Catriona Gray and other ‘I do’ moments at Marry Me at Marriott

Six designers showed wedding collections that ranged from opulent to romantic, ‘50s-inspired, fairy tale and pastel hued.

Beauty queen Catriona Gray took the audience by surprise when she walked the runway of Marry Me at Marriott last night, June 22.

Wearing a ball gown-style wedding dress by Jaggy Glarino, she glided on the runway like a true bride, in platform heels and clutching a eucalyptus bouquet. The taffeta skirt looked straight out of a fairy tale while her modern bouquet — not the usual super arranged flowers — looked as if the eucalyptus stems were picked from a wooded area by her bridesmaids. It made a perfect counterpoint to the voluminous dress.

Catriona Gray in Jaggy Glarino wedding gown
Wedding gown by Jaggy Glarino. Photos by RAMON MANGILA

The 9th edition of Marry Me at Marriott was once again a spectacle of everything weddings at the Marriott Grand Ballroom, an 8,000 sqm. space that’s the biggest ballroom in the country.  The wedding and event stylists were at the Marriott Moments A-Fair Hall and the Marry Me show was held at the Fashion Hall.

Bruce Winton, Marriott International Multi Property VP-Philippines, reflected on Marry Me at Marriott holding its 9th edition this year, and the hotel group’s expansion in the country, saying, “We remain committed to be our stakeholders’ ally in creating more Marriott Moments with seven operational hotels, two more to open in 2023, and a total of 15 in the pipeline.”

“It’s like organizing 10 weddings all at once,” Marriott Cluster Director for Marketing Communications Archie Nicasio quipped to host RJ Ledesma. Nicasio’s team — which includes Manila Marriott, Sheraton Manila and Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo — organized the event.

While the wedding stylists outdid each other with beautiful maximalist settings of flowers, tables and accessories, the runway design took things down several notches.

The background featured a Tree of Life that changed colors in sync with the images on the huge LED screen behind it. One moment it transported the audience to Narnia, the next it put them in the middle of spring when cherry blossoms are in bloom, followed by images of the industrial age and stained glass.

Beauty queens at Marry Me at Marriott
Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee is flanked by with Miss Supranational Philippines 2023 Pauline Amelinckx and Miss Charm Philippines 2023 Krishnah Gravidez. Gowns by Albert Andrada.

Against this background, six designers — Val Taguba, Ezra Santos, Jaggy Glarino, Rhett Eala, Jezelle Amorado and Albert Andrada — revealed collections that ranged from hooded and bling-embellished to mermaid skirts and structured ‘50s-inspired dresses. This definitely wasn’t the occasion for minimalist wedding dresses.  

Taguba, who specializes in ball-gown wedding dresses and has done some beauty pageant gowns, opened the show with his glittery pieces. “A winning moment for me is seeing my bride so confident and beautiful wearing my gown,” he says.  

Against a winter postcard background, his first dress was a translucent piece embellished with embroidery, crystal and glass beads, and a hood. This set the tone for the opulence that accompanied each dress.

Val Taguba wedding gowns Marry Me at Marriot
Val Taguba

Dubai-based designer Ezra Santos brought the rich city’s Middle Eastern aesthetic to Manila. “It’s my first time to do a wedding show in Manila. It’s an exciting event to be a part of,” he says. “I want my brides to feel their best and most beautiful on their wedding day.”

Santos’ white tuxedos for grooms were also tastefully embellished with embroidery and crystal beads on the sleeves to match the brides’ aesthetic.

Jaggy Glarino, who’s shown his penchant for deconstruction in local fashion shows, went back many generations using 1950s fashion as his inspiration and bringing it to his natural style.

His dresses were a tribute to 1950s couture, ranging from structured to mermaid and A-line. Some of the brides wore wide-brimmed hats decorated with flowers, bringing a nostalgic mood to the runway.

Ezra Santos wedding gown Marry Me at Marriott
Ezra Santos

The inspiration may be Charles James-era but Glarino paid particular attention to the contemporary times by harnessing “all the techniques, fabrication of the era and making them alive in this day.” He says he knows his dress is a success when the woman feels beautiful and empowered wearing it.

Rhett Eala recognizes that some brides embrace colors other than white and his collection showed that. There were pink, baby blue and lilac suits and dresses, and the background for his brides was an equally colorful stained glass with the tree of life lit by thousands of yellow fairy lights.  

Rhett Eala gown Marry Me at Marriott
Rhett Eala

“Good fabric, good silhouette and a very wearable dress make for a winning moment. The fantasy is in how the woman feels. It’s when everything comes together and everyone is happy,” Eala says.

Jezelle Amorado’s collection is timeless and romantic. “It’s something I drew from my own passion in terms of fashion design. My career and everything that has led to this moment is a love story,” she says. “A winning moment is truly something that lasts for a lifetime. And that’s something you cannot achieve by waiting around — it’s something that you build.”

Jezelle Amorado Wedding gown Marry Me at Marriott
Jezelle Amorado

How fitting it was that Amorado’s dreamy dresses came out on the runway to the backdrop of letters being written. Her dresses had voluminous skirts and form-fitting tops — putting you in the mood for a ball where the main characters lock eyes across the room and fall in love.

Albert Andrada’s take on the bride’s big day comes in all colors. And why not? “It’s always traditional for the bride to wear white or off-white,” but Andrada advocates the use of pastels like baby pink and powder blue. With those colors, the dress can look more feminine, he says. “White is still there of course, but I’m injecting pastels in this collection.”

Marry Meat Marriott event
Bruce Winton (center, in tux), Marriott International Multi Property VP Philippines, with the fashion designers and executives from Marriott properties in the Philippines.

Two weeks ago, Andrada had a show at Marriott New York, and he’s proud that more and more Filipino fashion designers are being recognized abroad. “And now here I am in Marriott Manila! I feel very proud to be part of Marry Me at Marriott.”

The collections of Val Taguba, Ezra Santos, Jaggy Glarino, Rhett Eala, Jezelle Amorado and Albert Andrada will make any bride blush with happiness on her big day. And with the lovely settings that stylists put on display at the Marriott Grand Ballroom, it’s a perfect day waiting to unfold.  

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