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Travel to the Philippines with Mariel Hannah

So I’ve said it time and time again, but these travel posts are always so detrimental to both my productivity and my wanderlust. The Philippines have always intrigued me, but Mariel Hannah has just ensured that it’s skyrocketed to the top of the list. Have you ever seen anything more picturesque? I just can’t get over all the beauty. And if you’re anything like me, you might want to spend some time getting lost in the gallery. 

From Mariel… During my stay in the Philippines I traveled around the city of Davao. Some days were spent within the city, but most days were spent by the beach. Those days I spent lingering by the ocean are the days I long for. The beautiful white sands, the perfect blue waters and wonderful world of wonder that lie beneath.

We stayed at the Pearl Farm Beach Resort, a premier destination resort that lies within a smaller island just an hour boat ride from the main city. During your stay, my biggest recommendation is to take your days slow and enjoy every minute. Spend your days snorkelling and spend your evenings watching a movie on the beach. Both of their AM and PM yoga classes take place high on a hill overlooking the beautiful ocean and Mount Apo (one of the largest mountains in the Philippines) – it’s worth the morning wake up call.

Another highlight of my trip was scuba diving. Pearl Farm offers a package for a day trip tour to some of Davaos best diving locations. My favorite ended up being the Coral Gardens. I did the 40 foot dive which allowed me to see some of natures most amazing views. I recall seeing all of the vibrantly beautiful life that flourishes below. The purples, the pinks, the blues, yellows and green coral… Absolutely exquisite. I can’t even begin to describe the beautiful creatures that live within them, each more beautiful than the next.

When it came to city life, I stayed in the Microtel. It’s within walking distance of Davao’s greatest malls, which was right up my alley! The best hotel in the city, however, is definitely the Insular. It’s simply gorgeous and worth every penny.
Photography from: Mariel Hannah

Jacquelyn Clark

Philippines Wedding from Foreveryday Photography

This affair is answering all of my light-filled wedding fantasies. Dreamy is another adjective that comes to mind and it’s woven into everything, from the adorable DIY elements incorporated into the day to the images by Foreveryday Photography. It’s a happy collaboration of color, smiles and a rainbow of heels. See so much more in the full gallery!

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From the Bride…After Nev and I got engaged in November 2011, I didn’t jump on the wedding planning mode immediately like most brides-to-be. Though we knew we wanted to get married the following year, we didn’t have any planned dates yet; we just wanted to enjoy the engagement bliss. But months went by so fast, and the next thing we know, we’ve been engaged for 8 months and had 6 months left before the year ends. So we finally decided to get married under the cool breeze of December and that’s the only time planning started.
 
We wanted to have a relaxed and cozy wedding with a handful of people we dearly love. This was the focal point of our whole planning, so everything we did was centered on making our guests feel our love and gratitude to them. We chose a small Catholic church for our ceremony, and found a big house with a bare garden and a great view of the famous and scenic Taal Volcano. The bare garden was perfect for all the DIY styling I had in mind; and the natural breeze, the hilly surround, and the laid-back and dainty feel of the place was the right fit for our countryside theme.

With the help of friends and family, we planned our wedding and gathered everything we needed. Weekends and lazy weekday afternoons were spent doing DIY décor, from the makeshift chandeliers to the wooden panels to the hanging lights to the pompoms; and even the invite, which I worked on w/ Nev’s brother, who also luckily happens to be a freelance graphic artist! Some weekends, Nev and I will go to flea markets and buy small decorative items, while our families went on a mission to collect recycled bottles and jars, as well as create hundreds of paper flowers. He also took me to his grandma’s place, which was just filled w/ amazing furniture perfect for our theme, and she happily let us borrow them. We also talked about our ideas to our suppliers, and even had a DIY dry run of the reception setup at home for our caterer to see! I would buy flowers, arrange them, take photos and send them to our caterer, who did a great job in translating our vision into reality. We, together w/ a couple of our siblings, were at our reception venue three days before our wedding to make sure my vision becomes a reality, and up to the night before the wedding, we were setting up and making sure the place looked pretty.   

We had a very short program, something atypical in a Filipino wedding. After a couple of speeches the first dance, we spent the rest of the time just chatting with guests and letting everybody have a good time. The setup of the venue definitely helped put everybody at ease. We placed cocktail tables on one area, a bench on another, and tables under a tent under the night sky. We think it’s safe to assume our guests really had a great time. When we left the venue, our guests stayed to enjoy the breeze, the hand-picked bottles of wines, and the company. In fact, when we went back to the venue the next day, our friends and family were still there cooking breakfast!

We love our wedding to bits! All of the details we incorporated enhanced the overall feel and mood of the occasion. Now I have a bunch of mason jars and photo frames at home, and the beautiful photos by Foreveryday Photography, which all remind me of the day when I married the man of my dreams.

Photography: Foreveryday Photography | Floral Design: Yho-An’s Flower Shop  | Event Design: DIY | Event Planning: Once a Bride Weddings | Ceremony Location: Chapel on a Hill | Reception Location: Tagaytay Estate | Invitations: Jonathan Manaois (design), Amis Print (printing) | Catering: K by Cunanan | Entertainment: Serenata Strings | Ceremony Dress: Percy Barillo | Reception Dress: Tammy Tan | Shoes: Pedro | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Tammy Tan | Groom’s Suit: JC Ulanday | Makeup: Mickey See | Hair Stylist: John Valle

Philippines Wedding from Nelwin Uy + Bob Nicolas

A wedding that includes giant marshmallows (hanging from paper clouds) and edible chandeliers is pretty much guaranteed to be a good time.  That’s kind of a given.  And when this darling duo incorporated those two elements into their big day, it was just the beginning of one serious fun-fest.  I’m talking sparkler send-offs, yummy cuisine and a “dreams” theme that was simply bursting from every last moment.  The perfect mix of beauty and magic?  We think so.  See it all captured by Nelwin Uy in the full gallery.

And a little slice of wedding heaven from Bob Nicolas

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From the Bride… Cayo and I chose “dreams” as the theme for our big day because we wanted it to be a day of play. No one was allowed to be a grown up. Far from an ultra-formal affair, it was more like the biggest road trip – disguised as a wedding.

A lot of the details had to be invented, like edible chandeliers for the reception. Luckily, we had the talented Meg Amat of Eve & Co. on our team. Giant marshmallows were strung together and cascaded down from paper clouds. Against string lights and a starlit sky, they created the stunning illusion of frozen raindrops. What we didn’t expect was the marshmallow fight that broke out. One minute, people were sipping drinks, and the next thing we knew, a godfather had thrown the first marshmallow.

It was pandemonium after that.

We co-created our invite with close friends Mike and Bonnie, and my sister Kristel. Mini blankets were attached to each invite and guests were asked to write down a wish for us. The swatches were later stitched together to create a patchwork of dreams.

The rest was just magical. We made our reception entrance down a sloping stone path dotted with paper luminaries. Friends and family waved sparklers over our heads as we passed, and it seemed like we were walking under a canopy of lights. Then the breathtaking pop-pop-pop of fireworks lit up the night sky.

Guests got a taste of comfort food from our two “homes.”  From the Philippines, we served mini Ilocos empanada, beef and pork lechon and brick oven-roasted chicken with a rosemary and lemon rub. From Thailand, we had fried curry prawns and steamed dory fillets splashed with hot sesame oil, chili and lime. After dinner, friends lounged in “dreaming tents” where they could roll around, doodle in journals and find hidden mini Marvel and Transformers toys – Cayo’s favorites.

Instead of the traditional cake cutting, we decided to do a “locking” ceremony. We wrote our names on a padlock and attached it to a dream cloud. Friends added theirs. There was something so moving about seeing our names surrounded by all these strong relationships. But as with most memories that night, an unexpected twist happened. It became the running joke to approach people and ask if they had a “padlock-buddy.”

Wedding Photography: Nelwin Uy | Wedding Cinematography: Bob Nicolas | Ceremony Venue: Sts. Peter Paul, Bauang in La Union, Philippines | Reception Venue: Thunderbird, Poro Point in La Union, Philippines | Officiant: Fr. Johnny Go | Wedding Coordinator: Lyte Gatchalian from Weddings and Beyond | Event Styling: Meg Amat from Eve & Co. | Floral Design: Efren Baccawat | Wedding Invitations: Kristel Ko, Mike Sicam + Bonnie Doroy-Enriquez | Decor: Lito Gemora, Japs Perez, Kat Encanto, EJ Galang | Fireworks: Enzo Crisostomo | Personalized Hangers: MELAfied |Photobooth: FotoMoto Concepts |Lights + Sounds: Reinforcement Baguio | Hosts: Laica Turingan + Caloy Sambrano | Strings: Music of the Heart | Band: The Johnny’s | Wedding Dress: Rosa Clara | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Raza Formal Wear | Groom’s Attire: Nap Arienza | Hair + Makeup: Cathy Cantada-Dizon + Jerry Javier

Philippines Wedding from Mark Cantalejo Photography

With a Groom who works as a wedding photographer by day and a Bride that isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and dable in many a DIY project, this wedding was destined to be a winner. And it’s just as the couple envisioned. Intimate, hand-crafted and pure magic under a sea of sparkling cafe lights. From the far-flung yet insanely gorgeous Philippines, we bring you an al fresco stunner shot by Mark Cantalejo Photography, a.k.a the Groom’s company. See it all unfold under those gorgeous twinkle lights right here.

From the Bride… We’ve only been dating for eight months when Mark proposed to me at the arrival hall of the Mactan airport when I was coming back from a business trip. You know those people you see holding up name cards of the people they’re supposed to meet up when you go out of the airport? Yes, Mark did a version of that but with a twist. Grinning from ear to ear while holding up the colorful LRC (Linette Ramos Canete) cut-out cardboard, I saw next to him his overeager accomplices (Tisha and her husband Teody), immediately bring up “WILL YOU” and “MARRY ME”, as I slowly walked towards him. To say that I was surprised is an understatement! I was too stunned to move and the only thing I could do was hug Mark tightly and cry. But of course, I said yes!

It took a few more months before we finally sat down to carefully plan what would be the happiest day of our lives. As the planning progressed, we (okay, I) realized that we wanted the same things. We wanted the wedding to be a reflection of who we are, we wanted it to be a happy celebration of our love and commitment. So we went for an intimate, laid-back affair with only 60 of our closest family members, friends and wedding suppliers. We wanted to keep it small—just four long tables—so everybody can relax and enjoy the food, music and each other’s company. That settled, it was time for arts and crafts nights—dressing up Mason jars that we would use as centerpiece décor, cutting brown cardboard that we used as envelopes for our invites and tying twine and wooden buttons around it. Being a Fine Arts graduate, Mark was a pro in designing and executing all these DIY ideas, while I tried to be a keen observer and hoped that I wouldn’t be entirely useless in this project. When I finally learned how to tie the ribbons just right, I took over the invites while Mark moved on to designing and printing the menu on brown paper that doubled as table napkin holders. Mark also taught me how to fold the napkins neatly so they would fit snugly into the menu cards-slash-napkin holders.

For the place cards, we wanted it personalized like everything else, so we opted for recycled film rolls with the names of the guests handwritten on a cardboard strip. Instead of table numbers, we glued our initials L, M and C (and S, in honor of our Chow-chow dog, Siri, who couldn’t make it to her parents’ wedding) on matte gold wooden frames, which perfectly complemented our rustic theme. Hiring a stylist or a planner is great but there’s just something about being totally hands-on that makes DIY weddings more fun and personal, It gave Mark and I the time to bond, so the planning and preparations were just as fun and memorable as our wedding day. We would have missed out on the stress wondering whether or not we would ever find the jute sacks we needed to use as table runner after a whole afternoon’s search in the wet market. We almost gave up when luckily we found a market vendor who had piles of jute sacks hidden away.

The anxiety, the relief and joy, the feeling of being pleased with yourself—I think every bride and groom needs to go through all that to be able to truly appreciate the beauty and meaning of your wedding day, and to appreciate and love each other more. Last July 19 of this year, we experienced all of that, and more. Having our families and friends celebrate with us and seeing how God spared us from heavy rains made us realize that we are abundantly blessed. To our dear friends in the wedding industry who helped us generously, you all just made it extraordinary. In the end, Mark and I got everything we wanted and hoped for our wedding. Indeed, it was the greatest day of our lives.

Wedding Photography: Mark Cantalejo Photography / Ceremony Venue: Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu City, Philippines / Reception Venue: White Sands Resort and Spa in Maribago, Mactan Island, Philippines / Wedding Coordination: Tisha Sanchez Cue of Bliss Unlimited / Wedding Cinematography: Franz Arrogante Videography / Centerpiece Floral Design: Debbie Huang of Simple Wishes / Bride + Bridesmaids’ Bouquets: Michael Badang Rueda / Boutonnieres + Ring & Coin Nests: Padecio of {etc} Handmade Goodness + Vatel Manila / Wedding Cakes: Marissa Rodriguez Unchuan / Dining Area Concept + Wedding Details: DIY by the Bride + Groom / Wedding Gown: Ronald Enrico Couture / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Edwin Ortiz Alba / Hair + Makeup: Jessie Colon Recola Glova

Philippines Engagement Session from J Lucas Reyes

Floral wreaths are awesome – and so are brides-to-be that rock them during their engagement sessions. Case in point?  This uber-gorgeous soon-to-be Mrs., who not only dons the world’s most beautiful head piece from Vatel Manila, but some seriously stylish frocks, as well.  (Here’s looking at you, flowy chiffon skirt.)  Add in one very dashing groom, the fab stylings of Aira Franco and some amazing images captured by J Lucas Reyes and we have ourselves a dreamlike session from start to finish. See it all here.

Click here for the FULL engagement session!

From the Bride-to-Be… I would like to share these lovely photos of me and my fiance. When we were shooting this, there was actually a storm and it was raining cats and dogs almost the whole day. I was really worried that our suppliers wouldn’t be inspired because of the lack of sunshine. But I guess somebody heard us and decided to give us some golden light towards the end, thus enabling us to shoot at the beach. With just 30 minutes of sunlight, we were truly amazed at our photographer’s talent. He was able to bring out a lot of good photos!

My fiancé and I are both geeks. We both work in the IT industry, and these photos are far from what we usually do. But this is us — we both love to experiment and challenge our norm. We didn’t want any props or a picnic set-up in engagement shoots. It was a photo Jose Villa that inspired our photographer to do this shoot. Our stylist was the one who added the head wreath touch, which we got from Vatel Manila, a favorite of brides in the Philippines. I was really lucky to have sported such a gorgeous head wreath. We really love our suppliers to bits! They kept up with the weather and made it so easy for us to pose and get good pictures. 

Photography: J Lucas Reyes / Location: El Kabayo and Beachfront in Subic, Philippines / Floral Wreath: Dylan Gozum of Vatel Manila / Cinematography: Daniel Lei Studio / Styling: Aira Franco / Hair + Makeup: Fritz Mortel of Aira Franco