By JULLIE YAP-DAZA
It was the grandest wedding I ever was a witness to!
It started in church at 9:30 in the morning of a Saturday, March 16, and wound down at 10:45 p.m. at a dinner reception for 1,300 guests, 90 percent of the invitees of the newlyweds’ parents.
For the bride, Louella Hazeline Ching, only daughter of Lolita Ching, and the bridegroom, Jeffer Lance Chan, son of Wa Yung and Ngan Ngan Chan of Hong Kong, it was more than a 12-hour marathon, considering how early they had to rise to prepare for the big event. Louella and her entourage had to have their hair and makeup done in the wee hours while Jeffer had a hundred and one last-minute details to attend to with his closest pals. Yet when the couple walked down the aisle at Manila Cathedral for the mass to be officiated by Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, former president of Ateneo de Manila where the couple were steady top-of-the-class students (from undergrads to holders of master’s degrees in applied math for finance), it might as well have been the first day of spring; they looked so refreshed and eager to start the first day of the rest of their lives together.
It helped that the bride, gowned by Monique Lhuillier, had three maids of honor, five bridesmaids, and four flower girls attending her. On the groom’s side, he had two bestmen and five groomsmen. Together, they shared the services of two sponsors each for candle, veil, and cord, plus a ring bearer, Bible bearer, coin bearer, pen bearer. And 16 principal sponsors including tycoons Carlos Chan, Stephen Techico, and Benny and Olivia Aw.
The reception at East Ocean in the MOA complex had all the makings of grand and grander—in other words, grandeur. Fairy lights sparked overhead from a ceiling festooned with vines and luminous bulbs. Entertainment was provided by hosts speaking and singing in English, Mandarin, and a sprinkling of Pilipino, including a special guest number by Secretary Sal Panelo singing “Ikaw.”
How do you feed 1,300 men, women, and children in one go? But the East Ocean chefs did it, they succeeded in serving warm dishes warm and cold dishes cold, and seafood served fresh as the day they were caught. The wedding feast opened with roast suckling pig, a culinary must with Filipinos as with Chinese. Next came rock lobster steamed in garlic; crab roe shark’s fin soup; sea cucumber with Australian abalone cubes; steamed live grouper (lapu-lapu); fried pigeon; broccoli flowers with scallops in XO sauce; live mud crabs with sticky rice; and a series of desserts. A six-star culinary feat, indeed.
As a parade of cars streamed out of the seven-story building, many guests lingered on to chat and take more pictures. A small group was in a hurry to make their exit as they had a plane to catch for Hong Kong the next morning. For the newlyweds, the end of the reception was only the prelude to another traditional ritual, that of the bride going back the next day to her mother’s home for her first meal as a married woman and her husband eating his first meal with his mother-in-law.