Posted by Joseph on Jun 28, 2012 in Being Married | 5 comments
The continuation of the Money blog of my Wedding Planning series from yesterday. Here’s Part 1 if you missed it. And now, the continuation…
3. Consider trade offs
Take into account the unexpected when making decisions. Every move and decision will affect the bottom line. If you get a destination wedding (having to drive far, swim, fly to get to the venue) every supplier or vendor is likely to go up because they have to travel to do your thing. This means transportation expenses, possibly more manpower, and losing some business because they can only do your wedding that day.
Getting a package MIGHT help if you can find a good one. Some places bundle together venue, food, styling the venue, etc. It might be cheaper to do it all yourself, but at least you saved on all that time and effort of looking at individual suppliers. Some venues don’t offer anything but package deals, so you might just have to go with that.
But package bundles have their downsides too. Because you’re a captured market, there is less incentive on the other suppliers to deliver excellently. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s not as simple as they make it sound. Also, check if you’re paying for things that you don’t want anyway. It’s like those cable packages or cellular plans that give you dozens of channels or features but you’re really only going to use 3 of them. Maybe it’d be cheaper overall to build your own thing.
Do I really need all that?
The price we paid for our venue alone was the highest line item in the ENTIRE wedding budget and that didn’t cover anything else – no decor, food, seats, tables, or even electricity. We had to pay for all of those other things as well. Expensive, yes. But it was a decision made knowledgeably.
But our beach wedding had advantages too. It was informal and this allowed us to shave a significant number of costs. The food for example was buffet style (cheaper than plated meals because you don’t need to many servers) and we had some inexpensive though fun to eat stuff – salad station, mongolian station, etc. The guests loved it and most didn’t mind that we weren’t serving things with expensive ingredients like truffle hummingbird-egg omelettes with gold shavings and saffron. In short, consider the trade offs. Discuss them together and you’ll arrive at the best combination for you.
So obvious, but never fails. Do it yourself! Why pay other people to do things that you can do for yourselves as a couple? Number one, you get to save money! Number two, you get to do it exactly the way you want. Number three, it adds character to the whole occasion because it wasn’t some canned, pre-fabricated wedding template that’s being used in a dozen different weddings that month. You hear the “oohs” and “aahs” of the guests when the host casually mentions, “Oh, those centerpieces were actually made by the bride’s cousins.”
When my wife heard how much the calligraphy for a wedding invite would cost (They charge per letter of the name!), she rallied four of her nieces and they spent one entire afternoon painstakingly copying the font and writing the name of each person who would receive an invite. It is actually a pleasant memory for us now to look back on. Win-win-win.
I also appreciated the talent of professionals/friends who gifted us with their presence and performances like Gary V. and Yeng Constantino. But I was also glad to see Nica, our niece, singing and Franco Laurel, our friend, singing my brother’s composition. People have greater appreciation for DIY stuff. So capitalize on it!
Great memories don't have to break the bank. Thanks guys!
Is there anything you can offer in exchange, like publicity? A mention in your blog? A tweet to your network of dozens? Hey, maybe it’ll work. Suppliers have been known to lower their prices and toss in a few freebies for such things. Don’t be afraid to ask, re-ask, and haggle a little bit. They don’t mind unless you do it respectfully and with an understanding to them. A worker is worth his wages after all. In the same way that you don’t want to be used and abused, afford them the same courtesy. Try to arrive at an agreement that works well for both parties. Or don’t work together at all. Either of those is better than it not working for either of you.
6. Don’t blow everything on the wedding.
You need the money for afterward! Living with another person is really expensive. You don’t wanna start out in a deep financial rut. Leave a buffer for yourselves. One thing I personally didn’t want to do was be in the red on the wedding day and hope the wedding gifts would bail me out. So the budget Carla and I set from the beginning was designed to be paid for on the wedding day and leave nothing unsettled.
We had several things that we still wanted to incorporate that just didn’t fit our budget anymore – she wanted a percussion group and I wanted 20 boats with lights just off the beach that would come on when it got dark. Both were pretty expensive so we gave it a deadline. If no money came in for it or they didn’t lower their prices, we’d scrap the ideas. And that’s exactly what happened.
But that’s okay because…
7. It doesn’t take money to make a wedding “work.”
As important as it is to plan and budget, this is not the biggest factor on the wedding day. But as the day gets closer, payments become due, and bank accounts shrink, money has the tendency to loom large and dominate our mind. Before we know it we’ve lost the joy of the process and with each other. I want to suggest some things that are more important than being able to afford *that* particular item.
"I want the wedding cake with the fish tank in it or the whole thing is off."
Your family and friends! They’re there for you. They’re supporting you on that day. It’ll be fine. Not everything will go according to plan or budget, but the people closest to you will be thrilled just for the fact that this is finally happening. And for the ones who aren’t? Well, forget about them for now because…
Your spouse to be! This person is marrying you! Someone thinks you’re worth living with for the rest of their life! What a miracle! There were some things Carla and I still wanted on the wedding day that we couldn’t afford. But did we care? Not really. Coz we had each other! Man, that was more than enough.
Your faith in God. Now, don’t click out and say, “Duh, of course the pastor would say that.” Let me explain. There’s something about weddings that God likes. Jesus’ first recorded miracle on earth was at a wedding. Did you know that the culmanation of the entire Bible is one big cosmic wedding scene? The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22) That part “favor from the Lord” means God is for you and He wants you to succeed.
My wife and I totally felt that during our wedding planning process. We felt it through the men and women who voluntarily helped us in any way they could. The amounts and degrees varied but the heart was the same. We felt God’s favor through them. We also felt it in the things no human could have planned for us – beautiful weather, good health for everyone involved, and the good will of so many even after the wedding.
Coz that’s what the favor of God means. He is FOR you. And if somehow you finished this blog and you aren’t getting married yet, but you’d like that favor you can get it too. It’s not anything you deserve or work for or earn. It’s something He gives freely to those who will humbly acknowledge their need for it. It’s called grace. John 1:16 says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”
Note however, this isn’t a piecemeal deal. It’s all-in. You either acknowledge that you need God’s favor in everything – planning, life, career, relationships, personal dysfunctions – or decide you’ll go at things on your own in life and eternity. It’s free though. So why wouldn’t you want that? It starts by acknowledging your need for Him. Check out this short passage in the Bible and see what it means. Message me if you’ve got questions.
That’s it for our wedding money-saving tips! Hope that helps… I’ve got a few other blog ideas left before wrapping up this series including how not to turn into bride and groomzilla, our favorite features of our wedding day and in other weddings, and a detailed breakdown of Operation Four Seasons – How We Pulled Off That Prenup Shoot in a day and a half.
Posted by Joseph on Jun 27, 2012 in Being Married | 3 comments
We were talking with someone last night and my wife asked him if he was planning to get married any time soon. His answer said what I said often as a single person and I’ve heard many other men say as well. “I’m just getting things ready.” And 99.99999 percent of the time that means money.
With good reason too! Coz the pre-wedding can be expensive, the wedding can be expensive, and the post-wedding definitely is. So here are some tips we learned from tons of other people that were of great service to us. Again, like I said in the beginning of this wedding series – this isn’t set in stone. It’s just our story. If it helps you, great. If it doesn’t, feel free to write your own and tell us about it. Part of the fun is the unique ups and downs, mistakes and glories of every love story.
1. Don’t get suckered. Unless you’re planning to be. Then you aren’t really being suckered.
Suckered – to be fooled, to be taken in, to be hoodwinked, to have the wool pulled over your eyes. What area specifically? The whole wedding industry! Coz that’s what it is – an industry! That’s why there are expos. People are willing to pay money for a wedding like we’ve seen in storybooks, movies, celebrity news, or same-day-edits. And whenever people are willing to pay there are all kinds of people willing to take it. Some of the good and deserving; many are not. Don’t be suckered.
Some things (expensive things) people will insist that you MUST have. But do you really need it? Talk with your partner. Is this a must for both of you or are you being forced to comply with some artificial wedding picture in your head? Do you really need that cake like the one you saw in the movie? Does the wedding dress need to have a train like Princess Di (dated reference)? Now listening to each other is super important at this point. Coz if your partner says yes and means it, you don’t want to be depriving that person of the joy of that wedding day either.
For us, for example, there were some items that I knew were really over priced. But I just knew that it was important to my future wife or I really wanted to give that to her. Yes, she would have gladly married me even without it, but I was happy to give it to her anyway also. (See how that works?) And the end result made every peso worth it.
This applies to the proposal stuff also. Guys, does she really want a rock on the engagement ring? Would a piece of string do like in that ludicrous movie version of the Count of Monte Cristo?
Short version of stupid movie plot: Edmond loves Mercedes so he promises to marry he by giving her a string ring. They're separated when he's unjustly imprisoned. 18 years, one marriage, one son, and one massive fortune later they're reunited. And she's still wearing the string ring. Take that laws of entropy ...and hygiene!
2. Decide on what’s important to both of you. / Three Things
This really flows out of the previous point. Don’t do it because everyone says you should, it’s really in right now, no wedding is complete without it, your guests will wonder, etc. If you can’t afford a photo booth with instant printing and you really don’t want it, then don’t get it! And that goes for everything else. Even whole sections of the program. Carla and I totally minimized or completely removed a lot of traditional things in receptions and no one really noticed. In short, if you’re paying money for something, you better be doing it because it’s what you both want not because others want you to do it.
I got this gold nugget from a wedding magazine: “Find the three things that are most important to both of you and go high on those things. Then go as dirt-cheap as you can with everything else.” We really took this to heart. Our top three (and these don’t have to be your top three) were Venue, Wedding Dress (my insistence), and Documentation (photo and video). Everything else, and our wedding coordinator can confirm this, we were going with the cheapest possible option, if not free or even totally removed.
For food we were thankful to work with a caterer who helped us out in that area. They understood our intention and provided us with great ways to save. I’ll explain that more in the next point. For flowers, Carla said, “I don’t need the expensive kind. Buy me the cheapest ones that are white.” It’s a marvel that she didn’t walk down the aisle with just a garland of sampaguita. But she would’ve been okay with that if she did. She didn’t buy expensive bridal shoes also because she wanted to be bare foot. And there’s a lot more. These things we can live with, and we sure are happy with the end result.
More than half of the wedding budget right there. Totally worth it.
Gotta stop here because it’s late and the rest is really long. I’ll post the last five points tomorrow. Hope this was helpful!
Posted by Joseph on Jun 26, 2012 in Being Married | 1 comment
“What’s wrong with her? Why is she acting like this? Is this photographer thing really going to be our biggest argument?”
I didn’t dare consider that we would break up over it. But I almost did.
It was one of the first decisions that we made in planning the wedding. Basically, our wedding coordinator (Teena Barretto) knowing our budget and our preferences, set up a meeting with a successful wedding photographer. We paid him a visit and we were impressed with what we saw. We got to see videos and albums of weddings he’d done in the past. Then he explained what his package included.
But what impressed me the most was the price. He was giving it to us at a steal! Being on a very tight budget, I was excited and even more happy when I saw Carla open to the idea. Verbally, we all agreed that we would like to work with him. So while Carla and Teena were looking at a wedding album, an assistant of his approached me with a contract and I hurriedly signed.
*cue ominous music*
Fast forward around two months later and we’re having our first shoot with this photographer team. I was as awkward as I usually am in such things, but Carla was less than happy. She finished the shoot like the pro that she is, but as soon as we got in the car she said, “I don’t want him doing our wedding.”
To be fair, it wasn’t anything against his skill. But Carla just didn’t click with him. And she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of this team documenting the day when she would marry the man of her dreams. *ahem*
I was stuck. “But I signed,” I insisted. “Are you really asking me to break my word?” “Oh, so you’d rather we have a terrible wedding just so you can say you kept your word?” she responded. Looking back now, that wasn’t what either party was saying, but once the arguing had started we weren’t listening anymore. (That whole argument was explained at length in ANOTHER BLOG.)
It's the blog that will save you tons of time and money.
After two weeks of awkwardness between us, I (belatedly) got advice from Pastor Paolo Punzalan. His counsel helped clear things up for me. “I know you want to stand by your word. But right now, you also need to stand by your girl. She needs to know that you’re there for her. That’s why she’s bothered. Whichever way you go from here, show her that you’re with her. Maybe you can talk to the photographer, explain your situation, and maybe he won’t make a big deal and release you.”
I quickly relayed our conversation to Carla and the relief was so evident on her face that someone had finally talked some sense into her fiance. So we made plans together.
The Objective: Get out of this contract so we can look for photogs that worked for us.
The Stipulations: We would talk to the current photog with respect, meaning we’d ask him politely. We would offer to buy out the contract if necessary, especially if this guy already declined on other gigs because of us.
Then we prayed together.
I set up the meeting and met the guy alone. I took the responsibility and explained that we wanted out of our agreement. Then we offered to pay for any damages that this would set him back. My mind felt like a Wheel of Fortune game, hoping it wouldn’t land on disaster. To his credit, he immediately understood, released us, and asked for no recompense. We parted on friendly terms. And just like that we were free! I ran upstairs, told Carla the good news and we celebrated by sharing an inexpensive dessert.
Lessons for wedding planning (that can actually be applied in lots of things):
1. Listen to your partner. This is especially for the guys. It’s easy during the course of the planning to make the wedding the objective. But this isn’t about the event. Someone once told us, and we always tell young couples who ask, “Regardless of what happens during the event, if you leave there with married to your best friend, then you’ll know the wedding was a success.” So listen, listen, listen…
2. Treat your vendors and suppliers with respect. Yes, it’s your special day, but they’re people too. One of the best ways to treat them with respect is to treat them professionally. Besides, if you treat them respectfully, there’s a bigger chance that they’ll do the same. I’m not saying you have to be a doormat though because…
3. Demand professionalism because you’ve been giving it. Weddings are touchy stuff because they’re so personal. There’s also a lot of favors from well-meaning people thrown in. Don’t let this limit your demand for excellence. My wife and I have been on both sides of this – receiving wedding freebies and giving them. It can be awkward for some people to modify or even turn down freebies, because they’re usually offered from such a good heart.
But that would be a mistake. It’s important to not feel beholden to others because this could lead to potential tension. No one wants to give just because they have to and no one wants to receive for the same reason. I’m not saying be ungrateful. By all means thank people and appreciate them, but in the right place and setting. Don’t be afraid to clarify expectations, follow up on promises or even ask for deadlines. You can say these things in a gracious way: “When would be a good time for me to get back to you regarding this?” This way you’re not disappointed and the person has the joy of knowing they helped you along your journey.
Hope that was helpful! It really helped us learning this from others. And it helped us when we finally found the man who’d be our wedding photographer. But Carla will blog about that. Like I said earlier, after reading this, I realize that these don’t apply to just weddings. Next wedding planning blog we’ll be talking about money and I’ll be sharing some of the best tips we got on how to save significantly!
Posted by Joseph on Jun 25, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
I know I said I’d blog something else in the next post, but things have been pretty crazy. Last Friday, after a regular week’s work, which included a branding meeting (exciting!) and numerous other things in development, I was finally ordained as a pastor in our church. I’d been functioning and recognized as one along with over a hundred others, so this ceremony was more for recognition and “to fulfill all righteousness” to borrow a phrase from Jesus.
Great moment with spiritual and biological family - very significant while staying light hearted.
Immediately after the ceremony, my wife and I changed and went straight to the bus station to catch a bus to Bicol where we proceeded to climb Mt. Bulusan, a volcano that’s been closed for a few years and recently declared inactive. Climbing a volcano!!! Who could resist that? We got back this morning. And after spending two nights in a bus and one night on a sleeping bag, I’m looking forward to sleeping on a real bed.
24 hours in buses, 6 hours in jeepneys, 14.4 km hike, 1,561 meters above sea level, innumerable cuts and scrapes - totally worth it!
In short, no time to blog about that other thing I promised. So in the spirit of blogging something, ANYTHING really, here’s an old blog I wrote three years ago after I proposed to Carla. Then at the bottom, check out the link to my brother’s blog for his take on the events. This was first posted on Multiply and is entitled She Said Yes.
I’m getting married.
Last Saturday, the 30th of May 2009, I asked Rica “Carla” Peralejo, my girlfriend of 10 months, to marry me and she said yes. The feeling is a weird mix of adulthood-responsibility and child-like glee.
We’ve been dating for 10 months now and it has been a very enriching,fulfilling, challenging, pruning, and growing experience. We’ve talked, laughed, cried, fought, and forgiven. The time just felt right to move on. After getting the advice and counsel of many older and wiser people, as well as taking the time to pray and ask God on my own, I decided to move our relationship to the next level.
I feel so privileged and really blessed (in the fullest, truest sense of the word) to be in this relationship with her. What an awe-inspiring thing it is to imagine that God would entrust the well-being of one of His most precious works of art – a human life – to you.
I’m gonna blog about the details of the proposal as well as our story some time soon when the pictures are ready. I’m also still trying to digest everything in order to write coherently.
There are so many people who I want to appreciate also, and I’ll do that in segments to be able to give full appropriate appreciation to thoseconcerned. It’s really been an amazing journey, with so much more to look forward to.
For a more detailed and hilarious take on the event, read my brother’s blog as he describes the process from his perspective.
A crash course on rings and stuff before the big question
Posted by Joseph on Jun 19, 2012 in Being Married | 9 comments
It’s that time of the year again when a lot of people seem to be getting married. I don’t know what it is about June that precipitates this. (I know I could find a quick explanation from Google, but I really wanna finish this blog now.) My wife and I, after several conversations with friends and other young couples about to get married, have been happy to remember our own wedding preparation process which started exactly 3 years ago.
So we thought we’d share our experience through our blogs in case they could be of service to others. Just a quick disclaimer: this is just our story. You’ll have your own. As we learned along the way, getting advice from others is helpful, but at the end of the day it’s your story that you’ll make together. So don’t copy foolishly or comply slavishly.
I still remember the day after the proposal. We were talking, still on a high, and I asked, “So what kind of wedding did you have in mind?” She said, “I really don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.” I was surprised since the stereotype states that women from the time they’re little girls plan out their weddings in detail. Since then, I’ve seen that stereotype match very little reality.
Some of the people who were with us the next day. Eric, Donita, and Pinky acted along with the deception to fool Carla. David, my brother, helped set up the entire scene. Thanks guys! And lots of other people helped with the set-up the day before too.
But I didn’t know that yet. I thought I’d be handed a set of plans, which I’d be expected to finance and execute. My bad. We would have to do this from scratch. What followed would be our test run at working on things together that we still look back on with much fondness and has served as a foundation for our married life. In the next few blogs, we’ll share a little bit about the advice we heard that helped.
The first thing we did together was set objectives for the wedding. There were always gonna be great ideas so we needed objectives to set direction filter everything. Beach wedding, ballroom, or garden? All Filipino food or variety? Casual feel or solemn? WWE-style entrances or NBA? (I actually have two friends who wanted this.) Our objectives would serve as our criteria by which other options would be weighed. Objectives mean if the wedding accomplished nothing but these things, then we’d be thrilled. For us those three were:
1. Honor God.
We wanted a wedding that people would walk away from saying, “Man, God is a good God.” We didn’t care so much if people didn’t notice the food, dress, decor, our vows, etc. But we wanted it to honor God. We also didn’t want people to walk away from the wedding speculating on how much it cost and that kind of thing. Now, we’ve been to beautiful weddings like that, which we both enjoyed. So that’s their story, but this was ours.
This affected the way we planned the wedding. We were demand excellence from each other and the people we worked with, but not to the point that we dishonored God in the process. This included treating suppliers and vendors with respect. No bride or groom zilla-ing would be tolerated. This also meant having integrity in financial matters. If there were shortcuts that could be taken, but would leave a bad impression on others, then it wasn’t worth it. A wedding is only a day long at the most; other things are more important.
This doesn’t mean we didn’t negotiate. But I’ll explain that more in another blog. This also doesn’t mean we were faultless the whole time. Plenty of mistakes were made along the way; apologies were necessary with vendors and each other. And we knew that what would honor God would be to go humbly before the person and ask for forgiveness. That story will be in the next blog.
Pastor Paolo and Jen (not pictured) Punzalan, Dan and Iris Monterde - the veteran presence in this rookie team!
2. Tell our story.
An actress marrying a pastor is admittedly pretty weird (at the time, maybe it isn’t so much anymore and maybe it’ll be commonplace in the future, who knows). So we wanted to include people in the process of how we met, became friends, fell in love, etc. This helped us decide between many good and beautiful options of the current wedding industry. Was it beautiful? Was it uso? Was it definitely gonna be a hit? Maybe. But was it us? That was the question.
I love seeing that in many weddings lately. Couples including their own unique personalities either in changing the ceremony or reception, in their videos, decor, or vows that no one but that couple could pull off, etc. The people who are close to you will know that that’s really your personality. And the people who maybe don’t know you that well will appreciate being let into a more personal side of your relationship. Let your personalities shine! Your guests came to see you, not Kate and Prince William.
3. Something we’d enjoy
This was connected to the previous point. While we wanted something for our friends and family to enjoy, we wanted to enjoy it too! Some very wise couples advised us about this early on in the process. This helped guard us against this drive to perform for our guests. No one wants an unsettled bride and groom. This also allowed us to cut out some parts of the program that weren’t so crucial to us.
At the end of the day, someone told me, when you leave that place and you’re married to the love of your life, that’s a successful wedding. It can get rained out, the videos don’t work, people mess up their lines, vendor concerns, etc, but you can go with it because you’re marrying the person God intended for you. We had quite a number of glitches that day, but it just makes for a more enjoyable story now.
Well, hope this is helpful for anyone planning any weddings soon. And if you’re not, bookmark it and come back to it when it’s applicable. Hopefully it’s helpful then.
Left: Roger, our former (and sometimes) driver - indispensable in the planning; Teena Barretto, the wedding specialist - great coordinator and friend; Right: Teena and I about to start having a friendly heated discussion. Haha