Saturday, July 03, 2010


by Marisa Alcocer-Chacko

Ben and I met 11 years ago at work. He was sitting in a meeting room in the middle of a training class when I walked into his life, literally! After 2 years of working together and being just friends, one sad Valentine’s Day neither of us had a valentine, so as I finished up a call, I turned to see Ben sitting right behind me with a huge stuffed Tigger (from Winnie-the-Pooh). He simply said,"Happy Valentine’s Day!" I reached out to take the Tigger and hug him, but he pulled Tigger back and said that I could only have Tigger if I agreed to go to dinner with him. I did and 10 years and 11 months later, we were getting married!

We had been together for almost 7 years when Ben’s company offered him a chance to get transferred to Manila to open a new office. When he told me about it, I jumped at the chance to see the world. We decided that if a move was in his future it was in mine as well. We moved here to the Philippines together. After the adjustment period of his new schedule and my life without my Mom close by, we really began to open up and make new friends and start seeing Manila as our new home. Being together for so long, we had always talked about getting married but we wanted a few key things to be in place before we took the big step of being together forever.

This move to the Philippines really helped us grow in our relationship more, and also helped achieve our goals that we wanted to achieve before we said ‘I do”. So it was March 2008, a month after our year 10 anniversary that he proposed. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. We were chatting and getting ready to explore the city for the day. I was sitting at the edge of our bed and just telling Ben about my week and filling him in on all the new things I had discovered that week when he quietly comes up to me, smiles with excitement at my happiness here and says he loves me, then he gets down on one knee with our dog sitting right next to him and he asks me to spend the rest of my life with him. How could I resist that!! This beautiful man asking me to marry him and this beautiful puppy giving me those puppy dog eyes! I said YES!


After much thought and discussions with our families, we decided that a destination wedding was in order. Both of our families live in Texas, so we thought we can kill two birds with one stone. We get married in a destination wedding and our families get a vacation away from the US.

We began our search for venues and were coming up with just OK places. Then one night, we were out with a group of friends and met this very in-love couple who had just gotten married a few weeks earlier. They told us about this gorgeous mango farm; it really all sounded too good to be true. So the next morning, we headed out for Antipolo to visit The Mango Farm. It was love at first sight, and then once we met Dylan and Mike and Turnip (Dylan’s dog), we were sold! Thus began the planning of the wedding of my dreams.


Tell us about your color motif:
After much thought, I finally decided on candlelight color theme. I wanted everything to be in cream/ white, and champagne. So after breaking the news to my 4 bridesmaids, 2 of whom were blonde, we all set out to find the right shade of “candlelight” that would suit everyone’s skin tone. I found a great dress for them in the US bridal magazines and had the dresses made by my dear friend and tailor, Ann Cuatico.---

Tell us about your photographer:

Nelwin Uy was our photographer, he was also the photographer at my friend's wedding the previous January and that's where Ben and I both fell in love with his work. We loved the fact that even though there were a lot on his crew, they didn't seem to get in the way of the guests. And once the onsite slide show began, we saw the amazing quality of Nelwin's work. We were hooked!

Nelwin did our engagement photos and was equally amazing at our wedding. We still look for reasons to have Nelwin and his team to do more photos for us.


Favorite wedding detail(s):

I can’t say that I have only one favorite wedding detail. I loved everything! If I had to choose though, I’d say the cake was the talk of the night (aside from the lovely couple, that is! :-) ---

Why a sit-down dinner?
To go along with the candlelight theme, I knew automatically we had to have a sit down dinner. I wanted long tables, with lots of tea light candles, white roses and tall all white centerpieces as the main focal point. My fiancée and I decided instead of the traditional table numbers that we would name the tables after cities that we have visited together, which included our own home towns in Texas. ---

Tell us about finding your wedding dress.

The following year, I had another friend who had gotten married here in the Philippines as well. At her wedding, as soon as I saw her step into sight, I fell in love with her gown. I had to know who made it. Oliver Tolentino was the fabulous designer! I immediately scheduled an appointment with him; at good year before my wedding was even to take place!

When I met with Oliver I just knew he was going to laugh me out of his office. I had pages and pages of torn-out magazine pages. I liked certain details from one dress and the veil of the other, and the beading of two more. It was organized chaos! Oliver was very sweet and patient and listened to the ramblings of the detail-crazed bride to be that I was. Then after my rant was over, he sweetly said,"Okay, give me a few minutes." As he began to sketch, I tried my hardest not to look over his shoulder and critique. Once he was done and held up his sketch, I truly was at a loss for words. The sketch was perfect!! It was the strapless mermaid style with beading that would be done by hand in silver threading and glass beads with lots of little “diamond” beads (as I call them) mixed in. The beading would be heavy from the top of the gown and hug my curves right to the hip accentuating my hard work at the gym those past few months! :-) Then the beading would continue all around the bottom of the gown and all down the back of the dress. Oliver said, “We’ll do a lot of beading in the back since you’re back will be facing the crowd, it will give them something to admire”. I absolutely loved this idea!
Next was fabric. Oliver pulled out a bolt of gorgeous cream duchess satin and said," This will be reserved for you." I was in love with Oliver and the sketch of the dress and the fabric; I couldn’t wait to see it all come together.


Tell us about your menu choices and why you chose those:
Dylan, our wonderful floral designer at The Mango Farm, recommended K. by Cunanan because of her style in setting up, décor, and quality of food. We wanted something that would mix our two cultures (I’m Mexican-American, my husband is Indian-American) perfectly and add in a little mango flair to incorporate our venue. She did it perfectly!

During the cocktail hour our guests were treated to a mix of Mexican and Indian-inspired appetizers. By the time we moved into dinner, the guests' palates were excited for the main courses.

We began dinner with wonderful Barbecue Chicken Salad served beautifully in a martini glass, and then moved on to a Roasted Corn Soup that I’m still salivating for almost 2 years later. These 2 beginners were incorporated into our menu to may tribute to our Texas roots.

Two dinner entrées were served: a deliciously grilled red snapper served over a bed of carrot rice with mango salsa on top, then a perfectly grilled pepper-crusted steak with a side of veggies and smooth and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. If you can’t tell, my husband and I are big foodies!

Dessert, for those that could still button their pants, was equally as wonderful. The first dessert was Flambéed Mangoes with Vanilla Ice Cream followed by our wedding cake that was Butter Pound cake with a hint of mango sauce in the middle (to include one of the Philippines' most famous treats).

Next dessert (remember, I mentioned I’m Mexican-American so I had to do my heritage proud), for those that could still fit more in, was the last dessert, a traditional Mexican treat called Buñuelos which is sort of a fried-flour tortilla sprinkled heavily with cinnamon and sugar and accompanied by a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

After dinner, our guests were able to work off all the food on the dance floor underneath the stars in the garden!


Lessons you want to impart to other brides:
Patience is key. Being American, we get spoiled with certain ways in the US. For instance, a wedding in the US takes well over a year to get the wedding of your dreams planned. Venues book up fast, flowers need to be ordered, gowns need to be ordered, etc, etc.

I began my planning here in Manila with that idea in my mind that I would need to move on things fast! I needed to order my invitations 9 months before the wedding, and my gown a year in advance. I had also met with a wedding coordinator that was less accommodating than I was used to. I really didn’t see much happening with her until the last 3 months before the wedding and by then it was all done in a rush, which truly tested my patience.

In my mind, we should have had all these done and just putting the finishing touches on things the last 3 months, not trying to plan it all by then.


Nelwin Uy Photography
17th Floor, Tower A, Unit 17A17
Victoria Towers Condominium,
Panay Ave. cor Timog Ave. Q.C.
The Philippines

{Office Hours} Mon-Fri 10am to 7pm

{telephone number} 355-0296 / 211-9792
{mobile number} +63917-8060175

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