I’m hesitant to label this post a “supplier review,” as most of these suppliers are tried-and-tested names familiar to all and sundry. You know they’re good! I just want to share my own experiences with them to Filipina brides-to-be out there and hopefully help a few in their supplier selection process.
Few facts before I begin: I am not based in the Philippines. We did our planning from London so a planner on-the-ground was crucial. We got engaged May 2011 and started planning shortly thereafter for a wedding in January 2013, so we had plenty of lead time. My heart was set on having the ceremony in Caleruega so we were automatically looking at Tagaytay venues.
For brides planning to have a destination wedding Tagaytay is probably one of the cost-friendlier options available. Make sure to factor in out-of-town fees when getting suppliers who aren’t based in the area, as these can add up to quite a sum.
While these are not suppliers per se, first a few words on our chosen preps/reception venue and the church.
The Church: The Transfiguration Chapel, Caleruega
I wrote about falling in love with the Caleruega chapel here. We wanted a church that wouldn’t shoo us away after an hour or less like the big churches in the city do. To me, it was perfect for an intimate celebration. Countless other weddings have been held in the chapel but I feel it hasn’t lost its charm. Caleruega still looks great in photographs, with its red brick facade and huge stained glass windows.
Two things I didn’t care for as much: the bumpy road leading to the chapel (they said they’d fix it 2 years ago but still no change) and the Php 30 parking fee (for a church?!). Also, note that you’ll be doing your canonical interview, etc not at Caleruega, but at St Francis Xavier Parish in Batangas, a further 1-hr drive away.
The Preparations and Reception Venue: HillCreek Gardens
I love that we were one of the “early adopters” for HillCreek (their website here). Back when we booked them in 2011, they had just opened up the place to the public (it was previously a private residence). I was sold when I saw how spacious the garden was and how convenient it would be to have the preps and reception venue in one place–we didn’t have far to go in case one of us got drunk at the after-party, heh.
I thought the place had character and our photographer would have a lot of material to work with.
The Bridal Suite is in the ground floor of the main house. It’s furnished in tasteful wood furniture and comfortably sleeps at least 6. The more modern Casitas, where Hubby and his family stayed, consist of 3 additional rooms. It was enough space for both our families and a few members of the female entourage who drove up with us the evening before the wedding.
Madge asked me how we found out about HillCreek. She loved the natural light in the spot where we placed the makeup stations. Teddy told me how convenient it was for the reception and preps venue to be a few steps away from the other. He kept popping in and showing me the boutonnières, etc while he was dressing up the garden outside. Compliments from us and the guests, sure–but compliments from suppliers too? Yay!
The very nice owner, Mr Patrick, was there the evening of the wedding and we got compliments from him on our suppliers–all in all everyone seemed quite happy.
HillCreek is building more rooms at the moment as there was construction going on out back where there used to be a coffee plantation. I’m not too sure how that would affect the intimate feel of the place.
The Bridal Gown: Veluz
Much has been said about the detail and craftsmanship of Veluz Reyes‘ gowns. Personally, I was quite happy with mine. It created a waist where none had been (ha!) and had all the little details I wanted: pearls, lace, crystals. It looked fantastic day and night. The skirt had weight, but I loved swishing it around and feeling like a proper princess for the day.
Here’s a photo of it on what Nelwin’s team called the ‘Temple Run’ bridge at HillCreek. :)
I received fantastic service from Ms V and her team during my fittings. She was there for each and every fitting, and instantly knew (it seemed) what nips and tucks were needed to whip the cloth into shape. You knew she knew what she was doing. (Siyempre, UP! :) We swapped student numbers and she joked hers was from yeeeears ago.) She kept me and my parents at ease with funny banter and jokes.
I heard Ms V is starting a ready-to-wear line soon. Wonder how that’ll pan out in terms of her personalized service.
The Groom’s Suit, Entourage and Parents’ Suits/Gowns: Carina Canlas-Villaluz
Our planner, Pooh, recommended Carina to us. While the dresses and suits were good and received their fair share of compliments, I didn’t like the last-minute rush we had to go through because the fittings were scheduled too late. Considering we had booked quite early, I didn’t understand why I was rushing to drive my Ate (older sister) to fittings a week before the big day. The sleeves of my Ate‘s gown were all over the place by the time the evening was over (this is the maid of honor’s gown, mind you).
That said, Carina is absolutely pleasant to deal with. She was on hand the whole day with her sewing kit in case anything needed mending, and she stayed till the end.
Hubby and the boys looking dapper in their suits:Thread and Butter Co, which I think is owned by Pooh’s brother Ace, made the matching old rose-colored wedges for the female entourage. As it was a garden wedding stilettos weren’t practical.
The next one’s not really a supplier :)
The Preps Dress: my super-cool Dad
My mom correctly guessed that it wouldn’t cross my mind to look for a dress to wear during the preps. To be honest, I just assumed I’d be wearing some sort of bathrobe, haha. Thankfully my dad bought this beautiful lace dressing gown for me in Saudi, where it’s apparently all the rage.
I received so many ooh’s and aah’s for this dress. Teddy and Angel (from Madge’s team) were kidding about how they wanted me to raffle it off at the end of the day, and Nelwin shot so many photos of me in this dress that a few of my officemates actually thought it was my bridal gown.
The Invitations: Printsonalities
The invitations were printed on good quality paper and turned out well. What I didn’t like was the inordinate amount of revisions and emails back and forth it took for us to get to the finished product. Sometimes, we had to email things we had already mentioned a few emails ago. For clients based outside of the country with -7/8 hour time difference from Manila, this is impractical. In the end, because of all the delays the invitations were released slightly later than I wanted them to be.
In my opinion, there are other invitations suppliers out there who can provide good-quality product at better value for money.
The Flowers and Styling: Teddy Manuel
I talked about the wedding details Teddy helped us with here and here. Teddy is absolutely lovely to deal with. He’ll work within your budget and you can be sure he’ll provide the wedding with an extra oomph aesthetics-wise.
There he is at the back, watching over the guys as they trooped to the Bridal Suite for my surprise serenade. :) Teddy provided the beautiful bouquet.
Hair and Makeup: Madge Lejano Landrito and Steve Pagsanjan (Bride and Moms), Irene Sy-Go (Female Entourage)
Like Veluz, much has been said about the exceptional work by Madge and The Makeup Studio team. My skin in particular was slightly difficult because it changed the color tone of the makeup Madge used (something to do with my pH), so she had to mix stuff a bit. Madge is an artist by training and you can tell this once you sit in her chair and feel how she handles her brushes.
The makeup lasted through the many tears shed, unscathed. I looked like a completely different (better-looking!) me. Madge at work:
Irene, in the photo foreground, was also an absolute whiz at making my entourage extra gorgeous. Irene also did my HMU during our save-the-date video. Irene at work:
The Car: Don Robert’s Bridal Cars
I loved how the vintage Jaguar Mark V complemented the theme. Hubby and I–and a lot of our guests–got a lot of photo mileage out of him. No complaints about Don Robert’s service.
The Lights and Sounds: Mark Tan of High Impact
Suppliers who exceed expectations are by far the best, and Mark was one of them. We were keen on having the lighted dance floor and he made sure we got it, even though there were issues about its availability. I saw on video how he/his team adjusted the microphone for my sister when she was performing a song for us so people could hear her better. I was pleasantly surprised by the bubbles during the cake cutting and the smoke machine during the dance (I didn’t order any). The sound quality was excellent. The venue was well-lit, which was important for us since it was an outdoor dinner reception.
The tents are from Tent World.
The Host: Missy Ferrer-Litao
We met Missy a few times before near her office in Makati. She’s a bubbly, easy-to-get-along-with person, which we liked. We wanted a host who could connect with the oldies, UP friends, officemates, and a few foreigner friends in the audience alike–and I felt she did a pretty good job of it.
I love that her cue card had our monogram on it. Exceeding expectations! :)
The Food: K by Cunanan Catering
It’s true what they say: brides and grooms, eat up during food tastings as you won’t be eating much on the day itself! So glad we were able to eat up properly (our food tasting post here). I hope the absence of official photos of the buffet table is evidence of the food being polished off completely by our guests.
Kaye was also one of the few suppliers who stayed till the end. Here we are with Kaye, Pooh, and Carina.
The Dessert: Bizu Patisserie
The colorful cakes and pastries looked pretty on the dessert table. Bizu worked with me to incorporate the vintage look in the arrangement. There was absolutely no question these would taste as good as they looked. (We included Bizu in our food tasting post here.)
Ms Eloise Gonzalo of Seasons Music Ensemble is a family friend. :) Seasons is a six-member group including a violinist and flutist, with Ms Eloise on vocals. Seasons did a fantastic rendition of Jonathan McCain’s Bridal March as I walked down the aisle and a pretty cool mash-up song instrumental for the parents’ and godparents’ introductions (which included Coldplay’s Viva La Vida).
Sub Projekt did a great job of keeping people on the dance floor and convincing the guests to stay until late. Here’s the odd bit of trivia: I found out one of the lead vocalists used to be on Sineskwela, a local educational TV show which used to air in the ’90s.
The Photographer: Nelwin Uy
Nelwin did our prenuptial photoshoot so Hubby and I had already met the team. They were a very funny bunch of guys to work with, always cracking jokes–this did the trick of keeping us laughing and smiling in photos the whole time. I can’t count the number of times we heard “Okay ser, kiss…,” “About to kiss lang ha…,” “O, smack lang, smack!”
I wanted my wedding photos to be colorful and representative of exactly how things looked on the day. I wanted a photographer who was good at capturing candid moments, one who didn’t depend too much on heavily stylized shots. I didn’t like the washed-out, forced “vintage” style some photographers had. (I mean seriously, 5…50 years down the line wouldn’t those snaps look dated?) I had narrowed it down to two names and chose Nelwin for his package inclusions. Absolutely no regrets. :)
I was amazed at what it took to get ‘standard’ shots. Take the photo below for example. It took two members of his team each holding an edge of my veil, then throwing it up in the air and running frantically away to avoid being in the shot. I had to stop myself from giggling.
**UPDATE** A teaser of Nelwin’s on-the-day photos, shown during our reception:
The Videographer: Threelogy
I loved our save-the-date video.
Our same-day-edit (or SDE) video which was shown at the reception was also pretty good but we had earlier told Bong (who did our save-the-date) that we preferred a video that was 100% music (no vows, no conversations, etc). CJ was our videographer on the day so this info might not have been passed on to him, though in my opinion it should’ve been.
Also after watching the raw videos, I found it odd that with the many videographers on the team, a lot of them captured the same things again and again. I get it that the SDE gets an undue amount of attention these days, but as a bride who sees the day from one P.O.V. only I would have preferred to see more videos of the guests… at least one of the cameras capturing the guests at the reception from time to time would’ve been great.
That said, we absolutely loved working with CJ and his team. CJ cracked us up with a bajillion jokes which helped me feel more at ease with a video camera in my face.
Finally, the supplier whom we felt gave us the best value:
The Wedding Planner / Coordinator: Christine Ong-Te Events
Pre-wedding our account manager Gelo was fantastic in calming my last-minute worries. On the day, Pooh and her uniformed team were absolute professionals. They anticipated my, Hubby’s, and our families’ every need, which went a long way in allowing us to settle in and enjoy the day sans stress. I am by nature an O.C. person, and in Pooh I felt I met my match. :)
Our time table (one in pink in the Bridal Suite, and Hubby’s copy in blue):
It was the little things: getting all the suppliers to arrive at just the right time so we weren’t rushed for pictorials. Pooh filling in for our mass commentator who was slightly late so that the ceremony could start 3PM on the dot. Whenever I wanted my bag, all I had to do was mumble to the nearest CoTe team and they would communicate via walkie-talkies to get my bag to me, wherever it was. Every time one of Hubby’s lolas (grandmas) got up to use the washroom one of the CoTe team members would be at her side ready to accompany her. At one point Pooh was feeding me soup and appetizers while my hair and makeup were being done. I felt pretty pampered.
And the thing about it was I never found out about any of the hiccups until the next day. :) Pooh with a short prayer before the busy day started:
After the wedding, we received an orderly turnover of all details/materials used that day, a list of who gave which gift, and a detailed accountability sheet of where the petty cash went. Guests felt taken care of, suppliers felt taken care of, and so did we.
Final thoughts: enjoy your day and don’t sweat the small stuff. The day will be over before you know it!
Get trusted suppliers who you know will do the job right, and sit back and relax. If you have the time and to save on costs, you can look for up-and-coming suppliers–but do the research well.