Latest Stories

Is the Philippines the next top destination wedding venue?

It’s entirely possible, says Yanni Tzoumas, editorial director and publisher of respected publication Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, who was in town recently to see what Filipino wedding stylists have to offer


DESTINATION weddings, like this one, have other activities lined up for guests, as such events can last from three to five days. PHOTOS FROM GRACE ORMONDE WEDDING STYLE’S FACEBOOK PAGE

The Philippines is poised to become a venue for destination weddings. No less than American Yanni Tzoumas, editorial director and publisher of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, made this assessment after recent visits to Manila and Cebu.

Upon the invitation of leading wedding and events planner Rita Neri, whose company is celebrating its 20th year in the business, Tzoumas and his photographer did a series of pictorials featuring the works of three of the country’s leading events stylists, such as Robert Blancaflor, Jing Tañada and Zenas Pineda.

The images, including a number of food and venue shots, will come out exclusively in the magazine’s January 2014 issue. Tzoumas is married to Ormonde, founder and editor in chief of her self-named magazine, which is considered by industry practitioners like Neri as the “bible” on anything and everything about chic, high-end weddings.

AN IDEAL tabletop isn’t about conforming within norms.Whatever look the couple chooses, it should exude good taste.

Shangri-La Mactan and Shangri-La Makati hosted Tzoumas and his photographer during their 10-day stay in the Philippines. Neri planned and coordinated their photo shoots, including trips to other leading wedding venues within Metro Manila and Tagaytay.

“It’s my first time to be here,” said Tzoumas. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s clearly infrastructure in terms of getting to and from the Philippines. I’ve seen some of the venues, and I think whoever comes here to the Philippines will benefit from the heightened level of service and hospitality.”

Tzoumas likened the service he experienced to a “well-oiled” machine. Staffers in the two five-star hotels he stayed in, for instance, were attentive, but their brand of service was far from intrusive.

“They’re not over your head all the time,” he said. “There’s a sense of them observing you from afar, and when they see you, say, fiddling with something or in need of anything, they’re there.”

LEADING wedding planner Rita Neri (center) with Emily Belmonte and Nerissa Neri. ALANAH TORRALBA

Based on the limited number of venues he visited, he was impressed by the country’s natural beauty and rich heritage. His impressions were further bolstered after he watched a travel video produced by the Department of Tourism.

Although he attended a grand, 850-guest wedding in Cebu upon the invitation of a Filipino friend (the couple’s uncle), Tzoumas had yet to grace a real “destination wedding” to fully articulate his Philippine experience.

“That was different,” he said, referring to the Cebu wedding he went to. “It was more of a local wedding since the couple and their parents are from here. Their uncle, who’s my neighbor, lives in the States.”


YANNI Tzoumas, editorial director and publisher of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style. ALANAH TORRALBA

In Tzoumas’ book, destination weddings have gained popularity, at least in the US, in the last eight to 10 years. It’s an alternative, really, to staging one’s wedding where either the bride or groom and their immediate families reside. A destination wedding is definitely for more adventurous couples for whom money isn’t an issue.

Ideally, it should be a location that appeals to both parties. It may not be out of the country, as some couples in the US—based in Chicago, for example—stage their weddings in Florida, California or Hawaii.

Mexico, the Caribbean, and certain towns and cities in Europe have also proven to be popular among Americans thinking of tying the knot abroad.

“The idea behind a destination wedding is to pick an ideal location because the event could last up to four to five days,” he said. “To make their trips worthwhile, guests arrive days earlier, so there should be other activities to entertain them such as golf, tennis, sailing.”

Typically, guests are welcomed in their rooms with gift baskets, which include a list of suggested activities. Unlike a regular wedding, a destination wedding is usually smaller and more intimate in scale.

Apart from the exotic venue, what makes it special is the attendance of guests dear to the couple. After all, it’s no joke, especially in the US, to travel to a far-off, exotic destination just to attend a wedding. These guests must really love the couple for them to go out of their way and share in their celebration.

THIS destination wedding somewhere in North America can be replicated in the Philippines, says Yanni Tzoumas, as the country has plenty of scenic venues run by highly trained personnel. FROM GRACE ORMONDE WEDDING STYLE’S FACEBOOK PAGE

“In most cases, everything will be paid for by the couple,” said Tzoumas. “Usually, guests would just pay for their transportation.”

Neri first invited Tzoumas and Ormonde several years ago when the couple were doing a book tour to promote their coffee-table book on weddings. The trip didn’t pan out, but the couple kept Neri in mind.

When the opportunity did come earlier this year, Tzoumas e-mailed Neri to tell her that he was attending a wedding in Cebu. He also requested her to coordinate photo opportunities, as he was interested in featuring new and inventive ways to create tabletops or table settings as interpreted by Filipino talents.

“Asking Rita to collaborate with us wasn’t a leap in the dark,” said Tzoumas. “Although we haven’t met each other personally prior to this trip, I’ve seen her works online, and they’re high-caliber projects.”

Neri invited Blancaflor and company to participate. Knowing how influential Grace Ormonde Wedding Style is, the three events stylists didn’t think twice about accepting the invitation.

YANNI Tzoumas and wife Grace Ormonde, founder and editor in chief of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style

“We gave them free rein to do whatever they want,” said Neri. “I only requested that they submit either sketches or pictures before the actual photo shoot to give me an idea of what they intend to do. It was done mainly to avoid duplication.”

Pleasantly surprised


The events stylists were originally set to do a table setting each, but they all ended up doing two. Tzoumas was pleasantly surprised at the level of sophistication and creativity each artist brought, well, to the table. (Images and details of the tabletops have been embargoed until the magazine’s January 2014 issue hits newsstands.)

Tzoumas didn’t know what to expect, but having featured hundreds of tabletops before, he wanted to see arrangements that exude “elegance with a touch of the avant-garde.”

AFTER the bride finds the right wedding gown, the couple now focuses on food, venue, reception.

“I was hoping we would see a good fit for the magazine, something our readers would appreciate,” he said. “It’s not about conforming with the norms, but staying within good taste. I think we reach interesting levels when we surpass the norms. It’s about thinking outside the box.”

DESTINATION weddings have grown in popularity in the US during the last eight to 10 years.

And he got what he wanted, as every tabletop he encountered had a different feel and character. Blancaflor, for instance, did away with the table linen in lieu of a wire mesh filled with dangling white flowers.

“Doing away with linen has been done before,” said Tzoumas, “but the overall effect of Robert’s tabletop was totally new, totally fresh. For his second arrangement, he went grandiose with red flowers.”

Pineda incorporated t’nalak, a fabric woven by tribes in southern Philippines, for an exotic touch. Tañada outfitted a table that formed the figure “8.”

“It was such an inviting arrangement because you can see each other,” Tzoumas said, referring to Tañada’s handiwork. “And with all those dangling crystals she decorated the ceiling with, you’re instantly transported to a whimsical garden.”

After the bride finds the ideal wedding gown, said Tzoumas, the couple now focuses on the food and venue and all the minute details that go with it. They want everything to be special, since it’s their first time to host guests from both sides and tell them “what they’re all about.” Going for a destination wedding in the Philippines could very well be the ideal statement they’re looking for.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Grace Ormonde Wedding Style , Lifestyle , Philippines , Weddings

  • disqus_ZrxaGjUzMQ

    Philippine Wedding the best — Palawan com

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  6. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  7. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  8. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  9. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Celebrating Easter and creativity in New York
  • Man wins half marathon, dies in Argentina
  • Clouds to bring slight relief from summer heat
  • Canadians rally to legalize marijuana
  • S. Korea ferry transcript reveals evacuation panic
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit