Chronicles of a Former Obsessive Bride: Staying Sane during the Initial Stage of Planning

I’ve been meaning to blog about our wedding. I had this grand plan that I was going to write about my wedding experiences. It would include pretty pictures of my mockups, fittings and meetings with suppliers. I would also throw in helpful tidbits for bride-to-bes. The whole wedding world will thank me for my wisdom and I will be bigger than Bride and Breakfast and Bridal Book combined.

But nobody told me that planning a wedding would be so time-consuming. Ok scrap that. Truth be told, I was an obsessive, indecisive bride. The whole 10 months of planning was consumed with just looking at stuff on the internet (this obsession with inspiration kind of backfired however. I had sooo many pegs that it had become too tedious to sort thru them. If there was such a thing as digital hoarders I’d probably be featured in the pilot episode). Plus, I would always forgot to take pictures of significant moments.

I remember during our first food tasting with our caterer,  I had gobbled up two of the appetizers and half of the salad when the owner gently asked if I wanted to take pictures for us to have reference when we start deciding on our menu. So I sheepishly took out my camera and started shooting pictures of the half-devoured dishes in front of us. Needless to say, the shots that I took were not blog-worthy so I ended up not posting any of them.

An example of my exemplary photo journalist skills. My half-eaten Oriental Salad with Crispy Catfish and Mango Salsa. You may not believe me based on this sorry looking picture, but  it looks and tastes yummy!!

An example of my exemplary photo journalist skills. My half-eaten Oriental Salad with Crispy Catfish and Mango Salsa. You may not believe me based on this sorry -looking picture, but it looked and tasted great!!

It all worked out however. One thing I realized is that no matter how much you plan your wedding,  in the end, you will never know how it would actually turn out until your actual wedding day. So I don’t think my half-assed nuggets of wisdom would have been credible until after the event. So see, my laziness has now been justified.

In all honesty, I didn’t know a lot about wedding planning. I mean, I knew the basics. Some of my best friends did get married before I did after all. But I seriously thought it would be a piece of cake. Pick a church and a venue for the reception. Pick a dress/videographer/photographer. Invite guests. That’s it. I naively thought that everything else came with the reception venue (Do you know that back in our parents’ day, the hotel took care of all the details, down to the souvenirs and the bridal shower?!?),  so I thought 10 months was plenty of time.

Apparently, that’s not how you plan a wedding nowadays.

At least that’s what I learned the hard way. You have to source out all suppliers INDIVIDUALLY. Not only that, because there were so many choices to make, a lot of brides had their dream peg even before they got engaged. Imagine my surprise when after 24 hours of getting a ring,well-meaning friends were grilling me about my suppliers (No exaggeration! He popped the question on a Saturday. By the time I made it “facebook official” the following day, I got several messages from friends asking me who my photographer was, if I wanted a ball dress or I wanted a straight silhouette etc).  It was extremely overwhelming.

The thing was, I thought we had it all worked out.  The night we got engaged, my new fiancé and I went out for icecream and had a serious talk (yes, we’re practical and objective that way. Forget basking in the romance of it all. We wanted to talk about strategy!)  I wanted to know how we were going to go about our planning. We both had no idea how much we should allot for the wedding. So our deal was, canvass for a venue and set the  budget after. It was a nifty plan.

Then I got all those messages.  So I ended up hysterically calling my poor fiancé  in the middle of a meeting in sheer panic. I seriously thought we would end up with no good suppliers and would be forced to hold the reception at Max’s Fried Chicken (which by the way is a fine restaurant.  It just doesn’t scream “to have and to hold” if you get what I’m saying).

Because of this panic-inducing experience, I’ve decided to give some unsolicited advice on how to make the initial stages of planning less stress free (will deal with the nitty gritty’s in later posts):

SET A DATE BUT DON’T BE TOO RIGID.  Sounds pretty simple, but this actually can cause some couples a bit of stress early on. Especially when trying to coincide the availability of your preferred church and your preferred venue.  December, January and  February are hot wedding months. So you will probably experience difficulty trying to get a Saturday/Sunday wedding if you’re dead set on getting  married during that coveted period. This is especially true if you’re pushing to get married a few months after or maybe in the same year you guys got engaged. We were pretty lucky because like I said, we decided to get married in Subic, which isn’t exactly a top of mind wedding destination. We were allowed to pencil book ALOT of weekends in not one, but two churches and in five venues (There’s your solution! Get married in Subic. Shamelessly promoting tourism here). But even then, the photographer  of our choice wasn’t available on our preferred dates. Since nothing was set in stone,  we decided to move the wedding a couple of months after our original target  (we were that dead- set on getting on them). But it worked to our advantage in the end. I really can’t imagine getting married during the Christmas season. People will end up boycotting our out -of -town wedding because of all the traffic, company Christmas parties and other cool Christmasy stuff they have to do.

So basically, decide on how much time you are both comfortable allotting for planning (the longer, the more stress-free), pick more than one preferred wedding date, then pray to Mama Mary that things work out. 🙂

SET A BUDGET BUT DON’T MAX OUT IMMEDIATELY. I’ve never met anyone who did not complain that they went over -budget on their wedding. There are usually just too many last minute -expenses that need to be covered (in our case, it was a last -minute tent and we added extra for a good host, more alcohol and better suppliers’ meals) .  So it’s always wise to create a comfortable buffer. If you end up being on-budget, then yey for you! You have extra savings to spend on your honeymoon or on your future home.

Also, it would help if you list down your top 5 must-spend priorities so you can wean out the less important ones without feeling kawawa if need be. For us, our top priorities early on were:

  1. food
  2. alcohol (he’s a frat boy. I come from a family of alcoholics. God forbid we run out of alcohol)
  3. photographer
  4.  (we realized later on how important hosts are so that was a last- minute, but important splurge)

 Uploading the wedding budget excel file we used to keep track of our expenses. It’s a combination of the two files our friends’ sent to us (Thank you Ynez and Darren). I found this super useful.

wedding budget

LISTEN TO MARRIED/ENGAGED FRIENDS, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO PRACTICAL TIPS. I had to put emphasis on practical tips. Because I realized that my friends and I had very different ideas on how we wanted our weddings to be like. And the more I listened to their ideas, the more I lost track of what I wanted (notice the I. My fiance had inputs here and there, but he pretty much let me make the decisions.  He says it’s because everything that I want is fine, as long as he’s marrying me. Sweet, but to tell you honestly, I think  he just finds all the details cumbersome :)). But we all went thru the same nitty-gritty practical dilemmas. For instance, it was from a friend that I found out that you need to know how much your venue’s electrical capacity is even before you book them (Thanks Caleen). Otherwise, you will end up having to shell out for a generator even if it’s not in your list of expenses. There were alot of things I would never have figured if not for well-meaning friends who gave unsolicited advice.

BOOK THE SUPPLIERS WHO ONLY ACCEPT ONE BOOKING PER DAY FIRST THEN WORRY ABOUT THE REST LATER ON. I got this tip when I tagged along with a friend when she met up with Dino Lara (a really good wedding photographer). So aside from your venue and church, it would be best to look for your photographer, videographer, wedding coordinator, hair & makeup artist and host next (Well, depends on your priorities too, of course).

Most caterers, stylists, wedding gown designers, invitation printers/graphic artists, lights and sounds and other wedding suppliers accept multiple bookings per day, so you would have more leeway to take your time with them (in our case though, our caterer was so hands-on, they only book one wedding per day. Someone canceled and that’s how we got them. Yey universe!).

MAKE A LIST OF THE KIND OF THE KIND OF WEDDING THAT YOU WANT BEFORE BOOKING ANY OF THE SUPPLIERS.  If you have a theme in mind, write down specifics. You don’t have to go as far as knowing what each centerpiece to look like in the first stages of planning, but it’s very easy to get-caught up in all the decisions that you have to make if you don’t know what you want. So set a skeleton peg before even booking suppliers.

For us, we wanted a destination wedding. We also wanted it a bit polished and dressy, but not too formal (we have no social graces, so we felt like posers doing the hotel, five to seven courses kind of formal). Basically, we just wanted a chill, relaxed, low-key, vibe.

You may also start refining your theme once key suppliers are in place. With us, we decided to do the whole nautical beach theme because we zeroed in on Subic and it seemed apt given that it is a sea port (Plus, if you meet my then-fiance you would realize that the nautical beach vibe fits him more than the usual, flowy, bohemian, shabby chic beach wedding. He will not go barefoot and wear a floral wreath around his neck. He would rather break off the engagement than do that).

Once you have that rough idea, it will be easier to wean out suppliers and pick out details for the wedding.

Here is an example of a wedding moodboard. It's usually used, well to set the mood (duh). Most couples keep something like this to help them figure out what kind of theme they want for their wedding. I was also told sending one of these would suffice for alot of suppliers (Saying sorry to our wedding gown designer &  caterer/stylist for sending them tons!).  Photo courtesy of Project Wedding in Pinterest

Here is an example of a wedding moodboard. It’s usually used, well to set the mood (duh). Most couples keep something like this to help them figure out what kind of theme they want for their wedding. I was also told sending one of these would suffice for alot of suppliers (Saying sorry to our wedding gown designer & caterer/stylist for sending them tons!).
Photo courtesy of Project Wedding in Pinterest

KNOW WHEN TO STOP RESEARCHING AND LOOKING AT PINTEREST. Look for inspiration if you must.  Then book your suppliers or start on your DIY’s. But after that, for the love of God, stop pinning. It will just make you more indecisive.  (Yes, I’m Pia Dysangco Villamor, I’m a Pinterest addict).

Took a screen shot of my Pinterest account. Check out how many wedding folders I have and the number of pins I have in each one.  I'm crazy. I know.   Our genius stylist just took one or two pegs from these for inspiration and worked out the rest with her team.  She was such a trooper though. She looked at each and every one. I feel guilty just thinking about it

Took a screen shot of my Pinterest account. Check out how many wedding folders I have and the number of pins I have in each one. I’m crazy, I know. Our genius stylist just took one or two pegs from these for inspiration and worked out the rest with her team. She was such a trooper though. She looked at each and every one. I feel guilty just thinking about it.

Oh wait, there's more! Feel free to judge me.

Oh wait, there’s more! Feel free to judge me.

And lastly…..

BREATHE. It sounds pretty meeh, I know. But seriously, it could happen to the best of us. Yes, you can actually turn into one of those insufferable brides who took wedding planning too seriously. And based on experience, panicking will not get you anywhere. There are thousands of registered, trusted wedding suppliers.  You will not run out of people. I swear. We planned for less than a year, and we got most, if not all of our top choices.

Plus, looking back, it’s not that big of a deal (yeah I said it). Your marriage will not fall apart if peonies are not in season during your wedding. People will not judge you if you do not have personalized, monogrammed table napkins.   Your parents will eventually forgive you if you don’t invite the boyfriend of your third cousin twice removed  to your intimate affair. I swear to you, once you’re out of the crazed-bride/groom stage, you will realize that there are far more important things in life than the song for your bridal march. So have fun! Cheesy as it sounds weddings are a celebration of your relationship as couple. So start your planning with that mentality and everything will fall into place.

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2 thoughts on “Chronicles of a Former Obsessive Bride: Staying Sane during the Initial Stage of Planning

  1. Hi Pia 🙂 How I wish I came across your blog earlier in our wedding preps. We are getting married in Subic this December. May I ask who you got for your wedding host and if you can recommend any band/singers that are based in Olongapo or Subic? Thanks!! Diana

    • Hi Diana! Thanks so much for reading! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I miss wedding preps despite the stress. We got our host from Manila, his name is Gabe Mercado and he was awesome! 🙂 As for bands, we didn’t have one, (we’re blessed with talented friends who were more than willing to sing), but there are a lot of talented bands in Olongapo/Subic. Email me what genre you had in mind and I can help you look for one. 🙂 pia.dysangco@gmail.com. 🙂

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