Unlike most brides, I wasn't around to manage the wedding preparations. I was planning for a Manila wedding, while Dear Hubby and I were in the US the whole time!
It was a good thing though that I was in Manila a year before our wedding day. That gave me enough time to book our church, hotel and other suppliers. Because Dear Hubby was in Cambridge, MA and I was in Manila, the task of meeting suppliers fell upon myself and his sister Lorr, my SIL (to get the consensus from their side). Instead of sifting through several suppliers, I talked to my married friends and relatives and asked for tips and referrals. This made my job easier because I only dealt with suppliers that came highly recommended! I pretty much narrowed down my list to 2 suppliers per category max!
The thing is though, for church weddings, you really have to book your church a year and a half in advance if you want to get your first priority. We initially wanted to have our wedding in Santuario de San Antonio because it was the church nearest to Makati Shangri-la (our reception venue), but apparently getting a booking 13 months before the wedding day was not early enough! So we decided to have our church ceremony in Mary the Queen in West Greenhills. This turned out to be a blessing because for one, Dear Hubby practically grew up beside MTQ. More than that, we were able to convince (hehe!) Fr. Johnny Go, SJ (the principal of Dear Hubby's Alma Mater) to officiate our wedding! So remember, if things don't turn out as planned, don't worry because things happen for a reason! Our ceremony was so beautiful and so personal because Fr. Johnny's homily was very touching, meaningful and close to our hearts (he shared our love story with our guests)! Definitely not the typical run of the mill wedding homily where the officiating priest talks about loving one another, being faithful, etc. etc.
For our reception, we chose Makati Shangri-la.
We wanted to hold it in Rizal Ballroom, but we were told that it was due for renovation the week of our wedding. So we booked Quezon Ballroom instead with first priority for Rizal in case it opened up. As it turned out, Rizal Ballroom was available, but I only found out about it a week before the wedding, when I casually told Avril, our events manager that I really wanted Rizal because I was worried that Quezon Ballroom might be too small! Turns out, the events manager I spoke with before, went on maternity leave and didn't turn over the info to her! So if you really want something, make sure you ask and re-confirm several times, especially if your event changes hands midway! By then, Rizal C was already booked and we would have to share the foyer with the other event. Also, it was too late to change because our wedding invites had been sent out and our florist and lights & sounds engineer already planned for a Quezon Ballroom set-up. But again, it turned out to be for the best too! The great thing with Quezon Ballroom is that we had the entire ballroom, foyer and lounge area to ourselves! It was small and cozy and comfortably fit 370 guests. The low ceilings also contributed to the fun, warm and relaxed atmosphere that we were aiming for! I never liked stiff and formal weddings and Dear Hubby and I agreed that ours had to be a wedding that our guests would enjoy!
Our wedding invitation was designed and printed by my best friend/maid of honor Aileen! We used a black on cream theme on thick paper and the inner envelope had a matte gold lining. The outer envelope had our initials embossed on the flap. Uncle Boy, Aileen's dad, designed it himself! =)
Our wedding rings by the way are plain white gold bands that we had made in Binondo for our civil wedding and cost us about Php 14,000. We just had it professionally polished and it looked as good as new!
Now on to the best part! The outfits and make-up!
I've always had a thing for Grecian gowns, so I knew that my wedding dress had to be a simple, Grecian style gown made of silk chiffon. I just love the floaty, dreamy quality of goddess gowns and I knew that such a gown will suit my frame. I'm very petite so anything frilly, voluminous or heavily embellished will overwhelm me! When I saw a very pretty Marchesa gown in white in several bridal magazines, I immediately brought the tear sheets to Debbie Co (who just knows how to make dresses that flatter petite frames so going to her was a no-brainer!) and we brainstormed on the details. I enjoy working with Debbie (she also made my civil wedding cocktail dress) because she can execute dresses just the way I envisioned them!
Debbie also took care of my veil (with a spray of crystal beading), garter, the pillows for the ring and arrhae (which she also provided) and the cord (that was patterned after the braiding on my dress!)
Oh, here's a funny story about my headpiece! That flower actually came from one of the table arrangements! It totally slipped my mind that I would need something on my hair so I told our wedding coordinator, Peaches Go-Tiu, to just get something from one of the arrangements in the ballroom! This is what she picked out and it turned out so great!
My make-up was done by Butch Coo, who also did my civil wedding make-up. He is the best when it comes to chinita brides because he really made my eyes look bigger than they really are! Best of all, his make-up lasts the whole day and looks so great in pictures!
I find it a total waste of money to buy white wedding shoes that I will only get to wear once, so I bought a pair of metallic sling backs from Kate Spade. It was a happy coincidence that the insole was pink, which went so nicely with my shades of pink theme! =)
My bouquet was composed of pink peonies that my florist, Gina Galang imported from I don't know where, hahaha! I told her I wanted pink peonies to go with my "Grecian" theme and she told me that peonies are not grown locally, and availability will also have to depend on the season. But I kept my fingers crossed, and as I prayed for, on the day of the wedding, Gina had a gorgeous bunch of pink peonies for me!
In keeping with my Grecian gown theme, Debbie made draped chiffon gowns in shades of pink (color scheme was my Tita Nanette's idea) for our whole entourage. I wanted the girls to be happy with the dress they would be wearing (no 27 Dresses uglies here!), so I made it a point to have something something pretty and practical for them, in a way that that they could still wear their gowns to other formal occasions. I find it a waste of money to commission gowns that are obviously bridesmaid/flower girl dresses, you know, the type that will only be worn once.
With my best friend/maid of honor Aileen, and Dear Hubby's Harvard buddy/best man Jules
Our bridesmaids (SIL Lorr, cousin Thea, best friend Nina, sister Trina), groomsmen (DOF buddy Vince, Harvard buddy Arnel, Xavier buddy Jason and DOF buddy Sunny), flower girls Arianna and Jasmine, and ring bearer Jo (coin bearer Gabe not in photo)
Our secondary sponsors (sister Dianne, SIL Leslie, sister Nic, Xavier buddy Dax, brother Andrew, Xavier/DOF buddy Patrick)
The boys wore dark suits with a black tie, so they sort of looked like they came straight out of the MIB set! (from L-R: A, J1, V, H, J2, S, P)
Our family pictures! See how different shades of pink all together added depth and variety? I think it's genius! Hehe! =)
While booking a reception in Makati Shangri-la is pretty much a package deal, I exchanged the in-house flowers for corkage (we brought in about 50 bottles of red and white wine and champagne because we figured, buzzed guests would be happy guests, hahaha!). We had a simple but sweet arrangement of pink and white Lisianthus, blue Hydrangeas, Green Buttons, Roses, Gerberas, and Stargazers. We made it a low arrangement so that guests wouldn't have a hard time talking to people across the table.
Our cake was just a simple tone-on-tone cake that was part of the hotel package. I figured, we would rather spend on food (Appetizer: smoked salmon with grilled tiger prawns served with mesclun green with sesame aoli, Soup: cream of sweet onion soup with blue cheese croutons, Main Course: pan-seared sea bass with black and white rice, baby tomato compote, asparagus spears, Dessert: white and dark chocolate mousse with brandied cherries, coffee or tea, wine throughout) than spend on a cake that we will only get to take one bite out of! Nevertheless, I think our cake was quite elegant!
What made our reception different was that our grand entrance immediately segued into our first dance! As soon as we were introduced by our hosts (our friends Mandy and Marcie), the intro to "It Had To Be You" by Michael Bublé wafted out of the speakers! We actually hired a professional choreographer, Del Custodio, to train us for our first dance! =)
We figured, an upbeat first dance that was a surprise to our guests would set the fun mood for the evening, and it sure did!
To spice things up all the more, we got our friends to play their guitars. Gino Mauricio played the kundiman and Marco Andaya played a couple of pop tunes! For added entertainment, my sister Dianne made this super funny AVP and Dear Hubby surprised me with a hilarious music video!
When it was time to go home, we had two souvenirs for our guests. First was a dessert buffet from Classic Confections courtesy of Dear Hubby's friends from law school and ACCRA (Thanks Tojun!)!
We prepared these pink and gold boxes tied with gold string (sticker again printed by Aileen) where they could keep a couple of cookies, bars or a cupcake to bring home:
Upon the suggestion of my friend Paz, Lorr and I bought potted basil plants from Green 2000 in Manila Seedling. I shared with our guests my pesto recipe, which is Dear Hubby's favorite pasta dish! Aileen printed the recipe card and I attached it to bamboo barbecue sticks that I bought in Rustans Fresh...
Which we then stuck into each pot of basil! My Tita Nanette assigned her staff to take care of the packaging! It came together quite nicely no?
It was a simple and fun wedding and everyone who attended had a blast! I really have to thank our parents for giving us free reign in planning for our wedding! My sister Dianne and SIL Lorr took care of contacting suppliers while I was in the US. We were also lucky that our godparents were very much involved in helping us with the wedding preparations! They weren't there just for the day, but were pretty much a phone call away when we needed help with brainstorming for ideas and negotiations! Hehehe! I also couldn't have done it without my wedding coordinator Peaches who took a load off my back! She pretty much handled all the follow-ups and coordination with my other suppliers, had a ready list of referrals when I was looking for a choreographer and musicians, and worked with me months before the wedding, even though I only hired her for day coordination! That gave me plenty of time to get facials and massages prior to the Big Day, hahaha!
I worked with a great team and I wouldn't have my wedding any other way! Up to now, Dear Hubby tells me that it is such a great feeling to look back to such a happy and successful occasion!
Church: Mary the Queen
Reception: Makati Shangri-la
Choreographer: Del Custodio
Church Choir: In Laude
Photos: Nelwin Uy
Video: MG Digital
Gowns: Debbie Co
Make-up: Butch Coo
Flowers: Gina Galang of Royal Flowers
Invitations/Misalette/Stickers/Recipe Cards, etc.: Fastprint, Inc.
Lights & Sounds: Disc Venture Systems
Wedding Coordinator: Peaches Go-Tiu