Newlyweds Welsa Bonanciar-Holt and husband Mark Jansen would have easily spent P10,000 for a simple town wedding or more than P50,000 for a church wedding had they not availed of the free wedding offered by the Makati City Government.
The couple have been living together for seven years and have a two-year-old daughter named Maue. They have to postpone getting married because, according to them, the cost to forever does not come cheap.
During the ceremony, as they declare their love for each other, they were thankful that the city government has given them the opportunity to get married at no cost to them.
Welsa and Mark were among the 35 indigent couple beneficiaries who tied the knot during the recent local government-sponsored annual mass wedding. The city was also kind enough to take care of their gowns, suits, and rings. All they had to do was show up at the Makati Sports Club in Barangay Bel-Air and exchage their sweetest "I do's".
There were tears of happiness as most had to endure a life of living "unofficially" together before having their unions finally legitimized.
"The prices of goods and services are expensive these days. That is why we have waited for this event because all are provided by the city including my gown and my husband's suit. We are very thankful to Mayor Abby and MSWD for sponsoring our wedding," Welsa said, thankful they were able to meet the requirements.
Couples first needed to be beneficiaries of the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and should have been living together for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. They also presented a valid ID with Makati address and voter's certificate in order to make the cut.
"This means a lot to us especially to underprivileged Makatizens who want to get married but they do not have the means to pay for the cost of wedding services," Welsa added, teary-eyed.
Makati City Mayor Abby Binay, who officiated the event, said the free mass wedding dubbed "Kasalan sa Makati" was organized by the Family and Men's Welfare Section of Makati Social Welfare Department (MSWD) to help underprivileged couples legitimize their union and strengthen their bond.
"These newlyweds are very lucky because in Makati, we give everything for free. For this year, we have also provided them with free wedding gowns and suits apart from the invitations, 14k gold rings, bridal bouquets, boutonnieres, wedding cakes, hair and makeup, venue, food for the guests, wedding singers and performers, photo and video shoots," Binay said.
The mayor said the city government paid a total of P4.49 million for the event and gave six cubic feet refrigerators as a gift to the newlyweds.
For their part, Makati City Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo and Cong. Luis Campos served as principal sponsors to 17 couples from District 1 and 18 couples from District 2 who have been living together out of wedlock for at least five years.
On the other hand, City Councilors Armand Padilla, Virgilio Hilario Jr., Martin John Pio Arenas, Luis Javier, Rene Andrei Saguisag, Jose Villena, Anna Alcina Yabut, Dennis Almario, Maria Dolores Arayon, Benedict Baniqued, Arnold Cruz, and Kristina Sarosa served as the couples' secondary sponsors.
After the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds signed their marriage certificates.
"You are supposed to be able to sacrifice everything for your children because that is the role of a parent. While the city government is here to help you, do your part as parents to make both ends meet," Mayor Abby said as she advised the couples to stay strong in times of adversity, especially if they already have children.
Aside from validating their love with marriage sealed by law, some couples were also a bit happier because now their children will no longer be illegitimate, which would allow them to finally get the government-issued documents they need.
In Makati, love and happiness were shared on that eventful day. (PIA NCR)