While the majority of the western world focuses on their immediate family: mom, dad, brothers, and sisters, family ties in the Philippines run deep. It’s not uncommon to meet endless nieces, nephews, and cousins three times removed at any Filipino gathering, even if it’s just a trip to the local mall. With the emphasis of family, one relationship that is lacking is that of husband and wife. And oftentimes, not being married is not by choice.
Simply put, it’s hard to legally marry in the Philippines. Obtaining a marriage certificate takes much more than a trip to the local courthouse. Stacks of documents are required, there are signatures to obtain, and, of course, fees to pay. All these tasks take time, which means days off work, an expense few can afford. Even after these obstacles are cleared, there is the cost of the wedding. So, many couples choose to forego traditional marriage, and live a life as husband and wife in “spirit.”
But, dads still dream of walking their little girls down the aisle. Women still dream of wearing the perfect dress. Grooms dream of placing a ring on their bride’s finger and walking out of the chapel as husband and wife. During Dr. Tim and Jana Mead’s last trip to Tebow CURE Hospital, Jana discovered there were several staff members who longed to marry their long-time partners, but were stuck in the situation that traps so many couples here. So, she set a big goal. Tebow CURE Hospital would host a group wedding for any staff member who wanted to get married.
We had a short timeline, just over six weeks. Very little happens in six weeks, and we knew it would be a tight deadline.
Jana told us, “I started planning, and started Plan B in case things didn’t come together before we left on June 22. But then I stopped and declared in faith: ‘This wedding WILL happen June 18!'” And you know what? It did, and it was beautiful!
Two of our security guards, Hernie and Gerald, and two of our housekeepers, Elaine and Michelle, tied the knot with their significant others on Father’s Day. With the cooperation of their supervisors, paid time off was given to arrange all the paperwork needed. Staff members offered their unique talents to cover hair, makeup, flowers, food, photography, music, clothing, you name it! The end result was stunning. It’s almost impossible to share the beauty we witnessed in just a handful of photos (out of hundreds), but here’s some of the icing on the cake. No pun intended!
Photos by Marlene Bray and Hope Kim Doit