My best friend’s wedding

By: Radel Paredes February 13,2016 - 10:15 PM


June is still far away but already weddings are becoming the topic at the faculty room in the university. A colleague just renewed her vows with her husband as they celebrated their 25th anniversary with a full entourage at a church and an “en grande” reception while another one is about to tie the knot for the first time, which got us all hoping it will also be her last.

This was how I learned that  you now have to spend somewhere between P75,000 to P100,000 to get a “hassle-free” wedding package that includes the bridal car, reception and the couple’s one-night stay at the hotel. And this is still even a budget deal fit for those who want to be practical about it.

I had my own wedding reception at that same hotel, by the way. Although, I don’t remember if we got the package. I wasn’t really so hands-on at that time as I was advised to just let bride take charge.

Perhaps, I had other things in mind. Actually, if we had our way, we would have wanted our wedding to be in the middle of a ricefield, exactly like that of my high school best friend who lived in a small farming village near Surigao City.

My friend Max is a son of an ordinary farmer. Their house is built on their small farm, which is just one among many in the vast ricefield, the community’s main source of income. And just a short walk away from Max’s house, in the middle of the ricefield, is the barrio’s small chapel, a humble wood and tin semi-open structure.

Max married only a few months ahead of me to a girl who also studied at the same university here in Cebu that  my wife and I attended. When he learned that I was in town with my soon-to-be wife, he invited us to come over to his wedding.

We took the early morning ride on a jeepney from Surigao City so as not to miss the wedding mass. It was only less than an hour’s ride but you had to pass through narrow unpaved roads on rolling hills and over a rickety wooden bridge that made us pray it wouldn’t give way to the weight of our overloaded vehicle.

We reached the village just in time when the entourage and guests were about to march across the rice paddies towards the chapel. It was a breathtaking sight, very cinematic: The groom and bride leading the group in single file as we marched slowly to the chapel in the vast verdant ricefield.

The colorful scarecrows and the banderetas or buntings made of recycled plastic bags used by farmers to ward off birds fluttered in the breeze as we passed by. We broke the silence of the field with our light banter, all happy chatter about the bride and groom.

Max’s relatives had decorated the chapel with real flowers and crepe paper ribbons. The poor farmers came in their best clothes, which were still really modest. But the local policeman came in full battle gear. It was a bit surreal, almost like a painting by Frida Kahlo.

It was a short ceremony with the parish priest cracking jokes and teasing the couple, who he knew personally. The children’s choir provided music as usual.

After the mass, at exactly lunchtime, we just all walked back to Max’s house, where a big table laden with lechon and other usual fiesta viands awaited us. It was a simple, yet intimate luncheon party, with everyone hearing the conversation. The priest, the guest of honor, continued cracking jokes and teasing the newlyweds. My wife and I sat across the policeman who placed his rifle on the table almost pointing to me.

After a few swigs of beer, we bade farewell to the bride and groom and went back to the city. Yet, the memory of that wedding stuck. It was just so beautiful, so poetic to forget.

In most ordinary weddings, people throw rice at the bride and groom as they emerge from the church, signifying wishes of a fruitful and bountiful marriage. We did not have to do that to my friend and his bride. What could be a better metaphor that to have a wedding right in the middle of a ricefield!

I was envious and thought of a similar wedding for myself. But instead of scarecrows and buntings, I wanted to install my own version of the colorful Maranao wedding flags in the ricefield along the trail to the church. That was how I imagined my own wedding.

But then things got in the way. Our parish priest here in Cebu discouraged us from having the  ceremony outside our parish. And then we had to consider my in-laws who would have to travel to Surigao. Some people just had to be in the guest list, and it kept on  piling up. We realized we couldn’t really have everything our way.

But that’s life, anyway. We can’t always decide for ourselves without thinking of how it might affect others. A wedding is not just a couple’s special moment, it’s an important event for the whole families of both the bride and groom. That is because we get married not just to our spouse but to his or her family as well.

And so today, my fellow faculty talk about the perfect wedding. For them it’s mostly about getting the right wedding planner, choosing a hotel or designer to do the gown and suit. Then there’s the expensive pre-nup pictorials weeks before the wedding.

My friend Max and his wife didn’t even have to worry about all that. But for me, he had the perfect wedding.

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