Yes, small church weddings are possible.

A bit of a background.

So we finally had our “church wedding” (which is canonically called “convalidation”), three years after the harrowing experience of canceling the original plan (which, by the way, was canceled by the quarantine just a couple of weeks before the day itself). Because we were traumatized twice—first by Taal, then by the pandemic—with hundreds of thousands of pesos we didn’t ask to refund from the original venue because of how difficult the times were, we decided to just push through with fulfilling our parents’ wishes by getting convalidated in a simple ceremony with 20+ guests. Almost exactly like how we got married civilly. (And also a bit farther away from Taal this time. LOL)

San Antonio de Padua Parish in Nasugbu.

To be honest, I don’t think we could have inserted a huge reception after all the Catholic requirements we had to chase after. Let’s just say this basically had us coordinating with 7 churches + the Archdiocese of Lipa. We were so exhausted by this fetch quest (note: a lot of churches had additional requirements AFTER the quarantine was lifted) that the thought of planning a party on top of all that just terrified us.

In short: We had to repeat all of the stuff (with additional after-pandemic requirements) we already did in 2019-2020 for a different church because those requirements expired.


The hows.

I had been repeatedly asked by several of the wedding vendors (also some people who DM’d me) how we were able to keep the church convalidation guest list small, and the entire event relaxed. Well, five things:

Intimate dinner setup by Vera Farm.
  1. You and your spouse must want the same thing. Both of us have very short social batteries. I remember that after our civil wedding (which only had 10+ guests, and everything had been coordinated by the hotel), we were so exhausted that we fell asleep as soon as we got back to our room.
  2. Especially for the groom, he has to be able to say NO to a lot of things. I’m actually the one that’s easier to sway, so I’m happy that my husband is the type who will not budge if he wants to keep the guest list small.
  3. Lucky that my introverted and practical mom had my back. Much as my extroverted dad wanted to invite everyone, our budget for this year won’t allow it. So Mom was the one who convinced Dad. And even though they did offer money, we’ll just go back to item #2, hubby and I don’t really want a party, not when we were already so stressed with the essentials. PLUS: our parents should be enjoying their retirement money by spending it on THEMSELVES.
  4. We avoided wedding groups and bridal fairs. Having ADHD, I have very poor impulse control. If I see something really fascinating, I’d probably throw money at it. (Madaling mabudol. HAHAHA!) My husband is worse. This was how our original plan and expenses ballooned out of proportion in 2020 (and to think we already avoided groups and fairs even then). So for 2023, I wrote down a project brief for the dinner, got ONE photo as a peg, sent it to the venue AE, and stuck with that. We still came across ideas that seemed interesting, but we were too meh to contact additional sellers.
  5. The less vendors we have to talk to, the better. So we really pared it down to the stuff that were of utmost importance: photo and video teams, all-in-one dinner venue, church. Everything else we sourced via Lazada and FB Marketplace, including our outfits and my dried single rose bouquet. We had no choir, flowers, bridal car, program, and what have you. We only drove our beloved black Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, Luna, who was my backdrop when the church doors opened for the bridal reveal. The only other vendor we sourced that wasn’t included in the venue package was the baker, and we’ve been a repeat customer (plus, she’s based in the area) so talking to her was a breeze. I did my own hair. Catholic accessories were crafted by my sister-in-law, makeup artist is my cousin whose husband is the main photographer. Main videographer was my student and his wife is our coordinator. All of these are people we know and love, so communicating was never a problem.
Ceremonial accessories crafted by my sister-in-law Marj.

On paring down the guest list itself.

Except for the TWO godparents (a Catholic requirement), we limited it to immediate family and the people living in our parents’ households. For friends, the people who were there throughout our relationship. For godparents, this had not been easy, but the church’s much stricter after-pandemic requirements (they don’t even allow flower girls and ring bearers who haven’t received their first Holy Communion) boiled it down to OUR CLOSEST CATHOLIC CONFIDANTS. Godparents are supposed to be there as guides to marriage, so we’re not about to commercialize this. One pair, that was it.

What you see in this frame IS THE ENTIRE GUEST LIST.

As for the costs.

See, YNAB and the pandemic have turned me into a Scrooge who cringes at the idea that we have to spend money we don’t yet have (or too big of a chunk of our current savings) on something that will happen only in one day. We were only willing to touch the money we already had, and only willing to touch a small portion of that existing money. We were thinking, like, “What if we celebrate now, then another pandemic happens, and we don’t have enough money for hospitalization??” Weddings during this time of inflation now cost about 1M on the average. Just the thought of us allotting our future salaries to this one event already makes me shudder in fright. Even this small gathering of 20+ guests already cost around 170+K, which we readily had on hand, so it wasn’t an issue.

I RARELY quote Bible verses, but these are some passages I do live by.

NOTE: Much as I am a thrifty person, I do not like the idea of haggling down the price of labor. Possibly because I belong to the creative field, and many of my former students are currently in the wedding industry. I understand VALUE. If you can’t afford it, either don’t book it, or lower your expectations. If they themselves offered a discount, that’s when you take it. This is why we only really spent for the basics. We’re all experiencing inflation, so think about your vendors’ families, too.

Do we still want to party in the future? Well, yes. On our tenth wedding anniversary, which should be in 2027. I’m very close to my cousins, and hubby wants more time for our parents to interact. But let us first double our current savings so that we wouldn’t mind spending about 20% of it on that party, HAHAHAHA. Also: with the church (2023) and legal (2017) requirements out of the way, at least hosting that delayed reception won’t be so stressful anymore.


Header and first images: Heartcrafted Stories
Second image: Ate Rionie of Vera Farm
Third and fourth images: Screenshots from Cupcake Cinema’s video clips

Church: San Antonio de Padua Parish (Kaylaway, Nasugbu, Batangas)
Preps and Dinner: Vera Farm Resort (Alfonso, Cavite)
Photography: Heartcrafted Stories
Makeup: Rae Venturanza Salazar
Videography: Cupcake Cinema
Coordination: Hello Diaries
Cake and Favors: Harties Kitchen
Ceremonial Accessories: Beads and Bows PH
Attire: Lazada, FB Marketplace
Dress Modifications: Alterations South
Dried Flowers Bouquet: Prima Flora (Lazada seller)

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