One fine June morning, I got married to Magtan, a man I love since seven years ago, on the beautiful, mystic mountain of Maria Makiling. The Lord sent no less than the sun to bless us and birds to hum songs of union.
To most people who know us, it was both a surprise and something that’s been expected all along. Perhaps because even though we've been together for the past seven years (on-off, that is), it happened at a time we all least expected. It’s quite a long story to tell, but let’s just say that ours would pass as both a long engagement and a whirlwind romance. :-)
Our original plan was to have a civil wedding this month, fly to Singapore together, save up, and then hold a church wedding in the Philippines in December. It sure sounded as simple as A-B-C. However, two months ago, while I was happy and grateful to the Lord for giving me something beautiful to look forward to, I racked my brain for ideas for the wedding and how to go about it. I was pretty sure Mags would ask me where and how I want it and would leave most of the details up to me. That’s when I realized that I didn’t have any idea at all. I was a bride who didn’t have a dream wedding. :-/
It came to me that while most women my age were quite certain about the weddings they’d wish to have – be it beach or garden, whether in Tagaytay or Boracay, and while I was busy doing other stuff, I forgot to make that legendary dream every girl should apparently have.
I admit I was not only too lazy to start preparing, but also, I felt intimidated about not having a specific dream wedding in mind. It may be weird, especially for a woman like me, but honestly, part of me just wanted to skip it – all the formality and traditions - and just get on a new life with Mags.
Don’t get me wrong. I had always prayed to have my own family and had dreams of actually settling down. But I guess more than a wedding, it was marriage and motherhood that had always got me excited. I’ve always felt delighted to wear my apron and get busy in the kitchen. I’d dream about homemaking and how I’d want my kitchen to look like. I’d think about dishes I’d cook for my family or things we’d do together on a lazy Saturday.
So days passed when, other than gathering the documents we needed, all Mags and I could really do was pray for the wedding. At several points during the course of the wedding preps, all the while still in a long distance relationship (I was in Jeddah, then in Manila while Mags was in Singapore), we actually argued. You see, it’s hard enough to plan a wedding together, more so when you’re thousand miles apart. But Mags would patiently remind me that all he really wanted was for us to finally be together. Having that vision in mind and I guess the last few years we spent dilly-dallying in the relationship somehow helped us to set our eyes on what really matters this time.
Came our wedding month, I was already home in Manila but still, nothing was clear and final. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted our wedding to be as spontaneous as it could possibly be. I don't know. For some reason, the idea of a big wedding turns me off. Something about a small, simple, rush wedding thrills me. Walang rules, walang pamahiin. Nothing grand, nothing fancy.
On June 9, Saturday, there was still no confirmation as to the Judge, Mayor or any solemnizing officer that could officiate our wedding. We took the circumstances as the Lord’s way to prompt us to pursue a Christian wedding ceremony instead. And that’s exactly what we did. With less than a week to go, being limited to complications such as Mags' stay in the Philippines and pastor's availability, we aimed the wedding on June 16 at Pook Bathala (formerly St. Marc's Chapel) at the National Arts Center in Los Banos, Laguna.
I didn't imagine at first that what would follow was more hell than the hellest week I experienced in college, and, in terms of wedding preps, it's probably a couple's worst nightmare. I had loads of legwork to do in so little time! Mags, in not very far side of the world, had to squeeze in coordination tasks between his already exhausting 9 to 7 work hours.
Great thing my good friend and self-professed wedding planner, Kar, who earlier expressed her willingness to help, and who was based in LB, was ready to share the pressure with me. Of course she got the surprise of her life when I told her of the change of plan, and even chided me a bit, but was nonetheless glad to assist despite the limitations. To be honest, I don’t know if the wedding had even been possible without her help. And I don’t just say this as a flattery or an act of gratitude.
On Monday, June 11, I was gone the whole day but the only good news I brought home was that I was able to score a nice, ready-to-wear wedding dress from Zara.
Tuesday, June 12, was an official holiday so on that day, I chose to schedule my preliminary meeting with our solemnizing officer in Malabon. (Yes, we had a wedding in Malabon, too. We had two weddings in a row! But I think I'll save the subject for next time.)
While in Malabon, I got my share of reproval from Mags' parents for our crazy idea of a wedding. "Ang gulo nyo. Ora-orada kayo eh!" I remember Tita Emma, Mags' mother, had said, while giving off a nervous smile-laugh. I could only let out a shy smile and offer them whatever explanation my topsy-turvey brain could muster at the moment. I, too, didn't quite understand and I, too, was having a headache just thinking about it. I guess when something is destined to happen, even though you have yet to see things clearly, you would just know in your heart that you are on the right track.
On Wednesday, I went to Los Banos with the best of my support system, Papa and Tita Heidi, in tow.
It was only then, three days to go before the wedding, when I was able to reserve the venue for the ceremony. They didn't want to accommodate us at first, because the place was already reserved on Saturday afternoon for another wedding. But good thing my desperate bride charm worked on Sir Gary and Mam Precy of the Philippine High School for the Arts! They permitted us to hold an early morning ceremony at Pook Bathala. Thank God for Mam Precy's pusong mamon. :-)
It was a huge favor, too, that the place looked exquisitely breathtaking as is, for we really didn't intend to decorate it any further. It's unique design by National Artist Leandro Locsin and lush greens are more than enough ornaments for the occasion.
I spent Thursday doing last of the last minute errands. I don't remember how I even managed to squeeze a mani-pedi time, but yes, God made it possible for me to have a little bridal pampering and beauty rest. :-)
On Friday, June 15, Mags and I saw each other again for the first time in nine months. With only our families and a pair of witnesses from each side, we held our first wedding on that day.
When you’ve experienced being a bride and you, too, have been harassed by the demands of wedding preparations, you know what I mean when I say that there is a point on your wedding day when suddenly, everything becomes worth it. For me, it was when my father held me and we stood at the start of the aisle, and I saw familiar faces of family and friends who came all the way from the farthest points of Luzon - Bataan, Pangasinan, Bulacan, etc. - not just to tolerate, but to actually support our crazy idea of a wedding.
All my worries instantly vanished. The stress that have built up in me all week were suddenly replaced by inexplicable joy and gratitude – that all those people were there no matter how far the venue or how short the notice was, that I still have my father to hold and walk me down the aisle, that the sun was shining, and that at the end of the aisle, the same man I love since seven years ago was waiting.
We had the honor of having Dr. Rodel Lasco, Mags’ former boss at the World Agroforestry Center, officiate our wedding, which made the ceremony much more meaningful for us. We hope to always remember to put into practice the message and pieces of advice that he imparted. :D
Our violinist, Mr. Bayani Alonte of Binan, Laguna,
Mags : “Simula ngayon, araw-araw at sa bawat sandali, sisikapin at papandayin ko ang sarili upang maging matatag na moog para sa iyo, magsisilbing lilim at karamay sa oras ng karamdaman, lungkot at pighati; magdiriwang sa tabi mo sa tagumpay at saya, maasahang kaibigan at kapanalig habambuhay.”
Mags’ vows in Filipino sounded sweet, like his classic love letters that I like to read over and over.
Jen: “I thank and praise the Lord of Love who brought us two together, allowed us to be broken apart, but now unites us again to be husband and wife.”
Ours was a wedding that was not grand but I’d say whatever a grand dream wedding is, I feel like I got mine after all. Perhaps because the real dream wedding is the one where the Lord binds you to the one you truly love, in a place that is close to your heart. Can anything really ever be more grandiose than that? ;-)
Mags and I are deeply grateful to family and friends who helped out despite what could be the shortest notice for a wedding ever, and for everybody's love, support and prayers. Our wedding was meaningful enough as is but your presence was the one that made it even more fun and special. Again, 'til next time, and don't worry, we'll try to make the Christening of our little one not much of a surprise! Haha! :-)
To our equally loved family and friends whom we didn't get the chance to share the occasion with, we love you and we look forward to celebrating with you on our own little way soon. :-)
|with our beloved parents|
|Mags' little sister, Camille, was our official wedding photographer|
|My sister Zandra, nieces Lois and Liah, and Tita Heidi|
|with Mags' beloved Lolo Remy who came all the way from Bataan|
|Mags' (and my) close friends from grad school|
|Mags' (and my) close friends from grad school TAKE TWO|
|My superfriends, The Hinterlanders and plus ones, minus Erinelepante :-)|
|The Hinterlanders at the reception, this time with the charming Tolentino kids, Uri and Ari ;-)|
|All the pretty single ladies! :-)|
|Our friends Christmas, Rico and Goli|
|with Mags' Catalan housemates Jerome and Randwin|
|The groom by the UPLB gate|
|Mags' other bride who made a scene at the reception. Haha!|