We are all sharing the same thing at the moment: we are experiencing the effects of the ongoing pandemic one way or another. For couples set to get married, this has been a major bump in the road, with gatherings limited to only a few and restricted traveling being observed. Our couple, however, decided to take a dive and just make do of the situation. The result turned into a hastily planned yet lovingly orchestrated DIY pandemic wedding. Bride Nikka tells us their exciting journey.
The Editor and The Athlete
How did you meet?
Marvin and I went to the same school for grade school and high school, which is Canossa Academy. There wasn’t much interaction between us because I would only watch him from afar. He was a basketball varsity player and I was the sports editor for our school paper. So I would see him a lot whenever I covered intramurals and other sports-related events.
Marvin’s face was quite memorable even back then. He had sharp eyes, a chiseled jaw, pierced-filled ears, and spiky, colored hair. He looked a lot like a gangster! Plus, I would often hear stories from the upper batch during dismissal time that he had punched someone or that he was always in trouble so he was basically the school’s bad boy.
He actually reminded me a lot of Dao Ming Si from Meteor Garden’s F4 in that respect. I didn’t see him for many years after graduating but then I happened to re-watch an episode of Meteor Garden, which made me remember him. So I tried searching him on Facebook but couldn’t find him.
A year later, also on the eve of my birthday, I suddenly received a friend request from Marvin. It threw me off and I had to check his name and profile over and over again to make sure. I didn’t immediately accept his request until he started bombarding me with messages introducing himself (he had a whole spiel for it haha) and saying that he was from Canossa. I would only read his messages and not reply but in front of my laptop screen, I was smiling all the while. “Of course I know you!” was what I thought.
Then one day, my best friend from high school told me that Marvin has been asking for my number. Apparently, they attended the same wedding. I told my best friend not to give him my number, but he was so persistent. So after some time, I finally decided to go on a date with him. And the rest is history.
How did you know he was the one?
My mom used to tell me three words in finding your destiny: “You’ll know it.” And that’s exactly how I felt with Marvin.
I like his character and values. Marvin is a very generous person. I would see him secretly donate to people who are less fortunate. He would pull over his car and volunteer to help an old man who gets a flat tire in the street. He would want to risk and bring a bloody stranger to the hospital just to save a life.
He does the “little things” that matter the most to me. He always buys me pizza because he knows it’s my favorite. He gives me sunflowers even if there’s no occasion. He cooks me my favorite seafood pasta while I binge watch Netflix movies. Now that we live together, he wakes up early, makes my coffee, and prepares my packed lunch (especially my unpolished rice which is so hard to cook haha). He keeps a photo of me in his wallet and in his car… The list goes on.
I told Marvin I admire his bravery that at such a young age, he worked abroad and spent 13 years away from his family and friends. He persevered in his job and got promoted until eventually, he brought his parents along to travel the world via cruise. And get this, not once but five times over. I often told him that no one would think that the Mr. Bad Boy people once knew can fulfill every child’s dream for their parents.
So I like Marvin as he is – how he appeared so distant from others but very vulnerable to me. When I got to know him deep down, the more I appreciate and feel lucky to have him.
So I’d say Marvin is the kind of guy I’d fight for over and over again. In a thousand lifetimes or more, I’d choose him.
Can you tell us a little bit about the proposal/engagement?
The proposal happened a few years ago on the eve of my birthday. We just finished dinner with my parents when he suddenly proposed to me. I swear I didn’t get any inkling that he would propose at that time but I really admired his bravery to do it in front of my parents. After the proposal, he told me that he could’ve done it when we were travelling abroad to make it look “Instagrammable” and “romantic,” just like how other people usually do but he intentionally chose not to. He said that for him, what he really wanted was to get my family’s blessing. In fact, a few hours before the proposal, he talked to my parents to get their approval first. I think that speaks a lot about his values and I found the gesture really sweet.
A Sudden Change of Plans
What is the story behind your pandemic wedding?
(The) original plan was to get married on December 20, 2020, at a beautiful chapel atop a hill in Baguio, which is our favorite go-to place as a couple. We did an ocular months ago with my siblings, started studying wedding logistics and all, but then COVID happened. Because of the pandemic, it became a struggle for Marvin’s parents to fly home. We were also worried about whether other people can also make it to our wedding given the “new normal.” I told Marvin that I don’t want to march the aisle without his parents and my closest friends to witness it.
One random night, while we were chatting, Marvin said “Why don’t we just do a civil wedding first?” and I agreed right away. So, the next morning, we immediately chose a date and realized that we only had three weeks of prep time. It was super difficult since we had to juggle it with work and business.
The Heartwarming DIY Pandemic Wedding
What was your wedding theme?
We didn’t follow any theme. We just know for sure that we want a dreamy, classy, intimate vibe for our wedding. So we decided on a glass house with a breathtaking view. Its beautiful indoor lights, all the fresh flowers, and the cold Baguio-like weather all contributed to the overall look and ambiance of the place. Many of our guests complimented how we have put it together.
Tell us about the DIY details.
Since we have no event coordinator, we planned and did everything by ourselves. It was such a challenge because we were left with three weeks prep time and we have to juggle it with work and business. Here’s a rundown of what happened:
1. Location – We searched and booked the place ourselves using Airbnb. In looking for a venue, the first thing that I considered was that it should be near our house. We were lucky we have this beautiful property just a few kilometers away so all of our guests, who are mostly relatives and friends, didn’t have a hard time going to the venue. The venue was perfect. It has a nice pool with a view and the wind was so crisp and cool.
2. Dessert Corner – We carefully thought up everything you can find in our dessert corner. We did look for pegs but I was very hands-on in terms of the design and execution. I have a three-tier cake decorated with beautiful and imported fresh flowers for my main wedding cake. I also included a couple of quarantine-themed cakes just so when we look back, we can be reminded that our wedding happened during the pandemic. Then, of course, we also have cutesy flower-themed cupcakes and lollicakes.
3. Program – I asked my best friend, Erika Oro, to come up with a short program just so we can hear some heartfelt messages from our parents. I’m lucky that my best friend was born talented and can “wear many hats.” She served as our emcee during the wedding, and it was quite memorable because she also hosted my debut more than a decade ago.
Then I hired the great violinist, Butchoi. I let him audition online and he sent me links to his YouTube channel where you can watch him playing the violin. I love how his music set the ambiance that evening.
Another good friend of mine, Harlene Magsino, who was a natural singer, was also a guest at my wedding so I asked her to sing our favorite songs.
During the program, my Mom and Dad personally gave their messages. On the other hand, Marvin’s parents couldn’t fly home because of the pandemic so they sent us a recorded message, which we showed to everyone using a projector. Overall, I loved how the program went. It was short but sweet.
4. Giveaways – Everything you can find in our giveaway box were sourced individually. Marvin picked up each item from different places before finally putting them together. We’ve got these beautiful mugs, coffee beans, pure honey, and minimalist cakes with thank-you notes for the guests.
What’s the most unforgettable thing about your wedding day?
Well, I guess tying the knot in the middle of a pandemic and defying all odds to make everything happen in the name of love are still the most memorable things to remember in our wedding.
Fun fact: During the wedding, something happened unexpectedly. We were supposed to do alfresco dining by the pool but then the weather did not permit us, so we had to transfer everything indoors at the last minute. I was upset at first but I said I wouldn’t let little any mishaps get the best of me.
On a special day like your wedding day where you expect everything to be seamless and perfect, something might still go wrong along the way. So we had to anticipate but not let the situation affect us entirely. Instead, we had to become open-minded, creative, and believe that God is turning the situation and probably giving us better options instead.
Looking back, I realized why God let it rain that day. It felt like a blessing in disguise that we had to bring the setup inside. Had we not done it, our guests probably would not have enjoyed their dinner because it was freezing cold outside.
Everything was DIY. That’s why there were no big announcements, no coordinator, no prenup, no hashtag, no anything. Things have been really crazy as we were planning the wedding, but it was amazing seeing it all come together. Hearing people compliment the intimate event—a product of our hard labor and patience—was really flattering and fulfilling. Even with the restrictions, it was great that we got to approach all of our guests and extend our warmest thanks.
Bride: Nikka Angela Gutierrez Matibag
Groom: Marvin Viernes Marasigan
Wedding Date: October 8, 2020
Photos and Videos: RA Production
Makeup by: Make Up By Georgia
Venue: John’s Hammock Vacation Home, Batangas