A WEDDING TALE

 “I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expense of the wedding that they miss out on what is the real purpose, it’s not about a production number, it’s about a meaningful moment between two people that’s witnessed by people that they actually know and care about.”

– Jane Seymour

Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia before the wedding ceremony

Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia before the wedding ceremony

The Archdiocesan Church of Nuestra Senora de Guia on A. Flores St. abhors the show of cleavage and shoulders – heaven forbid such salaciousness! Before the start of the wedding ceremony, the entourage of bridesmaids, groomsmen, and sponsors were lined up at the entrance for the procession. This woman, zealously performing the role of a schoolmarm, cued each pair when to march. When it was my turn with my partner for the cord ceremony, Apo Aguila, she reprimanded me, “Masyadong mababa, ho” referring to my décolleté neckline that was actually nowhere visible, as it was perfectly hidden by the rose-colour clothe draped on my shoulders.

“I didn’t sew the dress,” I replied brusquely to the boob patrol officer. If she truly had an ounce of working brain cells left in her skull, she would have noted that, given her height, and my short stature despite the heels, her gaze would undoubtedly on my chest that was already covered. One wonders at the consolation she gets admonishing women who are well endowed by the creator she serves. Schoolmarm would have probably gone apoplectic if she had seen the tattoo on my left shoulder, and walked off in a huff or, worse, fainted on the spot.

A white boutonnière for the groomsman's jacket

A white boutonnière for the groomsman’s jacket


(L-R) Cord bearer Apo Aguila, bridesmaide Diovie Arcilla and candle sponsor Ted Arnold Bolla/Photo by Ted Arnold Bolla

(L-R) Cord bearer Apo Aguila, bridesmaide Diovie Arcilla and candle sponsor Ted Arnold Bolla/Photo by Ted Arnold Bolla

white flowers for the aisleBut the deities were more focused on the couple – long-time friend, Nina (it has a tilde on the second N), and the love of her life, Nicolas (pronounced Niko-la but is commonly called Nico) – about to join themselves in holy matrimony rather than on such inanities. I suppose they glossed over this tiny detail of the officiating priest, Reverend Father Sonny de Claro, wearing inappropriate footwear. I suppose priests take liberties in wearing what they like, such as black Crocs, to, say, a wedding that stressed formal attire. My ruffled feelings were soothed when I saw the attending Monsignor, who was the bride’s school director and who officiated at the wedding of the bride’s brother nine years ago, looking regal in his barong Tagalog, black trousers, and black shiny shoes paired with the appropriate black dress socks.

A lot of factors were against this sceptic truly being engaged in the beauty and sanctity of a wedding. For one thing, that June afternoon was one muggy day. Another, a disbeliever never feels comfortable inside a church or any church-related events. Lastly, Manila is second to Jakarta in the race for being named the city of traffic jams. Yet, the sceptic in me remained quiet and even – lo and behold! – experienced a sea of happiness in seeing a celebration of love, in seeing my former flatmate in Singapore looking so beautiful and, most importantly, happy. I only got to meet Nico twice, a couple of days before the wedding and on the wedding day, which isn’t much time to gauge his character. But in that short period of time I discovered Nico to be caring and amiable; he also engaged me in conversations without being prodded by Nina. Simply put, he saw me as a person, not as a mere extension of Nina that he had to endure or put up with.

It's the turn of the cord bearers to march.

It’s the turn of the cord bearers to march.

Nina would be so proud of me, her non-conformist friend following every instruction of the wedding coordinators, kneeling when told, and not raising her eyebrow at the sermon of the priest except when Father Claro said the line, “Nina, be a good housewife to Nico” and failed to address the opposite line to Nico. (Aside: Religious atavism always gets my goat!)

The couple take their vows/Photo by Shé Maala and Medi Tan Alcantara

The couple take their vows/Photo by Shé Maala and Medi Tan Alcantara

Her wedding march steered clear of the traditional march. Instead, she opted for a Tagalog song, a George Canseco song titled “Ikaw”, to be sung as she walked down the aisle which left most attendees teary-eyed and her long-time nanny, Norma, glorious in a beaded pink dress, crying. The rest of the ceremony passed not in agony, but in a joyously upbeat fashion that culminated in an extended pictorial session that began with capturing petals raining on the couple who ran down the aisle to the church’s entrance. Next sessions were reserved for the bridal entourage that tested the modelling chops of the groomsmen and bridesmaids who were instructed to project as they looked to the right, left, middle etc. by the photographers who moonlighted as stylists that afternoon, tucking in stray strands of hair behind the ears and fluffing Nina’s gown.

wedding invite etcwedding signageA mini-reception was held prior to the full reception, but we three of the bridal entourage – moi, Apo, and Diovie Arcilla – were looking washed-out, so we scampered to Jollibee across the street in our full wedding regalia. The full reception at Maynila Ballroom of The Manila Hotel kicked off at 630pm with dances, a surprise Nina sprung on the entourage shortly before the start of the reception program. Caught off-guard and amidst the dropped jaws, the troop’s love for Nina and Nico prevailed. Divided into two groups by the compère, the first was tasked to do a short dance to the hit song “Macarena” while the second group, the one I belonged to, was to dance to “Shake Body Dancer”. In seconds, my group was rehearsing a few booty-shaking moves before taking centre stage. Thank the universe our booty- shaking wasn’t an embarrassment!

Following the entourage’s dances was the couple’s entrance to the tune of Darth Vader’s signature music. Nico had on Darth Vader’s mask while Nina had her hair done up in Princess Leia’s trademark hairstyle and wielded a light saber. What ensued was a peek into the couple’s compatibility – they were happy and having fun. Their waltz turned into a medley of modern dance steps to the tune of hit pop sings done with moxie and greatly applauded by the guests.

Maynila Ballroom - its left side

Maynila Ballroom – its left side

Maynila Ballroom - its right side

Maynila Ballroom – its right side


the ceiling is swathed in white and paper lanterns

the ceiling is swathed in white and paper lanterns

The fourth dance added a distinct French flavour to the reception. Titled La Danse du Parapluie (roughly translated as The Umbrella Dance), the bride and groom danced under an umbrella while guests threw serpentine ribbons on top of the umbrella until it was covered in ribbons. The practice is, apparently, all done in the name of fun, for the couple to be together, and getting guests involved.

Copenhagen tablethe table setting

the wedding cake with its travel motif (see the aeroplanes?)

the wedding cake with its travel motif (see the aeroplanes?)

Adding a thrill factor to the program was the clanging of glasses, the call for the couple to kiss which they indulged their guests with who came from various parts of the globe – Canada, France, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and, of course, Manila, the city with the largest contingent. Serenades were part of the program of which the rendition of “The Prayer” was the most memorable for me, as it was brilliantly executed by groomsman, John Rex de Guzman, Nina’s university classmate.

The sceptic in me was still through the night, overwhelmed by the sincerity, love, and joy written on the faces of Nico and Nina. Furthermore, Nina achieved something akin to a miracle – she got me to church, shaved off a few layers of my scepticism, and altered my mindset to the possibility of a happy ever after. I actually might write about another wedding tale – perhaps my own.

the couple's table

The groom and bride are flanked by best man Denis Grangé and maid of honour Prima Gracia P. Sarmiento after the cutting of the cake.

The groom and bride are flanked by best man Denis Grangé and maid of honour Prima Gracia P. Sarmiento after the cutting of the cake.

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