A wedding-watching year
By Vangie Baga-Reyes

It was a year of grand and even grander weddings. In just about every month of 1998, weddings were taking place in the most favored churches in town, among them, the Santuario de San Antonio Church in Forbes Park, the San Agustin Church in Intramuros and the Basilica de San Sebastian. A few intimate weddings were also quietly held by politically prominent families as well as those easily identifiable with show business and high society.

Some of these weddings and milestones, which have graced Lifestyle, are compiled here for being memorable, unique and creative. (No doubt we missed quite a number, especially the big ones held in the last weeks of December, but we promise you'll see them in the next few weeks.)

First wedding planner. Rita Neri's ''The Essential Wedding Workbook.'' Published by Anvil, the workbook answers practically every question and need of the Filipina bride--a checklist of wedding essentials, from the church and reception to gifts and giveaways.

Tallest wedding cake. The 15-ft apple-walnut wedding cake of Christine King and Amable Miguel Aguiluz IX (the family who owns AMA Computer College and ACA Video). The pure ivory fondant cake was supported by four edible urns and several satellite cakes decorated with gumpaste fruits and swags.

Most astonishing cake favors. Christine King and Amable Miguel Aguiluz IX party favors which had many v000''wishes'' attached to pure gold pendants, rings and diamond necklaces.

Most natural setting for a wedding. Rhia Faye Paguio and Gino Cruz's wedding at St. Mark's Chapel in Mt. Makiling. Instead of pews, the chapel had stone benches overgrown with lush ferns. The stone altar was covered with wild vegetation and, for the wedding, firefly lights, baby's breath and bright yellow Dancing Ladies--small yellow orchids with brown speckles.

Favorite floral decorators. Tony Rodriguez, Rachy Cuna, Toni Parsons and Mita Rufino. They can magically transform any venue into a most romantic place.

Most select wedding stylist. Dr. Eleuterio ''Teyet'' Pascual whose eye for the grandiose and dramatic is matched only by his treasure trove of antiques and art pieces to make each wedding a truly once-in-a-lifetime event.

Favorite honeymoon destinations. Pearl Farm in Davao, Baguio City, Boracay and Dakak. For those who can afford--London, Paris and Hong Kong. For those who can afford and are adventurous: all the exotic cruises and safaris as far as Kenya.

Sought-after wedding cake makers. Heny Sison, Joshua de los Reyes, Raymund Rebolledo, Avelina Florendo, and Penk and Sheng of Pastry Bin.

First hotel in the country to have a permanent showcase of wedding ideas. The Westin Philippine Plaza. The hotel launched its Department of Romance which features the hotel's various wedding packages, from table-setting to party favors and other wedding services.

Most sought-after wedding gown designers of the year. Still Auggie Cordero, Inno Sotto, Pitoy Moreno and Rajo Laurel. They don't only make to-die-for designs, have a clientele that reads like a who's who--they also deliver the gowns on time. (We've heard of fainting brides and mothers of the bride because of gowns that nearly missed the rites.)

Hands-down favorite wedding designer of the young. Rajo Laurel. Young brides are his die-hard market.

Show-biz weddings of the year.

l Richard Gomez and Lucy Torres wedding at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Ormoc City.

l Cristina Gonzalez and Alfred Romualdez wedding at historic Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban.

l Lani Mercado and Bong Revilla at Imus Cathedral in Imus, Cavite.

l Donna Cruz and Dr. Yong Larrazabal at Basilica de San Sebastian Church.

l Jaya and Andrew Bussington in the United States.

Most publicized wedding. Richard Gomez-Lucy Torres wedding. It had all the ingredients of a blockbuster--big budget, star-studded and a riotous crowd. The TV rights went to ABS-CBN.

First celebrity pair to hold three pre-wedding receptions. Richard Gomez and Lucy Torres held three wedding receptions to accommodate their family, friends, fans and Torres's hometown friends.

Bride who tried on three wedding gowns before her altar date. Lucy Torres. She eventually wore a spaghetti-strapped, figure-hugger.

Intrigue-ridden wedding of the year. Cristina Gonzalez and Alfred Romualdez wedding. Before their wedding date, Romualdez's former wife, Teresita Albert, filed a multimillion-peso child support case against him.

One of the most creative table arrangements. Kara Jimenez Magsanoc and Dondi Alikpala wedding at Subic Bay Yacht Club. Designed by family friend Dr. Eleuterio ''Teyet'' Pascual, clusters of calla lilies were spread all over each table. On the tables, the dainty white blooms stood on their sturdy stems, just held together by raffia. Pascual got plain crystal vases with silver overlay and put one atop each other to achieve minimal height on the table. They had white candles within. The poolside was covered with scores of crystal vases with flickering candles.

Longest wedding reception. Bea Lucero and John Henri Lhuillier's reception at Rizal Ballroom of Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The supposed dinner reception ended at 5 a.m., with the hotel serving midnight and breakfast buffet to the guests.

Centennial weddings of the year.

l Margie Macasaet and Eric Barro at St. Mark's Chapel in rustic Mt. Makiling. Patis Tesoro designed an exquisite baro't saya made from the finest pinukpok abaca handwoven by Kalibo artist India Legaspi and hand-embroidered with ilang-ilang and pandan patterns by artisans from Lumban, Laguna. The rest of the entourage was also in period outfit. Matrons of honor were in malong sayas from Davao, while the best men looked dashing in their banana-seda barongs dyed with mahogany barks and bulu bulu leaves from Abra.

l Lani Mercado-Bong Revilla Filipiniana wedding. Designed by Danilo Franco, Mercado wore a Maria Clara-inspired gown, while Revilla was in Emilio Aguinaldo-inspired get-up. Revilla arrived on a horse.

Centennial wedding cake of the year. Margie Macasaet and Eric Barro's wedding cake. Created by Joshua de los Reyes, the cake was made entirely of layers after layers of puto, bibingka and rice cakes decorated with sinamay and banana leaves.

Centennial-inspired wedding souvenirs. Margie Macasaet and Eric Barro's giveaway which was a hand-crafted cross made of recycled wood mounted on a stalk of palay from the Ifugao rice terraces.

Dream wedding gown worn by a wedding designer. Fashion designer Vicky Veloso designed her own bridal gown when she married Roberto Barrera. She wore a serpentina cut, figure-hugging gown with a sweetheart neckline. The piña gown had the palest of pink linings. She used a pale pink lace, beige roses and pearls and beads in cascading pattern beginning on one shoulder and zigzagging down her dress.

Weddings in the News World.

l CNBC anchor and former GMA-7 TV host Rico Hizon's union with Melannie Syquia, former flight attendant of Northwest Airlines.

l Broadcaster Melissa Gecolea and Michael Westcott's wedding.

Most unique wedding invitation. Bennette Co and John Rana's invitation in the form of a compact disc. In it were the couple's recorded invitation to friends and family, with inspirational messages--and songs--from their invited guests like Dr. Margie Holmes, Gino Padilla, The CompanY, and an excerpt from RX93.1 ''Wake Up Message.''

First Wedding Website. Bennette Co and John Rana's website (http://come.to/1026Online) details the couple's wedding preparations from the bridal gown to the reception site.

Most ostentatious wedding of the year: The silver wedding anniversary of Oscar and Butsie Violago. The couple reportedly spent P10 million for the occasion, excluding the bride's diamond-studded tiara. Reception was held at Makati Shangri-La's Rizal Ballroom. Designer Pitoy Moreno designed three lovely gowns in silver and white touches for the bride--one for the church rites, one for the rigodon and the other for the ball.

Most attended wedding by politicians. Ria Agana and Jet Balagtas wedding in September at Santuario de San Antonio. Reception followed at The Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila. Bigwigs included President Estrada, Imelda Marcos, and Meldy Cojuangco.

Much-awaited wedding of the decade. Louie Ysmael and Cecile Chang's union at St. Alfonsus of Ligory in Magallanes. Reception was held at Le Souffl‚ at the Fort. Ysmael was among Manila's eligible and elusive bachelors, taking the plunge now that he's turned 50.

Low-key wedding of the year. Rina Lopez and Rudy Bautista's simple wedding at Basilica de San Sebastian. Lopez is the daughter of Oscar Lopez, while Bautista is part owner of Strumm's. Reception was at Lopez Center in Antipolo.

Yuppie wedding of the year. Justin Espiritu and Lia Enrile's nuptials at St. James the Great in Ayala Alabang. The couple were business partners in the upscale yuppie watering hole Release Bar in Malate. The entourage were buddies of Justin and Lia from Manila's elite younger set. Espiritu is the youngest of four children of designer Christian Espiritu and the former Gli Limcaoco, and Lia, is younger of two daughters of restaurateurs Ruben Enrile and Jane Enrile.

January 6, 1999

A wedding-watching year

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