Guimaras Island, Philippines: Undoubtly the most beautiful destination wedding I have ever attended
I was supposed to fly to China last week for work but I backed out. Belle, my beautiful friend married the love of her life in Tatlong Pulo, Guimaras, the place where they met. Belle has been a big part of my life and is one of my best girlfriends. In the same manner, her beau, Sam have embraced this crazy friendship with open arms and I consider him as a part of my inner circle. It’s a no-brainer: I really really have to attend the wedding.
I was also curious about Guimaras. I’ve never been in that part of my country and knowing how creative Belle and artistic Sam is, this wedding will be something fresh and different.
I arrived one day before the wedding. Coming from a horrible 6 hour van ride from Caticlan, I stayed the night in Iloilo where I was hosted by Seda Atria Hotel, one of the premiere hotels in the city. This is also where we gave Belle a mini-bachelorette party. I wasn’t really sure how we will get to Guimaras but I went to the flow and figured it out along the way.
FROM ILOILO TO TATLONG PULO, GUIMARAS: THE CRAZY RIDE
It really is true. My traveler friends make up the bulk of my most memorable experiences. The good thing about this group is they are up for anything. What’s the best way to go to your friend’s wedding? TOPLOAD. We were on top of the jeepney for 45 minutes to Tatlong Pulo. There were bumpy roads and the palm trees will literally slap your face if you are sitting on top. I was actually amazed how they were not too strict about riding on top of the jeepneys. However, it is not advisable if it’s your first time. I won’t stop you but do it with caution!
As we arrive the venue, I can feel that my tan have improved. It was 13:00 and the sun was too hot — I wasn’t actually prepared for this!
After going down the jeepney, we had to walk for at least 5 minutes to reach the venue. Goats, carabaos, cows and other farm animals were in view. “There is no way they are going to get married here.” I told myself, quietly. I couldn’t imagine the wedding venue. When we reached the beach, everything changed.
I was forced to include a photo carousel on this post because I want all of you to see the hardwork of Belle. Together with a small team, Belle did all these by herself! Simple, beautiful, clean. With only 9 tables, family and close friends, this has been Belle’s dream wedding. Anna of @annajcreative deserves a shoutout, too!
The part that has been vividly playing in my mind up to now is when we entered the venue, the drum beaters started rolling as if they knew we were to dance. Me and my friends started dancing without putting our backpacks down; without caring who is watching.
Belle made her wedding dress and this was the first time that Sam saw her wearing it. “How did you sew that without him seeing it? You live in the same house!” She looked at me and said, “para-paraan” (we find ways). This girl is really talented! If you need something done: dress, wedding souvenir (anything really!) you know who to contact. You can never go wrong with Belle!
Officiated by one of Belle’s close friends, the ceremony was simple and direct to the point. And of course, everyone started passing on Kleenex when they started delivering their vows. I, on the other hand was on the side, delivering Kleenex to everyone. After their vows, the parents were asked to give their message secretly to the newly weds.
Sam kissed the bride and forever appeared right before us.
Dear Belle and Sam,
We never live so intensely as when we love strongly. We never realise ourselves so vividly as when we are in full glow of love for others. Thank you for inspiring us with your very positive and open attitude in finding adventure together in life. Your experiences taught all of us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. I am so honoured to be a part of your day and your life.
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love. Love. That’s what I have for you, Belle and Sam. I will go anywhere in the world for the both of you.
Come bouquet tossing, we were already expecting that the one who will catch it will be from our group and it happened! Grayson, my very loving gay friend caught the bouquet and some people were joking that Belle had to toss it again because he is gay. Belle said, “we are all equal here so we will let it be.” I think this is what I love about my friends’ very open attitude towards life! I love their beautiful souls!
We partied all night and lost track of time. The island was ours and we were free to do whatever we wanted to do. Me and my friends led the crazy dance moves, lay down the beach, talked about life, what our own weddings will be like, who will be the next bride etc. Everything was perfect — except someone puked inside our living quarters. Our nipa hut. Whoever it was, we didn’t figure out and I don’t really want to know.
THE AFTER PARTY
But wait, there’s more…
We woke up really early the following day because we were expecting another treat: Belle and Sam prepared a Booze Cruise party for their close friends and of course, we were in! We boarded the private boat and went around three different spots in Guimaras Islands.
Food and booze were served. We put music that reminded us of our friendship, did the crazy flying fish ride that made my body sore, went to the island toilets using jetski, watched the sunset together, lost our voices, stopped and said, “this is the perfect wedding.”
Ever since our friend Earl and Andre got married in Boracay last November, our friends already set a bar on how weddings should be like. It’s totally putting pressure to everyone.
I feel truly blessed because I’ve found a love that transcends and grows, despite timezones, island to island commutes and conflicting seasons. To the girlfriends who love us through everything, thank you.
Want to know how Belle and Sam met? Check out Sam’s honest account here.