It is, of course, real: it’s not merely the purchase of a dream team of suppliers, but the product of successful creative collaborations with the couple. Its details tell the couple’s story, and reveal to guests who they are, individually and as a couple. It also ensconces even the casual observer in what the couple holds most dear, from memories to mementoes and treasured personal values.

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It’s not just about unique ideas no one has ever used before for a wedding; it’s also about even the most classic, even boring, of details reinterpreted, refined, and made new with the magic of a new perspective, a new way of seeing and doing things.

Certainly every wedding is special. But a Wedding Essentials Real Wedding is always inspirational. It is something any soon-to-wed couple can take inspiration from, refining it through the lens of their love story and personalities to create their own beautiful wedding.

It was January 2015 and I was in the middle of completing my post-grad studies in Madrid. I had recently spent the holidays in London where I found myself in a new and rather unexpected budding relationship. It was my brother Carlos who first asked me point-blankly in our family chat group: “So, are you dating Mike now?” I was taken aback by how he had figured it out so quickly, given that it was a pretty random happenstance.

Mike was no stranger to our family, but at that point in time, he wasn’t a mainstay either. Carlos always seemed to know things intuitively; he was so sure in his conviction that something was indeed going on between us.

Whenever people come to learn of how Mike and I got together, we usually get the same reaction – “it’s like straight out of a movie!” But it wasn’t your typical ‘boy-meets-girl and it was love at first sight’ kind of relationship. Our story actually spans over two decades — we first met when we were kids, as both our families lived in

Hong Kong in the 90s. In reality, we were destined to become friends even before we were born since our mothers were best friends since way back. We spent many birthdays and holidays together in HK, however I don’t actually have many fond memories of Mike whilst growing up. I always thought that he was a big bully – being the only girl in the company of five boys (Mike and his brother plus my own three brothers), I was usually left out of their boyish games.

Mike eventually moved to the UK for boarding school and my family moved back home to the Philippines. We lost touch and went our separate ways, but we unexpectedly reconnected when I was living in Spain for my post-grad. On one of my holidays to London, we met up and got to know each other again in a completely new light. Later on, we grew closer over FaceTime calls and Skype movie dates.

We spent our first year together doing long-distance between Madrid and London, meeting up every couple of weeks in cities all over Europe.

We were having the time of our lives flying to new destinations, exploring cities we had both never been to, and eating our way through the many places we visited.

Soon after I graduated, I landed a wonderful job opportunity in Tokyo and moved halfway across the world, widening the gap in our long-distance relationship. It was definitely challenging, but we were determined to make it work.

In 2017, around the same time I moved back to Asia, tragedy befell my family. My brother Carlos, who was just 29 at the time, passed away after bravely battling a rare form of cancer. I was heartbroken. Needless to say, it was an extremely
difficult time for my family, and it wasn’t easy making sense of what had happened. As a very close-knit family, we tried our best to comfort and console one another.

It was even more difficult dealing with the grief alone, as I had no family in Tokyo and Mike was still living halfway across the world in London. Despite the distance between us, Mike’s love, support, and patience was steadfast. On nights I would cry myself to sleep, he would be on the phone with me until I was lulled into a deep slumber. When I was lonely and afraid, he encouraged me to be strong. And when I could no longer be strong for myself and for those around me, he gave the support and reassurance that I needed. I know now that Carlos sent an angel to look after me.

My brother’s death taught all of us a lot about life and love. Carlos was such an inspirational person who radiated positivity. Even on his bad days, he reassured us that no matter what would happen, there would always be brighter things to look forward to.

With time and healing, things did get better. On New Year’s Eve of that year, Mike proposed on the beach that my family and I have been vacationing in for as long as I can remember. As he was down on one knee, he echoed my brother Carlos’ sentiments,
saying that there will always be a silver lining ahead of us and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life making me happy.

Immediately after the proposal, we wasted no time in preparing for our wedding. Believe it or not, prior to getting engaged, we had never even lived in the same city!

We both knew we wanted a relaxed and intimate affair where we could finally intersect our lives with those who meant the most to us.

We celebrated our wedding a year after, in the very same beach where Mike proposed. All our closest friends and family flew in from all corners of the world to be with us on our wedding weekend and witness our long-awaited union. It was such a surreal feeling to finally join our two worlds together! For many of our guests, it was their first time ever to set foot on Philippine shores, and so we really wanted to showcase the raw and natural beauty of our country, along with the warm hospitality and friendly spirit that Filipinos are known for.

During our welcome cocktail the day before our wedding, we released over 200 baby pawikan turtle hatchlings into the sea in memory of Carlos. It was a special moment which we were so incredibly happy to share with our guests. In my vow that I made to Mike at the church, I recall saying that no doubt, my brother Carlos must be smiling from Heaven, proud to call Mike a brother and even prouder that I had found in Mike the man whom I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with.

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July 2014. Me and my teammates were casually eating dinner in the cafeteria minutes before our company’s big migration project began. Then I saw this girl falling in line to buy food, and I knew it was love at first sight. No one from my team knew her. Later that day, I learned that her team was connected with our team because of this newly migrated project. I immediately volunteered to be the point person for our team.

So, one day, we had a critical issue that needed to be resolved immediately. Of course, my team and hers were involved, and she happened to be the point person as well for their team. We worked closely together, exchanging emails, going on conference calls, back-to-back meetings. After everything was settled, and probably out of excitement and joy, we started messaging each other. The exchange instantly turned to non-work related stuff. And yeah, she asked me to have a celebratory drink. Yes, you read that right: she asked for a date!

During our night out, we started sharing stories about our work experiences, our college lives, our friends from work, until it became personal. At that moment, talking to her just became very normal. I shared personal stories unfiltered, and she shared hers as well. We started having dinner that night at around nine in the evening, and we parted ways at seven in the morning. I dropped her off at her apartment, and gave her a kiss. Fortunately, she kissed me back. Still, it was just a kiss on the cheeks. From then on, we started seeing each other twice a week, then three times a week, to almost everyday, until we decided to exclusively date each other.

On our first few months, of course I made sure to drop her off to her apartment everyday. At that time I still didn’t have a car and at some point, it was no longer practical. So I talked to her about this, and her response was very surprising: she suggested to buy a car. Okay, so I was thinking that my salary and credit ratings may not be enough, but she said: “That would be a very good investment for us.” So it was a done deal. We named it Mimi.

We were very much happy with our car, and always headed to Tagaytay every weekend. One time, while in Tagaytay, we saw a poster of a newly built hotel, so we made a turn and went to see it. We were both amazed by the breathtaking view overlooking Taal lake and volcano. This was the Escala. And at that moment, we both knew that was the place where we would want to exchange our vows.

It was August of 2016 when I decided I wanted her to be my wife. I secretly talked to her parents as well and asked for her hand. Her mom cried when I talked about my plan of proposing, while her dad just said he’ll talk to me in person when he goes home (he works abroad).

So come December 2016, nearly two years into the relationship and the ring already in my hands, I proposed to her. I made sure to do this in Tagaytay during breakfast. As the food were being served, I casually brought out the ring, and asked her to marry me. I don’t remember the rest anymore. She was so surprised, she said: “Really? During breakfast?” Then she said yes.

After we got engaged, we started planning. The wedding venue: Tagaytay. And so the big day would soon come.

However, the day before our wedding, we got into an accident. A 14-wheeler truck accidentally hit our car. Fortunately we were both okay, and surprisingly, none of the items for the wedding got damaged. We felt that Mimi, our car, had taken the worst of it for us. We tried not to let it shake us, but imagine spending half the day at a police station on the day before your wedding. Still, we pushed through.

Our ceremony was filled with things that we love: a heart-shaped bouquet, a donut wall, mocktails, cocktails, flavored beer, fresh flowers, a cake topper that was an exact replica of our prenup photos. She DIY-ed the decorations of our candles, rings holder, and the Bible. My collar had “just married’ written into it and our ambigram/monogram was engraved into my shoes. We even had photos of our car, Mimi, at the wedding.

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