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#RealWeddings: An Elegant, Filipino-Themed Countryside Wedding In Bataan!

This isn't your typical Filipino-themed wedding! The beautiful details and the stories behind them will inspire you to customize your wedding according to your personality!

Ask someone to list down popular wedding destinations in Luzon, and the first places that would probably pop in their heads are Cavite and Batangas. Rarely does Bataan—a land of magnificent sights, lush hilltops, and mouth-watering gabi ice cream—come top-of-mind, but our real bride Sam Beltran-Tating wants to change that.


Just a month ago, Sam tied the knot with Mark Tating, her boyfriend of 11 years, in a charming, Filipino-themed countryside wedding in her hometown. Picture this: A 250-guest wedding transforming into an intimate reception on rooftops overlooking the skyline, where city lights meet hundreds of stars. A string quartet serenading the entire venue, as guests enjoy an artisanal grazing table and a gabi ice cream sorbetes cart, both by Bataan-based suppliers. A captivating evening of laughter and scrumptious dinner under the moonlight, with a cool, gentle breeze...


"As a wedding location, Bataan seemed like a no-brainer as we never wanted a hotel wedding anyway, and it was close enough for our Manila guests to drive on the weekend.


"I also spent my childhood years in Bataan until I graduated from high school. On the other hand, Mark [who was then based in Manila] would actually sneak out to visit me in Bataan during our first year as a couple—imagine a 17-year-old going on a three-hour bus ride to an unknown place for love! So, Bataan does hold a special place in our hearts."


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Aside from promoting Bataan-based suppliers, the once Manila-based couple saw their special day as an opportunity to showcase the beauty of the province they now call home.


"Years later when we had gotten older and began talking about marriage and settling down, it became clear to us that we weren’t going to build a family life in Manila.


"We loved the city, but despite all the opportunities we had here, it seems like it didn’t love us back—things like traffic and the bustle of the metro constantly wore us down. I broached the subject of considering Bataan as a place to settle down—it made sense as it provided us the respite we craved from the city. I had roots in Bataan, and it still gave us the convenience of being so near to Manila that we could conduct business there anytime we wanted.


"Yet Bataan isn’t as popular as other provinces, and our friends in Manila didn’t quite understand our decision to move to Bataan.


"In a way, this wedding allowed us the opportunity to let our friends see the beauty of the place, just as we see it through our eyes."


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With the historic overtones of Bataan, it was only natural for the couple to lean towards Filipino-inspired touches for their wedding theme. But instead of going for traditional elements, the youthful couple infused their special occasion with a modern flair. 


"We wanted to showcase the concept that Filipino themes don’t always have to mean period costumes, native elements and colonial-era aesthetics. It could be fresh and classic with a contemporary touch," quipped Sam. 


"Our theme ‘Elegant Filipino Countryside’ was a little tough to explain to guests, but we wholeheartedly embraced the challenge. 


"We were set on an outdoor reception, and we wanted to capture the elegance of a traditional English countryside wedding, but suited for the local setting—we were on a hillside in Bataan, after all.


"Another inspiration we looked at was Fernando Amorsolo’s paintings: the kind of idyllic, picturesque life out in the country, so our buffet and banquet spreads were all styled around the idea of harvest time while sourcing local suppliers, most of whom were from Bataan."


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Going with the Filipino theme was also the perfect choice for the entrepreneur couple, especially since they recently launched a business they co-founded—PULO (which stands for Purveyors of Local), a lifestyle store and social enterprise highlighting Filipino produce and artisanal craftsmanship.


"As we have always been passionate about local produce, craftsmanship and artisans, we felt as if the Filipino theme represented us the best. It also so happened that we were kicking PULO off the ground at the time of planning, so everything just fell into place."


Their wedding shone the spotlight on proudly PULO products—from the Filipino-made baskets and furniture pieces that adorned the stage, to the wooden mosaic chargers that served as accents in the tablescape.


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The VIP table featured mosaic chargers from PULO | Photo: COLOVE Studios


In search of destination wedding inspiration? Keep scrolling and score practical tips from bride Sam!


About the couple

How did you and your husband meet?

"Mark and I met one summer at an UPCAT review center 11 years ago. We were classmates in the same section—he was friends with my twin brother first, and we weren’t properly introduced until a few days before our review period ended. We went on one unintentional but magical date in Eastwood, and the rest is history!"


What are your current occupations?

"Mark is an entrepreneur who also does consultancy work. I’m a freelance lifestyle editor and writer. We’ve had various ventures together, and we currently work full-time for PULO, a design brand we helped co-found, which we juggle alongside our individual careers."


What do you enjoy doing together?

"We absolutely love food—that’s the biggest thing we bond over. Mark, in particular, is a great cook with no formal training, so majority of our free time is spent in the kitchen, when we’re not trying a new joint. Together, we’ve also gotten into specialty coffee, cocktails, as well as checking out local farms for some great produce. We also love anything crafted by hand and by imagination, so we love checking out crafts and good design, as well as art and music. We’re also huge dog lovers. We have 4 family dogs: 2 of them live in Pasig City, while the other 2 live in Bataan."


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About the wedding


What was your motif and why did you choose that?

"We wanted a take on a timeless countryside wedding, working with the natural scenery and environment. We decided on garden neutrals and pastels."


How long did you prepare for your wedding day?

"We began preparing a year before the wedding, but because of our busy schedules, there were months where planning had to take a backseat. Half of the time spent in planning is making decisions. When you and your partner know what you want and are making heartfelt decisions from the get-go, planning should generally be a breeze."


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What were the challenges you encountered along the way?

"There were several challenges we encountered while planning the wedding.


"First, although it’s near Manila and has no shortage of its own beautiful sights, Bataan isn’t as well-established as a destination wedding location compared to places like Tagaytay. What should have been a walk in the park (like arranging church requirements and securing the venue) took more time simply because they weren’t used to the grind of constantly receiving weddings.


"On the plus side, we worked with some amazing and flexible local suppliers, many of whom are friends, who delivered beyond expectations as they genuinely wanted to be challenged creatively.


"For example, our caterer, Blue Pepper Catering by Chef Kenneth and Jonnah Tordesillas, agreed to a fully customized menu. So we ditched their pre-set catering menus and collaborated on a wonderful personalized banquet that fully reflected us as a couple. 


"The same goes for Graham’s Artisan Meats, who did our lovely grazing and charcuterie table that was a clear hit. We were just glad to show the kind of talent we had in Bataan.


"Another significant challenge we encountered was with Mark’s suit. On the last week before the big day, Mark’s original tailor abruptly stopped returning our calls and texts. Frantic as Mark was without a suit and shoes just days before the wedding, I sent a plea to Carin Aguas of Masanting Sastreria, who had placed her entire team on deck to accomplish the daunting challenge of putting together a beautiful suit in three days. A suit typically takes about four to five weeks to create, so to have a stunning shawl lapel tuxedo completed in less than a week was practically undoable. Yet Mark ended up wearing such a dashing tux, no one could have suspected that we were completely stressing about this just days before!"


What was the best part in preparing for your wedding? 

"Every moment spent discussing with your suppliers about the possibilities always gave us a rush as well as kilig, but perhaps the best part of planning would have been when we had gone through a huge problem and we were able to troubleshoot it. When we knew that the coast was clear, we just looked at each other and said, 'Grabe, ang galing natin. Throughout all the exhaustion, we were able to take a minute and appreciate what a great team we made, which gave us a glimpse of the marriage we would have ahead of us."


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The Wedding Outfit


Tell us something about your wedding dress.

"Staying true to the Filipino theme, I wanted my bridal look to capture the timeless-meets-contemporary elegance.


"When it came to the dress, there was no one else in my head other than JC Buendia. When my parents had their church wedding in 1996, Tito JC did my mom’s wedding dress and my flower girl dress. It was nice to have that sentimental touch as he did my wedding too.


"In a way, it was our take on an heirloom tradition. Yet regardless of history, there really was no one more fitting. During our first consultation, he sketched my dress mere minutes after I gave him a very vague overview of the wedding I pictured in my head—and it was perfect!


"My dress was in embroidered piña with ruffled lace sleeves and an intricate veil. His mastery of local and indigenous elements, and his penchant for timeless and sophisticated aesthetics rendered him perfect for the wedding. He practically had full rein on the dress, as he added more and made all the right decisions before I could even tell him."


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"For the earrings and hairpiece, I contacted jewelry designer Merriam Batara, whose stunning creations were showcased at Manila FAME. Her jewelry features intricate beadwork, pearls, and shells. For my earrings, she designed these gorgeous drop earrings that featured fabric blooms, baroque pearls and a mixture of silver and gold beadwork. She also did a bespoke design of my hairpiece, set in wirework, to match the earrings.


"For the styling and flowers, we relied on Bataan-based stylist JM Bautista upon recommendation of our dear friend and PULO Creative Director Ana Bernardo, who also stood in as on-the-day coordinator. I told him that I wanted a fresh and elegant bouquet that looked like the flowers were picked straight out of a garden. The blooms consisted of phalaenopsis orchids, casa blanca lilies, Korean roses, carnations, gypsophila, and eucalyptus.


"Finally, our rings were made of stainless steel with a mother of pearl inlay. Mark is allergic to most metals so we couldn’t go for the usual white gold or even the hypoallergenic sterling silver, but the pearl accent was a nice touch that matched the rest of our accessories."


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Tips & Tricks


What is your tip for future brides and grooms who want to have a destination wedding?

"Research on your location before deciding on it. We were particularly lucky with Bataan as I grew up there, but even then, I learned so much about my province that I would probably have never known had we not planned the wedding.


"It’s important to look at logistics: an island may be pretty, but is it feasible for suppliers? Will guests be able to arrive at the location hassle-free? Are there ample overnight accommodations? Is transportation an issue?


"Invest in quality suppliers, especially for important aspects of your wedding such as the venue, food, coordination, photography and videography. This may also include your dress or suit—whichever aspect of the wedding you value the most.


"The saying 'you get what you pay for' remains true. Budget constraints may force you to cut corners, but never underestimate the importance of a good supplier. Big-name and reputable suppliers fetch high rates with good reason: you’re paying for their credibility and reliability, including a consistent work ethic and utmost professionalism. This isn’t to say that only popular suppliers are the best ones. If you are taking chances on a lesser known team, request for a portfolio and team credentials so you can easily gauge the quality of their work. Also, pay attention to how they talk to you, even if it’s just over social media. These interactions can generally give you some idea on how they’re like when you work together. We struck lucky with certain suppliers such as our caterers, bridal, groom and entourage designers, who eased our worries and delivered beyond expectations."


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Details
Number of guests: 250

Date: February 22, 2020—a day before my birthday. Purely coincidental! We wanted to do it on a Saturday, and in February because we wanted to take advantage of the tail-end of cooler weather, and it seemed the month least prone to storms.

Church: St. Josephine Bakhita Parish Church. When we first visited the church exactly a year ago, everything was in scaffolding, there were certain parts that had to be painted, and the flooring hadn’t even been installed yet. The church gave us assurance that everything would be done in time for the wedding, and were kind enough to show the perspectives of how the church would look like in its finished state. I suppose you can say we left everything up to faith!

Reception Venue: Sinagtala Farm in Tala, Orani, Bataan

Priest: Father Zaldy Camposo

Host: Rica Garcia

Wedding Coordinator: We didn’t hire an official coordinating team. PULO Creative Director Ana Bernardo, whom I’ve known since childhood, stood in as on-the-day coordinator along with the rest of the PULO team, Kam Orgasan and Elise Batungbacal.

Photography: COLOVE Studios

Videography: Reel Story Videos

Invitations: PULO Media Designer Kam Orgasan designed the invitations as well as the rest of the artwork and collaterals. Printing was by Ever Engraving.

Wedding Dress: JC Buendia

Bride's After-Party Suit: Arnold Galang

Entourage DesignerArnold Galang

Bride's Hair and Makeup: Bataan-based team Sophistiqué by Yhan Viray

Entourage's Hair and Makeup: Ejay Arangel and Lalaine Dalumpines of Sophistiqué by Yhan Viray

Groom's Suit: Masanting Sastreria

Groom's Shoes: Sapatero Manila

Groom's Grooming:  Matt Lester Babao of Madabarber

Florist:  JM Bautista

Styling Accents: Ana Bernardo, PULO Creative Director who also stood in as OTD coordinator, collaborated with JM Bautista on the styling

Cake: Jennica Ramirez of Mike-Lens Bakeshop in Bataan. This was a custom flavor and design tailored to our specifications! We requested a Mango Cake with Dulce de Leche filling and Swiss Buttercream-Cream Cheese Frosting. It was a certified hit among the guests!

Food and Drinks: Blue Pepper Catering by Chef Kenneth and Jonnah Tordesillas for the main banquet; Graham’s Artisan Meats by Graham and Jan Carncross for the grazing table; Stockport by Anton Miranda for the dips and spreads; Casa Nostra Pizzeria for the Neapolitan pizza station; Geno's Ice Cream for the ice cream cart; Jimmy Munsayac for cocktails

Entertainment: String Fusion (quartet), DJ Roy Maca (after-party)

Giveaways: Abaca crates and caddies from PULO for the sponsors; handmade soaps by Gigi Javier of Soap Kitchen and mini buri totes from PULO for the guests


Photographs by COLOVE Studios