Weddings That Inspire

BJ and Sophia - European Countryside Theme Wedding

‘Don't let the changes keep you from getting married on your chosen date’

Twelve years ago, BJ Gotanci and Sophia Tillmann were just schoolmates. Perhaps no one would have guessed back then that the two would end up as Mr. and Mrs., even themselves. BJ and Sophia were married on September 9, 2021 at an intimate wedding at Antonio’s Tagaytay, and unlike many of today’s couples who understand that wedding planning in a pandemic comes with many curve balls, the couple never changed their wedding date.

Push through with your original wedding date and plan as long as it permits. This has always been our mindset,” says Sophia. With a clear vision, a European countryside themed garden wedding and a gastronomic experience, the Gotancis successfully pulled off their wedding planning with no rescheduling at all. “Seeing our loved ones have a good time and a good laugh was priceless, definitely something needed during these tough times,” says Sophia.

Below, Sophia shares how they met, their wedding planning, and tips on how to get through wedding preps:

Tell us your love story and how you met.

We went to the same school but it was not until our senior year in high school when BJ started courting me, we officially became a couple in college (September 9, 2009). After 11 years of being together, BJ finally popped the question during one of our beach trips and this year (on our twelfth year,) we got married.

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As per BJ, the proposal was delayed for over a year (he initially planned to propose during our tenth year) due to death of relatives and the start of the pandemic. 

Did you have a theme or motif for your wedding?

The theme we went for was European countryside (classic romantic). Our non-negotiable was to hold our ceremony in a garden and to have a gastronomic dining experience, thus Antonio's was the perfect choice. 

Was this the original wedding plan? If no, what was the original plan? How is it different/what were the adjustments you made?

The original wedding plan was to have the ceremony in the Garden just as we envisioned it. Unfortunately there was a typhoon a day before the wedding so the soil became muddy and we had to proceed with Plan B, a covered space, The Cabana. We also had to adjust our wedding timeline just a few days before the wedding because of curfew restrictions. Initial timeline was to have an afternoon ceremony followed by dinner reception, then an after party. We shifted to a morning ceremony instead followed by lunch reception so that time with guests wouldn't be cramped as they still had to travel back to Manila after. We also had to give up the after party with a DJ, since there's safety protocols that must be followed.

What were the challenges you encountered during the wedding preparation?

We faced quite a number of challenges during the last few weeks of preparation because this was also the peak of the Delta variant and ECQ was imposed. It was impossible to plan ahead and finalize with the preps ahead of time since we had to wait for quarantine classification before we could come up with decisions. 

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Some of our entourage were not able to join because of the challenges brought by the pandemic. (Some live abroad while others got sick a few days before; kids were also not yet allowed outside and we had a lot of kid family members.)

How did you handle the challenges?

We discussed what should be prioritized and what we could let go of. Safety of guests was our main concern and we let go of the little things that didn't go according to plan. We went out of our way to make our guests comfortable since these are people we truly care about. We gave the option of lunch packs to our guests who aren't comfortable to dine so they can take their meals in their respective cars and just go back for the program. 

Overall, it was adapting and being responsive to the current situation. 

How did you feel during the wedding?

BJ: It was awesome and magical. Things are finally happening and going according to plan.

What were your most memorable moments from your wedding?

The groom's surprise number (song and dance performance with his groomsmen to the music of F4). Seeing our loved ones have a good time and a good laugh was priceless, definitely something needed during these tough times. And exchanging of marriage vows just as we planned on our twelfth year anniversary (with no rescheduling done).

What advice would you give other couples planning their intimate wedding?    

Push through with your original wedding date and plan as long as it permits. This has always been our mindset. Don't let the changes in plan keep you from getting married on your chosen date. Always remember to enjoy the wedding planning, after all the most important thing is getting married and being happy.

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Also, hire good suppliers and give them your full trust. After all, they have the most experience and would only recommend what's best for your wedding.

And of course, get yourself a great partner who would be willing to go through all the challenges with you! Wedding planning is already a peek into your married life!

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The Dream Team

Photographs by Myio Okamoto | Videography by Forevermine Wedding Films | Styling by Ginger Event Styling | Venue and catering by Antonio’s Tagaytay | Gown by PS Officiel | Suit by Rod Francisco Designs & Tailoring | Groom’s shoes by Sapatero Manila | Lights and Sounds by Cybersound Lights and Sound | Host: Eri Neeman | Coordination by Rhed Sarmiento | Makeup by Marla Sabio | Music by Project M Acoustic | Preps venue: Twin Lakes Hotel | Entourage gowns by Cassie Montealegre | Chairs by Forrent | Dressing gowns by Micah Lacap