'We simply had to adapt to the changes. It really was not easy but it proved to be worth the hassle in the end'
By Joaquin Reloj
Jose Antonio Miguel Lopez and Natasha Grace Holganza celebrated their intimate wedding on November 17, 2020. The ceremony was held at Archbishop’s Palace followed by a reception at Chateau By The Sea.
The newlyweds first met on what Jam describes as a “random Saturday night.” Just as he was about to call it a day, tucked in and ready for bed, Jam received a phone call from one of his constant drinking buddies. His friend persuaded him to come out for a few drinks. He was convinced they would end earlier than usual. Little did he know that this was the same night he would be introduced to his future wife.
“We just ordered a bottle of whiskey when another friend and his wife called us inviting us to a different venue. We decided to keep the bottle and move venues. When we got to the venue, my friend stepped out to have a smoke and after a few minutes of being away, I got a call telling me to go across the room ASAP. When I got there, I saw a group of gorgeous ladies, probably on a girls’ night out, then was introduced to the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in my entire life.”
Nat, on the other hand, describes their relationship as a “whirlwind romance.” She never really had any serious love interests prior to Jam. Being a jet-setting flight attendant for almost 10 years, it’s understandable how difficult it would be to keep romantic relationships. The night she met Jam, it was like a switch flipped; she just genuinely knew.
“I was single for most of my life and when I came home for good, just after 2 months, I met my future husband. We have so many common friends and yet we’ve never crossed paths before. What are the odds! It was the biggest plot twist and the timing was impeccable. My first and my forever. God does write the best love stories.”
The Beginning of Forever
The outbreak of the pandemic, particularly the government restrictions, truly put their relationship to the test. They ultimately learned to take the good with the bad, until one fateful morning came. Jam recalls, “when I woke up, I had this tingling feeling deep down inside and I realized that this is the lady I would like to spend the rest of my life with.”
He remembers going on the internet to research everything he could about diamonds and jewelry. When he had the perfect ring, he decided to take Nat on a date to the mountains. Unfortunately, all the scenic views he took her to were no longer as private as they used to be. After a quick coffee stopover, they drove back to their village and Jam decided to make an unsuspecting detour to the old clubhouse.
“We went down from the car and I told her ‘Don't you like the view?’ and she replied ‘There really is nothing to see here’ as there were trees blocking the view. As she turned around, there I was, down on one knee holding the ring and I finally got to ask the question 'Love, will you marry me?' A few seconds passed and a few drops of cold sweat and finally, she said yes.”
Planning the Wedding
When it came to the wedding preparations, Jam took the role of the main coordinator. They were already set on inviting their immediate families only given the COVID restrictions. But a few weeks before the big day, they suddenly decided to add very close extended family and a couple of friends to their guest list. As a result, they had to adjust their plans on-the-fly.
“A lot of our suppliers we hired very last minute. Quarantine restrictions were constantly changing, and so were our plans. We simply had to adapt to the changes. It really was not easy planning a COVID wedding, but it proved to be worth the hassle in the end.”
The newlyweds originally planned to have a destination wedding with all their friends and family around. Nat would’ve also wanted to try on different dresses and pick the perfect one for herself, but the pandemic hindered the experience. Regardless, she still loved the wedding dress she wore. A bigger wedding entourage was also part of their original plans.
The Big Day
Being both groom and wedding coordinator, covid protocols and quarantine restrictions were the biggest challenges that Jam had to face. “On the day before the wedding, there was a new executive order limiting movement in and out of Cebu City so we had to secure special passes for all our guests and suppliers.” He managed all of these problems through loads of prayers, patience, and positivity.
Nat was more concerned about the unpredictable weather, especially since they were going to have an outdoor reception. “It rained days before and after, but on our wedding day, the weather was perfect. By God’s grace!”
When asked how he felt during the wedding, Jam said he was “Calm, excited, blessed knowing that no pandemic can stop our love for each other and that we've proven to ourselves and the world in front of the altar that indeed love wins.”
Patience, understanding, teamwork, budgeting, discernment, and enjoying the process. These are the main pieces of advice Jam and Nat would want couples, who are also planning a pandemic wedding, to focus on.
Jam wants to remind couples to “Listen to each other's needs and wants and don't forget that the real essence of a wedding is sealing your commitment and love for each other in front of the altar and the celebration is just a bonus.”
While Nat emphasizes that “A lot of people will give you unsolicited advice, but always heed the opinion of those who matter. Don’t forget to pray for guidance and last but not least, enjoy the journey! Love each other no matter how stressful wedding planning gets, it’s a good practice for marriage. There are many decisions to be made but never forget that your initial decision was to marry each other. Don’t lose track of what matters.”
The Dream Team:
Photography by Leftfielder Photography | Videography by Cebu Orange Films | Flowers and styling by First of April | Bridal Gown by Philipp Tampus | Groom’s Suit by Edwin Ao | Mother of the groom, sisters of the groom and sister of the bride’s gown by Roni Yu | Makeup artist by Raisa Bercede | Catering by Chateau de Busay | Cocktails by Carl’s Catering | Cake by Cake Couture by Trina | Balloons by Party Hat Cebu | Tables by T&C Rental | Lights and Sounds by George Tagalog | LED by RRB Video Services | Band: Glynis Kars Band | Host: Drew Sarmiento | DJ: Gnoevee | Violinist: Joseph Patrick Balo | On the day coordination by Andrew Alcantara | Full coordination by Jam Lopez