The Philippine wedding industry has some of the most creative minds and hands. And while most are familiar with Metro Manila wedding suppliers by virtue of them being more active on social media, bridal fairs, or the sheer volume of their projects, Filipino wedding creatives abound from North to South.
Michael Ruiz, one of the most in-demand event stylists in Manila, shares about meeting Davao-based event stylist Khim Cruz four years ago in Phuket, Thailand when we attended the event styling workshop of Karen Tran in 2016. Karen Tran is an international event designer who conducts masterclasses all over the world. “We thought the three of us, (GMT- Gideon Hermosa, Michael Ruiz, and Teddy Manuel) were the only ones representing the Philippines. Then we met Khim there, a young event stylist from Davao. Minsan kasi ‘naisip natin if province-based, mas ‘di up-to-date sa style and trends. Pero you’ll be surprised by Khim’s work. Her workmanship and style—magaling siya. Kaya niya makipagsabayan sa mga big events and set-ups one usually sees in Manila,” Ruiz said.
Khim Cruz’s Instagram page is a wonderland of styling ideas. The scale and size of her events are comparable to Manila and Pampanga proportions. Davao weddings usually have 300-400 guests. For Chinese weddings, it’s from 500 and up. Cruz only accepts one event per week and has been consistent in doing an average of 50 or a little more events per year since 2018. This year, despite Covid-19, some weddings in Davao are still being celebrated. ‘”Not the same as last year, but we’re thankful we still have weddings to do. While the pandemic brought significant changes in the size of our events, we have maintained how we do it when I started doing event styling,” Cruz shared. The local government of Davao has strict guidelines for social events. Special permits are required for public events. “Guests are limited to 25 pax. A compliance officer will be on-site to ensure that social distancing and health protocols are followed,” she said.
Being able to adapt to the changes in this new normal is crucial to overcome the odds we are all facing. Previously, there is no dearth of imported and exotic flowers from the floral capitals of the world, “Keeping these flowers fresh is a challenge for us now as flights are limited. Imported flowers come in wilted due to the heat and humidity while awaiting a flight,” Cruz has been using dried flowers recently, and its easy maintenance is perfect for small-scale weddings, which are now the norm. The carbon footprint went down a few notches as well.
For the wedding of Mico and Jackie, we had our initial meeting last year, where we discussed the theme, concept, and other details that Jackie wanted. Adjustments were made—the date was moved, an initial 600 pax guest list pared down to 25, the wedding ceremony was in a private function area instead of the church, and the hotel ballroom wedding reception to a small restaurant.
Cruz works based on the theme and details the bride likes and translates these into her vision for the wedding set-up. “We had three theme changes in between. I ended up working on a new theme while still incorporating some elements from her old one. Jackie wanted light bulbs, native lanterns, preserved leaves and florals, and the use of orange and yellow colors for her wedding. Thus, I came up with a sunset Boho with a touch of industrial-feel design for her,” Cruz said.
Jackie Belaniso-Toh reminisces on her recent wedding and shares how she appreciates how Khim remembered how they wanted light bulbs for the decor. “We changed our theme three times, so I didn’t expect that she’d still be able to remember that small detail from our first meeting, but she did,” she said. Successful execution is really all in the details.
“Khim has always been a household name in the events industry here in Davao. In just a short period of time, she has carved a name for herself, and her work speaks volumes about her talent. I am in awe of her creativity. We’ve gotten to know her through our friends and family, who also got her to style their events. She was also the event stylist for my brother-in-law, who got married last year. Being a once in a lifetime event, we wanted the best for our wedding. We chose her because we trust in her talent to pull off our dream wedding without compromising our vision. It was really nice how, despite the current situation and changes, we got to have our beautiful wedding.”
Event stylist Khim Cruz comments on working on Mico and Jackie’s wedding, “We were able to work with a crew of 12 for the ceremony and reception. The people behind Casa Vieja and The Fat Cow were very helpful and accommodating. They allowed us to start working a day before the wedding. Materials and items we handle are all disinfected not only before the event but also after the event. In our workplace, face masks and shields are worn, footbath, placement of alcohol in key places, and frequent hand washing were done. I have been using and will continue to work with maximizing the use of local flowers as it has its own unique charm and, more importantly, to help our local farmers.”
Photos of the couple by @theorganicstudios Additional photos and videos courtesy of @khimcruzevents
Marbee Shing-Go is a curator of wedding ideas for the past 18 years and has collaborated with top international brands in producing content and projects for both the wedding market and industry. She is also the editor of MEGA Weddings, the country’s only coffee table book on wedding tablescapes and was the showrunner of She Said Yes! A wedding show created by FOXlife Philippines.
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