By Alex Y. Vergara
Images by Ali Vicoy, Camille Ante and Manny Llanes
Gown by Kat Corpuz
Gown by Rafael Gonzalez
Gown by Khai Villanueva
Gown by Catherine Cavilte
Gown by Kat Corpuz
Allen Lim and Kristell Ong-Lim
Gown by Khai Villanueva
The Manila Bulletin head of sales Arman Cabrera with soon-to-wed couple Jin Perez and Jerome Go
From left: Arsi Baltazar, Victor Harry, Kitten Zapata, Francis Libiran, and Christian Mark Jacobs
Suit by Pat Santos
Gown by Rafael Gonzalez
Kat Corpuz and her muses for Tadhana 2017
THE MODERN BRIDE From left: Kat Corpus, Nat Manilag, Nat Manilag
Wedding Essentials Magazine, the country’s leading authority on anything and everything about weddings, marked its 13th anniversary with Tadhana, a wedding fair, which culminated in a bridal fashion show, at The Manila Hotel’s Tent City recently.
Now on its third year, Tadhana is an annual collaboration between the wedding industry’s bible and one of the country’s most prestigious and preferred hotels and events venues. That it has grown into a two-day event this year proves the belief of Wedding Essentials’ editor in chief that the country’s wedding business is alive and well.
“As long as there are young men and women who believe in weddings, the industry isn’t going to die anytime soon,” said Kitten Zapata. “Weddings have always been part of Filipino culture. The reason, for instance, that gown and tuxedo rentals haven’t really taken off in this country compared to, say, the US is the fact that Filipino couples really prepare for their weddings.”
No matter their stations in life, they try their best to put their stamp and make their personalities show during such a special day. And that means saving up or even sparing no expense on a wedding gown and tux or pants and barong they could call their own.
This also accounts for Wedding Essentials’ growth and longevity in the fickle and highly competitive publishing business. More than providing future couples and wedding industry practitioners with interesting reads, trends, and aspirational ideas and images, the magazine is essentially a doable guide on how couples can go about planning their respective weddings.
“There’s something for almost every couple in Wedding Essentials—from simple, do-it-yourself weddings to grand weddings that turn into aspirational ideas for other couples planning their own weddings and receptions,” said Zapata.
Top models and celebrities, including actresses and beauty queens of the day, as cover girls will always be staples in Wedding Essentials. But at the same time, as its recent landmark Oct 2017 issue showed, it also has its pulse on its readers. Weddings, after all, are all about real people other real-life couples could readily identify with. It’s because of them that the magazine exists.
The said issue, apart from featuring Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza on the “official” cover, featured the visages of 35 real-life couples on their weddings day.
“We asked some of the country’s leading wedding photographers and coordinators to submit wedding-day photos of real couples they’ve worked with from December 2016 to June 2017,” said Zapata. “We screened the pictures and trimmed the number down to 35.”
These 35 couples and their stories (one couple, for instance, did a Cinderella-themed wedding) each made it on the cover of the magazine’s October issue. In short, the issue had 36 covers, including the regular one featuring Versoza.
Couples (or their parents) could preorder a particular number of the said issue with them on the cover and inside pages. Fifteen of the 35 couples, including a father and his tween daughter, graced Tadhana and even sat on the front row during the fashion show.
“Apart from keeping copies of the issue with them on the cover, it became the couples’ additional giveaway to their friends and loved ones,” said Zapata.
Since it was more a showcase of possibilities than a venue for trade, the recent Tadhana, like its two earlier editions, said Zapata, was an exhibit and not a bridal fair showcasing various table settings by some of the country’s top events stylists such as Zenas Pineda, Teddy Manuel, Joyce Aguilar, Mike Ruiz, Scenta Creations, and Spruce Floral Designs, among others.
“As I’ve seen over the years, events stylists aren’t limited to playing with just flowers anymore,” said Zapata. “They’ve ventured further by mixing and matching colors and various objects. For me, that’s an evolution. Like the rest of the wedding industry, event styling has remained impervious to the ups and downs of the economy.”
Manuel, for instance, made pineapples—both real but painted in gold and faux made of glass—and not flowers as the focal point of his Filipiniana-themed tablescape.
Manuel then turned dried cornhusks into huge petals, limiting the real flowers consisting of white orchids on tall flute vases. He also incorporated the setup with a few pineapple-shaped silver-glazed vases sourced from the home section of a high-street brand.
“Instead of the usual capiz shells, using gold-painted pineapples is a new take on the Filipiniana theme,” said Manuel.
Aguilar, on the other hand, gave almost equal importance to rows of white orchids alongside clear votive candleholders. She wanted to achieve, she said, a “clean look” that was at the same time impactful because of the number of lit candles and the stark uniformity of white blooms.
Even The Manila Hotel had its own table arrangement, which added to the evening’s variety, elegance, and eye candy. Tadhana also featured a number of hair, makeup, and grooming establishments as well as bridal photographers.
Like in previous editions of Tadhana, the main event was a fashion show featuring bridal gowns and tuxedos of six young designers such as Catherine Cavilte, Kat Corpus, Khai Villanueva, Nat Manilag, Rafael Louis Gonzalez, and Yeye Pantaleon. Senior designer Pat Santos earned the honor of being the evening’s finale.
Guided by the theme “modern Filipiniana,” each designer with the exception of Santos, who did 14 looks, did seven looks each. Using all sorts of materials, from lace and chiffon to satin and tulle, many of the designers also upped their collection’s bling factor with shiny beadwork on bridal gowns fit more for evening.
The designers also gave would-be brides more options not only in terms of silhouettes and embellishments, but also in terms of colors. A number of designers, for instance, showed gowns in such colors as blush and even dove gray.
“For me, modern Filipiniana is a bolder take on the classic theme Filipiniana,” said Zapata. “It reflects the mindset of most brides today. A growing number of brides, for instance, are no longer confined to just wearing white. They’re also more open and willing to go out of the box in terms of silhouettes and materials.”
New ways of doing things through reinterpretation, the use of new materials and techniques, and the deliberate breaking of rules and traditions are to be expected in a flourishing and dynamic industry like wedding.
“It’s amazing how weddings in the Philippines have evolved and continues to evolve,” said Zapata. “Because of our love for weddings, I believe the wedding industry will continue to thrive in the years and decades to come.”