Our Little Star is one year old! I can’t believe that an entire year has gone by since I first met that tiny pink thing in the delivery room and held her for the very first time! It has been such a treat and a privilege to watch our beautiful little girl grow and witness all her milestones!
Her first birthday was also the perfect time for us to officially dedicate her to God in the presence of our loved ones.
Andi’s dedication was officiated by Pastor / Doc Jun Aguilar from Victory Pioneer. A few days before the dedication, he sat down with me, Mike, and Andi, and really tried to get to know us better. He’s a nice and funny guy, and Mike and I are thankful that he agreed to do this for our family.
Pastor Jun opened the program by telling us what child dedication is all about (and no, it is NOT the same as a Catholic baptism). For the rest of the program, he prayed for us and he also asked me, Mike, and Andi’s godparents to recite prayers for Andi.
At the end of the dedication, we were presented with Andi’s dedication certificate as a way of welcoming her to the Christian world. Tip: make sure that you double-check or even triple-check the certificate! Ours had a minor mistake but Pastor Jun was kind enough to have it corrected right away and delivered just in time for Andi’s dedication.
After the dedication, it was time to eat and be merry!
A SIMPLE BIRTHDAY LUNCH
Turning one year old is a momentous achievement for Andi, so Mike and I agreed on throwing her a simple yet meaningful celebration. I have hosted a lot of grand children’s parties and marveled at all the impressive and lavish details. However, when I was envisioning Andi’s party, I wanted something more low-key and laid-back yet still classy. For one, we wanted to be frugal because we have other expenses that we need to prioritize, and we would rather use our money for Andi’s needs. But more importantly, we just wanted to focus on what really matters: our baby girl and the people who love her. Hence, Mike and I decided against having a big birthday party and opted for a simple luncheon with family and a few chosen friends.
We deliberately kept our guest list small because we wanted it to be as intimate as possible. We only had less than 50 guests, mostly adults and with only four kids excluding Andi (but two of the kids weren’t able to make it). With the exception of our family, — because they’re invited by default– all the other guests that we invited were those who were present in Andi’s lives during the first year of her life, especially those who visited us during the first few days and weeks after she was born. Andi’s party also served as a thanksgiving party from me and Mike for those who have seen us through during the most difficult time of being first-time parents.
THE THEME: PASTEL CANDY CHRISTMAS
I chose this theme for four reasons. First, I wanted pastel colors because they’re dainty, feminine, and sweet — all the things that Andi is. Second, I also wanted to incorporate candies (or sweets in general) in the party because Andi loves watching the educational cartoon show Baby Bus on Youtube, and her favorite episodes are the ones with songs about ice cream, doughnuts, candies, and chocolates. Also, when I was pregnant, I would always crave for cute desserts, especially pink desserts. (What an unusual craving!) Third, Andi is a Christmas baby, so I thought it would be nice to integrate that into the theme. Fourth, we just wanted a theme that would go well with the venue, and a theme that was simple, pretty, and easy to pull off. This theme was perfect for our little girl’s party!
Andi is lucky that her Dada is an illustrator and her Mama is a writer. Mike created the design for the invitations himself, while I wrote the text. I made a poem asking guests if they can give her monetary blessings in lieu of physical presents. (Feel free to use it if you have to!)
I also made the Save the Date and the RSVP cards. I’m not as talented as Mike in the illustration department, so I just made use of some templates from some free online graphic design sites.
I also made this card for Andi’s godparents:
To save on printing and mailing costs, we just sent all of these to our guests on Facebook! Gotta be practical, you know!
THE VENUE: J CUPPACAKES, SM JAZZ, MAKATI
I didn’t want to overthink Andi’s party so I only considered one venue: J Cuppacakes, a restaurant in SM Jazz Mall, Makati. The owner is a good friend of my mom so I knew that we were going to be in good hands. J Cuppacakes won me over with their pretty interiors. Very Instagrammable! I love the chandeliers, the vintage decors, and the pastel and floral touches in the furniture, staircase, and ceilings. It did not need major styling to make it look pleasing to the eye because it was already beautiful enough on its own. That meant that we got to save money on the styling!
Stepping inside this charming restaurant was like being in someone’s humble home. It felt pleasant and warm, and not at all intimidating and ostentatious. That was exactly what I was looking for in a venue. I wanted our guests to feel cozy and at home, like they are just enjoying a nice conversation with family and friends at home. Do take note though, that this venue has a maximum seating capacity of 60 guests, so if you have a large guest list, it might not be the right venue for you. Depending on the number of people present, it can feel a bit cramped, so it’s also probably not ideal for programs with activities that take up a lot of space (e.g. relay games). But for small and intimate parties like ours, it’s an excellent choice!
Christmas is the best time to hold an event here because they dress up the place really nicely for the holidays. They even put up a pastel Christmas tree, which was so fitting for Andi’s pastel party. Having the Christmas tree there made our photos look even nicer!
Note: J Cuppacakes provided our speakers, projector, and microphones for the event so it was really hassle-free! I just provided our own laptop for the playing of videos.
STYLING BY ALESSA SAN JUAN (HEY HOLIDAY!)
Like I said, J Cuppacakes was already beautiful even without any styling, but Andi is extremely lucky because one of her godmothers, my good friend Alessa San Juan, happens to be a professional event stylist and offered to prettify the place even more! Alessa has been a major part of our family’s events, and was, in fact, the one who was behind the stellar styling of our Twinkle Twinkle Star baby shower. For Andi’s party, I just told her the theme, and let her take it from there. I did tell her not to spend too much on it or put too much effort into it because, really, I was okay with just something basic. But knowing this lady, ‘basic’ is just not in her vocabulary. It’s like everything she touches sparkles! And for Andi’s party, as usual, she went over and above again!
Every month, I do a little photo shoot for Andi and post about her developments and the things that she loves for that month. Alessa printed out all of Andi’s monthly milestone photos starting from when she was a newborn until her 11th month, and displayed those photos on various corners of the venue. She also brought some really cute pastel cupcake decors and put them next to the milestone photos.
As if that’s not enough, she also gifted us with large pink letter standees that spell out Andi’s name!
But wait, there’s MORE! (Told you, Alessa is so extra!) How sweet is this milestone board?! It’s such a fun and pretty way for guests to find out some fun facts about Andi!
Since I was extremely busy with hosting events last December, I didn’t have time to D.I.Y. anything. But just to add a touch of ‘candy Christmas’ to the venue, I tied the names of the guests to candy canes and used them as place cards. Big thanks to my best friend Christina Asperilla, my sister Alexa Ilacad, and our midwife Ces, for helping me with these! The centerpieces were provided by J Cuppacakes.
GIVEAWAYS BY ALESSA SAN JUAN (ALRIVER EXPORT)
The original plan was that we wouldn’t be handing out giveaways to our guests because it was just a needless expense. Guests usually don’t care about giveaways anyway! But Alessa is really our guardian angel because she gave us angels… Christmas angels, that is! She provided us with lovely gold and silver cherub ornaments that you can hang on your door, Christmas tree, or wherever you wish. It was so fitting for Andi’s Christmassy dedication and birthday party! These ornaments were designed by Alriver Export, which is Alessa’s other family business. (Just so you know, they are the leading exporter and manufacturer of holiday decors such as Christmas angels and nativity sets!) We are so thankful to Alessa for providing us with these souvenirs! Because of them, our guests got to bring home with them a little token that will serve as their remembrance from Andi’s big day.
ATTIRE: PASTEL COLORS
My request for the attire was simple. I just asked everyone to come in pastel-colored casual clothes (or light neutrals for those who didn’t own anything pastel). Since it wasn’t a requirement to wear white for a child dedication, Mike, Andi, and I just wore pastels as well.
Despite the small bruise on her face (on her birthday, of all days!!!), Andi still looked extra precious that day in her dainty peach dress. I originally thought of ordering a custom-made dress for her, but I just couldn’t justify paying such a high price for a tiny piece of clothing. They cost as much or even more than my adult-size gowns! WTH?! So off to SM Department Store we went! I really just wanted something pretty and classy, and preferably something that she could wear again to other events (that meant nothing too poofy, glittery, itchy, and loud). To quote Pastor Jun, “Just make her wear something that she will be proud of one day.” And then I found the dress that made me say YES! I really think it was meant for her because: a) there was only one left in her size, b) it went with the hairband that I bought a month before I even bought this dress, and c) it matched MY dress! Can you believe this is less than 600 Pesos?! (NOTE: She’s wearing the cutest doll shoes from her Ninang Angel)
Some of my friends were asking where I got the dress that I was wearing. It’s a maxi dress by Audrey Sabandon of Audrey’s Dress Lab, who also made one of my maternity shoot dresses. The peach dress I wore to Andi’s party is so pretty and flattering! And the best part? It’s breastfeeding-friendly!
PROGRAM / ACTIVITIES / ENTERTAINMENT
We didn’t have a lot of kids in our guest list, so there was really no point in having the usual kiddie party. That meant no clowns, no magicians, no theatrical performances, no mascots, and no parlor games. We didn’t really have a ‘program’ program, but these were our activities for the day:
Mike made little message cards so guests could write their letters for Andi. When Andi can finally read, Mike and I will let her read these notes so she will know just how much people love her! (P.S. The robot on the message card design is from Baby Bus too).
The only real ‘décor’ that I brought was this cardboard cotton candy cart. This was actually part of a PR kit that a toiletry brand sent to Alexa. I just recycled it and covered the branding with a sticker and Andi’s photo! We asked all our guests to drop their message cards in this cotton candy cart.
No pictorials before going to the buffet so people can just eat right away. BECAUSE FOOD IS LIFE!!!
PLAYING OF VIDEOS
We only had two videos: one of Andi’s first year and her firsts (first time to roll over, first time to eat solids, etc.), and a compilation of video greetings from her godparents who are based abroad. I made and edited both videos just a few days before her party. Major cramming!
SONG NUMBER BY ALEXA
Andi’s favorite Tata (“Tita” or aunt), my sister Alexa, is an amazing professional performer. Naturally, she was more than game to dedicate a special song to her ‘Tiny Litol Smol Bean Eggbert Shelly’ (her term of endearment for Andi). But as she was starting to sing, she couldn’t hold back her emotions and started crying!!! She got carried away because she loves Andi so much, and because she can’t believe that Andi is growing up so fast! Andi was feeding during the first part of the song, but when she was done, she was actually singing along to her Tata’s song! No one noticed or heard it, but it was the sweetest thing!
IMPROMPTU TRIVIA GAME
This wasn’t planned! We weren’t supposed to have a game and I didn’t even have a set of questions prepared. We had to do this because Andi had to breastfeed and you know, we all had to adjust to her schedule, coz it’s her party and she can eat if she wants to! On the spot, Mike and I asked some random ‘How Well Do You Know Andi?’ questions. For the prize, we gave away packs of chocolates. I had a disclaimer though: the chocolates were about to expire in January 2019 so they had to eat them right away. Haha!
SINGING OF THE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” SONG
The birthday girl was ASLEEP while we all gathered around to sing the Happy Birthday song! But thankfully, she woke up, so we sang for her again! Haha!
Guess who hosted Andi’s party??? Who else?! Me! Hahaha! I host events for a living, so I thought it made sense to host my own daughter’s party. Why hire a host when you ARE one? Haha!
I was also her personal event coordinator. I took care of all the planning, the budgeting, the sourcing of suppliers, the guest list and registration (with the help of Aspe), the technical stuff like playing of the videos, the ingress, the egress, etc.! Whew!!! I was so tired at my own event! And like a true event supplier, I didn’t get to eat until the party was done! But I didn’t mind one bit because it was really a labor of love. I worked for free and my talent fee was her love! Maybe I’ll just charge her when she’s older and when she grows up to be rich and famous! Just kidding!
FOOD / CATERING BY J CUPPACAKES
Some of our guests were asking me who my caterer was, and when I told them that it’s J Cuppacakes, they said they were “pleasantly surprised.” All this time, they thought that J Cuppacakes is just a dessert place. They had no idea that they also serve meals, and that the meals here are delicious! From the moment the soup was served, I was already getting great comments. Alexa and my cousins were raving about the Clam Chowder, and Aspe said she even had a second serving. The Chicken Macaroni Salad and Spaghetti Bolognese also did not disappoint.My uncle and aunts, as well as my Mom and Mum-in-Law were singing praises about the Chicken Pork Adobo and the Roast Pork Loin in Mushroom Sauce. (By the way, some of my uncles and aunts are really skilled cooks, so they know good food when they taste it!)
The one thing people remember most about parties is the food, and I’m relieved that the food we served at Andi’s party really made a good impression on our guests. I didn’t even need to ask them “How was the food?” because THEY came up to me to say “The food is so good!” Days and even weeks after the party, some of our guests still commented on how much they enjoyed the food! Mike and I are so happy, because that’s what mattered to us: that everyone was full and satisfied!
J Cuppacakes serves simple but appetizing meals and comfort food. Their dishes are not pretentious and complex; they taste and look like they were lovingly cooked and prepared at home, complementing the homey ambiance of the restaurant. Though the dishes we chose are those that are familiar to everyone, our guests still found them memorable.
BIRTHDAY CAKE AND DESSERTS BY J CUPPACAKES
I wanted Andi’s birthday cake to be special and extraordinary because it was her first (and because I am obsessed with beautiful cakes). I found the perfect cake design peg and sent it to Julianne Bernardo of J Cuppacakes and told her my preferred flavor, which was Chocolate Mudcake. I was honest with her about our budget for the cake and just asked her to take out some elements from my peg and make a simpler version of it so that we can stick to our budget. Because of that, I really didn’t expect much from the cake, even though I have seen her work before and was quite impressed. But when it finally arrived, my jaw dropped! It was everything I could ever want for Andi’s cake! It was TOO CUTE! I could tell that every detail was made with precision and passion.
The little details in this cake meant something:
- Pastel colors to go with Andi’s pastel party
- Cute desserts like donuts, macarons, ice cream, and candies because of Andi’s fixation for dessert-themed Baby Bus songs, as previously mentioned, and also because I used to crave for cute sweets (particularly pink desserts) when I was pregnant!
- Stars because we have been calling her our ‘Little Star’ way before she was even born. She’s named after a constellation, after all!
- A dog, specifically a white Maltese, which represented Blush, her Tata Alexa’s dog, who happens to be Andi’s favorite dog. Andi is a dog lover, and it’s interesting to note that her first word aside from Mama and Dada is ‘dog.’
- An Andi doll, which had big, beautiful, round eyes just like her. The doll is even wearing a pink dress!
The cake looks so pretty in photos but in person, it’s even more incredible. That’s why I couldn’t stop staring at it! Even our guests gushed when they saw it. J Cuppacakes’ tagline was ‘Art in Your Cravings,’ and for sure, this cake was a work of art! But was it yummy? Yes! After three days in the fridge, it was still good and moist!
We also had a mix of Christmas-themed and sweets-themed cookies from J Cuppacakes. I didn’t get to taste them because I only ordered a limited amount and wanted the guests to have them instead. They were really adorable too!
As part of our buffet package, we got to choose one dessert. I chose cupcakes because J Cuppacakes specializes in that. Of course, I picked the ones in pastel colors! I got the Strawberry Blonde and Viva Vanilla flavors. Both were delish!
We didn’t have a customized dessert buffet so we just sort of DIY-ed it by adding some Christmas-themed muffins from Whatta Tops (which were actually just sent to me that very same morning of Andi’s birthday) and Christmas-themed lollies, brought by Andi’s Lollie (grandma) Tess from Australia.
PHOTOGRAPHER: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
I wasn’t really looking for ‘the best’ photographers for Andi’s party. I just wanted someone to document the event because I knew that I would be too busy to take photos. An acquaintance mentioned that she was planning on getting When Worlds Collide for her son’s party. Out of so many photographers I looked at, they were the most affordable choice that produced good quality photos that was still available on Andi’s date, so I booked them right away.
I never got to meet Julianne Fernandez (owner of When Worlds Collide) prior to the party. We just communicated through Facebook. She and her team were punctual, arriving 30 minutes before the event started. As soon as they arrived, they got down to business and started working. They are all easy to work with and talk to. I’m happy that they respected and took note of my requests. I told Julianne that Mike doesn’t like having his photos taken while I’m the opposite (i.e. I’m a camwhore), and they were able to find a good middle ground by taking mostly candid shots while still taking beautiful posed family photos despite Andi being cranky because she was sleepy and perpetually hungry!
I’m happy that they took the initiative of doing a mini photo shoot with Andi, without me even having to bring it up. We didn’t have a pre-birthday shoot for her because we thought it was totally unnecessary, so I was so happy that they took some solo shots of the birthday girl!
Since Andi’s party fell on December, which was a peak month for the events industry, I understood that it would take time for them to send me the photos. Plus, Christmas was coming up. But to my surprise, just 5 days after Andi’s party, they sent me ALL 564 photos through WeTransfer! Talk about prompt!
When I saw the photos, I was overjoyed! The photos were so beautiful! I can say that they really over-delivered!
NOTE: The package I got from them included video coverage and video highlights. I have yet to receive and view the videos. I will update this post once I have them already.
Here are some more photos from Andi’s special day:
To our loved ones — Thank you to our dearest families and friends who came to our Little Star’s party. Time is really the best gift you can give someone, and Mike and I are thankful that you carved out time to be present on Andi’s big day despite the Christmas rush, the holiday traffic, and the many commitments you may have had. Thank you also for your gifts. We appreciate all of them, and we appreciate all of you. Andi is so blessed to have people like you that she can count on for love and support. Our hearts are really full of gratitude for you. Thank you for helping us raise a happy, healthy, and well-loved child.
To those who couldn’t make it — To our guests who wanted to be there but couldn’t, including Andi’s godparents abroad, we are still thankful because you somehow found a way to show your love for Andi, whether it’s through a video greeting or a present. We felt your love from wherever you are! We will celebrate with you next time!
To Andi’s godparents – You know how precious Andi is to me and Mike, and we have our own (good) reasons why we chose you to be her second parents. Thank you for making her dedication more complete with your presence, prayers, and commitment to love and care for our daughter as if she was your own.
To my mom and sister Alexa – Thank you for helping us put together this pretty, Pinterest-worthy party for our Tiny. Mike and I would have been okay with a simpler and more no-frills party but you wanted it to be extra beautiful so you helped us by sharing your financial blessings with us. This would not have been possible without you.
To Pastor Jun – Without you, there would have been no dedication, so your presence on that day really meant a lot to us! Thank you for showing up for us and for helping us achieve a dedication that is worth remembering. Thank you for really taking time to tell us about the importance of Andi’s dedication so we would really know the value of it.
To everyone who helped us achieve a successful party – Andi’s party turned out to be exactly how I hoped it would be, and know that each one of you has been instrumental into turning my vision into reality. Aspe, thank you for being with me and for me as I tried to accomplish all my tasks for the event, whether it’s helping me buy ribbons and papers or printing out the guest list. Alessa, for sprucing up the venue with your creativity and vision. All those little touches you put on the styling, plus the giveaways, made Andi’s party even more adorable. Alexa, for your touching song number. Sure, you cried for the most part of the song, but I appreciate that you prepared for it and went through with it despite being exhausted from your taping the previous day and only getting home at 1:00 AM on the day of Andi’s party! I’m sure Andi loved your song too. Matt, for rescuing my videos! If you weren’t there, I don’t know how we could have played those! Thank God for your skills and helpfulness! Mum Tess, for the Christmas lollies. They added extra cuteness and ‘Christmas-ness’ to Andi’s dessert bar, and I’m sure the guests enjoyed them! Tita Bochay, for lending us your car and driver. Thanks to you, we weren’t stressed about how to get to the venue and getting a Grab! Kuya Francis, for driving us to the venue safely and for being punctual. Ces, our favorite midwife, who is like a part of our family already, thank you for taking care of Andi while Mike and I were busy at the party. Though we can look after her ourselves, having you there was really a relief as we got to get more stuff done (and of course, Andi loves you!). Thank you also for going above and beyond what was asked of you, even helping out with tasks that are outside of your scope of work.
To our event suppliers – Well, I actually only have two event suppliers. Haha! To tita Chona, Julz, and Baron of J Cuppacakes, thank you for providing us with the perfect venue, delicious food, cute desserts, and great service. I literally did not have to worry about anything anymore because you took care of everything and even went beyond my expectations. If I can do it all over again, I would still choose to hold Andi’s special day at your venue. Thank you for taking good care of us despite the peak season and for patiently entertaining all my inquiries and accommodating my requests. To When Worlds Collide Photography, thank you for the beautiful photos. Andi may be too young to remember her dedication and birthday party, but one day, when she sees all the photos you took, your photos will show her how wonderful the day went and how dear she is in the eyes of those who were there.
It really amazes me how one tiny person can bring so many people together and touch others’ lives. Since you came into this world, you have been a source of joy for many, including myself and your Dada. So, really, this event is not just a dedication or a first birthday party. It is a celebration of your life, a celebration of YOU. I hope that one day, when you read this post and look at your photos, you will feel nothing but LOVE. It’s not about the pretty dress you wore or the delicious food we served. It’s about making you feel and remember how loved you really are. With every prayer said for you, with every wish made for you, with every smile on each face in that room, I hope you know just how precious you are to so many people. I thank God for blessing us with a wonderful child like you. Like I said in my prayer during your dedication, He gave us more than what we could ever ask for. We are truly the luckiest.
I have many wishes for you. In fact, even before you were born, your Dada and I have already had so many dreams for you. But right now, I really just have two very simple wishes: That you will be happy and healthy, and that you will grow up to be a good person. That is all.
This is only your first year, and you still have many years to go and many birthdays to celebrate. Can you believe it? You have only been in this world for a year and you have already changed so many people’s lives! As you grow older, for sure, you will do more great things, and I’m excited for that! We love you very much, our Little Star.