This is a review/personal account of our experience with Kutchie and her team which is probably long overdue.
Getting Married Philippines is a wedding planner & coordinator business run and operated by Kutchie Zaldarriaga. She and her team was responsible for the smooth planning and fantastic on-the-day coordination of our wedding in Tagaytay Midlands back in May 2011.
When I proposed back in 2009, it wasn’t long after Donna and I thought we should knuckle down and get the planning on the way. A wedding planner was in the back of our minds but since we are permanently based in Sydney, Australia we needed a planner who has wealth of experience of handling overseas clients. Kutchie Zaldarriaga was suggested by a relative though it is a bit cloudy now as to how he knew about her and her services so off to Google I went in search for some background information and reviews. Reviews and other people’s opinions are very important especially when you’re about to hand over the planning of the most memorable and important day of your lives. And large sum of cash too. 🙂
Unfortunately reviews were a little hard to come by back then but there were a few useful ones. I set about comparing her services with others I’ve found and read testimonials from her past clients but testimonials should be taken with a grain of salt since people tend not to post any negative things. I tried not to focus so much on the negative feedback but more on the exceptional services she has provided in the past after all, that is the most important thing.
Donna & I officially engaged her services back in January 2010 and handed over a 50% deposit, this was approximately six months after our initial contact with her requesting a quotation for a full package service. You can view the services offered by Getting Married Phils here http://www.gettingmarriedphils.com/services/. Being based overseas we needed to take on the Full Package service which consisted of planning and conceptualisation of the wedding theme, securing and providing a list of possible venues as well as vendors etc.. Getting Married was also responsible for booking, coordination, budgeting and costing. Getting Married will provide a contract detailing what they will be providing which will be signed by the client so that there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Donna wrote hundreds of emails back and forth, most often than not, the responses were from Kutchie herself which I appreciated due to the fact that I knew she was personally involved in the planning. Planning a wedding is stressful, nobody in their right mind who has been through it would tell you otherwise, it’s probably one of the most stressful times that I have encountered in my life apart from buying a property. I certainly have a fair share of grey hairs to show as a result. However it would have been a lot more stressful if we didn’t have a wedding planner. Kutchie and her team was extremely patient with us, well with Donna that is. I preferred to be in the background in terms of correspondence but I did request to be cc’d in to every email that crossed between the two parties which she kindly obliged. I didn’t want Donna stressing because her stress level is relative to mine, it was in my sanity’s best interest to keep her happy.
We did hit a few bumps along the way which can be expected, suppliers not fulfilling their obligations and a few late responses to our enquiries. In hindsight, it was not the fault of the planner because they have no control of the suppliers speedy responses, the only thing they can do is pass on our messages. I did send a couple of unhappy emails but mostly as a result of a frustration of not getting any status updates. One thing you cannot accuse Kutchie and her team of not doing is working hard, there were plenty of emails she has written back us which was written in the early hours of the morning. I’m not entirely sure when this woman found time to sleep.
In May 2010 we flew back to Manila in unfortunate circumstances, Donna’s grandfather passed away and we attended the funeral in Batangas. While we were in town we decided that it would be a good idea to schedule a meeting with Kutchie and meet with suppliers. Even with the late notice she was happy to accommodate us and blocked out a few hours to meet with us at Valle Verde Country Club. That was the first time we met Kutchie, she was warm, had a constant smile on her face and we could tell she knew exactly the in’s and out’s of the local wedding industry. I don’t know if I actually told her this on the day, but she reminds me a lot like Sharon Cuneta and I’m sure I’m not the only one that thought so too. That week she scheduled meeting with prospective photographers, invitation suppliers, wedding cake suppliers and most importantly the venues. This is also the time period when we received the atrocious customer service from Taal Vista Hotel.
When we flew back to Sydney we felt more at ease that we’ve accomplished something and we are a few steps further along in our planning, we had Kutchie to thank for that. She made sure that our limited time spent in Manila was productive and we managed to secure our photographer as well as changing our venue from Taal Vista to Tagaytay Midlands. We also have Kutchie to thank for bringing Tagaytay Midlands into the the equation because that place is absolutely brilliant and I have the fondest of memories staying and having our wedding reception there. I’ll be writing a separate review on Tagaytay Midlands soon I hope.
Twelve months out from the wedding, Kutchie and her team helped us secure the bridal cars, invitations and my barong which was being made by Edward Teng. She also helped us secure Tagaytay Midlands and negotiated a custom package since Donna didn’t like or want some of the inclusions in the packages. One of the qualities that stood out about Kutchie is that she was willing to hear your ideas and the things you would like to happen, she will then provide feedback whether she thinks it will work and is feasible.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks before the wedding. Donna & I flew back two weeks before the ceremony and an itinerary was prepared for us so we knew our daily engagements. Kutchie even managed to get us a dance instructor to choreograph our first dance as we had nothing prepared. We arrived in Manila at approximately 10pm local time, meet and greet with the relatives then straight to bed since we had full day of running around ahead of us. The entire week before our bridal party arrived was a blur and stress levels were somewhat contained on a manageable level.
As I mentioned earlier there were a few hiccups in communication but nothing major to dwell on at the end of the day, we all manage to get to the most important day.
May 1st 2011 – On the Day Coordination
I was worried that I was going to have difficulties in getting to sleep but I had an exhausting couple of days so I was knocked out by midnight. Kutchie and her team arrived at the Highlands and one of her assistants checked on me to make sure I hadn’t run away. lol jks! Last minute preparations had to be taken care of but I was glad Kutchie’s team had arrived and was on standby to assist us. I had sent her a text message that I was in desperate need of a blank DVD for the prenup slideshow and her assistant had it ready as requested, these little things she was able to take care of. I thought that was brilliant.
I didn’t see Kutchie until I got to the church where she ran us through a quick rehearsal with my best-man Adam and my parents. I was amazed but not surprised on how calm she was, she even joked that my mother-in-law had already started crying during rehearsal.