This couple celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary together with their children—on a beach, against the bright orange sunset sky.
The initial plan to celebrate Mike and Charmaine’s 25th wedding anniversary was a roof deck gathering in Manhattan with family and close friends. But due to the ongoing pandemic, this, along with all other plans made for the past 15 months, didn’t turn out quite as expected.
Nevertheless, the celebration turned out to be everything the couple hoped for and more. In the end, Charmaine and Mike realized that it didn’t need to be a grand and extravagant occasion. All they needed was a priest, their three kids, some good food and wine, and a photo and video team to capture the moments. As for the picturesque beach where the wedding anniversary will take place? It was an absolute bonus!
Wedding Anniversaries Made Special
As a wedding videographer for the past two decades, I live and breathe weddings. It’s an occasion of hope and love—an exchange of vows for the future. But let me tell you (and I don’t say this lightly): there’s something truly special about couples who celebrate their wedding anniversaries. For one thing, it signifies promises kept and vows fulfilled. Yes, the pomp may arguably be not as great as with weddings, but the occasion itself holds so much more gravity for me.
And that makes filming anniversaries so much more special.
Of course, I’m not implying that their relationship is a finished product by any means. In fact, the couple themselves would be the first to tell you that they are still a work in progress—the operative word being “work,” that is. It’s not always rainbows, flowers, and scenic trips to Amanpulo. You take the bad with the good and you work things out.
Pre-wedding Anniversary: A Getaway in Paradise
The first day of the couple’s weekend getaway was spent on a boat for the pre-wedding photo session at sunset. While most anniversary couples (on the other side of ten years) would balk at the cheesiness of this exercise, Charmaine and Mike embraced it with full gusto. And yes, the unabashed public display of attention was welcome and refreshing.
After the shoot, we rendezvoused with the kids at the northern tip of the island for quick family portraits. And it was very telling that the ‘rents continued their lovey-dovey poses without so much as a tiny embarrassed groan from their children. This was definitely a family that used to intimate displays of affection.
Speaking of kids, for most of 2020, Elijah and Mica got stuck in New York when the global lockdown hit. It was only during December of that year that they got to go home. Anya was fortunate to get here by June and because of that, Charmaine told me that she needed another do-over of their place because the empty nest suddenly became a full house once more.
And with the kids home from school, it made perfect sense to continue with the planned celebration, albeit in a different and more intimate kind of way.
Together We Build: A Song for You
After the pre-wedding portraits, the kids got together to rehearse the songs that they plan on playing for the dinner reception the next day. Since they grew up playing and performing music together, this was very familiar territory. However, these circumstances were extra special this time around because they wrote a very special song for their parents—exclusively for their 25th anniversary. And being the music major for musical scoring in USC, Anya led her siblings in putting this song together.
“We work the ground, years go by and here we are, (our) efforts ripe. Take my hand, let’s find our place to stay.”
And no, this wasn’t some last-minute, middle school project clumsily put together. It was a very well-thought-out complex pop song with lyrical depth and a catchy hook. “Together We Build”—the song’s title—is not only meaningful, but it evoked the right emotions and sounded amazing as well.
A Serendipitous Celebration by the Beach
And finally, Sunday was the day. The girls got ready with their mom (she wore a Monique Lhuillier) and Elijah helped his dad in a Rajo Laurel ensemble.
As for the ceremony? It was held by the beachfront just outside their villa.
And in a complete twist of fate (or lucky coincidence perhaps), the priest who was contracted by Amanpulo to hold the mass turned out to be the priest in charge of Fr. Sonny Ramirez during his last days! In fact, that very same Fr. Ramirez was the person who Michael confided in more than two decades ago about his love for this lady named Charmaine. Amazing!
Nothing was more magical than the sunset that served as a beautiful backdrop for the ceremony, with the golden light washing over everything and everyone at the precise time that Mike and Charmaine renewed their vows—a reaffirmation of their undying love for one another and a promise to stick it out no matter what—in front of their proud children.
“Twenty-five is just a number. But it marks the imperfections, the ups and downs, the love and hate, all the wounds that have healed, and the lessons we both have learned together. The drunken and sober nights. the laughter and tears and how we both matured and grew up together. These all make our 25 more important than our other celebrations. It’s how we became us.”
Witnessing a Love Unlike Any Other
It’s amazing how much a virtual stranger like me can feel so inspired by words uttered in ceremonies like these. I may not know a tenth of the stories referenced in the vows but the thing is, I don’t need to. I just take in how things are said—from the inflections to the glances, the reactions… down to the soul of what they’re saying. That’s all I needed to understand in order to appreciate how momentous this celebration was and how fortunate I was to have witnessed it.
Over the course of the meeting and the weekend spent with the Lagmans, I have learned that this family loves their symbolism. In fact, they dubbed their weekend-long celebration—Pilak. Translated to the vernacular for “silver,” this lustrous metal is as precious and strong as the bond they share as a family.
Photos: Francis Perez
Video: Jason Magbanua
Gown: Monique Lhuillier
Suit: Rajo Laurel
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