22 September 2015

Bride diaries: Lessons on pulling off a simple but elegant budget wedding

I was going to write about reflections on our wedding day particularly about my being a "feisty" bride. At some point, a calm bride morphs into bridezilla especially when you are trying to pull off something on a tight budget. Instead, I decided to talk about the things we learned. The wedding is not so long ago so the lessons are still fresh and I better write about it.

Shortly after my husband (close friend then) and I realized we were in love, we decided we want to be together forever. Unfortunately, we did not have enough money in the bank to have a wedding we want in such a short time so both we worked hard to get it done. So we started saving straight from our salaries. Also, having been through several relationships before that did not work out, the negative effects they had on our individual financial status at that time is another story.

Since we both were baptised Roman Catholics, a religious wedding would make sense. Traditional Filipino wedding means that you have to pay all costs of the wedding including dresses of your entourage. But since we both come from working class families that work hard to make ends meet and we dislike the idea of having other people "sponsor" some costs of the wedding, we had gone through some budget-cutting measures just so we can reach a reasonable mark.

We created e-vites instead of mailing printed material. Sending save-the-date cards and invites through snail mail can actually hurt the budget. Creating the graphics is easy but having them printed on fine art paper and paying for international post can actually be pricey. Since we had visitors from all over the place, we opted to just send out digital cards through email or social networks, whichever was possible.

We got away with bridesmaids and groomsmen. Traditional weddings have a long entourage but simple weddings are always appealing to me. I have asked our local Roman Catholic parish and was very glad to know that the simplest requirements was to have someone walk the bible, candles, cord and other wedding ceremony symbols all the way to the altar before the ceremony starts. So we had ask family and friends to do this for us. This way, we did not have to worry about the cost of the gowns and coats.

We ordered the cheapest wedding dress possible. I initially ordered a gown from China through an online site which was a terrible mistake. The finished product was not exactly my size and the lace quality was poor. Though the dress was much cheaper than most gowns, it turned out useless and was one of the biggest mistakes I made. Good thing was that I found a home-based supplier in Singapore who was still cheaper than most wedding gowns tailored in my home country. She was kind enough to give me a discount even if she only had a month to finish the dress. The dress turned out simple but just the way I wanted it and it was one of the most beautiful dress I wore my entire life.

We shopped for the groom's wedding suit and shoes from the local department stores. Branded goods are not our thing. We prefer affordable clothes that would look good on us. While in our home town, my husband and I bought his coat, pants and shoes at the nearest local department store. It was not easy looking for good-looking but affordable clothes. We had ran through so many websites for suggestions and looked a few times but it was worth it. As for the bride's shoes, I found it on display at a local shoe shop in Singapore and thought it would look great with my dress so I bought it at roughly above 30 Singaporean dollars or a thousand pesos. That's about the same price of an expensive pair of beach slippers.

We created a palette and a dress code for the rest of our family and friends to follow. There will be lots of pictures in weddings so we wanted everyone to look coordinated. We sent out a dress code and color palette in our digital invite so our family and friends will have an idea how to blend in with the theme. It was not necessary but it was one of the best things we did to have everyone looking their best during the party without having to try so hard and spending too much.

We compromised the cost of the decorators. I have initially thought of buying my own decoration materials but paying for labor and logistics turned out to be more expensive than hiring a decorator. I have asked for a quotation from a local supplier and it was an unbelievable PHP75,000 which was way more expensive than the budgeted food we are paying for each head. It didn't make sense so we asked to have expensive fresh flowers removed and other more pricey options off the list. We only insisted to have the lighting decors since the party was at dinner time and we wanted to have beautiful lights which we were to have them nicely show up on camera. We paid cheaper but definitely not cheapest. We were happy and grateful for the outcome.

We did not hire an outsider to coordinate the wedding. Normally people would want to hire a wedding coordinator but it was not an option for me. The cost of paying for a professional can be used instead for other things such as a room for the family to stay in the resort on the wedding night. So, I had asked my friends and family to help with the ground coordination. After all, we were going for a very intimate wedding so there was not enough budget for other people to join us other than our family and friends. The most important thing was the master plan of the ceremony which we had planned and discussed across different groups days before the wedding. The program went on beautifully though were hiccups here and there which are very normal even if we had hired a "professional" coordinator. Of course, only the coordinators and planners would know about. The rest of the people were happily waiting in their seats and listening to soothing music while a part of the program was actually delayed.

We looked for affordable but wonderful talents to participate in our wedding. A simple wedding cake can be very expensive just because of the word "wedding." So we scouted for budding suppliers with real talents who could help us. We had a cousin's friend make a beautiful rustic-themed cake for us. We also had my cousin's friends in the music industry play as a band that night. They enjoyed playing for us and we loved their music so we were quite happy about it.

We booked a reception place in close proximity to the airport and the ceremony chapel. Most of our friends flew into the city for the first time to attend the wedding. It was a great idea to pick a place very close to the airport so they could fly on the same day and leave the next without much hassle. But of course, they didn't leave the city immediately since they fell in love with Davao and have to look around and see what was in it for them. The most significant decision actually was choosing a resort that has both a reception hall and a chapel. Our visitors didn't have to drive from the chapel all the way to dinner since the distance was a very short walk. Worse thing that could happen was to pay for a bus and not have anyone riding on it. That would really hurt.

We crafted our own wedding party favors and program cards. Wedding parties are not as good as when there are free stuff at the end of it. We wanted our visitors to bring home something special without us having to spend so much. So I unleashed the crafter in me which I talked about in my craft blog. We then printed out simple program and place cards on cheap card stock for use during the program.

I did not expect this list to be quite long but I'm glad to have talked about it here. Weddings are beautiful but making it happen is not a walk in the park if you are on a tight budget. Careful planning and research pays off. At the end of the day, your wedding should be about what matters most to you. For us, it was about an intimate dinner with good food, good music and lastly, wonderful photographs that we can always look at to cherish the beautiful memories that day.

I had to add the link to our wedding album: http://www.yvesandkim.com
Beautiful pictures are from Marlon Capuyan.

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