Saturday, October 3, 2015

#JomarAndJulie BTS: Wedding Coordinator

I'll tell you a secret: I was very apprehensive of getting a wedding coordinator at first. I was thinking that if we already have all the details smoothed out, then we won't need someone to become the conductor on our wedding day. I'll just have my mom talk to the suppliers and everything will fall into place. Besides, they probably cost a lot, and I didn't want to scrimp on the caterer or makeup artists just to get a coordinator. Boy, was I wrong! I can't imagine how our wedding would have been like if we didn't hire the team behind Just Like Ours. Tears would have been shed, wrinkles on my forehead would have taken permanent residence. But thank God we gave in to our cousins' and friends' incessant cajoling of "Get Queen David! Promise, you won't regret it," bit the bullet, and booked them for our July 18th wedding.
Queen and David (their last name, but also Queen's husband's nickname) named their events management team "Just Like Ours" to let clients and potential clients know that that's how they treat the weddings that they handle - they put their energy into them and treat them as their own. How fitting, because everything did fall into place with their help. Take into account too that Jomar and I were already stressed from all the overseas planning that we did (heck, we had to come back for a short trip last April just so we can get our wedding license, which wasn't the case a few years ago when we could have gotten it from the Philippine Embassy in DC) that we were just so thankful that we got to sit back and relax on our wedding and just truly live in the moment. They were very professional and ninja-like (in that they're very organized yet stealthy) and made sure that we were cared for :) Here are other reasons why I really, really like them:
1. Even if we hired them as on-the-day coordinators, they still helped us with things that we hadn't thought of or forgotten about, such as providing lunch for everyone at the hotel, helping with props for our wedding games, etc.
2. They made sure we were fed and hydrated. It was a bit hot when we were doing our after-wedding shoot with our entourage, and they had bottles of water on hand for us. We also requested that we be given time to eat our dinner, and even if my taste buds went kaput (I couldn't taste anything!) at least I wasn't hungry during the reception :)
3. I wasn't able to get my nails done the day before, which elicited one of my mini-breakdowns the next morning. Calmly, kuya Jun (Pimentel, who's also a designer!) called the concierge, and after an hour or so, two manicurists from a nearby nail salon came up to my room and worked on my nails while Alex Layson did my 'do. Crisis averted!
4. If they were stressed, they did not show it lest we become stressed too :) Thus, their expert handling of mini disasters (like the wedding before ours that overlapped with our schedule) made us feel like everything was going according to plan.
5. They assign members of their team to stay with you at different points of the wedding. Kuya Jun was with me during the morning preps (hair and makeup) until before my walk down the aisle, while Charm assisted me during our shoot after the wedding.
6. They stayed up late with us. I was still exchanging emails with Queen until the night before our wedding because of some tasks that Jomar and I forgot to do. Sorry, Queen!
7. Etc., etc.
So if you're still looking for a wedding coordinator, get Just Like Ours. All the 5-star reviews and declarations of "I love Queen and David!" from past clients definitely live up to the hype.
Jomar and me with Queen David and Jun Pimentel
Here's an excerpt from an old blog post about the idea behind their name:
"Every event gives us something in return. It helps us cultivate friendships, it spices [up] our relationship, it makes us wonder and turn back to the time of our own wedding. It gives us an opportunity to grow and help others grow with us. It makes us believe that we can hold on to something more important than any form of success. It gives us a glimpse of a future we can never tell. It makes us human in this fast fast fast and quick quick quick world. It makes us one.

In return, we help them make it a celebration of love and life, because every wedding deserves to be. It is a union where my team members are not merely workers but a family. Where couples are more of PERSONS than brides and grooms who are shelling out some money from their pocket with minds filled with expectations.

We take it with equal passion, with equal focus, with equal belief. We dream with them, we spend sleepless nights with them, we pray with them.

We share their thoughts, their joys, their fears, their triumph. We help make their event something that would LINGER. Just Like Our own wedding, Just Like Our Lives, Just Like Ours."
Julie B.P.

Friday, October 2, 2015

#JomarAndJulie BTS: Wedding Photographer

Whoa, I can't believe it's been two and a half months since our whirlwind of a wedding! In between cooking and settling into our house, I've come to a point where I can finally post about our various wedding suppliers. First up is one of the most crucial elements to a wedding: the photographer.
Do you believe in kismet? Because I sincerely feel that that's how we found our photographer, Matt Lee (

Jomar and me with Matt Lee of Matt Lee Shoots

One of the things I had been stressed about during our wedding planning was finding the perfect photographer: he/she should be professional, easy to talk to, should deliver great results (after all, these photos will be cherished for a long time) and also has reasonably priced packages. I know for a fact that there are a lot of great photographers in the Philippines, we just had to wade through online forums and portfolios until we found one that fit our needs. After a lot of painstaking research and dead-end email exchanges, I was ready to give up when I remembered seeing a friend's (Cha's) beautiful pictures taken in NYC during a visit by her college friend, Matt. I was actually supposed to drive them around DC when he made a quick stop here, but alas my work schedule then did not allow me to do so. After a quick online search of his past work as one of Chestknot Studio's photogs, I hurriedly sent him an e-mail asking if he would be available on our wedding date. He promptly replied yes, and attached his portfolio which was filled with gorgeous photos. Jomar and I talked it over, and he also liked what he saw. After a couple of exchanges, we finally had a major supplier checked off our list!
Come the day of the wedding, we finally met Matt in person. He was very personable and energetic, and you can definitely tell that he harnessed this energy into the photos he took that day. Along with him were two fellow photographers, David Garmsen ( and Bardo Wu (Bardo Wu Photography). I could tell they knew their stuff, and they made it a point to make us feel at ease. Jomar, they said, was a natural in front of the camera, while I eventually overcame my jitters once I was done with my solo shots and had pictures taken with my Maid of Honor, ate Liz, and my family :)
Before we head to some sample pictures from our wedding, let me leave you with a few tips:
1. If you have a lot of DIYs, don't forget to point them out to your photographer so that you'll have a remembrance of your hard work :)
2. If you have specific shots in mind (or have seen photos on Pinterest that you like), don't be shy to ask your photographer if he/she can replicate them for you.
3. If you feel like smiling, DO NOT HOLD BACK! This is one of the most important pieces of advice I received prior to our wedding. Smile, smile, smile :)
4. Make a list of what you want your photographer to capture (or not capture). Tell him/her if you want a lot of candid shots of your guests and family, if you don't like your bare feet seen, etc.
Without further ado, these are some of the lovely, vibrant pictures that Matt and co. took during our wedding. I feel like after 40 years, I will still feel giddy whenever I look through our album :) Thank you for the awesome job, Matt, David and Bardo! <3






Julie P.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Quick Meatball Stir Fry Dinner

Today's dinner was an easy to fix meal for 5. I had half a bag of frozen meatballs from IKEA, 2 large bell peppers and 1 large sweet onion, so I searched for a recipe with these ingredients. From the three recipes that I liked, I ended up using this one from Yummly (how can you go wrong when the site is named like that?):

I did the following changes:
1. Halved the soy sauce and rice vinegar (to reduce sodium)
2. Used 1.5tbsp of cornstarch
3. No green onions on hand, so I used a whole giant sweet onion instead
4. No sesame seeds :(
5. 1.5tsp of hot chili oil for a tiny kick (which my husband did not detect, because he lives by sriracha)
6. Used 2 green bell peppers because those were what I had

Here's the end result:

Mmm :) next time I'll try a homemade chicken meatball recipe with this, and hopefully I'll have sesame seeds and green onions by then hehehe!

Happy cooking!

Lotsa love,
Julie P.

Lay's Do Us A Flavor 2015 Finalists: A Review

Hi, everyone! I still have to finish moving into our house and also get my PC from my family's place, so I'll post about food (which is easier to talk about, am I right?). Hopefully this will be enough to tide you over and give me adequate time to write a well-thought out series of posts about our suppliers and our whirlwind of a wedding :)

Lay's potato chips. I grew up being deprived of snacks when I was a kid, being sickly and all, so you can imagine how fast I scarfed down junk food whenever I had the chance! Growing up I tried to be on the healthier side of life by allowing myself to snack in small portions, and trained myself not to indulge in one of God's greatest creations: the fried potato. Fries and chips are my Achilles' heel, especially if the fries are made fresh (bonus: a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning) and the chips are the sweet barbeque kind. Enter the Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" contest that began to run yearly since 2013. These days my kryptonite is Wasabi Ginger, the winner of their 2014 contest, which perfectly balanced the kick of wasabi, ginger and soy sauce onto thick, kettle cooked chips. Thank goodness their large bags aren't as large as their normal ones, or else that one time I ate a whole bag for dinner would have ended in disaster (don't worry, I ate healthy afterwards). Lay's, stop stocking Safeway! (Not really, no, I just have to learn to eat this in moderation).

This year's flavor finalists are as diverse as the previous years'. Needless to say, my coworkers and I (no, they're not chip connoiseurs, just your average chip-loving Americans) have mostly the same views on each flavor. They'll never top my love for Wasabi Ginger chips, though!

1. Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

This was the least favorite. It didn't conjure images of the beloved gyro for us, instead it was the last one to be finished, if someone did finish the last few chips it had when I last saw it in our break room. It was tangy and the smell was not appetizing at all - you're better off just eating the real thing at your favorite Greek place even if it's a couple of miles away. We're still boggled by the fact that this was a finalist, much like when we scratched our heads at how Mango Salsa and Cappuccino were able to get through the internal voting process at Lay's. Ick, such a waste of potatoes.
Score: 1 out of 5

2. Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries

Ever since truffle oil started popping up everywhere (if it's cheap then it's most probably faux/synthetic), I've been wanting to try the expensive French variety that sells for $100/1oz at Amazon (but of course I can never bring myself to buy those as-expensive-as-gold slivers of mushroom). Quite honestly, I felt that this flavor was a bit of a cheat since it's already originally on another version/cut/form of fried potato. I didn't get the truffle at all, and we all agreed that it actually tasted vaguely of sour cream and onion, albeit a lighter version of the much-loved flavor. We did manage to finish the bag, but it's nothing I would buy again when I go to the grocery store.
Score: 3 out of 5

3. New York Reuben
This was one of the office favorites, they said that it had all the notes of the Reuben down pat. Some have said that the sauerkraut flavor is too overwhelming and lingers on your palate, but since I haven't had the chance to try the real sandwich, I'm left with the option of just going with what everyone had to say. I can definitely taste the corned beef and the tanginess of the sauerkraut, with just a hint of cheese.
Score: 4 out of 5

4. Southern Biscuits and Gravy

This was also a crowd favorite, invoking memories of big family dinners, or for immigrants like me, road trip lunches at the nearest Cracker Barrel. The thin chips carried a perfect balance of the smoky and peppery flavor of sausages (one of the key ingredients in white gravy), the creaminess of gravy, and a hint of buttery biscuit (side note: biscuits, which in the Philippines/UK means the harder version of cookies/digestives, while in the US the term is used for buttery, crumbly and savory confections usually paired with fried chicken). This was a win-win: someone forgot they were eating the last 1/4 of the bag until he demolished it.
Score: 4 out of 5

There you have it, I hope you get to enjoy the newest batch of Lay's chips (and sneak a lap or two around your neighborhood while you're at it)! As always, eat in moderation :)

Wasabi Ginger is love!

Love lots,
Julie P.