Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I came across this page while browsing the net which listed the top ten (10) Catholic churches used for weddings. I assume this list is based on the rate of usage of these particular churches, although it's obvious that the list is applicable only for Manila except for Calaruega, which happens to be in Batangas. Here's the list and my personal comments.

1. Chapel of the Transfiguration, Caleruega, Batangas
I haven't been there so no comment for now. I just found out that the facade is a smaller version of the San Nicolas Miranda de Ebro located on Plaza de Santo Domingo in Caleruega, Spain.

2. Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, Manila
There's nothing like getting married in a church of firsts. The first and only all-steel church in Asia and probably the first pre-fabricated building in the world (the Eiffel Tower isn't a building). I have been here on several occassions, once during the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel whose National Shrine this church was once was, and as a lover of history and architecture, I feel giddy during my every visit. It's true that many people find Gothic architecture too dark and eerie but one must look beyond one's (mis)conceptions and see the soaring naves and the spectacular stained glass windows, not to mention the church's jewel-box design which can be most appreciated at night when the facade is lighted up.

3. The Manila Cathedral, Manila
The only cathedral in the world to have been rebuilt 6-7 times, the Manila Cathedral is devoted to our Lady under the title La Purissima de Inmaculada Concepcion, under whose protection the City of Manila runs for aid since the Spanish colonial times. The cathedral was in charge of the spritual well-being of the then new colony. While the cathedral is fully airconditioned (and the guards make sure nobody comes in and takes photos while the Mass is ongoing), the dark & heavy architecture gives it a rather gloomy air. It's mostly grayish so it'd be a challenge for florists to liven it up (and I doubt it if the cathedral is liberal on this regard; styling, that is).

4. San Agustin Church, Manila
Mention San Agustin in Intramuros and the following come to my mind: World Heritage Site, the oldest stone church in the Philippines, the lone church survivor of the bombing of the walled city during WWII, trompe l'oeil murals by Italian painters, burial site of Señor Miguel Lopez de Manila, catacombs (bet you didn't know this!). I have visited its vast museum as a small boy and have continued to revisit every two years. Mention San Agustin to any lay person and "grand weddings" easily come to mind. And why not? There is something extraordinary about getting wed in such a beautiful and historic church. It may be too big though for those who want only intimate gatherings.

5. Sanctuario de San Jose, Greenhills
Why did this church make it to this list and not Sanctuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park? No idea. I have seen its facade however and got bowled over by its Mexican Colonial architecture. I heard it's got a looong nave and a soaring altar, so that pretty much allows for spectacular video-photos, methinks.

6. Christ the King, Greenmeadows
Ah, the most popular church this side of the Metro. Airconditioned, spacious and modern (well, not that modern). I'm just troubled by the huge figure of Christ on the altar with a crown four times larger than the statue, but that's just me. TIP: Book as early as you are able. VERY EARLY. Like a year before. I mean it.

7. Our Lady of Montserrat, San Beda College, Manila
There is something really wonderful about university chapels. They usually are awesomely intimate and handsomely decorated (that's where part of the tuition fees go, silly!). Unfortunately, just like all other college and university chapels across the Philippines, the Chapel of San Beda is now closed to weddings. You can still celebrate Mass there though and marvel at the beauty of this particular chapel.

8. St. Pancratius Chapel at the Paco Park, Manila
I was there last December 2008 for
this event and I know how things work in this chapel. There are so many things to improve on in this Park. Cleanliness is one major issue. Cleaning is perfunctory and the trash bins are always emptied late. Safety is also a major concern: the churh's integrity needs a major checkup. Calling NPDC! The facade was flaking (pieces of stone fell off) when we worked there and had to stop what we were doing. Otherwise, a rather charming chapel. The altar isn't the original though, but most of the park still is. Despite a restoration effort gone bad (talk about concrete being used to patch up piedra de china, aaiiieeee!), this place will always be a favorite among couples looking for that unusual location. Plus with a cozy seating capacity of 100 pax, this is the perfect spot for small but memorable celebrations.

9. Malate Church, Manila
I used to attend Mass here every Sunday when I was still living in Las Piñas City and it remains to be amomg my favorite medium-sized churches. It's got a very stately appearance about it, a respectable long aisle, a wonderful cupola resembling an egg yolk and a renovated altar which looks like it's about to be launched into space any time. Kidding aside, I didn't see anything wrong about the former altar except that the parish just needed a reason to spend good money. Anyway, yada yada yada. Just letting that out, sorry. :-)

If by chance you find yourself celebrating Mass here during Saturday evenings, you might be lucky enough to bump into our fashion designers, many of whom still live in Malate. In fact, Pitoy Moreno was once handing out the collection basket my Mom had to pinch me out of my initial shock. Anyway, take advantage of the elbow rubbing and get yourself a fitting appointment.

10. Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo, Manila
For the avant garde and fans of anything kitschy, this is the church for you. Just kidding! Seriously, how can one not be astounded by an altar that was fashioned after the facade of St. Peter's Basilica?! That's kitsch on the highest level indeed. The parishioners obviously have tons of money for such projects. Unfortunately for the purists, the only remaining original parts of this church are the facade and the bell tower. Everything else was destroyed in the war. My grandfather used to donate to this church (he used to live in Tondo) so we frequented it as much as we could (the church, not Tondo). It is really spacious (high & wide ceilings) and is airconditioned.

Anyhow, I will make a list of my own soon. Maybe something like the MANILA's 20 BEST CHURCHES TO GET WED IN. Look out for that one! :-)

Source of the List:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

CASTRO - GARZOTA (January 18, 2009)

This is our last wedding this January 2009 - our 51st wedding since we started in 2005. Times have really changed - the setups have changed, the quality have changed, the prices of materials have definitely changed. Since December 2008, the prices of flowers have shot up 200% for still unexplained reasons. I swear this wasn't the case last year! Roses, one of the most in demand, is also the most pricey of the lot - at P180 / bundle of the medium-size cut. One can say that roses are currently weighed in gold. Because of the extremely cold weather of late, rose bushes in Baguio are said to be not blooming thus forcing local suppliers to import from China where obviously there are greenhouses with controlled temperature. Anyway, that's just digressing from the topic on hand.
For this setup, we followed the bride's request to have four floral pillars as their altar backdrop. This was based on what she saw on the cover of the Martha Stewart Weddings Winter 2008 issue. Unfortunately, we can only recreate so much. This after all isn't Rockefeller Plaza where we have hedges and and we definitely can't use white carpets. Instead of bentwood chairs, we used Monobloc chairs with white fabric cover. It worked just the same.
I was thinking the entourage would arrive in canary yellow (the motif) so I decided to tame the yellow and used deep pink Alstromeria and Gerbera and white crysanthemums. On top of each floral ball is an accent of pretty Dancing ladies orchids. Just a touch of whimsy. The floral pillars were already in the motif of yellow and red with touches of green. Oh, by the way, the entourage arrived in maroon, butter yellow & beige.
Instead of the usual rose petals (which also were weighed in gold!), the bride used white feathers. Hmmm... I wonder how many birds had to give up their coats for this?

My favorite shot. Too bad the videographer was in the frame. Tsk!

Wonderful, wonderful weather!

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.

Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.


Ceremony Styling//

Dylan Gozum for Vatel Manila

VS&F Classic Food International

Photo / Video//
Jun Valbuena Photography

Saturday, January 17, 2009

RAMOS - PUNO (January 17, 2009)

We got this account on the basis of a direct referral from Ms. Jet Versoza, the no-nonsense President & CEO of Josiah's Catering, during a visit to the Farm. You can say that this is our first 'celebrity wedding', the bride being the daughter of the legendary performer, Rico J. Puno. Of course all brides are celebrities in themselves as weddings tend to become the bride's day (and the honeymoon, the groom's).
This setup incorporated several elements from our past 49 weddings (yes, this is our 50th wedding!), the fabric swags being the latest styling tool. This also marks the first time the floral arch is used in this area of the Farm, a practice - so to speak - for the wedding on April 16th. With Tiffany chairs from Josiah's Catering, I think the entire setup is clean and straightforward with lots of areas to move about for both guests and suppliers. If budget permits, I would suggest that couples of future weddings make use of Tiffany chairs instead of Monobloc chairs as the former tend to "widen the horizon". It has a decongesting effect on the entire setup.
The silver beads of the fabric swag jangle about every time the wind blows. It was more like a gale actually, tearing the fabric at several points but it pretty much held its ground.


Left: Meanwhile, the entourage members prepare to assemble. Right: The groom with his parents. Judging on how tight their hands are latched on Mike, they obviously aren't letting go of him that easy. I know how it feels being an unico hijo myself.
Left: At 4.30PM, the entourage began to move down the aisle. Right: At the altar, the teary-eyed groom gets a hug from his Best Man (one of two).
All together now: Awwww.....

The bride's parents were received warmly by the crowd. I hope the Dad is wearing socks. :-)

At 5PM, the bridal car made its way down the roadway.

And the bride, Puno's eldest daughter, stands like a nymph at the start of the aisle.
Tosca busses her Dad on the cheek.

Right: The couple read their testimonials as a form of honoring God, telling everyone about their life story & their journey together to this very day.



Unique tables tags
. These are my two favorites: meatballs & blue cheese. The entire event was full of laughter as there were so many moments where either the couple or their guests cracked jokes during the program. The bride and her Dad performed The Prayer together. Other guests like Rey Valera & Richard Merck performed as well. I didn't get to finish the program as I had to leave for Dangwa again *Sigh*

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall softly on your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Ceremony Styling//

Dylan Gozum for Vatel Manila

Josiah's Catering

Blushing Bride


--  We're opening this busy month of December with this Tagaytay wedding that we worked on earlier this year. Truly, how time flies...