TALK TUESDAY: Having an unplugged wedding

Did I mention that we had an unplugged wedding?  At the doors of the church, our coordinators and junior bridesmaids handed out these notice cards to our guests:

When I first pitched the idea to the husband, he was immediately all for it.  My mother, not so much.  She pointed out that it will be inevitable that people will whip out their phones and tablets and cameras and just take a snapshot of everything.  I know what she meant; I myself have a hard time putting my phone down.  But I was adamant.

Of course, our wedding is not my first wedding.  I have seen so many, and in the recent past, two of which were my close friends’.  Both were grand celebrations, and everyone seemed to be present.  They had hashtags and everything, so that anything posted on social media about weddings will be publicly curated.  I did this too, and it really was great seeing everyone else’s perspective of our special day.

Anyway, the guests were taking photos of everything — flowers, each other, selfies — and then the entourage started walking.  It was marvelous.  You know you’re about to see something special when each participant is a build up to something better.  Then the doors opened.  The bride’s silhouette made everyone gasp in awe.  It was just like in the story books.

But it completely SUCKED A** for the photographer and videographer.  Everyone had their own phones, cameras, Go Pros and what not blocking their line of sight.  I swear I even saw a couple of the crew visibly and verbally irritated.  Some of them even asked the guests to move out of the way so they can catch that moment, and the guests had the gall to be annoyed that they’re being asked to move!

At that moment, all I could think of was the money the couple paid for the professionals to take pictures and videos of their special day. True, in the end, they made it work, but honestly, not without extreme effort.  There was even a wedding I attended that there were so many phone up, the videographer couldn’t see the groom’s face when he first saw the bride.  He had to make do by capturing a tablet capturing the groom’s face.

It was such a distraction.  I felt so bad for the photographers and videographers.  It was at that point that I decided that for our wedding, we’ll have everyone turn off their devices, at least during the ceremony.  Right off the bat, our coordinator and my mother immediately said this will be difficult to pull off, especially at this day and age where it is just automatic for people to whip out their phones at any god given time.  But we made it work.  And thanks to completely cooperative guests, everything was pulled off perfectly.

Not a single phone or tablet in sight. Our families and guests were amazing. They truly made our day special.

It was almost a special gift to our suppliers.  No distractions, no need for body contortions, because the space was open and free for them to take photos and videos of our special day.

I know how important it is to have your own memento of things and events that had happened in your life.  I know because I too am an enthusiast of taking photos.  You can check out my almost 3,000 photos on Instagram, and even on Snapchat.  I take a lot of photos and make sure that they’re properly framed so they’re deserving to be exhibited on my feed.  But us, the to-be-married couple, we’re right in front of you.  You can see us live and alive, exchanging our vows and very much in the moment.  Why would you settle for the small screen?

Our journey as a couple is filled with Facetime, selfies, chats, numerous text messages and email journals even.  For once, it was nice to not have those things in the way and just be present.  Believe us when we say real life is a million times better.

It did result in fewer public posts in our social media feed, but we didn’t care.  I’d like to believe (and as what most of our guests have shared after the festivities) that everyone was moved because everyone paid attention, and listened, and was completely present.  Now, that was truly a moment to remember.

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The Wedding Part 3

And so the supplier review continues.  While I’m pretty sure most of my readers come from North America, you might want to consider a Philippine wedding.  Seriously.  When you see the last part of this post, you’ll see just how much we spent and why you should consider the possibility of a destination wedding.

On-The-Day Coordinator:  MCC Events by Mayette Cinco
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
I had a hard time finding a coordinator mainly because of the date we’ve chosen.  Mayette was recommended by my first two choices and with that, I’m pretty sure I made the right decision.  And I did.  I thought we were doing so well already, until Mayette pointed out the small details that aren’t really so small after all.

For example, she was the one who found my lights, sounds and DJ suppliers.  I thought what Blue Leaf had would be fine and an app on the iPad would be enough to surround our event with music.  Boy, was I wrong.  She really did set me on the right path.  I loved meeting her, and she wa super organized.  Unfortunately, the team she sent to our wedding was not.  It seemed like they didn’t listen to her turnover because I had to reorient them from top to bottom the moment they arrived.  Good thing they arrived early.

I actually didn’t notice that there were misses during the wedding.  I was just elated.  I was pampered and every time a tinge of worry comes across my face, Mayette’s team immediately puts me at ease.  But my family gave some unfavorable feedback — like texting during the event while the hosts are asking for assistance, or suddenly missing when the hosts have a question that they can’t ask me — so I had to take down a couple of hearts.  Mayette though was still absolute perfection.  She had two weddings on that day and she still managed to swing by and check on ours.  I am so grateful for her.  So make sure you book her right away so you get to have the A Team on your special day.

Bridal Hair and Makeup Artist:  Makeup Therapy by Cai Guiang
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
I met Cai at a friend’s wedding in 2015 and I knew she’s the one.  Her hands are light as a feather, I swear I almost fell asleep on my chair.  It was just a relaxing experience.  I love that she knew right away what to do with my face.  Hahahaha.  My lack of eyebrows seem to be an inspiration to her.  Even Le Mari loved my makeup, to think that he hates makeup.  It was natural looking and it lasted all night.  Can you believe it?

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Top to bottom: Before the wedding in natural light, after the wedding in the chapel, during the reception

Entourage Hair and Makeup Artist:  PV Dela Cruz and Kristine Viudez
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️ / ❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰 / 💰💰
These two are a great tandem.  Most of my entourage and some of our guests came from overseas so they didn’t have time to make arrangements for their hair and makeup.  So we covered that for them and well, they did amazingly well.

I gravitate towards PV more because she helped me with a special project.  More on that later, and believe me, it is an amazing more on that later.  HAHAHAHA.

PV’s work:

Kristine’s Work:

Flowers:  The Flower Boutique by Menchie Lumbang
Rating: ❤️❤️
Cost:  💰
This one was such a steal because my cousin bridesmaid and I went to Dangwa for it.  It truly is the haven for the budget warrior.   While I loved the bouquet she gave me and the church decor (truly divine and exactly what I asked for), her team literally went to the venue, dropped everything and that’s it.  We were even missing the bridal car flowers.  I felt so sad, looking back, because we used my mother’s new car as our bridal car and it would have been a nice photo to have.  But because it wasn’t as decorated, there was no reason to take a photo of it, especially because it looked like any other car on the street hahahaha.  But don’t worry, the bridal bouquet was amazing.

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Bridal Gown:  Roxoanne Bagano Couture
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
And with that, we have come to the best part ever:  MY DRESS.  Hahahaha.  I know I know that was narcissistic.  But really, I fell in love with this dress.  Roxy turned out to be a friend of a friend, and I swear, she got me.  She delivered the dress to our hotel on New Year’s Day.  My niece Max saw it before I did, and when I walked in the hotel, she was just screaming, TITA CARLA, WE HAVE A SURPRISE FOR YOU!  IT’S YOUR DREAM DRESS!  And it truly was.  Le Mari held back tears when he first saw me in it, and he couldn’t stop raving about it to this day.  Roxy was such a gem, I could not have asked for a better designer.

Roxoanne Bagano Couture

Men’s Barong Tagalog:  Josie’s Piña and Jusi
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
This store came highly recommended by my cousin.  Their barong tagalog designs are a mix of traditional and modern.  Le Mari loved his barong and is actually one of the first things he asked for when we came to NJ.  Picture this, it’s the same classic designs from the malls but the quality and hand embroidery of Lumban.  It could have easily cost PHP 20,000, but Carlo the store owner gave it to us for even less than half the price.

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Wedding Rings:  Mayfair Jewelry, Binondo Manila
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
Recommended by my college mentor, Ben Cu.  This is another steal.  They make quality jewelry for a fraction of the price.  The only thing I forgot to mention to them is to make sure that the gold is nickel free, because you might be allergic to it.  The engagement ring, Le Mari got from NJ.  We love our rings.

Another tip:  if you prefer the satin finish, might as well go for the brushed one so it doesn’t fade as fast.

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Invitation Suite:  Printsonalities
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰💰💰
Our invitations became a source of drama because our first supplier just flat out disappointed us.  I should have gone with my instinct and booked Printsonalities right off the bat because they were perfect.  Because of the previous supplier’s shortcomings, I had to cancel our contract with them, leaving us with just 40 days before our targeted date of distribution for the invites.  When it’s a destination wedding, you have to send out invites early.

I came to Printsonalities’ Makati office during lunch time, stressed and in a hurry.  My God, are they worth the buck or what.  First, they had me pick a design (if I hadn’t brought my own).  Then, color, which they assisted me with in terms of matching with our intended color scheme.  Then, paper and print quality.  I can definitely see our invites being framed for our future home.  The invites were laid out, proofed, printed, and readied for pick up in 30 days exactly.  FASCINATING.

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Wedding Cake and Cake-In-A-Jar Giveaways:  Box of Sweets by Punky Porca
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
I love this girl.  Believe me.  I think she gave me a good price for our cake and giveaways because she knows just how much I love her.  I’ve seen this girl grow her enterprise from their kitchen to her own cafe.  From orders from friends to being featured in wedding blogs left and right.  Her talent will blow you over, and she is just the sweetest thing.  And her personality is in her end product every time, made with love, sweet, and just right, never overwhelming, and will always go with a good cup of coffee.

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Photobooth:  Flash With A Smile
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰
I fell in love with them the moment they agreed to make me FROM SCRATCH my classic photobooth.  Seriously.  I love them to pieces.  I can’t even believe that they charged me for the basic package when essentially they’re making my entire booth for our wedding alone.  It was amazing.  The props were tasteful, the photos were crisp, and there were two copies of everything.  They turned over the prints and the soft copy of files on that same day.  They’re a well oiled machine!  Get them.  Truly.  GET THEM NOW.

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Almost done with the reviews!  Thank you for bearing with me.  These people really made our day special; they deserve some space in our world.

Stay tuned!

First, The Wedding Part 1

Being in a long distance relationship that transitioned into a long distance engagement only meant one thing:  planning the wedding alone.  Up to this day, I still don’t know how the whole wedding happened, but I know I got a lot of help from people and online resources.  We had a budget and in this day and age when blogs are popping left and right with insane wedding pegs and styles you JUST MUST HAVE, it’s quite difficult to stick with that budget.  But we did.  And we did it because we worked hard.  Hahahaha.

Let me just give a rundown of our major suppliers and my review.  Please note that our wedding happened in the Philippines, where US$1=PHP45 at the time, so prices are adjusted accordingly.

Introducing, our monogram.  Thank you, Printsonalities (more on them later).

Church:  Iglesia Ni Cristo, Bel-Air Chapel
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  NONE
Seriously, we didn’t spend anything on the church.  We just had to inform them ahead of time since our wedding date was right after New Year’s.  We requested for an English-speaking minister, and they gave us Bro. Felipe Naguit.  The church was clean, organized, and we had the best choir ever.  It was perfect.

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Hotel:  Fraser Place Manila, Bel-Air Makati
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰💰💰
This cost us quite a lot, but it was absolutely worth it.  We booked two two-bedroom suites that were so huge, each room hosted over 8 adults and 4 kids.  It was spacious enough to have two hair and makeup stations in each, and the photo-video team even had enough space to gather their editing stuff.  Did I also mention it had a washer and dryer?  Perfect for those emergency wash and dry the night before (which happened).  The staff was amazing too.  Since I forgot to book a car for my husband (SORRY MAJOR SLIP), they had a car waiting for him to take him to the church.  They were soooo accommodating, from extending our check out hours, to entertaining our suppliers as they come.  It was the best buck spent.  Each facet of their service was personalized, the best way to start the year really.

To know more about Fraser, click here.

Venue:  The Blue Leaf Events Pavilion, Taguig City
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰💰💰
I have to admit, I wasn’t ready to spend this much on a venue.  But Le Mari saw Blue Leaf online, and he was enamored.  There was no changing his mind, and I’m now glad that I didn’t.  Our event coordinator Mikee Reyes assisted with everything:  caterer, hotel, car, styling.  She was the best.  The venue too was great, but I already knew that, having attended a couple of weddings and corporate events in the same place.  Blue Leaf is like a semi designed canvas — just add little touches and it’s already awesome.  Our hours were only supposed to be until 10, but because my friends decided to clean out the bar, we stayed till almost midnight.  They didn’t even turn off the air conditioning till 30 minutes before they closed.  No extra charge.  Amazing.

To know more about Blue Leaf, click here.

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Caterer:  Josiah’s Catering
Rating:  ❤️❤️❤️
Cost:  💰💰💰
I have a love-hate relationship with this caterer.  Love, because they have catered to almost all weddings in our family.  Hate, because their service flat out sucks.  We booked them as part of a package with Blue Leaf, and from the moment I tasted their food, I knew I was right.  They’ve also improved a lot on their styling, based on their portfolio, so in my head, I’m in good hands.  That is, until the final tasting day.  First, the account executive made us come at noon only to make us wait for over an hour before finally tasting the menu.  She wasn’t even the one who accommodated us, it was the head chef at the time.  When we did taste the menu, everything that I said shouldn’t be there was there.  From peanuts to appetizers and desserts I didn’t like during the initial tasting, it was all there.  I have made all the details of the menu clear on the day we finalized the styling details, but it was such an epic failure to not even try with the menu.  Plus, she wasn’t there 80% of the time!  It was the head chef explaining to us what we were tasting.  Le Mari was so infuriated that he called for the sales head and demanded that that person be replaced immediately.  Take note, we only had two weeks before the wedding.  Le Mari was so angry, he actually said if that AE is at the wedding, we will demand a full refund of the service charge.  He also included that if all the allergy triggers are on the food, Josiah’s will pay for the medical expenses.  I think it was such an unusual thing to happen, to be so disappointed with the service that the sales head just agreed to everything.

Anyway, fast forward to the wedding, with the new AE, everything was good and well.  The guests even told us the food was great.  It wasn’t until I looked at the wedding photos did I notice that a lot of the styling cues we decided wasn’t followed.  For one, I hate the mirrored runner.  I wanted the continuous and flowing floral runner.  But they used the mirror and there were barely any flowers.  Same goes with the guest tables.  So lesson learned:  HIRE A STYLIST if you are particular with how you want your event to look.  Thankfully, they performed well food-wise.

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We stocked the bar ourselves, so we just requested for a staff to pour the drinks.  He put out a small jar for tips.  I wish he asked us first if he can do that, because we really didn’t want our guests to shell out anything, but I guess it was just for the trouble.  We tipped all the waiters in the end, so he didn’t really need that jar.  Good thing is all the alcohol was consumed and nothing was brought home by the staff.

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Wedding Paper Divas Thank You Cards

I would love to post a review for our photographer and videographer but I’ll save that stuff for the next one.  With the work they did, they absolutely deserve a post of their own.

Please stay tuned!  More wedding details to come.

Exactly 12 today

In the movie This Means War, Chelsea Handler plays best friend to Reese Witherspoon who, after a major heartbreak, dove back to the dating pool and ended up with two amazing men to choose from.  This is the best part of the movie.  In a very rare opportunity, a chic flick dished out the realest and truest advice.

This Means War

Twelve years ago today, he kissed me in their basement, just by the light switch.  Vacationing without my best friend and sister Marga was something I was not so eager to do, but it lead me here today, living in the same house where that basement was.

2004 Carla Allan Wedding Paper Divas Thank You Cards

Back then, all our pictures looked like we were the only two people in New Jersey.  I don’t think I’ve ever had someone look at me the way he did.  I was all he saw.  And my eyes never left him.

It has been exactly 12 years.  I bet no one saw this coming, not even him.

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I have spent so much time revering poets and lyricists with their fantastic works of art and music, but today, I have to give it to fate and Le Mari because without him believing that we are destined to be together, I won’t believe it too.

It has been such a rollercoaster ride since he came back in my life.  He came at a time when everything was at its wrong place, and I was losing faith.  He helped me regain it, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  Some may say that is an exaggeration, but only he and I would really know the truth of the matter.

And I’m so grateful that after all these years, we now have more pictures together.  Better, we have family and friends with us too.

Twelve years.  Who would’ve thought?

I love you, Allan.  <3

MUSIC MONDAY: Smash Into You by Beyoncè

I have always wondered why this beautiful song didn’t get its own music video.  I’ve been looking through YouTube, but apart from a couple of performance videos from abroad, there’s nothing on this song.

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With an upcoming wedding and music tastes so diverse, Le Beau and I are happily exploring our musical middle ground.  And even though I know his love for me has always been evident by show of his allowing me to select our playlist with minimal input from him, he has to know that this song is for him alone.

Yes, the cheese has landed.

Eight months to forever.  Can’t wait.