Happy Anniversary Enzo and Carmina! They are expecting their first baby soon! I'm sharing with you a blog post from my brother about that special day. – Anton

Destination Wedding Tagaytay – Lessons and Tips On How to Make Your Day Special
By Enzo Diaz

Readers of OAP are privy to the little experiment I had two years ago. I went to a regression session. See the article here: a Frances Gloria Regression Experience . My brother Anton gave me a surprise experiential Christmas gift– that of having a regression session with Frances Gloria. Part of the experience is supposedly taking a peek into the future. Based on the notes from Frances, the name of my future wife is supposed to be “Carly”. We are supposed to be married in some vineyard setting and the date is September 14th, 2007. The honeymoon will be at some mountain retreat in some foreign country.

My date in the altar came on October 28 2007 (date is off by 44 days). I got married to Carmina (first syllable is correct though). I got married in Caleruega, a chapel on top of a hill in Tagaytay (not really a vineyard) and we had our honeymoon in a beach resort at El Nido, Palawan (really far from the predicted mountain retreat in some foreign land).

Lesson: Don’t ever believe in hula, predictions and pre-destinations.

In this blog entry, I will share with you our experiences in setting up what I consider a destination wedding. Being based in Los Angeles, making it happen 8,000 miles away is a real project management challenge. I hope I will be able to add value to other couples out there who are based outside the Philippines and want to get hitched in their home country. We hope that by sharing our hindsight views and experiences with our vendors/ suppliers, you will be able to make your day awesome and memorable.

On Setting the Date

The date of the wedding is usually the first thing that the couple will decide on. There are different methods by which couples decide on “the” day. Some people like to be guided by feng-shui. Others take their cue from availability of suppliers, priests or church or reception area. For some, they probably take into consideration the low seasonality for travel since this will be easy on the couple and their guests to make travel arrangements – and this is exactly what we prioritized. We decided on October precisely because of this reason. Air ticket to Manila is only $800.00 per person roundtrip as opposed to more than a thousand if it is near Christmas. We ended up having it on 28th due to the availability of Caleruega.

We set this date hoping that we will not be rained on. But nature and the Almighty decided to shower us with a lot of blessings.

Lesson: The weather could spell a big difference on how your day will be remembered.

On Choosing the Church

Being a photographer myself, my primary consideration in choosing the church is its sheer beauty and the photogenic images it will render. There are a lot of good looking churches in Manila but for me nothing beats Calereuga. Its size is just right for 200 of your guest to easily fill up the pews.

We also tried to be unique and get something off the beaten track but we didn’t find any church that would satisfy our criteria. Aside from this, we had a great time here during the wedding of Anton and Rache. Akin to starting a family tradition, we decided to make it all happen here.

On choosing Caleruega, there’s one thing that we didn’t count on. Tagaytay is considered “out of town”. Our suppliers added traveling fees ranging from 10% to 50% of their normal.

Lesson: Be prepared for out of town costs, for this could affect your budget.


On Selecting the Reception Venue

After selecting the church, the next thing you need to nail is deciding on the reception venue. Of all the decisions that we made, the reception venue selection proved to be an ordeal by itself. The reception usually commands the biggest part of the budget so you want to get it right.

There are a lot of reception venues in Tagaytay. You have a wide variety of choices that range from restaurants to club houses. When we decided on our venue, our primary consideration is uniqueness…meaning it is not yet gasgas as far as usage is concerned. We wanted something that was less photographed and less popular yet will still deliver.

When we were selecting the venue, we trimmed the list down to these four sites:

  1. Balai Taal
  2. Antonio’s
  3. Hacienda Isabelle
  4. Ville Sommet

We decided to go for Balai Taal due to that pioneering feeling that we were one of the first few people to have a reception party there. When we were researching for wedding photos in Balai Taal in the Internet, we were only able to find a couple. This was a solid sign to us that the place was relatively undiscovered. We learned that that there was only one wedding held here in 2005. In 2006, there were only six. For 2007, they were set to hit 18 weddings by year end.

Another reason why we went for Balai Taal is the theme and motif of our wedding. We threaded our wedding with the Verdant Leaf theme. Nothing comes close to Balai Taal in providing a good fit to our wedding concept. For photos and articles related to what’s in Balai Taal, see previous entry here: Balai Taal, Tagaytay

Antonio’s recent renovation and expansion made it an ideal venue for weddings. The food here there is hailed as the best in all Tagaytay bar none. Only problem with this site is that the tables are spread across different floors. You will not have that “intimacy” since guests are spread out. On top of that, you will have to really limit your guest since it can accommodate only up to 150 to 160 guests. See article here: Antonio's Tagaytay, Still the Best and Nothing Beats an Antonio's Dinner @ Tagaytay .

Another unique reception area is the Ledesma’s Hacienda Isabelle. This was originally a private Tagaytay retreat that recently opened its doors to the public as a dining place (by reservation only) It is a place of character in its own. We didn’t go with them because they only allow food served by their chef. We figured that if we factor in the food, we are better off going with Antonio’s. See article here: Ville Sommet, Tagaytay

Ville Sommet is another area that is well manicured and set up for big weddings. Their glass house pavilion is something to be admired once you do your set-up. The glass house is huge and we figured that we will be spending a lot of resources in styling the place. If you are having a wedding in a rainy month, you might want to go for the very well covered area they provided. See article here: Hacienda Isabella's Lazy Sunday Lunch and Hacienda !sabella , Celebrate Life!

Other venues that you might want to consider are Splendido and Tagaytay Highlands.

In the end, selecting the venue is a matter relegated to preference, wedding concept, budget and weather. You will never go wrong with the choices listed here.

Tip: Have a wedding concept or theme. This will make your decision making faster. Make this theme as unique as possible since this will help making your wedding distinct from the rest.