And they wore the cutest ring pops
When 29-year-old Miguel Menchaca and 28-year-old Anika Leongson booked a flight to Tulum, Mexico for a vacation with Anika’s family, little did she know that she was going back home to the Philippines as a married woman.
“It was important for me to ask for Anika’s parents’ permission before asking her to marry me, so before our trip, I made sure I had their blessing. When I found out that we were going to Tulum, I thought it would be the perfect time and place for me to propose,” Miguel tells Wedding Essentials.
“The proposal happened in our resort in Tulum, Papaya Playa Project. I did not know about it and it was definitely a collaboration between Miguel and my titas in Tulum. On our second day, all I knew was that we were going to have sunset drinks in our private pool before going to dinner. I dressed up, got ready, then when I got out, the pool was covered with rose petals and candles, and the love of my life was standing at the edge of the pool. I cried instantly when I realized what was happening. Our song played in the background as I walked over to him and he got down on one knee,” Anika remembers vividly.
But the happiness didn’t end there. As soon as they got back to Chicago where Anika’s family is based, they had dinner with her mom’s sisters. One of them suggested to consider getting married here. Miguel and Anika looked at each other, “We realized that was a no brainer for us. With how difficult it is to plan a wedding back home (because of COVID-19), we knew we wanted to get married as soon as possible. That was a Thursday and the next day, we got our marriage license in the local county, booked an officiator, and got married in my Aunt’s backyard on Monday, August 16, 2021.”
Yes, in a span of 11 days, they were engaged and married. Miguel proposed to Anika on August 5, and they got married on August 16. “It was a very short engagement and I barely got to call her my fiancée! But we both knew we wanted to get married before our trip was over. Now, I’m thrilled that I get to call her my wife,” says the sweet Miguel.
But 11 days of preparation is quite a feat. Anika reveals, “Every single person in my family and our friends helped us mount everything. Miguel and I are pretty laidback and easygoing, so our friends and family really stepped up to the plate.”
Their non-negotiables for their civil wedding? “We knew that we had four of our close friends arriving from New York on the 15th, so we definitely wanted them at the wedding. Everything worked out and two of our closest friends from childhood, Martin and Addie, became our Best Man and Maid of Honor,” adds Miguel.
But a wedding is still a wedding, no matter how many attends. The couple is indeed blessed to have family and friends pitch in to plan their beautiful wedding. “My friend Bianca became the wedding stylist. She and my tita designed my wedding arch and my bouquet. She also sewed my dress so that it would fit me better. My cousin became the tech guy and made sure the Zoom was running smoothly and even set up microphones for us. My tito Maui Bacerdo became our official wedding photographer—Thankfully, he really is one professionally! My family also took care of the food, drinks, set up, and everything else in between,” Anika beams.
As they sit back and put their legs up, we asked them what they loved most about their intimate wedding comprised of 18 guests. “My favorite part was how everyone contributed immensely to it. You know how they say that when you get married you need ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ Well, in our DIY (do-it-yourself) wedding, everything was borrowed and recycled,” Anika laughs. “I had no dress to wear, no veil, and we didn’t even have wedding bands. I borrowed a white dress from my aunt. The veil from my cousin who got married last year, and I guess the only thing we bought were the Ring Pops from The Dollar Store.”
So, yes, it’s not the wedding the couple dreamed of, but it had the makings of a beautiful one. And an even bigger celebration awaits when it’s possible to have one back here in the country. “We’ve always wanted a beach wedding, so I hope that we can still make that happen and have a big celebration with all our loved ones back home,” says Miguel.
And while they’re still in the USA, they’re continuing one with their wedded bliss by hopping on a plane to Miami for their mini honeymoon before going back home. They end the interview with advice from the newlyweds. “When it feels right, jump in with both feet. Sometimes things just magically work out. It has been the most amazing and meaningful trip for us. It feels like everything was pre-destined and meant to happen,” shares Anika, while Miguel adds, “Be open and always listen, communicate with your partner. It also helps to be close to her family! Anika and I could not have done any of this without them.”