Island Romance: Braving the Storm for Gersam and Bianca’s Magical Malapascua Wedding

“It really was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever witnessed,” I thought to myself as I watched the peaceful water under the not-so starry evening sky while holding the first cocktail drink I’ve had in over two years. That moment felt so good.

A complete opposite of everything that happened just hours ago.

Credits to Air Balloon Project for all photos used in this post.

Almost 24 hours earlier: I remember still being up at 1:00AM. I had just put my adorable late sleeper of a baby to bed and my husband was out with his friends. He’s mostly a taong bahay so I really didn’t mind him coming home late. Although if I had to be completely honest, it was really because I was getting ready for an off-island overnight trip and that would mean he’d be with our little monster all alone for the first time ever, straight for 48 hours. Complexity level? Let’s just say our baby couldn’t sleep at night without me. In other words, poor daddy needed an advanced breather.

I was packing while putting on hair rollers. In two hours I would have to leave to catch the bus for Maya port,  where a pump boat will take me to the picturesque Malapascua. There, I’ll be witnessing the wedding my dear friend, Bianca and her college sweetheart, Gersam.

My plus one for the event was my ever spontaneous BFF Lovely. She willingly agreed to come with me since my husband needed to be with our son. Ironically, the last trip we had together was six years ago when she took me to her hometown Bohol, an equally captivating island, where we went on a tour amid a storm. This time, we were also braving an incredibly bad weather en route to the beach wedding.

Vague bus ride, broken boaties, delayed trips, irate passengers, and a lot of stomach-churning sea waves later, we arrived at Malapascua safe and sound. It was right before lunch time and only a few hours before the ceremony. My other friends were already waiting for us, they too had their share of “adventure” the night before when the wind was much more dreadful, which may or may not include hopping on a giant styrofoam to get on a boat. It was my second time to go to Malapascua, the first was really sunny so it was not as buwis-buhay” as we jokingly label.

It turned out to be a day of “I hope it stays sunny” to “I hope the rain would stop” to “Thank God it stopped!”

Bianca and Gersam however remained unfazed by the changing of weather. At least from our point of view, the two looked so divine and oh so in love!

In true island fashion, the newlywedsand the bridal party left the church and arrived at the reception venue via adorned pump boats.

Bianca was the type of bride who knew what she wanted, who had envisioned what her big day would look like, but was very open to suggestions here and there. The result was a stunning set-up at a cove with tall coconut trees hovering over charming Instagrammable pieces. It was a good balance of rustic and boho, while still highlighting the classy bride that Bianca was.

Tip: Separate tier cakes are easier to transport for destination weddings.

Despite the stormy sky the night before, enough stars shown bright for the evening’s celebration. It was a huge and fun gathering of family, relatives, and friends who traveled from different parts of the country and from across the globe to celebrate the couple who have found each other when they were only university students at UP Cebu.

Destination weddings are not easy to pull off but this couple made it look so easy, evident in the way they showcased their dance moves that night!

In the end, we could all agree that it was a worthwhile trip to a worthwhile sanctuary for a worthwhile couple.

Gersam X Bianca Wedding
Malapascua Island, Cebu
December 18, 2016
Photo: Air Balloon Project
Video: Franzarrogante Films (WATCH the couple’s SDE here!)
Styling : First of April
Coordination : Khendi Garcia-Ramirez | Wedding Errands Cebu
HMUA: Liz Cinco
Lights and sounds: iShow Cebu

And oh, here’s me doing my secondary sponsor duty!

Cheers to destination weddings! Cheers to windy celebrations! And cheers to all December couples!  ♥

Wedding Inspiration: Greggy and Sunshine’s Boho Reggae Wedding

First of all, this is a total throwback.

By now, I must have made it clear how much I love weddings! And when friends ask me for tips on wedding planning, I always find myself having them watch a wedding video of a vibrant, do-it-yourself wedding that I know of.

It’s the wedding of my dear friend, Shine. I met her at work, where we were together in the same team, with another good friend who did my engagement shoot. It took me weeks before realizing that she was the Sunshine of a song I know from years back. The song, which was her namesake, was released by Bambu Spliff, where she played vocals alongside her husband, Gregory. If you’re a true blue Cebuano, you pretty much know this reggae band. Needless to say, music played an important role in Greggy and Shine’s love story.

Fast forward to 2012, the free-spirited sweethearts said their vows in a rustic, bohemian-reggae inspired wedding.

Upon learning of my engagement, Shine was quick to provide tips and share her own experience of the whole planning. She gave me the brilliant idea of having my own dress tailored at a lower price by buying my own fabric, as she did in her own wedding.

She was an avid DIY bride herself, doing her own make-up, making centerpieces through old wine bottles, and even creating her own floral arrangement! The bonbonnières were jars of jam with a whimsical tag, “Spread the Love. Thank you for JAMming with us!” See what they did there? One couldn’t really tell how much DIY or how budget-friendly the wedding was just by looking at it because it simply looked so fun and fascinating.

Official photos were taken by Erickson Herrera while the video was done by Tiano Evangelista, who’s bassist for Junior Kilat, also a prominent Cebu band. Both were good friends of the couple. It really was a celebration filled with loved ones, as Shine would recall.

And oh, the bride and groom sing an original composition in the video!

Now enjoy, get inspired as I did, and eat your heart out at how unforgettable the musical entertainment must have been on that magical night! ♥

The Thrifty Bride: 8 Ways to Save on Your Wedding Expenses

It’s just the third month into the new year but I already know at least seven couples who have been engaged! With my own wedding just less than a year ago, it’s a welcome treat that friends come to me for queries on processes, supplier referrals, and even tips. It makes me feel useful as I know how confusing planning a wedding can be.

Throughout the process of sharing Pinterest boards, Google spreadsheets, article links, and retelling the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of wedding planning, I came up with a list of the different ways you can cut your wedding cost. I had to be un-influenced so I made sure not to search online for other tips and to only rely on my experience. This way, it’s honest and more relatable to brides-to-be, especially in Cebu.

So here goes:

Look for a White Dress, Not a Wedding Dress
This was one of the things I was really overwhelmed with. When you start looking for a wedding dress, you’ll realize the huge discrepancy of bridal dresses vs. regular bridesmaid dresses or any dress for that matter. I actually tried an experiment wherein I asked for a quote for a white party dress and then later asked for a quote for a bridal gown. Aesthetically they didn’t differ much but labeling it as a bridal dress really made a big difference. If you find a regular dress that you feel like walking down the aisle in, grab it! Remember Kitchie Nadal’s 800-peso wedding dress? It’s all about feeling confident in it.  Another trick you can try is to purchase your own fabric and then have your dress sewn by an expert seamstress. Nothing says personalized more than that!

Get an On-the-Day Coordinator Instead of a Full Planner
First of all, don’t get me wrong, you can very well ask assistance from your most reliable girl friends or family members. I did and it went well. But as many a movies have taught us, it’s not always ideal to have a friend do the entire wedding planning for you, unless if that friend does events planning professionally. Aside from the fact that it will only create superfluous drama between the two of you, individuals who are not used to this kind of responsibility can get lost in all the commotion and may not be as comfortable with dealing with the suppliers as a professional coordinator would. I have truly learned that the best gift you can give to yourself on your wedding day is a coordinator. Like really! I heard of brides who had to deal with last-minute calls from caterers or other vendors while in the middle of being made up because some things did not go as planned. Now you wouldn’t want that, do you? No BS but I honestly did not feel any disarray on my wedding day because I had a coordinator who dealt with them. To save cost, hire an on-the-day coordinator to oversee the flow of the entire day instead of getting a full planner. Your on-the-day coordinator will most likely be hands-on even days before the actual day. You won’t really be needing any professional help with bookings or meetings months before the wedding. You only need one day to be a stress-free bride.  

DIY Whatever You Can
Do-it-yourself weddings have become a trend not only because it’s a great way to express your creativity but also because it’s an excellent means to save cash. I applied as much DIY as my prowess and time would allow me on my wedding and it remains to be one of the smartest things I’ve done in my life! There are lot of items that you can DIY. Buy some Continue reading

Not Your Ordinary Bride: One Ceremony, Two Celebrations

Something beautiful happened around this time a year ago. I can’t believe it has been a year as the memory of Tara, one of my dearest friends, tying the knot with the love of her life, Jude, still feels so vivid to me.

I say it was beautiful for two reasons. First, being that theirs was an against-all-odds kind of love story that ended happily. And second because Tara was a total DIY bride whose wedding turned out just as she wanted it to be.

The couple opted for an unconventional wedding. It was a civil ceremony with two separate celebrations.

Karaoke Party

The ceremony was followed by an intimate lunch at Music One, a karaoke bar in the city. It made so much sense since the bride’s family was an ensemble of good singers and musicians.

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Naturally, Yoyi’s Pastries and Desserts provided the cake and other sweet treats at the gathering.

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Tara’s mom, a DIY apostle herself, made the elegant, vintage-y bouquet, personalized ring boxes, and the guest book.

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We got to take home the champagne glasses we used during the toast since they also served as the wedding giveaways for all the guests. Classy!

It was an honor not only to be one of the (reads: one of two, ehem) legal witnesses at Continue reading

5 Reasons Why I’m Keeping My Wedding Intimate

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Engagement Shoot | Photo by Clarence Nartates

As our country celebrates the promise of a new presidency, I find myself anxious about something else entirely: our wedding guest list! Two months away and DM and I still cannot say that we’ve finalized the list—yes, even after sending out a few Save the Date‘s.  And that’s got to be blamed on this small wedding reverie of mine.

But what’s bothering me more is the fact that some people still cannot comprehend the concept of keeping a wedding intimate. In the past months of planning, I’ve come across a good number of acquaintances and wedding vendors who talk about the rising popularity of small weddings in Cebu. Seems like more and more young couples have decided to stray away from the tradition. Our wedding coordinator shared that she had at least three recent events that only had about fifty guests. And I cannot help but be completely jealous. How did these couples manage to orchestrate that?!

I have always wanted to have an intimate wedding and I have been very vocal about it. I learned a lot of things about weddings through Friends and it was also through Rachel Green that I first got an idea of how magical a private wedding could be! Remember her made-up story on how she and Ross got married on a cliff during sunset? Swooning!

Whenever I think about the possibility of tripping over while I walk down the aisle, I’m comforted by the thought that, should it happen, the witnesses are all close enough to me that we can just laugh it off together.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, I don’t know yet) for me, the intimate wedding I’m planning right now is not as intimate as Continue reading

DIY Pirate Birthday Party for the Little Captain

Nothing expensive, nothing lavish, just a lovingly prepped up first birthday celebration for the little man that made a big change in my life.

I couldn’t emphasize it more and I’ve finally turned into one of those people who just couldn’t stop saying how time flies so fast! Indeed, it feels only yesterday when I first announced that we were expecting, got comfortable with the whole pregnancy thing, received so much love at my baby shower, did the obligatory belly-flaunting shoot amid a threatening storm, finally gave birth, and welcomed our new addition into the Christian world.

DM and I have successfully conquered 365 days of being pooped on, peed on, paranoia, and arguments on whose style is better. And to brace ourselves for the rest of our parenting journey, we made it a point to celebrate with dear friends and family.

If it were up to DM, an intimate gathering with good food would have been enough. But of course, being the DIY mom that I am, I got overly excited on the little details. We decided to have a pirate theme party on the basis that Baby D gets so attentive whenever we read him Jake and the Never Land Pirates during bedtime. So he must likes pirates, right?!

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The event was held at home so it was quite challenging to eliminate Continue reading

Wedding Woes: Five Mantras for the Bride-to-Be

When I was younger I always thought about how I’d love to get married but not be married. It meant that I love the idea of wedding but not of marriage. I don’t have commitment issues and I’m a believer of ever-after, but the thought of being dolled up for a day is so much more appealing than the idea of looking after a grown man for the rest of my life. Kidding. Not really.

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So when I first started planning my wedding, I was so psyched that I had swiftly contacted vendors near and far and abruptly created excel files faster than I had finished any excel file in my life (I’ve had a lot). But as the day draws closer, I find myself shaking off the reality: of me planning. I hate it. I do. And that’s from someone who loves organizing events and carrying out delicate details.

I have three other close friends getting hitched in the next months and we all share the same sentiment: how stressful this drudgery is! Between getting the best deal at a venue, booking the impeccable supplier, trimming down the guest list, and staying within the allocation, it’s now easy to understand why the term bridezilla was ever coined.

Wedding planning is not a piece of cake. As I’ve found out.

If you’ve gradually turned yourself into the bride you don’t want to be just like us, you might want to consider these mantras I came up with to somehow keep my sanity daily… or until the “big day” is finally conquered.

I got myself into this. First and foremost, you are one of two mature adults who are thrilled to be married, right? I say this because what you are about to embark in is a huge commitment. I’m not only talking about the lifetime vow you are about to make, the months of  orchestrating to achieve what you want requires Continue reading