Em + Eugene's DIY Batanes Wedding

 Photos by Jasmin Santoyo 

A couple of weeks ago, we showed you the wedding trailer of Em and Eugene's Batanes Wedding. This time around, we are happy to share with you all the personal details of the wedding as written by the bride herself.  Em & Eugene's wedding was an unbelievable DIY customized experience for her guests--and she wants the RB readers to have that kind of intimate experience. 

Photo by the Bride & Groom
Em gave us the honor of going into every love-filled detail of her wedding. And when we say 'love-filled', as in down to the ingredients of their food kind of detail. That's how personal their wedding was. Each and every aspect was a labor of love from the couple, their friends, and their family. 

Photo by the Bride & Groom
I've known the bride for about seven years now. We met from our previous jobs--and I've known Em to be a wonderful, creative, positive soul. It's not a surprise that their wedding had all these wonderful details--I can still remember how she would carefully design her own office cube with so much handcrafted decors. I still bumped into her before the big day--she was looking for an off-the-rack gown and it was like the last thing on her to-do list. In that sense, she is a no-frills type of girl, but she has that innate style and uniqueness about her that doesn't need any couture gown anyway. 

Enough of the intros, let's move on to Pocoy Calvento's behind-the-scenes video and Em's write-up :)


The 'rebellious' planning as written by the bride herself:

Why Batanes?

Euge and I got engaged in December 2012 and were supposed to get married in January 2014. We weren’t in a rush with the wedding planning but we had already chosen the small egg-shaped chapel at Paco Park, and had our eyes on a reception venue in Intramuros.

At Christmas dinner with my college friends, after telling our engagement story, Pocoy, one of my good friends, kept asking about our plans. Is there a theme? What’s the motif? How do you really want to get married?

And that’s when I remembered that I once wrote a wedding story for Pocoy. He needed to make invitation designs for a Fine Arts subject (way back in our UP days) and needed inspiration. He wanted a story, my story, on how I envision my hypothetical future wedding will be. I remember him telling me he submitted the story I wrote along with his designs and got a good grade for that project, with the prof saying he liked the visualization.

I tried to find it but I don’t think I kept a copy of that story. I don’t remember everything I wrote except that supposedly, I got married on top of a hill, with mountains and fresh air and sunshine and just a handful of my closest friends and family around.

Photo by the Bride & Groom

I felt like I wanted to make it happen.

As I recounted the Christmas dinner encounter to Euge, I strongly felt that I really never saw myself getting married in a big way. I told him it would be fantastic if we can have a very small wedding in a far-flung place like Batanes.

Photo by the Bride & Groom
Three weeks later, one morning near the end of January, he sent me a message. “Do you think we can get married this March or April?”

I jumped at the chance and again suggested Batanes. I figured it would be like taking our closet few on a quick getaway this summer—how exciting! I spent that day on the phone hunting down the right people to talk to so I could inquire about the small stone chapel on top of Tukon hill, checking airline rates and schedules, collecting photos of Fundacion Pacita where I imagined the reception will take place, creating a mock itinerary and timeline, and drafting budget options. At 2am the next day I had put together “my wedding proposal” to Euge. The following day, he said yes, we picked a date, and Batanes was a go.
Photo by Carlo Calvento
Photos by the Bride & Groom

Non-traditional creative ideas for the wedding?

Our wedding party was so small; I wanted to make every effort possible to make the guests feel special. Some of our family and friends flew from overseas, and everyone had to take a leave from work for two days to make it to our wedding – I wanted them to feel how grateful we were for that.

Photos by the Bride & Groom
Each guest got a “care package” upon check-in at their hotel rooms—it had our wedding guide that had the itinerary for the next two days, important numbers, reminders, people to call for assistance; packets of my favorite hot chocolate and fruit tea, even a small medicine kit with band-aids.

Photo by the Bride & Groom
Instead of spending a lot of money on souvenirs, we customized a half-day tour the day before the wedding. We wanted our guests to enjoy and take home beautiful memories of Batanes, not just of our wedding. I asked Pocoy to be the official behind-the-scenes photographer and he put together an awesome video of everyone just so happy and having fun.

Photos by the Bride & Groom

We had to bring in so many things from Manila that I didn’t want to be bothered by flowers. Aside from my bouquet (Dylan Gozum of Vatel Manila suggested dried lavender so it wouldn’t wilt), Euge’s boutonniere, the flower girl’s basket and wreaths for the church aisle, all other flowers were picked off the roadside in Batanes the morning of the wedding. Alessa and my girls stuck flowers on pins for the gentlemen’s boutonnieres, and wove them in native fans to serve as non-traditional bouquets for the ladies.

Photos by Pocoy Calvento
A monogram is pretty traditional, but we used it in non-traditional ways. My good friend Alessa crafted a rubber stamp of our monogram and it was too pretty I wanted to use it everywhere. My mom had it embroidered white on navy blue napkins, my sister had it printed on sunset-colored m&ms and hershey’s bars, I had it laser-cut on a piece of oak for the cover of our guestbook (which my friend Darlyn designed with rubber-cut stamps and distressed ink in sunset colors), and we even had it as our cake-topper.

Photos by the Bride & Groom
Every wedding you go to these days is sure to have a photo booth, and in Batanes we had to DIY one. Armed with two Instax cameras borrowed from Alessa and Ann, my friend PJ stationed himself at the entrance of Fundacion Pacita and took two photos of each guest as they came in – one to stick on our guestbook, one for the guests to keep. PJ has great handwriting, and he was also the one who wrote out a poem I love on poster boards, which we lined up on the walls to decorate the reception area.

Photo by Pocoy Calvento
My girls helped put together a stationery stamp station where guests can pick a set of blank notecards and envelopes (which my sister and I handmade), choose stamps (made by Alessa, Dar and Jean) and ink, and decorate and personalize their own notecards. Notecards were the perfect giveaways for me, as I love to write, and want to encourage other people to develop the habit.

Photo by Pocoy Calvento

Probably the last thing on my list of non-traditional ideas is my wedding dress.  I prefer to call it a dress, not a gown, because it was exactly that – when you say “gown” it connotes something stiff and contrived; my dress was comfortable enough to wear the entire day, and worked well with both heels and flats. When I met with my designer Jot Losa, I said my requirement was simple – I wanted a simple white dress that moves. With no lace, no beadwork, no extra-long train, he made it work. My dress allowed me to breathe and to feel free on my big day.

Challenges and how you overcame them?

Photo by the Bride & Groom
I was told that in a wedding, the food is usually what the guests really remember. The biggest challenge then was to design a menu for two whole days – 6 meals total – and not just the wedding lunch.

Photo by the Bride & Groom
I worked closely with the staff of Fundacion Pacita because I wanted to highlight locally available ingredients and native dishes. We had a welcome lunch on the first day featuring native Ivatan fare like lunis (their version of adobo), coconut crab, turmeric rice, and Ivatan salad (which is the most perfect salad I’ve ever had in my whole life). We arranged for the tour to end at the Naidi Lighthouse, so guests could enjoy the sunset view during an al fresco dinner of grilled fresh catch, grilled meat and fresh vegetables.

My friend Chef Edward Bugia (of Pino, Pipino and Brgr Project restaurants) created a colorful wedding lunch starting with lobster bisque made from locally sourced lobsters, pako salad with chicharon and flowers, kinilaw na tanigue, seafood paella with lobster and slow-cooked baby back ribs. We had cheese platters and bite-sized cakes laid out on the tables, and we served the wedding cake for dessert.

Photo by Pocoy Calvento
The availability of ingredients and some equipment and services was a real challenge. I went to Batanes a month before the wedding and had with me a list of ingredients Ed needed, and I checked with the cook one by one which ingredients could be sourced in Batanes, and which I needed to bring from Manila. The lobster makes for an interesting story. Up until dinner time the day before the wedding, we didn’t know if weather would be good enough for fishermen to head out and catch lobsters for the wedding lunch! Euge would have loved to have lechon, but no one makes lechon in Batanes, and after asking so many people I found that the closest they could offer was to bake the pig in a bakery oven downtown, which we agreed was way too much trouble. There are no wedding cake suppliers in Batanes, and I had to ask my sister to hand-carry the cake as well as some desserts. We brought in the cheese and chopping boards they were served in, as well as the wine, and even the paelleras.

Photo by the Bride & Groom
I think another main challenge was deciding what was truly important and what was unnecessary. I didn’t have a bridal car, because a van was more cost-efficient and could fit more people. I didn’t have a choir because I had two friends who were willing to sing for my walk down the aisle, and the few songs in the mass. 

Photo by the Bride & Groom
I did not spend much on my dress and flowers because I wanted to focus more on the guest experience, and invested more on the food, the tour, the special touches to make the guests remember and enjoy our small but meaningful wedding.

Photos by the Bride & Groom
So much love and beauty in Em & Eugene's wedding! Just goes to show how wonderful an "un-templated" wedding could be. 

Congratulations to Em & Eugene! May your marriage be filled with so much wonderful adventures as your wedding :)

The couple would like to credit and thank the following wedding artists & loved ones for helping them DIY their wedding:

Event Stylist: Alessandra Lanot 
Music: Jean Madrid, Ryan Madrid, PJ Lanot
Bridal Dress: Jot Losa
Flowers:Vatel Manila for bouquet, boutonniere, flower girl bouquet; church wreaths
Alessandra Lanot for entourage flowers
Photographers: Pocoy Calvento, Jasmine Santoyo, Photos by the Bride & Groom
Videographer: Steven Flor, Louie Miguel de Leon, Rommel Lopena 
Wedding Day Coordinators: Darlyn Ty, Jean Madrid, Ann Gacutan, Jaz Santoyo
Cake: Joy San Gabriel
Caterer: Chef Edward Bugia of Pino, Pipino and Brgr Project Restaurants
Invitation: Pocoy Calvento
Hair & Make-Up: Meg Lachica

Follow us on Twitter! @RebelliousBride


  1. I was waiting for this type article and I have gained some useful information from this site. Thanks for sharing this information. Keep blogging.

  2. Hi there! My husband & I have been civilly married for almost 13 yrs now. We have 2 beautiful kids. And just yesterday, we finally decided to get married in church. Months back, Jasper (my hubby), mentioned that he wanted a scenic, intimate, get-away wedding...Batanes was (still is) on top of his head. We were browsing thru google reg "Batanes wedding", when we came across this page. I couldn't help but tear up coz E&E's wedding is exactly how I envisioned my wedding would be.
    I was hoping if you could help me reach Em, even just thru e-mail. I need to ask her how they were able to pull things up in just a few months & some impt tips. Thanks!

    K Aguirre

  3. I am very interested in your article, I think your articles are so interesting that I need more information, go is berkaya and I will always support you. I say many thanks to you. Just wanna say thank you for the information that you have been shared on your site. well it is more better