I’ve had a draft saved about 10 months ago for this purpose. It felt like such a herculean task back then to breakdown the planning, the event itself, and all my ruminations in between. Probably because at that time, the actual wedding felt like such a momentous event. A year after, when things have settled and actual life sets in, I start looking past it as an event but as the beginning of this lifelong partnership. I’m writing this post and scheduling it in advance on the day of our first wedding anniversary. A year is nothing compared to forever, but milestones like these should always be celebrated, or at the very least, remembered. The reason why I’m also scheduling this post in advance is that I could give birth anytime soon.
Early this year before we knew I was pregnant, my plan was to celebrate our first anniversary on an epic road trip off the California Coast. But, obviously, things have taken a different turn and the thought of that kind of travel is definitely not gonna happen anytime soon. We probably can’t afford it now as well.
We celebrated the sacrament of Holy Matrimony exactly a year ago at the Manila Cathedral. We both have personal connections to the Manila area and knew that celebrating it in the Cathedral felt important to us. The folks from the Manila Cathedral were easy and reasonable to talk to. The fees were also more reasonable compared to some of the other well-known churches in Makati or BGC. They are strict with the age of the flower girls, time, and music. I had to negotiate my bridal walk song with a non-religious instrumental performed by a String Quartet (Sigur Ros – Hoppipolla).
We held a vintage themed reception at the Maynila Ballroom of the Manila Hotel. I attended a pretty opulent party in the same ballroom back when I was probably 10 years old and remembered loving how beautiful the ballroom was. During our reception venue haunts early on, my husband walked up the green velvet-clad stairs, caught sight of the ballroom in front, and publicly declared that we will hold the reception here (even if we had to compromise the number of guests we initially planned for). I did not even have to convince him. What a win for me.
Booking the ballroom easily called for the kind of theme and mood I wanted to go for. My husband and I have very little in common when it comes to our own interests, but we both have a shared love for vintage pieces and places that have character. The people we coordinated with at the Manila Hotel were also pretty easy to work and negotiate with. We had the unfortunate timing of having a massive religious celebration happening just around the corner from the hotel that caused road blockages and tortuous traffic for our guests. It was basically a nightmare. We cannot emphasize how much we appreciate and love all those who were still able to make it and celebrate with us on that day.
Honestly, for the most part of the planning process, I pretty much had a great time doing it. I’ve always loved being creative and being hands-on to certain aspects of the wedding while letting some other matters just take its course by trusting the suppliers I have met and spoken with. It really helps to know what you want and being decisive about it. I enjoyed designing most of the print/graphic elements including our invitations, curating the music down to the last cue, and preparing the entire program.
I guess when planning your own wedding you already know not to scrimp on the food. It is equally important to also make sure that food is not just good or abundant, but served timely as well. I’ve attended a lot of weddings where timing was absolutely off. People remember this! We had a decent cocktail spread prior and served plated course meals. There were personal touches from my mom’s home province of Camiguin wherein loads of lanzones (it was in season!) and local treats were sent and served. These are food that I grew up eating. It felt extra special for these simple touches to be part of our wedding.
My family and I enjoy watching live performances. Hiring a big band reminiscent of the kind of mood and festivity we were going for was definitely a non-negotiable for me. Al and I were more than happy to hire The Brass Munkeys after watching them perform live a few times. Singing and rehearsing with them was such an amazing experience for me personally. In cases where you’re hiring a big band, it is best to invest in quality sound and light systems. We had the best one c/o our friend, Eric. It totally brought out the mood.
We had our first dance choreographed by my incredibly talented theater friends, Jim Ferrer and Fritz Esase. I knew I wanted to perform (it’s something I terribly miss since deciding to go through with being a lawyer) and I was more than happy that my husband agreed to do it with me. Honestly, I think he also had a lot of fun during the practices and the program itself. We danced to Mamas and Papas version of Dream A Little Dream of Me — a song that calms and grounds us until this very day.
There were several tears shed by my incredibly emotional and sentimental family — a stark contrast to my husband’s larger, crazier, and livelier family. But having them all there coming together to celebrate with us was really special. The wedding was definitely a joint effort from all sides of our families. They assisted in setting things up, helping us out with the other minor but equally important details of the preparations, and ensuring that both my husband and I would not worry about anything that day. I truly believe that weddings are also for the bride and groom’s families as well.
As the celebrant, you really miss a lot of the things that happen behind the scenes with your guests. The brief banter and stories exchanged between you and your guests seem to fade as the evening progresses. For that one day, your senses are intoxicated as you indulge in the evening’s delights, sometimes oblivious to the world. You may not remember all the tiny million details of the evening but you’re still left with a ton of good vibes to fill up your memory bank. I’m not sure about my husband, but the slightly hazy memories I had (may or may not be the fault of utter inebriation) that lingered until we went to bed in sheer exhaustion was, at that moment, a sign of utter satisfaction.
But really, no matter how much we both gloss up and revel at the incredible night we had, the truth is, what has happened since has truly been the most amazing part of it all. Each waking day from the time we both said our “I Dos” to our most wonderful honeymoon, celebrating our first Christmas, ringing in 2019 as a married couple, finding out we were expecting, building a new home, figuring out how to pay for it all, and all the months of pain, sacrifice, and joy in between, we still find ourselves listening to the wedding playlist I created either on the road or a mundane day in the office. Not really to remember or transport us to our wedding day. Instead, it feels like a warm comforting embrace reminding us that we will both be okay as long as we are together. That’s why I make such a big deal about music. It is transformative and powerful.
To my husband, thank you for a great year. We will enter the next as a family of three. How truly blessed we are. Happy Anniversary, my love. Here’s to our forever.
To those who are interested in our list of suppliers and my a brief comment or two about them, read on below.
- Church: The Manila Cathedral
- Hotel and Reception venue: Maynila Ballroom, The Manila Hotel
- On-The-Day Coordinator: Ralph & Co. Events
- Bridal Gown: Maureen Disini Teichert
- Fascinator: Bonsai Fojas Balboa (Bonne Handmade)
- Bridal Robe: La Tercera
- Groom Suit: Tailory Manila
- Entourage Gowns including both our moms: Merlene Marcelo Couture
- Grooming: Groom Me
- Reception Band: The Brass Munkeys
- Ceremony/Cocktails Quartet: The Sentimental Groove Music Ensemble
- Lights and Sounds: Eric Aguirre
- Host: Jing Jamlang
- Choreographers: Jim Ferrer and Ernest Fritz Esase
If you decide to go with a big band like us, best to invest in quality sound system or, really, what’s the point? Our good friend, Eric Aguirre, hooked us up and made sure that everything turned out amazing. It did.
I knew I wanted to pick a host who was professional, talented, and had a personal connection to us. Jing, my HS batchmate and my husband’s College batchmate, did a superb job! I am lucky to have talented friends.
Mithi and her team did a decent job of balancing subtle vintage elements. We had a beautiful ballroom and believed that there is no need to splurge and be “extra” with the decorations.
Image Credits: Marvin Aquino Photography