Chapter 13: Handmade Weddings versus Packaged Parties

The past weeks has been extremely hectic for me because of an ongoing transition into a place of greater professional responsibility–not to mention the stress-related diseases that came with it–so for today at least, I’ve decided not to blog about something more complex than event planning for a wedding. Well, I haven’t actually started on any real wedding planning yet–as in conducting occulars and quoting suppliers. Nineteen months is still more than enough time for me but then again I have a history of being a procrastinator.

However, at this point I’ve been exploring what’s currently out there, from venues to chair rentals to photographers–window shopping if you may and this initial exploration has been partly spurred by my mom and brothers prodding me on about my supplier choices. 

Some of these suppliers were hotels offering all-in-one packages. It is something I didn’t consider at the beginning of the engagement because hotels are a popular choice for Filipino wedding receptions so I never took time to look at what they offered. Now, I admit that they can be pretty practical, everything is included from the food to the wedding cake, the hotel room to the centerpieces. Moreover, hotel food almost always pleases guests. As far as my current research goes, the cheapest package I found at a fairly good business hotel in the Ortigas CBD was at P140,000 for 150 people–all in! That’s roughly $3,100 at today’s exchange rate of P44-P46. I’ve actually attended a party at one of the modern function rooms of this particular venue and I did like the food (I particularly remember the carrot and ginger soup best) and the view. In the 5 to 7 -star hotel range, the cheapest offer I found was at P188,000 for 150 guests as well. 

A Hotel wedding comes complete with a can-do staff, leaving you lesser things to do.

Not bad, I thought. This whole packaged deal makes DIY seem a little less attractive. I initially wanted to do a combination of DIY and supplied services but the trade off is almost every detail has to be paid additional attention to. However on the other hand, the thought of a hotel reception felt so boring to me. It’s the party equivalent of an overproduced album or an excessively Photoshopped picture. We lose some of that rawness that gives a personal event character.

So I’ve decided to come up with this list of the pros and cons of putting the party together by hand versus packaging your wedding:

Labor of Love: The DIY route.

The Pros

A DIY wedding requires some craftiness and an extra dose of creativity. Once handmade items are involved, the maker places some level of artistic pride on his or her creation. This not only gives the wedding greater personal value because of the specially-customized pieces but it also gives it a greater level of uniqueness. As a result, the party will stand out more, guests will remember those extra-special details and most importantly, a sense of community is established by the collective efforts put together by friends and family, which is always a great way to begin one’s married life.

DIY Weddings provide opportunities for two families to work together and bond in the process.

 

DIY can also help bring wedding costs down by significant amounts. Naturally, a traditional wedding supplier, especially bigger, more established companies, will charge more because of their credibility and overhead  (their office is in Makati not Divisoria). By creating your own items such as a  handmade veil or a hand-packed candy jar souvenir, you save on thousands of pesos that can go instead to longer-term investments such as the downpayment for your first house or the maternity costs for your first baby.

The Cons

DIY takes time and yes…talent. If someone with a false sense of artistry attempts to come up with a hand-tied bridal bouquet and ends up creating just a tied-up bunch of messy blooms, it will be harder to be upfront with your in-house supplier and both of you might just end up with hurt feelings.

Extremely busy individuals in particularly high-stress work environments might feel hassled by doing the DIY route. Between your 16-hour shoot and the next 16-hour shoot, when do you find time to buy 20  individual flower vases in different  yet complementary designs while following your red and aqua palette and budget of P100 and below? I know that weddings happen once but life and work doesn’t stop during the planning process.

Recommendations

* Assign DIY tasks to natural talents in your bridal party or family. Lucky you if you have  a sister who’s great with makeup to do you big day look or a cousin who’s an art director to design your invitations. If someone insists on creating your paper mobiles and you know for a fact that this individual can’t create paper boats to save his or her life, then ask the decorating committee head to gently guide your eager beaver and to assign simpler tasks to him or her such as painting the wire wreaths white for the mobiles. I personally believe that managing situations like these are better than completely shunning relatives. 

* If you can’t do a 100% handmade wedding–don’t force it. We don’t want to be purists here so be honest with yourself and think about which aspects you would rather assign to a professional supplier. For me this would be the harder-to-manage details such as a buffet for 150 and the centerpieces. For other people it may be the photography or the entertainment. 

* Don’t be overwhelmed by Bridal magazines. Magazines will flood you with various looks, color schemes, wedding themes and supplier advertisements. Don’t feel overwhelmed or compelled to immediately book 80% of them. Read these magazines to gain inspiration and to know your supplier options but at the same time, be aware of what you want aesthetically and budget-wise, otherwise you might get too excited and end up over-spending when you don’t need to. Secondly, don’t depend on bridal magazines, which tend to be pricier as with anything that has the word bridal attached to it (include any white dress in a bridal line and watch the prices go up). As far as I’m concerned, bridal magazines are best for researching gown styles, which is also the reason why I am guilty of having a large stack beside me to feed my fashion fixation. There are other alternative sources such as that gift wrap with the cool blue and red paisley print, a butterfly with vibrant shades of lavender and yellow, the coral colors of a sunset sky or even that sparkly bottle of glittery nail polish! The next step is to write down the colors, motifs, even the films and artworks that you and your fiancee like. Moreover, magazines–and i’ll throw in bridal fairs as well–are not the only source of advice for planning a wedding. Seek advice and recommendations from organizers, married friends and the internet for wedding blogs. Do your research based on actual experiences and this will make the DIY process less stressful.

Do your research: Bridal Magazines are more concerned with selling you a product. Instead, seek further advice and gather tips from organizers, married friends and even on online forums and blogs.

 

For more online DIY inspiration, I recommend visiting the blog, 2000 dollar budget wedding

For ideas on creative wedding themes, head to Rock N’ Roll Bride.

For reviews on Philippine wedding venues, visit http://venues.multiply.com, a particularly helpful site by a local events organizer. 

Finally, look through Etsy, an online store for unique handmade designs (I recommend the wedding accessories page) that you can probably reproduce yourself on a smaller budget.

Polished to Perfection: The Packaged Wedding

The Pros

A packaged wedding is the polar opposite of the 100% DIY wedding. Whether you get a venue with an in-house caterer or a hotel, you won’t have to worry much about putting together the individual details such as renting chairs and tents from a separate source or getting your cake from another baker. That means your planning will involve less grind work, less travel expenses and less headaches. In my personal experience of working with a luxury hotel for an event three years ago, I was absolutely impressed by how accommodating the staff was even in high pressure situations.

The Cons

On the aesthetic level, if you’re as anal as me in terms of trying to organize an alternative wedding, then I think one based on a template package won’t be as helpful in achieving this. For one, you will be using the same space, chairs and tables that other couples have used. Hence, you will need to make an extra effort at customizing your celebration and working closely with your venue coordinator to achieving this. 

Recommendations

* Know your priorities and determine your weaknesses. Depending on whether you or your fiancee will be on top of the wedding planning, I recommend going the packaged route if one of you has: 1. a highly-stressful day job, 2. night shift work, 3. little patience with details. Maybe you’re saying, we only get married once! We should make this a priority despite how busy we are! Yes, I do agree with you however I personally believe that planning a party that will last a couple of hours is really just one aspect of your married life. I would like to think that there are practical, economically-related matters matters such as working and saving for the beginning of your life together, that need to be taken care of as well in the months (or in my case, years) leading to your betrothal. I also recognize that not everybody is in the business of event organizing and would have little patience for the tasks involved. As with running a business, if a particular area is not your expertise, get someone to fill in those gaps. Whether you want to hire a coordinator or designate a family member who is accustomed to throwing parties, by all means, do so.

* Don’t get too comfortable. Sure, the hotel is taking care of everything but don’t forget to involve yourself. The couple still has to be on top of things. This will help you prevent any unpleasant surprises on the big day. At the same time, you must be able to assert what you desire because at the end of the day, a wedding is still a personal occasion.

* Note your guest list. In my opinion, packaging it is more practical in the context of large weddings involving 200 guests or more. In the Filipino culture, family ties are so close and the families themselves so large that it’s fairly difficult to keep one’s guest list to a minimum. In fact 150 guests is considered a small wedding in this country whereas in the West, it’s more common to have celebrations with less than a hundred. If I could have just 50 guests at my own, I would by all means, completely prepare it myself with my friends and family. 

Consider how many guests you're expecting when deciding on how to implement your wedding.

 

Whether you choose to go completely DIY or to package everything, everything boils down to this: Know what you want, be aware of your limitations and don’t feel compelled to follow everything that you read or hear about.

Extremist individuals from both the DIY camp and the professionally-supplied camp tend to put down the other side with a passion. For example, one local photography ad had copy that encouraged couples to hire a pro or regret bad images for the rest of your life. On the other hand, the DIY group frowns upon the commercialism of the wedding industry. I don’t completely agree with neither side because practically, I would like to have the uniqueness and community-building of the former and the convenience and physical quality of the latter.

Most importantly, I believe that what matters most is getting ready to take the next step of living your days after the party ends and the responsibilities and challenges of marriage takes over. Amidst all the fuss about planning for one big day, a wedding is really just the beginning of something greater.

Published in: on May 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chapter 12: Struggling to Stand Out

I think the biggest perk of having a 3-year engagement–with 20 months to go–is I have more than enough time to make my wedding as unique as I want it to be.

However, the problem with stubborn bride-to-bes like myself is I don’t feel excited by say more than 50% of local suppliers. From a marketing point-of-view, sometimes I can’t figure out what makes them stand out. I picked up my first bridal magazine early in 2009 and upon looking through pages upon pages of the usual tiffany chairs, the typical white dress on a mannequin shot, the standard  gold wedding band sets, I felt creatively un-inspired. 

A mass wedding in Melbourne where one big day is shared among many. Photo credits: http://paul-in-thought.blogspot.com

 

Before further stressing myself out with suppliers and the nitty-gritty of planning, Mark and I decided on a theme that would serve as the nucleus for all our creative inputs and obsessions. We eventually decided on books and the central image of a  classic writer’s room came to mind. I dreamt of antique typewriters, coffee tables, hard-bound journals, bookmarks, library cards, shelves, quills and paper. I envisioned a romantic, vintage setting, a departure from the wired world of e-books and avatars. 

The vintage elements in this picture of actress, Kiera Knightley partly inspired the book theme idea.

 

With a concept in mind, I felt more focused. It was easier to choose suppliers from there. However, the Philippine Wedding Industry is a cookie-cutter business that caters mostly to one type of celebration: the traditional Pinoy wedding that begins with a Roman Catholic ceremony followed by a reception attended by hundreds of guests at a standard built-for-formal-functions venue, usually a hotel ballroom, tent, restaurant or events place (really anything that has the word “event” attached to its name). Now don’t get me wrong: I’ve attended a lot of weddings at these traditional venues and yes, they were fun, the food was great, I enjoyed the company and at the end of the day, what matters is the couple is happy and aching from all their satisfied grins. But when it comes to my own celebration, I want to throw a party that will truly stand out and be remembered. 

Hmm, sometimes I think that this is really just my ego talking, indirectly saying “I wanna outdo you all with the party of the century!”

Honestly, just as much as we would adore someone’s roast calf stand,  we also can’t help but criticize the color combinations (“It’s so 75th anniversary!”). Admit it, at one point or another we’ve panned someone’s wedding choices, thinking that if we could do it ourselves, we’d pair yellow with gunmetal (instead of gold) or choose a more central venue by contrast to that “ridiculously pricey resort.” Personally, I enjoy nitpicking dress styles that look like 80s pieces displaced in time and event photos that instigate some degree of embarrassment by simply looking at it. 

I am not exempted from such criticisms.As early as now, even without having started some real wedding planning and supplier booking, I’ve already heard a few criticisms about my preferences, from considering a back-up tent to favoring a buffet over a sit-down dinner. Someone will always believe that he or she could do things better and we ourselves are guilty.

But as much as we want to help our friends and relatives with their wedding choices, why do we likewise want to (subconsciously) outdo them when it comes to our own partis? Does wedding-planning bring out a natural competition wherein family members’ respective celebrations indirectly compete for the benchmark of kick-ass nuptials? Do weddings, as such personal expressions of the couple, pressure the bride and groom to assert their capacities in other words, nag-pa-pa-impress in the negative sense (trying hard to impress)?

You could argue that not all couples are all about flaunting their assets (or their gourmet taste) at their weddings. You are right; but the bottomline is this: we all want to impress our guests by giving them the best party possible. Naturally, our benchmark for the “best party possible” is other weddings we’ve been to. We compare and contrast, pick out the details we liked best (“I loved Jack and Jill’s green tea cake! Must ask them to recommend their baker!”) and isolate the ones that appalled us (Mental note: Don’t book that P100,000 venue with the awful ladies room).

The problem with wanting to impress is that sometimes it can bring out our personal insecurities. When insecurities are involved, the void left by one’s lack of self-esteem is filled with brand name wedding gowns, chichi registries, godparents in high places (sans the actual parent-like bonds) and a dozen chilled bottles of Dom Perignon 1992. 

Can an over-abundance of lace and frills make up for a severe lack of personality?

 

It would be dishonest for me to say that I have not used my wedding choices to make up for my own insecurities and weaknesses. I can’t dance up a storm like the cool party people so I’ll forego the traditional wedding dance for something edgier like a first song, wherein I will play the drums (an instrument I started learning at 14). I’ll also forego the after-dinner dancing to prevent making a fool of myself and revealing my un-coolness.

Now that I think about it, choosing a book theme with its artful, literary  motifs even reminds me of my own frustrations as a copywriter and as a student of creative writing. Working in the agency, I’ve had doubts about my ability to think of “award-winning concepts” so to speak. Although I always felt inclined towards creative endeavors back in school, upon entering the industry I discovered a lot of highly-talented individuals with international accolades under their belt to boot. On the other hand, I continue to be hunted by my lack of an identity and lack of literary knowledge as a student. I have been guilty of not having read the canon of local literature. I have been guilty of not being able to answer the question “What do you write?” when the answers are press releases and event scripts instead of the more respectable magical realism or speculative fiction. Still, I chose books because reading and writing have been meaningful to me in even more positive ways: books have helped me deal with my depression, inspired me to have entrepreneurial dreams and helped me get away from the stresses of my work life and step into imagined worlds of magic, luxury and even dystopia; writing has helped me deal with my complex emotions, allowed me think better and yes, it simply brings me joy whether I’m talking about my thoughts on marriage or a school paper for Rizal class–I really do love it even if I get criticized sometimes. And maybe this is the kind of attitude I need to bring into preparing not only for a wedding but for marriage itself; questions marks will be raised and not everyone will be pleased with our choices, but we’re doing this because despite all the difficulties of making that next big step in one’s life, the decision to marry brings satisfaction, assurance and an egotistical sense of feeling uhm wanted.

Reading and writing is a staple in both Mark's and my daily life.

 

One of the most interesting parts of a wedding magazine isn’t actually the page on modern party favors list or the article that showcases “50 bouquets you’ll love!” It’s the features on real-life couples and how their weddings have become personal reflections of their lives. 

Maybe, in spite of ourselves and the little green-eyed monsters that inhabit our less-than-perfect psyches, the challenge of planning a wedding that will stand out is to not lose ourselves in the celebration and to remind ourselves of the more positive bits. By this, I mean, how can we make guests identify the couple’s personal stamp on every element, from the food to the favors? If we were a brand, how do we keep the wedding in line with what we represent as a couple and as individuals?

I’m sure that we will continue to envision our weddings in relation to past gatherings. Whether we’re throwing a grand celebration for 700 or an intimate backyard barbecue for 30, the goal is to create an experience that will not lose the essence of who we are.

***

 

Here is my wish list of wedding elements! Some of these will forever remain wishes because their impossible prices will just kick off my married life in debt.

If anyone knows suppliers for some of the items here,  please leave a message. I would really appreciate it!

1. Wooden Chairs 

Tiffany chairs are  de rigueur for weddings. However, I would love to have something in wood or a combination of wood and metal. Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered (or I’m not looking hard enough?) a rental that offers something like the following:

 

Maid-of-honor, Cha suggested these lovely Thonet chairs--but where to get them?

 

Batibot chairs are commonly found in cafes. Being a cat-lover, I couldn't help but notice this quirky version with a furry feline printed on the seat. Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thephilosopher

 

2. Tubogas Wedding Band

 

The Tubogas ring is characterized by its serpetine shape and exorbitant price tag.

 

I’ve always been in love with the Tubogas jewelry line, that almost every time I find myself at the Bvlgari counter I try on the watch version–a serpentine gem that costs at least P300,000 and has graced the wrist of Elizabeth Taylor. The wedding band is $6,000 for the set–that’s already more than the budget I have in mind for the entire wedding itself!

3. Courtyard at the Ayala Triangle Park 

Ever since this lovely park opened late in 2009, I started eyeing it as a potential wedding venue. When my first choice, the Filipinas Heritage Library, which is located at the perimeter in the park went out of the question because the nearby parking lot is closed on Sundays (and our date is on a Sunday), I immediately scoured the park and found this courtyard located behind Tower One.

The Courtyard of Ayala Triangle Park at 5pm. The park was formerly an unkempt urban forest before Ayala Land spruced up the unused lot. Today, the park is peopled with joggers and commuters.

 

However, I didn’t know if this area even allows weddings and if it did, it may possibly cost a lot given the size of the area. But you’ll never know until you ask so without further delay, I approached the security guards of Tower One, where the Ayala offices occupy the top floors. I was given a name and a number of the supposed park coordinator but after four days of calling, I got no reply. *sighs*

The park view facing Tower One.

 

4. Photography by MangoRed

MangoRed is a group of photographer brothers who are known for their unique documentation style. Every album they create is a like a narrative. They capture all the important details and unique nuances of the wedding setting. They showcase the guests and the couple in their element, laughing and playing rather than frozen in rehearsed smiles.

 

Weddings just seem more interesting and loose their cheese factor when viewed through the lens of MangoRed's photographers. Photo: http://www.mangored.com

 

However, I also find their prices pretty high too and booking them would bring my budget up by about 25%. Yet, I’m wary about getting the more traditional photographers who in my opinion, don’t bring something new to the (coffee) table and is an even bigger waste of money.

I love photography with a narrative quality. Anything else that is the equivalent of a cheesy romance novel will be dropped like a hot potato.

 

After discussing this with my maid-of-honor, we both agreed that I could lower my costs for other things (except food and alcohol!), and a parent even encouraged me to just go ahead and get them since the folks are pitching in. I started feeling giddy but likewise,  guilty and nervous about booking MangoRed because I can’t get that figure out of my head.

***

 

Finally, even with a theme, the sheer number of wedding options can be pretty overwhelming and once you start coming up with a wish list, it can get pretty frustrating especially when something is out of budget. While most wedding magazines aren’t really that helpful except for browsing dresses, the one and only publication that I recommend is Real Simple Weddings.

I always buy my magazines second hand. My copy of Real Simple Weddings 2009 was purchased for P250 at Just-In, a back issue stand in Promenade Mall, Greenhills.

 

Published annually, Real Simple Weddings is everything I’ve ever wanted in a magazine: very little ads (in fact the only ads in the 2009 edition were of Crate and Barrel), tasteful promotions, lots of features on every type of wedding (no discriminations between casual barbecues and traditional fetes), practical etiquette advice, and in-depth chapters on planning (not just Top 10 tips!) which is really helpful since not everybody does events for a living and it would be nice to save funds that would otherwise go to a professional coordinator’s fees. Besides, I think getting involved in the wedding planning is a great exercise in management for both bride and groom.

Chapter 11: When Families Tie the Knot

We all know that marriage is more than a contract between two individuals. When people marry, they likewise marry into each other’s family. I mentioned in a previous post that Mark and I plan to do a civil marriage only, but our plans have changed since his family officially met ours: we are now doing a Roman Catholic wedding. On a personal level, coming not that decision was not easy. The hours leading to our pamamanhikan was filled with arguments between the two of us about doing a traditional ceremony. His side would love to see or union being blessed “in the eyes of God” and while I was privy at first, those apprehensions had less to do with my not wanting to meet their requests as it was my own criticisms of a traditional Christian union.

You and me against the world: Over-romanticizing your union isolates the other family members who also play roles in a marriage.

 

To begin with, I admit that I am such a stubborn bride-to-be and much of that stubbornness stems from my deep-seated distrust in an institution that has subjected women to its patriarchal nature. From the traditional gender roles it espouses to the symbolism of the veil–its placement on the man’s shoulder and a woman’s head signifies how we are property of our husbands. From the adoption of the husband’s name (men never hyphen their names with their wives) to the giving away of the woman by her parents, which evolved from brides representing payment to another family. If the payment doesn’t happen to be pretty, there’s no refund or exchange policy!

Sometimes, I can’t help but feel anxious about having to consent with this tradition.In my head, initial images of walking down the aisle did not portray me as the smiling, blushing bride but of a grieving one, pulling at her hair at having to succumb to the Church’s prescriptions for an ideal marriage.

Should making peace with a traditional marriage result in a personal hell of inner conflict?

 

“But you’re not getting married to a traditional man!” replied Mark, to my anti-institution angst. My fiancee felt that getting married in the boundaries of Catholicism shouldn’t dictate the way we will live our lives afterwards.

“We can create our own rules, our own culture of marriage,” he assured me. 

Mark’s advice was the silver lining in this whole business of getting hitched. It also helped that his brother and sister-in-law informed us that it is possible to customize your Catholic church rites, thank God.

I know that in spite my feelings, at the end of the day, I would have to agree to it anyway for the sake of the family’s happiness and of course to show our respect for this union that we share with them. This willingness to integrate in peace is something that I’ve had to learn throughout the years; something that I had to initially struggle with. 

In this day and age, the emancipation of contemporary Filipino women has allowed us to embraced Individualism. Through the decades, we have earned more rights, we are better educated, we are beginning to earn more respect in society. I wouldn’t say we’ve completely made it but it would be wrong to not acknowledge that women are earning better places in the socio-economic and cultural spheres. As a result, we are marrying at a later age, usually developing our careers first before settling down. Some of us are even opting to keep our family names and becoming more active in supporting our families financially. 

I am a big fan of this individualist approach to womanhood but unfortunately, my Individualism has worked against me in the realm of relationships, not just with Mark but with his and my family. It even resulted to a two-year clinical depression coupled with various anxiety attacks, a problem that my psychiatrist and counsellor called “adjustment.” 

Depression placed me in a state of misunderstood isolation.

 

Because I refuse to be subjected to male-female double standards, I was bold enough to spend time alone in a room with Mark under the roofs of our parents’ homes. Because I have so much pride in myself and my achievements, I reeled in hysteria at being compared to my the fiancee’s ex (something that I would often instigate myself in order to assert my being, my individuality). Because of all my individualist ego-tripping, I failed to acknowledge the crucial connections that intertwined with our relationship; and with those connections came an entire cast of characters: family members each with a unique lens with which to perceive our bond. 

Months of counselling and several packs of Zoloft later, I slowly started to understand that being a relationship with someone presents the challenge of balancing your individualism and your ability to relate with the family of your significant other, especially among Pinoy families, wherein the links between parents, children and well into the first and second degree relatives can be so intimate. It really is an ongoing exercise in diplomacy. For Filipino couples, the challenge is to be able to appeal to the sensibilities of those who are crucial to our lives, from the young and liberal-minded to the more traditional seniors. 

That said, I recommend the following list of social tactics, inspired by my own observations of individuals from the PR and advertising industries, which have to deal with the daily social juggle of clients from all walks of life, corporate cultures and political beliefs. However, always combine these tactics with a genuine charm and natural interest in the family, because ass-kissing will eventually backfire on you.

#1 Give Gifts

The simplest way to please a crowd (or the media ) is to give gifts. It’s a simple gesture that needs little explaining–great for the socially-timid! Whenever I attend a press event, for as long as we have a small token and a well-stocked buffet awaiting us, we will feel taken cared of and even better, we won’t feel invisible. Family members need to feel acknowledged. During dinners or lunches, offer to bring dessert or wine. When overseas-based relatives come home, welcome them with a gift. You don’t have to spend much or flaunt your gourmet taste. As the old adage goes, it’s the thought that counts.

Marriage is an agreement to make peace not war.

 

#2 Acknowledge Achievement

Older family members have much to be proud of. At their age, they have achieved much professionally and personally like building businesses or raising excellent children. When agencies  pitch to clients, apart from presenting the creative concept and answering all their burning questions on marketing and budgets, we also inquire about the success of their enterprise, comment on the beautifully-designed offices and cite how their products/services has benefitted us somehow (“Oh, my six-year-old loves your Banana-Walnut Breakfast Cereal!”) . Likewise, ask your future in laws about their pursuits: that joint venture that your fiancee talked proudly about, the European tour they recently embarked on, the ongoing renovation of their living room. However, be mindful of forcing your own taste into these acknowledgements. Unless they ask for your opinion, there’s no need to say that you dislike the celadon paint with floral appliques in their kitchen.

#3 Project Likeability

You won’t always be in a good mood but when you’re constantly frowning, scowling and dead-paning. People will relegate you to the Emotional Vampire category. Again, agencies try their best to put on a smile even after pulling an all-nighter or amidst the mounting stress of a bug event. What’s that you say? It’s hard to pretend you’re in a good mood when you’re not?

Of course it is and no one is asking you to keep all that emotion in but expressing feels should be done at the right place and time. For example. you don’t need to express anger to an employee in full sight of everybody. Instead, you take that person aside, express your discontentment then offer solutions afterwards. You likewise don’t need to express your passionate stirrings in front of your parents. 

In social situations, Filipino families do take notice of a non-family member who looks like she/he would rather be somewhere else. Maybe you don’t but learn how to relate to them: say your hellos, ask them how they’re doing, share in the meal. If you want to go, ask permission to leave, thank the host then make a gracious getaway.  

Smile and mean it.

 

#4 Listen to Opinions

It has been popularly said that a lot of discontentment arises from the fact that we judge people’s opinions in relation to our own set of values.  Even more drama results when we begin arguments on politics and religion but we  can’t expect the family of our significant other to be either left, right or in between. Personally, this is the trickiest thing for me to deal with and once people  begin speaking their minds on such polarizing topics like sexual orientation, political parties and reproductive health, it’s easy to touch nerves. This is the very reason why I had to struggle with accepting a traditional wedding–it conflicted with my own feelings about the Roman Catholic rite.

The simplest way to deal with something I don’t agree with is to let it in one ear and out the other. Once an exchange in points of view is made, someone will somehow tell you you’re wrong. It’s easy to just shrug it off and say that that’s just the way you see things but try to keep the anger under control. Sometimes, it’s possible to engage in a debate but try to separate intellectual argument from raw emotion. Difficult of course but it’s a fact of life that not everybody will be on your side. What people believe in will always stem from deep-seated value that are hard to change.  Still, there will be individuals who will agree with you, now that’s the the proper venue to vent your disagreements with other ideas. 

Marrying into another family is a non-negotiable reality of wedded life. Through the complex web of characters that one will be dealing with, the goal is to not lose yourself.

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment