When it comes to planning weddings, budget is always a major influence in a couple’s decision-making process. These couples' weddings became very intimate, simple affairs—and still perfect.
Seven months into the pandemic, many brides-to-be are still in two minds about downscaling or completely postponing the much-awaited event of their lives. It’s tough to make a decision, especially if you have invested thousands of pesos—not to mention tremendous effort—on it. To shed some light, PhilStar Life interviewed ‘new normal’ brides who would attest that downsizing their grand wedding turned out to be the most fulfilling thing they have done in this time of crisis.
Wedding cost: P6,000
Criselle Punzal-Paras and her husband Yves have been together for a decade. They spent the last five years apart from each other, as Crisselle moved to Saudi Arabia to work as a flight attendant for Saudi Airlines.
Yves took their long-distance relationship to a higher level when he proposed to Crisselle in August 2019. Shortly after, they began working towards their grand wedding set on June 2, 2020, at the San Antonio De Padua Church in Silang, Cavite.
“We were 80 percent finished with our preparations. Our reception venue and church were fully paid. We had secured partial payments for almost all our suppliers like catering, photo, video, etc. We were able to send out our invitations. My wedding gown was for final fitting. Our gowns for the entourage were almost done, too. Souvenirs were also ready,” she says.
Crisselle flew back to the Philippines on March 7, to attend their Pre-Cana seminar, as well as finalize other requirements for their big day. Everything was going as planned until the country was placed on quarantine.
At that time, the couple had already spent P400,000 of their total wedding budget of P800,000.
Criselle recounts, “I was stuck here in Manila while doing our wedding preparations. Supposedly, babalik na ako ng Riyadh ng March 17 kaso lockdown na ng March 16, and our airline prioritized passengers over employees.”
The couple decided to postpone their church wedding on the last week of April. Crisselle admitted feeling devastated, but not discouraged. “Late May, we were able to book a schedule for a civil wedding on our original date. We were not thinking of anything else, all we wanted was to get married.”
From their 10-month grand wedding preparation last year, Crisselle and Yves got down to doing everything in as fast as five days.
She recalls, “We did not buy a new dress or suit. We reused our outfits from our prenup photoshoot. We did not have photographers or videographers. Instead, we used my camera. My sister went to Dangwa and surprised me with a wedding bouquet so I will still feel like a bride.”
Crisselle and Yves said their “I do’s” in a simple ceremony held on June 2 at the municipal hall of San Jose Belmonte, Bulacan. It was attended by seven guests, namely the couple’s parents, siblings, and one pair of principal sponsors.
For the wedding reception, Crisselle says, “It was supposed to be at Los Arboles in Tagaytay, but we celebrated in our house in Bulacan. We were expecting 150 guests but on our civil wedding, we only had seven guests.”
Although the pandemic cost them their dream wedding, Crisselle and Yves are still “feeling blessed” and grateful that they pushed through with a simple one. Because of that, they now have enough funds for their daily expenses during the pandemic. “We learned the value of money, even more as our jobs in the aviation industry were also affected by the pandemic,” she remarks.
Crisselle reveals that their civil wedding only amounted to P5,900, inclusive of wedding documents (P200), bridal bouquet (P1,200), food for their guests (P3,000), cake (P500), and tokens for their officiant and principal sponsors (P1,000).
She expounds, “Naka-save kami ng at least P300,000. We were able to fully refund our payment from some suppliers while other suppliers are still working on it. For the wedding coordinator, photographers, video editing, and catering, agreement was non-refundable. So for us not to waste the money we deposited, we are planning to have an intimate church celebration on our anniversary next year.”
Wedding cost: P8,000
Since her husband Mark proposed in 2017, DJ-entrepreneur Patty Tiu-Thompson wanted to keep their wedding low key. “To be honest, when we got engaged, I never really wanted a ceremony; it was more for our parents. Mark also said I deserved to have a ceremony, and so we did a bit of planning for a very small intimate and minimalist wedding,” she reveals.
Patty never would have thought that the pandemic would turn her secret wish into reality. “So what I wanted—a civil wedding wearing a white polo, and white sneakers—happened! It's just how I imagined it to be. I always tell Mark that the wedding, for me, wasn’t important. What’s important is us, our union, not the ceremony,” she says.
But the couple was no exception to the challenges brought about by the sudden turn of events. After Mark popped the big question three years ago, they decided to push through with the ceremony with100 guests. They began getting their plans off the ground in November 2019.
Patty details, “Our wedding date was supposed to be May 20, 2020. The venue was already set at Palawan Blue Resort in Puerto Princesa. Suppliers and wedding coordinators were already contacted. We had our first fitting with Francis Libiran around February. All flights were also booked for my family and Mark's family from Sydney.”
The pair’s wedding budget was pegged at P500,000 to P700,000. Fortunately, the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon prevented them from reducing it to half. “Just as I was about to send out some downpayment to suppliers, coordinators, catering, and other suppliers, the lockdown started,” Patty says.
Still, Patty and Mark pressed forward and proved that no crisis could stop their union. On July 23, 2020, the couple, together with Patty’s best friend JP Calderon, drove all the way from Valenzuela City to La Union for their civil wedding.
The minimalist and intimate ceremony was solemnized by JP’s aunt, La Union Mayor Menchie De Guzman. “The Mayor was so kind to lend us a bit of her time to officiate the ceremony,” she remarks.
Looking back, Patty still can’t help but gush about how it happened the way she pictured it—just the two of them in matching white shirts, gray pants, and white sneakers. She also revealed that aside from the wedding papers, food, and gas, their outfits were the only ones they purchased for their special day.
Instead of buying high-priced wedding rings, the 25-year-old couple had their left ring fingers inked with couple ring bands two days before their nuptials.
Patty recalls, “I suggested the wedding ring bands to Mark and he loved the idea! Since we both love tattoos so much, I said why don't we just get our wedding bands at Arte Tattoo. It's also special because Mark's first tattoo was done by Charles Arteta, founder of Arte Tattoo and my business partner in the tattoo studio. We had it done on July 21.”
Patty and Mark’s civil wedding expenses totaled P8,000. And the couple wouldn’t have it any other way. She says, “Glad that [the grand wedding] didn't push through because we didn't foresee that we were both going to be jobless for a while because of the pandemic!”
Patty adds, “Everybody has a picture of how a wedding should it be. But for Mark and I, the most important thing is our relationship. It never mattered how and where our wedding was to be held. What’s important is that it happened and we’re in it together.”
Wedding cost: P29,000
Ever since Jacky Duenas-Ramos was young, it was her dream to walk down the aisle towards her prince charming at the altar.
The pandemic came as the plot twist that no one saw coming, but it was not one to delay Jacky’s happy-ever-after.
Jacky’s sweetheart Eman asked for her hand in marriage in 2015. Three years after, they began planning their wedding with a P500,000 budget.
“As a banker, I’ve always wanted to have a tipid wedding but at the same time, I wanted for this once-in-a-lifetime experience to be magical. I wanted to get married in a church because I dreamt of walking down the aisle all my life,” she explains.
Jacky and Eman scheduled their wedding for June 12, 2020. She recalls everything to be in place when Luzon was placed on quarantine.
“We had partially paid our suppliers, did prenup photoshoot, and attended the wedding retreat Discovery Weekend and Pre-Cana seminar. We already secured all the required documents, including our marriage license. We had already spent around P100,000.”
When Metro Manila transitioned to general community quarantine on June 1, Jacky and Eman made the most of the little time left to prepare for their big day.
Jacky recalls, “Civil wedding was never an option for us, so we tried to push through with our church wedding. No harm in trying, right? And we succeeded. In just five days, we re-planned the wedding we prepared for more than two years. I used the only white dress I have in my closet, bought a 150-peso pair of shoes from Lazada, and borrowed earrings from my friend. The groom's attire wasn’t new either. “
Jacky walked down the aisle of the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Antipolo on June 12. Aside from altering their attires with “something old” and “something borrowed,” the couple downsized their guests to their family and “people who have witnessed our love story.” Jacky remembers enjoying the cozy moment, “Ang saya rin pala ng intimate wedding na you’re being surrounded by the people you love—mas fun, relaxed, and feels like home.”
Instead of booking top-of-the-line photographers for their nuptial ceremony, Jacky also resolved to work with an equally talented up-and-comer named Jay Raymund Alvaran.
“Give rising wedding suppliers a chance,” she says. “Prices of well-known suppliers are high because of their reputation, style, and good reviews. If money is not an issue, go for it. If you are on a tight budget, try to find upcoming talents at par with those big names.”
Jacky and Eman’s fuss-free wedding cost them P28,395, inclusive of bridal bouquet (P1,000), church fees (P2,500), makeup services (P3,500), hotel accommodation (P4,000), photographer (P8,000), and catering services (P9,395).
“Never in a thousand years did I thnk that a P30,000 budget would be enough for a church wedding,” Jacky remarks. “The good thing is most of our suppliers agreed to refund. Some already did, others are asking for more time since they were badly hit by this pandemic, too.”
She concludes, “We realized a church wedding need not be expensive. It wasn't the dream wedding that we planned, but it was a perfect one. It was all simple and intimate.”
Wedding cost: P300,000
Thanks to the easing of quarantine protocols in Luzon, Alex Ramones-Ecarma and her husband Nathan were able to invite 50 guests to their wedding at San Pedro Calungsod Parish in Antipolo on July 10, 2020.
“Our initial plan was to hold our wedding in Tagaytay, but we decided to relocate to a church and reception venue near our homes in Antipolo for easy movement,” Alex relates.
Luckily, the government announced on July 5 that starting July 10, they were allowing 10 percent of the church’s capacity for religious gatherings. “Our closest friends and family (around 50 people) were then able to attend our church ceremony, observing social distancing of course,” Alex says.
Like most couples who got hitched in the pandemic, Alex and Nathan found it challenging to switch from a grand wedding to an intimate ceremony.
Alex looks back on how they coped with the transition, which happened just two months before their ceremony: “We were engaged August 2, 2019, and we started planning in October that year. Our original target was 150 guests, but downsized to 14 people days before the wedding. We put downpayments on almost all our major suppliers—church, reception, caterer, hair and makeup, photo and video, florist, coordinator, and sounds and lights.”
The pair had already shelled out P150,000 from their budget of P1 million. Still, they deemed it best to carry on with their wedding.
“We strongly felt that the uncertainties shouldn't postpone or stop an important life event. We focused on the wedding itself and our marriage in the church, so we were able to let go of our wants. What was important was that both our parents were there to witness it,” Alex explains.
“Immediately after ECQ was lifted in Rizal, we booked San Pedro Calungsod Parish, applied for our marriage license, and had our Pre-Cana seminar online. All our requirements were done just a month before the wedding. And since we still wanted to have a beautiful dinner setup for immediate family, we booked Bakuran and Clementine even if it was just for 15 people.”
Alex and Nathan spent P300,000 for their downsized wedding. If their downpayments aren’t refunded, it would sum up to P400,000.
“Even so, we were still able to save around 60 percent of our initial budget because of the major downsizing in number of guests. Plus our new church and venue were actually cheaper than our original ones,” Alex says.
Asked what she learned from getting married amid a pandemic, Alex replies, “We learned that the most important events and milestones in life don’t have to be that fancy and expensive. The simplest things are also the most beautiful. In marriage, it’s your life together with your husband that’s important. We just really need to let go and trust that everything will fall into place at the right time.”