A seasoned photographer who's leant her talents to a slew of Preview's editorials, Charisma Lico is all too familiar with the tedious trial-and-error process needed in order to get that one perfect shot. At Charisma's photoshoots, everything is staged, art-directed, and perfected to a T, but her own wedding to now-husband, Aren Santos was a whole different story. Turns out, one of the biggest days of her life also happened to be the one time where she couldn't stage or control the outcome. "I got anxiety because the wedding felt like a 'show' and the preparation got a little draining and stressful," Charisma reveals to Preview. "I had to fix my perspective and remind myself that the celebration is not to impress people because what we really want is to have a meaningful exchange of vows, acknowledging to God how me and Aren had reached that point."
Set in the lush greenery of Narra Hill Tagaytay, Charisma and Aren kept their rustic-themed nature wedding small and intimate, yet still 'gram content-worthy. "The wedding ceremony was held at the garden and the reception was held at the pavilion. The pavilion is my personal favorite. It’s architectural design gave us a panoramic view of Taal and a good look of the sunset through its clear glass walls," Charisma says. The couple is definitely proof that you don't need a lavish wedding or a full-on epic display for your 'I dos' to be memorable. The essentials to a truly unforgettable wedding? Friends, family, the love of your life (duh!), and perfectly imperfect captured moments to last a lifetime.
Below, we talk to the blushing bride about her wedding preparations, her bridal look, and more!
First of all congratulations on your wedding! How's married life been so far?
"It has been a week since the big day and I could probably say that we’re still on a wedding high if that’s how you would call it. Although we have just gotten back from a mini vacation with our families and though reality has been starting to slowly creep in by doing some light work, we’re still in the phase where we’re trying to figure the simple things out, like how we’ll be able to do our daily routine (when we were single) now [that we're a married] couple. It’s definitely fun because we can finally enjoy things which we couldn’t enjoy before like traveling alone as a couple. Actually looking forward to the adjustments to happen!"
Tell us about your dream wedding. Was it like the wedding you had down to a T, or did some details change along the way?
"To be honest, I didn’t have a dream wedding. I never actually thought of marriage ‘til I dated Aren. I’ve always envisioned myself to marry when I’m 30 but things changed. So I didn’t have a perfect wedding in mind.
"After the engagement in 2017, I started looking for inspirations, then things like a 'beach wedding' or an 'out-of-the-country wedding' got eliminated, until the vision and the desire became clearer. I definitely wanted it to be outdoors, if only we could get married in the woods. [Laughs.] But really, I just wanted a simple wedding with the people that I love and a scenic view that everyone can enjoy so they can 'get that content'. I’m not really a big fan of super dressed-up venues since we also want the natural beauty of the place to be seen.
"Though we had plans in mind, a lot of details change when you are working on a budget and I just decided to let the little things go. Like how I remember showing to my reception stylist and caterer my references for the reception look but what we could only avail is the basic package so I had to think of a simple look [that still fits] my aesthetic and after hearing “ma’am mahal po ‘yung gusto n’yo” a couple of times, I finally got the hang of it and just decided not to sweat on the small stuff. Though few months before the wedding, I got anxiety because the wedding felt like a 'show' and the preparation got a little draining and stressful (because we only had an on-the-day coordinator since we want to be hands-on with the suppliers, and really try to fit everything within our budget). I had to fix my perspective and remind myself that the celebration is not to impress people because we really want is to have a meaningful exchange of vows, acknowledging to God how me and Aren had reached that point. Since then, we promised ourselves that we will just enjoy the day and it worked!"
What were your preparations like leading up to the big day?
"Preparations leading up to the big day were very minor but could still bring a little tension because we were actually expecting it to be just relaxing a week before the wedding, but no. Some of the things we finalized were the playlist for the entire wedding, our vows, gifts for each other, guest list, finalization of the program for reception, and looking for a chunky heel shoes as an option just in case it rains during the day and I won’t be able to wear the first pair that I bought, which were stilettos."
Being a photographer, were you particular about your wedding photos and how they came out?
"I actually was! I did a lot of thinking about who to get as our wedding photographer and had to review a lot of portfolios since I wasn’t familiar with the wedding industry. Aside from good color-grading, I realized I wanted 'moments'. It’s far from the photography that I do which is staged, well-lit, and art-directed with lots of trial ‘til I get the perfect shot. During weddings, even imperfections can be considered in capturing the perfect shot. What matters is that it shows authenticity and it captures the sincerity of each moment."
Can you describe your gown? Who designed it and how did you know that it was the perfect gown for you?
"All I know is that I’m really into lace and not that type to wear flare dresses or dresses at all in general. I like wearing long sleeved lace shirts and mock necks, plus I know that I’d be moving a lot on the day of the wedding so the references I was looking for were leaning towards those styles and points to consider. With the help of Danae Vernisse, my stylist, best friend, and maid-of-honor, and designer, Elizabeth Hallie, after four fittings, we finally came up with my two-piece (detachable long sleeve top) wedding gown."
How about your husband’s suit and the entourage?
"We just kept it simple. Aren’s suit is a shade of midnight. For my entourage, I picked dusty blue as the color of their dresses; and for his entourage, we let them wear black suits with dusty blue neckties to match the female entourage."
You looked beautiful! Can you tell us who did your hair and makeup? What look were you going for?
"My dear friend Anthea Bueno did my makeup since I’ve always been a fan of her signature bronzed-glow-look that she does to her muses. Mark Familara did my hair since I wanted to look like it was effortlessly styled so I think I got the perfect team to achieve the looks! To be made up by them was such a dream come true!"
Were you going for a specific look for both the wedding and reception venues?
"The ceremony and reception were both held at Narra Hill Tagaytay. When me and Aren did an ocular in Tagaytay, Narra Hill was the last in our itinerary since we didn’t get to see a lot of photos online, we didn’t really expect much. So when we walked in before its closing time, we were stunned by the place and immediately booked it. It has all the elements that we want for our wedding venue. It has the right combination of nature and architecture. The wedding ceremony was held at the garden and the reception was held at the pavilion. The pavilion is my personal favorite. It’s architectural design gave us a panoramic view of Taal and a good look of the sunset through its clear glass walls. It’s like a hidden gem. "
Last question! What’s your favorite aspect about your wedding?
"I am not trying to play safe but I really don’t have a favorite. I loved everything, even the imperfections. And honestly, I didn’t expect that I’ll be enjoying our own wedding but I guess the secret to that was we gave our full trust to the One who’s in control of everything. And with all our families and friends who extended help in every way they could, we just felt very overwhelmed with all the blessings He let us experience through the celebration."
Here's to the newlyweds and a happy and fruitful marriage ahead!