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The Bohol Chronicle

A Perfect Wedding

Weddings. They're fluffy, poignant affairs. The culmination of many a girl's ultimate dream of marching down the aisle in the arms of the man she loves. For most part the ceremony--while it seals the bond between two soulmates--also serves to showcase certain idiosyncratic tastes and individual nuances. In some instances, they become a barometer of a family's power, wealth and social standing.

Left in the hands of the unimaginative, however, a wedding could easily disintegrate into a boring, staid, perfunctory ritual that just drags on and on and on... And this is what gives nuptials a bad rap. Hey, how many times have you been literally dragged out of your domicile to attend a wedding?

Making a wedding and the subsequent reception interesting and memorable is a serious business that has spawned the burgeoning megabuck industry of wedding coordination. On the other hand, there are would-be couples that opt for a more hands-on approach to the prep leading to their big day. More often than not, it's this kind of personal celebration of the sacrament of marriage that leaves a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of guests.

Instant Wedding

When a friend of mine, a rich, beautiful and ultra smart heiress from a neighboring province, decided to tie the knot with one of the dashing Lhuilliers, she did so in a sort of "spur-of-the-moment" fashion. She wanted to get married the next day!

Ever the reliable friend to the bride, Jun Escario hurriedly whipped up a dreamy cocktail dress of French lace and orchestrated his whole staff to work way past midnight to finish it and a couple of matching dresses for the flower girls. For giveaways, another family friend pulled through for the couple in such short notice and created scrumptious mini strawberry cakes for all fifty guests.

Lit by a full moon and radiant stars, the extremely private Hamptons-inspired reception at the Cowry Cove of Shangri-la Mactan was picture-perfect. Simple and very classy, it turned out to be a very apt salute to the individuality of two young royal but hardworking urbanites.

Love Renewed

A wedding anniversary is another occasion that can be celebrated in style. At the ruby anniversary of Mar and Neneng Corales, their children pulled all the stops for a truly impressive fete that would be hard to follow.

Every inch of the garden venue, Dumadag Farm, was festooned with local and imported red, burgundy and crimson blooms. Candelabras fashioned out of bamboo held tiny glass flutes filled with candles. Around them were multi-colored river stones and more flowers.

At the afterparty, several hundred roses spectacularly dropped from the ceiling of a vast hall, like wine-colored raindrops frozen in time. What appeared like kilometers of ruby silk swathed the walls and awnings to create the effect of a hushed, laidback '60s lounge. And this surely went well with the non-stop singing and dancing that followed.

Love's A Beach

One popular wedding theme is the Hawaiian luau, and it's easy to see why. The combination of soothing green foliage, fragrant tropical flowers, iced drinks and a full-blown outdoor barbecue make up a compelling formula for a successful event that's hard to beat.

The wedding of Mr. and Mrs. JG Yap of the Bohol Tropics Resort Yaps was one such bash inspired by the island. Reeling from a formal reception in Cebu where the bride is from, the groom's parents hosted a second reception by the bayside of the family-owned resort.

Guests were greeted by towering lighted bamboo tripods, rising high in the balmy night air, hoisting massive arrangements of flowers and wispy gauze draperies. Tiki torches dotting the place illuminated tables that groaned under a profusion of delicate blossoms. At night's end, guests went home with a big aloha smile on their faces.

When you live in paradise and you're planning to get married, what do you do? If you're Jude Lee of Hey Jude! in Boracay and you're marrying the gorgeous Lois, the resident yoga instructor of the world-famous Mandala Spa next door, you keep the rites simple and easy but the soiree that follows wonderfully electric.

Their cute Indian wedding had Jude, a former bartender from Miami, wearing a hand-embroidered linen ensemble, while the bride was glowing in a bone and ecru chiffon gown with beaded paisley details. All throughout the affair, his golden retriever, Friday, stood by the couple's side. Up to now, guests are still raving about the legendary party that lasted for a couple of days.

Perfect Wedding

Indubitably, the most sublime of weddings is that which bears the personal touch and signature of the bride and groom. Candy Gatmaitan, a grade school teacher in a progressive school called the Multiple Intelligence International School Foundation, who recently married dive instructor Louie Bernardo twice in one day, told me, "As Oprah said, 'Everything is in the details.'"

And everything about their wedding, indeed, had the temperament and qualities of Candy and Louie, both from Manila, stamped all over. From the delicious handmade invites, to the church ceremony officiated by Bishop Tumulak, the lunch reception at the Bee Farm, the beach rites in The Ananyana--where the couple wanted to exchange more personal vows--down to the welcome present of personal beach mats for all guests, the 12-course dinner menu of fish, prawns, kebabs, lechon and the midnight merienda of hot chocolate, ensaymada, suman, bananas, camote and puto.

"The flowers were from the Dumadags," Candy shared. "I am so glad that I met them because they knew exactly what I wanted and I trusted them immediately." For the décor, her florists, like the bride requested, filled the mega exclusive The Ananyana in Panglao with vines, twigs and wild flowers.

The wedding cake was a gift from a good friend of Candy's who has a kitchen in Manila called Classic Confections. "She layered cupcakes with chocolate seashells on top. We assigned people in the plane to bring the boxes," Candy said. Other personal gifts included the cloth for the wedding gown which was given by one of the ninangs, the travel arrangements of the guests which was provided by another principal sponsor, the video and photo services that the couple's hobbyist friends volunteered.

Friends sang in church, while the Loboc Children's Choir entertained everyone at dinner. Mayor Dan Lim, a close friend of the bride's family, gifted the newlyweds with two roasted calves at the reception. "Mayor Lim made all the logistics possible but, more than that, his emotional support for me and my reluctant father is something I will be always grateful for," Candy said.

Moreover, the wedding rings were a gift from the bride's cousin who is a jeweler. The bride's hair and makeup were "a gift from Teng, the owner of a very well-known salon in Manila, who watched me grow up and is a part of the family." Louie's friends also offered free intro dives to their guests.

And there were no wedding coordinators. Candy and Louie oversaw everything.

Candy's advice to every bride: "Keep it real. Be yourself." She says the key to a perfect wedding is, if you are happy, everything will just fall into place. (MICHAEL R. YU)


Lifestyle Bohol

Mar and Neneng Corales mark ruby anniversary

Like a magnum of fine wine, love, indeed, just gets better and more precious with age.

When Mar and Neneng Corales celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary a fortnight ago, family and friends made sure the event would be as splendid as the ruby ring he gifted her with earlier in the day.

The couple renewed their wedding vows at the Santa Cruz Parish Church in Dao District last December 30. For the occasion, the Corales children flew in from different parts of the globe: Margie and Ringkoy Dumadag from Maryland, USA; Dodong from Metro Manila; Maya and Rene van den Arend from Arkel, The Netherlands; while Junjun surprised the celebrants when he came home unannounced a day before their anniversary, from Freiburg in Germany.

Cres Olivares, Crispulo Remolador, Liux Corales, Eddie Espiritu, Neo Corales, Jun Lagahit, Mar Lagahit, Max Lagahit, Eulogio Alaba, Jr., Freddie Ipanag, Primo Penkian, Dodong Lagahit, Ani Corales, Betty Olivares, Eulalia Remolador, Inday Corales, Lita Espiritu, Fe Corales, Lourdes Lagahit, Linda Lagahit, Emie Lagahit, Babie Alaba, Tata Ipanag, Nene Penkian, Angie Lagahit and Inday Cristina Villas stood as principal sponsors, most of whom also had to fly home from abroad for Mar and Neneng's big day.

After the solemn church rites, the entourage and their 300 well-wishers proceeded to the Dumadag Farm in Taloto District for a cozy under-the-stars reception, where guests dined on Stewed Beef, Stir Fried Vegetables, Embutido, Cliff Top Chicken, Lechon, Vegetable Salad, Tossed Green Salad, Cassava Cake and Crema de Fruta. Endless bottles of red and white wine were provided by Ralph's Wines and Spirits.

Using the elaborate floral plan of Ringkoy and Margie, Joseph Dumadag created luxurious tables festooned with deep red anthurium, bird of paradise and scarlet heliconia, cleverly interspersed with freshly harvested stalks of rice grains. The lush centerpieces were lit by red and white tea lights on glass and bamboo candelabras. The bridal table was a sight to behold, complete with a pergola ablaze with red tropical blooms outlined by sinamay drapes, in keeping with the Filipiniana motif.

Ching Dumadag-Usares baked, not one, but ten cakes raised on bamboo pedestals delicately arranged around a dry pebble fountain under a canvas teepee.

After dinner, everyone gravitated--for some serious videoke singing and dancing--to the social hall, which was transformed into a '60s lounge replete with retro elements like red lamps, giant lighted columns, live red fishes in tall cocktail glasses and snug oversized sofas. Overhead, rolls of red satin fabric fell from the ceiling like inverted canopies from where stems of red roses magically dropped, seemingly floating in mid-air.

As Mar and Neneng danced wrapped in each other's arms, and guests sang the night away, it was clear that love is, in truth, lovelier the 40th year around. And that's a good signal the lovebirds are good for another forty years.

Nikko's Enchanting Birthday

For those who were in on the prep leading to the fete, it was clear Nikko Montero's 18th birthday bash was not going to be just one of those parties. Her parents, Frank and Kag. Nila Montero, pulled all the stops to make sure the winsome and so down-to-earth birthday celebrant and her coterie of friends from Tagbilaran and Cebu would have a most dreamlike 'encantadia' experience.

The scheme was to hold a solemn thanksgiving mass at the San Agustin Church of Panglao, followed by a formal cotillion ball and a free concert at the town plaza, after which guests were to retreat to a dinner reception at the family-owned Alona Tropical Beach Resort in Tawala.

The moment Nikko was conveyed down the road to the San Agustin Church in a white horse-drawn carriage, her celeb escort Tyrone Perez beaming beside her and with the local marching band playing nearby, you can almost feel the collective hush and excitement of the thousands who gathered at the town square.

Carrying a hand-tied bouquet of canary yellow calla lilies, the birthday girl was luminous and quite a stunner in a fuchsia ball gown concocted by fashion whiz Maximiel, who also did the candy apple green-and-pink numbers on the eighteen candle girls in the entourage and the golden barongs of their handsome rose-bearing escorts. Happy, shimmering wings fluttered on eighteen adorable kids who were each holding a small box of live butterflies. Meanwhile, eighteen illustrious pairs of ninongs and ninangs arrived bearing well-picked gifts and treasures.

Pressed for time, Boy Dumadag of Blue Grass Project hatched up in just four days an inspired floral plan covering all three venues.

Outside the church, pink and tangerine petals blew in the wind as the equine transport ambled its way to the arched cathedral entry. On either side of the path, emerald green tripods of young bongbong poles held sprays of freshly-picked, rust-colored caballero blooms.

Inside the church, Nikko walked down a red carpet that was hugged on both banks by a running arrangement of wispy white, dewy green and delicate pink flowers. The floral surfeit that was in keeping with the enchanted forest theme slinked to the altar, swathed in clouds of diaphanous tulle.

After the concelebrated mass officiated by Bishop Antonieto Cabajog and nine other priests, Nikko and her sister, Amira Alia, led guests through a short meandering walk to an open court outside the San Agustin Church for the formal presentation of the debutante and the de rigueur cotillion--all superbly handled by topnotch dance artiste Nila Itac.

Golden mahogany leaves were deliberately strewn around the periphery of the public square, in some sections forming a russet carpet several inches thick. On a freshly-painted stage meticulously and gorgeously covered in an abundance of white fabric, Nikko held court in the midst of tall, lighted celadon lanterns. Here, the public was entertained through a free concert featuring Nikki Valdez, Alwyn Uytengco, Mhyco Aquino, Christian Pineda, Tyrone Perez, the GMA-7 R2X Dancers, Fahrenheit and Play For You bands.

As around three thousand people enjoyed their catered dinner at the plaza while watching the show, another set of guests, numbering about 400, was whisked off in chartered coasters and vans to the Alona Tropical Beach Resort for the apré-cotillion party.

Everyone was pleasantly assaulted by Boy Dumadag's striking enchanted forest setting by the poolside of the resort. Like fireflies dancing under a forest canopy, tea lights dangled from every conceivable trunk and branch in the vicinity. Each table was garnished by an analogous floral juxtaposition of twigs, hanging topiaries and more floating candles. For the occasion, in-house draftsmen hurriedly condemned the outdoor jacuzzi to give way to a sturdy platform and a verdant trellis from where the debutante received guests. Around her, more candles and flowers drifted in the swimming pool.

Roasted calf and countless bottles of red and white wine complemented the multi-course dinner set on three buffet stations. Two cakes by Ching Usares of Lola Lilia's Homemade Specialties were served to the well wishers. One huge classic pink chiffon creation at the plaza was baked in separate layers of mocha, ube, orange and chocolate marble; while a celadon green fondant cake in moist chocolate, carrot and butter tiers was a smashing hit with the guests at the resort.

Called on stage by the affable Raul Gatal, who did all hosting duties throughout the entire affair, Kagawad Nila Montero, in behalf of her entire family, later expressed gratitude for the night's success as well as their approval of the magical atmosphere.

All put together, Nikko Montero's eighteenth birthday celebration was an enchanted social event guaranteed to keep even the island's most jaded sprites, elves and fairies prattling about for years.