The first beach wedding I attended took place on Sunday, May 25, 2008, at the breathtaking Isla Malipano, a short boat ride from The Pearl Farm Resort. Isla Malipano is the “luxury island” of The Pearl Farm, hosting the resort’s luxurious villas, and is a 10-minute boat ride from the Pearl Farm “mainland” on Samal Island.
The couple, Ben a young and renowned Photographer in Davao City, and Arden of the Lim Family of Toril and a photography enthusiast herself, made the wonderful choice of holding their vow reaffirmation at the picturesque tropical island. Having been wed first in February 2008, the couple renewed their vows in a grand wedding ceremony I have previously seen only in movies.
The wedding took place at the island’s bermuda helipad, replete with a tulle-clad altar shed that had dangling lanterns and crystal embellisments. Sprays of yellow orchids and red composite flowers with brown vine and verdant leaf accents adorned the altar shed as well as the petal-carpeted aisle. The entourage, sponsors and guests witnessed the wonderfully solemn event seated in clothed chairs, which came equipped with complimentary buri fans. The outdoor spectacle unfolded slowly and beautifully with the lovely vocals of Voice Box, a group composed of Ateneo glee club members, serenading the congregation as the afternoon sun approached Davao’s horizon.
The groom, Benjamin Young III, unleashed his movie star appeal in a beige coat over a white undershirt, beige pants, amber-toned Burberry shades and leather sandals. His bride, the beautiful Arden Lim, looked immaculate in her flowing white tube dress sprinkled with crystals and capped by a fluid veil that tailed a meter or so behind her on the petal-covered ground.
After the classic Kiss that concludes every wedding ceremony, everyone headed to the reception area just a short walk from the helipad. Set on the white sand beach of Malipano within view from the island’s villas, the “party area” hosted a tulle-festooned gazebo for the couple adorned with dangling crystals and the familiar yellow-and-red flower ensemble on its crest and on the surrounding sand. Overhead throughout the place were pendant spherical Japanese lanterns set on wires, and elsewhere were capiz lamps set on bamboo poles. The guests’ and sponsors’ tables were covered with white cloth then topped by shimmering organza and lit by yellow bulbs from underneath. All tables were decorated with centerpieces of yellow orchids, red composites, roses, and woody vines, aptly interspersed with seashells, sand and white pebbles. The very long banquet table, as well as the wet bar and serving stations, were covered in white cloth and decorated with tropical flowers, and lighted from above by capiz lanterns on bamboo poles. The table bearing the three-tiered fondant cake sported a pleated gold cloth. Apart from flaming torches, flags and banners, the dancing lights, multi-colored spotlights and two huge projector screens added visual oomph and pizzazz to the seaside affair.
The food was splendid and abundant, pushed down by a variety of sparkling wines, Blue Label whiskey, soda, and fruit juices. During the banquet and throughout the program, the wonderful vocals by the group Voice Box intoned familiar love tunes, alternating with lively beats by a hired drum ensemble mixing percussions with techno and trance. The bride awed everyone with her beautiful voice when she sang for her husband during the program. I learned later from Mr. Jeremie Sarmiento of Voice Box that Arden was a compatriot of his in the Ateneo Glee Club. The party reached a fitting climax with a glorious display of fireworks.
The festivities rolled deep into the night, with nary a raindrop falling from the clear sky. The techno-and-percussion numbers by the “band of drummers” heightened in an effort to rouse the beach people into a dance frenzy. I found myself dancing with my sister and cousin, as well as with the Best Man, Mr. Leo Geraldo, and my “kulit” nephew, Boogs. A few flutes of Chamdor and a shot-and-a-half of Blue Label later, I was a little woozy but carried on with my “subdued” dancing style.
At around 10 PM, Realizing that most of the guests have departed for Davao City, or to their nests in “mainland” Pearl Farm, I signaled to Leo that it was probably time to call it a night. I was a little hesitant, though, because the “band of drummers” was still at the beating. Anyway, we approached the groom, Ben, near the bar to bid our farewell before I retire to my family’s villa and Leo to his casita in Pearl Farm. To our delight, Ben handed over a shining bottle of Blue Label and two cans of coca-cola, which we more than willingly accepted. We headed to Villa No. 6 and emptied our loot with some help from my dad and my brother. Leo then bade good night after summoning the 24-hour boat service that would take him back to Pearl Farm.
My first beach wedding was made for the movies, and that lasting impression etched on me as a sort of standard that all beach weddings after it will have to measure up against. This one would be tough to beat. Congratulations, Ben and Arden!