“No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.”
That is a quote from a man that lived long ago in the 1800s. It’s amazing how something that is true and inspiring then, could still be as true and inspiring now. But I guess this only proves that the formula for success is perpetual and the only true winners know and exemplify that.
Talking about winners, just for this time, we’re veering away from the usual wedding or e-session features in this blogsite to make way for something that I consider special in many ways. Today we’re featuring a post as part of the weddingsatwork‘s W@W Assisgnment (actually, it is a behind-the-scenes feature on suppliers and how they make a wedding come to life, thus, practically serving as a backstage pass to a wedding.) This is special because I myself is a supplier and it’s nice to share with you that side of us that people don’t get to see and special also because I’m featuring one of my closest friends in the industry, the one they call the “Details Diva”, Ernest Pascual of Bespoke Manila.
Through a series of photographs, we will show you how Ernest brings to life all the impeccable and stylish details that he incorporates in his weddings. We will follow him wherever he goes, and report on the workings of his team. In this process, we’ll see the vast extent of creativity, effort, and will power involved in making make each wedding a standout–success. However, I must forewarn you that this is not for the weak of heart. This post aims to inform, educate, and inspire but its obvious overload of sophisticated details might be discouraging instead of encouraging – so take heed and moderately soak up what’s ahead.
For those of you who doesn’t know Ernest Pascual, he’s the proprietor and lead coordinator of Bespoke Manila, an events coordination company (based in Manila, where else?) that specializes in personalized weddings. He is also that guy in pink below (yes, the color is a dead giveaway). Don’t be turned off, intimidated, or repelled by that stern look – that is his game-face….
… and these are his various expressions of mood and demeanor.
Already this is my sixth paragraph, and the main feature has yet to start. At this juncture, let’s officially enter into Ernest’s world. This is at the Banyan Pavilion of the Blue Leaf Events Place in Fort Bonifacio where, as we peek inside, we find Ernest and his team preparing for the wedding of Norwelle and Gen later that day. (This is after Ernest has checked on the bride and attended to her needs and to a couple of endorsements at Hotel Celeste, and then left her to his able assistant, Joy.)
People may not be aware of it, but I’m pretty sure that this is how they imagine coordinators to be as they prepare for events (“That’s my dad on the right picture overseeing the set-up. He is my quality checker–making sure that everything falls into place as planned. He is the brains behind most of my details. I am indeed blessed to have a creative family to support me in my events,” Ernest quips). The entire Ernest’s team has started setting the ornaments and details in place early on to make certain that by the time the bride and groom arrive to survey the place…
… they are entranced by the scene and would just savor every moment of their special day. Note the look on Gen’s face that encapsulates her delight, disbelief, and satisfaction.
Allow me to let you in on something that I have just realized. Seeing Ernest’s team work at the venue doesn’t mean that real work has simply started there. In fact, those are just the finishing touches for the work that has begun months before. Where? Well, aside from Ernest’s head where most concepts originate, the ideas also come from…
Good old Divisoria – the mecca for bargain-hunters, and for any thing (name it, the place has it) cheap and hard to find. A place where inexpensive items when mixed and matched or properly used and crafted can rival those beautiful things pictured in glossy, imported wedding magazines.
Ernest, who considers his mom to be as one of his great influences, recounts: “I remember being asked by my Mom to join her on her trips to Divisoria, Baclaran, Dapitan and Dangwa. You see, she is the resourceful type, the one to ask if you want something and do not know where to get it. She knows everything–from ribbons to laces (which can be bought by the yard or per kilo), from ready-made decors to scrap materials, if you wish to create your own. She also gave me practical tips on how to deal with vendors and how helpful it is to prepare a list of items you will buy so as not to waste time.”
Ernest is known to bring blessings (read: rain) to the weddings he handles. His shooting schedule with us fell on the day following a heavy downpour which left the streets of Divisoria in all their muddy glory. In such a situation, it behooves us to be cheerful in spirit and predisposition, and to take everything in stride.
In this little muddy haven just outside of Chinatown in Manila, Ernest has built his own trail that traverses his favorite stores which offer most that he needs to execute his creative ideas.
His quest for the “essentials” starts with an appropriate get-up – a comfy shirt, a pair of jeans, water-proof kicks, and sometimes a colorful sweater to liven up the gloomy weather. And yes, a nice, humongous shopping bag to complete the Divisoria look.
Game-face on – the Diva is now ready to take on Divi!
Paper of all kinds and colors can be used for backgrounds, napkin holders, wrapping giveaways, and origami. They can even double as a blanket for unexpected overnights.
Frames of every size and shape can be used for table numbers, menu cards holders, reception table details, and to hit someone in the head with.
Of course, there are hurdles along the way that can ruin everything – like puddles.
But nothing gets you back in the mood better than an encouraging phone call from a friend :)
Off we go again. This time, updating exaggeratedly his FB status: “Almost drowned in the flood, good thing I stepped over it”; we’re talking about that puddle of course. :)
When artistic people are full of ideas, the possibilities are endless. They can think of so many things to do with the most ordinary items and create something new and beautiful. Here, Ernest looked like he saw a fruit and thought if he could use it for one of his table settings. Well, either that or he wanted to beautify the carton signage that says: “Lychees: 40pesos/kilo.”
Abaca bags, flowers, baskets, ropes, butterflies, etc. can be used for practically anything.
Unavoidably, like all locals, Ernest haggles with the vendor, and from the looks of it, he’s losing. Hahaha!
Ernest caps his Divisoria trip with a visit to his favorite store – the secret store of ribbons and laces.
Ernest is such a regular here that he literally helps himself to the goods.
In fact, he knows about most of the products that they sell (sometimes better than the vendor) that he is very much qualified for their new opening.
We started at around 7am and after more than three hours and hundreds of yards of laces, we’re finally done in Divisoria.
Ernest visits Divisoria a few times a month. Those who go there (even the regular ones) would agree that shopping in Divisoria is definitely a challenge. But he believes that it is something that must be done. If not, it would be costly to implement the ideas decided upon. Moreover, it is a wise, practical way of stretching the value of his beloved clients’ money. He also gets to execute a lot of novel ideas to make a slated wedding as beautiful as it can possible be.
As exhausting as that trip to Divisoria was, it is nothing compared to the laborious process of organizing every purchase and then start to execute the ideas themselves.
All of these happen at the Bespoke headquarters where Ernest is joined by his sister, Ria (photographed here), who manages all of the company inventories and helps out in conceptualizing and creating numerous wedding details.
The items bought in the market are now incorporated with other items that Ernest had especially designed and printed in advance. Together, the vision is transformed into reality.
Here, he is the boss. And there is a nice, happy and inspiring feeling seeing all those materials mounted all over the place.
A few weeks before Norwelle and Gen’s wedding, Ria has readied the components of the hot-air balloon models so that it would be easier to assemble them in the venue. This is just one of many items they need to prepare for the wedding as you will see later on.
For example, check out how many items are used to put together a unique invitation. Ordinarily, most people will merely get a card and an envelope. But with strings from Divisoria, a nice tag to accent, and a laborious dose of love, Ernest can create invitations that are chic and classy.
What about the materials (the paper, frames, candles, all kinds of props, etc.) that the company has accumulated over the years? The brother and sister tandem (with considerable help from their OC dad) has developed an organization system which enables them to work faster and more efficiently. Ernest shows us how they organize all the stuff – in huge uniform plastic bins.
According to Ria, all of the supplies are organized per color. At first, I thought it was odd but then it made sense when she explained that it is easier to see what they need and what are available depending on the color motif of a particular wedding. SHMART! :)
Here, used candles are recycled – melted altogether (of course, per color) to create new candles.
To avoid opening the bins unnecessarily just to check the inventory, Ernest and Ria have all the contents in an updated spreadsheet organized and yes, photographed, per color – complete with item code, inventory count, and box location.
Only after that grueling Divisoria trip and the agonizing organization and preparation at the office (countless consultations via email and phone calls with the couple in-between) can we go back to the Blue Leaf, where Ernest and his team are busy preparing for the wedding.
Remember those numbered plastic bins at the Bespoke headquarters? They have similar boxes brought to the venue, still serving their grand purpose in a coordinator’s life.
And here’s a favorite. Remember the nice distinct invitation? Ernest makes sure that the wonders do not stop there. Simple bubble-makers that most people take for granted can be beautifully prepared. But again, it takes creativity, time and love (see all the steps below).
Voilá! It is a joy to use, to behold, and to photograph. :)
Photo below by Mimi and Karl
And we’re just getting started. How about themed “Just Married” tags…
…that looked lovely on the bridal car.
Photo below by Mimi and Karl
Here are other details that the team prepared at the Bespoke office weeks in advance – every one of them stylish and consistent with the wedding theme. Every one of them made with the passion to create splendid, beautiful things. I told you, we are just getting started.
Table numbers: Papier-mâché and spray-on paint.
Place cards, in the same wedding colors, patterns and font.
Remember those frames? Menu labels without a trace of Divisoria now. (Ernest’s reminder: It is important to finalize the menu during the last meeting with the caterer to make time for the design and printing of the menu cards).
Table Napkin Holders
The different crew start coming in almost at the same time. Ernest believes that with proper endorsements during the pre-production meetings (with caterers, florists, lights/sounds, mobile bar, draping supplier, etc) things would be easier not only for the suppliers but also for all involved if they know what has to be done – with minimal supervision– during the wedding day. Ernest explains: “My sister, Ria, who is in-charge of the reception together with two more staff, has been briefed as what needs to be highlighted per event – layout of the tables, number of people on the VIP, program, deliveries (of cake, flowers, etc.), payments, etc and she does all these effortlessly. I work best when I don’t “work.” Meaning, I oversee. On the wedding day, a coordinator’s efficiency can be tested on how he or she troubleshoots should a thing or two do not go well as planned. As the head coordinator, I am blessed to have best people who work with me. They are professionals who have regular day jobs but are passionate about weddings.”
More and more items arrive and get set as the dinner reception approaches.
Cake details with the couple’s initials and a design consistent with the table numbers:
And how about these? Themed cocktail drinks – Yellow Dalandan and Blue Lemonade.
And if you look closely enough, the straws have labels on them inscribed with the couple’s favorite quotations. Ingenious . Cute.
In lieu of the candy bar, Ernest has prepared a nut station with a signage that says “Mani (nut in Filipino) can’t buy you Love.” Pun intended; cleverly playing with words.
The nut station features some of the model hot air balloons that Ria assembled earlier. The table is also decorated with gossamer ribbons accentuated with hot-air balloon metal ornaments.
It doesn’t stop there. The nut station has beautiful blue nut pouches with tags bearing the wedding logo. These pouches are gingerly placed inside a decorative luggage to jibe with the travel theme.
The registration table has quite a number of interesting items on it as well. It has a huge model hot-air balloon, a themed sign that says “Romance is in the Air,” and lollipop cakes which double as escort card holders where the wedding guests’ seat numbers are indicated.
The lollipop cakes are such a crowd-pleaser. Guests amusingly take photos of them. (According to Ernest, this is what he always envisions with his details– let the guests interact with the details and let the details amuse and delight the guests.)
Talking about crowd-pleasers, we go back to those party pabitin-like things. Here, members of the team put various elements including model balloons, puffy yellow pompoms made of delicate yellow tissue, laces, strings of acrylic beads, and blue and yellow organza ribbons which have a photo of the couple at the bottom and quotes on the underside – all of them hanging right before the entrance to the venue.
And a sure hit they were. People are ecstatic about them…
…so are the couple.
As the reception starts and proceeds, more details are used. These ones are for the games that evening – prizes and props for the bride/groom game. (Ernest’s note: “I oversee or make sure that things are running smoothly as planned –food on the buffet table are refilled; wine being served; attending to the couple’s requests; briefing the emcee on instant changes; and cueing the presentations and speeches.”
And while the happenings proceed smoothly, Ernest and his team’s work is not yet over. The reception team needs to prepare the customized giveaways…
… and as the party ends, starts to put away all of the stuff that they have prepared.
After countless hours of planning and implementing, the wedding day is finally over. Ernest and his team have left no stone unturned to ensure that Norwelle and Gen get the best possible wedding that they can have (of course in ways that Ernest can control and influence).
Be sure to check out the awesome same-day edit (SDE) AVP from this wedding of Norwelle and Gen to complete your journey and have a better feel of everything you just saw :) Click here to view it.
Special thanks for Gia Lara for the photo from Norwelle and Gen’s wedding reception. :)
Also, check out a special video created by Ian Cruz (Ian Cruz films) for Bespoke Manila.