Step Inside Michelle Barrera & Santi Juban's Australian Wedding
“It was our shared love for horses that made us friends,” says Michelle Barrera-Juban, Secretary General of the Equestrian Association of the Philippines, of her now husband, Stefano “Santi” Juban, Location Manager and Director of Philippine Film Studios Incorporated (PFSI).
They met through common friends in 2011 behind (where else?) The Last Chukker at Manila Polo Club. Four years later, the pair would be practically inseparable and in 2017 would go on three dates.“After that,” she continues, “we were both maybe a little worried about dating again because we valued our friendship so much. However, I knew he was definitely the one when he asked me to be his girlfriend in December 2018, but told me he would ask my dad’s permission first. Keeper!”
The couple decided on marrying in Australia since the bride had grown up there. “We also thought it would be nice and more memorable to share a little bit of my second home with immediate family and our closest relatives and friends. For many, it was their first time in Australia, so it was nice to be able to give them a bit of a tour through our cruise on the way to the reception from the church,” she reveals.
Most of the couple’s 203 guests fl ew in from the Philippines and around Australia. “My best friend, Mariana Mayorga, fl ew in from Chile; and some of my cousins and friends fl ew in from the other side of the globe too. It was really very special to us both to have our nearest and dearest with us.”
Read on to hear from the bride herself:
When: 7 October 2019
Where: St Joseph’s Chapel, Hunters Hill followed by a reception at Deckhouse, Woolich, Sydney, Australia
How did Santi propose to you?
Santi told me we were going to do a photoshoot with a prenup theme for his photographer friend, Jose Pleno. I found it a little strange, but he told me that Jose wanted to build his portfolio for weddings and prenups and that he offered him and myself as subjects in exchange for his family’s Christmas photoshoot at their farm.
When we got to the farm, we spent the entire morning washing horses that would be part of the shoot. Santi played sappy romantic music all morning and by the time everyone else arrived, we were ready to start. We shot a few layouts, and then Santi sent me out in the blistering heat with Jose and his favourite horse, Pepper, to shoot solo. Halfway through, our song started playing—really loud. I couldn’t turn around because Jose had suddenly found the right lighting and angles but Pepper was was starting to act up. All of a sudden, Pepper pulled back and freaked out. I turned around to see Santi with his entire family lined up behind him, holding my horse wearing a rug that read, “Will You Marry Me?” He was really proposing—to which I think I said, “Oh my God! Are you sure about this?!” The rest was and will always be a beautiful blur
What was the overall look and theme of your big day?
I always wanted something very simple but elegant. We had a spring theme to the wedding, with soft colours contrasted with blue eucalyptus, and a bit of a rustic feel.
Who did your flowers and what was the direction there?
I shared pegs with our florist, Fleur Events, and they expertly created each arrangement accordingly. What was really very special to us was that my mum stepped in to help with the reception arrangements because my nieces and nephews wanted to gift us with herb and flower pots they made themselves. Fleur Events incorporated those into the settings, and they added the perfect sentimental touch. Being the horse-loving couple we are, we replaced table numbers with the names of horses who had been instrumental in our lives and success.
What were your wedding party favours?
We had “To have and to hold, In case you get cold” scarves for the women; gravy boats with our logo, “To remind you to keep pouring a little bit of love into your lives;” Gold Santi & Michelle horse head paperweights “To remind you not to let life weigh you down” for our godparents and immediate family; kissing bells; dancing flats for the ladies in little personalised bags; herb and flower pots which were part of the fl oral arrangements; and special wedding edition Santi & Michelle wines. Our bridal party had travel packs with essentials; my bridesmaids got PJs, a robe, a stress ball, and some perfume in theirs; and Santi’s groomsmen had handkerchiefs, sunglasses, cologne, and stress balls.
Who did you wear for your wedding and reception and how did you decide on this? What was the process like?
I wore a gown by Pronovias, which I added my own touch to for the wedding, and used it until the formalities of the reception were over. For the reception party, I had a pair of white slacks and a long white lacey top to go with it made. I had some inspiration from some things I had seen over the years, and had a friend make it for me so I could dance freely at the reception (we played a lot of Latin music, and my friends are excellent dancers!).
Which wedding apps, sites, and bridal Instagram accounts did you follow for inspiration?
We used Pinterest for a lot of inspiration, and then Etsy for a lot of little things.
Did you plan your big day with a strict budget in mind? If yes, can you give Philippine Tatler Weddings readers pointers?
Yes, we did, but it didn’t go as planned! We ended up setting the budget and then adding an allowance of 25% to go on top of it—great advice given by my brother. I would let go of the frills because it’s a few hours of a day in your lives. People will remember the feel of the day, whether they were hot or cold, and whether the food was good or not. They won’t remember what they ate or what transportation you used (unless it was something out of the ordinary). They won’t remember much about the speeches, so keep them short so you can celebrate with your guests. We saved a lot on fl oral arrangements by incorporating them into both the wedding and reception venues.
How much time did you spend planning your first home together? The décor? Style?
We both wanted our home to be bright and simple. We have kept a bit of a horse-feel through our home, but have pretty much kept the focus on the kitchen (my happy place), and his games area (his happy place). We have a couple of rooms that can be used as a guest room or kids room, so we have chosen very comfortable furniture with a very simple, almost rustic feel. I’m very big on vegetables, so we have a growing garden of herbs and vegetables outside too. We didn’t get an interior designer for our home, because it being our first home, we wanted to be able to have fun and experiment with our own unique styles. It’s perhaps the best (most cost-efficient) decision we could have made starting our new life together!
- Photography NICEPRINT PHOTO AND JOSE PLENO