Successful weddings require a lot of work and no one knows this more than wedding planner Kutchie Zaldarriaga of Getting Married Philippines. She successfully orchestrated the Manila reception of newly married couple Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero and actress Heart Evangelista at Blue Leaf Filipinas, Parañaque.
I was impressed with how smoothly everything flowed despite the huge number of guests. This prompted me to approach Kutchie to ask how she managed to do it all while looking cool as a cucumber.
“My job was to orchestrate all the details of the day,” she explained, “to make sure it’s a smooth ride for everyone, most especially the couple.”
From a list that Kutchie submitted, Chiz and Heart picked Bizu to be the caterer. They based their decision on how Bizu set the table during the food tasting, as well as the cutlery used and the tenderness of the steak served.
Audrey Tanco Uy, Bizu private catering manager, said it was easy working with the bride. “Heart wanted to be sure that the food is delicious. She also wanted the food to look beautiful. Presentation was as important to her as the taste.”
As for Chiz, Audrey recalled: “He worked on his wedding possibly the same way that he works in the Senate. He was very quick in asking questions about the catering flow. I was constantly on my toes. He said Heart had an image of her dream wedding, which we tried to approximate as best we can.”
The challenge was to keep the affair as orderly as possible. The main hall could accommodate only 750, so the rest of the guests were seated in different areas and function rooms.
Bizu had the gargantuan task of simultaneously serving 300 plated meals and buffet-style setups for 800.
“Senator Chiz did not want long lines so we had to be very strategic with the number of buffet stations,” Uy said. “For the plated menu, we were given only one hour to serve the four-course meal because we had to be finished by the time the wedding concert began.”
This was the menu at Chiz and Heart’s Bay Leaf reception:
Appetizer—Duo of Deep-Fried, Soft-Shell Crab with Garlic Nori Aioli and Smoked Salmon Terrine with Chive Cream with Black Caviar, Mangoes and Mandarin Oranges, Tossed with Mesclun with Citrus Vinaigrette
Soup—Zucchini Pistou Soup
Main course—Duo of USDA Beef Tenderloin Medallion with Truffle Butter, Onion Rings and Red Wine Demiglace; and Poached Seabass in Dill Beurre Blanc and Vermouth Emulsion with Black Caviar on a Bed of Potato Puree and Grilled Vegetable Ribbons
Dessert—Strawberry Shortcake Trifle; Nirvana; Macaron de Paris
The food was impressive, given the magnitude of the affair. It tasted clean, straight out of the pan, seasoned well and at the proper temperature. What was meant to be served cold was served cold, and hot dishes were hot.
Heart also wanted something different, a chandelier cake. Although Kutchie pointed out that the bride is not the first one to have it, Heart wasn’t bothered at all.
The go-to person for such a special cake is Emily Uy Swing of Sugar Box. She specializes in chandelier cakes— with rotating elements and lights.
I heard that the initial design was rejected because it was too opulent. Heart wanted had something simple, modern, yet still elegant.
Emily went on to make a trio of chandelier cake—lit with 28 bulbs and decorated with acrylic beads, rhinestone belts and cake jewelry accessories.
“The couple wanted a clean look, so no other colors were used except for white and silver,” said Emily. “The bride gave me all the freedom to create my own design for her. The flavor they chose was carrot walnut.”
Emily added that she “will never forget this project because, unexpectedly, my cakes drew a lot of attention and became one of the highlights of the event. Our main goal was just to make the couple happy.”
For the flowers, Heart chose Badang Rueda. He created a “Wonderland” design that followed the bride’s wedding mantra—white, classic, simple, elegant.
But Badang wanted to fuse glamour for balance; he combined crystal garlands with flowers, shaping them into what looked like little canopies. He also used crystal candelabras.
What was most difficult about planning the reception?
Chiz said it was the pagtawad (asking for discounts in the services and supplies) and “time and motion study” to ensure that everything would flow smoothly.
Asked to give advice to couples, Badang said, “If you want to get married with lots flowers, don’t do it during the peak season of September to February. March until August is a good time.”
Kutchie had her own set of pointers for wedding receptions:
Date: Better on a weekend to ensure good attendance.
Venue: Consider location and distance from the church to the reception. It should be convenient for the guests.
If it is a garden wedding, there should be a plan B, a contingency.
Number of guests: As determined by the budget. Find a good caterer. Best to serve cocktails at the onset, then move on to dinner with a varied selection. Do not forget the drinks!
Kutchie had more tips for those who want a “beautiful yet economical wedding reception”:
Stick to a theme that has readily available materials in the market.
Book a venue that requires minimal styling.
Book a caterer with loaded package inclusions.
Make the reception program meaningful and significant by adding your personal inputs, like performing at your own wedding rather than hiring talents.
Keep things simple but elegant and tasteful.
What makes a perfect wedding reception?
Kutchie: “The couple themselves must be very active in reaching out to the guests. It is important that the guests feel very welcome.
“There should be great food, music and reception program.
“A good team of wedding suppliers with the common goal of making it a smooth ride for everyone.
“Hire the best professional suppliers, those with a lot of passion in their hearts. You can see that in the output of their work.”
You may want to watch the special TV coverage of the Chiz-Heart nuptials on March 1 and March 8 at 10 p.m. on GMA 7.
Call Kutchie Zaldarriaga, wedding planner, at 0917-5949172; visit www.gettingmarriedphils.com.