Our Frugal Yet Elegant Wedding

The rest of humankind are worried that December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world. Or the beginning of it.  But I am excited. Because 5 years ago this day, my wife and I tied the knot of forever “I-Do’s”.

December is one of the favorite months for getting married. It’s also one of the most expensive months because of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

My wife and I dreamed of having an elegant yet simple church wedding. But after praying over and realizing the importance of a life-long marriage than focusing on having an extravagant wedding, we decided to have a pretty frugal one but can still be described as great and unforgettable.

How Much Did We Spend For Our Elegant Wedding?

The cost of an ideal elegant church wedding in the Philippines back in 2007 start from Php300,000 (roughly US$ 7,100) to Php1,000,000 (US$23,000). For those who can really afford, these figures are peanuts. But for us who were relying on our meager monthly salaries, we had to think of other ways to be creative and resourceful to at least prepare for a decent church wedding in December.

Since we pulled off the wedding without hiring an organizer, we saved a lot of money and used it to pay for other important things that we needed.

So how much did we spend for our wedding? For those who plan to get married soon, read on so you can learn a thing or two from our experience.

1. Venue – We spent  Php8,000 (US$190) for the wedding reception called Kapitan Moy in Marikina City. The nice thing about this is that it’s just across the church of our wedding. Kapitan Moy is also very close to my wife’s heart as this was where she spent her elementary school years. Yes, it’s an old school building since the Spanish colonial years but was later on converted by the city government into what it is today: An event venue.

2. City hall fees – Honestly speaking, I could not remember the exact amount that we paid for the marriage license and other permits. But I was pretty sure it was less than Php500 (US$12). The amount already includes a seminar on artificial family planning and reproductive health.

3. Church fees – The total fee of P7,500 (US$180) covered the cost of the commentator, natural family planning & pre-Cana seminars, choir/church singers, carpet, and other utilities. This fee also includes the flowers used inside the church for that particular day.


4. Food and catering services – We booked a wedding lunch package for 120 persons worth Php30,000 (US$714) from 7R’s Catering also in Marikina. The food was great. It also turned out that the business owner is a distant relative of mine. So they gave us other freebies apart from what we should only get from the package that we selected.

5. Wedding cake – No giant fancy cakes for us. We settled for a small 2-layered blue fondant cake from Red Ribbon that’s edible from top to bottom. Yummy! And it was for only Php1,900 (US$45) inclusive of delivery charges.


6. My wife’s wedding gown – We bought the raw materials and textiles in Divisoria (Philippines’ thrift capital in the city of Manila) for only Php2,000 (US$48). Then we hired someone to make the gown for only Php3,000 (US$71). Then my wife added some more beads on her bolero by herself.


7. Barong and pants – The barong Tagalog is the Filipino national formal attire for men and is counterpart of the Western suit and tie. This only cost us Php2,500 (US$60).

8. Shoes – My wife’s shoes were sponsored by our friend Dennis, whose family is a known shoemaker/entrepreneur in Marikina City. Then my aunt Lucy gave me money to buy my new pair of shoes. In times likes, freebies from loved ones really matter. Sweet.

9. Wedding car – We didn’t have a car appropriate for a wedding so we decided to look for the cheapest car for rent in town. We managed to book a brand new 2008 Honda Civic for only Php2,500 (US$60).


10. Hotel – We had to book an overnight stay in a hotel on the eve of our wedding. All preparations such as the make-up of my wife and some members of the entourage were done inside our hotel room. Pictorials and video shoot were done around Marikina Hotel’s gardens and lobby. We paid Php1,200 (US$28) only for the hotel.

11. Photo and video services – We got a little disappointed with the guy who offered us these services because of delays in processing and all. But in the end, we had fairly good memorable photos to keep. They also gave us the raw files of the video clips. We paid him Php25,000 (US$595).


12. Souvenirs – Being green enthusiasts, instead of buying those meaningless ceramic figurines as souvenirs for our wedding guests, we decided to be more creative. We bought small pots of herbs like stevia, lavender, and rosemary at the Manila Seedling Bank all for Php1,000. And then I prepared myself tiny banners with Bible verses written on it and attached them on each of the pots. And we did all these a day before our wedding. Whew!


13. Entourage gowns – We announced a month before to all members of the entourage that our wedding colors would be silver and shades of blue. We politely asked them to provide and wear their own gowns with these colors. We’re so glad they did.

14. Sound and PA system – We were able to meet Ms. Merle Fernandez and other sisters of the late actor Rudy Fernandez in their Quezon City compound, who rents out their sound equipment for events such as birthday and weddings. The Fernandez sisters were so nice they even allowed us to view some of their paintings.  We paid them Php2,000 (US$48).

15. Flowers – We spent around Php2,800 (US$66) for red and white roses and other flowers for the entourage, church, and reception venue.

16. Professional Entertainment numbers were performed by our fellow artist friends, balladeer Art Oliva, Jr. and folk artist-cum-The Voice of the Philippines finalist Darryl Shy for FREE. On ordinary days, these guys charge at least Php5,000 to perform for just a few songs. Watch out for the launching of Darryl Shy’s long-awaited debut major, major CD. See his samples here. His song “Here Tonight” was included in the soundtrack of 2006 Juday-Piolo kiliger “Don’t Give Up on Us” (baybee….). Syobis! 😛


17. Make up artist – My brother-in-law Reyan is a good make-up artist. He did impressive make-up for my wife and the rest of the entourage for FREE.

18. Reception program hosts – Our friends Ann Angala-Shy and Christian Layug did us a great favor by being the reception program organizers and hosts for FREE.


19. Jewelry – Believe it or not, my wife bought some fancy jewelry only from thrift stores (tiangge) for just Php500 (US$12). That included a bracelet for Php350, earrings at Php150, and hairpiece for Php60.


21. Invitation cards – Come on, guys. You can do this by yourself. We bought some special paper for around Php500 (US$12) and designed the invitation cards on MS Publisher. Printed them, cut them out, and voila! Invitation cards for FREE!

22. Wedding rings – We bought silver wedding rings for only Php1,200 (US$29). They looked so good our friends thought they were white gold. :)

All in all, we spent around Php100,000 (US$2,380) only.  The rest of the things we needed were provided by our sweet loved ones for FREE. That’s how important good relationships (and networking) is. They will always be there when you need them.

Why We Decided To Be Frugal

While the wedding rites will forever be etched in the minds of the couple and their loved ones, we believe that simplicity and frugality are keys to having a happy married life. And your decision to have a simple wedding rite is how you start it off.

Our marriage isn’t perfect, but frugality has played a big part in our decision-making as a couple. Setting goals for your family and keeping the love and the relationship stronger each day are the most important things we have to consider.


Happy Anniversary, Mommy!

Let me take this opportunity to greet my loving wife, a very happy 5th year wedding anniversary! Our 5 years have been shaky yet we did not give up to temptations. You have given love and continue to give more each and every day of our married life.

Let me dedicate to you this:

Proverbs 31:10

Who can find a woman of worth?

Far beyond jewels is her value.

These proverbs are only the beginning of what you have, are and will mean to me.

I truly love you, and see what the Lord as known forever.

Happy anniversary mommy! I love you very much!

Planning To Have a Budget Wedding?

Do you have plans of having a great wedding on a budget? Did you also have a great budget wedding? What are the biggest challenge when preparing it? Share your frugal ideas and experiences below to help other couples-to-be make their wedding day dreams come true!

Have a safe and bountiful Christmas to everyone!

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