Wedding Entourage Attire Dilemma: To Pay or Not to Pay?

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In the Philippines, it’s common tradition that the couple would shoulder some, if not all, of the expenses of their wedding entourage including their attires. This would of course include both sides of the inner family circle (parents, siblings, nephews and nieces), Maid of Honor, Best Man, Secondary Sponsors, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Flower girls, Bearers and sometimes even the outfit of the Principal Sponsors (Ninongs/Ninangs).

But, since time has changed and the notion of “practicality” ensues, these old traditions of shouldering all the cost seemed to be frowned upon by the younger generation. Well, the question is, would that be okay? Or should the couple still follow this tradition? Besides, who on earth “invented” this idea in the first place?

Typically,  young Filipino couples who are planning their wedding these days would opt for budget-friendly, DIY-styled weddings. This practicality would even stretch to the point where the couples would even prefer to use artificial flowers instead of the real ones, or would even rent than go to a designer to have their customized wedding gowns! Just the thought of budget for a wedding is a nerve-wracking experience, so what more if you’ll have to think about extra expenses that you can disregard in the first place?

In our case for example, since both sides of the family were the traditional type and because we’re quite keen with our wedding details, Garry and I decided to shoulder some of the cost of the wedding entourage attires. “Some” doesn’t imply to “all”, so technically, we only paid for what we can and informed our wedding entourage about the other things that we can’t afford to pay anymore.

Although it was quite a tough decision at first, followed by a lot of explaining to do, thankfully everyone understood our sentiments. We explained politely that we are on a tight budget and as much as we would love to pay for everything, we’re only ordinary employees who only lives from paycheck to paycheck. No drama ensued between us and other wedding entourage because even from the start, we were extra careful in our selection. We chose only those people whom we are comfortable with and who were close to our heart. From this, we were confident to know that these people know us very well, who would surely understand our decisions regarding our wedding and who won’t judge us for little things of no true value.

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Wedding Supplier Review: MYIO OKAMOTO Photography

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Among the things that we decided not to scrimp was our Wedding, Photographer. And since we are into photography ourselves, it was actually one of the most tedious and difficult decisions that we have to do. It even came to a point that we had sleepless nights wondering if we made the right decision because we had to let go of our hard-earned money when we decided to change our Wedding Photographer. It was actually one of the best highlights of our wedding planning that we really learned a lot from. Thankfully though, we found out that every penny was worth it after our wedding! Below is our supplier review for our wedding Photographer— MYIO OKAMOTO PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Supplier Rating: 5/5
  • Mode of Communication: Email, FB Chat
  • Contact Person: Myio Okamoto
  • Package: Wedding Photography

If you have been following our previous posts, you would have remembered that Myio Okamoto wasn’t our first choice for our Wedding Photographer. Although Myio was a WAW-find supplier (Thanks to Wedding at Works) thanks to a WAWIE friend who was also his former client, we were able to get Myio’s attention at a time when we felt we really need to make that “move”. Although Myio seemed promising at that time, our attention was caught by two other known Wedding Photographers due to their vast years of experience, style, and budget. But what we didn’t know is that in the end, we’ll be with someone who is way younger than our initial options but has an underrated talent.

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First meeting and final detailing with Myio

Among the things in the checklist that we did for choosing our own Wedding Photographer and Videographer, Style has stood out as well as Work Quality and Output when we finally decided to get Myio Okamoto for our wedding. His style was actually a combination of editorial, edgy and candid. When looking at his portfolio, the perspective of the angles was not too structured but still has that kick to it. One can also immediately appreciate how natural the candidness of the photos were and how it leaves a certain wow-factor statement. Also, during that time we didn’t really cared much if his rate would be beyond our budget (supposed to be a big no as a budget couple) because its the output that we were eyeing for in the first place and unfortunately, we already lack time because our wedding is only 8 weeks away!

Similar to other wedding suppliers whom we met for final detailing, we met Myio for coffee at Trinoma where he showed his sample wedding albums and discussed further our wedding pegs. We were honestly surprised when we first saw him since he definitely looked really young! We even joked about how he would pass like a College student instead of a professional supplier. In person, Myio was really shy and humble. He didn’t even boast about his achievements as a wedding supplier to get our attention but instead, showed us samples of his portfolio that he carried with him. We also found out that he used to shoot for other big time Wedding Photographers in the country where he was able to hone his talent before finally deciding to start his own brand. His story was really inspiring since he never went to formal school nor took any formal classes, but only played around with his camera when he was small until he decided to do professional photography at the age of 17. The kid has definitely lots of potentials and that’s what we felt when we met him in person. Amidst the initial impression that we had, looks can really be deceiving since Myio proved he was way more talented than we expected.

He and his team arrived early at the hotel so we had enough time to do the bridal preps photo shoot. Since we already met prior to our wedding, the connection was already established. Instead of being awkward, we felt comfortable around him like they were our long lost brothers from another mother! His team was also jolly to be around, but still manages to be professional to a T. It was also a good idea that we were able to get suppliers who seemed to have a good relationship with each other and who had worked before because the atmosphere felt really light and happy. Everyone would just throw jokes and people would just start laughing.

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Working with a great photographer like Myio is a dream come true for us, who is into photography as well. And honestly, words are not enough to describe how awesome our wedding photos had turned out — especially the raw ones that don’t need editing! His work really speaks for what he can do and at a young age, his potential is really huge!

Among our suppliers, he is obviously one of the main reasons why reputable and known wedding sites noticed our wedding. If ever we’d have our wedding again, we would always chose Myio in a heartbeat! ❤ ❤ ❤

3. Asia Wedding Network1. Wedding Chicks4. Wedding Essentials5. Marry to Merry

PROS

  • Superbly amazing photos!!! They produce artistically-done images that you just won’t get tired of looking for decades! Our wedding features are a living testament of that! ❤
  • Myio and his team came early and were automatically on work-mode upon entering the Hotel Preps area. They also seem to have a great working relationship with our Coordinator, Videographer, and the rest of our major suppliers so there were no problems during our wedding.
  • The team was composed of young, amazing talents that deal with their clients Professionally, ensuring a great working atmosphere. They were so fun to be with, it’s as if you’re just talking to your longtime friends.
  • Communicating with them before, during and especially even after the wedding was not a problem. Myio would really find time to respond with our concerns especially with our requests for the final output of our Wedding Albums.
  • They’ve got great and affordable packages and would always offer promos during Bridal Fairs.

CONS

  • There were some important shots that the team forgot to take such as the Mom and Daughter photo during the Bridal preps.
  • We had a two revisions for the draft revisions  for our Wedding Photo Albums that went on for months before it was finally published. There were some minor misunderstanding in the selection of photos,  how the layout would be done and with the printing for the final output. But, this was something you can actually overlook because of the excellent “super-duper” final product!

CONTACT INFO:
Myio Okamoto Photography
http://www.myiookamoto.com/
FB: Myio Okamoto Photography
(+63917) 178 6946

Wedding Music Planner

Weddings will never be weddings without music. Music is present everywhere even through the Prenup videos, AVPs and wedding SDEs that would be played during reception includes music that’s either the videographer’s choice or the couple’s. Music is considered part of the program proper, from the ceremony till reception so planning out the perfect playlist for the wedding is essential to ensure that the event will be more magical!

Below are the things that you need to consider when creating your own Wedding Music Planner.

Continue reading “Wedding Music Planner”

How to deal with RSVPs and Guest Lists?

The non-VIP seats for our Entourage and Guests

Dealing with your RSVPs can be a headache unless you plan it out perfectly because realistically it’s not common in Filipino traditions. What’s worse is how to properly deal with them and explain to every single person included in your guest lists that they are important. Unfortunately, even if you pay extra fees for RSVP services since not all Coordinators offer free in their packages, it’s rare to get even 50% confirmation since a lot has to be considered before you’d get their sweet yes!

Below are some of the things on how to deal with RSVPs depending on your guest list type.

Continue reading “How to deal with RSVPs and Guest Lists?”

4D/3N Bagan, Myanmar

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မင်္ဂလာပါ! “Mingalabar!”
(pronounced as ming-ga-la-ba) “Hello” in Burmese.

Ever wonder how it feels like seeing a beautiful Sunset while overlooking  1,000 year-old ancient temples, stupas and pagodas within reach? Then you have to pack your bags and head straight to the underrated Ancient City of Bagan in Myanmar!

 

Landlocked between India (on the left), China (on the right) and Thailand (below), Myanmar or as it was formerly called Burma, is an astonishing country rich in culture and Buddhist relics that date back more than a millenia. Built around mid-9th century, the ancient city boasts around 2,200 temples, stupas and pagodas that still exists today scattered all over the Bagan Archaeological Zone.

What’s more interesting in this part of our trip is the memorable experience of taking a long-day flight that needs to do 2 plane changes and 3 stop-overs that  felt like a bus without leaving the airplane!

TRANSPORTATION

Getting to Bagan can be done by bus, boat, train, and plane from either Yangon and Mandalay. Although the most popular mode for the locals and backpackers were by bus and since our time is limited, we prefer to book our flight from Bangkok instead which was our base station for the duration of our Indochina trip.

Unfortunately, there is no direct flight from Bangkok to Bagan, Myanmar. Instead, after countless of researching for the cheapest flight possible we ended up with Myanmar Airlines, where we were able to book a connecting flight from Bangkok to Yangon, Myanmar, then from Yangon to Heho, Mandalay and finally to Nyaung-U with in-flight meals and 30 kilos baggage allowance per person. We departed from Bangkok International Airport at 11 AM and was able to reach Nyaung-U domestic airport at 6:20 PM because of 3 stop-overs from Yangon International Airport, Heho Airport, and Mandalay International Airport. Overall, the flight was 7 hours and 20 minutes overall, including transit time between flights.

 

VISA

Similar to other ASEAN countries, Philippine passport holders can enjoy 14 days of stay in Myanmar visa-free! 

Since our last destination is Nyaung-U where Bagan is located, we were only cleared once for immigration after we arrived at Yangon International Airport (RGN). There was actually a confusion when it comes to our luggage because we were the only passengers with that route on that day. Because we need to change planes for our domestic flight, we were told to go to the next terminal just outside RGN together with our bags.

 

TIME ZONE

Even if Myanmar (GMT +6:30) is part of Indochina, it is 1 hour and 30 minutes behind Manila Time (GMT +8).

CURRENCY

Myanmar’s currency is called the Burmese Kyat (MMK or Ks) but just like its neighboring countries, USD dollars are also widely accepted here. Exchanging Philippine Peso to Burmese Kyat is not recommended because of the low rate. Instead, it is advisable to exchange your US dollars to Burmese Kyat and use the Kyat when transacting locally like buying food and souvenirs, especially in Bagan.

$1 = 1,368 Myanmar Kyat
Php 1 = 25.64 Myanmar Kyat

LANGUAGE

Burmese is the official language in Myanmar although English is also being used to communicate with tourists.

DRESS CODE AND BEHAVIOR

Since Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar, it is normal to see locals wear traditional clothing called longyi for men, a patterned fabric wrapped around the waist similar to sarong especially in rural areas such as in Bagan. Eventhough tourists are not required to wear them, it is highly advisable to wear decent clothing that covers the shoulders and knees, especially when entering religious areas such as Temples and Pagodas.

Be also mindful that footwear is strictly prohibited inside religious grounds, even as far as the temple gate or courtyard, just as long as it is within the Temple and Pagoda premises. This was something that we weren’t informed before our temple hopping tours so we were literally suprised to go barefoot whenever we enter holy grounds.

 

CONNECTIVITY

In big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay, connectivity is not an issue since sim card packs can be bought in airports and stores. Unfortunately, the internet signal is slow in Bagan so it is not advisable to buy 4G LTE sim cards or have your own wifi with you. Instead, check with your hotel for a better internet connection that you can use.

HOTEL

Since Bagan is in the rural part of Myanmar, hotels and inns are limited. What makes it more difficult is the fact that Bagan is divided into two main areas: Old Bagan and New Bagan. Finding the best possible accommodation that is near the airport and the famous temples and pagodas is tricky since they are spread across the city.

For our 3 nights stay, we booked at Sky View Hotel which is 10 minutes from Nyaung-U Airport located at N. 69 Shwe Knat Kaw Street, Zay Ya Waddy Quarter in Nyaung-U with rave reviews from Tripadvisor.

Just as expected, the hotel offers basic facilities with no swimming pool and elevator since it’s only 3 floors high although there was a nice rooftop where the in-house restaurant is located. The rooftop boasts a 360-degree view of New Bagan, overlooking temples and pagodas nearby. The room and bathroom that we booked were spacious. The bedsheets were also clean and the staffs are polite and attentive to our needs. They also have a routinary mosquito spraying time around 6 PM whether you’re inside the room to keep the place insect free. The only downside is the food that they have in their hotel which is very, very basic because it has few options and it tastes bland. There was also a point where the utensils that we were using smelled fishy, which was a letdown. But overall it’s definitely a good option for its price!

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FOOD 

If you’re a vegan and you like less spicy curry, then you’d definitely dig Burmese food. The local dishes were a fusion of Thai and Indian, but the taste comes quite bland for us although that may just be our take. Anyway, other than the in-house hotel restaurants, there are also a few restaurants that look like carinderias in Old and New Bagan that offer dishes at an affordable rate. Typically, one main dish with rice costs around 4,500 Kyat ($2.88 or Php 155) and one glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice costs around 2,000 Kyat ($1.20 or Php 69).

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SAFETY

When we first arrived at Bagan, we didn’t really think that it’s a city, but only a small town because of the simplicity of its surroundings. It’s actually normal to see herds of cows everywhere other than the scattered temples and pagodas. Since it’s quite hard to reach as compared to Mandalay, it is also not crowded with tourists so most of the time you have the whole place to yourselves. Even if there are no CCTVs in the streets and the Police Station located only in New Bagan, the place is too serene and very welcoming for people to stroll around even at night. Try to be careful not to get lost because the place is huge if you plan to just walk or when you encounter wild animals such as snakes.

ITINERARY

DAY 1

  • Depart from BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport via Myanmar Airlines
  • Arrival at Yangon International Airport
  • Connecting Flight from Yangon International Airport to Nyaung-U Domestic Airport
  • We bought our Bagan Archaeological Pass that is good for 5 days at the Nyaung-U airport for Php 850 ($15 or 25,000 Kyat) each before heading to the hotel
  • Check-in at Sky View Hotel for Deluxe Double Room for 2pax (Php 3,803.07 or $70 or 109,100 Kyat) all-in for 4D/3N including taxes and buffet breakfast. Airport transfer costs 5,000 Kyat ($3.15 or Php 170) per way

 

 

DAY 2

  • Bagan Cultural Full Day Tour
  • We booked our tour online through Klook for a private car for Php 3,592 ($73.24 or 103,857 Kyat) inclusive of English speaking tour guide. Our tour guide, Mr. Khant together with the driver, Mr. Moon arrived on time. They were both polite, attentive and informative about the important historical sites of Ancient Bagan. Since we finished early, we were also able to go to other non-touristy sites other than what we have on the list.
    • Shwezigon Pagoda
    • Gubyaukgyi Temple and Myazedi Pagoda
    • Htilominlo Temple
    • Dhammayangyi Temple
    • Thatbyinnyu Temple
    • Nanpaya Temple
    • Ananda Temple
    • Nara Thihapatae Hpaya
    • Manuha Temple
    • Shwesandaw Pagoda
    • Gawdawpalin Temple

 

 

Shwezigon Pagoda

 

Gubyaukgyi Pagoda

 

Htilominlo Temple

 

Dhammayangyi Temple

 

Thatbyinnyu Temple

 

Nanpaya Temple

 

 

Ananda Temple

  • We had lunch at Treasure Restaurant which serves authentic Burmese food. Unfortunately, even if the location has fantastic views of pagodas (literally beside the restaurant) and the food was really affordable, the dishes served were a bit bland for our taste.

 

  • Min Nan Thu Village. We visited the local village located inside Old Bagan to see their daily activities such as weaving, handicraft and the use of thanaka tree bark for make-up and sunscreen which is common for the locals
  • Sunset hill site viewing at Ko Mauk Lake

 

Min Nan Thu Village

 

Nara Thihapatae Hpaya

 

 

Sunset Viewing Site at Ko Mauk Lake

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DAY 3

  • Chill day at the Hotel to explore the facilities
  • DIY travel around the nearby areas using Tuk-tuk for 6,000 Kyat ($3.84 or Php 207)  roundtrip
  • Dinner at Sanon Training Restaurant located at Pyu Saw Hti Street next to Nyaung U Thante Hotel which serves a variety of delicious authentic gourmet-style Burmese dishes. This place is a must-try! What’s more interesting is their charitable advocacy to help fund the education of the local children of Bagan from its earnings!

 

DAY 4

  • Depart Nyaung-U Airport (3 stopovers again) to Yangon International Airport and back to Bangkok International Airport which was our base station

 

Overall expenses for 4D/3N Bagan, Myanmar Tour (excluding airfare and souvenirs)

  • Hotel: Php 3,803.07
  • Airport Transfer two-way: Php 340
  • Bagan Archaeological Zone Pass for 2pax: Php 1,700
  • Private Car with Tour Guide: Php 3,938
  • Tuktuk Roundtrip: Php 207
  • Food: Php 2,255

OVERALL TOTAL for TWO PAX : Php 12,243.07 (US $227 ~)

Note: The cost of souvenirs and airfare have been excluded in the overall expenses computation because of the seasonal rate and promo that we were able to get. 

TIPS:

  1. A helpful list of Bagan temples and pagodas can be found here.
  2. Majority of the affordable hotels and restaurants are located near the airport, while the expensive ones are located in Old Bagan, so be sure to plan ahead where you will be staying.
  3. If you plan to buy a Longyi for your souvenir, better buy it in the market and not from the Villages or at stalls located outside the temples because they usually sell it 3-4x its normal price! A good quality and standard cotton longyi is only around 5,000 Kyat ($3.20 or Php 172).
  4. Do not exchange your money in unauthorized stores especially in Bagan because you can get scammed. Instead, get your US dollars exchanged to Kyat in exchange centers administered by the banks located in New Bagan.
  5. Credit Cards are widely accepted in the other cities, but not in Bagan because we didn’t find a restaurant that accepts Mastercard or Visa for payment. They also prefer to be paid in Kyats and not in USD especially the small restaurants. But if you have no Kyats, your USD will be accepted but be mindful that you’ll receive your extra change in Kyats which would be of less value if you plan to travel to another country other than Myanmar.

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All-in-Wedding Packages or Direct Supplier Booking?

Planning a wedding can be quite daunting especially when you’re on a tight budget. What makes it worse is the added confusion of whether to get an All-In Package from a company or to book the Suppliers directly, DIY style?

Below are some of the pros and cons of the two to give you an idea.

Continue reading “All-in-Wedding Packages or Direct Supplier Booking?”

5D/4N Siem Reap, Cambodia

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Angkor Wat

ជំរាបសួរ! Chum Reap Suor!” (pronounced as choum-reap-sore) 
It means “Hello” in Cambodian.

If you’ve seen Tomb Raider, then you’ll definitely recognize the huge Banyan trees that were entwined with the centuries-old temples of Angkor. The scene that showcased it was only a small depiction of the majestic beauty of the Khmer empire or modern-day Cambodia as we all know today. As an option for travelers on their honeymoon that want to explore the cultural origins of Cambodia which were packed with centuries-old temples as part of an Indochina itinerary, then Siem Reap is the ideal place to be! This is the reason why among other beautiful cities of Cambodia we preferred to have our first stop in the home of a famous UNESCO heritage site – the Angkor Wat.

Continue reading “5D/4N Siem Reap, Cambodia”