They were engaged and married on their month-long vacation!
Anika Leongson and Miguel Menchaca flew to the US in August for a month-long vacation and they came back as Mr. and Mrs. Menchaca. The wedding was not at all part of their itinerary, although proposing to Anika at that time was Chaca’s plan. It was upon the suggestion of Anika’s family, to get married while they were both in the US, when Chaca and Anika realized it was a legitimate option.
“Chaca and I laughed at the idea at first, but we quickly realized that it was something we both wanted to do… We knew it would be very difficult to plan a wedding back home,” Anika says. With a borrowed wedding dress and veil, Ring Pops from the Dollar Store, and a livestream for their family and friends in the Philippines, Chaca and Anika were married at their family’s backyard.
Below, Anika shares more about their 11-day engagement, what she learned from their shotgun wedding, and if she recommends it.
Can you quickly share the story behind your engagement turned wedding one-month US vacation?
Chaca and I (I’m sure like everyone else too!) have been wanting to go on vacation. We decided to fly to the US to visit my family in Chicago. My mom has two sisters who live there with their families, and growing up, we would always visit them every summer so I really wanted Chaca to visit them too. It’s funny because a huge portion of our trip happened by chance. We booked our flights to Chicago and told my family our dates. One of my mom’s sisters told us that they were going to Tulum, Mexico in the same dates and asked us if we wanted to join them! I quickly said yes because Tulum has always been a dream destination for me. Little did I know that was where Chaca was going to propose. With the help of my family, he proposed on August 5, 2021 at our resort in Tulum. What made it extra special was that the whole thing was recorded on Zoom so that our parents, siblings, and closest friends could be part of the special moment. We spent six days in magical Tulum and then flew back to Chicago on August 10.
We had dinner out with both my Tita’s on August 12, and that was a Thursday. One of them suggested that we get married while we were in Chicago, and both of our parents supported it as well. Chaca and I laughed at the idea at first, but we quickly realized that it was something we both wanted to do. Four of our closest friends were also arriving in Chicago from New York to visit and stay with us that weekend, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
The very next day, we went to the local county with our passports in hand and applied for our marriage license. After we were able to secure it, we booked a Wedding Officiator, then mounted a DIY civil wedding and got married in my Aunt’s beautiful backyard on Monday, August 16, 2021. We only had three days to plan it and every single person from my family and friends in Chicago helped us make the shotgun civil wedding of our dreams happen.
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What would be some lessons you learned from your experience?
1. We realized what was most important. Despite the very quick engagement and wedding, Chaca and I have been together for five years. It truly felt like the right time for us to be engaged and with the pandemic going on, we knew it would be very difficult for us to plan a wedding back home. So when the idea of having a civil wedding in the US came along, we jumped on it right away. There were still a few hurdles we had to go through such as securing the marriage license and booking the officiator, but everything worked out perfectly. And with our friends coming to Chicago at the right time, we both felt like everything was meant to happen the way it did.
As a young girl, you always envision how your wedding would be; what dress you’d wear, how long your veil will be, how many people you’d invite, and how your wedding bands would look like. But in that moment when we realized that we wanted to get married in Chicago, all of those ‘material’ dreams went away. Sure, I panicked because I didn’t have a dress, a veil, shoes, or even wedding bands, but our wedding became so much more than those dreams I had as a child. We knew that we wanted to be married to each other and that was all that mattered.
The next few days, we quickly put together a backyard DIY wedding for 18 guests. I borrowed this beautiful, white flowy dress from my Tita, which my friend Bianca sewed to help make it fit me better. We used my Tito’s projector stand to make our wedding arch and covered it with my cousin’s gorgeous wedding veil that she used in her wedding last year. We got our wedding cake from my Tita’s friend, Milette’s Cakes, who kindly accommodated our request in 2 days. My Tito Maui, who is a professional wedding photographer, happily volunteered to take our official wedding photos, and my cousins and friends helped me with my hair and makeup.
Everything in our wedding was perfectly crafted by all our friends and family, and that made it even more special. The only thing we bought were our rings–Ring Pops from The Dollar Store. Luckily, I already had my engagement ring!
2. It's about your people. Our trip to the US was only a month, so of course we had a timeline we had to work with. It was also important for us to have the wedding while our friends were there. We were instantly able to have a Best Man and Maid of Honor through our close friends Martin and Addie, and in line with the ‘shotgun’ theme of our wedding, they were able to give speeches for us even though we just asked them one day before the wedding.
3. Family matters. I wouldn’t have don’t anything differently. I really believe that everything worked out the way that it was meant to and everything felt so right despite our shortened engagement of only 11 days. The only thing that we both would have loved in our wedding was to have both of our parents there. However, thanks to modern technology, we were able to stream it live so that our parents could be there virtually if not physically. We even asked Chaca’s mom (my mom now, too! ) to lead and open the ceremony with a prayer.
Would you recommend “jumping the gun”? Why or why not?
I don’t know if I would recommend ‘jumping the gun,’ but what I would recommend to other couples who want to get married during the pandemic is to just do what feels right. I think that the beauty and magic of a wedding lies in the merging of two families and the union of two souls. In times like these, we really need to be flexible and be able to adjust to all the changes and uncontrollable factors that are happening around us. Even though our wedding was not what I imagined, it didn’t make it any less meaningful. It was a day filled with so much magic and love, and our special day that we are going to remember forever.
What do you love about married life so far? What’s next?
We are absolutely enjoying our post-engagement/post-wedding bliss. It has been the best and most meaningful trip for us and now it’s just so good to be back home and living together with our cat. We are planning to have a small and intimate Church wedding before the year ends, and hopefully we can plan a bigger beach wedding with all our friends and family in 2022 or 2023.
The Dream Team
Cake by Milette's Cakes | Rings by The Dollar Store