Some may consider “out of the question” the idea of having a wedding so far out-of-town. But then, Baguio City has almost all the amenities and creature comforts of Metro Manila. Add to the equation the crisp tangy smell of pine trees and the cool foggy weather, and where else could be more perfect to hold a romantic destination wedding?
One of the more popular churches for weddings in Baguio City – albeit made more famous as the church where celebrity couple Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales wed – is the St. Joseph the Worker church. Located at Pacdal Circle, it is a stone’s throw away from Wright Park and is easily accessible by public transport.
The church is marked by its tall rectangular tower standing beside a pointed, lower building, with a statue of its patron St. Joseph the Worker standing a few steps away welcoming the faithful. A portico at the entrance provides shelter from the sun or rain. Everything is in light blue and white, and looks magnificent against a clear blue sky. The façade is punctuated by stained glass windows, the most striking of which is the central cross design that from the inside is in blazing red outlined in gold, over the choir loft.
What strikes a person upon stepping into the church are the ceilings that are arched in an angled way, their blue and white paint an echo of the exterior. These draw the eye towards the heavily contrasting dark wooden design of the altar which is also marked with stained glass accents. This brown theme is echoed in the doors and pews as well as on the checkered tile of the aisle. Unfortunately, the aisle’s design is not visible when covered with the red carpet.
The sunlight filtering through the stained glass, plus the chandeliers, amply light up way and suffuse the interiors with warm colors amid the chilly weather. (The chandeliers, by the way, can also be dressed up for the occasion.) It can be considered, though, that the interiors may seem a bit dimly lit for evening weddings. Additional lighting adjustments may be necessary but can make for more dramatic wedding photos.
The pews are lined up in only two columns, not spread out as the church is of a somewhat narrow architecture. Overall, this gives a feeling of coziness or intimacy. The church is a popular alternative, however, to the much busier and much more crowded Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of the Atonement). Unfamiliar faces of total strangers are thus expected to be among those sitting or kneeling down in the pews during the wedding ceremony.
A couple from Metro Manila planning to wed at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Baguio City better be prepared with all the requirements. For starters, pre-requisite documents are the baptismal and confirmation certificates, newly-issued and marked “For marriage purposes”; marriage license (for new couple) or certificate (for civilly-married ones); and a certificate of non-marriage from the census office. The couple is also required to attend a pre-Cana seminar, catechetical instructions, and a canonical interview as scheduled.
Fees are charged for: reservation, which is non-refundable but deductible from the marriage fee; marriage ceremony, the amount of which depends on whether the couple are residents of the parish/diocese or not; electricity, for use of lights and video, and which increases by the hour for evening ceremonies, apparently for the additional electrical needs and overtime pay of church workers; godparents (sometimes called sponsors), charged on a per-head basis; seminar certificates; and confirmation, if applicable. Additional fees may be charged for those whose entourage members exceed three pairs. Remember also that presiding priests from other parishes need permission from their respective parishes.
This being Baguio City, wedding planners or the couple themselves can think of themes that suit the climate, such as winter-related. One will not run out of possible venues for reception parties, as well as accommodations for guests. The destination wedding will also surely give everyone shopping opportunities for goodies Baguio City is known for (ukay-ukay, strawberries, ube jam, to name a few), to take back home together with their fond memories of the wedding.