best things in life are free.
For local singer Sylvester Sim, it cost $2.90.
He proposed to his Chinese singer girlfriend six months ago with an "ugly provision shop ring". And true love shone through when she said yes nonetheless.
Then, the Singapore Idol Season One runner-up had picked up his lady love, 28-year-old Sisy Wang, from Changi Airport and proposed without going on bended knee.
In one hand, he held a box containing a blue-and-red rubber ring that cost $2.90; in the other, a poster of him and Wang, drawn by his younger sister, which simply read, "Will you marry me?"
To that underwhelming sight, Wang, who had just returned to Singapore after a trip home to Guangxi, China, could only offer a mumbled "huh?" at first.
Sim went on to "explain" that he had no money and she would have to accept him for what he is.
And fairytale-esque, Wang said "yes" anyway.
Which was when Sim whipped out the real deal - a $3,000 diamond ring hidden at the bottom of the box.
The couple, who have been dating for five years, solemnised their marriage last Saturday in front of 80 friends and relatives at the Singapore Recreation Club.
Sim, 29, a guest artiste at Thai club Neverland, recounted his proposal to The New Paper: "I told her I had no money, hugged her and presented her the ugly ring and poster.
"I knew she would accept it as we've been through so many ups and downs, she's my kai xin guo (cheerful fruit in Mandarin, or a person who is always cheerful).
"After she said 'okay lah', I showed her where the real diamond ring was - hidden at the bottom of the ring box. "That cost me $3,000 but I think she still keeps the cheap ring somewhere (as a reminder of the proposal)."
So how did Wang feel about being tricked by her husband?
She said in Mandarin: "He's always full of surprises and that's how he keeps me happy.
"I was rather taken aback when I saw the fake ring but there was no doubt that I wanted to marry him."
Wang confessed that Sim was certainly not the Prince Charming she had dreamt of marrying, thanks to Sim's guy-liner rocker image that won him many fans during his Singapore Idol days back in 2004.
She said: "It's not in my culture to appreciate rockers.
"Since I was young, I thought I would fall for a man who was gentlemanly, mature and polite. But this guy was very cute and he touched my heart."
Rain had threatened to put a damper on the outdoors ceremony last Saturday. But after an hour, the sun came out and a relieved Sim got to say his marriage vows and kiss the bride.
The emotional Sim broke down during his rendition of Hope, a song he wrote and performed for his wife.
Sim's marriage this year is in stark contrast to his 2005 decision to apply to register his marriage to fellow Idol contestant Maia Lee.
The pair broke up after the press got wind of their marriage application.
Sim, who said that his 2005 marriage plan was done on impulse, explained: "When it's right between two people, you will take a long time to plan for something.
"I won't make comparisons between Maia and Sisy. I'll just say that Sisy and I are in a much more mature place right now."
The couple are still living apart - Sim with his parents in Jurong, and Wang at her company-provided residence in Bukit Purmei.
They are looking to buy their own place, and Sim intends to apply for permanent residency for his wife.
As for children, Sim admitted that he would love to have two but his wife has told him that she's afraid of the pain of childbirth.
Said Sim: "We'll be having our wedding dinner on the same date (Aug 4) next year and after that, we'll try for our first child.
"My only regret is that my (paternal) grandmother, who was looking forward to attending the dinner, can't. She passed away a few days after my solemnification ceremony, which she couldn't attend as she was bed-ridden.
"(But) I'm happy that Sisy had met her as my grandmother was the one who brought me up."
Sim and Wang met six years ago when he was performing at St James Power Station's Dragonfly and she was one of his back-up dancers.
She now does solo gigs at Dragonfly. Sim left in April.
"After six years, the company felt it was time to refresh our entertainment offerings," said Mr Gordon Foo, co-ordinating director of operations at St James Power Station, on Sim's departure.
"Sisy was converted from a dancer to singer in 2009 as she has proven that she can sing.
"I would like to wish Sylvester and Sisy happiness in their future together and we are glad that Dragonfly was the place where their love blossomed."
Sim recounted how it took a year of courtship before Wang finally agreed to be his girlfriend.
His strategy included buying a jug of her favourite soft-drink, Coca-Cola, and sharing it with her during their breaks at night. How did he know she was the one?
Explained Sim: "All I know is that when she's around, she makes me so happy, and work was hard when she was off and I just couldn't wait for her to come back.
"That's when I knew she was the one."
He added: "She's tough and independent, and did handstands, and is the one girl who dared to hang out with the guys.
"What I love about her is that she also has a softer side, a side that loves Disney cartoons and would cry even when watching (animated movie) Ice Age, as she's easily touched."
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