On April 2, 2011, Marco and I exchanged I Do's in a small civil ceremony in front of our family and a few close friends.
It was the perfect wedding for us because : 1. We were both too lazy to deal with all the preparations. I was on the brink of turning into Bridezilla before, I wasn't about to go through that again; and 2. We didn't have a lot to spend, so the cheaper the better! Given these two reasons, we knew what to expect. But everything turned out to be better than what we could ever hope for. As I said, all it took was the help of our family, a little creativity, a ton of prayer, and kisses from Lady Luck.
My dad works overseas, and so does Marco's ate (Ate Norren). This summer is one of the rare times they'll both be in the country at the same time. But their vacation schedules were overlapping on only one weekend: the weekend of April 2. We had to take advantage, it was just the one. Ironically, for something as romantic as a wedding, our government still had a say. The wedding date was at the mercy of whether or not the Civil Registry would grant us the date.
The red tape
It only took two weeks to pull off the preparations for the wedding and reception, but a couple of months before, we started applying for all the nasty government forms. These forms were the reason why we only had two weeks to prepare for the actual event.
To get married, you needed a marriage license. To get a marriage license, you needed birth certificates authenticated by the National Statistics Office (NSO) , and a Certificate of No Marriage by the same office. You also needed to attend a seminar on family planning by the City Health Office and another one by the DSWD (I forgot what it's called). One of you (either bride or groom) needs a barangay clearance.
You had to wait three days for the NSO certificates. You needed to make an appointment a week before you can take the seminars. Then it takes them 10 days to release the actual marriage license. Finally, two weeks before April 2, we finally got our license. We finally booked the date with the judge. We were to be wed at 11:30am, at the Pasig Hall of Justice. I would have wanted a late afternoon ceremony, so we could do the reception in the evening. But I was told judges do not normally do Saturday weddings, much less Saturday afternoons - so I was more than lucky that this judge decided to open an April 2 date. Lady luck's kiss # 1!
We could finally book the reception venue. We could finally tell all the Ninongs and Ninangs the exact wedding date and venue. Finally.
The following details are arranged chronologically - in other words, I'll mention them in the order of when we booked/bought them. Being true foodies, we went after the reception details first. haha. We know our priorities.
The venue and caterer
After doing the math, we decided that hiring a caterer + booking a venue was going to save us a lot of money versus doing the reception at a restaurant, where you had to pay a certain amount per head.
Lady Luck's kiss #2: Marco's ate owns a unit in one of the charming condo developments in the city, so we had access to a lovely venue. The rent for the function halls were cheap too!
I wanted to book the function halls by the pool, but by the time we had a definite date for the reception, they were all booked. I was bummed. If we couldn't hold the event here, where else could we find a venue 10 days before the wedding?
But again, God works in mysterious ways. I was shown a different function hall away from the pool. This one had a lovely pathway leading to it, and it was tucked away in a part of the garden where no other residents were bound to come walking past. AND it was twice the size of the ones by the pool, but for the same price. We no longer had to worry about how we could sit our 80 guests comfortably.
Lady Luck's kiss #3: Marco's family owns a restaurant in Laguna called Oji's Grill. They serve the yummiest food! So it was a no-brainer - the reception should be catered by them. We ordered grilled liempo, fish fingers, chicken ala king, and kare-kare. They even prepared bagoong rice - a bonus!
Lady Luck's kiss #4: Marco had cousins in Davao, so we were able to order lechon (roast pork) from Matina! The lechon was probably the guest of honor at the reception, teehee. It had to be specially flown in, and fetched from the airport.
The tables, chairs, and tableware we had to rent separately, as Oji's Grill only provides food. All in all, we still spent a lot less compared to what we would have spent for a reception in a restaurant or hotel. (There was so much food, we even packed take-aways!)
And the great part about the reception? Lady Luck's kiss #5: My parents gifted us with enough money to pay for the food! Hallelujiah!
Early on, I decided I was simply buying a dress off the rack. I knew how complicated - not to mention expensive - having a gown custom made was going to be. So I was simply going to look for a dress at the mall.
The wedding was going to have a sort-of summery garden theme. Sort of because at this point I still wasn't decided if I was going to follow a theme or not. But I knew the motif was going to be aqua/blue. It was 10 days before the wedding. Other brides would have hyperventilated and died by now.
Anyway, back to the dress. All I knew was I wanted something simple and comfortable. No gowns for this bride. It was a summer wedding, so I wanted something short. We weren't getting married in church, so I didn't have to worry about covering up.
A couple of times, I saw something I liked, but they didn't quite feel right. I was getting dizzy from all the running around the different malls, I was about to give up.
On the same day I booked the venue, I found the perfect dress! It was simple - no ruffles, no flowers, just a plain strapless dress with an empire cut and a flowy, short skirt. It was feminine without being frilly. And the best part? It was only Php1,600 (about US $35). Yes, just two zeros there, not a typo!
Isn't it such a thrill to find exactly what you're looking for, even if you didn't know what you were looking for in the first place? And just when you were about to give up? Happiness!
But stupid me didn't buy the dress right away because I wanted to sleep on it. Idiot. I did take out my Flip cam, and took a video of myself trying on the dress. I showed the video to Ate Norren, who told me I was crazy for not buying it outright. So an hour later, I went back to the mall with Marco to buy the dress. Good thing the mall was just walking distance, or I would have procrastinated and would have lost the dress.
(I found the dress at Market! Market! Department Store, can you believe? I guess if you look hard enough, you'll find a gem in the most unlikely places! They have a pretty dressing room too! )
More wedding details in the next post.