Wedding Gift Giving

As the date draws near I post this in hopes that my wedding guests might perk up their ears…. A wedding is a huge celebration carefully thought through by the bride and groom, well in our case anyway! This includes the aspect of gift giving.

Like most couples getting married within this decade, Adam and I have lived together for pretty much two years now. Contrary to traditional weddings back in the Philippines, we don’t need a fresh set of household gifts as we have and currently use a set of pots and pans or vacuum. We’ve made clear to our guests that we value experiences over material objects. We prefer cash gifts but I couldn’t very well ask for cash at my bridal shower, so we had ended up creating a gift registry.

It was only this week that I found out about Zola – the all in one cash and gift registry! If I had found about about this site sooner it would have saved me all the headache of setting up a Honeyfund (only to have found out that they only accept payments through PayPal and no other Canadian bank) and then succumbing to having set up a registry at another well known home goods retailer.

A gift registry makes it easy for the bride and groom; no longer are the happy couple given gifts of bone china or silverware – items of which are never used. Most couples who live in the city don’t really have extra storage space for that bread maker or rocking chair. We created our registry for those who absolutely HAVE to gift a material object.

Why are cash gifts ideal? It requires one person to carry cash gifts versus the 5 that will need to take wrapped gifts home. Again, as a couple that already live together, it is just far more ideal to know that our family & friends have gifted us with funding our honeymoon.

So while we do have a gift registry I do hope that our guests take into account the fact that we are very happy with all our belongings and if they absolutely MUST purchase a gift to please keep within the registry. Check out Zola’s tips on registry gift giving below.

Zola Card 1 The Registry

 

 

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The countdown

weddingAfter I completed my undergraduate degree I completed an Event Marketing Management Certificate at BCIT. On numerous occasions I was offered the opportunity to choose ‘Wedding Planning’ as one of my electives to complete my program and opted for other courses. I believe most aspects of event planning is pretty similar (a matter of goal setting and measuring, coordinating respective parties building rapport and of course the logistics) – the only differing factor were the opinions and people to please.

Since my engagement last August my life has been consumed by wedding planning. I’m not the type of girl that grew up envisioning my wedding day or my perfect man. I never even started dating until I turned twenty five. I’ve spent half of my life planning and executing events so I thought this wedding planning business would be a piece of cake.

Little did I know how much of a challenge planning this event would be. There are so many moving pieces, deadlines and yes important people to please – all the while trying to stay on budget! Midway through my own planning here are my tips to any newly engaged couple out there:

  1. Budgets – I can’t preach about how to stay on budget but just its importance. In retrospect budgeting is the most crucial part of any planning. You need to do thorough market research with every component of your wedding to make sure you have accurate numbers for your plan.
  2. Your Wedding Planning Bible – This is binder/digital spreadsheet that contains ALL the information regarding every supplier, attendee or logistical timeline for your wedding. Create one – JUST ONE. We started with a binder then wrote on notepads and sheets; finally we progressed to an online spreadsheet which was easier to maintain.
  3. Openness – At this stage of the process I think it’s really important to be open with your fiance and family members with their wishes for the wedding. Discussions around who wants what and when will be happening after your engagement – especially if you come from a  family centred culture. So while you have your plan and your discussions with your fiance there needs to be some wiggle room to save you your sanity.

Some days I think of how amazing a destination wedding would be, or better yet, a trip down to city hall (my frugal side). Don’t get me wrong – I value the religious ceremony and having my closest friends and family around – but I’m not sure that I will be sane by the end of these 8 months. Most people I know or have come to know have opted to skip through this stressful limbo of “planning” by either eloping or hiring planners. With my limited budget, I am opting for a Day Of Coordinator but am slowly starting to wish I had a planner. The only challenge a planner would not solve or fix are the (important) people pleasing – that is the biggest challenge I am facing now.

I’ll keep you posted on my next steps!

*advice welcome*

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the season

theme-christmasI love Christmas. In the Philippines, where I was born and raised, the decor goes up as soon as September starts. It’s a predominantly Catholic/Christian country entrenched in American consumerism so that’s likely why they go hard in celebrating the holiday. Growing up I don’t think I recall the months or days leading up to Christmas but rather have so many fond memories of that day itself. I am fortunate to have grown up in a large family and every holiday season usually involves celebrating with my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.

Over the last few years I’ve come to love the season, not for the day of gift giving but the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s in these weeks that we get a glimpse of humanity at its finest. There are hoards of individuals volunteering their services for the less fortunate, the marginalized and the sick. And then there are companies and organizations mobilizing to drive funding to the organizations that are the pillars to our social communities. From a macro-society perspective it’s a win-win for everyone.

With the recent loss of a loved one and just this week having heard about the shocking loss of an acquaintance I’m learning to understand that this season is about growth – not materially but spiritually. I’m not going to talk about religion or mysticism here but more so the growth of our self conscience. This is a time to observe the blessings or fortunes around you, to look at the silver linings, the positives in every occasion and reflect on how this has made the life you are happy with or rather has driven you towards working for a life you want.

In today’s world it’s easy to fall into despair but I’m a firm believer that we have to look towards the positive in order to accomplish greater things in life. The cycle downward is easy and the climb up is hard but it is always always worth it.

A mid-summer dream: Ireland (i)

A month ago I, along with my then boyfriend, embarked on an adventure to Europe. We set out to meet his family in Ireland, party at Temple Bar for my 30th and then lounge by a beach in sunny Portugal. While we did all those things – the trip was just so much more than I could ever have imagined.

As a teen stuck at home with religious regimented parents, my escape came through novels and sometimes I indulged in the cheesy but gloriously romantic Nora Robert paperbacks. I remember picking up a particular three part saga set in Ireland which likely started my fascination for this country – along with the famous St. Patrick’s Day. Who wouldn’t want to travel to a country with beer, rainbows and pots of gold?

Well, it was as magical as I had imagined it to be!

13900145_10153604668826436_163431437208945735_nIreland is filled with lush greenery, meadows of sheep and horizons filled with ruins and castles and cliffs. Their little towns, narrow roads and the most wonderful people make this country one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. We drove to a little town in Wicklow called Gleanealy, checked out Black Castle, Glendalough, the Sally Gap and Britta’s Bay. Our B&B apartment right in Wicklow town called the River’s Inn was run by a friendly older woman with the strongest Irish accent. She brought us coffee and tea every morning which always came with a wonderful cheery chat.

Our second night in the country we were invited by my fiancé’s auntie to dinner – this was my very first experience with a large Irish family for a meal. I’ll be honest, I was very anxious and I don’t get anxious much. It turned out to be an amazing evening, everyone was so chatty and happy! It might have had to do with the yummy food that his aunt had laboured over, or the endless wine, or the glorious cheese!!! Needless to say I left feeling happy.

13895286_10153604669906436_1841810436899885581_nIrish people are just such happy people. For my 30th birthday I rallied up my boyfriend’s siblings and dragged them out to Temple Bar to celebrate with me. Temple Bar is an area in Dublin full of pubs, bars and eateries. While the most touristy bars had loads of people there were no fights or anyone showing aggressive behaviour. Sure there were those who were quite drunk but bouncers/door security aside, everyone seemed to be in a happy and peaceful drunken state! This area was mostly filled with tourists but this was my general observation as I traveled throughout the counties in Ireland (as I was of course stopping at pubs and bars along the way).

At the end of our first week there we attended a christening for my fiancé’s god-daughter who is one of the cutest wide eyed chubby cheeked ginger babies I have ever met. After the christening we were again served with glorious delicious food. I was definitely beginning to see the parallels in the Irish culture with my Filipino one!

 

 

 

Hold fast, stand firm.

When I was nearly complete with my undergraduate degree in economics I remember sitting in one of my classes where the professor broke society down into supply & demand graphs. There were those that consumed, and those that provided for the demand; some small business, larger corporations and then the very elusive select top uber groups that held the monopoly of the world’s economy within their control.  Am I mixing up my sociology/economics courses? Maybe – but in today’s news it seems that everywhere you turn there is some insane series of events (horrific and unbelievable) that seem to be enforcing the perspective of “my people”. I’m not belittling and want to fully admit my bias that I have not been primarily affected. If you stop to look at the macro perspective with all the recent events and the news we see – it seems like all of it creates feelings of us vs. them.

When Trump started his campaign the news went nuts with his proposition of building walls and segregation, little did we know this was just the beginning. Throughout his campaign news coverage of riots and racial cards were brought to the forefront. Awareness of this was one thing but for some it seemed to bring people to rally on one side versus the other. Then Brexit, then the horrible horrific shootings in America – what is happening in society today?  Then even more local, the Vancouver housing market asking us to shut our doors to the foreigners – yes I believe they are part of the reason for the insane pricing hikes but the conversations that are stemming from this are really quite racial. And with all that’s happening in the common wealth nations there is little to be seen or said about what’s going on in the Middle East. It’s like it’s been completely removed from our news so we can focus on the shootings, the protests and the injustices of North America and the privileged European countries. Who is controlling what we see and why are they feeding us this?

I opted to change my path in university and did not pursue my major in economics, adding another four years of study, because I refused to see people as cattle. I refuse to let the select elite garner influence how I feel about society or how I treat other human beings.

Yes, we need to update our justice & learning institutions, we need to eradicate racial perspectives of difference and through all of these events we must remember that we are one human race.  There is no separation. We don’t need to side with one or the other. We are one people. That is what I choose to derive from all the chaos of world events today.

Social media has woven us into a tighter and more knowledgable social community. Here’s to holding your virtual hand and hoping for a better now.

landscape-nature-hand-field

 

Cancer

This topic is a heavy hitter. It seems that nowadays most people are unfortunately familiar with this disease. Cancer as everyone knows is the uncontrollable growth/division of abnormal cells within the body. Is it the increasing prevalence of social media or is our society growing susceptible to cancer?

In 2010, the year I graduated from my bachelors degree, I planned to travel around the world to celebrate my graduation from university. Those plans changed when I found out that my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I consider all my family close, my aunt lived with my family for the first 7 years of my life. So I decided to stay in Manila for three months while she underwent her mastectomy and chemo treatments. It was also during that time that her son, my cousin, Noel had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away five months after he was diagnosed; two months after his 8th birthday. My family was devastated and at a loss, I still am. In the next year my aunt, his mom, had been cleared of her breast cancer so there was the silver lining.

Last August I had learned that my aunt’s cancer had come back. It’s a devastating feeling really and I’m not the one going through it. Chemotherapy is a painful process and it drains every ounce of life you have in you. It took a while to get her motivated to want treatment and to see hope for a cure but she came around to it.

Last week I was told that her cancer has spread. There are tumors all over her stomach and right outside her liver. I’m at a loss of how to describe what I feel or what I think but know that I need to do something. I’ve suggested natural alternative approaches, of course to her approval, but for now I need to feel productive. So I am reaching out to you, my blog readers, friends & family for support.

I’m weary to start a personal funding page as I know that there are so many causes and people that deserve so much and I know I personally have so little.  Prior to being told about my aunt’s condition, I was in the process of launching my virtual administration & marketing support business: Projects by Maria.

I’ve decided to contribute my profits towards her treatment this year because it’s the very least I can do.  If you know of a small business that might be interested in my services please forward my information or check out my Facebook page.

 

ProjectsByMaria Site Logo 2

 

Oh Summer!

With the Canadian dollar down and the economy dipping quite low people are holding fast to their hard earned dollars. In the non-profit charity community it’s had some startling effects, lack of funding and cutting of programs are a few of the results of tight kept pockets.

As an income earner myself I completely understand the trend for people to hold fast to their salary and spend money on their immediate surrounding (ie. themselves). This is in no means a complaint or judgement but merely an observation. I know I work hard for my money but I work harder for social development. During the summer is when we see most people spend more money on themselves and quite easily we can forget about the charity until the fall season. The truth of the matter is that there are people hustling behind these organizations working for quite little to get their programs running whether it be providing care to nurture self-esteem for women on the street to providing medical care to those in the third world. I think it’s easy to look beyond other’s needs when we are faced with amazing weather and dreamy vacations. I get it. But then I think about basically everyone else, those who are struggling financially and medically and I am determined to make a difference!

This August 15th my non-profit Median Fundraising has put together the GoodsSwap – an event that promotes recycling and contribution back into our community! Donated clothing and home goods are being sold at in expensive prices to support our year round events where we raise money for pancreatic cancer research and support organizations in the community. Our proceeds are also being shared with the Shanti Uganda, also a Vancouver based non-profit that provides life-saving services to women with HIV/AIDs in Uganda.

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For more information check out our website www.medianfundraising.com or if you want to help email maria@medianfundraising.com

 

Cheers!