When we returned in the middle of 2008, Mindel was in a serious relationship with Steve. Everybody kept wondering when they would finally get married. Well, December 22, 2009, it finally happened in Baguio.
Since we offered to take pictures for their wedding, we wanted to be there a little early to get a few pictures of last minute preparations. We expected that, although it was scheduled to start at 8:30 am, it would probably begin sometime after that. When we showed up at 8:15, neither the bride nor the groom had arrived. The first of the flower girls walked down the aisle about 9:45 am. It was nearly 10 am when the bride came down the aisle.
This was the first wedding we have attended in the Philippines. There were some interesting traditions in the wedding ceremony that we were not familiar with. The most distinct from western weddings is the large number of roles that are part of a wedding here. Not only are there the groomsmen and bridesmaids, there are also a number of sponsors. The Primary Sponsors serve as mentors for the couple and assist with resources for the wedding ceremony. At this wedding, there were 32 Primary Sponsors. Secondary Sponsors have varied responsibilities within the ceremony. Two prominent roles for Secondary Sponsors are the Veil Sponsors and the Cord Sponsors. Additionally, there are the Bible Bearer, Ring Bearer, and Treasure Bearer.
After the groom seated his parents, each of the sponsors was called by name and ushered to their places. The Primary Sponsors were seated in the front pews while the Secondary Sponsors, bridesmaids, and groomsmen all lined the center aisle until just before the entry of the bride with her father and grandmother. (Her mother has already passed away.)
Mindel looked beautiful as she was walked down the aisle by her father and grandmother.
As she came down the aisle, Steve sang a song for her from the stage. Our girls all found this incredibly romantic.
Two traditions that are not normally part of a western wedding are the veil and cord ceremonies. In the veil ceremony, the Veil Sponsors drape a veil (separate from the bride's veil) over the shoulders of the groom and head of the bride. This is meant to symbolize his authority over her and his responsibility to provide for her and protect her. In the cord ceremony, the Cord Sponsors drape a cord over the couples shoulders to symbolize their unity.
One thing I appreciated about the wedding service is that most of the time the couple was seated at a table on stage, facing the audience. It was nice to see their faces and expressions rather than staring at their backs, especially as the service was over 2 hours long.
Another part of the service was when the pastor called all of the Primary Sponsors forward to pray over Steve and Mindel.
Of course, there were many aspects of the service that were familiar such as the exchange of vows and rings and the lighting of the unity candle.
After the wedding service, the MC announced a sequence of photo opportunities that was listed in the wedding program. Different groups of people would be called forward to pose with the couple and whoever wanted to take a picture would come forward and snap away. In order to get photos without a bunch of other cameras or the heads of their operators in them, I ended up standing on a pew off to the side.
Outside, a meal was prepared and served under a canopy. Steve and Mindel sat at a table where family and friends waited in line to wish them well and give them wedding presents. Steve and Mindel greeted people and gave out wooden spoons to all who came through the line.
After lunch there was going to be further celebration with dancing and gongs. But we had already made reservations for the night at a place on the coast and we needed to catch a bus.