Wedding Reception Venue Booked: Traveler’s Hotel and Event Center Subic

The major expense of all our wedding expeses is the Reception Venue.

This is something that we honestly weren’t able to consider when we booked the church.

Subic in the world of weddings only means one thing: Expensive. It is somehow considered a destination wedding since it will be held in a famous tourist place. Though there are lots of hotels in the area, it was still hard for us to find a venue with a reasonable price.

Here’s our criteria in finding the perfect reception venue:

  1. It has to be big enough to accommodate our guests.
  2. It has to be near the church.
  3. The food should be satisfying in all aspect or we should be allowed to bring our own caterer.
  4. It has to be a classy high ceiling and carpeted function room.
  5. And, the inclusions should meet most of our needs.

So again, being an OFW couple, we will not be able to conduct ocular visits right away. So, family’s suggestion and Google helped us a lot.

My brother suggested Traveler’s Hotel as it is known for its high ceiling and good food. So, I immediately put that on the list and googled it.

After googling for sometime, I already completed my list.

  1. Traveler’s Hotel
  2. Segara Villas
  3. Lighthouse Marina Resort
  4. Vista Marina Hotel and Resort
  5. Subic Bay Yacht Club
  6. White Rock Beach Resort
  7. Mansion Garden Hotel

I sent an inquiry to all of them but only 4 responded.

  1. Traveler’s Hotel and Event Center – Since this is our top choice, we were very enthusiastic to receive their response but the energy slowly died down after seeing their rate. haha! Their initial offer was 390,000 Php for 200 pax. Their inclusions are very good though.
    – Complimentary use of 1 Function Room
    – Two nights stay in 1 Executive Room
    – Delectable Managed Buffet Menu
    – Bottomless Iced Tea
    – Welcome Drinks with Hors d’oeuvres
    – One crispy lechon
    – Bridal Shower Party
    – Fondant Wedding cake with cupcakes
    – Champagne for the Bridal Toast
    – Doves for ceremony
    – Luxurious Bridal Car (Lomousine)
    – Personalized Guest Book with Pen
    – Photo Booth for 3 hours
    – Backdrop with Floral Arrangement
    – Centerpiece for Tables and Buffet Table
    – Food tasting for chosen menu
    – Lights and sounds with LCD Projector
    – Wedding Party Host
    – Welcome Streamer at the Hotel entrance
    – 50% discount on Room accommodation for guestsBut still, it’s still way beyond our budget. 🙁
  2. Segara Villas – Their rate was 299,800 Php for 200 pax. Their inclusions are almost the same as Traveler’s except that theirs include a massage for two the day after the wedding, and a complimentary room for the groom. However, they only offer a 20% discount for the guests’ room. Technically, their offer is a lot cheaper and has extra perks. We can also do our pre-nuptial photoshoot in their establishment for free.
  3. Lighthouse Marina Resort – Their rate is way way way more expensive. It starts from 437,800 Php to 520,350 Php for 150 guests. So, this is obviously off the list since it doesn’t meet our requirements and they only offer an outdoor reception.
  4. Mansion Garden Hotel – They offered us 280,000 Php for 200 pax. However, their offer has a lot of restrictions. Rooms are not sound proof so loud music or live bands can only play until 9:00 PM. You cannot use a smoke machine. You cannot bring any extra dish even if you pay a corkage fee. And there is an additional fee for almost everything; LED Wall will be charged for 5,000 Php. Red Carpet will be charged for 2,000 Php. Photobooth for an extra charge of 500 Php. I believe we will spend more in paying these extra charges so this is definitely a no-no. Also, decorations are not provided by the hotel and They have an additional 5% service charge.

After all the search, we are only left with two options; Traveler’s Hotel and Segara Villas. I immediately asked my family to visit the places and get back to me. I am so thankful that my family are always ready to help us out.

After visiting, they made their vote. Though both facilities has their own advantages, they still voted for Traveler’s because it has more class. We tried to make their offer a little bit more friendly by negotiating and by excluding some of the package inclusions. We were able to get a 40,000 Php discount. The new offer was 350,000 Php. We think it’s still pricey so I just decided to wait until I go home so I can personally negotiate and visit the hotel. We haven’t heard from the agent since we last inquired so there is no clear deal.

I went home last January 2019. I rested for two days then drove to Subic to scout for the perfect venue. Though I am only torn between Traveler’s Hotel and Segara Villas, I still decided to visit different hotels.

My grandmother insisted that we visit ACEA Waterpark. She said she has been there and it’s a beautiful place for a wedding since it is near the beach. It’s a 20 minute drive from the church. When we got there, sure we were amazed because it has a good view and a good hall. But, there’s no available marketing staff to deal with our queries. Considering the hassle that our guests will go through just to get to the hotel from the church, we just crossed it out.

Then, we immediately went to Segara Villas. We were greeted by friendly staff and welcome drinks. We had a sit down meeting with Ms. Joy. After discussing all the requirements, she toured us around the area. Segara Villas is inspired by the Indonesian Culture. I see a lot of Bali inspired decorations. Their Villas are also Bali inspired. It’s beautiful and picturesque. Their suite is perfect for honeymooners. It is so private and it has a nice bath tub. I love it. Then, we checked out their function room. Their function hall is a deal breaker. It is a large open space with a lot of unnecessary pillars in the middle. It is not carpeted and it lacks class. The main entrance of the hall is on the side. This really made me sad because I badly wanted to stay in one of their villas. Ms. Joy promised to send their proposal but she didn’t. I didn’t bother following up because I didn’t like their function hall.

We passed by the Best Western Hotel so we just decided to give it a look. Their function hall would have been good if it is bigger. It can only accommodate 100 guests, 150 max but it would be too jampacked. Their function hall is adjacent to a resto-bar and they proposed to open up the bar for our extra guests. But, we don’t want that set up.

Obviously, we are only left with Traveler’s Hotel. On the way there, I was just praying that we get a good deal because that’s our only option. When we got to the hotel, we requested for a new marketing officer to deal with since the first one is very unresponsive. They gave us Ms. Joan who is very accommodating and soft spoken. We also found out that we are from the same place; Bataan. She toured us around the hotel. First, she showed us the way to the function hall. The guests can take a grand staircase going to the function hall on the second floor. She suggested to decorate that area to put a nice entry way. We can also put cocktail tables so the guests can have something to eat while waiting for the program to start. For convenience, guests can also use the elevator. She helped us picture out the possible set up of the reception. There’s an alloted photobooth space at the lobby. Then before entering the hall, there’s an aisle where we can put a tunnel entrance. When we got inside the function hall, I was surprised because it looks bigger than in pictures.

She presented us the new package. It was still too pricey at first but when we excluded the styling, flower arrangement, and the lechon; she gave us a final quotation that somehow suits our budget for 200 guests. A 50% downpayment is needed upon contract signing but Ms. Joan is generous enough to help us out. She agreed that we can pay the 50% on a monthly basis and other half to be paid days prior to the event. This is a good deal for us. We wouldn’t have to stress ourselves in paying the half all at once.

After our ocular visit, I immediately discussed it with the fiance so we can make a decision. It wasn’t a hard decision since the answer is very obvious. Days after, I found myself together with my family and the fiance’s family in the hotel to pay for the 20,000 reservation fee. We finally closed the deal and we couldn’t be happier to see our plans becoming a reality. Ms. Joan toured us again and gave us tips on how to style the venue; where to place the photobooth, the buffet table, etc. Planning is so much more exciting now that we can picture out the church and venue. I must say that on my recent visit to the venue, I had that “this is it” feeling. I can imagine how beautiful our wedding party would be. The place where our family and friends will unite for our union. I am just so excited to see the people we both love together in one room.

We just really thank God for leading us to the right place and people. Everything is going smoothly so far. We are just months away from our big day. <3

XOXO: A Confession

We all have stories we won’t ever tell.

But, have you ever imagine how liberating it would be once we let that story out into the open?

It was February 26, 2009. A year after my college graduation. I had to miss my nephew’s first birthday. It was my flight to Doha, Qatar. I left my beloved Philippines and put all my hopes in the bag. Hope for the brighter future.

I boarded the plane. My flight was luckily upgraded to business class. It was a comfortable and fancy journey. A good start for my brand new start. It was like an affirmation of what awaits me.

After nine hours, I finally reached my destination. I was greeted by my brother at the airport. The weather was amazing. It was winter. There were flowers everywhere. We headed to a famous shopping mall. I bought the essentials; toiletries, food, etc. After dinner, we went to this Venice, Italy – like spot. We rode the gondola. It was fun.

We headed home just in time for sleeping. Reality sets in. My brother’s place was like a slum. Tenants had to share the toilet and kitchen outside the compound. We lived on the second floor. So we had to go out of our house if we want to cook or use the toilet. It is cold during winter. Taking a shower is a challenge. It is still clear to me when I washed my clothes for the very first time. Our family is not rich but I don’t do my laundry. The washing machine in our compound is not automatic. I had to manually rinse and dry my clothes. I was crying while doing my laundry. But, I told myself to get used to it because I would have to deal with it for quite a while until we transfer into a more decent house. Right there and then I knew my journey won’t be easy and I was not even close to the end.

I came to Qatar on a tourist visa that is valid for a month. I had a hard time finding a job since I had no working experience. All I wanted that time was to work in an office and decorate my little cubicle just like what I see in movies. I sent my CV to every possible company, I ask referals from people. A week before my visa expires, I received an offer letter from a luxury department store. I was offered a sales job. It means I would have to let go of my goal to work in an office and do paper works; I will fold and arrange clothes instead. It was a make or break decision. Decline the offer and go home or accept the offer and stay. I have always wanted to give back to my family. But, I can’t swallow my pride. I may not be the best one in school but I did great during my school years. I studied in a good school. People believed in me. I believed in myself. My hopes were high.

I sighed. I cried. I prayed. I signed the job offer.

April 4, 2009. I removed my shoes. The pain was unbearable. I can’t even feel my legs. It was a gruesome first day of work. I never wanted to come back. A year later, I was still standing on the same spot, greeting customers, assisting them while trying on shoes and clothes. It went on for another year. I swallowed the last bit of pride, it took all my self-esteem. But, not my tiny bit of hope. Two years later, I decided to pursue my goal again. I tried to enter the corporate world. Luckily, I got a job offer. I immediately resigned from my job in sales. To my dismay, I was scammed. The offer isn’t legit. The company just closed. I had no idea why did they have to offer me a job if they knew that they are closing. Oh well. I was crushed. I watched my dreams die right before my very eyes. With nowhere to go. I just cried out loud. I was jobless for 2 months then I was told that if I will not find a new employer, my visa will be cancelled and I would have to go home. I had nothing. I wasn’t even done paying my loan from the bank. I didn’t know what to do. I only knew one thing; I can’t go home. I prayed for wisdom, for opportunities, for help. Then I got a call, the department store manager gave me an option. They will not cancel my visa if I will decide to work for them again. I tried my best to escaped that work and now I am being asked to come back. Maybe that is where I was really supposed to be. Maybe I should forget about my goals and just accept my fate. So I did. Same story. Same hardships. It turned all my self esteem into dust. I continued working without any goal but just to support my family and survive. I can’t even count how many shoes I have removed from people’s feet or how many hours I spent standing even if my knees were trembling and my feet were in pain. I lost count of the times when I had to hide in the fitting room, talk to myself in the mirror just to remind her that there is more to life only if I will give it a try.

By God’s grace, I was able to continue working there for two more years. Those years were hard. I was too proud to admit to my friends the kind of work that I do. Whenever I go on vacation in the Philippines, I would tell them that I work in the sales and marketing department. Only few knew my real work. I had to hide the truth from many people because I just can’t tell them. I was too scared to be judged, to be looked down, to be compared, to receive pity. I remember some of my friends in Doha would often invite me to go out during weekends but I always say no. I would tell them I had prior commitments or I was busy but the truth was I work on Fridays. I only get a day off in the middle of the week because the store is usually busy during the weekend. I often get invited to church activities and I couldn’t go even if I wanted to. I would make up excuses. I kept that as a secret for years. I lived with a fear in my heart that soon they will find out.

It was year 2013 when I had courage to try again. A friend referred me to a contracting company. I applied as an admin assistant and I got in. I permanently left my sales job. I will never forget the things it taught me. It was truly a humbling experience. It humbled me so much. But at the same time, it destroyed me. I was scarred. It left me strong but broken. I started having inferiority complex. I was overwhelmed with insecurities, self-pity, and self doubt. I always think that I deserve less so I always sell myself short. I never ask for more thinking that I deserve less. It still affects me up to this time. I know I have to set myself free.

Yes,  my experience didn’t turn out the way I pictured it to be when I left for Doha. I have never met a strong person with an easy past. I lost a part of myself in the process. But, I gained so much more. I learned to be strong when it was my only option. I learned to survive when there is nothing left to do. I learned that the effect the past has on me isn’t something that I want to carry to my future; even to my present. I want to let go of it. I want to empty myself so I can be filled again with so much greater things.

I have a habit of comparing myself to others. It is tiring. I don’t want it anymore. It’s tiring to please the world. It’s tiring to live a life of proving yourself to the world. It’s tiring to want less than what you deserve because you set limits to what you can achieve. It’s tiring to be trapped in a shell when you are meant to experience the world.

We all have stories we won’t ever tell but sometimes, sharing it no matter how ashamed or afraid you are can result to a beautiful thing called freedom.

Today, I am free. I am loved in spite and despite.

What’s your story?

XOXO,

Church Booked: San Roque Chapel – Subic Bay

There’s no other thing to book before everything else but the church. The sacred union will take place there. The magical place where you will receive the sacrament of matrimony. So before we book anything else, we made sure that the church is already booked and secured.

We got engaged on October 7, 2018. After letting that sink in for  a month and after scouting for the perfect church for our big day, we finally found “The One” and booked it on November 3, 2018. Luckily, they are already accepting bookings for 2020 weddings.

We booked the very simple San Roque Chapel in Subic.

We didn’t originally plan to have our wedding in Subic. Since the fiance is from Pampanga and I am from Bataan, we knew that it’s gonna be in either one of those provinces.

So, how did we end up in Subic?

Here are our considerations before booking a ceremony venue.

  1. It has to be air conditioned.
  2. That’s all. HAHA!

My tolerance for heat isn’t very high. Plus, who wants to walk down the aisle sweating, right?

So, I started googling air conditioned churches in Bataan and Pampanga. The options aren’t too many.

I wrote the list of churches in my notebook and googled them one by one.

  1. Arzobispado De Pampanga in San Fernando, Pampanga. – This is where the fiance’s sister got married last September. The church is good and there is a function hall at the back where the reception can take place. We will save so much time and money. But, the fiance doesn’t want to get married in the same church where her sister got married so we crossed it out.

    (c) Bride Worthy

  2. St. John Paul II Parish in Lakeshore – Mexico, Pampanga. – I like the minimalist altar of this Parish. It looks very simple and neat. However, we crossed it out as well as Lakeshore is not very accessible especially to guests who don’t have a car.

    (c) Bride Worthy

    (c) Lakeshore

  3. St. Peter of Verona Parish in Hermosa, Bataan. – It has a look of a classic and traditional church. But, it didn’t give me the “this is it” feeling.

    (c) www.bataan.gov.ph

  4. Sanctuario De San Jose in Las Casas De Filipinas Acuzr in Bagac, Bataan. – When I started planning, I once told myself that my dream wedding would be in Las Casas. I immediately inquired. Their packages are pricey. Their packages are:
    – 1,000,000 Php for 300 guests
    – 600,000 Php for 200 guests
    – 485,000 Php for 150 guests
    – 425,000 Php for 100 guests
    – 300,000 Php for 50 guests
    – 1,888 Php for every extra guest

    Though the inclusions are many and will cover most of the services needed, we still find it too pricey. Also, it is very far and we didn’t want to cause too much hassle to our guests. Also, the chapel inside Las Casas is just a replica. It doesn’t look good in pictures and videos. So, goodbye, it’s not my dream location after all.

    (c) e-philippines.com.ph

    (c) www.senyorita.net

  5. Chapel of Jesus and Mary at Cana in Holy Land, Subic. – This also caught my attention. The church is very classy. Holy Land is a place in Subic where people go for pilgrimage. There are picture worthy spots inside the Holy Land. There is also a tent inside where they hold wedding receptions. So, we really considered this church. I even asked a friend Pam to inquire for me. So she called them and was able to talk to one of the staff who promised to send her the fees but did not. So, I just asked my brother to have an ocular visit and to inquire personally. I cannot do it myself because I am working abroad. Later on, we found out that the visit should be scheduled. We were able to schedule our visit but did not push through after realizing that Holy Land is not accessible to guests without a car. Another thing is, the reception venue is a tent and we are a bit hesitant to hold our reception in a tent.

    (c) Bride Worthy

    (c) Bride Worthy

  6. San Roque Chapel in Subic Bay. This church, from the very first sight, gave me that “this is it” feeling. I fell in love with the all white facade of the chapel. I love the minimalist style of the chapel and there is a huge space outside with lots of trees. The trees provide a lot of shade and fresh air. Even its altar is very simple. The only think that bothers me is that the aisle space is a bit narrow and short and it is not allowed to close the church door during the whole ceremony which means there will be no dramatic door opening for the entrance of the bride. Maybe a curtain entrance will do the trick. But, overall, it’s good. I showed it to the fiance and he instantly fell in love with San Roque Chapel as well. So, there’s nothing left for us to do but to book it. Thanks to my family who is a family of Methodists for being so understanding and for supporting my decision to marry in a Catholic Church.

    (c) www.eckaywashere.com

    (c) www.keywordbasket.com

Since we are abroad, I just asked my family to personally visit the church and to ask for the fees/ donations.

Here’s the breakdown of fees/ donations:

  1. Church:
    – 12,500 Php for local parishoners and 15,000 Php for non-parisioners. This fee is mainly for the ceremony venue and air conditioning. The styling, choir, and other requirements are not included.
  2. Officiant – 3,200 Php

Total: 18,200 Php (for non-parisioners like us.)

They will require you to pay the 50% of the Church fee and the Officiant service fee.

Fortunately, I was able to go home to the Philippines last month (January 2019). The first thing on my To-Do List is to visit San Roque Chapel. It is heartwarming to see it for the first time.

I took a moment of silence and meditated for a while. I stood inside. Alone. Closed my eyes. Took the moment in. Opened my eyes and walked down the aisle. I teared up a bit. It gave me goosebumps and it kinda made me realize what is really happening. I AM REALLY GETTING MARRIED. IN THAT VERY CHURCH AFTER A YEAR. I knew it right at that very moment that we booked the perfect church for our union. Praise God!

Booking the church took as a big step forward into planning. Booking it is like making a promise to God. A promise that noone can ever seal our relationship but Him. We would love to start our happily ever after in His presence. After all, He is the one who wrote our love story. He is the one who lead us to each other. He is the one who sustained us in difficult times. We are forever grateful. In that very church, we will make a promise to love each other because He loved us first.

Much love,