Weddings

Formal, Fun, and Funny: How To Plan An Enjoyable City Wedding

Town&Country managing editor Nicole Limos and PGA-ESS president Mark Morales share some wedding planning tips and details about their Makati wedding and reception.
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Town&Country Philippines managing editor Nicole Limos and PGA-ESS president Mark Morales share their love story, some wedding planning tips, and details about their Makati wedding and reception.


The Love Story


Mark, a geotechnical engineer, and Nicole, a lifestyle journalist, met in Hong Kong through a common friend. 

How did you meet?

Nicole: We met in Hong Kong in late 2012. I was on vacation with one of my girl friends and Mark was there on his own for business. I had other friends there whom we met for dinner and drinks, including my very good friend from work, who was the one who invited Mark to tag along after learning he was also in the city. I remember laughing a lot and thinking how cool it was that we naturally hit it off. Our common friend flew out the next day, but Mark still met up with me and the friend I traveled with—we walked around TST and hung out at the Hullet House, had drinks at an Irish pub, and ate at a dingy Chinese eatery past midnight. We stayed in touch when we got back home, decided to hang out again, and the rest was history. 

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Gretchen Claudio, Jennie Castillo, Val Umali, the bride and groom, Edna Mendoza, and Liezl Mendenilla

What do you remember about when you first met?

Mark: We had an easy and free-flowing conversation. It was probably the easiest conversation we’ve ever had and it has been uphill ever since. Hahaha. Just kidding.

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What do you like best about your partner?


Nicole: With all his achievements on paper, you’d think he is a majorly serious person, but Mark’s sense of humor is unlike any other. That’s what attracted me to him first. (He will kill me for not saying it’s his handsome face.) Eventually, I got to discover more of his impressive qualities such as his genuinely kind heart, self-awareness, love for family, humility, and diligence, which made me adore him even more. 

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How are you like when it’s just the two of you?

Nicole: Mark and I are very different—rarely do we enjoy the same movies or TV shows or leisure activities—but we find common ground in our love for food and travel, our family values, and sense of humor. I think that’s part of what attracted me to him—that our professional worlds are so different, allowing us to discover each other’s interests with fresh eyes every time. We're a normal fun-loving couple when we’re together at home: We compete in trying to frighten each other with various scare tactics and pranks, we laugh a lot, and we also fight over silly things.

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The groom with his groomsmen and best men

Tell us about the marriage proposal. How did it happen?

Nicole: Mark proposed in Osaka, during a family trip. He got his nieces to draw posters that said: “Tita Nicole, please marry Tito Mark because he is old na… and he loves you very much.” It was sweet and unexpected especially because it happened after a very long day spent at Disneyworld. 

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Nicole with her siblings, Jose Miguel Limos and Mario Alvaro Limos


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Mark with his family: MM and Annabeck Morales; Emilio Morales and Baby Morales; Liza Morales Crespo, Angelita Kalalo, Mia Batol, and Jamie Del Rosario


The Planning & Details


The wedding ceremony was held at Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park Makati, followed by cocktails and a dinner reception at Whitespace Makati. "We wanted to get the vibe of that Marie Antoinette movie by Sofia Coppola—feminine and chic but quite rock ’n roll," says the bride. 

What was your vision for the wedding? 

Mark: We just wanted everyone to have a good time. Our starting points were food and entertainment because it’s not often that you can get everyone you love and respect and who are important to you in one room so we wanted to make sure that we make that moment happy and enjoyable. We also wanted our wedding to reflect our personalities and at the same time be an occasion for our guests to be happy. 


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Isabel Cortes, Eise Lopez, Lady Mae and Francis Laurin

Nicole: Our goal was to have a look that’s formal but a vibe that’s fun. We wanted our guests to feel good throughout the wedding and the reception, and so we put a lot of thought into every detail; it was a process we really enjoyed.


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Our theme was modern Victorian with lots of pinks mixed with golds and dark grey. Our vision was a play of contrasts—we wanted everything to be elegant and pretty, but also cool and youthful. We wanted to get the vibe of that Marie Antoinette movie by Sofia Coppola—feminine and chic but quite rock ’n roll. 


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Top: Jackie Avecilla, Clifford Olanday, Manica Tiglao, and Martie Plaza. Bottom: Gay Lao, Camille Oloan, Mira Villanueva, and Kim Palanca

We knew it was going to be a big wedding so the challenge was how to make it feel intimate. This is why we chose long tables with low floral arrangements instead of big round ones to allow guests to converse during the reception.


We got a wedding planner early on, Nenita Zagala of Celebrations Event Specialists. She was the most efficient and the nicest person I’ve met in my life. Not only was she there for us every step of the way, but she possessed a tsunami of wedding planning knowledge and experience that allowed her to be many steps ahead of everyone else. We call her the Unbreakable Nenita. I was an absolute bridechilla because of her.

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Why did you choose a city wedding?

Mark: Knowing ourselves, we are very fussy with details and things, so having the wedding close to our home was a practical choice. We also have a lot of friends and family and we really wanted to make attending our wedding and reception easy for everyone. We wanted all our loved ones to be there and celebrate with us.

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The bridal entourage at the wedding ceremony at Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati

Who made your gown and Mark’s tuxedo?

Nicole: My wedding gown was custom-made by Francis Libiran. I wanted a long-sleeved tulle dress ever since, and he brought this dream to life with cascading layers of soft tulle and a fully embellished bodice with custom embroidery, Swarovski crystals, and fine beadwork. Francis Libiran also made Mark’s tuxedo made of jet-black cashmere wool and blazer with shawl lapel in silky duchess satin combi. 

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Maureen Disini gave me my lace and silk bridal robe, which was beautiful and feminine. Printsonalities made our invitations.


My good friend, designer Tracey Tabora, created my after-party gown, another tulle number, which had a dress and a detachable skirt. The ruffled tulle skirt was made of plain and vintage patterned tulle and the dress had lacey details in the armhole and neckline, a pretty and very comfortable piece that allowed me to dance and party the night away. 

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Wedding guests at the after-party

What were your absolute musts?

Nicole: Our two non-negotiables were the church and the caterer. 


Margarita Fores of Cibo di M made sure we had delicious options from cocktails and dinner to the after-dinner menu. We knew how there’d usually be a long wait between the ceremony and the reception so we made the most of that time to get people in a fun mood with lots of booze and canapés and great music (Mark spent months creating the playlist and transitions for this). We had cotton candy Champagne cocktails to inject a fun visual element, mojitos, mint juleps, and a gin, vodka, and whisky bar, apart from the usual reds and whites and beers. I think we got a lot of people quite buzzed early on, which was really the plan. Oops. 

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Wedding cake by Mannix Pena

As someone who enjoys cooking and traveling to eat, Mark was very particular about the menu. We loved how the Cibo team was very open to tweaking and even creating new dishes for our wedding based on our theme and suggestions. It took us 10 versions of the menu before we perfected the final one.

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They served watercress soup with mascarpone foam and prosciutto; seafood cannelloni with sustainable Mindoro mackerel, scallops, cream coral drizzle, and calamansi cream; Bulacan river prawns alla griglia with roasted red wine tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, black olive soil, and extra virgin garlic olive oil; and braised and grilled U.S. Angus short rib with dark chocolate jus, horseradish cream, adlai sinangag, and minted winged beans.

Our dessert was special for Mark, which was borne from his love of our local taho, but instead of soy, we used panna cotta with arnibal, different sizes of tapioca pearls, and pistachio crumble. For the after-party, we had a pizza station, a taquitos bar, and a chicharon station.

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How did you decide on your other suppliers? Can you tell us about them?

Nicole: We were lucky to have been able to the ones we already had on our radar even with the help of our planner Nenita. As we wanted everything about our wedding to feel natural, our photography team, Mangored, made sure to capture as many candid shots as possible, as well as our video team Notion in Motion led by Rupert Nicolas, who produced and shot both our Same Day Edit video and our love story reel. Photo shoots are really the bane of Mark’s existence, and so we skipped getting a prenuptial photo and video shoot as well as the usual photo taking with guests before dinner, which allowed us to inject more fun into a tighter program.

We made sure to just have a few speeches in the program and we got Sam YG to be our party host who turned out to be so hilarious.


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Designer Arnold Galang made all of my entourage dresses in various shades of pink and with different details and designs. 


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Patrick Alcober and George Aliben, who have been constants in my work life, did my makeup and hair; while Don de Jesus and his team did the looks for our entourage. 


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Some of the ladies from the bridal entourage (L-R, from top): Danica Valdes Lloren, Zo Aguila, Hannah Lazatin, Val Umali, Tala Singson, Manica Tiglao, Jennie Castillo, the bride, Sarah Navoa Limos, Sofia Sibug, Gail Santos, Gretchen Claudio, Edna Patricia Mendoza, and Alysse Asilo.

Our florist and designer was Nikki Chatto, who understood the elegance we wanted from the beginning without going over-the-top. 



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Our lights and sounds supplier was High Impact, which precisely accomplished the one thing I was very particular about: warm amber lighting and absolutely no blue, green, or red lights (so people would look good in photos) and was also able to deliver the audio requirements of our three different entertainers seamlessly.



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Our jazz band that played during the cocktails and dinner was Vince Lahorra’s group and our after-party band was Main Cast, the same band we had for our engagement party.


The Best Moments


What were the most memorable or touching moments during the ceremony and reception?

Nicole: My wedding march was special for me, as our church choir, The Philippine Madrigal Singers, was able to render a chorale arrangement of “Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky, my favorite post-rock instrumental music. Walking down the aisle with my mom and grandmother while hearing that song and seeing Mark at the altar was wonderfully cathartic.



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The performance of Jim Paredes and Boboy Garrovillo of the APO Hiking Society was actually our little surprise for our guests. We couldn’t think of any other group to bring people of different generations together through music than APO, and we were delighted that our guests enjoyed their songs as much as we did. Mark pulled a little surprise of his own for me by singing with the band to introduce them.



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Another highlight was the song number of Mark’s 96-year-old grandmother, who had long been practicing and waiting for this special day for her favorite grandson. She sang “Gaano Kita Kamahal” by Levi Celerio.


Finally, our love story reel by Notion in Motion was something we made sure to play at the reception since we had over 400 guests and not all of them really knew the details on how we met or how we are as a couple. It was our way of telling our story and celebrating this milestone without being too serious or dramatic.

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Mark and Nicole {Love Story} from Notion in Motion on Vimeo.

Mark: The speeches of our parents were also highlights for me. I believe that one of the best gifts a son can give his parents is the knowledge that he will be married to a good woman. So I think when I married Nicole I was able to give them that. 

Your advice for newly engaged couples planning a wedding?

Nicole: Enjoy the process and choose where you will spend and save on. Book a planner from the very start especially if it’s a big wedding. You have no idea how much having a good planner can save you from going insane. On the wedding day itself, take your time and remember each moment and each detail—earmark everything you could because it’ll be over before you know it. (Which leads me to this advice, something every other bride has also told me: Don’t get drunk on your wedding night because you want to remember!)

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What’s next for you two? What are you most looking forward to in your marriage?

Nicole: We have a few more trips lined up after our honeymoon, and hopefully we get to grow our family!


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Siony Campillo, Tavi Limos, the bride, the groom, Baby Morales, and Emil Morales

What’s the best marriage advice you’ve received so far?

Mark: My parents told me to make sure to go home early after work every day. Hahaha. And to always make sure that your partner is happy.

Nicole: To not take things for granted and to find joy in the little things.

 

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