Preparing for the big day? Feeling all different kinds of emotions and nerves? Well, you’re not alone. We’ve been there too. We had a 10-month engagement but a lot of unfortunate uncontrollable circumstances came our way and we ended up having around a month to prepare and a really, REALLY tight budget. Today marks the second month of our wedding day and there are things that really helped us set a wedding that was low-cost without it looking tawdry.

Now, we have nothing against you spending for your wedding but make sure that it does not affect your marriage/family and your bank account in a negative way after that amazing day. Sure, your wedding day is meant to be a happy day however; we all know that a happy day doesn’t mean spending loads. If you’re like us and you have a budget to follow, then hopefully these tips will help you out. The list here is based on our experiences as well as our friends’. Some of these are MONEY and TIME SAVING TIPS that we made and some are things we wished we knew earlier that could have also helped us a lot. Let’s get to it, shall we?

1) BUDGET

You may want so many things on your wedding but the question that matters here is if you can afford it. How will you pay for it? Ask yourselves “what can we afford to spend?” Then work on that.

Prioritize
What aspects of your wedding are the most significant to you? What makes your heart flutter? My husband and I are artists by heart, and obviously there were actually a lot of things that were important to us. So it was hard. For people close to us, it is not a surprise that decors were important to me while videos and photos were important to Dan. This means booking a great venue (because it would set the tone of the whole atmosphere and the event itself) and the best photographers and videographers. But we all know that this would also mean huge costs. We had to make compromises, which is a good thing for your relationship (you’ll be making more of it in marriage!). We had to learn how to let go and this was a facet where we learned what was important and why we made a choice to get married in the first place (and it’s certainly not about these little things that make up a wedding) 😉

What guests remember
Want to know the truth? There are only two things that people will remember about your wedding— THE FEELING and THE FOOD. Believe me, no one will say…”I will never forget your invitation” or “I will always remember the songs the band played” or…you get the drift. What the people WILL remember and talk about will be the food. They may not remember specifically what they are but whether it was good or not. Although, there are guests who will not dwell on it but the thing is, make sure that your guests will enjoy the food. So ask your caterers or the restaurant a lot of questions and make sure that you do food tasting. This was one thing that we missed out on. Yes, we considered caterers that had great tasting food. With the very limited time (and budget!) we had, we were not able to taste their dishes on the menu. We booked the caterers about 3 weeks prior to the wedding. We were just grateful that they were able to accommodate us in a short period of time (as did some of our suppliers!)

People will forever talk about how they felt attending your wedding. Eight months into our engagement (with two months left!), I realized that all I wanted was a God-centered wedding. I wanted people to experience Him and to see Him through our love story and our union. When you know what is important to you, you will not be so burdened with the most trivial things. And thankfully, God answered that prayer. Some people have told me that it was the most God-centered wedding they have attended. Others said it was solemn and really glorious. If you want your guests to have fun and be entertained, then channel your efforts and prayers to making that happen.

Know what you DON’T need

2) VENUE

Think of a venue that already has a classic ambience (or whatever your theme is…for example, you want a fun theme so find venues that have colorful or quirky settings).

Go for not-the-usual venues to pay less.
Less accessible and obvious venues do not cost much. As I mentioned earlier, I was a bit choosy with venues. I originally wanted a place that is “naturey” (if there is such a word)…particularly a mountain or cliff. But the city does not have much of that. You need to travel a few hours for places like that and I didn’t want our guests to go through such hassle. I also wanted the unconventional ones. The ones that we saw did not permit weddings or they were not available yet to accommodate such an event. We found and decided on our venue about 3 weeks before the wedding, and the company approved the usage of the venue 16 days prior! Now, I don’t recommend this to any couples. Venue should be one of those things that have to be finalized months before.

Choose a venue that doesn’t require you to use their vendors.
We originally wanted to have our wedding at Chateau de Busay but we also wanted to cut down the cost on the food and we felt like we can do away with some of the things listed on their package. We didn’t have much control over some of the conditions of their package. With our final venue, we could pretty much have anyone to help us and we can have any food. 🙂

Find a venue that doesn’t need much décor.

3) COMMUNITY HELP

Otherwise known as recruiting your friends, family members, or church friends. Do you have artistic friends? Friends who bake? Or a friend who sings? Ask talented friends or relatives to help you in lieu of a wedding present. It will incredibly cut down the cost and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of community help. Dan’s VG group and housemates were mostly engineers and they helped us a lot with the lightings and in setting up the venue. I had a friend who had a flair for hosting so I made her the master of ceremonies (and she was awesome!). Even if they had no talents but their heart to help was so overwhelming and I can’t tell you enough how much of a blessing they were. Preparing a wedding from scratch in only a month (and we didn’t even had much finances) is no joke so gather your truest friends and lovely relatives, and it will make your big day all the more personal and unforgettable! I’ll be writing more of this on our next blog posts. 😉

4) GUEST LIST

Filipinos are known to have big weddings where practically everyone is invited. This shouldn’t be the case. It is time to cut off that mentality. I mean would you invite someone whom you haven’t conversed (online or offline) with in 6 months just because of a certain obligation? It is your wedding after all. Coming from a huge family and relatives, I had a more difficult time deciding whom to invite— my mom has 7 siblings and I have 14 first degree cousins, all of whom I have good relationships with and you count in their spouses and children…good enough to fill a supposedly 70-person guest list. So what do we do?

Be ruthless with your head count

Battle the guilt
Or else you’ll be inviting everyone you know

Create groups or sections
List down the people in your life into groups and according to their importance— family members, extended family, close friends, workmates, etc. Start cutting the list from the bottom section up.

The 1 year or 6 month test
If you are unsure of inviting a certain person, ask yourselves “Have I seen or talked to this person within the last 12 months?” Others would use the 6-month timeline.

5) GO OFF-SEASON / DAY

Peak months for wedding is when rates can be ridiculously high. I am not saying that you shouldn’t choose June or December because that is your prerogative. But if you go for months where weddings most likely do not happen, you can save A LOT. We knew this and we knew that most people would avoid February because of the cost it pertains with Valentines’ Day but we were also smart enough to hold it on a day that is non-traditional. Weekdays are usually slow days for vendors/suppliers.

Our wedding was on a Thursday, which means that vendors were willing to take us in and serve us at lesser prices. So I suggest that you skip the Saturday wedding. If the people you invited really mean a lot to you, they would attend and file for leave (if they’re working). J

6) TRIM DOWN YOUR BRIDAL PARTY

You don’t need to have all your friends as your entourage. Try to keep the number as small as possible because the larger the bridal party, the more you’ll spend on dresses, flowers, and what-nots. I admit that this was hard on my part because for so long, I had envisioned most of my college friends to be part of my bridal party. But along the way, I’ve made new friends and gained more friendships with a lot of individuals. We made a decision to prioritize our immediate family members (i.e. brothers and sisters) and choose friends whom we are both close with.

On the other hand, you can skip this one altogether and save up more expenses! I had a friend who got married last year and this is what she did. They didn’t have any bridesmaids or groomsmen and nobody missed or even noticed them.

7) FLOWERS

They’re pretty but at the least, they last only for a day. I actually don’t understand why so much money is spent on wedding flowers. In the US, wedding flowers cost an average of $1200. And that can double or triple here in the Philippines. If you can afford wedding flowers, by all means you can use them. You can also reuse them as centerpieces.

Do your own flowers. You don’t have to buy real flowers. You can use silk flowers. You can also make them by using brooches or papers or other materials. There are a lot of tutorials on how to make one. The possibilities are endless!

Don’t have flowers at all. There are many alternatives to decors in place of flowers. There are rocks and stones, feathers, leaves, candles, lanterns, twigs and branches (my favorite!), fruits, books, and so much more. Be creative! Be fearless!

8) BE REALISTIC ABOUT DIY

Pinterest and other blogs are to blame for this phenomenon. Truth is, you don’t have to DIY all things. Being a crafter/DIY-er, I wanted to DIY so many things but money and time kept me from doing it. I did not want to add this to the stress and I did not want to be robbed off the importance of the wedding preparation because of pressure. I also did not want to be physically tired. In the end, we dedicated around 2-3 days to DIY-ing (which was also 2-3 days before the wedding!) and decided to book a stylist (and I don’t regret getting her. Ever. Look out for our next blog post and I’ll introduce her to you!).

Make sure that the materials, when you add it all up, will not cost you more than hiring a stylist or florist would. Remember that you’re DIY-ing because it does not cost. But if you do have enough time and energy and it can save you the money, by all means, go DIY!

9) HAGGLE

I’m not talking about unreasonable haggling/bargaining in a way that you’re robbing the vendor of their profit/income/business. It should be within a practical context and honestly, most wedding suppliers are open to negotiation. I tried it with one supplier (the least expected one) and was I surprised that he agreed!

10) GO MONOCHROMATIC / MINIMALISTIC

Don’t get me wrong, I love colors and I would love to join an event with amazing colors but for our wedding, I wanted to go timeless. I want a time where I look back on it and not say, “What was I thinking? Eww.” And importantly, it means huge savings. You only use one shade of fabric, ink, etc. My husband knows colors excite me but he emphasized that the most we could have were 2-3 colors and the 3rd one being white. We had a light pink and dark gold motif. Minimalist means chic/elegant. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

There are a whole lot more that you can save up with. I’ll talk more on wedding dress, invitation, shoes, favor, cake etc on Part 2 of this blog. So how do you plan to save? 🙂

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