While cruising along Roxas Boulevard in Manila, one cannot but help notice Rajah Sulayman Park and the old-looking adobe church behind it – the Malate Catholic Church.
The Malate Catholic Church (or MCC) was originally built by the Augustinian (OSA) friars in 1588 and is considered one of the oldest churches in Manila, outside the walls of Intramuros. It has been damaged by war, typhoons and earthquakes, and rebuilt several times over the past four centuries. British soldiers, during their occupation of the Philippines, took refuge in the church as they attacked Intramuros. The church, now managed by Columban priests, is dedicated to the Nuestra Señora de Remedios, or Our Lady of Remedies. The statue brought from Andalucia, Spain in 1524 still stands at its altar. The Nuestra Señora de Remedios, whose feast day is celebrated on October 8, is the patroness of childbirth. Needless to say, the church is perfect for those eager to get started with their families.
The MCC is a popular wedding venue primarily because of its architecture and its budget rates. Its historical background, the baroque style, the elegant and clean white-domed interiors marked with gold accents, the fountain at the Rajah Sulayman Park, and the famous Manila Bay sunset all make for good and picturesque photo opportunities.
The church may not be air conditioned, but the big church doors provide enough ventilation. However, with the church doors wide open during weddings, expect curious on-lookers as well as photographers – those not accredited by the couple – who take pictures and sell them to the guests.
The MCC allots Sundays purely for community masses; weddings, thus, can only take place from Monday to Saturdays. Package rates are categorized as economy, regular or grand. The economy package is at P4,000, with a maximum of four pairs of principal sponsors, and can be held only on weekdays (Monday to Friday) at 9:00 AM. The regular package is priced at P9,000 if the wedding will be held at 10:30 AM, 12noon, and 2:00 PM on a weekday, and P10,000 if scheduled at 3:30 or 4:00 PM. This package limits the number of principal sponsors to 6 pairs.
The grand package, on the other hand, is priced at P12,000 (with a maximum of 8 pairs of principal sponsors) if scheduled at 9:00 AM, 12noon, or 2:30PM. If the wedding will take place at 4:00 PM, the grand package is worth P15,000; if at 7:00PM, it is worth P18,000. There is no limit for the number of principal sponsors for the last two packages.
The MCC offers discounts for its parishioners or Malate residents – 50% for economy, 25% for regular, and 10% for grand package. All rate packages include the Mass celebration; white flowers with tulle (along the nave and sanctuary); candles for the candle sponsors; red carpet; services of an organist and soloist; lighted chandeliers; usherette and availability of church staff; civil registration; and use of the church for one and a half hours.
The couple is expected to provide the commentator and readers. They should coordinate closely with the parish office on whether they (the couple) will provide their own organist and/or soloist. Although the parish can provide the services of the officiating priest, except for Mondays, the wedding couple will need to check regarding priest availability. The parish provides stipend to a visitor priest officiating the ceremony.
The MCC requires a non-refundable 50% downpayment (of the total fees) as reservation fee, with the balance to be paid at least two weeks before the wedding. An additional P300 will also be charged for the electrical consumption of each video light, and needs to be paid also at least two weeks prior to the wedding.
There are a few restrictions. The usual documentary requirements – i.e., baptismal and confirmation certificates, marriage license, etc. – need to be submitted three months, and the canonical interview must be conducted by an MCC priest two months, all before the scheduled wedding date. The MCC also encourages punctuality, with the whole party assembled at least 10 minutes before the wedding starts lest the whole ceremony be shortened. The church does not allow the use of garden style décor, arches, candlelight, karaoke or disk players, nor the throwing of petals or other similar items inside the church.
Reception venues are aplenty in Manila. Adjacent to the church is the Remedios Jubilee Mission Center, with a function hall at the third floor that is fully air conditioned and can accommodate 200 guests. Rental costs about P13,000 for 3 hours, including basic sound system, plus P1,000 for electrical use of additional equipment. Other possible venues include restaurants and hotels within the Malate, Ermita, Intramuros areas. How about a reception party on board a yacht-for-rent for a sunset cruise?