Our Semi-DIY, Simple But Lovely, Cheap But Not Tacky Wedding

By Sarah Aterrado - June 04, 2019

When Jan and I planned our wedding, we agreed to keep it simple because it reflects who we are individually and as a couple. And also, truthfully, we're on a tight budget.

But we all know that even the simplest weddings can burn a huge chunk of money—in a blink of an eye at that. Budget was a big deal for us. And since we splurged on travel and made a trip to Japan just a little over a month before the wedding (hashtag that, priorities hehe), we decided to scrimp on some wedding details.

Don't get us wrong. We want our wedding day to be special. It's just that, extravagance isn't really our cup of tea.So I'll share with you how we pulled off a simple but beautiful, cheap but not tacky wedding. And consider this a post of gratitude to everyone who made our big day possible, beautiful, and fun!

DIY Wedding Philippines

Might be a little late for a warning but, IMAGE OVERLOAD!


Being nature lovers and frequent travelers, we decided to go for a rustic, travel-themed wedding. I scoured Facebook for weeks for the perfect decorator that would suit our style.

Rustic Wedding Theme

One inquiry after another, we decided to work with Fayery Concepts for three reasons:

1. They specialize in rustic themed weddings. But I know they can pull off other themes as well;
2. Their price is reasonable;
3. Ms. Faye is really nice, approachable, and professional. She knows her craft well. I just gave her an idea or two and left everything up to her and voila! Her team went beyond expected.

Rustic Wedding Theme
The reception setup.


Initially, we wanted to have a beach wedding. But we were worried about accessibility and decided to have a garden wedding instead. Our first choice was at Ocean Cove (garden wedding with a beach view). It would've been a cheaper choice. But since it was an open air clubhouse, we feared about being uncomfortable when it gets too hot and humid, or windy.

We immediately booked our next location, Hotel Tropika. It might be five times pricier than Ocean Cove, but the place is easily accessible and we no longer have to worry about the hotel room for preparations, tables and chairs, sound system, food, or bad weather. And the garden is just right beside the reception hall - which could only mean, shaving off the expenses for a bridal car.

Cheap, frugal, wedding Philippines
The ceremony setup.
Cheap, frugal, wedding
Our officiating minister is my youth mentor/leader/kuya, Rev. Melvin Serrano.
I didn't really want to spend a hefty amount for a dress that I would wear for only a day. And honestly, I wasn't really particular about the color or style. I am flexible and I'm good with anything that's comfy.

So I took a leap of faith and bought my dress online for only P2,300+.

Buying wedding dress online
Bought at alixepress.com

And it did not disappoint.

RTW Wedding Dress

The dress did look good on me, except that, I wouldn't be able to walk properly in it with my flat shoes on unless I keep on holding the dress up.

Ready-to-wear Wedding Dress
My dress without a petticoat
So I hastily threw in a petticoat a few minutes before the wedding. I wasn't able to wear it properly (the wire should be touching the ground), but heck, it didn't matter if the petticoat came a tad higher because this clumsy, no-poise bride was able to walk down the aisle without tripping at all. And that's more important. Haha.
Mermaid Wedding Dress
My dress with a mermaid petticoat.

Pre-wedding Dress/Look

I didn't want to spend a single cent on a bridal robe that I probably wouldn’t use again. So I wore a dress I got at the ukay-ukay for my pre-wedding look. It's only P50, can you tell?

Cheap, frugal, wedding Philippines


We were also able to cut down expenses on entourage since we did not have a traditional one. We only had a best man, maid of honor, ring/coin bearer, bible bearer, and a flower girl just so the significant people of our lives will have a special walk down the aisle.

We bought the dresses of the MoH (P300+) and flower girl (P150+) online. Male entourage outfits were rented for less than a thousand pesos each.
Wedding on a budget Philippines


We're against anything designed for single use (wedding shoes with killer heels, for example). Hence, we wore shoes that we'd probably use forever. It's so comfy!
Sneakers on Wedding
This is going to be our official travel shoes.

Wedding Singer

We're so glad we didn't have to pay for a wedding singer. My Tawag Ng Tanghalan contestant goddaughter, Queenny, serenaded us with her soulful rendition of love songs.
Wedding on a budget Philippines


Never ever take the emcee for granted. They give life to the reception. And we're pleased that we had Kenneth Dollente on board. There was never a dull moment with him.
Wedding on a budget Philippines

Makeup Artist

DO NOT EVER SCRIMP ON THIS ONE. Choose an artist whom you trust. I had my makeup done by my batch mate, Tiny Pinili and hair by Reymark Montinola. Their team really did an awesome job in unleashing the artista in me. Haha!
DIY Bride
Pre-wedding and wedding look


All the official photos here are by Love Dot Date Production. It was really easy and fun to work with them. I love their output, especially those captured candid moments.
DIY Bride

You may also watch our SDE video here.

A semi-DIY wedding
Most of the wedding expenses will be taken out from Jan's pocket. I didn't want to burden him that much but I would still want to make our big day extra special. So I became creative with things I can do to add a personal touch to our wedding. Although with all honesty, there were times I get frustrated because I couldn't get things done right. I had abandoned a few DIY projects because I figured it's not really worth the stress. But most of the time, I enjoyed every minute doing things for our wedding.


We designed, printed, and made our own invitation. I was a web / UI/UX / graphics designer by profession, it would be an insult if I didn't do my own design when in fact, I've already designed a lot of invitations for my friends.

Passport Wedding Invitation
Inside that tiny burlap sack is our arras (wedding coins)
DIY Passport Wedding Invitation
Design, print, cut bind.

Welcome Board

This was done out of boredom. Haha. This is made from scrap materials I can find in the house.
DIY Wedding Philippines - Welcome Board
My ever supportive childhood church friends.


Wedding favors tend to be forgotten somewhere inside a shelf out there. We don't want to add clutter to our guests' life so we opted to give away something that's practical (and healthy too).

We shared with our guests our favorite calamansi concentrate. It's one of our ninang's business and it was such a blessing that she gave it as a gift for us.
DIY Practical Wedding Favors
Thank you, Ninang Marisa!
We got the bottles from TJ Packaging in Dakudao Street. We designed, printed, and painstakingly cut and affixed the labels. Of course, it would not be possible without my friend Claire's trusty paper cutter.
DIY Wedding Favors
Thanks for lending your paper cutter, kurer!

Tokens for Sponsors

We wanted something that's useful and memorable for our beloved sponsors. We customized a perfume for them from NMK Styleco. We wanted our sponsors to feel that we are, indeed, grateful. So I designed the label with their names on for a more personal touch. We absolutely love the smell and we hope our sponsors do, too.

Wedding Tokens for Sponsors

Ring Holder

I saw this idea on Pinterest. And I was so excited when I found this beautiful piece of wood at iconarts in Gmall. I bore two holes in it (yes, I could be a handyman too) and was supposed to engrave our names on it. But with the lack of tools (lack of skills more likely), I failed at engraving miserably. So I just designed our names and left the engraving to the professional.

We only had a few days left before the wedding when I contacted Miss Sue of  Sei&Dre's Craft to have the ring holder engraved. We're thankful that she still catered us despite her work load. But not all things go as planned. Her laser machine suddenly stopped working and I wasn't really keen on contacting others because, honestly, of all the laser engraving businesses that I have contacted, she is the friendliest and most professional to deal with.

But I am so glad she had other options. We had this one painted instead. And she did an excellent job!
Rustic wedding ring holder
Wedding rings from Oddysseus Suarez.

Cake and Cake Topper

I wanted to steer away from the usual cake toppers (you know, that Mr. and Mrs. or that bride and groom figures). I designed a cake topper that screams who we are as a couple.

DIY Wedding Design - Cake Topper

The cake topper was done by Sei&Dre's Craft. While ur beautiful cake was made by Sarah Cachuela.

Rustic Themed Cake - Blue Gradient

We wanted the same colors as our favorite beach, Dahican, and it was so pretty! More than that, it was a delicious moist chocolate cake. I don't really like chocolate cakes, but this one is definitely an exception.


You may find guestbooks, like any other wedding favors, kept somewhere inside a couple's cabinet. We wanted something we can look at in case we try to kill each other over bacon. So I designed our official logo (which you can also see in the invitations and wedding favors) and had our custom guestbook made by House of Wooden Letters.

I'm really not surprised how it turned out beautiful because I've already seen their work before. But you know what's even more beautiful? It's the well wishes written by our lovely guests.
Rustic Wedding Guestbook
Sa kapal at tibay nito, this could also double as a chopping board! Hehe. Kidding!
And I quote, "Sarah and Carlo, congrats.. kung mag-away mo ayaw ninyo paabuta sa Tulfo brothers ha? Continue the love..."

Duly noted, kind sir.

Prenup Shoot

We skipped the prenup shoot and made our own AVP because we'd rather show our guests the memories that built the foundation of the love they're witnessing at that moment. Hence, here's three minutes of our travel photos:

Overall, our wedding expenses exceeded our 150k budget a little bit. We spent more or less 200k. That's pretty steep for us. And honestly, if we  haven't splurged on the wedding ring and the venue, we might have spent only around 120k for this.

But considering that it's 2019 and we have almost everything personalized to truly reflect who we are as a couple, it was held in a nice and comfortable venue with delectable food, and we worked with an awesome team to ensure an absolutely stress-free wedding, that's already cheap by current standards.
Budget Wedding Philippines
Our first dance. Never Fade by Jack Johnson
Here's the breakdown:
Fayery Concepts (includes: decoration, on-the-day coordination, lights, bubble machine, green carpet rental, emcee, spinner, bridal and entourage boquet/flowers) - 41,500
Photo/Video - 18,500
Reception Venue (Hotel Tropika 100pax) - 58,000
Garden (Ceremony) - 5,000
Dress (bride, groom, entourage) - 5,400
HMUA (bride, moh, mother, flower girl) - 10,000
Sponsor tokens - 6,080
Wedding favors (bottles, sticker paper) - 2,500
Invitation (board paper, paper) - 250
Cake topper and painted ring holder - 180
Cake - 3,500
Cocktails - 1,500
Lechon - 10,000
Photobooth - 4,500
Corkages, extra charges, etc - 5,000+

Total: Php 153,360+

Other expenses include the incidentals, token for the pastor, wedding ring, shoes (didn't put this on  the wedding expenses since we use this casually after the wedding) - 40,000++

That's it! I hope this post have been helpful and informative to anyone who's also planning a wedding.

Of course, this union wouldn't be possible without our families, including my papa who was not able to make it (kami na lang daw pupunta sa US). They have supported us emotionally, spiritually, and financially. We are truly grateful that they have been with us every step of the way.

My family (L-R: My sister, Abi, Rhett, my nephew, Kyrie, and my rockin mom)
My new family. :)
I know I would sound biased here, but I have got to say, this is definitely the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended to and the most beautiful love story that's ever written. E-ver.

DIY Rustic Themed Wedding
Mr. and Mrs. Aterrado!

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  1. It was one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I have attended and didn't expect the budget was that reasonable! It was an excellently planned wedding, practical yet fabulous!!! Am so proud that I was part of the entourage. Congratulations Sarah and Jan my inaanak!!! Pwede ka nang maging consultant for weddings with tight budget. Thank you for sharing your tips.

    1. Thank you, Ninang Teng! Our hottest and sexiest ninang! :*

  2. Sarah you are such a gorgeous bride! I love that it is simple but it doesn't look cheap. Standard na yung 150k but mostly non air na yun and generic lang lahat. This one is really personalized. So you. I love it!

    1. Thank you! Yes, on today's rates, a customized wedding would cost us double. Actually, we could do a cheaper one. We could cut off expenses for the venue kaya nga lang, we think it would be uncomfortable for us and our guest (tagaktak pawis namin nyan since it's summer). Haha.

  3. What a beautiful wedding!It does not look cheap at all. Ang ganda ganda mo rin. =)

    Congrats to you and Jan!!!

  4. Nice ka sarj! Dili na ni katingalahan. You have always been smart, creative and practical ever since! Congrats! Gwapa kaayo ka. Idol gyud tika!

    1. Naunsa na man ning comment nimo kahassle ba

    2. I had to be creative para makatipid. You know naman, travel among priority. Haha.

      Regarding sa comments, yeah, I've been receiving a lot of feedback lately. Comments can't get through and if it does, you'll be forced to sign up to blogger. I guess that's because Google has already removed the google+ profiles. No wonder why this blog hasn't getting a lot of comments recently, unlike before.

  5. Beautiful couple, beautiful wedding! I swear, hindi talaga sya mukhang cheap. I love the invitation and your guestbook it's not very common. Ang ganda lahat ng na DIY mo. I love everything about your wedding. Congratulations!!!

    1. Thank you so much! Yung mga DIY ideas nakuha ko lang din sa pinterest. :)