RG and Jacque went from planning a destination wedding to getting married "twice" during the pandemic
An intimate wedding in Sapporo, Japan, in winter with just 30 of their closest family and friends was what Rei Gill Medestomas and Jacqueline Noelle De Borja had planned. But on February 7, 2021, the two were married in a garden ceremony with twice the amount of guests and just one side of the family present. Despite the stark difference of their plan and their reality, RG and Jacque were at peace knowing that “God was working and what was happening was a part of his plan.”
RG and Jacque’s intimate wedding was held at Antonio’s Tagaytay. The couple chose the esteemed restaurant and wedding venue because of its food, elegance, and plus points, safety. After all the adjustments the couple had to make to pull off their big day, the newlyweds managed to accept the curve balls and make the most out of what they could. A week after their wedding, the Medestomases returned to their wedding venue with the bride’s family–who’s based in the US–to recreate their wedding as a family and take photos together.
Below, Jacque shares their journey of hoping for their destination wedding, being at the mercy of travel ban announcements, and why inspite of the stress and the challenges, the couple remain joyful and grateful about their wedding.
Did you have a theme for the wedding?
RG already had plans in mind when he proposed. In fact, he already set a date and saved Instagram accounts which he presented to me an hour after he popped the question. Everything was approved and we agreed to have a small destination wedding in Japan with only our family and very few friends.
The first supplier we booked was our wedding photography team, Mango Red. Back when I was an intern for Preview Magazine, I was assigned to help with the Creative It List and that’s when I first encountered Mango Red. In 2009, I knew who my photography team would be and was overjoyed when RG said he wanted to book Mango Red as well. As in, I did not tell him anything prior! Anyway, without concrete plans, we booked our target date which was February 13, 2021, and said that we are eyeing Hokkaido as our destination.
Early on, we wanted a wedding set in a beautiful location, which means we didn’t have to dress it up anymore. We wanted to have a complete experience which is why we chose to have it abroad –a small vacation plus our wedding ceremony. We really just wanted the wedding to be simple, elegant, and of course, something that would reflect our personalities. But note that RG was the one in charge. Best ever!
Was this the original wedding plan pre-Covid? If no, what was the original plan and how is it different?
The original plan was to have a snow wedding in Moerenuma Park in Sapporo with 30 guests max. RG, who to be honest is the real taste maker between the two of us, chose this beautiful location designed by Isamu Noguchi. We contacted a lot of people and friends who spoke the language to help us talk to the team. Unfortunately, they were fully booked because of the Winter Festival. So our second option was Tadao Ando’s Church of Light or Chapel on the Water, and the list goes on. Our chosen wedding coordinator based in Japan gave us a few more suggestions and quite frankly, we were still doing Zoom meetings in the middle of the pandemic.
By August 2020, we canceled all of our plans and just put everything on hold. We started considering local locations and just kept browsing online. By October, we visited Antonio’s and decided that it would be our wedding location for both the ceremony and reception. The place is elegant, beautiful, and they have one of the best menus in the Philippines. One important thing for us was that the food needed to be super good. We chose this under the same criteria as the locations in Japan, we wanted a place that already looked beautiful.
What were the challenges encountered during the wedding preparation?
COVID-19 and the pandemic messed up our plans real bad. Before we were even able to finalize the date, we had to meet as a family and decide if it was feasible because my side of the family is based in the US. When we chose February 7, 2021, we thought we had enough time to plan. Good thing that all of our chosen suppliers were available on that date.
A month or so before the wedding, the government announced a travel ban and this was the start of our really stressful two to three weeks. At first, we didn’t worry because the ban didn’t directly affect my family’s travel plans. But since the changes were so sudden, the following announcements made it impossible for my family to come home in time with enough time to quarantine.
We were all so stressed, especially my mom and brother. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed, until finally, we had to decide to not book the February 1 flight home. Hours later, the government announced yet another change in quarantine protocol which we took as God’s answer to our dilemma.
A week before the wedding, we grieved, but believed that God is a God who restores so we pushed through with the wedding. We handled the challenges by praying and really talking to each other–it helped that each person was able to voice out their feelings and concerns which in the end helped us process the changes.
Eventually, my family made it to the Philippines a week after our wedding. After their quarantine, we all decided to recreate our wedding in Antonio’s. We arrived dressed up to have our photos in the garden (which thankfully was free on the only day we were available), then we had dinner and chose the items that were the most similar to our wedding menu. I saw how God moved during these times. The changes created a stronger bond between our families and I couldn’t thank my husband’s family enough for making them feel welcome. It was just amazing!
How did you feel during your wedding day?
RG felt relieved that his plans are finally rolling out! He said that the reason he cried was because it’s actually happening despite obstacles. I felt at peace, I knew that God was working and just finally accepted that what was happening was a part of his plan. My friends and my cousin, acted as my family during the preps, ceremony, and reception.
RG and I decided to not have an entourage, so I was super happy that my friends were there to support me all the way. They were the ones who made sure to FaceTime my family during the preparation. RG’s family was super, super chill. They were helpful in every way and ever since made me feel like family, so the wedding was no different.
My mom who refused all sorts of live feed because she felt like she was gonna feel intense FOMO (fear of missing out), has my friend Joe Henson to thank because he was the one who made sure my mom was able to see me walk down the aisle, hear our vows, and so on.
Advice for other couples who are planning to get married or will be getting married in the time of a pandemic?
Woooh! Well, include COVID-19 testing as part of your wedding budget. It took a huge chunk of our own budget, but it was for the safety of our guests and suppliers.
Choose a location that is already beautiful so you don’t have to spend so much it dressing it up. Also choose a location with good air circulation (aka open air) so that your guests (and you, as a couple) would feel at peace.
Get a wedding coordinator! RG and I are no strangers to production, but we both chose to get someone in charge of our wedding day so we don’t have to worry. Agnes Odulio from Empire Weddings is the BEST in the industry.
Get your hearts and minds ready as you go through this season of planning and actually getting married–enjoy it as much as you can too. There will be a lot of disappointments like changes in plans and family/friends not being able to go. But pray about it always and know that the important thing in all of this is your union with your husband/wife. If it honors God, then you are all set!
Choose your friends as suppliers. Really, it made a difference because they made the process even more fun and beautiful! The other suppliers are people we met through work and we’re both glad we were able to work with them as well.
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The Intimate Wedding Dream Team
Bride’s ensemble: Joey Samson | Shoes: Jacquemus | Groom’s ensemble: Paul Cabral | Shoes: Sapatero Manila | Cuff links: 13 Lucky Monkey | Makeup and grooming: Chuchie Ledesma | Hair: Rudolf Davalos | Hair and makeup for entourage: Dorothy Mamalio | Photography team: Mango Red Studios | Bouquet and event styling: Gathered Creative Co. | Wedding rings: Janina for Jul Dizon | Coordinator: Empire Weddings | Host: Joe Henson | Cake: Cakeshop by Sonja | Location: Antonio’s| Preps: Anya Resort | Music: Moira Dela Torre and Jason Hernandez with Sound Cinema | Giveaway: Saan Saan Candles | Film Cameras: Lomography | Invitations: The Invitation Co. | Lights and sound: RM Audio