Part I - as told by Rey
Abie and I have been together for a decade. We dated for a year and a half before that. The whole time we were together, there was never any doubt that we would end up getting married. The relationship was filled with romantic, candlelit dinners, slow sweet kisses against spectacular beach backdrops and sprawling, lush fields - wait, that was a movie, and not our story. But there really were dinners, lunches, breakfasts, snacks and an inexplicably inordinate amount of squidballs and shrimp. In fact, 80lbs of additional weight later, we were quite certain no one else would want either of us so we decided to just tie the knot and keep on eating.
We decided last year that the way to go wedding-wise would be to go to a beautiful foreign country and get hitched there. However, when we checked our finances and the also seemingly inexplicable resemblance of the groom to several international terrorists on the FBI's and Interpol's websites, the decision was made to hold the wedding here instead.
A major consideration in our preparations was Rey's declaration that he will not have a wedding with bad food, flowers and a million guests who he has never seen before in his life showing up. After narrowing the guest list down to 60 of our relatives and closest friends (Rey all the while insisting he cannot possibly know that many people), we quickly settled on Mandarin Oriental's chinese restaurant, Tin Hau, as the food venue.
After consulting with friends, this decision nearly precipitated a major modification of the event as everybody was quite excited to just get on with the annihilation of copious amounts of suckling pig and peking duck and just forget about the unnecessary wedding ceremony. A happy compromise was reached when everybody decided that a 5 minute civil wedding would be more than enough to precede the all-important dinner portion. (Abie: Actually, there's a long story behind our decision to have a civil wedding instead of a church wedding. The short version: we were not able and to get all the documents being required by the Catholic Church.)
It was at this time that Abie toyed with the idea of a segment involving after-dinner cocktails served during a mini concert by one of her more talented singing friends, Mia dela Cruz. When she shared this idea to me, my sheer delight at envisioning my drunk Viking-like buddies (complete with horned helmets and foul odors), groping her terrified girl friends was quickly replaced by alternating fury and depression when Mandarin told us the corkage charge we would have to pay for this.
After several days of prodding, and thousands of assurances that we will do everything possible to reduce the corkage, we began preparations in earnest. (Abie: And it all started with the groom booking a function room in Mandarin that had a maximum capacity of 70 people.)
Part II - as told by Abie
A membership to weddings@work, 2 prenups, 1,000 bridal fairs and an online journal later, it was the day before the wedding.
Rey and I decided to book rooms at the Mandarin on the 26th to help us relax. It was a good decision as all stress was concentrated on this day. We had a sound check with Mia and her accompanist, Paul and a meeting with our coordinator, Kitte. That was easier said than done. Our appointment with Mia and Paul was at 2 pm. But at 1 pm, I still haven't finished packing my things (the ones that I'll bring to my new home AND the ones that I'm bringing to the hotel), we still had to get Rey's barong from Kingsmen and pants from Njork, and I badly needed a massage, a manicure and a pedicure! I finished packing my hotel bag and left for Mandarin at 1:45. Photo-finish na naman ako!!!
After the sound check and our meeting with Kitte, our coordinator (I gave her a folder with all our contracts and all my instructions, as well as the seating arrangement), I went to Blue Mountains for a body contour. While having a massage, I had Mang Al (our ever-dependable driver) pick up Rey's barong from Kingsmen. Rey's pants weren't ready yet (as expected! He had his measurements taken only on December 20. He didn't have any cloth with him. Njork closed its offices for the holidays on the 23rd.) I lost 1.5 inches around my waist! (The loss, as expected was temporary, as I gained everything back on the 3rd day of our honeymoon. Everyone was congratulating Rey for the coming baby. E hindi naman ako buntis!!!) Afterwards, I went back to the hotel for a meeting with our emcee Renan, Rey's DJ cousin. I then went to my neighborhood parlor for my manicure and pedicure. My friend, Kat, who was my roommate for the night, met me there. (She spent Christmas with her family in Ilocos. She left Ilocos on the evening of December 25 and traveled 10 hours to get to Manila by the 26th. Isn't that sweet?) We decided to have dinner at the Makati area. We walked for 15 minutes to get to Red Crab (I really thought that it was near Mandarin) only to find it closed. We hopped on the first cab that we saw and asked the driver to bring us to Greenbelt 2. I needed my comfort food from Bizu (and Kat refused to walk any further.)
We called Rey to tell him about our adventures for the day. It turns out that he went home after our meeting with our emcee to do more packing (I have no idea what he needed to pack!) and found himself a roommate for the night – his friend, Buboy, whose wife was out of town. They decided to meet us in Bizu. After a couple of beers, Rey's other friends, including Aya (one of the best men) and his wife, Cindy, joined us. We had so much fun that we didn't notice the time until it was midnight! Kat and I gave our excuses and decided to go back to Mandarin. Rey and Buboy decided to tag along. And they tagged along even up to our hotel room. Since we were all there, we decided to have a final wine tasting! We finished 2 bottles by 2 am. Since Kat and I were really sleepy, we sent Rey and Buboy to their room with another 2 bottles.
Thinking that we had until 11 am to sleep (our hotel room came with a free Chinese breakfast in Tin Hau. Since we didn't want to eat congee for breakfast on the day of our wedding, Rey and I decided to skip it,) I requested the Mandarin Spa to send a masseuse to our room. She was so good that I fell asleep within the first 3 minutes.
6 hours later, Rey woke me up to tell me that our Tin Hau breakfast was upgraded to a buffet breakfast in Paseo Uno for free. Within a few minutes, Kat and I joined Rey and Buboy for breakfast (hay, hirap talagang tumanggi sa food!) I ruined my manicure while eating breakfast so I went to Menage, the salon at the ground floor of the hotel. Rey decided to join me and had his hair trimmed.
After my manicure, Kat and I transferred from our Junior Suite to a Club Suite. (Ang cheap kasi namin - we refused to pay for the Club Suite for 2 nights so nag-junior suite muna ako.) The Club Suite was so nice and spacious! And our room was a few feet away from the Spa. I couldn't resist the temptation so I had a 30-minute scrub at 11. (Sulit talaga ang pagkuha ng on-the-day coordinator!) It turns out that the 30-minute body scrub actually takes an hour and a half! Right after my this-feels-like-heaven-scrub, I got a message from Kat that one of the photographers, John Aguas, was already there! It's a good thing that in Mandarin Spa, you get a suite when you have a body scrub - so I had my own bathroom and toilet and a bronze-looking sink. Since I didn't want any photos with me looking as if I haven't shampooed my hair in years, I decided to take a shower at the Mandarin Spa. The staff gave me a bathrobe and patrolled the hallway so I can go back to my room without being seen.
When I got to my room, Kat helped me into my dressing gown. A few minutes later, Eddie Bruan and his team arrived and started setting-up their equipment. At exactly 1:30 pm, Eddie faced one of his bigger challenges - he had to transform me into a glamorous bride.
My huge family arrived before 2 pm. My sisters brought Rey's pants, several dozen barbecues and Christmas pastries (mga katas ng Pasko! Heehee). They also brought several bottles of wine. Shortly after 2, the wine bottles were opened and the party started! (Note: Hindi kami alcoholic, mahilig lang talaga sa party!)
Part III - as told by Rey
It was about 3 pm when I had a major bout of soul searching. I was in a hotel room with a friend and my cousin Renan surrounded by at least 3 cases of champagne and wine. I felt that this was certainly a good time to start on my long cherished dream of being an alcoholic. I immediately opened a bottle and asked the others to do the same. 20 minutes later, as I was beginning to forget certain unimportant details, (I vaguely remember Abie telling me to be somewhere at 6, I'll remember later.) Our room was suddenly invaded by about 3 dusky middle-aged men with cameras. They offered some suspicious explanations of being wedding photographers and that they had to do the groom's room for the pre-wedding shots. Well, I suppose I had to thank them for the intrusion as 5 minutes later I realized what the 6 pm thing was and regretfully ordered everyone to put the bottles down.
(Abie: Hay, naku, ayaw talagang umamin na he was so nervous that he called me up at least 5 times! Everytime the phone rings, even before I answer it, sasabihin na ng lahat ng tao, "Abie, si Rey!")
In my opinion, our hotel room was rocking with fun marked by a lively debate over an infomercial featuring God's gift to mankind --- the George Foreman Indoor Grill. (Only P2999! A special price given by George Foreman himself) Clearly, the photogs thought otherwise and ran back to the bridal suite where apparently a "real" party was going on. (What kind of party doesn't have intelligent discourse over an indoor grill that knocks out the fat but not the flavor?)
It was about 5 pm when the best man arrived with the returning photographers. After introducing himself as such, he immediately announced that he was here to ensure the wedding would continue, or if not, to lay down enough covering fire with an M-60 so I could successfully escape. He then proceeded to inspect my clothing to ensure that I did not slip in a "The George Foreman Grill is God's Gift to Mankind" undershirt for the wedding. Only then did he realize that the studs he brought for his own barong were too big for its button holes. After much cursing, wailing and gnashing of teeth he declared that he was fully capable of handing such an emergency for his delicate P20,000.00 barong (not a George Foreman product) and immediately proceeded to widen the holes with a pencil.
We were downstairs at the Fontaine Room by 5:30 where we had to be constantly reminded that the scratching of our behinds while greeting arriving guests was considered high etiquette for primates but not quite so polite for human weddings. I was also being instructed by the best man to put on more of a scowl as it seems that in weddings, the deeper the scowl, the more drama is lent to the entrance of the bride who has kept her groom waiting for her arrival. At 6: 15, after successfully frightening several children, (who thankfully, were not part of the wedding) I was nudged by the best man to smile as the bride came in to show my appreciation at her lovely appearance as well as a silent thanks for not leaving me at the altar.
Bitin ba? Here's a link to the photos taken by Eddieboy Escudero: