One Saturday afternoon on Siargao Island, by the water and under a perfectly blue sky, Monica Fernan Villarica and Timothy Paul Trias Cusi said their I dos. In fact, it was the second time the couple exchanged vows in the last two hours.
Before the Christian ceremony by the shoreline of Isla Cabana Resort, there was the Catholic wedding mass in Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish earlier in the day.
“We wanted to show respect to our families and the respective religions we grew up with,” the couple said.
Tim is the third son of Luis and Tess Cusi, while Monica is the youngest daughter of Rene and Marget Villarica.
It was a day so perfect that it felt like it was on special order from above. There was not a rain cloud in sight, and there was just enough of a sea breeze to sway the coconut trees and keep the guests cool. The sky that was blue at the start of the ceremony would later turn all shades of pink and purple, and the sunset came right on cue for pictures at the end.
If anyone had wondered why a couple would choose to get married on an island with a still-fledgling wedding industry, that one picture-perfect scene should be all the answer they needed.
To the couple, though, it was an easy choice to make. Monica said, “I always wanted to have a destination wedding, and I found out that Tim had the same sentiments. We both agreed that it would have to be on an island because we both love the water. He finds Siargao special because he loves to go fishing there. Siargao became special to me because that’s where he proposed.”
Tim, 31, owns Cebu Arowana Imports, a direct importer of Asian Arowana, among other rare types of fish. He frequents the fishing village of Pilar, and counts fishing as his favorite thing to do in Siargao.
Monica also had her list of favorites to recommend to wedding guests. “My favorite places to stay would have to be Sandy Feet and Isla Cabana, where our wedding ceremony and reception were held. Harana and Kermit have great food, and I would recommend My Siargao Guide for a boating trip.”
Monica, 27, is a ballet and contemporary dance teacher at the Cebu Centre for Dance, so it was only fitting that she wore a gown that reflected her love for movement. “A tropical ballerina” was how the designer, Arcy Gayatin, described Monica’s gown, made of a neoprene body suit layered under a tulle skirt with handmade floral appliqués that mimicked frangipani flowers.
For the after-party by the beach, Monica traded in her skirt for a pair of shorts, an effortless move that only a 20-something with a dancer’s body can probably pull off.
It was a gesture that embodied both the bride and the groom’s easy personalities, the kind that made them such a perfect match for Siargao’s laid-back island vibe. A destination wedding here is not for the Type A groomzilla and bridezilla types.
When asked what advice they would give couples planning a wedding in Siargao, Monica says, “A lot of patience. You can’t expect service to be similar to Cebu or other big cities. It may take you months to find a cake supplier and hairstylist for your wedding. Don’t stress about it, though, and just enjoy the island and its simple pleasures. Everything will fall into place eventually.
“On the days leading up to the wedding, people were expecting we’d both be stressed out, but it was quite the opposite. We were both just really enjoying the water and the company of our families and friends.”