This Villa In Tagaytay Is Fast Becoming A Favorite Wedding Venue—Check Out Its Interiors!
Weddings are a big deal, and it helps to find that home away from home that will still feel special but comfortable and welcoming.
If every love story can be a fairy tale, then once upon a time should find its happily ever after in a setting worthy of royalty. In the early 2000s, Tagaytay and neighboring Alfonso became popular for destination weddings. The bracing cool air and the preponderance of venues with either breathtaking views or magnificent gardens made for that winning combination: marking an occasion with presence and grandeur without being too far from the city.
From weekend getaway to wedding favorite
The Lirio family just wanted a weekend retreat and found their refuge in a former working coffee plantation. Rene Lirio had spent decades in property development and his wife Baby (nee Mallari) had always been a devout and dedicated gardener. For their only son JP’s wedding, they built a chapel onsite complete with a pretty pond and a picturesque bridge; and Baby planned a dream wedding on their family estate. Slowly, non-family members began to inquire if they could also host weddings there. Their eldest, Maryliz Lirio Millan, who had recently transitioned from banker to entrepreneur, saw distinct opportunity.
At first, they only allowed pre-nuptial photo shoots, but they eventually relented and accepted bookings for garden weddings. More and more people inquired about weddings, and they requested indoor venues, and now couples can choose from the pavilion, the floral room for more rustic rooms, and launched this year, the grand ballroom.
“We had been getting requests from clients who wanted more private accommodations for their families. They wanted that feeling of connecting rooms and that they could have that sense that they had the place to themselves,” said Maryliz. When she needed to build a bigger wedding venue and a bed-and-breakfast type of setup, she turned to Anton Barretto, the EIC and host of Metro Home and an interiors and wedding stylist himself. She knew that he would be the perfect ally in orchestrating her new villas and grand ballroom.
Trust the process
“I really let Anton go to town, and I knew that I would like what he would do,” Maryliz reveals. “Through the years of working together, I knew that even if I couldn’t visualize it, that I would end up liking it. And he certainly surprised me. I was so surprised when he chose ikat fabric for the rooms. And when I first saw the colors for the bridal suite that is adjacent to the ballroom, it was a shock at first, but now I know that he was right.”
Anton says, “When you’re in a wedding, you want there to be special elements that will really pop in a photo. So, I made sure there were beautiful chandeliers, a mix of customized and vintage furniture, and photogenic and ‘dramatic’ vignettes, so that it’s not only the bride who will have stunning portraits but the groom, the families, and the entourage, too.”
He also made sure that there would be work stations for the photography and video teams for those all-important same-day edits and lots of holding areas for the stylists and glam teams. “But you still can’t impose too strong a style. The interiors still have to be adaptable because each wedding will have its look and feel. So they can’t come here and say, ‘Oh, it’s modern.’ or ‘Ah, so it’s Louis XIV!’ So I wanted it to still have that old-world-meets-new-world mix. Each piece had to have its own design integrity, its own strong look so that though there are different eras, different textures, and different looks, they can still go well together.”
Travel also served as a treasure trove of inspiration for them. “Lots of hotels here don’t employ color. But I remember being in Amsterdam and seeing so much color in the hotels. And one place had a wall mounted with all kinds of chinoiserie instead of just photos or paintings, so I wanted something similar too.”
Anton favors the same bold and quirky mix found in many European hotels. “I love going to Barcelona,” he says, “And each time I go, I like to stay in a different hotel. I find the look of the hotels there so inspiring, that they’re not bound by just one look or one era, and I have to say that the Barcelona hotels inspired me.
The ballroom lives up to its name with its hand-painted mural, velvet island sofas, grand staircase, and dramatic lighting fixtures. “We lucked out,” Anton enthuses. “A friend of mine told me about a house that was about to be torn down, and we were able to salvage an all-narra staircase with a really beautiful banister. I mean, that would have just been thrown. Now, it’s the bridal star moment.”
“Honestly, for me, the best weddings are still held in a family home. So I tried to recreate that feeling here, that even with all the grand gestures, it would still have that comfort of a home.”
See more photos of the marvelous villa in the gallery below:
Photographs by Paul Del Rosario