Creative couple Laurence & Renell left no detail unturned when planning their special day filled with rich colors, luxe floral, picture-perfect scenes, and the best part of all, endless smiles and tears of joy. As much as we adore all the gorgeousness of their wedding day, what touched us the most is actually their authentic story. From the couple’s Iceland proposal to Batanes engagement shoot in the middle of two typhoons, their wedding journey, just like their long distance relationship, really proves that love knows no distance. Read on as we share this beautiful wedding story that will truly make you believe in fairytales.
From the groom, Laurence: In 2017, Renell and I planned a trip to Europe. Little did she know that I had a plan to propose in Iceland. It was really a childhood dream for us to see the northern lights so I thought that it would be extra special to propose under the northern lights, but it was a big challenge.
The northern lights did not show up at the day when he wanted to propose. It was an eight-day chase! I started having doubts if we could really see the lights. Luckily, after much prayer, the lights showed up on September 8, 2017 (even with a bonus of sun’s corona!). In fact, a local newspaper said that NASA recorded a record-breaking solar flares, which resulted in that strongest northern lights in the last 15 years (the lights even reached the United Kingdom). It was a beautiful moment as if the heavens and nature rejoiced with us!
The Engagement Shoot
From the Bride, Renell: Our engagement shoot was planned for many months. In June 2018, we went to the northern-most part of the Philippines, in an island called Batanes. Only a few dare to go there because it has always been known as the pathway of strong typhoons from the Pacific. Nonetheless, we trusted that nature would give us an easy time, considering that the proposal was already a challenge for Laurence.
We brought beautiful dresses and formal suits (hoping that we could walk the beautiful landscapes in our elegant attire). But then again, God had his own plans. Our plane ride was cancelled for many days because of a strong typhoon that hit Batanes, and then cancelled again for the second time. We only had 2 days to shoot so we had to move fast to take the shots. However, when we arrived, another typhoon was formed so we were actually right in the middle of two typhoons.
We let go of the idea of having a formal engagement shoot. Although it was a difficult shoot, this gave us a very unique set of photos: braving the storm but still in love. Everything was candid and real! It was a strong message that clearly represents our story: that love can survive in the toughest times, and that we can always have fun together.
Love Knows No Distance
From the Bride, Renell: We have been living apart for three years, and it was such a roller coaster ride since Laurence worked in Saudi Arabia. Without any doubt, we both believed that we can surpass the challenge of long-distance relationships and hopefully, we would get wed someday through our own means. So, our December 30th wedding was indeed a dream come true and seemed like a great ending to what we have envisioned back when Laurence left the Philippines as well as a commencement of building more dreams together.
It was not an easy ride; however, especially I could not visit him in Saudi Arabia because of certain legal restrictions by the government (such as visit visa can only be granted to family members, wife, etc.). However, thanks to technology, we kept in touch consistently, and we would always have vacation in other countries to spend time together. Many Filipino couples in Saudi Arabia also experience the same challenge, so our wedding day can serve as a proof and a message that love can survive even in challenging situations.
Wedding Planning Process
From the Bride, Renell: Since Laurence was based overseas, we wanted to hire a full-time wedding planner (Jac Oebanda of The Wedding Project Philippines). It was more than a year of planning, but we really enjoyed everything. We were both hands-on so the planning process actually helped us get to know each other better. We discussed even the minute details and luckily, we were most of the time at the same page and taste.
Wedding Planning Details
Wedding Theme: Luxe Garden
Approximate number of guests: 300
Budget: USD 60,00
Wedding Planning Priorities
Laurence & Renell: Food, after-party, and candid shots. Firstly, most of our guests travelled from far places, some even came from US and Europe just to celebrate our special day. Hence, we wanted to express our gratitude to them by serving them the best food that we like as a couple. Our caterer, K by Cunanan, did an amazing job in serving the carefully-curated menu that we have chosen for our guests. They really loved the quality of the food and we received a lot of compliments!
We also wanted to give our guests the best after-party. We already expected that the church ceremony and formal reception program can be tear-jerking, so we felt that having an epic after-party can be the best way to end our wedding day.
Lastly, we have seen a lot of couples focusing and worrying too much about how they’d look in their wedding videos and photos. We didn’t have this problem because from the very beginning (proposal and engagement shoot), we have always captured our moments candidly. We have chosen the photographer and videographer based on how well they can tell our story using candid shots. They really did so well. Viewing our wedding pictures and video reminds us of the emotions we felt at that day, not how worried on the poses that we should do.
Laurence & Renell: Our favorite detail would be our customized rings by Dearest. It’s really one of our favorite wedding details because we designed it ourselves. Although we want a classic design, the time we spent in collaborating with the design experts of Dearest made the rings special and more personal to us. Since it is customized and personalized, the rings are like no other in the world. Our wedding rings would be with us for life, we really wanted to make it special, reminding us of our unique love story (also to remind us of our wedding planning journey). As expected, Dearest, did not disappoint us. Our wedding rings are classic yet magical at the same time!
Advice to Other Couples
Laurence & Renell: Communicate! Wedding can be fun if both of you are having a good time doing it, but we think that you can only enjoy it if you communicate with each other well. Listen to each other and don’t be afraid to voice out your thoughts. Suppressing your frustrations towards your partner can only make it worse. We believe that planning your big day is really a reflection of your relationship.
But at the same time, don’t force your partner to be so involved in all aspects. Some may not interest him/her and he/she may need your help. Pull it off by demonstrating how you can work together as partners. If it doesn’t go well, just go back to why you are doing it in the first place, which is to celebrate your love for one another.
Favorite Wedding Moment
Laurence & Renell: Our favorite moment would be the first dance. We felt that during our first dance, it all sank in for both of us that we’re officially married and that all our efforts are paid off. We just felt the love throughout the day and so much more during our first dance.
The song we chose was La Vie En Rose, which literally means life in rosy hues. It perfectly matches the feeling whenever we are together, which is a state of bliss. It also reflects how we view the world through a different perspective through “magical lenses”. It’s really perfect for our love story (aside from the fact that Paris is one of our favorite cities).
Laurence & Renell: Every detail of our wedding speaks of our love story, just how we wanted it to be. Together with our wedding planner (Jac Oebanda of The Wedding Project Philippines), we ensured that each detail captures a part of our story as individuals and as a couple: from the music played in the church and reception, food served, videos played, etc. We did not want to follow what was trendy, what we wanted was to make each detail serve its purpose of celebrating our love story that day.
Above all, we love the fact that we had our friend and spiritual mentor, Fr. Jboy Gonzales, celebrate our wedding ceremony. Since he knew us personally, the whole ceremony was extra special. He highlighted our love story and made our guests feel and remember why we were all there in the first place. As a result, the whole ceremony was a roller coaster ride of emotions. It was really an unforgettable experience for us.
Our event stylist, Dave Sandoval, did a fantastic job in transforming our reception venue into a beautiful luxurious garden set-up. They even started setting up the venue as early as 1am (our reception started at 6pm)! The venue was just full of flowers and greenery, just like how we wanted it to be. After all, nature has always been part of our story as a couple. From our travels, proposal in Iceland, stormy engagement shoot in Batanes, it was then befitting to be surrounded by nature on our special day.
Photographer: Colove Studios
Bridal / Bridesmaid Dresses: Emil Ocampo
Bride’s Shoes: Valentino Garavani
Groom’s Attire: Suit It Up Manila
Groom’s Shoes: Crockett and Jones
Hair and Makeup: Ysra Guarino
Event Stylist / Bridal Bouquet: Dave Sandoval
Catering: K by Cunanan
Invitations & Stationery: Global Invitations
Wedding Rings: Dearest
Ceremony Venue: Notre Dame de Vie Chapel
Reception Venue: Victorian Hall 2