His own account of the events that transpired on the 7th of July 2001.
My main memory is of a most beautiful ceremony, full of emotion happiness and love, with a bride who looked a vision of loveliness as she walked down the aisle in her wedding gown.
I remember the morning of the wedding with clear skies and draining heat following several days of rain from a typhoon. The bride to be was whisked away for a total makeover or rebuild, I wasn’t told which. I was left staring at a TV screen, passing time and not really knowing what was to happen next. Glimpses of my bride indicated a high level of stress and her occasional comments confirmed that without doubt!
The time for departure arrived and I was bundled into a car with the best man and two lovely ladies who were part of the entourage. The first shock came when we couldn’t find a car park at the church, something never heard of in New Zealand. After driving in ever widening circles for sometime we eventually forced our way into a space between cars in a parking area in true Filipino style.
So there we were at last in the church, with the sun beating down in a cloudless sky and temperatures soaring to great heights. Unfortunately, some guests were detained due to heavy traffic, not an unusual occurrence in Manila as I quickly learnt, so we all chatted amongst ourselves and tried to mop the perspiration as best we could.
Forty-five minutes later we were on our way up the aisle, the best man first, followed my myself, being told to ‘walk slower’! I tried, honestly I did.
I can still clearly see the big wooden doors of the church open after the entourage had taken their places and my bride to be starting her walk down the aisle. She was more beautiful than I could ever have hoped for, looking like a princess from a fairy tale wedding. Even before I could see her tears, I had to work hard to hold back tears of my own. A tearful groom isn’t a good look, at least not so early in the ceremony!
Once I had my love’s hand in mine and we stood together before the priest, everything seemed like a dream come true. I was truly overwhelmed by the warmth and feeling of the ceremony, something I hadn’t expected. Not being a regular church goer I was expecting the ceremony to be formal and stiff like wearing a suit and tie.
Instead I found it to be warm, friendly, relaxed and so full of emotion it cant be described my mere words alone. None of my family were present, yet I felt at home and the faces were all so friendly, making the occasion even more memorable.
We made mistakes and laughed, we smiled into each others eyes, and to me, I have never before felt that something was so right as committing the rest of my life to being with Christine.
The ceremony was long, but in some ways I didn’t want it to end, incase the wonderful feelings disappeared. Once the veil was lifted, I think we kissed more than any wedding in history, with every photo group seeming to have us showing our love in this very enjoyable way.
I don’t think I have ever known so many photos to be taken, and by the time we left the church my smile was almost permanently etched on my face. A detour into Burger King en route to the reception confirmed my suspicion that my new wife was definitely ‘weird’ at times, but despite the embarrassment it was fun and the photos taken there will no doubt be popular with my family here in New Zealand.
The reception was colorful, fun and involved yet more photo taking, we must have shares in Kodak by now! I should have eaten the Burger King meal as we were so busy with all the other requirements of us that we didn’t get to eat. A most unusual situation for weddings here, but I’m told its the norm in the Philippines, with the newly weds being kept busy with photos, games and other formalities. The final delight came at the receptions end, when the guests dismantled everything in sight to take home as souvenirs! Well not quite everything, just the oranges used in the floral decorations, the floral decorations themselves and the wedding cup cakes. It reminded me of women at a big sale, trying to get the best bargains first! To be honest it wasn’t quite that crazy, but it made me smile and its another image I won’t forget.
So there you have it, a Westerner’s memory of a Filipino church wedding, a truly wonderful occasion full of warmth and emotion, and a day I will never forget.
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About the author: Simon Gooding, a Westerner marrying his Filipina fiancee after planning the whole wedding with her through overseas calls and emails. The last time they saw each other prior to the wedding was 9 months ago. Christine, his wife, has been an active W@Wie.