Provence Can Wait
It was in the spring of 2012 in Guam, Eric’s phone lit up to reveal a photo of three girlfriends out on a bike ride through Hong Kong. Among the three was his cousin Arlyne, who was not only happy to have made new acquaintances in her apartment block but also had the opportunity to play the matchmaker to two recently singled people. Don’t ask Eric who made the first move here, but a few days later he just happened to be in Hong Kong. Whatever his plans were, they seem to have vanished along with the Sangrias we ordered at a local pub and we found ourselves becoming Facebook friends the next day. We never lived in the same city, so visiting each other over the weekend involved long flights between Guam, Hong Kong, and Manila. Regular Skype calls and messages always kept us connected and we never missed an opportunity to say good night to each other at the end of every day. Once in a while, we would take time off our busy work schedules to visit Europe, particularly Germany, where he spent most of his childhood. I was quite literally on top of the world when he proposed to me on Germany’s highest peak, because I knew it meant we would finally be together very soon. Wedding plans were drawn up soon after in late 2019. We both loved to travel all over, but the south of France had always been special for both of us. For me it was the long, winding road trips through mountain passes and endless sceneries while Eric took me to places he knew from his backpacking adventures as a teenager. Naturally, our wedding had to reflect all these so we selected a beautiful chateau surrounded by sprawling vineyards as a backdrop to an event attended by our closest family and friends. Everything was planned out to the last detail; from the menu, the cutlery, the wine, and of course the weather. But who would have ever anticipated a lockdown just weeks before our initial trip to meet the wedding planner in the Provence? We both made light about the situation believing it would be like SARS some 20 years ago, so we were optimistic things would run its course. I had more time to choose wedding dresses while Eric was eagerly scouting possible venues for his bachelor party in Thailand. But as the weeks tick by and key travel dates pass unfulfilled, it soon became obvious that this was different. By then, all travel between Hong Kong and Manila came to a grinding halt and so like any “Corona Brides” out there, I gave up on wedding planning altogether. Soon it was September and as our original wedding day loomed, we decided one evening to be as spontaneous as the events unfolding all around us. We had no idea how long this pandemic would last or when we would next meet again. An hour into the Skype date, we had a wedding date and the determination to get married even if it meant just the two of us. Soon after, as I stood in my empty apartment for the last time, I realized that the end of my 9 year adventure in Hong Kong would be the start of a new life with Eric back in Manila. Obviously we couldn’t travel, so we imagined recreating the charms of a cozy outdoor Provencal wedding to Manila. It had to have wide open spaces, fresh air, and fairy lights to mimic the clear night skies we have grown to love about Europe. The wedding date was set on December 8, which was not only an auspicious date but also meant that we had to pull it all off in just 3 weeks from the time I land. As the venue and flowers was being set up at Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club in Batangas, guests started to trickle in. Stylists were busy with me and my guests, COVID tests administered on the spot, and everything was humming with busy anticipation. Eric and I were excited if it weren’t for the weather forecast that predicted 60% chance of rain. True to our commitment to spontaneity, there wasn’t a Plan B. We put our faith (and flowers!) outside with nothing between us and the skies. Have we come this far, beating all the odds, only to be soaked on one of the most important days of our lives? It didn’t help that there was a massive downpour just minutes before Eric was to be walked down the aisle and finally a drizzle just as I arrived myself. Eric later told me that as he was standing at the altar, he was counting the sound of raindrops falling on the leaves unsure of whether or not he should make a run for it. From the rain, that is. Not a single drop fell during the ceremony and all jitters we had just melted away as the setting sun cast a warm glow over the venue. Right after the wedding, we all were treated to a most spectacular sunset as if to reward us for having faith even in the most unusual times.