On New Year’s Eve, financier Taro was supposed to meet up with a Tinder date at a club in Manila. As fate would have it, his date was late, and instead he started chatting up with PR exec Janthina. While there were definite sparks flying between the two of them, they later lost each other and didn’t get a chance to exchange information. Luckily, another failed Tinder date a few weeks later would bring them together again. “He matched with a friend but she got sick the day before they were meant to meet,” Janthina recalls. “She asked if I wanted her to “pass him on” to me and attached his photo to the message. Surprise—it was the guy from New Year’s Eve with the tardy Tinder date!” Talk about meant to be.
The two met up that night and quickly started dating long distance for a while—he lived in Hong Kong, while she was in Manila. But it wasn’t until Janthina got into NYU grad school that she was faced with the decision of moving to New York or staying in Asia with her boyfriend. “It wasn’t an easy nor a particularly feminist choice!” she says. But moving to Hong Kong proved to be the right call. A year and a half later, during a trip to Chiang Mai, Taro proposed on the balcony of their hotel. “It was the most matter-of-fact proposal one could ever imagine,” she says. “It was so utterly German of him; we actually couldn’t stop laughing about it afterwards.”
Their diverse backgrounds meant choosing a wedding location would be extra challenging. In the end, they went with Schloss Elmau, a hotel nestled in the German Alps. “It was the first place I met his family, but it was also a place his family had spent many summer for some five generations,” the bride explains. “We loved that we could house all of our 150 guests on the property, which meant that we could foster a real feeling of togetherness for our guests from two very different parts of the world.” Throughout the wedding weekend, guests enjoyed breakfast together, went on trips to a nearby lake, discovered the saunas, and dipped into the icy pools.
As the couple is based in Hong Kong, planning a wedding in Europe was already going to be difficult, but planning one with out a planner even more so. The reason why is because Germans rarely use event coordinators, so for their big day, “it look a lot of pinning, planning, internet sleuthing, a million excel files, unending email exchanges, and detailed Powepoint decks for each supplier” to keep things running smoothly, as Janthina explains. “We even had a family assembly line going for the 150 gift bags we stuffed with maps, wedding info, schnapps, and Bavarian sausages the night before the wedding.”
When searching for her wedding dress, Janthina went to Trinity Bridal, a store in Hong Kong, where she found a pristine, silk column dress by Carolina Herrera with a voluminous detachable train. “It was love at first sight,” she says. “It felt so feminine and elegant, but also minimalist enough that I avoided playing right into the fairytale vibe of the venue.” She paired her dress with an Oscar de la Renta cathedral veil, feather-strapped Gianvito Rossi petal pink sandals, and diamond and drop pearl earrings borrowed from her mother. “The South Sea pearls are from the Philippines and it was nice to wear something of my own heritage that day.”
Keeping in custom with German weddings, the bride later changed into an evening dress, a paper taffeta design by Maison Rabih Kayrouz, which she wore with a delicate coral necklace that has been passed on to every family bride for generations. “It will next go to my son’s wife and it is over 200 years old,” Janthina adds. As for the groom, he wore a blue three-pieced suit, a necktie and pocket square, and a pearl tie pin from his late grandfather.
Janthina’s bridesmaids wore custom dresses by Martin Bautista, a designer and friend of the bride. “I wanted them to look like girls at a party who happened to look amazing in a photo together rather than a group of bridesmaids,” she says. Page boys were outfitted in adorable pairs of lederhosen, while page girls wore jacquard dresses from Marie Chantal with white stockings and baby’s breath wreaths.
Their ceremony paid respects to both of their cultures. Their Lutheran pastor included Filipino aspects into the typical Prostestant ceremony, including the lighting of the marital candle, exchanging of coins, and draping of veil. The bride walked down the aisle to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” sang by her cousin, and hymns were divided equally in German and English in order to include everybody. “One German tradition that we enjoyed very much were special intercessions, in which certain people are chosen to speak about their wishes for the marital couple,” the bride adds. “We had the most incredibly touching wishes.”
After they were declared husband and wife, guests were treated to a glass of bubbly or a Hugo cocktail; a local favorite made with Elderflower, mint, and sparkling wine. After the flower toss and floating bubbles, it was time for cake, a three-tiered Swiss meringue buttercream wonder cake with berry mascarpone filling. Then after a two hour break, where the couple took photos and everyone changed for dinner, the festivities continued with a five course meal that Janthina described as “East meets West—just like us.” In between courses, speeches and presentations by family and loved ones took place. Both fathers gave heartfelt toasts, while the bride’s brothers and bridesmaids delivered emotional tributes as well. “We were so lucky to have a comedienne friend do a skit in the middle so everyone could take a breather,” Janthina says with a laugh. “For the finale, we moved over to the party area where we were treated to a song and dance number by Taro’s three scintillating sisters, who re-wrote his favorite songs to suit our story. Everyone was floored!”
Once dinner was finished, everyone was encouraged to take an espresso martini from a tray to kick off the party. For their first dance, the couple again paid tribute to their surroundings in Elmau. “We waltzed to Künstlerleben by Strauss,” she explains. “With the less than ideal state of the world, it felt like a fitting waltz to find a little beauty and joy for a moment.” Then DJ Petko Pantic from Munich took over the music and guests danced all the way up until 6:00 a.m. thanks to those deceptively dangerous espresso martinis. “My shy brother was breakdancing in his suit. The Filipinos and a few brave Germans were all trying to outdo each other on the dance floor,” Janthina says. “We had people spilling out into the terrace and apparently some into the forest. In the end, we logged something like 200 shots of tequila. Luckily, people only had to trudge upstairs to their rooms via the elevator!”