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.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Can an over-abundance of lace and frills make up for a severe lack of personality?” <–Punky, in fairview, natawa ako dito 😀

    • Hahaha! Honestly cha, what do you think of that gown? Would you believe it’s actually Carolina Herrera!

  2. […] don’t actually forget about their relative’s or close friend’s wedding day. I’ve talked about before in this post, and I still believe that our innate competitiveness, our ego, plus our desire to wow our guests, […]


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