Going back centuries to the Manila – Acapulco Galleon Trade, the relationship between the Philippines and Mexico is one best defined by what it shares: sweet and savory culinary delights, religious traditions, family values, vocabularies, and even its most common last names.
Just listen to Filipinos speak and you’ll hear the many words rooted in Spanish. And for every Cruz, Reyes, and Garcia you’ll find in Mexico City, there are just as many people with the same surname in Manila.
These common bonds also appear in the love story of Linda and Paco Torres. A shared interest in podcasts and food drew them together, but the deeper thread of their Filipino heritage is what strengthened the couple’s connection. On February 15th, 2020, Linda and Paco tied the knot in a beautiful and vibrant Filipino-Mexican wedding at the Saint Clare Catholic Church in Roseville, California.
From the ceremony to the reception, how did Linda and Paco plan such a memorable event? The two recall how they brought the best of Filipino and Mexican wedding traditions together.
Their Filipino Wedding At A Glance
- Similar to ceremonies in the Philippines and Mexico, the couple wanted the wedding to feel like a big family reunion where everyone felt relaxed and entertained. They even busted out the karaoke and tsinelas (flip-flops)!
- Food, being central to both Filipino and Mexican cultures, was generously served throughout the wedding.
- An ofrenda, or memory table, was placed in the reception area as a way of honoring loved ones who have passed.
- Linda and Paco added even more personal touches to their big day by crafting wedding elements themselves, from their do-it-yourself (DIY) decor to handmade invitations.
- The reception was decorated with teal and orange tablecloths, Filipino fans and palm leaves, and tropical flower arrangements, which transformed the “blank canvas” community center to a festive dining hall.
- Linda and Paco incorporated the traditional rituals of the unity veil and cord, the exchange of coins (arras), and the offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary.
- Guests, totalling 250 in attendance, were encouraged to celebrate the couple in their cultural attire.
A Tale Of Two Filipino Childhoods
Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, Linda grew up in a predominantly Filipino community. Here, her favorite childhood memories were of waking up to get Filipino breakfast―longsilog or tocilog (a plate of meats, egg, and fried rice)―at their local eatery or her grandmother’s house.
Linda’s mother comes from the province of Cavite back in the Philippines, while her father is of Scotch-Irish and Polish descent. She’s been learning a lot about Filipino culture over the years.
Paco was born and raised in Southern California to a Filipino-Mexican family, with his mother Beth hailing from Pangasinan province, and his father being a second generation Mexican-American. His parents always reminded him about the importance of family and having pride in one’s heritage, especially growing up in Orange County where Filipino culture, restaurants, and events were much harder to come by.
“Their home is filled with devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the traditional wood carving of ‘The Last Supper’ that many Filipino homes have. It was always beautiful to see both cultures reflected in their house,” Linda describes Paco’s mixed heritage home.
Linda On Her Relationship With Her Filipino Heritage
“I’ve always felt very proud to be Filipino. I am so grateful for how hard my ancestors have worked so that I could become the person I am today. Our cultural values of family and community are something I always cherish and hope to bring into my family now. I hope that one day Paco and I can raise children who deeply understand their heritage and history. I hope that we can also pass down traditional dishes that our parents and grandparents taught us how to make.”
The Mexi-Pino Wedding: A Celebration Of Their Cultures
“We wanted everyone who came to our wedding to learn something about our culture and see our family diversity reflected in every element. From decor, to attire, to food, if there was an opportunity to create a Filipino/Mexican spin, we made sure to do that!”
“I actually tell people the theme of our wedding was ‘Mexi-Pino’ a blend of Mexican and Filipino. We wanted our wedding to feel like a big family reunion or party―relaxed and fun! We invited people to wear cultural attire and let people know to get ready to dance the night away. In many Filipino households, karaoke is a huge source of entertainment. In our wedding invitation we linked to our wedding Spotify playlist, so people could get ready to sing on the dance floor, too. “
On The Importance Of Family And Tradition
“Blending together our heritage into one event was important because we wanted to share our history and culture with our friends and honor our families.”
On Designing A DIY Wedding Reception Within The Chosen Theme
“In bringing our Mexi-Pino theme to life, we wanted to fill the space with plenty of bright colors to convey our energy and joy to our guests. Our reception hall was a very blank canvas at our local community center so it was important for us to infuse as much color into it as we could.”
“Our tablecloths were teal and orange. They were lined with Mexican table runners we borrowed from a friend and topped with faux cactus centerpieces. We used lots of woven baskets, bamboo elements, and tropical flower pieces to represent our Filipino heritage as well.”
“We lined the walls with multi-colored papel picado (traditional paper-cut banners) to bring some more color to the space.”
“We also printed out our engagement photos and placed them on easels around the room and created a table for ‘our story’, so people could look at old photos from the earliest days of our relationship. Blank notebooks were left on this table so people could write us marriage advice and date night ideas we could cherish forever.”
“Each of the tables was named after a ‘loteria’ card, or Mexican bingo game card, which we used instead of numbers which made the space feel more whimsical.”
On Bringing Filipino and Mexican Influences To Every Part Of The Wedding
“We injected Filipino influence everywhere we could! During the ceremony, we did the traditional rituals of the unity veil and cord (lasso), the exchanging of the coins (arras), and offering flowers to Mary.”
“During the reception, our caterer Sons of Guam Island BBQ provided all of our favorite Filipino dishes: lechon, pancit, adobo, barbeque chicken. We also had a Mexican taco bar with chips and salsa to commemorate Paco’s Mexican background.”
“Our decor also had a blend of Mexican tablecloths, Filipino fans and palm leaves, bamboo runners, cacti, and tropical faux flower arrangements that I put together. We wanted to make edible wedding favors so we made goodie bags with our favorite snacks including Sky Flakes, de la Rosa marzipan, White Rabbit candies, and even Flamin’ Hot Cheetos!”
“A major Mexican element was our memory table or altar called an ‘ofrenda’, where we put offerings of rice, beans, and flowers to honor our loved ones who have passed. We printed photos of all of our deceased loved ones so that we could honor them on our special day. “
“As I’ve seen in many weddings, sometimes comfortable footwear is needed when folks have been dancing for too long. We made a container of ‘tsinelas’ (flip-flops) so people could grab a pair if they needed it.”
On The Top 3 Moments of Their Wedding Day
1. Watching my husband dance with his mom during the mother-son dance
“I couldn’t help but shed tears when my husband and his mom Beth shared a dance together to Celine Dion’s ‘Because you Love Me.’ I’ve always felt so welcomed and loved by both my mother- and father-in-law from the very beginning of my relationship with Paco. I felt so emotional, because I’m so proud of the man Paco is and how his mother and father taught him, by example, to be such a loving and caring husband to me. “
2. My first dance with my husband as his wife
“Another moment I couldn’t hold back tears was during our first dance. At first, it was nerve wracking knowing all of our friends and family were watching us, but as soon as we started singing the lyrics of the song together, it was like the world melted away and we were the only two in the room. This was one of the most special moments of my life that I will never forget.”
3. Walking into the reception hall and seeing all of our friends and family
“During the ceremony, our backs were to the congregation so I couldn’t see the faces of our loved ones the entire time. The first time we walked into the reception was when we could clearly see all of our guests from every season of our lives―elementary, high school, college, work, family, etc. It was amazing to see friends and family from far and wide come together to celebrate us. I couldn’t have asked for better people to celebrate this new chapter with us.”
On The Couple’s Favorite Wedding Details
“Food is so central to our culture and was one of the most important aspects of our wedding. Our guests continued to tell us how much they enjoyed it. Like most Filipino parties, we had so many leftovers that we were able to give people containers worth of food as they left. The dessert table was also very special to me because everything was homemade or provided by my aunts.”
“We had leche flan, biko, puto, señorita bread and kutsinta which everyone enjoyed. Our homemade cake that was done by a friend of my Matron of Honor, Cheryle, was not only delicious but so sentimental knowing that it was baked with love. We also had boba milk tea delivered because Paco and I also grew up spending lots of time in tea shops with our friends, as we do to this day!”
“We were lucky to have a DJ who really responded to our needs and was so amenable to our recommended playlist. He kept our guests dancing the whole night and we couldn’t have asked for better entertainment. Just as we were hoping, he also took requests and got some impromptu karaoke going and handed off a mic for us to sing our favorite songs. The bubble machine was also a bonus!”
3. Memory Table
“The memory table that I made was one of the most meaningful visible symbols of our wedding. So many of our loved ones we lost, we know would have loved to see us make our vows, they were so deeply felt spiritually. Having their photos in the room with us and honoring them was both a joy to create artistically, but emotionally rewarding as well.”
On Their Choice of Wedding Song
“The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel
“We wanted to go with a song that was a little off the beaten path, or one people may not recognize right away. ‘The Book of Love’ is a song at the finale of the show Scrubs when the main character JD leaves the hospital he’s worked at for the entire show, but just before he leaves, he sees a montage of what his future holds―(spoiler alert) he gets happily married! During this scene ‘The Book of Love’ plays in the background and it gets me emotional every time.”
Their Advice to Couples Who Want To Incorporate Their Filipino Heritage At Their Wedding
“Get creative! Don’t be afraid to DIY. There are so many tutorials on Youtube and Pinterest that can both help you create your vision for a lot less money.”
“Don’t feel up for doing crafts? That’s ok, too. Support your local Filipino vendors, artisans, and businesses from the community. It’s so important to elevate up-and-coming vendors in the wedding industry to help grow their capacity and visibility in such a competitive market.”
“Finding Filipino vendors is much simpler thanks to social media, which is how we learned about Sinta and Co. We made a conscious effort to support small businesses to help make our wedding come to life.”
“I encourage people to go green too! I’ve found so many great deals on apps like OfferUp that are like virtual garage sales. So many brides sell their lightly used decor and even dresses online. I was able to find lots of decor like baskets and vases on OfferUp that were used in previous weddings. Win-win!”
What Details From Linda and Paco’s Wedding Inspired You Most?
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Linda and Paco’s Wedding Vendors
- Bryanna Amaya
North Highlands Community Center
Wedding Attire:Second Summer Bride (store)
Lillian West (designer)
Barong tagalog from Pioneer’s in San Francisco
Caterer: Sons of Guam Island BBQ (@sonsofguambbqllc)
Hair: Jasmeet M. Kaur (@glambyjmk)
Makeup: Jasmeet M. Kaur (@glambyjmk)
Music: DJ Maximus Clean (@maximusclean) *warning: explicit content on page
Jewelry / Accessories: Borrowed from Bride’s mother
Cake: Cake made by family friend and desserts made by bride’s aunts
Stationery: DIY invitations made online by groom with Canva
Favours: DIY goodie bags by bride
Ceremony Venue: Saint Clare Catholic Church in Roseville, California