Aside from their breathtaking beaches and delectable feasts, Hawaii and the Philippines are one in their love of good music and dancing. This makes attending any Filipino-Hawaiian wedding feel like you’ve just stepped into the best part of a Disney film (i.e. when everyone breaks into song and dance, of course!).
You can definitely feel the Disney magic throughout Maricelle and Clarence Redona-Manzano’s one-of-a-kind love story. What started with an exchange of numbers in a Waikiki night club one Friday night, led to an old-fashioned courtship and a five-year engagement (because studies first!), and culminated in a grand winter island wedding on December 14th, 2019 in Hawaii.
And did we mention that Maricelle had won the title of Miss Oahu Filipina? So, this basically makes her a real-life Disney princess, right?
Their Filipino & Hawaiian Wedding at a Glance:
Filipino weddings are all about family, food, and fun, and Maricelle and Clarence’s big day was overflowing with all three.
- It was important for them to honor their Filipino roots in their wedding, so they incorporated the traditional Filipino wedding cord and unity veil into their Catholic ceremony.
- For a more unexpected island wedding color scheme, they opted for winter tones like rose gold and silver.
- Being Disney lovers, they naturally went for a Disney theme, but made sure to keep things subtle.
- You can’t have a Disney-themed wedding without a song and dance number, right? Maricelle and Clarence thought so too… which is why they were introduced through a choreographed production number, which really set the tone for the rest of the evening.
- The hula is a sacred and expressive dance that centers on one’s connection with nature and the divine. And in true Disney fashion, but with a Filipino-Hawaiian twist, Maricelle’s Maria Clara style wedding dress transformed into a terno for the reception, and then to a Holoku for their hula performance, perfectly bringing together her Filipino and Hawaiian heritage.
- During both the ceremony and the reception, Clarence wore a traditional maile-style ti leaf lei, which is a symbol of the Aloha spirit and worn in honor of Laka, the Hawaiian goddess of hula.
- Other family members also wore white tuberose and kukui nut [candlenut] leis, which represent purity, and protection and spiritual strength, respectively.
- More than anything, they wanted their guests to have a good time, and the photos prove that their DJ did not disappoint. A good mix of new songs and classic oldies meant that there was a song (or three) to get everyone off their chairs and onto the dance floor!
- They ended the night with a traditional Filipino money dance... and more dancing!
A Tale of Two Filipino Childhoods
Maricelle was raised in the city of Waipahu in O’ahu, which was very much a Filipino city.
Her mother hails from Pasay City, while her father is from Leyte. Growing up, they spoke multiple languages at home, with her mom speaking Tagalog and English, and her dad also speaking Waray. She was also lucky enough to have her paternal grandparents around.
Clarence also grew up in O’ahu, but on the north shore of the island, which is more of the countryside. He lived in a very tight-knit community, which was a lot like a barangay [neighborhood], where everyone was either related or knew each other.
His family comes from Ilocos Norte, and they mainly spoke Ilocano at home, so much so that he was actually put in English as his second language in school!
On her relationship with being Filipino growing up, Maricelle says:
“For both of us, we were always immersed in the food and language. It was something that was so normal for us and for our friends who came from the same background.
We also both took yearly trips to our ‘mother country’ from a very young age. Our parents wanted us to grow up knowing where we came from, while keeping in touch with our family back home too. They made sure we understood how difficult things were for them.
I have always been fascinated by our culture and had this hunger to learn more. This prompted me to join the Miss Oahu Filipina pageant, and winning the title really helped me become more integrated in our Filipino community here in Hawai’i.”
On Celebrating Their Filipino & Hawaiian Heritage At Their Wedding
“I don’t think I ever imagined my wedding any other way. Growing up, the weddings of everyone around me were always celebrations of our Filipino culture. I also wanted this for our special day. Clarence and I have always loved wearing traditional Filipino clothing. Actually, we both have an entire closet dedicated to it!”
“For our Catholic ceremony, we chose to include the traditional Filipino wedding cord and veil.”
“All the groomsmen, and the ring and coin bearers wore barongs. The ones worn by Clarence and my dad were custom made by a local designer. My mom wore a kimona, which is a traditional Filipino blouse with hand-embroidered details.”
“My ceremony gown was a Maria Clara dress with a panuelo and detachable train and apron. After the ceremony, I removed the train and panuelo to turn my gown into a terno. When I danced my hula for the reception, I took off the lace overlay and terno sleeves to reveal a Holoku, which is a traditional Hawaiian gown.
I also wore the payneta (a traditional Filipino hair accessory) I had used when I won the title of Miss Oahu Filipina.”
“And of course, we had to end the night with a Filipino money dance!”
On Capturing The Right Vibe For A Disney-Inspired Filipino Wedding
The couple both love Disney, so they made an effort to put little touches of Disney throughout the wedding.
Tale as old as time… with a twist. Instead of the usual ring pillow, they had a book with a cut-out to hold their rings for a creative and subtle nod to their theme.
Stitch is quite a unique choice for a wedding cake topper, but this lovable extraterrestrial and his islander heart make him perfect for Maricelle and Clarence’s wedding #OhanaMeansFamily
Shimmery tones of rose gold and silver created a soft and dreamy atmosphere...turning the venue into their very own royal candlelight ball.
“Much as our Catholic ceremony was more on the formal side, we wanted our reception to be fun, fun, fun!”
Sparks are flying, literally! The spark machines really added that extra flair to make this moment all the more magical… and look at how amazing the photos turned out!
On The Top 3 Moments of Their Filipino & Hawaiian Wedding
1. Being walked down the aisle by my dad.
“Years ago, my dad had been struggling with drug addiction and I didn’t think he was going to make it to my wedding day. I’m really grateful that he became sober and was able to get back on his feet to be at my wedding.”
2. Our entrance.
“Instead of being introduced, we decided to do a production number for our party entrance. We choreographed the entire performance to go with our Disney themed wedding because we felt that this better reflected who we were as a couple.”
3. Dancing the night away.
“As an ode to how we met, and because we, Filipinos, love to dance, we made sure to have a good mix of modern and ballroom dancing songs so that there was something for everyone to dance to. I think that was the first time Clarence actually tried to cha-cha! We really wanted everyone to enjoy the dance floor, not just the young ones!”
On the Couple’s Favorite Filipino & Hawaiian Wedding Details
1. The wedding dress
“I loved my gown! I’ve worked with the designer, Iris, on a number of Filipiniana dresses throughout the years, but this is my favorite one of all. My gown was lined with my mother’s gown. Since I’m an only child, she allowed me to take her gown apart. Her train laid on top of mine and this made it so much more meaningful. I also loved how versatile my gown was, and how it transformed throughout the day.”
2. The DJ
“Our DJ and emcee was a college friend who started his own company and has recently become pretty popular. He really kept the vibe going and understood exactly what we wanted. Everyone actually asked for his contact information afterward because of how amazing he was!”
3. The theme
“Being Disney lovers at heart, we had subtle Disney details scattered throughout our wedding... like the hidden Mickeys on my veil, having a book that said ‘tale as old as time’ with cutouts for our rings as our ring pillow, our coin pillow topped with Cinderella’s carriage, and the instrumental Disney music playing in the background during our reception.”
Their Advice to Couples Who Want to Incorporate Their Filipino Heritage at Their Wedding
“Just do it! Whether you want to be subtle or go all out, do what makes you happy! Do your research to find out what’s locally available in your area. Know your options. These days, there are so many online resources to help couples outside of the Philippines add a Filipino touch to their weddings.”
Speaking of online resources, we’ve got a growing list of amazing Filipino wedding vendors that’ll help add a FIlipino touch to your special day! Check out our Filipino wedding directory here.
Have a unique and kilig-worthy Filipino wedding you wanna share with us?
Tell us all about your Filipino love story here and you might just be our next featured couple!
Maricelle and Clarence’s Wedding Vendors
Ko’olau Ballrooms (Glass Ballrooms)
Maricelle’s Wedding Attire:
Clarence’s Wedding Attire:
Esselle Weddings and Events
Jewelry / Accessories:
Old pageant jewelry
Janelle Espritu (Maricelle’s cousin)
Wedding Party Attire:
Noble Creations (from Etsy)
Geraldine Valencia (Maricelle’s)
Jerrimae Castillo (Bridesmaids’)
St. Theresa Co-Cathedral