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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

Philippines Engagement Session from Nez Cruz

It’s a well-known fact that we love ourselves a sweet, sweet engagement session here on SMP – and this beyond breathtaking Manila shoot is certainly no exception.  Set against a stunning backdrop of crystal blue waters and romantically cloudy skies, it’s casual yachting meets a glamour-filled evening meets all kinds of L.O.V.E…. our favorite kind.  The oh-so-wonderful Nez Cruz snapped up every last glorious moment… and the bride and groom-to-be?  Simply stunning.  See so much more right here.

Click here for the FULL engagement session!

From the Bride-to-Be… Our relationship had an unusual start — Jesse had just discovered that he was scammed in buying a property in the beautiful island of Boracay, south of the Philippines. He then went to Manila, the capital, to find help and found me! I am friends with his lawyer, and we met when he first discovered the scam. Amidst the devastating news, he was such a nice and sweet person trying his best to be positive. We first met in a coffee shop for breakfast, and we were instantly drawn to each other. He’d always say that I am his angel, helping him throughout the ordeal and being there for him all the time, but I would say that I am the luckiest girl because he is a great and loving individual, winning the hearts of my family and friends as well as mine.

Jesse works as a geophysicist in an off-shore vessel for an oil and gas company, and we used that as an inspiration in choosing seaside locations for both our shoots. Our Manila shoot was in Manila Yacht Club where in we had three layouts from casual to glam. We weren’t expecting the weather to not cooperate, but it ended up raining that day! The planks we were standing on were very rocky because of the wind, but our photographer, Nez Cruz, did a fantastic job in making us comfortable in front of the camera and making the rain work for us. The pictures turned out really well — the colors are very vibrant, and he made it worth it to be drenched in rain! I was a bit hesitant at first because an engagement shoot was an alien concept for Jesse but he ended up enjoying every bit of it, especially when my makeup artist, Irene Sy-Go, and stylist, Aira Franco, kept on teasing him that he looked like a movie star or a member of a boy band.

Photography: Nez Cruz / Location: Manila Yacht Club in Manila, Philippines / Stylist: Aira Franco / Hair: Jim Guerrero / Makeup: Irene Sy-Go