This post is in collaboration with Den of Tutu on the Run. Previously, I wrote about how our friendship blossomed. And just recently, Den tied the knot with a wonderful man in Serbia. Both of them originally planned to have a grand wedding in the Philippines sometime this year – December or January next year. However, the whole process of securing the needed paperworks was too taxing so they opted to have a simple wedding ceremony instead. I really wish I was there to witness the union of these two wonderful souls. For the benefit of close friends who weren’t there to witness the wedding and for those soon-to-be married couples, the newly weds were eager to share their wedding planning stages and what transpired during their wedding day.
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Let us get this out in the open. No matter how many articles you have read, videos you have viewed, or advice you have stumbled on — planning a wedding is a pain in the ass for a variety of reasons. There are the paperwork that you need to secure, counselling sessions, decisions to be made in advance on the date, theme, venue, menu, flowers, bride and groom outfits, guests to invite (this part is nerve wracking), entourage, etc. hence the freaking checklist, and all these required those bucks to roll out of your pocket. I am not saying that none of the tips I scoured were not helpful because they were. What I am saying is that the marriage preparation process required the same amount of commitment whether you paid for a wedding planner’s service or not.
With Branko and I, we admit that our planning started with bits and pieces of extravagance but in the end, we chucked it down to the basics to save ourselves the headache. It was just too much work and just not worth the hassle. The paperwork itself was already too much especially for a couple like us who are not of the same nationality. In the end, we decided to have an intimate wedding and not spend too much. We would rather invest our money on more important things such as our future home.
We planned something simple. Something within our budget and cut back on items that we can live without like flowers, boutonnière, and invitations but personalized some parts like our save-the-date video, souvenir postcards, couple shirts, and DIY cake topper! Resourcefully creative and practical, I guess those were the key things we had in mind from start to end.
I do not know what else to share but I will just answer some of the questions that Doi asked us. I hope whatever we share can be of assistance to other couples planning their special day.
How did you guys meet?
Which one do you want to hear? The ‘edited’ one or the ‘real’ one? The ‘real’ one involved swiping right in Tinder (which not a lot of women – especially the elders – from my side of the globe are ready to acknowledge as a valid medium for meeting people in this chaotic busy world) while the ‘edited’ version skipped this dating app detail. It does not include the first electronic hi/hello exchange and jumped right into Branko filing a work leave and crossing the Serbian border to physically introduce himself on a Thursday night and asked me out for dinner in Szeged where I was residing then.
What’s the proposal story?
Branko proposed three times!!!
First was on our first official couple trip in April 2018 when we went to Trieste, Verona, and Venice. Apparently, he planned to propose but I (unknowingly) ruined his proposal when I refused to get on a gondola ride which cost a €100 euros. (I had no idea he was going to propose there!) Practical me would prefer to use the money for eating and suggested that we take selfies with the gondola instead. He was moping around the whole day.
Second attempt was made in Szeged, Hungary on May 2018 but I cut him off. I asked him to hold on to that thought as I did not want to get distracted while I was still about to embark on my fieldwork in Sierra Leon. Branko respected my wish and promised to wait.
Third was in the Philippines after we had a heated debate about ‘the door’ in our rented beach cottage in Moalboal, Cebu. This time, I said YES! Third time’s the charm.
How did people react to your wedding announcement?
Generally, everyone seemed supportive of the union, especially the elders in my family. They all want to marry me off but there were a couple of close friends who asked if I was really ready since it meant finally settling down (entailing giving up on many things that I enjoyed when I was still single like travelling and having the freedom to just pack and go without really needing to consult anyone).
What many people do not know is how supportive Branko is of my endeavors and it is because of this that I have no qualms in meeting him halfway.
Why a civil wedding?
Like how I explained in the beginning, we wanted a no-fuss ceremony and a civil wedding was the perfect fit. Also, we were still undecided on what kind of religious ceremony – church? garden? beach? We could not agree on a specific idea just yet. Besides, civil weddings in Subotica, Serbia were quite unique because of the town hall’s matrimony rooms.
Even the simplest room we reserved for no charge (the Green Room) retained the 1908 structural design patterns that depicted Hungarian secession art. For old architecture addicts like me, it was perfect!
Where was the reception?
Like our wedding ceremony, we also had a no-fuss-just-chill dinner with close friends and family. After changing into our cheap ass couple shirts, we first had a drink at our favorite restaurant, Stara Picerija, where Branko was sitting on that night he swiped right and where we also had our first dinner date in Serbia. We then moved across the street to Boss Cafe for dinner and of course, more drinks.
Can you tell me about your wedding dress?
Anyone who knows me is aware of how practical I am. I scoured physical and online shops for the dress that I wanted. I was sure of what I wanted – simple, comfortable, and can be used on other occasions. I found my dress online and ordered it for USD88.79. Since it was online shopping, I crossed my fingers for more than a month.
I prayed that I will not be part of the statistics of unhappy online consumers who made the mistake of buying their dresses online. Thank God my dress arrived like how it was advertised and it was exactly what I needed. I was more relieved than happy really. Haha.
Where did you find your wedding shoes?
Okay this one will crack you up — I found mine two years ago while a friend and I were at a second-hand shop called Hada in Szeged. I thought, why buy a new pair when I have the perfect boots that I was already imagining with my dress?!
Where did you find your jewelry and accessories?
This part I carefully prepared. I wanted to complete my “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” The strawberry clip-ons were given by my father when I was in 5th grade and the Ruby ring was from my mother which was given when I was in 3rd year college (old). My hair comb was ordered online (new). The necklace I was wearing belonged to Branko’s mom, Mama Rose (borrowed). Lastly, the new pair of stockings I ordered online (blue).
Who did your hair & make-up and what led you to the style you chose?
I did my own make-up but with the guidance from my stylist friend, Glenn Curada, who is based in Doha, Qatar. We were on video call the whole time I was applying the make-up. I tried to apply his advice about the hair but just ended up whacking something similar with the help of my maid of honor, Ceara Ramirez. The hair and make-up took more time than the actual civil wedding service!
Where did the groom find his suit?
Branko and I went shopping for his wedding outfit together. We only went to one shop called Mondo where he tried several suits. We agreed on one suit and bought it then went to a local shoe shop for his oxfords. After that, we had ice cream!
Can you tell me about your bouquet?
I decided not to have a bouquet of flowers as I wanted to carry my Bible with pictures of my family inside.
What led you to choose the wedding cake you did?
Honestly, we did not want to have a cake since we just reserved a table at a restaurant but my maid of honor insisted by gifting us with a single tiered chocolate round cake. So to make it look like a real wedding cake, we created our ‘happy turtles’ topper (made of recycled paper) to complete it. Why turtles? Because turtles are our spirit animal as a couple.
Can you describe the photography part of the day?
Oh this part was easy for us but crazy for my maid of honor. We did not hire a photographer and so she did all that part. She was basically superwoman of the day!
We did not have prenup photos so she took photos of us while on our way to the town hall from the apartment. She even recorded a video of ‘the first look’ which was much appreciated. The best thing about the walk to the town hall was passing by our favorite places.
We ended up stopping for a few minutes to take snaps in front of the library, the national theater, the blue fountain, the bench we had our first fight in, the street we loved strolling in, the festival stalls, amongst others.
Can you share your most memorable moment of that day?
For Branko, it was ‘the first look’ but for me, it was the part when we said ‘yes’ to each other in the matrimony room. Much to the matiĉar and translator’s amusement, I was so excited to say ‘yes’ that I said ‘da’ and did not wait for the English translation.
What is the most important piece of advice you could share with future brides?
Take the preparation one day at a time. Be patient with handling the paperwork and don’t stress yourselves out (like we did). Most importantly, DO NOT BE PRESSURED TO HAVE AN EXTRAVAGANT WEDDING. We hated the pressure of being obligated to plan a big wedding. We just wanted to keep it small and intimate so we stuck to that but shared our photos with friends to keep everyone in the happiness loop.
If you had the chance to redo the whole thing again, what changes would you make?
Nothing. Branko and I talked about our wedding at the end of the day and we both agreed that it was more than what we hoped for. We got our photos captured exactly like how we wanted (even added videos thanks to supportive friends), the sun was out (no rain!), we had a ceremonial couple and guests entrance/walk (which we did not expect), we each had representatives on our sides, the food and drinks were amazing, and there was nothing but a good and happy vibe all through out the day.
There you have it. Den and Branko’s wedding shows that you don’t need to splurge a lot and drain your life savings just to get married.
If you have any questions for the couple or want to share your own wedding tips, do leave a comment below 😉
Photo Credits: Den Ramonal and Ceara Mari