What We Loved about Our $32K Wedding in the Phillipines

NBD, just the the first time she's ever seen him cry

bride smiling at groom

Joanarc, pr executive & Brian, news desk editor

Planned Budget: ₱1,200,00.00 PHP ($25,900 USD)

Actual Budget: ₱1,500,000 PHP ($32,500 USD)

Number of Guests: 150
bride while getting ready for weddinggroom laughing while getting ready for weddingbride wearing wedding veil

Where we allocated the most funds

Flowers and food. Since we have 150 guests and I do events, I knew the bulk of our budget would go to the food. On top of the buffet dinner, we also provided cocktails after the ceremony because I’m very particular when it comes to the guests being well fed. I get cranky when I’m hungry, and I didn’t want 150 cranky people welcoming me at the reception. We also provided an open bar because our friends are big drinkers. We wanted them to have fun since they traveled so far to attend our wedding. (The venue was about two hours away from the city.) The flowers, however, I didn’t expect to be so expensive, so we had to adjust our budget for this. We had a view of the Taal Volcano and the Taal Lake and there was so much greenery, so I really wanted to complement that with flowers. The flowers for the ceremony, the entourage, and the reception were all white to go with our theme colors. The flowers weren’t what I expected, but they were beautiful, nevertheless.

wedding party standing outsidegroom and groomsmen outside

Where we allocated the least funds

The band, the church choir, and the videographer. Brian was the one who “discovered” the band. He just searched for our favorite song by Up Dharma Down (“Tadhana,” which means “Destiny” in English) on YouTube and found The Goatcake‘s video. They are located four hours away from where we live, but we visited them one weekend and liked their vibe—very down to earth and chill. We booked them right then and there. We were really lucky because, since they are relatively unknown, their fee was inexpensive. A few months after our engagement, I found out that my cousin is a member of their college choir so I asked her and her friends to sing at the wedding ceremony. I’m glad I did, and I was surprised how great they were. I had never watched my cousin and her friends sing live, but they were so good that when they first sang, I thought the wedding coordinators chose to play an mp3 instead. Brian also searched for our videographer since I wasn’t really particular about the video. Luckily, Brian found Dreamechanics, who were inexpensive but extremely talented.

bride and groom standing together in veilbride and groom smilingbride and groom walking togethergroom walking outsideportrait of bride holding wedding bouquet

What was totally worth it

The band and the choir. As I mentioned above, we really got more than our money’s worth with them. Some of the guests even contacted us after the wedding to hire the band and the choir for other events. They were that good. Also my wedding coordinators: they anticipated every request. The morning of my wedding was stress-free because of them. I only found out about the problems after the wedding or when there was already a solution. For example, I didn’t know the driver Brian’s dad hired for the day bailed until I got in the car and saw one of my bridesmaids driving with her bouquet still in her hand. It was only a ten-minute drive, but still. By that time, I could only laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

wedding ceremony inside churchtwo girls in audience for weddingbride and groom kissing during ceremonybride and groom standing together after ceremony

What was totally not worth it

The flowers. There were some things that we agreed upon and weren’t executed. It was still beautiful, but working in PR and doing events professionally, they stood out to me like a sore thumb. I wanted magnolias for my bouquet, but a week before the wedding the florist informed us that the big magnolias that I wanted weren’t available. He proposed anemones, my second choice, but warned me that they would wilt easily. I was still excited because during our initial meeting he told me anemones would be in season during the time of our wedding. The morning of the wedding, the flowers were delivered to my room, and I was disappointed because I immediately noticed the browned edges of my anemones and that the flowers for the entourage were smaller than what we agreed upon. My wedding coordinator spoke up before I even said something because she was already aware of the problem. She told me that our florist’s supplier had delivered pink roses instead of white, so the event stylist had to make do with what he already on hand so that there would be white flowers in the church, the reception venue, and the hands of the entourage.

bride and groom after wedding ceremonywedding detailswedding cake with yellow topper

A few things that helped us along the way

My profession helped a lot. I know how events go, and since we had a year and a half of planning, we weren’t rushed and I wasn’t plagued with indecisiveness. It also helped that Brian and I knew what we wanted from the start so there wasn’t any time wasted. We were able to streamline everything quickly. For example, we didn’t meet with suppliers who, though talented and famous, didn’t have the same style as ours. Google also helped with us research, and I was able to only meet with potential suppliers that I really liked.

wedding guests playing gameswedding guests laughing

My best practical advice for my planning self

Research, research, research! Listen to reviews of other brides. Also, you get what you pay for. Most of the suppliers are known in the industry mainly because of their reputation, so listen to all the feedback. It also helps to know what style, theme, and color before beginning to search for and meet with suppliers. I know Pinterest is a great place for inspiration, and it could be quite overwhelming to include all the details in the pins you like, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it to create a wedding that reflects your and your partner’s personality.

groom standing with groomsmengroom and groomsmen before weddinggroom and groomsmen walking together

Favorite thing about the wedding

The guests. Everyone was so relaxed, and it was nice to see them having fun with us. They traveled just for our wedding, and for me that really meant a lot. Also my entrance at the church was pretty memorable. I was relaxed the entire morning until we drove up to the church. As soon as I stepped out of the car and stood before the church’s closed doors, I felt nervous. When the doors opened I cried upon seeing everyone—our friends, our families, and our colleagues. I only stopped because I saw Brian bawling. It surprised me because I’ve never seen him cry.
bride and groom walking together and smiling

Anything else we should know

We met in college. We were both taking up Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. We were friends and hung out with the same group, but we became close during our last year in college. We were both in problematic relationships and commiserated with each other. We stayed close until after graduation, getting coffee and drinking after work, but it wasn’t until three years after graduation when we first kissed. We’ve been together ever since. It was his birthday when he proposed in front of his family and friends. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the moment he proposed… I still cannot believe it. We are not big with grand gestures and emotional speeches, and it was apparent when he was making his speech. It was touching to see him speak so publicly about us. We both knew I was going to say yes, but it was nice to see him work for it.


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