#RealWeddings: This Couple's Nature-Themed Wedding Was Held In An Actual Forest In Palawan
Danielle Lee and Geoffrey Santos are two peas in a pod, and it's been this way ever since they laid down the foundation of what's sure to be a happy, lifelong marriage—living evidence of how much they were always meant to be!
But five years ago, this bride would have laughed out loud if you had told her that Geoff—the grandson of her grandfather's business partner—would be the one she would be exchanging "I dos" with. They had never met despite their families' closeness, but when they finally met, destiny knew how to step in and create ways for true love to blossom.
Today, after countless experiences, laughs, and beautiful memories made since then, Danes and Geoff are husband and wife, solidifying their commitment to each other on the fairytale-like shores of El Nido, Palawan.
The recently wedded couple shared what it was like to plan the day that would allow them to spend the rest of their lives together as Mr. and Mrs., with Danes herself sharing everything from her beautiful dress' details, the reason behind their choice of venue, her family's role in the wedding, to the best suppliers in the industry, and more.
About the couple
How did you and your husband meet?
"[It's a] funny story, really.
"Our family ties are strong. My grandfather and Geoff’s grandfather were business partners. My father and his siblings are magkabarkada with Geoff's father. Back then, Geoff would come to my dad’s office, hang out with him just like a second father and a mentor... But he never met me.
"One night, I went out with my grade school friend, Howard. Geoff saw me and automatically went to Howard to say 'hi.' Then we got introduced. After minutes of talking, he found out I was my father's daughter and he immediately turned around and walked away! His friends told him to go back, so he did. He got my number with this sentence: 'Hey! I know your dad! Let's go hang out with him one time.'
"Then as days went on, he got really close to my siblings! One by one, he infiltrated my family! I have this rule, everyone—including my barkada, parents, and siblings—must like the guy. If one says no, I say no too!
"When he decided to pursue me, he went to my father asking if he could court me. Dad said yes.
"When he first asked me out, I said no. The second time, he filled my entire room with balloons, I said no still. Finally, on his third try, he said, 'Okay Danes, say yes to me with one date. You have to be honest; if you have a great time with me, I get a second date and if you don’t, I will back off already and stop bugging you.'
"He went all in! So I finally said yes. On our first date, we had dinner at this wine place. He went to the restroom, then one by one, people started to dance! I got flash mobbed! I thought it only happened in movies. Apparently, when it actually happens to you, it’s a bit nerve-wracking! Then the rest was history.
How long have you been together?
"About 5 years"
What are your current occupations?
"Geoff owns a construction company: Sanray Metro Builders.
"Besides helping at Geoff's construction firm (I run his back office), I also own a home accessory business: DLS Homestore, which offers all home accessories like glasses, scents, cleaning materials, decanters, humidifiers and more. We also do engravings, customization on wood and acrylic furniture."
What do you enjoy doing together or bonding over?
"Netflix, traveling, Game of Thrones, and work! We love working!"
Preparing for the wedding
Why did you choose a nature-inspired theme for your wedding?
"We both love nature! We love trees, vines, moss, soil, breeze, sun—the whole thing."
How long did you prepare for your wedding?
"About six months."
What were the challenges of organizing your wedding?
"Nothing, really, but it was mostly the requirements since we had a real Catholic wedding and an actual marriage contract signing during the ceremony."
What was the best part about getting ready to get married?
"We spent a lot of time with family and friends, including friends we haven’t seen for years, our families got closer, and both Geoff's friends and mine got to know each other. A lot of new friendships blossomed too."
How did you decide on the wedding venue?
"We actually had three venues in mind. One was Fairmont Banff Canada (for a winter wedding), second was Balesin, and the last was El Nido. Then my husband made me realize that since we are very keen on having meanings to everything, why not get married in the place we call our second home? That’s why we chose El Nido. We go there a lot because my husband has project sites there, and eventually, we fell in love with the place and the people, and gained friends."
What were the highlights of the wedding ceremony and the reception?
- The Catholic ceremony where we swore in front of God and became one, said our vows to one another, and signed our marriage contract.
- The kiddie movie, where we got to spend time with our favorite kids in the world.
- The sponsors' dinner, where we got to dine and laugh with the people we love dearly and look up to, and who are now officially our ninangs and ninongs.
- The welcome party, where we got to spend time with our loved ones, danced the night away, and of course, ate great food!
Share your tips for other couples preparing for their own big day.
"Hire people you can trust and whom you believe in—their personality, their vision, taste and take on things. Make sure to spend time with them to get to know them, and eventually become friends with them. Have a budget and stick to it, but always put a certain percentage for contingencies."
The wedding outfit
Tell us something about your wedding gown.
"It's by Rajo [Laurel]. I love Rajo. He has practically seen me grow up. I have my full trust in him. We designed my gown based on our theme which is nature, thus the details of my gown were palm tree leaves."
What were other noteworthy details about your wedding?
"We wanted to have meaning and connection in every single detail of our wedding—things that are close to both our hearts, and not just things that are bought but things that have sentimental value."
- Rosary: From my mother-in-law, which was given to me as a gift a year ago. She gave it to me because every time she prayed with it, her prayers were answered.
- Bible: Also given by my mother-in-law, to guide us.
- Aras (coins): Specially made, again by the mother-in-law and symbolize the number 8. (Our feng shui master, Uncle Francis Gaw, gave us our lucky number and our wedding date).
- Veil: By Rajo Laurel. Since it symbolizes protection, we chose my sister to put it on us because she and her husband have been protecting me my whole life.
- Cord: Specially made by my mother-in-law and consists of the number eights, like the aras.
- Candle: Represents unity. We chose Geoff's sister and her husband because they are one of the few couples we look up to in terms of having a great marriage.
- Something blue: A sapphire ring, which I wore during my wedding day and was given by my mother-in-law
- Something borrowed: My sister's eternity ring which she wears everyday
- Something old: A diamond ring given by Geoff's dad, which my mother-in-law also made me wear during the wedding day
Number of guests: "For the entire weekend, about 300."
Venue: El Nido, Palawan
Date of wedding: April 28,2019
Host: Grace Iriberri (bridesmaid) and JV Montinola (groomsman)
Priest: Monsignor Jose D. Delfin
Bridal shoe designer: Sophia Webster
Jewelry designer: Bvlgari (wedding band)
Giveaways (what and by who):
- Principal sponsors: Cufflinks (men) and brooches (women)
- Secondary sponsors, bridesmaids, man of honor, best men and groomsmen: Evil eye bracelets
- Maid of honor and flower girls: Martin Bautista dresses
- Boy bearers: Rajo Laurel suits
Gift registry: Rustans, Pottery Barn, and Gourdo's
Wedding hashtag: #GDlove and #GDlovewedding
The complete wedding team:
Wedding coordinator: Gia Bernardo and Bride's Maids & Co.
Wedding stylist: Gideon Hermosa
Bridal gown, wedding accessories, bridal robe, and sponsors' dinner dresses: Rajo Laurel
Welcome party dress: Martin Bautista
Groom wedding suit and welcome party suit: Ziggy Savella
Father of the bride's suit: Rajo Laurel
Father of the groom's suit: Ziggy Savella
Mother of the groom's dress: Martin Bautista
Entourage and flower girls' outfits: Martin Bautista?
Boy bearers: Rajo Laurel
Bride's and groom's stylists (prenup, engagement dinner, welcome party, sponsors' dinner, and wedding day): Charmaine Palermo and David Milan
Bridal hair and makeup: Fidel Tango and Jake Galvez
Entourage hair and makeup: Prency Colarina and Dane Ciruela
Wedding cake artist: AA Cake Design by Aisa Atilano
Videographer: Treehouse Story and Patrick Benitez
Photographer: The Proud Rad
Music: DJs Ace Ramos and Agosto
Welcome sunset party: Maremegmeg Beach Club and Diggy Alvarez
Invitations: The Write Impression
Save the date and monogram artist: Reena Gabriel
Dance choreographer: DJ Mike Borbe
Lights and sounds: LGD Lights and Sounds by Louie Dimayuga
Fireworks: Dragon Fireworks
Prenup cake artist: Miko Aspiras
Engagement dinner venue: Las Casas QC
Engagement dinner dress: Martin Bautista
Engagement dinner hair and makeup artists: Dane Ciruela and The Makeover Lounge
Engagement dinner caterer: Margarita Fores
Photographs by The Proud Rad, courtesy of Danielle Lee