Looking back at my wedding day, I broke many conventions of what a typical Filipino wedding should be. A Filipino wedding celebration is usually grand, festive, extravagant and traditional with complete rituals. To come to think of it, my wedding is not out-of-the-box. What makes my wedding slightly different is that it’s laid-back and minimalist. I wanted my wedding to be a reflection of my personality – carefree, little musical, colorful, whimsical, and sentimental without trying hard, and most of all, “kuripot” ( on budget) without looking dull and broke.
One of the hardest things in planning a wedding is receiving a lot of unsolicited advice and recommendation. Benefit of the doubt, they had good intentions when giving out advice but sometimes they based their recommendation on their personal taste. Weddings are very personal. To begin with, getting married is a personal choice. Even if a wedding event appears like a family activity or a grand production number, it only holds great value to the couple. Your guests will eventually forget about your wedding day. You and your partner are the only ones who will treasure your wedding day for a lifetime. Your preference should be above everyone else’s suggestions. I was watching a celebrity vlog the other day and she mentioned she never showed her wedding dress prior to her wedding because it’s just personal. I remember someone suggested not to hire a professional photographer because a photographer takes so much time and directs the wedding making it look stagey. Today, I am just glad that we are able to get professional service for photography. At the end of the day, what will remain with you after the wedding are the memories. A good photographer or videographer will hide the clutter in your wedding day and will make it appear as seamless and as possible. Some will say make your wedding vow short and sweet. “You are going to bore the audience.” But you have to remember your main audience on your wedding day is your groom. If there’s one person you should please the most during your wedding day, aside from yourself, it should be your groom.
Choosing an intimate wedding over a grand wedding
We wanted a budget friendly wedding. Practically speaking, if you plan to invite more than 200 guests, not everyone can fully witness your wedding ceremony. Some of them would have to sit far from your wedding stage. It is important to note that not all your acquaintances, friends, and relatives would be interested to listen lengthy speeches of your friends and loved ones during the wedding reception. Most of the time, wedding guests do not finish the program during the reception.
Another reason why we opted to have a small wedding: We wanted to have a cozy homey feeling during our wedding day. As much as possible, we wanted everyone to feel comfortable in our wedding day and that could only be possible if we had a small group where everyone knew each other. As an introvert, I wanted to be less self-conscious during my wedding day. Imagine more than 200 pairs of eyes watching you walk down the aisle. When it’s a small group watching you, it helps reduce stress and anxiety. You have no fear of tripping on your wedding gown.
I only had 53 guests on my wedding day. This number already includes my family members, and principal sponsors. More than personal comfort, managing a small group is logistically convenient. Because we only had a small group, we did not find the need to hire a wedding coordinator. It is easy to move people from one place to another if you have different venue for ceremony and reception. It is easy to find a venue. We actually considered having our wedding in a fine dining restaurant.
Choose comfort over traditions
In truth, you only need a licensed solemnising officer, marriage license, and two witnesses. That’s all you need to make your wedding official and everything else depends on traditions, budget, and personal preferences.
Again my goal on my wedding day is to minimize as much stress and anxiety as possible. It’s inevitable not to worry on your wedding day but we can find ways to manage our stress level by removing things that can potentially trigger anxiety. For these reasons, I chose to remove some wedding conventions. I dropped off the veil, cord, and candles as wedding symbols. I don’t have any deep or religious reason for removing these. When I was a young girl witnessing other people’s weddings, I questioned if I really had to go through these rituals on my wedding day. I have always been clumsy. I have this fear that I might burn my own veil and make my wedding chaotic. Since I planned my wedding to be outdoor, I was also scared that it might rain in the middle of my wedding or it might be too hot for my guests. I don’t want my guests to suffer that long. Hence, to reduce the number of things to worry, I intentionally designed my wedding ceremony short. If you decide to do the same, there will be people who will ask, “Bakit walang ganyan?” It’s your call. You only include on your wedding day what has special meaning to you. Of course, these customary symbols have meanings. In my case, the things that have special meanings on my wedding ceremony are the song I chose to sing during the wedding march, my vow and my husband’s vow.
Customize your wedding based on your taste and personality
Let your wedding be your wedding, not the wedding of your coordinator, not of your mother, not of your wedding supplier. It can be a struggle to assert your personal taste.
Ever since, I never really wanted to wear a veil on my wedding day. I wanted my hair down. I wanted to wear a flower crown on my wedding day I wanted an outdoor wedding. I wanted to sing on my wedding day. These are some of the wedding details that are non-negotiable to me. Along the way, I had people who were questioning these details and had tried to persuade me to stick to the usual wedding conventions.
When I was making an inquiry with a flower vendor, she questioned why I was not going to get married at the church. She looked at my tummy and thought I was pregnant and was barred from getting married at the Catholic Church. I came to a conclusion that my hometown had not had a lot of Christian outdoor weddings.
My hair dresser insisted on having my hair tied up during my wedding day. I tried my best to compose myself and said, “ No, I want my hair down.” And again, the context of my wedding is I am dealing with wedding suppliers in Tacloban who have limited exposure to different types of wedding. She even said, “Do you have a baby? Because in Catholic churches, brides don’t wear wedding veil if they already have children.”
Choosing the people to have special roles on my wedding day
Before coming up my own list, I honestly thought of dropping off the whole entourage thing. I had attended a wedding where there were no bridesmaids and groomsmen. I somehow liked that idea. I did not want to worry a set of clothes for my entourage because I was not willing to shell out a lot of money for the entourage. On a personal note, I did not want to promote favoritism and exclusivity on my wedding day. Also, I did not like the idea of picking just a few people to have special roles in the wedding. I don’t want to hear comments, “Bakit si ganyan hindi ginawang bridesmaid? They say, “ You can’t please everyone” but I tried. I customized my list of entourage. I had a man of honor. Bakit nga ba maid of honor lang ang mayron? I did not follow the usual pairing of bridesmaids and groomsmen because we did not have an even number of boys and girls in the entourage and I don’t want to complete the pairings just for the sake of following the conventional entourage. The groomsmen carry some of the wedding symbols- the Bible, the coins and some of the bridesmaids hold a microphone to sing during the ceremony walk instead of holding a man’s arm. I just wanted to make the most of everyone’s presence on my wedding day. We did not look far from the confirmed wedding guest list on who would be part of the entourage and principal sponsors.
Choosing an informal wedding over a formal wedding
At the beginning, I thought it would be nice to hire live band or singers. I actually thought of it. But thank God, we can’t afford to have these gimmicks because it does not feel that intimate and cozy if you have many people outside your circle joining your wedding. I just wanted my wedding to feel like a karaoke night with family where everybody can just sing and be themselves.
Spending less on non-essentials
Of course, it’s your big day but it does not mean you have to splurge in every wedding detail. We did not spend much on wedding souvenirs and invitation since we only have a handful number of guests. Wedding invitation would probably cost 5,000 to 10,000 depending on the quality and complexity of design. Five thousand pesos may not be much but when you compute the total amount of expenses for your wedding, it means a lot. Luckily, my sister got to design our wedding invite. I just printed a few copies at home for pictorial purposes.
We also did not spend much on pica pica. Wedding package for catering and hotel service usually includes pica pica or cocktails to be served in between ceremony and reception. If you are not conscious with your budget and the details, you can spend Php 10,000 or more for tea and biscuits. For our pica pica, we had fish balls, cheese sticks served and prepared by one of our churchmates. We also had unlimited supply of ice cream for our guests. I have always liked the concept of street food because it keeps your wedding guests busy while you finish all your photoshoot.
Food cart of fish ball and cheese sticks with one of my bridesmaids
Planning the theme and dress code for your guests and entourage
I wanted a bohemian wedding but I realised I cannot really pull off a total Bohemian wedding by requiring my guests to follow Bohemian dress code. Since I had senior citizen guests, it would be difficult to explain what Bohemian attire looked like.
When I browse at wedding photos, I usually find the bride, groom, and entourage look out of place in group photos. It’s either the bride and groom are too overdressed or the wedding guests are too underdressed. My objective for specifying a dress code is to ensure that no one looks overdressed or underdressed so that everyone blends well in group photos and in the wedding theme. So what I did I specify long sleeve polo shirt with solid colors for men and long floral dress for women. I thought hard of what can my guests and entourage easily access in their closet or in the nearest department store Also, I read somewhere that if you want to have more flowers in your wedding without spending much on flowers, ask your guests to wear floral.
For my bridesmaids, I did not insist of having one shade of color, or one style. The flower crowns of my bridesmaids were the only items they wore that set them apart from the rest of the crowd. I did not want them to look very distinct among the crowd because I did not want to form an untouchable elite group in my wedding.
For the groomsmen, we just asked them to wear blue long sleeves and provided them with necktie and suspender.
For my wedding gown, I chose a simple classic style to maintain a laid-back and minimalist theme, which I got from Divisoria.
It is both fun and stressful to be very hands-on on your wedding preparation but the rewards are high. The other day, my husband and I watched some of our raw video wedding clips and we were laughing so hard at how cheesy, how informal, how some parts of our wedding were not done properly. But looking back, I felt everything was perfect on the day of my wedding that I fail to notice I did not walk properly during my wedding day.