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February 8, 2011 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Destination Wedding Planning 101

Wedding planning is stressful enough as it is, but when you are faced with the circumstances I had to face, it becomes overwhelming. We had so many factors to consider, such as:

1. We didn’t know when our visa would be approved or what the outcome will be. Planning a wedding was risky for us because we did it with the confidence that we would get the visa soon without any problems- which we did, but it was still a big risk!

2. The k1 visa stipulates that the wedding must take place within 90 days of entry in the USA. So we go back to the #1 problem here, if we don’t know when I can leave, then how can I know when I can do the wedding?

3. My entire family will have to fly to the US.

4. Where on earth will we have the ceremony and how can we plan it, when I am all the way in China (at that time) and Tim is busy in Fort Benning taking his IOBC class? Plus there’s no way we could afford a wedding planner.

5. I personally would really like a Catholic ceremony, but Tim isn’t Catholic, and he is the one in the US.

Despite all these setbacks, we just decided to put our game faces on and do it anyway, and looking back now, I still don’t know how I managed to do it, all I know is that without the help of Timmy and my mom it wouldn’t have worked out. They really helped a whole lot.

So we tackled the first problem. THE DATE

Well, luckily Tim and I got our NOA2 right away so we knew more or less that if I did my medical and interview in December then I would have my visa by January. Of course, we were still risking it since we still did not know the outcome of my medical and interview, but since our relationship was genuine and I know I am healthy, we were quite confident we would be approved. So basing it on the idea that I would arrive in the US around Feb, we decided on the month April because we thought it wouldn’t be too cold by then, and it would be better for me and my family. And we decided on the first week of April so that we could file for my adjustment of status (AOS) right away. I cannot file for AOS without the marriage certificate, and I will not get my green card without going through AOS so its very important to do this as soon as possible.

First Saturday of April = April 2, 2011 πŸ™‚

Next, THE LOCATION (Ceremony)

Tim and I had a lot of ideas about our wedding location. First, there was Vegas. I wanted Vegas initially because wedding planning seemed so hard, and I thought Vegas would be an awesome quick fix. There are a ton of pretty chapels to choose from, and they have excellent packages so it would make things so much easier. Unfortunately, Tim’s family and most of my relatives are all in the East Coast so it will be too expensive and time-consuming for everyone to do it there. In other words, although it would be convenient for me and Tim, it’s inconvenient for everyone else. So we had to scratch that off our list.

We also toyed with other possibilities, such as the Poconos mountains in PA and somewhere in Philly or NY, but we just couldn’t seem to settle on anything. As much as possible, I wanted to avoid a courthouse wedding, because I know my family would really like a nice traditional Catholic ceremony, and so would I.

Then one day Tim got this awesome idea! Why not do it in Norwich, his alma matter? First of all, VT is beautiful, the school is beautiful and so is the chapel! It seemed perfect. We could have a Catholic wedding and a military one too! It was perfect and it was settled. Vermont it is!


I give credit to Tim and Crystal (Tim’s older sister) for finding the reception place. We settled on the Capitol Plaza, in Montpelier VT. It’s about 15 minutes away from the chapel, and its also a great place!

We decided on the New England Package. Emily, the wedding coordinator of The Capitol, has been extremely helpful. It was great that the package already includes the food, cake and the centerpieces/arrangement.

So now that we have the two big ones settled, it was time for the fun stuff.


This was such a hard choice, there are a ton of amazing photographers out there, but we needed someone who could work with our budget and at the same time, had the style that we were looking for. We finally decided on Jody Fenton, a Vermont-based photographer, and you can view her awesome work here

Jody Fenton Photography

We opted not to get a videographer. They are too expensive!

Justin Ventura, a Filipino photographer from Shanghai, took amazing engagement photos for us the week of our engagement at the barefoot portraits studio in Shanghai. We are also excited to have another engagement shoot with Jody this coming March in snowy Vermont!


This was not very hard to find, Jim Severance is a great DJ who gave us an awesome rate, and we got Victoria Drew as the wedding singer.


This was a little tricky. We contacted a Catholic priest in VT who normally does the Catholic Weddings in Norwich.Fr. Kevin Rooney was more than helpful, but there were a lot of things to be done for us to be allowed to do this. First of all since I am the Catholic one and I am from the Philippines, I first had to inform my parish here. Tim and I got in contact with Fr. Benjamin “Didoy” Molina who guided us with the process. We needed to submit our birth and baptism certificates, my confirmation certificate, plus undergo a Canonical interview and Pre-Cana Seminar. We also had to ask the bishop for a Dispensation because we wanted to have a mixed-marriage ceremony. The diocese in the Philippines then forwarded all the documents to the Vermont diocese and now we are all set!


This part was super easy! I was working in China and China has everything. So we googled where the China wedding dress factories were and lo and behold, they had a branch in Shanghai! The underground of People’s Square has about 30-50 stores of just racks and racks and racks of prom and wedding gowns. It was beautiful. In one afternoon, I got my wedding dress, MOH and bridesmaid dresses, and the mother-of-the-bride dress. I also got my wedding shoes, and a coat for my dress. πŸ™‚

I decided not to do a color theme, instead all the bridesmaids will wear identical dresses in different spring colors πŸ™‚

My rehearsal dinner dress will be designed by my great friend, Joanna Ladrido of the glitterati empire πŸ™‚


We didn’t bother with save-the-dates. Instead, we made a wedding website.

For the actual invites, I turned to my friend CJ De Silva, who is an amazing artist!

She did a fantastic job, have a lookie!

We had them printed at The Lord’s Print Shoppe in QC. Very professional, and great rates! I also ordered military stamps from and made the silly mistake of ordering a marine military wedding stamp instead of an army one.. whoops.. thank goodness no one noticed! πŸ˜›


No no no to flowers.. as much as I think flowers are gorgeous, I was seriously shocked at how expensive they were in the US, so I decided on crystal wedding bouquets! Had them made atΒ

Here’s a sneak peek of the flower girl bouquet.. I don’t want to spoil the surprise by showing all of them πŸ˜€


Got them in China too! πŸ˜›


Okay so what else?? I think I covered all the important parts.. I am still working on the limousine and I still need to fix a lot of details.. At the end of the day though I know that the wedding is just one day, the marriage is what counts. Still, I am hoping that it will be a magical event!

My point is that no matter how hard and overwhelming it seems, you can do it, and it can be done. There is no need to turn into a bridezilla. You don’t need a fairy godmother, because as long as you have a supportive fiance and family, great friends and an awesome internet connection, then everything will be okay!

And my last tip would be to try to work within your budget! We totally exceeded our budget, which sucks, but I still did try not go over-the-top on anything. We went over the budget because we decided to add more guests, so its not a bad thing, coz the more people to share this memorable event with, the better!

So that’s it. πŸ™‚


PS. Thanks to my awesome friends for throwing me a great PG-13 bachelorette! :p I had an awesome time!




Leave a Comment
  1. Manue / Feb 9 2011 2:55 am

    hey, I saw the link to your blog in your signature on VJ. I have to drive by Montpelier often (well, a few times per year) I really enjoy it, it’s a super cute town. Make sure you have some pancakes and crΓͺpes at the Skinny Pancake there. Super yummy. Well, good luck for you POE and wedding. πŸ™‚ I’ll think about you when I drive on the 89 there tomorrow… lots of snow right now, but you should be fine in April; unless you go high up in Stowe!

    Manue (from QC now in MA)

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 9 2011 5:06 am

      Skinny Pancake.. I will remember that and make sure we try it! πŸ˜€ Thank you!!!! πŸ˜€

  2. Anagon / Feb 9 2011 11:05 pm

    Wow I really love your invitation steph! Ang cute and elegant at the same time! Good luck on your other wedding preps, and I’m sure you’re one blushing beautiful bride. πŸ™‚

    ..Naunahan mo na kamiiii! πŸ˜€

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 9 2011 11:40 pm

      Thanks Ana! That means a lot! Goodluck with everything and I wish you all the best with your blooming business πŸ˜€

  3. Kim / Feb 16 2011 7:14 pm

    Hey just wanted to say congrats on everything! I saw your link on visajourney πŸ™‚ I’m planning a wedding for May in northern NH but who knows if he’ll even have a visa by then 😦

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 16 2011 7:21 pm

      Hey! What part of the k1 process are you at? I hope your plans work out for you! πŸ™‚

      • Kim / Feb 16 2011 8:09 pm

        Right now the wedding plans are WAYYYYY ahead of the K1. We got our NOA1 in September, so hopefully VSC gets in gear and well get our NOA2 soon

      • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 16 2011 8:11 pm

        Ideally, May should be perfect.. Hope you get your NOA2 this month!!! πŸ˜€

  4. Cindy / Aug 3 2013 12:21 pm

    The only way to healthful weight loss and, even harder, is a radical modify of your lifestyle.

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