Three years ago, I planned my own Debut. Not only that I was looking closely to my budget, but it’s also because I enjoy (very much) being busy with all the preparations.


This page, hopefully, will help you in planning those special gatherings like debut in a cheaper and more meaningful way.


If you are the meticulous type, the type that you, yourself, have to do it otherwise it’s imperfect, then definitely, it’s helpful to be your own planner. You save more, you learn more, plus you enjoy some more–all at once!

But for those who are still considering whether or not to get a planner, please read through..

1. It’s cheaper.

You free yourself from all the profits planners get by just checking out venues and price ranges for you. As for me, I gathered my barkada (friends) and asked them a little favor of accompanying me to do Hotel-Hopping for venues and party packages. That’s a good way to bond and tighten up those friendships, PLUS you get extra advice and honest comments from them–your guests.

I also got my flowers fresh from the wet market on the day of my 18th birthday. Hotels and flower shops usually sell roses by piece for P 85 each. But I got the best holland roses for P 120 a dozen. No joke.

My cake? Well-known bakers in the city will easily charge you P10,000 to P25,000 depending on number of tiers. But I got a seven-layered cake for only P 4,000 just because I was determined enough to find a home baker whose passion was to bake yummy cakes! 😉 win-win.


2. You become your own google.

After the whole thing, I seriously considered being a planner! Ha ha ha. With all the contacts and knowledge I got, why put them to waste when you can help out a friend who’s celebrating a birthday and wants it cheap?

By planning it all alone, I developed the habit of being attracted to simple signs and banners. I found the perfect souvenir shop who supplies almost all hotels I’ve been to. The great thing is, they customize and design for you. But I decided to buy all the souvenirs from Unitop. hehehe, it’s a shop that sells everything, literally, and sells everything cheap. Each piece cost me P 10.

3. It’s efficient and fun!

You avoid all the phone calls with a planner and decide right away. You get to see the venues for yourself, experience long walks, jeepney rides, and you get to haggle with the vendors! These stuff, you somehow miss them by having a planner.

B. Basic Things to help you get started

  • VENUE. This basically depends on your taste and budget. Some are considering their own lawns while others like it in hotels. I had mine in a hotel. The good thing with hotels is that they give you freebies for availing a package like two dozens of balloons, debutante chair, decorations, bubble/smoke machine, and flower centerpieces. Some would go an extra mile of providing goblets with candles, matchstick, and flowers for the 18 Roses Dance. But wherever it is, I suggest you choose a venue that is photo-friendly. Check the lights and effects. I attended a party that has the perfect venue but with my digicam, I failed to capture the beauty of the place. So, you decide carefully. If it’s a garden, you can hang up series lights. I am sure they’ll look fantastic in photos, esp with dslr. If it’s in a hotel, you dont want it to be too deem, right?
  • PHOTOGRAPHERS. Trust me when I say they are the most important thing you need to have. After everything, the pictures and videos are all you got. Don’t waste all the preparations and beautifications by going with the cheapest and least experienced photographers. Invest on more experienced ones. If you get so lucky, maybe you have friends who are photographers? You can invite them to your party and in return take some shots? Ha ha ha.
  • For those interested, I know a friend who takes good shots. Medina Media on Facebook

    You can also check out Unique Weddings and Event Photography.

    But when I had my Debut, I had Khent Flores He charged me a friendly rate and even gave me a free pre-debut photo and video shoot. COOL.

    When it comes to photographers, it’s important to hire those who can capture moments, not poses.

    These were two of the hundreds of photos during the Pre-Debut Photo Shoot.

  • DRESS. When it comes to the dress or gown, I believe it does not have to be too flashy. Sometimes, simplicity is indeed beauty. Plus, lesser intricate designs, mean cheaper dress! Yehey! Instead of going to boutiques for my dress, I asked a local friend who happened to know someone who does tailoring. I call her Manang Sastre. She charged me with a simple and cheap labor rate and I bought the cloth. With this, I saved 50% of the usual gown price. That’s quite a lot. The design? I designed it! Not so pretty compared to others but I like it because it gives a bit of personal touch. Too drama. Ha ha ha You can check out google and other magazines, too for cool designs.
  • PROGRAM. This is important because this is what keeps you guests happy. Good program, good host, happy guests! There’s a tricky part of putting meals ahead of all the 18 dances and candles because hungry guests don’t usually pay so much attention. It’s good to have a little video at first then maybe a little dance or whatever presentation, then the dinner or lunch, whatever suits you.
  • The food? From what I noticed, after everything, as long as you dont starve your guests, they forget the food part. What they will usually remember is the venue, the program, and their dress. So you can tighten a little bit the budget when it comes to food. But never compromise the dessert. The dessert usually gives the final impression of whether the food was great or not. So maybe you can cosider cheesecakes, or chocolate mousse, or black sambo. All my favorites! 😉

    C. Extra Tips

  • Know the Budget. Get into numbers. Knowing the financial budget helps you decide on everything else like number of invited guests, choice of venue, food, photography services, cakes, dress, etc.
  • Search and Ask Google. You need facts and other people’s experience. This tip is important if you’re planning on adding something creative and unconventional to your own party. Try checking out The Knot for cool ideas as to decorations, color motifs, hairstyles, and other tips.
  • Plan ahead. Book the reservation months ahead. In this way, you save more and avoid all the hassles of unavailability. This is important if your party falls on a holiday like Christmas, Summer, Valentines, or Festivities in the place of the party. During these season, hotels are usually booked, room prices go higher, and for February and December, flowers become expensive.
  • Avoid the packages. This is funny because, normally, we go to the hassle free packages and forget we’re trying to save. Packages give you comfort but you can actually save more by buying little things on your own. One hotel package costs P 64,000 and the next package costs P 75,000. The difference? An extra dozen of balloons and a chocolate fountain.
  • Sometimes, the price differences between these packages come in almost P 10,000 for only an additional dozen of flowers and small tarpaulin. So, try to do the math, and see if you can really save more.

    Always remember, the purpose is for you to celebrate with all of your loved ones! Don’t stress yourself too much with the formalities, pick the right music and partey partey!


    This one’s funny. Because I was crazy about spending less and saving more, I asked a Fine Arts Major friend if he could make me a sort of background, “Dawn’s LittleMiss 18 Party” July 19,2010. Hahaha but the hotel folks probably had a hard time arranging and pinning those letters. Thus mom’s background together with the gifts and the party favors. 😉



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