While you may call me a social butterfly, I actually like keeping the daily and special events in my life intimate and private in general.
I was never the type to throw parties till dawn, or intentionally celebrate my birthday with a gazillion people, but this was one event I didn’t mind celebrating with hundreds of guests.
Sure, I wanted to keep it as intimate as possible in wedding standards, but knowing how big weddings are in the Philippines, my husband and I both knew it wouldn’t happen that way.
To the brides-to-be, as early as now, I want you to know that it’s normal if not everything you wanted for your wedding (especially if it’s a big one!) actually happens. There will always be requests you can’t say no to, people you need to invite but don’t actually want there, guests who won’t conform to the attire you set and friends/ family members who will do more stress than help during the planning.
There are also those who confirm and don’t come (even if they know that the food is charged per head), and guests who don’t confirm but suddenly show up (even if they know there’s such a thing called seat plan).
That doesn’t mean any of those things are right, and to some extent, it can be annoying, but one thing I’ve learned about my wedding is that it’s not true every bride turns into a bridezilla – even when those unwanted but appraently normal things take place (I had to double check with my maid of honor if I was ever a bridezilla before making this statement, haha).
I am not writing to rant about those things, but it’s important that you know they’re normal – so you don’t feel like you’re the only unfortunate bride-to-be to experience those. Moving on, I would like to tell you more about how our wedding was planned, and how we saved a lot by planning well!
Now, here’s a sad reality: wedding suppliers charge a hefty price in general not because their goods/ services are actually expensive, but because they take advantage of families who are willing to spend A LOT on weddings. After all, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, so why not celebrate it in millions? Well, some people have money they don’t mind spending for an event, and if you’re one of those people, then there’s no issue and the suppliers will love you. In return, you don’t have to do many things. You just need to fit your gown and show up at the wedding.
But I’m not one of those people. Even if I had millions (I don’t, by the way), there is NO way I am spending that money on a single event. They say your wedding is the most special day of your life; I say my quality time with my husband everyday is, and that shouldn’t cost me millions.
I am also the type of person who likes to be hands-on on things like these, so I enjoyed planning it with the help of my friends and wedding coordinator Teena Barretto. While I can say that you don’t necessarily need a coordinator all throughout the process of planning, I believe you still need to hire a coordinator on the day of your wedding. Teena’s team was simply amazing and made my day stress-free!
To tell you honestly, while we were planning our wedding, it wasn’t our goal to make it unique though it turned out to be that way to our guests’ eyes. We just wanted our wedding to conform to our lifestyle and beliefs. We didn’t see the need to do it for the sake of pleasing others. It was OUR wedding, after all.
Basically, we had five requirements for our wedding:
1. Eco-Friendly – no waste policy as much as possible. We didn’t want to end the night with a lot of beautiful decorations and props that’ll only be thrown at the garbage.
2. Vegetarian Food – we’ve been vegetarians for at least 5 years for animal and environmental reasons. We didn’t want all our efforts and beliefs to go to waste by going all-meat on our wedding reception. It was one meal for our guests to stand. After all, all of you eat vegetarian food every once in a while – only you don’t know it’s vegetarian and that makes a difference! (think pancakes, French fries, pastas, etc!)
3. No real flowers – as nature lovers, we don’t like the ironic idea of killing a flower for an event. We would rather see them blooming in the wild or in a garden, so there was a strict no cut flower policy at our wedding.
4. Filipiniana Theme – Our six years together were full of travels, mostly around the country because one of our goals is to really understand our history and culture more through traveling, so this theme was a no-brainer. We knew right there and then it had to be Filipiniana! We hardly hold events as big as our wedding, it was our chance to show just how beautiful our culture is! This also meant sourcing our materials from the Philippines, which would somehow help the local economy.
5. Cost-Effective Wedding: We knew hundreds of thousands would be spent for a wedding, but we wanted to spend it on the right things. Just like in our kind of traveling where we’d spend on activities and scrimp on accommodation (cause we just go there to sleep for the night!), we both identified the things worth spending for, and things we would rather scrimp on.
How did we execute it? The secret really is to work with people who support your requirements. It was a breeze for us because our family and friends who helped gave their full support on our wishes and requests!
ECO-FRIENDLY – We did a lot of recycling and DIY projects to achieve our goal.
Now for the reception…
When Charlie first asked me if I could be his girlfriend, he walked me towards their garden with brown paper bag and candles along the entryway. It was lovely. We repeated this at the wedding but used this non-flammable (and reusable) paper bags from Party Boutique Creatives instead.
We had our reception at Charlie’s house so we had to rent tents. And they didn’t come with drapes and all those jazz. So my mother-in-law sourced beige fabric and sewed them herself! Since she rents the same tent for all the other parties, the drapes will be used over and over again.
For the main tent, we put buntings to add a touch of Filipino fiesta but we used scrap fabric from a friend’s clothing factory. We cut it with the help of our friends, stapled them one by one on a nylon string and hung them on the main tent! This cost us nothing since we used scrap fabric and existing strings!
My husband has a lot of jutesacks in stock because that’s how soybeans are delivered to him for his soy business. So my niece/ Maid of Honor Nica sewed them and turned them into table runners and utensil/ napkin holders! We just steamed them to polish the look.
We wanted things in the table to be recyclable or reusable so we used Charlie’s mom’s existing hurricane lamps with palayok underneath. As suggested by our coordinator’s team, we added coffee beans on the palayok to complete the look. But of course we didn’t want the coffee beans to be wasted, so my niece thought of putting buttons on the utensil holders so the guests can put the coffee beans inside and use them to fertilize that plants we gave as souvenir! Brilliant idea. I spent nights sewing the buttons myself (Charlie’s mom’s helpers also did some of the sewing).
For the VIP tables, we used the same table runner but instead of putting the lamps with palayoks, we used existing transparent bottles, put twigs (bought from Dapitan Arcade) with angel’s breath-like decorations and existing mason jars with coffee beans inside and a jute ribbon string outside. My niece also used existing styro balls and covered it with white crepe paper just to give the look a little more party vibe.
For our souvenir, my mother-in-law decided to plant basil, cilantro and ashitava! I made the Thank You cards attached to it with description of the plant.
We originally wanted our caterer to be a vegetarian restaurant and found one we liked. Unfortunately, they never got back to us with their rates so we ended up getting a wedding supplier who agreed to serve vegetarian food. The food wasn’t Filipiniana because we knew people would look for meat in kare-kare or sinigang ang the like, but we made up for this by serving Filipiniana cocktails. We had taho from Taho Bar, sorbetes, kesong puti (all the way from Cebu) with Pandesal, bibingka and putobumbong!
We also gave these Pastillas from Bulacan as prizes And since no Filipiniana event forgets lechon, we decided to have lechon as our wedding cake!
Our friend who owns the super yummy Merry Macarons also gifted us with a macaron tower (which everyone loved!) but I was pleasantly surprised that she even made it Filipiniana by using our invitation’s logo! Beautiful and sweet!
NO REAL FLOWER POLICY:
We found some lovely paper roses from Dapitan Arcade and my niece turned it into an eye-candy! Even our photographer and videographer loved it. Now my mom is using them as home decoration.
It was a bit of a challenge to exclude flowers for a big event, but it can definitely be done!
From our invitation down to the photobooth, we wanted it to be as Filipiniana as possible.
The cover of our invitation was a list of Philippine history, making the 6th history (on our 6thyear) about our wedding. It was written in pure Filipino (to the nightmare of our guests) which our friend Jboy Gonzales translated for us (you rock, pads!).
For my gown, I went to the library of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and found a book Patterns for the Filipino Dress (which I now have a copy of). I used this as inspiration for my gown and showed it to my designer Rosalyn Lagdameo. From there, she designed Charlie’s barong and the female entourage’s elegant Filipinianas. You might be wondering why I didn’t go for an all-white gown (in western style using pina cloth like most brides in Filipiniana style do). It wasn’t my intention to be “different”, but I certainly did not want to own an expensive gown I won’t be able to use again because it was shouting BRIDE all over. I wanted my gown to be reusable. So I opted for a beautiful Filipiniana piece, which I can now reuse for the next Filipiniana event. I love how Rosalyn understood this reasoning of mine and made sure to keep my train short (or I’d still be looking like a bride on the next Filipiniana event). It was traditional, but not normal for weddings. For my shoes, I went all out and wore a bakya which I had carved from Paete, Laguna.
Grupo La Tercera sent me a beautiful bridal robe, too, and since I told them it was going to be a Filipiniana wedding, they chose this lacey design for me! My only booboo was that I forgot to tell them to write Gng. instead of Mrs. But I love how it went with the Filipiniana theme.
The music was mostly Filipino. For the cocktails, our favorite Folk CD “BAHAY KUBO: Timeless Filipino Folk Music” was playing. They were beautiful renditions of folk songs like Bahay Kubo and Leron, Leron Sinta. For the dinner, Manila Philharmonic Orchestra played pop songs from the 70’s and 80’s such as Dahil Sayo and Gaano Kita Kamahal.
The photobooth was our favorite. We decided to buy Filipiniana props that would be useful to us again, so we ended up buying a bunch of wood frames (PHP 900 in total) from Bangkal (which we refurbished) and hung them on the trees to make them look like frames from your Lola’s house.
We then came up with interesting Filipiniana props! This was the result!
Our gifts were also Filipiniana.
COST EFFECTIVE WEDDING
Like I said, we identified the things we were willing to spend on, and for me, there were only 2:
PHOTOGRAPHER AND MAKE-UP
Why? When the wedding is finished and all that jazz is gone, you’re only left with photos, and it would suck if you’re not happy with them. So scrimping on a photographer was a no-no for us, and as for the make-up artist, well, if your make-up isn’t lovely, then you’d look bad in your photos, too! But I think it’s not about getting the top make-up artists in the industry; it’s more about finding the one that complements your face. That person may not charge high but really works for you. We’re lucky enough to be accommodated by our first photographer choice, Mango Red. It was really a pleasure working with them from the prenup to the wedding.
Then of course there are things we weren’t willing to spend for, and my best example would be our wedding cake. I initially wanted a three-tiered cake that looks like a banig (we collect mats from all over the country, that’s why!) but when I asked this big wedding cake supplier, she quoted me PHP 56,000 for a cake! It was more expensive than my gown (I had thoughts of wearing that cake instead hahaha!) but honestly, I couldn’t fathom the thought of spending that much for a cake. I can think of many ways to make me happy using PHP 56,000, and buying a cake is not in that list. Someone told me that she can ask that supplier to sponsor my cake, but I told her nevermind, because I couldn’t in my heart advertise that cake even if it were to be given to me for free!!! No offense meant to them, but that’s just really a funny price. So I continuously searched and surfed, and I was lead to Nothing But C’s multiply account. She sells Lechon Cake and for a big one (mine was 35 inches), it cost us PHP 6,300 (PHP 300 for shipping). Imagine that? And that cake, of all things, was such a hit. So much that I think it was the most tagged photo in our hashtag #kasalansapinaglabanan (in Instagram) and people actually ate it after our “cutting of the cake” part (it was really good, too! All chocolate cake inside).
So was our wedding cost-effective? We answer with a resounding yes.
Our wedding was a happy, successful event because it was really a labor of love. It wasn’t just about us, but about the people who we love and love us back as well. Our speech in the wedding was long even though all it contained were thank you’s to people who helped us all throughout. You know who you guys are and we’ll forever be grateful for your love, help, and support.
My brother-in-law Joseph Bonifacio couldn’t have described our wedding better: “Nationalism, vegetarianism, cause-orientedness, bound up in a promise of lifelong love.”
Now that our wedding is done, I’d like to recommend suppliers we really had a pleasure working with, and you can use them for your wedding or future events:
Wedding Coordinator: Hitched Events (Teena Barretto)
Photographer: Mango Red
Videographer: Red Sheep
Make-up Artists: Pia Reyes and Kai Fortuno
Lechon Cake: Nothing But C
Macarons: Merry Macarons
Party Props (our Luminaries): Party Boutique Creatives
Bridal Robes: Grupo La Tercera (they can work depending on your budget)
Photobooth: FunShots Photobooth
Gown Designer: Rosalyn Lagdameo (she’s really good, has great taste, is known for great fitting, and doesn’t charge as much as other designers)
Invitation Design: Anna Cristobal
Nails: Posh Nails
DJ: DJ Alvin De Guzman
Thank you for reading this long blog. I hope this helps you plan your wedding, someone else’s wedding, or a different event.