Pancho Esguerra (a sought-after music video and commercial director), and Charlene “Cha-Cha” Sawit (a freelance writer, sometime stylist, soon-to-be-famous novelist, and scriptwriter of the upcoming movie Saving Sally) are two of the kindest, most brilliantly imaginative people I know, so when Pancho “dropped the potato” (our inside joke for popping the question), we were so excited to finally witness their dream collaboration.
Says Cha-Cha, “We wanted the wedding to feel like our grandparents’ parties, but fresh and young. So many relatives were coming over from all over the world, so we wanted them to feel comfortable and included. And if the ghosts of my grandmother and Pancho’s grandfather were there, that they would recognize the feel of the party, and have a good time.”
And thus, early this year, on the eight of January, Pancho and Cha-Cha finally got hitched in a celebration filled with whimsy, warmth and a touch of old-world elegance. Here are our favorite scenes from their big day:
First, the invite: In which a wisp of a girl and a bear frolic and play and live happily ever after, the design of which was an “epic collaboration” between Printsonalities, Blue Rain Multimedia (special thanks to Joses Israel), and the couple
The dress: Cha-Cha wore a Pronovias “Pergola” lace and tulle gown with a lace bolero from Mi Sueño Bridal Boutique. “It was very soft and light; I didn’t want a heavy, or heavily-beaded wedding dress.” The radiant bride’s hair and makeup were by Lindsay Co-Alog
Something blue: Her shoes! A happy collaboration with Lila Almario
Rainbow Bridal Entourage: Cha-Cha envisioned an entourage in varying shades of Spring pastels, which came together beautifully—especially in photos! L-R: Pierra Labrador, Andrea Sawit, Anna Whitehead, Lucinda David-Rosenqvist (matron of honor), the bride, Jernine Kim (matron of honor, too), Jacklyn Zapatos, Buena Sawit, and Mabel Pilar (the matchmaker!). Not in photo: Mary Velmonte, Patricia Anne Sawit, Pauline Anne Sawit, and Lora Garcia
Bear in Mind: Pancho, who famously has a fixation with bears (if you spot people in animal suits in a local music video, it must be Pancho’s), wore a suit by Cornell’s and a bear boutonnière by Teddy Manuel
Chapel of Love: The couple exchanged vows at the picturesque and incredibly intimate Chapel of Transfiguration in Caleruega, Batangas. Too bad we failed to snap a photo of Cha-Cha’s vintage ride…
Here comes the bride! Pancho bites his lip waiting for Cha at the altar with his mom… And the bride’s breathtaking entrance
The Vows Pancho and Cha wrote their own vows, which had the entire congregation in tears. (Thank you to the super-efficient on-the-day organizers Christine Ong-Te events, for handing out tissue to every blubbering guest!)
Kodak-, este, Instagram moment: Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!
Scene-stealer: Ringbearer Luis (in magenta bow tie), the son of Cha-Cha’s brother Carlo, vied for the title of most dapper man of the day
Wild, Wild Wes: After the ceremony, guests proceeded to the romantic Antonio’s in Tagaytay for the reception. Welcome cocktails were served in the quaint garden, which looked like a scene straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, complete with teepee! “We wanted a teepee for the kids to crash in when they got tired, and Pancho’s cousin Nina Urbino came up with something even better than we had imagined!”
the happy lab(s) represent! Cha-Cha gave her entourage the option of wearing our own gowns as long as we stuck to our assigned color, so I rang up my designer buddy Maureen Disini, who graciously fit me into her über-busy holiday sched and whipped up a dream dress in seafoam green in record time–and in one fitting! (Contact Maureen Disini at 0917 891 1104). Meanwhile, my smiley spiffy hubby Toto wore a Paul Smith suit and boutonnière by Teddy Manuel
Once upon a time: The garden was illuminated with café bulbs from a music video Pancho directed (can you guess which one?). Along the wires, the couple strung up photos of family, friends, and special moments in their lives, like Pancho’s proposal!
And look what we found: a photo from many years (and pounds) ago, taken at the MEG Magazine 7th anniversary party (L-R: Peejo and Mabel Pilar, Toto and Pierra Labrador, Cha-Cha and Pancho Esguerra). Cha-Cha, Mabel and I all worked at MEG once upon a time, and now we are friends for life!
The couple’s playful crest by Pperheads (with photobomber Emilio Esguerra, the groom’s brother. Don’t kill me, Emilio!)
Souvenirs and sleepless nights: Talk about giving her wedding a personal touch. For the wedding souvenirs, Cha-Cha drew mini portraits of each guest, totaling about 250 in all! Shares Cha-Cha: “I bought these two big drawing books and I said, maybe if I do ten a day, in five days I’ll have 50… of course it didn’t happen. I started in August, and our goal was to finish everything by November, since my relatives would start flying in from all over the place by then, and most of them were staying in our house. But what happened was that we weren’t sleeping anymore [as the wedding date drew near].” Pancho chimes in, “Thank goodness for the SK-II mask!” Cha-Cha says, “It did wonders! Pancho’s cousin (Pepe Torres) is the SK-II brand manager, and he gifted us with it, saying, ‘This will save your life.’” Charlene slapped a couple on herself, and even on Pancho (“who does not usually use beauty products”) before the wedding, and true enough, Pancho attests, “It really works!”
Some enchanted setting: Upon being seated at our table, I remember thinking, this is the prettiest, most enchanting table setting I’ve ever seen! Each table had a different assortment of knick-knacks from secondhand shops, books, paper cut-outs, and lovely, unfussy blooms, resulting in a look of charming, relaxed elegance, all orchestrated by Teddy Manuel, whom Cha-Cha describes as a magician. “He really listened and collaborated with us, didn’t treat us as if we were nuts when we told him what we were planning or when we raided his warehouse bringing props. He also took the crazy ‘design guide’ I put together for him and completely bowled us over with the finished product,” says Cha-Cha.
This seat is reserved for… Miniature toys and animals served as placecards, all handpicked and spray-painted by the couple and their friends (Mary Velmonte and the team from Mom&Tina’s). I loved how Toto’s was a dog and mine was a cat—it was amazing how the couple personalized even the tiniest details. “We made several trips to Divisoria to buy bags of toy soldiers, cowboys, Indians, scuba divers, spacemen, assorted animals, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves… And then we had to tag them! Buti nalang my brother Carlo, his friend Joanna, my matrons of honor TL and hyper-organized Lydi and her husband Sadoux, the nicest guy in the world—helped us match names to appropriate animals and tag them. Then Pancho’s mom went through the list to make sure we didn’t forget anyone!”
The blooming bride with her college besties Cookie Quevedo, Mary Velmonte, and Jacklyn Colmenares-Zapatos
Even the food was pretty (and sumptuous! How could you go wrong with Antonio’s?). The couple wants to give a big shout out to Miss Johna, the very patient and hardworking manager of Antonio’s! The pretty cake is by Judy Uson of The Cake Artist
During dinner, guests were treated to the pre-nup AVP with photos by MANGORED, a quickie on-the-day wedding ceremony video by Mayad, and a slideshow of childhood photos by Bluerain and the groom. “Initially, we didn’t want a video—hiyang-hiya kami,” says Cha-Cha. “But we realized that it might be nice to show relatives who wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding.” The pre-nup AVP featured quirky portraits of the couple with their family, and my favorite part was where Pancho and Cha-Cha posed beneath the words Work hard, Be kind, Amazing things will happen, which captures them perfectly. Says Cha-Cha, “I got the words from one of our favorite speeches, Conan O’Brien’s classy farewell on his last episode with The Late Show.” (Below: screencaps of photos by MANGORED from the bride’s files. View the rest of the photos by MANGORED here)
Father-daughter dance: Charlene waving to her nephew Luis while dancing with her dad, as her brother Clifton sang “What a Wonderful World.” Music was provided by the string quartet Manila String Machine, who played everything from The Simpsons theme (during the pictorial at the church) to The Smashing Pumpkins (at the reception)
Pancho spins Cha-Cha on the makeshift dancefloor for their first dance as a married couple!
Speech, speech! Heartfelt speeches were given by matrons of honor Lydi, TL, and Cha-Cha’s agent Ivan Mulcahy, in photo (who is representing her novel Kissing Yellow Dogs Goodnight), as well as Pancho’s mom, Pancho’s best man/brother Miguel, and Charlene’s dad Jun (who received a lot of ribbing for being teary-eyed)
And there will be dancing…
For the “after-party” held at another area of Antonio’s, Cha-Cha changed into a dress that her mom found in a Davao ukay-ukay for P60. Her mom also made the sash that went with it and added cloth flowers from SM. Cha’s ballet flats are from Robinson’s Department Store.
Funky lights (by High Impact), shots (dispensed by the after-party “master of ceremonies” Carlo Sawit), and sounds by (Pancho’s cousin Joey Santos, AKA “DJ Floordestroyer” ) set the mood for a wild after-party. One guest even lost her shoes… Below, Mabel, Terrie, and Cha-Cha’s super hip mom Tita Cora dance to everything in DJ Floordestroyer’s mix, from VST to Phoenix
Ringbearer Luis dancing with flowergirl Kitkat Esguerra
My photos don’t do the fairytale day justice, so do check out the lovely wedding video by Mayad.
And Pancho and Cha-Cha shall live magically ever after…