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I always say that more than just pretty pictures, I want grit, honesty, and rawness. Photographs that make me look twice, not to marvel at how elaborately they were orchestrated, but because they were real, because I found some measure of stillness in them, and because they moved me.

My husband took this portrait the other day, and I can’t get it out of my head. This was Isa hours before her wedding.


(a.k.a. #melxmong; #freedom; Indie Hipster Wedding of the Year)

Mong and Mel have traveled all over the world standing next to each other just like this. Last November 15, they did it in slightly better clothes.

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Okay, maybe lots fancier.

Thousands of weeping female fans on Instagram kind of shows you how well-loved Mong Alcaraz is. There’s something about him that’s so boy-next-door nice guy that charms you right off the bat, and being the guitarist for two of the biggest bands around — ChicoSci and Sandwich — really doesn’t hurt, I’m sure. But what truly gets me is how he looks at Mel, like he can’t believe how lucky he is, and how he’s even punching his fist in the air because this brilliant, gorgeous woman is his wife, and I just love that. Mel is an accomplished producer who has won a Cannes Film Festival award. I found out the night before their wedding, saw the short film online, and quite literally hyperventilated from the pressure. I slept at 3am. Hahaha.

We met Mel for the first time that morning, and it was raining outside. On the day of their garden wedding. But she took it all in stride. Other people were already panicking and wanting to move the reception indoors. She told me calmly that it was going to rain at 1pm and again at 3pm, and then it was all going to be okay. She was right. Or Accuweather was right. (Ladies, look up your wedding dates now!) I was smitten with her dress right away. She told me it was RTW from Landmark with a little chuckle, and I thought she was kidding. It looked couture to me. She told her entourage the same thing an hour later, and I still didn’t believe her. I think I only believed it when she gave me a list of her suppliers a couple of days ago. She was stunning and radiant, and the dress fit her like a glove. Total rock and roll bride, this one.

And little Mira with her pretty little toenails, who would smile every time I pretended to sneeze, I ADORE her. What a beautiful family. Jeff and I, along with our team, were insanely happy to have been there. I loved all the little details, like how the bride did the calligraphy herself, and we all flipped over the surprise Mong arranged for their first dance, when Rico Blanco and Sandwich played Blur’s The Universal.

Mong and Mel, thank you for the trust and for sharing your day with us. Even more than the music and the films and tv shows, Jeff and I are big fans of your love.

(Everyone else, there are over 90 photos ahead. Please bear with the loading time. We couldn’t delete any more.)

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Preps: Seda Nuvali | Church: Montecito Chapel, Nuvali | Reception venue: Pasa Tiempo, Montecito | Bride’s dress and veil: Landmark and Divisoria | Groom’s suit: Topman | Makeup: Jhong Sudlon | Hair: Jay Aquino | Invitations: Printsonalities | On-the-day Wedding Coordinator: Empire Weddings | Flowers and event styling: Flowers by Rosabella | Boutonnieres and decorations: Popjunklove | Caterer: Via Mare | Videographer: Jason Magbanua | Cake: Karen’s Kitchen | Lights and sounds: Sound Assembly | Parachute Tents: Joe’s Party Shop and Flowers by Rosabella | Church Choir: Koro San Miguel | Jazz Band: Sticky | Music: Tandems 91, Mars Miranda, Nix Damn P | Wedding planners: The bride and her awesome mom

Melbourne Engagement 01

Three weeks ago, we had the pleasure of flying off to Melbourne to shoot Paul and Karyn’s engagement session. We fell in love with Sydney when we shot there a few months ago, and were looking forward to visiting Melbourne. Everyone’s been raving about the coffee, and they seriously weren’t exaggerating. The coffee was so good in all these charming little hipster cafes, Jeff and I were having 3-4 cups a day. Each. Probably not the healthiest choice, but it was just that good. And the food, don’t even get me started.

Melbourne is so chill and laidback, so different from Manila and what we’ve gotten used to whenever we’re shooting in Hong Kong and Singapore. But it’s gorgeous. There is so. much. space! And the views are quite lovely. Oh, and that joke about how Melbourne gets all four seasons in a single day? It’s true.

Paul and Karyn are so adorable together, you wouldn’t think they disliked each other when they first met. It’s funny how things work out. Paul is always the gentleman, a bit quiet and reserved, and Karyn is this spunky little firecracker who laughs with abandon and runs brilliantly on 4-inch heels, but it works. It fits. And it felt wonderful to be taking their engagement photos in the place where they fell in love, especially now that they’ve just made the big move to Manila. I can imagine them showing these photos to their children someday, of this romantic city where mom and dad met, and the thought makes me immensely happy.

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