Opting for an intimate gathering of 120 guests last February, the Gonzalez's traditional “I do’s” took place at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church followed by a romantic sunset dinner at the Punta Bunga Beach at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa.
Prior to the wedding, the couple held an informal engagement ceremony at Annua, a famous two-Michelin starred restaurant in San Vicente de la Barquera, Spain, for Chele's loved ones who were not able to celebrate with them in the Philippines.
Of course, when one is invited to a wedding planned and executed by an events guru (and with a powerhouse wedding network to boot!) and a celebrated chef whose restaurant made it to Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants twice from 2016 to 2017, one can be certain that such a celebration would be one for the books. Well, let's just say the Gonzalez nuptials certainly were.
This well-loved couple gives Philippine Tatler a he says / she says account of their big day.
PT: When and how did you meet?
Terri Echiverri Gonzalez: We met on a blind date arranged by a cupid named Cristina del Carmen, a colleague and friend from Edsa Shangri-La and one of Chele’s best friends in the Philippines. It was December 2014 when Cristina proposed this blind date and it was a challenge to schedule. Chele left for Madrid Fusion (January 2015), and I had previously planned for a sort of "Eat, Pray and Love" solo retreat to Bali, around the time the introduction was to be made. Finally – and bizarrely – on Good Friday (God forbid!) we agreed to the “encounter” that would forever change our lives.
PT: Was it love at first sight?
Chele Gonzalez: The first date with Teri was something very special. She was fun, intelligent, endearing, simply just amazing. I just felt comfortable with her, we could talk about anything and I could be “me” with her. We have the same values, a similar educational background and shared social environments. Though we are culturally diverse in our backgrounds, our families have many things in common. More importantly, she is the hottest and most beautiful girl in the world! Ha ha!
TG: For me, it was actually more of love at first “bite ”(not in a sensual way though!). When my friends and I first visited his restaurant, Gallery Vask, I was excited to see the place and what he does, and taste his food. His character, the way he behaved, his commitment, passion and dedication to his work and how he simply relishes it, were all the qualities I was looking for in a man. His values are impeccable and his intelligence and positive outlook in life really made me realise he was the one.
PT: Chele, tell us about the proposal.
CG: I’m a super organised person and I planned a romantic weekend getaway with her at Shangri-La’s Resort & Spa Boracay, where, with the help of the F&B director, Keith, I was able to plan the whole thing. One night, during sunset cocktails at the pool bar, I'd continuously check on the chef’s table, which was just beside us, to see what was happening and "assist" with the food. I invited Teri over to help us and there, she found the hidden gem under a cloche.
Shang Bora was the perfect venue for me, cliché as it may sound, as I actually worked there from 2011 to 2012 for a few months. Let’s also not forget that Teri is connected to Shangri-La. Well, it’s also a given that Boracay is paradise.
PT: Tell us about the engagement ring.
CG: Her sister, Chiara, advised me that Teri had a very clear idea of what she wanted her ring to look like. She even had a peg on her Pinterest “Wedding board.” It's a very classic round diamond ring with a modern twist. I looked all over for one like it and even went to Spain as part of my search for this perfect ring. Ironically, I found it at Sunjewel at the EDSA Shangri-La.
PT: Teri, tell us about the proposal and your reaction.
Women have great intuition and I trusted mine. I didn’t want to assume anything but I felt it the moment he asked me to bring the special [bottle of] wine that I remember him mentioning should "only be drunk on a special occasion." While preparing a special dinner for us, he invited me over to help him out. My head was spinning from the wine. Then the world stopped for a moment when I opened the cloche and saw the ring. My heart stopped when he asked me to marry him. The moment was surreal, just like the dream you have dreamt about a thousand times came true. Of course, I said “yes.”
PT: Teri, what was the overall look and theme of your big day?
TG: I personally really wanted a rustic beach wedding. I wanted the feel of a tropical paradise for our venue, using natural organic materials but with simple, elegant style.
PT: As far as planning is concerned, Teri, you're a pro at hotel events and Chele, when it comes to F&B, only the best would be expected. Tell us about the planning that led up to the big day.
CG: It was a challenge for us to plan our own wedding. You simply want the best, but with so many options, ideas and friends to collaborate with, it was just crazy making all the decisions. We agreed that Shangri-La Boracay would be our reception venue. It’s a place we both consider very special and a location our family and friends would enjoy because of its natural beauty. Teri, of course, wanted a traditional church ceremony. As for the food, that was my thing...
TG: Sometimes, even though you think you're a pro [in the events industry] you can still feel like an amateur when you find yourself planing your own event. But I have met the best people in the industry through my work who all collaborated for my special day. The Shangri-La team helped us with everything and Amanda Tirol was outstanding.
A special mention goes to Mayad who captured all the wonderful moments through their stunning photos and in the same-day video presentation. My dear friend Teddy Manuel, picked the finest flowers. Last but not least, Madge Lehano made me look like a queen.
PT: Who did you wear and how did you decide on this?
CG: It was a mutual decision. Well, in this case it was more Teri. I just wanted to wear shorts and a coat. I thought it was crazy and fun but she wanted something more traditional so I wore a Rajo Laurel barong and she wore a Rosa Clara gown, because it’s a Spanish label.
PT: What details and highlights can you share about the Gonzalez-Echiverri nuptials?
CG: It’s unusual to see a man cry but when I saw the woman I love walking down the aisle towards me, it made me cry like a little boy. Teri was just so beautiful.
TG: Most women dream of getting married and of their wedding day. But to marry the love of your life surrounded by all the people who are very dear to you – there’s nothing more you could ever wish or hope for. Our friends have since shared warm words and gratitude for having them at our wedding. From the location, to the food, and program, all the elements were perfectly weaved into the big day.
PT: Chele, tell us about the menu (and cocktails) you prepared for this very special occasion as we're sure you pulled out all the stops.
CG: The day before the wedding, we had welcome cocktails at Seawind and served local cocktails and Filipino favourites. We had a live chicken inasal grill station, fried kang kong, fish balls and sorbetero.
As a chef, I didn't want the food to be the focus of the wedding and that’s why we chose Shangri-La Boracay. The place in itself is a paradise but I also know the food is good but in a more organic way so people wouldn’t have their expectations of "chef Chele." We really wanted to highlight the venue so we started with cocktails in Allon Garden so we could enjoy the beautiful sunset.
I went for an Asian approach for the hors d’oevres and so we had crispy crab cakes, pork and cilantro spring rolls, dumplings and chicken sate and for some western flavour, smoked salmon and quail egg with truffle. We needed a touch of Spanish cuisine so there was a jamon iberico station from my good friend Besay González of Txanton, who was also one of the groomsmen, as well as a manchego station. There was a whole lot of Anna Rose cava and signature Shangri-La Boracay cocktails.
Then we moved to Punta Bunga beach for the dinner. I wanted at least a couple of plated dishes, and the first was a refreshing kinilaw served in a coconut shell. Everybody loved it and it was so nice see the Spanish and Filipinos guests enjoying one of my favourite Filipino dishes. The second course was local tiger prawns wrapped in bacon and grilled together with a light salad (since we were on the beach it made sense to serve seafood!). I’m not a fan of buffets but I like fresh food so I decided to have live stations. I know this was a challenge for Shangri-La as it’s difficult to cook on the beach for so many people but they did amazing! From the live grill stations, we had steak, tuna and chicken and we also served pasta, salad… and roasted cochinillo!
After the wedding, we rented a boat and the party continued. Well, I still don’t know if it was a Spanish-Filipino wedding or an Indian wedding! Ha ha! It was so much fun!
Back in Manila, we celebrated at Vask with a degustation menu of signature dishes from the Tapas Room and Gallery and then partied on the deck with a DJ. It was also Teri’s birthday that night so it was extra special! To continue the celebration, the following day, we had an Arrozeria brunch with paellas, cochinillo, steak and other signature dishes with wine and sangria.
PT: What stands out to you when you think of your wedding? Why?
TG : Everybody says that a wedding should be one of the most important and beautiful moments of your life. We both feel that what really stood out on our day was our family and friends who all made it so special. Our guests came from all over the world, but everyone became one as we shared our love with them.
CG: It’s not just all about being lavish. Most importantly it was about having all the ingredients for a perfect recipe: a beautiful loving wife + a loving family + a crazy bunch of supportive friends + the beauty of nature... and with God’s grace, it was complete.
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