Wednesday, November 14, 2018

5 tips on who to include in your wedding guest list

Some time ago—I can't remember if it was last year or two years ago—my three little boys were looking at our wedding photo album. They said it was beautiful, everyone looked great, but "Where am I, Mama? Why didn't you invite me to your wedding?" Each boy asked this and no matter how I tried to explain that they weren't born yet when the wedding happened, they just couldn't grasp the terrible fact that their own parents didn't invite them to our wedding.

It's so adorable and hilarious!

You know, a guest list is really such a stressful part of the wedding planning. Our initial guest list only had 80 people (30 for my family, 30 for Vince's family, 10 each for his friends and mine). That was all we could afford. So Vince's parents said they'll foot the reception bill so we could invite 250 people. And we did! 

Well, only 160 showed up. I guess only 160 people really cared for us haha. No hard feelings! But that definitely changed how I related to many people, especially those who said they didn't show up because they had work. #AlamNaThis

Anyway, if you recently got engaged or are already in the thick of sorting out your guest list, here are a few tips based on my own wedding planning 11 years ago.

1. Talk to your partner first and foremost.

You spent so much of your life being single that it may be hard to understand that your separate worlds are now becoming one. That means talking about who in your barkadas, office, communities, and families will be invited. Don't promise invitations to the entire barangay if your groom is planning an intimate wedding. 

So talk it over first. The venue is a huge factor—a cathedral can fit hundreds, for example, while a chapel can accommodate maybe 30. Budget is another thing to consider. You may be dreaming of a 3-day feast for all your friends from preschool to present day but if your budget is only P100,000, then that dream will remain a dream. This is also a good time to talk about who you don't want to see at the wedding (exes, people from work, certain relatives, etc).

2. Talk to your family.

Now that you've both agreed on the important matters regarding your guest list, you need to talk with your immediate family next. Tell them what you and your groom talked about so that they won't get carried away with their own guest lists. Or, like in my case with the budget constraints, maybe they can offer to help out. Your parents will make sure you don’t miss any beloved relatives and key members of your community (if that kind of thing is important to them). 

Your parents' opinion - especially if they're footing the bill - matters a big deal!

3. Evaluate your groups.

Now that the families are happy with your guest list, you have to think of your friends. You might feel pressured to invite everyone in your prayer group, the whole department at work, and every single person in your college org because you fear for those who might feel left out. But what you really need to decide is who has been there for you through thick and thin. Think of the people who you know are going to be around for the long haul. Those are the ones you invite.

4. What’s the rule on other halves?

Nowadays guests often expect to have a plus one included with their invite, but that simply shouldn’t be the case. You can never guarantee that boyfriend-girlfriend (BF-BF, GF-GF) relationships are going to last so why spend on the plate of someone you don't know or may probably not be around for your friend by next year? Okay, hard to judge anyone's love life so the one and only rule on other halves is this: If they're married, invite the spouse, too. Some people also invite their guest's fiancé/fiancée. But if it's just a BF/GF, no need to invite them. 

5. It's okay to have 2 guest lists.

How does this happen??? Well, some couples get married abroad. Some couples have a civil ceremony. Some couples have their heart set on a tiny chapel. Some couples, like me and Vince, have different religions and quite a lot of my Born Again guests refused to attend a Catholic service (another story for another day). In those cases, you can have a ceremony guest list and an evening guest list

Vince thanking our 160 guests who made our wedding such a wonderful memory.

Now that you've trimmed your guest list, you can spend more on your luxury wedding invitations. I think a beautiful wedding invitation sets the tone for your wedding and gives your guests an idea on how big/casual/formal/fun/serious it's going to be. So don't go cheap on the invites! 

Your wedding is going to be one of the most special days of your life, so you want to celebrate with the people that truly mean the world to you. Don’t rush the creation of your guest list. Take your time and make sure you are completely happy before sending out those all important invites.

P.S. Anyone getting married soon? Can my littlest boy be part of the entourage??? He's the only one who's not been a page boy and I'm getting desperate haha

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Monday, November 12, 2018

"Always an adventure with Mama!"

My husband tells my kids when we get home later than usual, "Did you have another adventure with Mama?" And my kids will yell, "Yes!" Then they'll tell him where we went and what we did, and while Vince is amused, I know he's also a bit worried that sometimes I take his kids unexpectedly to unexpected places.

My kids' favorite adventure? Jeepney rides. 

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They also like the bus, but only when it's not crowded. They like the MRT. And tricycles. And they like walks.

So why do we go on "adventures," as Vince and the kids call them? It's never intentional, to be honest. Most of the time, we can't book a Grab so I haul them to the bus stop and commute. Sometimes, one kid gets hungry so we check out restaurants near the school.

Sometimes the weather's not friendly (too hot or a downpour happens), so I pull them into a building and we explore whatever's there—an art gallery with weird paintings one time (they were not pleased), a quiet garden with a pond full of curious tortoises another time (they were thrilled).

Sometimes I notice they need a haircut and so they get a sudden buzz. Sometimes I remember they need new shoes so we go shopping. Sometimes we just squat on our haunches on the sidewalk and peer at the shrubbery. Sometimes a kitten is discovered and we feed it. Flowers are picked and offered to me. Caterpillars and cockroaches are pointed out (yes, we found caterpillars along our city roads). Graffiti is studied. And always always strangers become friends. 

People ask me all the time how I can commute with 3 little kids and their huge school bags. I do so because strangers are kind to us. Every day, people help me carry their bags, lift the boys on and off buses, hold a child's hand when crossing the street, share an umbrella when it suddenly rains, hail a taxi (and even give up a taxi) for us.

So we come home from our adventures tired, hot, and smelling of sweat and smog, but we always discover beauty in this ugly city and my kids learn the kindness of strangers. And that is definitely the best kind of adventure!

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

My one and only birthday wish

I'm 42 today! It's a great day! Thank you for all the love all these years!

Today, being a school day, the kids will be in school and my husband will be at work and I'll be doing chores. It's a regular day really but I feel extra blessed today because I have a better attitude about life today than I had with my 40th and 41st birthdays. I'm sharing the photos of my 41st birthday here.

I've always been excited about my birthday. It's the only day I'm allowed to be selfish! So I've always announced it to friends and blog readers a full month before the day to make sure everyone remembers. I never asked for gifts, I just wanted people to greet me. I like tiny parties and because I have an instant guest list of 5 (my husband Vince and our kids, Vito, Iñigo and Piero, plus my sister Jacqui, the only one in my Amper family who celebrates me!), my birthday parties are guaranteed.  On my birthday, I'm always so very happy!

Last year, however, was not such a good year. There was the residual shock and horror from the 2016 elections, which affected my friendships and relationships. Last year was also when two sons entered big school. Their tuition hurts so much because I've never earned so much in my life but it's just not enough. So there was the endless hustle for work work work. While before I enjoyed work because it was fulfilling and paid me lots of money, now all that work and money just seems to slip through my fingers like fine sand.

There was the fact that we are now two years without household help, and that's been really really difficult because I have three small children and juggling so many jobs. And then there was me breaking my toe. There was my asthma—gone for nearly a decade—returning with a vengeance. Then a strange and constant itch on my ankle area drove me crazy. There were many more things that made 2017 a bad year.

I guess that was why when my 40th and 41st birthday rolled around, I did not have the right attitude to celebrate. Last year, especially, found me depressed. I had no money because I had just paid the third quarter tuition. I was too busy with deadlines and chores to come up for air. I remember the morning of my birthday saw me staring into my cup of coffee and feeling worn out and tired. "So this is how 41 feels like—worn out and tired." I am in very many ways so very blessed but on that particular day, I didn't feel it.

I'm a little sad now, remembering that day, because even though it started with me weary, it got better and I wish now I can go back to that sad woman staring into her cup of tepid coffee and tell her, "Snap out of it. Today is your day and it's going to be a great day!"

And it was a great day. It was a great year! Never lose sight of all that is good, I remind myself. Despite my sunny smiles, I'm actually a half-glass empty kinda person so I have to constantly remind myself: "What's the good that happened? What am I grateful for? What do I say when I say thanks to God when I pray tonight?"

And ya know what? I have PLENTY to be thankful for! I loved being 41. It was such a good year! It wasn't the best year, no, since my situation didn't change. I still have to pay tuition. I still have asthma. I still don't have household help. I'm still sooo tired haha. But my attitude changed over the course of the year and with that change came gratitude and opened eyes to what is really an amazing life!

And to remind me that every year means more blessings to look forward to, let me honor the people who make my life truly a gift:

I want to thank my husband (I love you, Vince!) and our wonderful boys (Vito, Iñigo, Piero!) for the constant love—even when I was unlovable.

I want to thank the very few friends and family (special mention: Ginger, Dada, Claire, Kabbie, Jacqui, Theodore, and my Sales family!) who always reach out to me even when I closed myself off because of my exhausting mommy life.

I want to thank my blog readers (especially my Loyal Readers!) for staying through my blog's evolutions and for the comments and encouragement and support.

I want the brands who send us food (Harvest Meals most of all!) and toys and clothes and fun stuff (Netflix the best!) to know that for them it may just be PR but for my little family, your gifts are appreciated so much!


I don't know if you noticed but if you've been reading my blog for a while now, you might have noticed that all my past birthday photos were taken in daylight. I always wake up happy on my big day! When I turned 41 last year, however, I was only happy enough at the end of the day. So that was when we took out the little red velvet cake (thanks to my sister, Jacqui), gathered round the one pink candle, and made a wish.

My husband and kids teased me for taking forever with my wish, but I wasn't really wishing. I kept my eyes closed for a long time because I was stopping myself from crying. I was feeling guilty for not appreciating my wonderful life, overwhelmed with love from my family, and grateful—so incredibly grateful!—I'm alive for yet another year, surrounded by the people I love and who love me.

So I finally did make a wish—for more of these years!—because after coming out of my funk, I saw again how my little corner of the world is so perfect and that my time here is so short and that all I must ever ask from God is more time. More time to be a wife, more time to be a mommy, more time to repair and build relationships, more time to do my work, more time to be grateful.

When I finally opened my eyes, I saw my family (just look at those cute wriggly little boys!) through my tears and blew out that candle thinking, "More time, Lord. I'm going to make this time count!" And He gave me my wish. One more incredible year with the ones I love, with more provisions, with everything we need. Thank You, Father God!

Birthdays are always a new year. My 42nd year on this good earth is about to start and I'm sooo excited for all the new things coming my way! My birthday wish, however, remains the same: Please give me more time to enjoy this life and the gifts of love and friendship, and may I have time to give back that love. For now, as I turn 42, I just want to celebrate how blessed am I to have the most precious gift of all—time!