Hermit’s Guide to Out-of-Town Weddings
Ok, lemme just be clear on why this is the title of the blog post:
- By Hermit, I mean, husband and I are the type of people who do not like to go out unless it’s a staycation FOR JUST THE TWO OF US. Everything on the tips, except for the parts where physical appearances are (sadly) necessary, are coordinated online.
- Y’all will only find me on Discord, because I am allergic to FB Messenger. This got worse during the pandemic because I got so sick of all the fake news spam I received on it that I immediately uninstalled it from my phone. Most businesses are on Facebook and/or Instagram, so imagine how many vendors you’ll be talking to within this platform if you like to plan big parties. When I labeled this guide as “Hermit’s”, it means I will show you a path where you don’t have to talk to too many vendors.
- We have very limited social batteries. So again, another reason why I dislike contacting strangers via PM or, heaven forbid, actually calling.
- This guide was written not just with the intention of helping you with wedding preps, but also with the thought of helping you protect your marriage. So there will be some areas here I will be discussing that are wedding preps-related but are also indirectly relationship safeguards. These will be items 7 and 9 of the tips.
- The reason why I easily find places (restaurants, service shops, etc.) despite being a hermit is that, as of this writing, I’m a Level 7 Google Maps Local Guide. I’m halfway to Level 8. So whenever we do go out, it is already with intention of discovering a new place.
Most of the vendors we’ve gotten are actually either family or former students. For the ones that aren’t related to me (e.g. venue, cake, church), I found them via Google Maps/Facebook Search. I am currently not a member of the popular group W@W because…well, I was a member in 2002-2003, when I was planning my parents’ 25th and also when I was planning my own (now annulled) wedding. Let’s just say…MADALI AKONG MABUDOL. That’s why I avoided FB groups for both my 2017 civil and 2023 church weddings. To be fair, I did get lifelong friends among fellow W@Wies that I still communicate with to this day.
Having married out of town TWICE, I will not judge you whether you want to spend millions on yours or have a simple one. We splurged on my first wedding (1.06M equivalent if you use the 2022 inflation calculator). Having learned that I was the kind of bride that got overwhelmed by preps (coordinating with too many businesses) and the reception itself (ADHD, cannot be overly stimulated), I vowed that I would never repeat the same process. The pandemic also caused me to become a SCROOGE that tends to hoard money, so my first and second church weddings were vastly different.
Now for the actual tips.
- Removing out-of-town fees.
- The basics.
- Do you need a coordinator?
- Buy or rent attire?
- Keeping track of budget.
- Keeping track of appointments.
- Preparing your officiator.
- Picking your godparents.
- Common problem: the guest list.
Removing out-of-town fees.
Get vendors that are based in the area of your choice so that you won’t have to pay out of town fees. Like when my best friend was planning his wedding in Batangas, I told him that one of the most popular coordination teams there is Chalebrations. (And wow, THEY ARE REALLY GOOD.) The rest of the vendors, they got from either the coordinator or the W@W FB Group. If you’re attending bridal fairs, best to attend ones that are in the destination itself because if you attend a Metro Manila bridal fair, you’ll also only be exposed to Metro Manila vendors, and that means a truckload of out-of-town charges.
We were lucky that when our convalidation finally pushed through (after 3 years of postponement), all our NCR-based vendors had moved to Cavite. This had them removing the out-of-town fees.
- Ceremony venue (church, garden, etc.)
- Officiator stipend (what you pay your officiator)
- Reception venue (where to feed your guests)
- Overnight stay (weddings are exhausting, no matter what size it is, so I recommend 3D2N)
- Catering (what to feed your guests)
- Favors (token of thanks given to guests)
- Crew meals (PLEASE FEED YOUR VENDORS)
- Bride’s attire (dress, veil, shoes, bouquet)
- Groom’s attire (barong/suit, pants, shoes)
You may want to add or subtract to this list because this is the limit to the number of businesses we were willing to talk to (just so happens that I personally know most of them HAHAHA). We didn’t hire a choir. We didn’t get flowers for the church. I wouldn’t have gotten a bouquet, too, if I wasn’t scared that my mom would pick flowers from the church garden that had a “BAWAL MAMITAS” sign. (Because she picked flowers from the aisle at our civil wedding when she saw that I had no bouquet, hahahaha. She’s so cute. Love you, Mom.) We also wanted the venue to handle everything (remember: we didn’t want to talk to more people), so they provided the catering, accommodations, crew meals. The baker, a favorite shop, made both the cake and the favors so this is hitting two birds with one stone. I did my own hair.
For photography, we got the labor-only package because Photobook PH exists. That was how I painstakingly (manually) assembled our civil wedding album back in 2017. Now it uses AI to organize your album. I’m just waiting for their AI to get a little more intelligent before I start making the album again (it’s still kinda dumb and can’t identify the couple and who it should put on the cover, and it’s weird how dinner plates made it into the couple shots).
Do you need a coordinator?
When we had our civil wedding, the hotel handled everything, so we didn’t hire a separate coordinator. HOWEVER, if you’re having a Catholic ceremony, it doesn’t matter how small that is. You really are going to need an on-the-day coordinator at the very least, because there may be last minute stuff to iron out with the church office right before you do the bridal march. Conserve your energy by allowing the coordinator to handle the stipend, communication with church staff, distribution of ceremonial accessories, arranging the entourage march, etc.
Buy or rent attire?
If you want a big princess-y gown but are unwilling to spend beyond 5K, I would recommend renting, BUT consider item #1 again. You’ll be very tired after the reception, so if you need more days to rest before you return the items, do take note that rentals charge per day. Solution: find a rental shop that’s near your venue. The reason I recommend renting is that…trust me when I say a big gown takes up too much storage space in the house. And if you happen to give birth to all boys, you’ll have to pray that you get granddaughters that would be interested in inheriting the gown. But what if they wanted to inherit their own mothers’ gowns instead? A lot of my friends have already complained about not knowing what to do with their wedding dresses since they certainly can’t wear these at another person’s wedding. (Unless you’re Indian, in which case this isn’t an issue. This is something I like about their culture.)
Now, if you want something you can upcycle, you can consider buying. Shops like Zoo Label, Apartment 8, Karimadon, and heck, even Zalora and Lazada (if you’re not averse to having it altered in case reality versus expectations fail) have good inexpensive designs. The dress I bought from Lazada (and altered by Alterations South) is something I can re-wear with a UP sablay when attending my students’ graduation rites. This was another thing about ordering a dress online and having it altered: it only took me TWO visits to change the dress into something I like. This was a little tricky to pull off, however, because I was starting to lose a lot of body fat within the last two months leading up to the convalidation day. I literally went from an XL to an M, and even on the day itself, the dress (which I received two weeks prior) had become a little loose. Thankfully, not too loose.
Here’s a video of how the dress I ordered from Lazada evolved from looking like a first communion dress to an actual wedding dress.
Keeping track of budget.
Maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses. I’ve even used mine to compare combinations of vendors and venues before we made a decision. You may copy my format if you want (I’ve done this for a lot of my friends, you might notice that the tabs are categorized per couple I’ve helped). Note that this sample was done in 2019, before the pandemic-driven inflation. Also note that despite the length of that list, ours probably just used less than half of this, again because we didn’t want to coordinate with so many vendors.
Keeping track of appointments.
Google Calendar is your friend. And make sure your partner has access to your personal calendar. This made it easy for my husband and I to keep track of appointments and their locations. When you click the locations, they usually open up on Google Maps to help you navigate.
Preparing your officiator.
I also can’t emphasize this enough: PRE-PROD WITH YOUR OFFICIATOR. This was one thing that we took for granted during our civil wedding ceremony. Our officiator talked NON-STOP ABOUT DIVORCE RATES during his homily. My sister and mother still fume about it to this very day. Thankfully, we learned our lesson, and we were happy when the church we chose for our convalidation ceremony asked us for our love story. If your church does not have this in their list of requirements, please make sure that you schedule a time to sit down with your officiator to talk about your values as partners. I mean, you’d be lucky if the officiator assigned to you knows about common courtesy, because I can imagine the worst homilies that could potentially ruin your special day (case in point, #truestory that went viral: a priest who would not stop dissing the bride’s gold-colored gown). Knowing now what to watch out for helped us receive a very nice, personalized homily from our officiating priest, Fr. Quini. (THANKS SO MUCH. <3)
Extra note: if your officiator is coming from Metro Manila, do consider adding extra on top of their stipend because of gas and travel time. This is why I’d recommend getting one that’s also based in the vicinity, unless they are close to you.
These trips to your venues can get really hectic (especially for Catholics, what with the banns and certificate master race, haha). What my husband and I did was book hotels whenever we had to make trips to the church and venue. This kept us from becoming mega stressed, and allowed us to spend quality time with each other to process our emotions in a civilized and loving manner. A lot of couples end up fighting during wedding preps (happened to me and my ex frequently), and this was something hubby and I had wanted to avoid.
Under this banner, I would like to suggest to not forgo the honeymoon, even if you just spare a bit of time in a local staycation place. You need to wind down from all the planning stress. This also gives you time to get to know each other better (if you weren’t already civilly married). We had ours a month after our 2017 civil wedding at Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar, and the reason we picked a local, reachable-by-car destination was that we wanted to really relax (minimal logistics).
Picking your godparents.
Husband and I called them godparents because we didn’t want to treat them as sponsors or moneymakers (though we were surprised that they did give cash gifts). Why is this important? When you are experiencing marital issues and would like to be able to get perspective, this is the purpose of godparents. Pick the people whom you both will trust to give you experienced, sound advice. In our case, we picked my HS barkada Cha’s Papa, Tito Alex, who also happens to be my husband’s family friend, as our godfather because we absolutely admired his marriage, his steadfast loyalty to the late Tita Myrna. He constantly celebrates her life.
For godmother, we picked my Tita Yna because she practically raised me and my sibs (especially during the time my mom worked for San Miguel China). Plus she’s also currently in a satisfying, healthy relationship. Well, another factor that helped trim it down to ONE PAIR was that they were also Catholics. We weren’t sure if the church would be asking for Catholic-related certificates like they did for the flower girl and ring bearer (hence, we didn’t have them, but we did request that our nephew and niece be allowed to walk with their parents who are secondary sponsors). Our church is kind of strict and hopelessly romantic at the same time, so we had to balance things out.
Check our digital invitations for the convalidation. This is half of the guest list, the other half are the vendors.
Common problem: the guest list.
Rule of thumb is: whoever pays while wedding preps are being done, they shall be treated like stakeholders. If you do not mind your relatives taking over the planning because you want to accept their money, by all means go ahead. But if you don’t want anyone else meddling, it really is best to spend your own, then stand your ground. Actually, one of the tried and tested ways to shake off meddlers is to have your wedding so far away from everyone else. HAHAHAHA. I’m not even kidding about this. Even if one of your relatives has a tendency to invite an entire barangay, only a few of those people would be able to go if it meant they’d have to spend for their own air fare, board, and lodging.
For us, because we wanted a really small guest list, we trimmed it down to only immediate family, the people who live in our parents’ households, friends who were there since the beginning of our relationships (only the best man actually represented those friends), and the pair of godparents.
Lastly, again, the credits.
Who knows, you might want to hire our vendors, so I’m promoting them. Haha!
Church: San Antonio de Padua Parish (Nasugbu, Batangas)
Preps and Dinner: Vera Farm Resort (Alfonso, Cavite)
Photography: Heartcrafted Stories (Cavite)
Makeup: Rae Venturanza Salazar (Cavite; she’s my cousin, I did my own hair)
Videography: Cupcake Cinema (Cavite)
On-the-Day Coordination: Hello Diaries (Cavite)
Cake and Favors: Harties Kitchen (Cavite)
Ceremonial Accessories: Beads and Bows PH (Laguna)
Attire: Lazada, FB Marketplace
Dress Modifications: Alterations South (Parañaque)
Dried Flowers Bouquet: Prima Flora (Lazada seller)
Here’s the video of how our convalidation looked like. Warning: it’s so very basic b*tch of us (our beloved black hatchback with no flowers, people would probably hate it HAHAHA), so we’re really satisfied that Cupcake Cinema was able to capture our personalities in the video.