Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planning our Personalized Wedding on a (Tight) Budget

Online Diary,

Boo! It’s Hallow’s Eve everyone! It’s time to talk about spooky things. *grin*

Now, there are two things that I wanted to talk about – our wedding budget and some of our suppliers who turned out to be a disappointment (unfortunately, some of them did not measure up). These are two of the most horrifying things that brides do not ever want to encounter. Do you agree?

Since staging an elaborate (read: personalized) yet budgeted wedding is generally what brides fear the most, let’s start with that matter. We will talk about the other concern later during the supplier’s rating.

While it’s true that holding a church wedding is not inexpensive, you can control your budget by following one or all of the following tips based only on my own experience:

1. Start planning your wedding as early as possible. After your h2b asked the big question, as much as possible, select a wedding day a year or two later so that you have the time to plan, research and sort things out, book your non-negotiable suppliers (especially if they are in-demand), and most importantly, save wedding funds for the Big Day.

2. Know what you want, be firm and work around it. You want a themed and unique wedding but you do not want to spend all your hard earned money in just one day, right? It is also important to set a realistic budget. A Php 100,000.00 budget this year may not be enough for a simple wedding one or two years from now. You may review here some tips on how to determine your initial budget.

3. Keep a wedding journal, online or otherwise, to jot down all your budget plans and wedding needs (In my case, I created this blog). This will also help you keep track of your budget and separate the nice-to-haves from the wedding essentials (Say, do you really need an onsite SDE if your photographer offers onsite AVP?). You'll have to know which item to let go and which one's to keep. :)) You may opt to keep a wedding checklist just like what I did (please see my checklist on the the right task bar of this blog).

4. Consider your parish church. Marrying in a well known church if you’re not a parishioner can get really expensive. What with the additional fees (generally, church fee is higher for non-parishioners) and requirements that you have to complete. Your parish church can be very pretty when tastefully styled, it can be memorable and it may be more convenient to your guests. Additionally, it will be easier to accomplish wedding requirements since you're dealing with the same parish office (only if you were baptized and confirmed at the same parish church).

5. Manage your guests list. This can really be tricky especially if you feel that some of your friends and/or relatives wouldn’t get it. When we were planning our wedding, hubby and I agreed that we will only invite 120 people consisting of our family members, close relatives and few friends. Our parents insisted to invite their friends and distant relatives (which will make our guest list up to 200 or so) but we talked them over our limited budget and that we want an intimate wedding. No doubt, they understood our vision and gave in. Luckily, our friends and other people followed suit. Consider this flow chart when determining who to invite. :))

6. Research supplier’s package rate for each category (such as caterer, P/V, florist, etc.) to determine your overall realistic budget. For example, a professional photographer’s rate is generally around Php 20,000 but it can be as high as Php 90,000 depending on package inclusion and their reputation, experience and achievements. Same can be said for caterers, videographers, florists, hair and make up artists and coordinators.

7. Attend Bridal Fairs but be wise on selecting your suppliers. We attended a handful of bridal fairs and we were amazed how suppliers offer freebies and discounts. Before making an on-the-spot booking though, consider researching about the supplier’s reputation (good and bad feedback of their previous clients), visit their website (if applicable) and talk to them personally at the fair. Here’s a trick of the trade. Bridal fairs are usually two days. As much as you can, go on the first day, gather all the pamphlets and fliers and review each one of them (advantage of early planning – you have the time of your life) and compare their packages while staying true with your allotted budget. If both you and H2B agreed to book a certain supplier, you may do so on the second day (especially if you’re gunning for the bridal fair contest prize) or you may opt to call that supplier and ask for a bridal fair discount (some of them extend bridal fair discounts as long as you courteously ask for it).

8. Book suppliers as early as possible but be cautious and be firm.
If you’re pretty determined to book a certain supplier (considering you’ve done your research or this particular supplier is non-negotiable), do so! Some suppliers are very popular, they are booked for 2012 weddings. Based on our experience, some suppliers’ package rate or service increase every year in as much as Php10,000 (depending on their demand, category and peso value). Additionally, most of the suppliers offer early booking discounts and/or freebies. A humble caution though, once you booked your supplier, do not be lured easily or doubt their capabilities (thus, your judgment) if you’ve encountered a bad feedback about their services (again, it’s a case to case basis). Avoid judging your suppliers instantly. It is better to talk to them about the issue (without compromising the identity of the person who gave the feedback) and get their assurance that they will not do that to you and your wedding. In our case, some of our suppliers received bad feedback from their past clients. We talked to them -- be it a phone call, in person, text or email messages—to clear things up and get their side of the story (as much as possible, make sure you're talking to the owner, not just their representative or AE, for a number of reasons). Most of the time, they will appreciate your business more once they are aware that you’re somehow “watching” their every move and event. Keeping the communication line open between you and your supplier even if your wedding is one or two years from now will benefit both parties. This will save you from further stress, extra expenses (mind that non-refundable down payment) and your supplier will give you a more personalized service. To simply put it, open communication to suppliers = positive and less stressful wedding (and planning). Who knows, your client/supplier relationship might be escalated and you might end up being friends even after the wedding. We have witnessed it happen before. :))

9. Mind the newbies (referring to less popular suppliers). You don’t always have to book the popular suppliers. Booking the suppliers who aren’t that popular means they can concentrate and allot more time for you and your wedding. Additionally, they don’t charge as high as the other popular suppliers. As long as they know what you want (remember, open communication is the key) and they know that you trust them, they will come around. They will even exceed your expectation. Trust me, it happened on our wedding and I’m proud of them (more on our suppliers’ rating real soon!).

10. Join Wedding Contest. Oh, we love to join contests! You never know if you have the lucky horseshoe, right? Hubby does. He won for us two honeymoon packages from two separate bridal fairs. Just try it. You have nothing to lose. :))

{Some photos of our Malaysian Honeymoon courtesy of Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort and Martha Stewart Weddings}

11. Talk to your suppliers about your wedding plan and vision. Our caterer is the best example for this item. I wanted to style our reception venue according to our wedding theme, which is Nature Photography but our budget did not permit me to hire a professional stylist. Since our caterer offers customized centerpieces and such, I asked Ms. Anj if they could do some things for me. Luckily, she excitedly agreed! I met her to discuss the venue layout and initial style plan. I also sent her pegs for inspiration and itemized the things that I wanted her to execute. It was amazing how we worked it out together and how she was getting my vision. In the end, I got what I want without hiring a separate stylist. :))

{Wedding Photos Preview: Reception Details}

12. Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment. Create DIY Projects. This, I highly recommend. DIY doesn't always mean you have to do it by yourself. Have fun by staging a DIY session with your bridesmaids (or your whole entourage), your mother, your sister or those who want to contribute. For example, instead of hiring somebody to do the missalette for you, why not design it by yourself? You just have to trust your taste and believe in yourself. You never know how many future brides can benefit from your experiment. It's like hitting two birds in one stone -- you get to enjoy personalizing your wedding while inspiring other brides to do the same. The things that you did for your wedding will be appreciated in due time (yes it will, trust me). The things that you will create for your wedding defines who you are. That will make your wedding different from other weddings, thus, making it more special. To simply put it, you’ll create a unique wedding (and will discover the things you can do that you never thought you can) while saving your budget.

{Our Offbeat Wedding Cord was featured in W@W early this year}

13. Be a W@Wie. I consider being a W@Wie as the most important thing that happened to me (and H2B) when we were planning our wedding. It's such a blessing. I mean, planning a wedding is a long shot when I started it last year since ours was my family’s first after a decade or so. I discovered WeddingsatWork (founded by Ms. Benz and Sir John Rana) while browsing for wedding inspirations online. I signed up and was instantly perplexed over the amount of e-mails I get every day. These mails come from brides who are planning their wedding, just like me. I think everyone agrees that experience is the best teacher. I learned a lot from other bride’s experiences and supplier’s rating (this never failed to excite me). I got tips on how to deal with suppliers, staying on a budget (in which I'm imparting through this post) and the ins and outs of wedding industry. I heard most of our suppliers from W@W, including feedbacks about them and their services (good or bad). Being a W@Wie allows you to have exclusive discounts and offers from some suppliers (especially if you have a W@W tag). W@W have annual Christmas party among other events and W@W Auction (my favorite!) supported by some of the country's top wedding suppliers. Most importantly, being a W@Wie means winning numerous (virtual) friends, thus, support group. W@Wies are there when you need (virtual) hugs to support you when it seems like everything’s not working according to plan. It allows us to have a big brother (by the name of Sir John Rana). Just like some W@wies, Mama Benz has always been there for me whenever I need payo, when I’m lost or when I need to make a big decision. For me, she’s not just our big sister, she’s a mother to all of us (You might not like it, Mama Benz, but you are. :)) Super Thanks.). W@W is not just about staging our wedding on a (tight) budget, it became a big part of our wedding. Without W@W, I would never be able to bring my (our) dream wedding to reality. Cheers to W@W and to the whole W@W community! (See you all on November 26th!!!)

{Wedding Treasures: Our wedding rings and the W@W commemorative coin}

{W@W Family: W@Wies with Ms. Benz, Sir John and their daughter during the W@W Christmas Party 2009}

All these and more are my tips to conquer your (wedding budget) fear. I hope you learned something and hopefully, you enjoyed my treat (not trick). Happy preps! :))



  1. I agree, when things are well planned and you stick to the plans you have made, the more chances of keeping a tight budget

  2. very well said...:D
    this will be so helpful for all the brides-to-be
    Keep writing long as you can.

    Me, i stopped....have no more time. but i will push my self extra hard next time...blogging is so nice. An outlet of your personality.

    Marriage Life is demanding...but rewarding.

    - your now, fellow N@wie!

  3. hi! I've been following your blog for quite some time and it's really helpful, not to mention motivating! I would just like to ask, how much was your budget and for how many people? did you go over your budget? :P really looking forward to those supplier's ratings!

    Best Wishes and God Bless! :)

  4. Hi Eyzel,
    I've been a fan of your wedding blog since last year. I've been following your entries and got so much inspiration. Plus the fact that I also wanted this color motif eversince. And finally, just this December, I got engaged. I really do find this entry very helpful as we start our wedding preps. Thanks! Thanks! God bless!

  5. Hi! Thanks for posting these tips. I learned a lot. Sounds like you had so much fun planning your own wedding. Signing up to W@W. Love your wedding cord! After browsing through some articles in your blog, I am now starting to think that this is heaven sent. lol

  6. Thanks for all these tips. I learned a lot.

  7. Renting your bridal gown one can reduce your cost and venues that allow you to bring your own alcohol also help you to save money. More



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