Getting married is a once-in-a-lifetime event and all brides-to-be want nothing less than a perfect wedding day. From the weather, to the place of ceremony, to the littlest of details in the bride’s wedding gown, everything should be flawless. All because in the Philippines, you’re only supposed to marry once.
Over the years, weddings have become more and more elaborate, more detailed, and more personal. From the basic white and ecru color motifs, couples have learned to be more bold and creative with their choices in colors, clothing, and quite recently, even the look and feel of the ceremony and reception areas. Yes, weddings have become more fun and meaningful, yet it has also elevated the costs involved in achieving the desired “themes and motifs”, as wedding organizers would often say.
So how exactly do you plan, organize, and celebrate the perfect dream wedding without breaking the bank? We researched on this topic and found quite a handful of information from wedding suppliers, organizers, and even brides themselves! We are sharing everything that we’ve gathered so far and hope these could help you plan the perfect, yet not too expensive, wedding day for you.
- Choose the date and time.
According to wedding bloggers, you actually need to decide on the date and time before you even decide on the budget. A wedding in June could be cheaper than a wedding in December or February since the latter months are considered by most businesses as peak months.
- Draft your entourage and guest list.
After you’ve confirmed the date, it is easier to list down the people you wish to be present on your wedding day, including and most importantly, your wedding entourage. Save up on call toll charges by creating an online group chat or call them through the internet.
- Budget. Budget. Budget.
Now that you have a pretty good idea how many people will attend your big day, it is time to work on the wedding budget. Before deciding how much you intend to spend, you would need to first discuss who will shoulder which expenses.
Filipino wedding traditions are very different from Western culture where the father of the bride shoulders majority, if not all, of the wedding expenses. Filipino parents seldom shoulder their kids’ weddings unless extremely necessary. If at all, it is the groom’s parents who share more in the wedding expenses than the bride’s. Case in point: if you can’t afford your wedding yet, how do you plan to manage a lifelong marriage?
You will have to create a long list of items that need to be purchased, built, and sewn. Keep in mind too that expenses do not end when you’ve made your way to the altar and exchanged “I dos”. Your suppliers, drivers, relatives, and other people who will be helping out in your celebration need to be fed, sheltered, and dressed up too. Prepare your petty cash for incidental expenses that are sure to crop up during the day itself.
- Finalize your booking for the ceremony and reception venue.
Weddings are commonly held during the dry months, beginning in December to the early weeks of June. Top wedding destinations are the cool cities of Tagaytay, Batangas, and Baguio, while more adventurous couples are also keen on celebrating their union by the seashores of La Union, Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol. The choices are endless and choosing could be fun except you have a budget and guests to consider. Choose a venue that is not too far from where most of your guests will be coming from. If you are on a tight budget, we suggest that you hold your ceremony and reception in the same place. This cuts your expenses on rental fees, decorations, and travel by more than half.
- Book your wedding suppliers.
When choosing wedding suppliers, gather as much information from other newlyweds, relatives, and friends as you can. This gives you first-hand information on the suppliers’ quality of service, negotiable rates, and other important details. Remember, you do not need to “outsource” everything. You can borrow, ask for, and create things on your own. Wedding organizers were non-existent in the ‘80s and ‘90s but are now virtually indispensable. If they were able to hold grand weddings in the past without the expensive services of a coordinator, why can’t you now? Ask for your friends’ assistance and delegate assignments to your bride’s maids. You’d be surprised to find out how much your “squad” wants to be part of your wedding preparations!
If you should spend (or splurge!) on suppliers, you’d be wise to focus on your caterer and photographers. Your guests will remember your wedding more from the kind and quality of food you served and the candid and wacky photos they will be posting in social media.
And then again, if you have a brother who cooks mean dishes and friends who like to take beautiful photos, you can consider yourself one blessed woman!
- Save-the-dates and Wedding Invitations
If you can tap the limitless reach of social media to let everyone know when you’re getting married, use that. Save-the-date cards add to your expenses and do not do much in ensuring that your guests will show up, so why bother?
While there are hundreds of wedding invitation suppliers who undoubtedly could come up with the most creative invitations for you, remember, you can easily copy a design online and print these yourself! Invitations end up in people’s waste baskets or filed in a long forgotten shelf anyway, so why spend so much on these stuff? Take a trip to the bookstore and channel the Martha Stewart in you. Creating your wedding invitations could also be a good bonding opportunity with your mom, your sisters, and friends.
- Buying your wedding apparel.
Divisoria and Baclaran boast of designer quality fabrics that you can send to your trusty seamstress who can create lovely pieces for you and your groom. If you are paying for your entourage’s gowns, then these two places in Manila are your best bets. Buying off the rack is convenient but can be too pricey. Also, expect to lose some weight (or gain some if you’re the type who eats when stressed) after all the stressful wedding preparations so having your gown done by a seamstress will prove to be more convenient when you need some adjustments done before the big day (because having your gowns altered by designer stores cost money!).
- Wedding Permits, Licenses, and Seminars
Now these are the things your wedding suppliers, not even your expensive wedding coordinators, will remind you to accomplish. Ironically, all your pricey wedding preparations will go to waste if you fail to secure the necessary documents for getting married.
First, you need to secure a Marriage License. Keep in mind that a marriage license is only valid for 120 days.
Attend required seminars and retreats (required by either your parish or your municipality) and secure the necessary certifications. These requirements vary per municipality and parish.
Word of the wise: Accomplish all permits, documents, and seminars yourselves, do not hire the services of fixers no matter how busy you think you are.
- Account your expenses
Keep a journal of your expenses and mark off all items that have been paid off and those that will be settled at a later date. Keep track of your checks, receipts, acknowledgments, and other proofs of payment to avoid confusion and unnecessary expenses.
- Hold a pre-wedding gathering of your entourage and suppliers.
It does not have to be fancy; you just need to get them together to ease any tension and encourage coordination. This is best done a week before the big day. Include a rehearsal of sorts just to fine tune each person’s responsibility and involvement in the occasion.
Remember, you cannot achieve perfection so leave room for last-minute emergencies and allow your team some errors and oversights. No matter how hard you prepare, something is bound to go wayward and it’s all part of the fun and excitement.
So enjoy the moment while it lasts. You will soon realize that preparing for a wedding that lasts for a day pales in comparison to preparing for the marriage that is expected to last a lifetime.