What's the True Cost of Getting Married in Bacolod?

Wedding rings placed on a Bible.

Bacolod is a fantastic city, so why wouldn't you want to get married there? There's great hotels, fantastic churches, resorts, and beaches and hot springs only a short drive away.

Nonetheless, you might be wondering how much it's going to cost you. You're a foreigner and you want to get it done smoothly without breaking your bank. That's something many Filipinos don't understand--that not all foreigners are rich. They'll try to charge you extra for almost everything. Whether it's for flowers, suits, or for even a church choir, they'll try to swindle you.

First thing's first. You have to find out where you are getting married. Are you getting married at a church or another location? Resorts such as Palmas Del Mar offer packages for weddings. Of course, it'll cost you around 40,000 pesos ($1,000) to get it, not including cost of the reception, rings, or clothing for the bridal party.

Getting Married in a Church
First off, you'll have to hand all the paperwork you handed the government office along with additional paperwork such as Baptism and Confirmation certificates. Then, if you aren't getting married at your local church (the one in your Barangay, and chances are, you aren't), you'll have to announce the wedding for three Sundays and then pay a fee to the church. The fee is at least 1,000 pesos depending on which church you aren't getting married at.

The amount of time for reservations at a church are different. Some say you only need a month while others state you need three months. The ones that state you need three months are basically only stating that to receive money under the table. It's literally impossible to hand them all the required paperwork since some of the certificates they need will expire in 3 months. If you wish to get married at one of these churches, you must pay 1,000 pesos under the table. Lupit is one of them. Or, at least, that's what my experience was when I wanted to get married there.

At the church you're getting married at, it'll cost you around 4,000 pesos for the church rental and 1,000 pesos for the priest fee. After you pay that, the church will set you up with a "coordinator". This coordinator will run through the pre-wedding ceremony and tell everyone where they are suppose to be come wedding day. Yes, this isn't free. The priest will not be there the day before the wedding to help you. The coordinator will also try to get you to pay other outrageous fees, such as "flower podium" fees, "carpet fees", and try to tell you that flowers cost 15,000 pesos. Of course, the carpet will cost you 500 pesos at San Sebastian Cathedral, but don't worry about the podium. And, of course, the flowers do not cost 15,000 pesos despite what the coordinator tells you. Oh, she will charge you that much, but she will only spend around 2,000 of that on flowers. She'll tell you that if you buy it at the Plaza you will pay 10 times as much! Where do you think she gets them? The Plaza! I should mention that the coordinator doesn't actually coordinate anything with the wedding. She *only* tells you what to do for the wedding and tries to get you to pay for things you can do yourself. For example, the flowers. She'll ask you to buy them from her. Don't. She'll ask you if you need flower girls or ring bearers (for money she'll get you some!). Don't. She'll tell you to get one of her readers and an Emcee. Of course, don't. She saw you in person and knows you are a foreigner. She's trying to rip you off.

Here's what you do: have a Filipino go to the Plaza alone. Have the person ask about flowers. Tell them not to mention the flowers are for a wedding and if the person asks, tell the Filipino to tell them they aren't for a wedding. If you have to tell the people it is for a wedding, be sure to tell them it is for a Filipino wedding. It's the same flowers, but cost less. You are a foreigner, so you will be charged around 10 times more for wedding flowers. If they don't know you are a foreigner, you will pay less.

As for the choir, again, you will likely be lied to. You will be told it costs 2000 pesos. Later you will be told it costs 1500 pesos. And later, if you don't get it still, you can get them for 1000 pesos. Of course, no matter how much you pay, you will not have the actual choir at your wedding. You will only have three or four members attending. If you have friends who can sing, have them instead do it.

If you get flowers yourself, pay 1500 for the choir, pay the carpet fee, and pay coordinator fee, you will pay around 11,000 assuming flowers were 3,000 pesos. 11,000 pesos is about $275. If you have to pay the other Barangay church, it'll cost an additional 1,000 pesos for a total of 12,000 ($300). If you want to pay the premium price to get married at one of the 3 month reservation churches, it's an additional 1,000 pesos. So 13,000 ($325).

Having Your Reception
Since churches in Bacolod do not have a reception area (and even if they did, they wouldn't be free like in some other countries), you'll have to find somewhere else. Most hotels and resorts offer reception plans (place plus food) or you can simply rent it and have a catering company do the rest.

Circle Inn, Palmas del Mar, Sugarland, Regal, and Business Inn all have quality reception areas. Circle Inn, Sugarland, and Business Inn offer fair priced packages (depending on how many people you invite, anywhere  from 30,000 to 50,000 pesos).

Outside of Bacolod, Nature's Resort is another quality choice. There is a large menu (they will make changes for special dietary needs), great price, and great service. As you can tell, this is where we had our wedding. The coordinator helped us out with the entire reception. She had them fix the food the way we wanted, gave us the reception area we wanted, let us hold an event outside, gave us a great discount rate for a hotel room, and even offered someone to help us with the music for free. And yes, they do have European and American food on their menu!

Renting Your Clothes
I know what you're thinking, "We rent wedding gowns and dresses?" And the answer is "Yes!". Sounds weird, but it's true. Honestly, I wouldn't even know where to go to buy a wedding dress even if we wanted to. Gown rental places are everywhere in the city, especially along Lacson and Araneta. There are also a few around the Plaza and in Plaza Mart.

Nonetheless, again, since you are a foreigner, they'll try to rip you off. Here's what you do: have a Filipino (preferably a Bacoldnon) go into the shop and ask for a "wedding package pamphlet" or paper that has wedding packages on it. If your wife is the Filipino, congratulations. She can look at the dresses while she is in there and help decide (as long as the price is right).

The entire wedding party's dresses and suits (including wedding gown and tuxedo/Filipino Tagalog) will cost between 8,000 and 15,000 pesos if you aren't getting ripped off. Anything higher than 15,000 and you should look elsewhere. Of course, if you want tuxedos for yourself or any of the groomsmen, you will be charged extra. As well, the smaller shops most likely won't have pants for you. Furthermore, you will have to buy your own shoes. They don't give them.

Shoes will cost you anywhere from 300 to 1000 pesos for each pair, depending on what the style is. You can buy a tie for 50 pesos at Gaisano Main or Gaisano City if you need one.

This depends greatly on where and what you need. Franver at Gaisano City is the best place to go. They always have sales and listen to your needs. They also have one of the largest collections of wedding rings. It'll cost you anywhere from 8,000-50,000 for rings. If you want simple gold bands with a design on it, it'll be around 10,000 for the pair.

Bridal Car
This is probably the biggest rip off of all. There aren't many places that offer wedding cars. If you don't know someone or your Filipino friends don't know someone and you need a wedding car, you'll spend around 3,000 pesos for one at L'Tours. Again, have a Filipino ask the price.

Cars for the wedding party and guests
You might have to offer transportation to the rest of the party and guests. You can get vans from L'Tours as well for around 4,000 pesos each. Or you can rent a jeepney for a couple hours at around 1,000 pesos.

In Total
It depends mostly on what you want and how you want to go about it. How many flowers do you want? What other decorations do you want (be sure to ask the church or location if you can put them up)? What kind of shoes? How big is your wedding party? How many people are you inviting?

Basic totals:
Church: up to 13,000 (with flowers, carpet, coordinator, priest fee, choir)
Reception: up to 50,000 (10,000 for 30 people and 50,000 for 150 people with buffet)
Rings: up to 50,000 (10,000 for basic bands)
Lechon: 3,500 (Filipinos will likely beg you for this since it's a tradition)
Bridal car: 3,000
Additional vehicles: 8,000 (two vans for the wedding party).
Photographer: 5,000 (or more, However, here's an excellent wedding photographer to choose).
In total, that's up to 132,500 pesos, if you don't need shoes, change of clothes for the reception, hotel rooms, plane flights, wedding party gifts, etc. And of course, your honeymoon will cost you extra!