January 2002 Edition
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With the magic of the Internet, we planned our wedding from 7,000 miles away! People were amazed that, without ever leaving our desk, we planned everything. We started getting busy planning our wedding, without the hassle of flying to the Philippines. From her friends all over the world, Shirley gathered advice and tips about successful weddings. She downloaded information and ordered catalogues.

Shirley's experience handling many of her friend's weddings, gave her the confidence to plan this church wedding in the Philippines. She pictured herself getting married in an evening and romantic garden wedding, and she wanted Jim's family to appreciate the beauty of the nature in the Philippines. She was nervous it would rain during the wedding, but many said rain means prosperity and happiness for the newlyweds. She wished for a bright and warm wedding day. They prayed hard for dry skys!

Venue for the church ceremony & reception: Proximity of the ceremony and reception venue were major considerations for guests' convenience, taking into account Manila traffic and all other logistics. The outdoor wedding was held in the late afternoon of December 22, 2001 in a chapel in the pasture gardens surrounded by some landmarks of the beauty of the Philippines in Nayong Pilipino. Shirley thought that by having the ceremony in a church, we would experienced time pressure. Upon inquiring over the Intramuros area, she realized that they are strict with a one hour allottment for each wedding. What about the homily and other parts of the ceremony? What about the picture taking? The reception followed at the historic Mindanao Oval in Nayong Pilipino (not where the danger is occurring!). This area is best known for its historical sites. Shirley has been dreaming of riding a carriage for her wedding. She saw the wedding of the century where Princess Diana was transported wearing a beautiful gown with a horse pulling her carriage.

Choosing a Wedding Coordinator: Once Shirley was all set with the venue, she started arranging all other details. She realized that by not having direct access to suppliers and vendors in the Philippines, it was much harder to plan (no websites to browse). She decided to hire a wedding planner. Upon closing the deal with the wedding coordinator Janice, they started exchanging email This started in January 2001. The search for a unique invitation began. Then the rest: Choosing a theme, motif, caterer, photographer, videographer, the list goes on and on...

While some may find this stressful, Shirley with the help of her wedding coordinator, Janice had a blast planning the wedding. She used search mechanisms on the Internet to research dresses, designers, poems, music selections and different favors that Janice suggested. Shirley simply printed out her research results and handed it over to Jim to help make the final decisions.

Choosing the Wedding Gown and the Groom's attire: Most Filipino brides prefer a custom-made wedding gown, rather than having it "off the rack". Shirley bought a gown in Washington, DC. She added rhinestones & pearls, which was done in the Philippines. Shirley wore a white Monique matte satin gown featuring a corset bodice, an elaborately off shoulder top and semi-cathedral train. Since the Philippines is a very hot weather place, Jim was dressed in a hand stitched three piece Barong Tagalog. A Barong shirt made of Jusi Pina, black pants and an inner shirt "kamisa chino." It is the national costume of Filipino men and a popular alternative for tuxedos in Filipino weddings.

For the entourage's attire:
Shirley flew during Memorial day to Los Angeles to find fabrics from her former employer and to find ready to wear gowns in the fashion district. She was successful in finding beautiful shimmering burgundy gowns. The men all wore Barong Tagalogs.

Choosing the members of the entourage: Marrying couples have a few pairs of ninongs & ninangs (godparents) to stand as principal sponsors/witnesses in the ceremony, much like the practice observed during a child's baptism. We decided to make a list of all those close to us. At first, it was difficult having a long list of people important to us, but once we finalized our listing we were both happy.

Choosing a photographer & videographer: When it is all said and done, the memories and your photos will take on special meaning. Be sure to choose the right photographer & videographer! Meet the person who will photograph your wedding. You need to have a good rapport and make sure he/she is patient, professional, and friendly. The photographer's job is to get everyone working together to shine brightly in the pictures!

Table cameras: Although we hired a professional photographer, we bought some throw away cameras to place on all the tables. We attached a note to the cameras that said "take pictures, pass it on, and leave it for the couple to develop." Normally over half of those will turn out great! The hired photographer cannot be everywhere, and he/she may not take the candid table shots you desire. Be prepared! Use your guests' imagination to capture candid moments.

Choosing the caterer: One of most important parts of the wedding is the food! Of course we wanted everybody to be satisfied and well fed. The caterer we got was great, we were lucky. They took care of everything including cake, decorations, the releasing of doves (!), etc. We decided to have a buffet style. The dishes included a sushi bar, salad bar, halo-halo bar, and an on-the-spot cooking of tempura and beef. Months before the wedding, Shirley's family had a food tasting where they taste tested all the food. The wedding cake was a unique fondant design in three different sizes.

Choosing the florist: We believe that flowers can clearly say those unspoken words. We wanted to make sure that our wedding would shine brightly. We found someone who had a great choice of flowers, arranged with style, personality and flare. They created a lasting memory for us and our guests.

Choosing the hotel for the day and the night of the wedding: There were a variety of places to stay in the area. For us, Heritage Hotel in Pasay City was the most convenient, due to it being very close to the ceremony. Heritage is 5 star, beautiful hotel overlooking Manila Bay .

Purchasing the air tickets for USA to the Philippines: We chose Northwest because we were both frequent flyer members with them. We bought our tickets six months ahead of time. Booking a flight for the Christmas holiday was difficult. Many Filipinos go home in December.

Making of the missalette: We wanted to write our own wedding vows, rather than use the standard vows provided by the church. We informed the officiating priest and asked for his approval. The missalette contained passages from the Bible for the first Reading, the Responsorial Psalm, the Prayers for the faithful, and the Homily. The officiating priest gave us advice. We printed the readers' and offerors' names inside. We got ideas from Kasal.com .

Choosing of the gifts for the Principal Sponsors, entourage and guests:
Shirley bought silverplated items in America. We had them personalized by having them engraved in the Philippines. Shirley's sister, Terri, bought two hundred pieces of fortune plants (Chinese Bamboo type) that was distributed during the reception. Filipino's believe Fortune plants bring good luck to those receiving them.

Choosing something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something new: Many people offered us items to use as the borrowed item. Shirley decided on an item that Jim's sister Donna lent her - her beautiful necklace and earrings. The new item was easy - the wedding gown! Something old, some jewelry. Something blue, the garter. We were all set.

Choosing the Wedding Songs: The choir for the church ceremony are Shirley's friends from the singles for Christ group. To pick songs, we found websites that had sound clips of wedding songs. We didn't have a chance to forward the names to our wedding coordinator! Janice picked out great songs for us. Everyone liked the music.

Choosing the bridal car and contacting the police escorts: Filipino brides and grooms do not arrive in the ceremony venue at the same time. Shirley was fetched at the hotel by a six door Mercedes Benz white limousine with all the wedding trimmings and flower decorations. To avoid the heavy traffic in the Philippines, we hired two police escorts (on motorcycles) for Shirley. They helped the limousine slip through the heavy (and we mean heavy!) traffic.

Choosing the entertainment & preparation for the programs: The reception entertainment was hosted by Thor Pozon, a former DJ of Love Radio and Rezza Custodio from Smart Telecom. Shirley used to hang out with them before she left the Philippines. Raffy Perez, a family friend rendered a praise song for the invocation and serenaded us during the cutting of the cake, and also during a toast.
Janice (the coordinator) introduced a different kind of activity:
... Dove releasing - Newlyweds release a pair of white doves during the reception to signify a peaceful and harmonious marital relationship. Catchers find themselves going home with a new feathered-pets.
....Throwing of the bouquet - Shirley threw a bunch of single roses. All single ladies had caught a rose. The lady with the rose with a silver ribbon was the next bride to be…
... Throwing of the garter - a game where Jim spun a bottle with the garter on it's neck. When the music stopped, the bottle pointed to the lucky man - he is singled out to be the next groom.
... Audio Visual Presentation - Shirley surprised Jim with something very special! She arranged a video that was shown on the big screen during reception. Shirley videotaped Jim's family and friends in America for their wedding wishes. Jim was blown away by this. This was one of the true highlights of the whole wedding.
... Money Dance - As part of the ceremonial dance at the reception. Guests and sponsors pin peso (and/or dollar) bills on the bride and groom. It was a lot of fun.

Prenuptial stress relief and the special treatment for us: Jim got a super massage and spa treatment when we were in Tagaytay Highlands. Shirley pampered herself in a massage facials, as well as hair and nails.

Take a breath and relax: Before Shirley walked down the aisle, she took a deep breath and said to herself: "Take in all the beautiful surroundings and relax. The good music, the smiles on our guests' faces, the proud expressions on our families' faces, the look of love on my groom's face, all of these things...are priceless. Enjoy!"


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