Despite postponements and sickness, the couple focused on getting married and starting a family
By Joaquin Reloj
It was a remarkable moment in time when James Henry D. Hizon and Franzine Nicole M. Amponin celebrated their most awaited intimate wedding on July 31, 2021–just a few days before Metro Manila once again went into lockdown. The ceremony took place at Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Mira Nila Homes, in Quezon City. Then, followed by a small reception that took place in Groom’s Backyard Pavilion, graced with a gazebo beside a pool in the backyard garden.
Seven years ago, James and Nicole started out as strangers. They had a few casual encounters on some social scenes but haven’t had the chance to meet personally. When asked about their impressions of one another, Nicole recalled, “It was hard not to notice James since he was towering above everyone else, and he’s good looking of course, just wasn’t exactly my type at the time. It was just the end of 2014 when our common friend formally introduced us. I didn’t think much of this encounter, since to me, he was just the guy who I randomly saw in parties, and I had this premature impression that he was a bit of a playboy.”
James, on the other hand, has a different story to tell. “Well, as for me, she was really my type and I couldn’t let the chance pass to get to know her...I already had a crush on her before we were introduced. Then I persisted and was consistent in courting her because I really like her. I knew she was someone special and I wanted to be with her. May sound corny, but she really was the one.”
They say don’t let chances pass you by and Nicole and James seized theirs. Nicole continued, “One afternoon I got an iMessage from James (we did not exchange numbers at all), he just asked for my number from our common friend. He was bold enough to ask me out right away. He took a few attempts until I agreed to go on a date, and looking back, I’m so glad I did. Date after date, we really clicked and the rest was history.”
“That was seven years ago and our relationship was not without its challenges and trials. We held on, matured, grew together, and here we are, happily married.” The couple got engaged last February 2020, just a month before the first ever lockdown in the Philippines. With the uncertainty that the pandemic brought, they already set their expectations based on how long it would last.
“So even from the start, we were already playing it by ear and could not start any serious planning. We already solidified our thoughts of just doing a small wedding in the meantime while the big celebration would be to follow after the pandemic, and settled for March of 2021.”
The intimate wedding that James and Nicole planned for March was held back further as James tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks before the agreed date. “He’s a pretty athletic guy, so we thought it would be like a common flu for him. But things took a turn for the worse, and let’s just say we thank God that his ordeal was over and he fully recovered.”
It was finally decided that the date of the intimate wedding will be on July 31, but certain circumstances were still out of their control. Nicole shared, “Another lockdown was looming, but we were almost sure it would happen by August, and our date would still make it. ECQ was announced to be implemented by August 6 and we were so glad we made the cut! However, on the week of July 31, GCQ was suddenly elevated with heightened restrictions, and that included only virtual mass gatherings. The Church called us a day before to say they have to cancel our wedding! We went into a panic, because everything was set, to the point that we were begging the priest to allow us to be blessed in the church even if we have no ceremony and no guests anymore. Fortunately, on that same day, the Church called again to confirm they can still hold our wedding but now limited to only 10 people. Better than another postponement!”
Planning for their July intimate wedding only took a few weeks since they just had to prepare for immediate families as guests. Most of the items on the checklist were already done. The documentations were taken care of as they have planned for a March wedding. Food preparations were handled by Hizon’s Catering, owned and operated by James’ family. “Planning the food and venue was an easy feat with the help of my mother-in-law, Octavia Hizon, together with my maid-of-honor and sister-in-law, Anne Hizon.” One of Nicole’s close friends also owned the events styling company Flourish and Frills, so together with her mother-in-law and the stylists at Hizon’s catering, glamming up the venue was a breeze for them.
“The chosen theme for the wedding was Tropical Boho.” On searching for inspirations, Nicole said, “I just searched for pegs on Pinterest to emulate. Since the wedding was held in my husband’s backyard, I wanted a warm and tropical feel to it, with lots of fairy lights encompassing the roof and draped on all sides of the pavilion.”
All of the work they had to do for the much-awaited celebration of their love paid off as it turned out to be a magical place to celebrate the couple’s union. “The venue looked romantic and dreamy. They pulled off a very elegant design. It was raining so hard the sun did not shine the entire week! But fortunately, it was warm and rain-free on the day of our wedding. God blessed us with a little bit of rain when we were already safe and cozy in the backyard venue.”
It was a stressful experience dealing with the challenges of the pandemic and lockdowns and despite the exhaustion, both Nicole and James felt happy to see everything they’ve prepared for come to life. They also had to grapple and adjust to all the pre-pandemic fads and trends of what an intimate wedding should be, but the couple was set on the one thing that matters: “...the essence of why you’re getting married in the first place. Pandemic weddings are a testament to that. Couples really decide and set a date no matter how challenging and volatile the situation is. And even if worse comes to worst, the couple would still push to get married even if it ends up to as a wedding with just the bride and groom. We almost came to that point. We just wanted to be blessed by the Church and then start a family.”
Their advice for those who are planning to get married in the midst of the pandemic: “Stay patient and resilient. Laugh off planning bumps, and focus on keeping your health and safety up at all times. You might really want to experience a big wedding party as soon as the gates open, but avoid taking risks or if need be, practice all necessary precautions even if it costs you, because it’s not worth having COVID-19 infections caused by your wedding, on your conscience.”
Through all the trials and tribulations, Nicole and James learned a few things throughout the time they’ve spent together. “Our relationship through the years was not all smooth sailing, our determination to stay together was tested time and time again. Like other couples, we’ve had really bad fights, we’ve had moments when we questioned if we were really compatible. But that was when love, maturity, and commitment came in. We knew at the end of the day, our values are aligned, there’s respect for our relationship, and we go back to the reasons why we chose each other in the first place. And each time we reconcile, we just feel our relationship growing deeper and more meaningful.”
When asked about the highlights of the entire process of planning and executing an intimate wedding, their answer was simple, “I think there were no highlights per se, as the journey of the day up until the very end, as short and no frills as it was, was special in its entirety.” For Nicole and James, it’s always been about never losing track of what’s important for the both of them and seizing every moment that we get to spend with the ones we hold closest to our hearts.
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The Dream Team
Catering and venue styling by Hizon's Catering | Photography and videography by DreamCatchers PhotoCinema | Makeup by Ish Sison-Amores | Venue styling by Flourish and Frills | Groom's Tuxedo by Bianca Cordero