12 Lessons I Learned from Planning our Wedding

When it comes to marriage, I have always been told by this line: 'Happy wife, happy life.'

I believed then, and past 3 months from our wedding day, I still do. It doesn't really mean I have unlocked the secrets of the universe in understanding the ladies, because I've got another line to use as an alibi: 'Men are from Mars, women are from Venus!'

Before getting married, we were already together for almost 4 years. We had about a year in preparation for the wedding since :
1.) The wedding was in the Philippines and we live in London;
2.) Budget!

It was far from easy. Nope. Far from it. Wedding planning is tough; wedding planning from 6,600+ miles apart and an 8 hour-time zone differential is way tougher.

Luckily my wife didn't end up being a bridezilla as she kept her cool and calm along the way. But we learned a lot during the whole process from planning, up to the day itself. There are zillions of guides, and help particularly for the bride. Even for the bridesmaids. And probably tips on how to be the perfect Man-Of-Honor.

The groom? It appears he's just a participant on the whole event, an attendee if you may. The groom can have a larger role as long as he values himself to be equally important as the bride-to-be.

Here are 12 Lessons I learned from planning our wedding:

1. Wedding is NOT marriage, and vice-versa.

Initially we both looked at the wedding as an option in our lives, and thought it can be done civilly anyway rather than on the church. But as time went on, and more guidance were sought, we saw beyond the 'wedding' event. We've gotten more insight on the spiritual significance for our union. It is more than a 'piece of contract.'

2. Budget. Stick to it. (And then have some spare.) But still, stick to it!

Understandably for working couples, this will be the main factor in planning a wedding. Especially for us, we tried to be self-sufficient financially. We have set a planned budget, wherein it will be realistic in terms of our spending power. It doesn't always mean the priciest supplier means the highest quality. For sure you will hear a lot of 'It's fine, it's just a once-in-a-lifetime moment' wherein they will reassure that it's normal to overspend. For us, unless it's a gift or a freebie, at the end of the big day, it will come out of our own pockets. MS Excel worksheets were our best friends. We managed to keep things into the minimum and prioritised quite well.

3. Don't try to please everybody else, and then proceed with caution.

No one wants to disappoint any guest for a big event like a wedding. You don't want to starve them, nor make them uncomfortable. Those are common-sense must-dos. But keep in mind, you don't have to please everybody on your wedding day. We had this dilemma as we were always worried for the guest's welfare on the reception, their travel from point A to point B. The two most important people are the bride and the groom.

4. Research on your potential Wedding suppliers. 

In connection with the budget, we worked our way through with our target suppliers. The internet is a great place to start, but we opted to ask around from recently wed friends and family members. A personal feedback from their experience is worth more than hours of online research. It made it easier for us to contact and transact as it was a personal referral from their former clients. We have managed to book the church, reception, the bridal couturier, event host/planner, caterer all from our trusted friends.

5. Keep records of all transaction and communication with suppliers.

Depending on your plan, you can have 10 or more different suppliers. Then imagine each supplier can have more than 1 event per calendar day aside from you. It will be easier to have a reference on details such as downpayment, or terms of the contract, receipts, emails or private messages.

6. Photo and Video are VERY important.

The main wedding ideas are the bride's dress, the church, the reception, etc. Nowadays, everybody knows how easy and important it is to keep memories through photos and videos. Anybody can have the best gear and camera phones to upload filters on instagram or snapchat. Food taste will be forgotten, the reception will be gone, but photos and memories will last more than a lifetime. Invest in them really carefully and you want the topmost quality and style that suits you best.

7. On planning the details, exercise teamwork.

What's the theme? The motif colour? What time of the day or night? What date? Beach wedding or mountainside adventure? How many guests? What songs?

These are really tough choices. You may ask for other's opinion, but exercise open communication and teamwork between the couple. It can be exhaustive, but in the end find a common ground for compromise if expectations aren't met.

8. It can be very stressful, you will need a break at some point.

It was hard work for us especially we didn't have a wedding planner for the whole process. We decided to hire an on-the-day coordinator instead, and spent that budget on more important suppliers.

A time-out is important. There are days we were getting frustrated as coming tired from work, and we have to decide on who-should-do-what. Sometimes a nice break from it all can help in recharging.

9. Patience.

This will be needed and tested from the planning process up to the day itself. Even if things have been planned accordingly, there will be changes on the day itself. And the last thing you want to do is panic and get upset.

These are just some of the things that went off on our big day:

- It was raining heavily, thus delaying the start of preparations. It also led to cutting off photo-op chances outdoors.
- Some of the guests were late due to traffic that ensued.
- There were some late suppliers as well due to the bad weather.
- The bridal car broke down en route to the church.

Those are just some of the things that really happened, some are minor, but mostly manageable. In the end, we were cool as cucumber, and thought 'The show must go on!'

10. The pre-cana seminar is very important. 

It is a required course for couples to take in order to be married in a Catholic Church. I honestly thought it was boring and just mere formality. But we did enjoy it, as we learned more about our relationship and how we will see ourselves in years and years to come. It really help us prepare to visualise on how to be husband and wife.


11. Honeymoon!

Again, as long as it is within realistic means, make sure you do enjoy yourselves after the wedding. An island get-away, a city-break, an adventure, or a relaxation package, anything is fine as long as you go for it. We felt we deserve to have a quiet stress-free time away from it all. For ourselves, we went to one of our dream destinations, Tokyo! It was all worth it. Treat yourselves.

12. Enjoy the wedding!

I always joke that the success of the wedding is reliant on the bride's mood on the day. I was surprised that I felt good and eased on the day itself. It was a happy mood with friends and family from the preparation. I was so relaxed that I fell asleep in the car while we were stuck in the traffic! I had a blast and up until the final guest have left the reception, it was an amazing time. HAVE FUN!


Here's the Same Day Edit video of our wedding. 3 months+ down, and infinity to go!

Reagan & Tina SDE
I'm blessed to have a beautiful bride on a fairytale-like wedding day. But I'm even more blessed married to a wonderful loving wife.
Posted by Reagan Alexander Decena on Monday, December 28, 2015

Many thanks to our suppliers:

Photographer: Zeus Martinez / Videographer: Ian Celis Productions / Wedding Planner & Coordinator: Joey Comandao / Flowers: 15-58 Flowers & Style / Wedding Preparations Venue: Eastwood Richmonde Hotel / Ceremony Venue: St. Francis of Assissi, Fernwood Gardens QC / Reception Venue: Fernwood Gardens, QC / Wedding Couturier: Carla Ignacio / HMU: Iris Lee / Band: SJT Ensemble / Invitations: Let Agnes Be Design Studio / Souvenir: Go Green Giveaways / Photo Booth: Pose & Print / Caterer: Kusina ni Kambal / Bridal Car: Don Roberts

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