The very classy invitation, personally delivered to Singapore by the Best Man himself. I love both the cursive and block fonts used.
MARRIAGE IS the feeling of one in the understanding of two.
After hearing that from the father of the bride, I walked away from my latest wedding reception emceeing gig with the persona of a pondering, pensive young man staring at one of life’s truths foisted on his way.
You live your life single long enough that you soon miss out on life’s little truths and – dare I say – life’s little pleasures. It takes a wedding to bring things to light. One could easily dismiss the speech of the father of the bride as the requisite dispensing of pieces of advice – often about how the newlyweds need to be patient with one another and, it has to be said, “work” on the marriage – but that evening, the words I heard reverberated with a deeper meaning and the thoughtfulness of someone who really meant well.
At weddings, we often hear well-wishers encourage newlyweds to nurture the best things that they like about each other, as their separate lives become one life; separate homes, one home; and, separate fortunes, one fortune. Throw in individual backgrounds that trace their roots to two different continents, and you realize that as a well-meaning friend, you share in your friend’s joy just as much as you whisper a prayer of thanks that this really is one of those when – hold on for the cliché ahead – two become one.
I looked at my good friend of many years, the blushing bride, Mitzi, and I knew that all this time, her life has been made a bit more interesting by the possibility of having a dream come true. She said so herself in her vows. Her dashing groom, Sead, dapper in his coat and bowtie, fulfills her dream by coming to her life just when she was ready to receive him. I’ve always believed that there is something so magical about weddings. But at that very moment, I also got reminded of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist because it did feel like all the universe conspired to help realize – and make successful – the Zildzic–Nuda nuptials.
The wedding march started at the exact appointed time at San Agustin Church and Convent inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila. One of the most popular venues for weddings, San Agustin Church is one of only four Baroque churches in the Philippines to be designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. A place with such rich history and importance proved to be the only fitting place to solemnize and bless the first day of Sead and Mitzi’s lives together.
The façade of the historic San Agustin Church and Convent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ceremonies started at the appointed time. One can’t be inside San Augstin Church and not feel being transported in time by the ornate carving, grand chandeliers, granite floors, and all the gold gilding.
View from the ornately carved main door. Simply breathtaking.
Through this church’s ornately carved main door and beneath a historic trompe-l’œil ceiling, Mitzi, radiant and doll-like in her white wedding gown with an intricately beaded bodice and a skirt that brought to mind the restless billowing sea, took her trip down the aisle to meet Sead waiting for her at the other end. Framed by the afternoon tropical sun, Mitzi, my good friend, was a vision.
One more look at the façade and it was time to head to the reception venue for some final pre-work.
I kept time in check – running to and from home, the church and the reception venue – by wearing a Rolex to this very special event.
Notice the earphones plugged into my Blackberry? It’s because I used all the time I was in the car to rehearse “in my head” the two songs I sang at the reception. One was in Filipino and the other was in English.
As both guest and emcee at the wedding reception, I knew that I had to cut short my partaking in the church ceremonies. I took one quick glance at my Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air–King and knew that by the time the first reading (by Engr. Rez C. Punzalan) and the second reading (by Engr. Michael S. Borreo) were done, I had to rush to the reception venue to make it to the strict call time of 5:00 PM. (Being given a “call time” made everything feel quite professional apart from the very personal aspect of being asked to emcee this event many months prior.)
This being an event wherein “all the universe” conspired to make it happen, I wasn’t surprised that at the helm of all the planning was Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners, headed by the very lovely and gracious Ms. Ann Samiado. As planning for their wedding was a huge production of international proportions – Mitzi and Sead are based in the States, their families are scattered throughout Europe, Northern America and the Philippines, and their friends and members of their bridal entourage are split between Singapore and the Philippines – the couple opted to get the services of a real pro to ensure that their exceptional day will become exactly that – exceptional.
From the church, I hopped back in the car and after a couple of turns along four blocks found myself staring at the impressive façade of La Castellana, as if caught in a space–time continuum that warped me back to Spanish Colonial Philippines. Located at Cabildo corner Beaterio Streets, Intramuros, Manila 1002, La Castellana, which used to be an ancestral house, further underscored the sense of family and respect for time-honored traditions that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding was clearly becoming to be.
The impressive façade of La Castellana, the wedding reception venue.
The very first thing I did was meet up with Ms. Kristine, then… I just had to check my outfit on the mirror. Hahaha! I usually wear an all-black ensemble and just put a pop of color by wearing the wedding motif as the color of my necktie or bowtie. For Sead and Mitzi’s wedding, I put on a new pink dress shirt of Italian provenance and a bowtie in fuchsia pink. In my left hand is the clear folder that contains, of all things, the printout of my e-Ticket for my flight back to Singapore the next day. My very trusty travel agent of years now had provided it to me earlier in the day.
The Bayleaf in Intramuros, the venue of the final rehearsal and where I first met Ms. Ann of Beautiful Weddings and her team.
The marker at The Bayleaf Intramuros
I was told to look for Ms. Kristine of Beautiful Weddings who would brief me on the last-minute, final adjustments to the reception programme – just the changes from the rehearsal and “final” run-through we had a couple of nights back at the Bayleaf Hotel, also in Intramuros. But before I could do that, I had to soak in the sights that were before me. I walked through the three-paneled entrance and found myself admiring the grand foyer, for a split second finding my synapses struggling with which between the amber crystal chandelier and the huge flower arrangement atop the solid wooden table was the focal point.
The Grand Foyer, La Castellana. Notice the granite floors, the solid wooden table on which rests that huge flower arrangement, and the famed amber crystal chandelier.
There was a mirror at the Grand Foyer. I couldn’t help it. Hahaha! My perfume of choice for this event? The classic EGOISTé PLATINUM by CHANEL.
I admired the granite flooring, made my deep aubergine English leather shoes of Singapore provenance play against the texture, before my peripheral vision caught the striking color motif of this celebration – fuchsia pink against a backdrop of pristine white – and got reminded what I was there for. To prepare for my emceeing job and contribute in my own way to make Sead and Mitzi’s day even more special, if that was at all possible.
I stretched my hand out in greeting, as I introduced myself to Ms. Kristine. Like clockwork, she knew what to pull from a stack of papers, handed me a bag on to which was indicated “For eNTeNG” and quickly went over the final reminders. As I’ve been emceeing wedding receptions for really close friends for quite a while now – this one should easily be at least my tenth time – I’ve always made it a point to prepare my own cue cards. I was quite pleasantly surprised that Beautiful Weddings was a step ahead and had actually prepared for me a “professionally made” cue card set. (This had happened only once before.)
Nerves had always played a part in my emceeing – and singing. I felt that if I had lost this, together with it would go the excitement that undeniably makes me try my best to do a good job. I often deal with this by taking a few minutes right there at the reception venue, while it would still be quiet, marvel at how beautiful and appropriate the décor is, and on a piece of paper just write away my opening spiel about what this particular wedding reception is all about.
The Salon de Joaquin Ballroom was set with linen-laid tables, perfectly balanced with the use of Tiffany chairs, very shabby chic in the gold glint of the glossy wood. The flower arrangements in tall crystal vases, the linen, and the table settings popped as the table-and-chairs décor was not overtly done with fabric. Everything was elegant and quite stylish. Even the welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate. I took my seat at Table No. 7: Shanghai and turned my attention towards the direction of El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard). I saw more beautiful flower centerpieces in a different dominant shade, imagined how romantic the fountain would look at dusk, illuminated by cascading crystal lights, and got reminded of the portents that led to this day.
Ready for the celebration. A view of the Salon de Joaquin Ballroom.
I like it that they opted for the more classy Tiffany chair than the usual fabric-covered chairs with huge ribbons tied around them.
Table No. 11 is special to me. It’s FOLSOM! I heart FOLSOM.
Table No. 2 is close to my heart as well. It is, after all, my current second home – Singapore!
The welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.
Beautiful flowers at the center of each table. There are touches of lilac here. It’s the wedding’s secondary color motif.
Welcome to my table, Table No. 7… SHANGHAI!
I heart SHANGHAI. Once of my best friends in the whole wide world lives here.
My favorite number, 5, is assigned to Sacramento. It never fails to bring to mind the line “If San Antonio sweeps Sacramento…” from the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.
Awash in fuchsia pink at its special corner in the Ballroom is the three-tier wedding cake. In place of the usual bride-and-groom cake topper is a bouquet of purplish pink roses rendered in fondant.
The wedding cake was a study in contradiction. Outside it was pristine white, punctuated only by touches of the wedding’s fuchsia pink color motif. Inside, the fondant ensconced a sinfully rich, devilishly deep dark chocolate cake!
Right in front of the wedding cake table was the sound system and musicians setup. Here. one of the technicians was performing the sound check. Kudos to the sound people. For an open venue setup like Sead and Mitzi’s, I found the acoustics to be top notch, the speakers well-balanced. (But of course I will defer to the professional opinion of the DJ Raoul on this matter. Haha!)
Subtle touches all around the Ballroom evoke images of the ever-present things in Sead and Mitzi’s life. Pretty ornate suitcases like these two in front of the newlyweds’s table speak of how much travel has been part of their individual lives and more so now as husband and wife.
The newlyweds’s table. Notice how the Tiffany chairs are the same yet subtly different? I could tell which one’s Mitzi’s and which one’s Sead’s. Haha!
Outside at the El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard), several tables for cocktails and drinks were propped up. On top of each was this beautiful floral centerpiece. Very pronounced on the touches of lilac on these ones.
Beyond these flowers you shall see the Spanish Colonial architecture of the courtyard, the cascading crystal lights and the palm trees that couldn’t help but provide a romantic backdrop to the festivities.
The reception table where guests were orderly received was likewise beautifully set up.
The Zildzic-Nuda nuptials was another exceptional event by Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners. The firm is headed by its Principal Wedding Planner, Ms. Ann Samiado.
I tapped my fingers on the linen and found myself overwhelmed with happiness for the beautiful couple. Before I knew it, the words were escaping from inside me, leaping off of my consciousness as pen hit the surface of paper.
“TONIGHT IS a very special night. I can’t think of a better place to be in to be part of the ultimate celebration of love – than in a wedding.
Tonight, Sead and Mitzi requested the honor of your presence as they give their love its fullest expression. Fullest expression – don’t you just love those words?
We are all here because there’s always something so magical about weddings. Look around and you will see that it brings family and friends together – some of you traveled miles, even halfway around the world to celebrate our couple tonight.
The table names echo just how much our couple’s love for each other defied distance and made “home” not just a place you can point to on a map or associate with a country code, but a reflection of them, their love for each other, and beginning tonight, right here, “home” is the reflection of their shared life.
Tonight, it’s about these two people who are willing – you can even say, brave enough – to take a chance in front of all the people they care about. It’s incredibly inspiring. It’s incredibly hopeful.
It just feels great to be a witness to that.”
What I found to be most touching about this wedding was the presence of people from practically all over the world, a clear testament to just how much Sead and Mitzi are well-loved. Families and loved ones came from different regions in the Philippines, Europe (Norway), and the United States. Colleagues from Folsom in California, Singapore and from the Mitzi’s university and previous companies in the Philippines were well represented too.
It was noticeable that the couple assembled the people closest to their hearts to stand as their Principal Sponsors, Secondary Sponsors and members of the Entourage. Clearly, people who hold the most influence to them from among family and the various stages of their lives – from student to accomplished professionals – were all accounted for and given the unique opportunity to help shape their young married life.
Among all these well-wishers, I waited in particular for the speeches from the Maid of Honor and the Best Man. On a personal note, having known the Best Man Engr. Raoul M. Masangcay for years now, I marveled at hearing him speak in length and with such thoughtfulness for the first time. He took a trip down memory lane, complimented the couple, and led everybody else in wishing the best of health and wealth for the newlyweds. It was music to the ears.
And from the opening strains of “Seasons of Love (Theme from the Broadway musical RENT)”, lovingly interpreted by ANIMA Choir and Strings, it was clear that Sead and Mitzi’s union is a celebration of love, and that they will only allow it to be measured in terms of seasons of the same.
Congratulations and Best Wishes, Sead and Mitzi!
Honor Guards lined the red carpet for Sead and Mitzi’s grand entrance, both at San Agustin and at La Castellana.
I took this shot against the backdrop of the dinner buffet queue during the first break in the reception program. I later realized that I failed to take photos of the couple and the many guests on my own camera. Though we did manage to snap lots of shots with many other people’s DSLRs and iPhones.
The very colorful and pretty dessert table. Beside it was a very retro touch – a chocolate fondue station!
The guests were serenaded by the vocal stylings and top musicianship of the ANIMA Choir and Strings. That’s their manager Roger on his solo.
The “strings” section of ANIMA Choir and Strings is composed of a percussionist, a flutist, a keyboardist and a violinist. The guys are awesome. They were only informed by Ann of my two songs a couple of days ahead, and we only had exactly one dry run less than an hour before the reception started. But I felt like they were able to take my voice where I wanted to while at the same time downplaying my vocal flaws. A–W–E–S–O–M–E. No wonder they’ve been a byword in the wedding industry.
Doesn’t The Courtyard El jardin de la Luz transform into a place perfect for a romantic rendezvous at night time?
i realize that I only managed to snap a shot of the couple during the bouquet and garter toss. Bummer! (I’m waiting to copy photos from my friend and colleague Engr. Aris’s DSLR.)
This elicited a lot of cheers from the guests as they prodded Sead to go L–O–W–E–R! I couldn’t agree more with the Best Man in saying that our friend Mitzi was at her most radiant, most beautiful that evening.
I don’t have all the photos to show for it, but I have to say that one thing that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding allowed was a veritable “reunion” of sorts among colleagues and friends from across the miles and seas. This one photo that survived the editing is of me and my good good G–O–O–D friend Adam from our company’s offices in Folsom, California. The last time that we bumped into each other was during business meetings in China. I was just so glad to see him at Sead and Mitzi’s wedding (Mitzi did tell me Adam was coming over). It was also nice to meet his girlfriend who he brought along.
When it was already party time –WITH THE BAR OPENED WITH FREE-FLOWING WINE AND BEER!!! – another set of musicians took care of the sounds. This group is called, quite aptly, “Totally Mesmerized”. I loved their version of Gangnam Style that I found myself totally wanting to break into dance!
That’s my cue card set which I made especially for Sead and Mitzi’s wedding. Notice that the first card is handwritten, as has always been my own “tradition”. I write my opening spiel only when I’m already at the venue of the reception. Some sort of belief that … “It will come to me!” Hahaha! Though I have to say that this time, I did end up using for the most part the cue card set provided by Beautiful Weddings. They have quite an amazing team – Ms. Ann, Mr, Jason, Ms, Kristine, Ms, Aya, and many others.
I hope that Sead and Mitzi will forgive me for running away with my table’s name card – “Table no. 7: Shanghai”. I just simply loved it and thought it is the perfect souvenir. As you can see from the list, I shared the table with some of the most beautiful people.
Cue cards and lyric sheets! As you can see, I prepared three songs (Hahaha!). I sang Filipino 70s band Hotdog’s “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko” (Sead took a liking to this song, among many Filipino hits)… and Lionel Richie’s “Truly”. As backup, I have Baron Barbers’ “I Will Always Stay In Love This Way”. This song was the first ever that a couple asked me to sing for them. So I always have it in my backpocket so to speak.
The beautiful wedding invitation! This is a nice addition to my growing collection.
The Principal Sponsors, Best Man, Maid of Honor, Groomsman, and Bridesmaid.
Esteemed collegues, family, really close friends and their little kids played the other important roles.
Before long, it was time to bid La Castellana – and the party – adieu!
One last look at La Castellana before my family and I headed off to another historic part of town – ONGPIN (a.k.a. Chinatown)!
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