Hearing of “Ayala Alabang Village” brings to mind visions of affluent Filipinos (and non-Filipinos) and their families. Thus, one cannot expect the parish church that attends to the spiritual needs of the residents, St. James the Great Parish, to be anything less.
The parish was named after one of Jesus Christ’s first apostles – James, son of Zebedee, and brother of the apostle known as John the Beloved (who is said to be the evangelist who wrote the gospel of John).
The adjective “great” seems to be a fitting description for this church, because of its massive size both outside and inside. The structure of the church, which was completed in 1993, is reminiscent of the old churches of Rome, with their arches, portico over the entrance, and that greyish-brown color that at first glance gives the impression of unpainted concrete. The grounds are spacious and provide ample parking to the 200 to 500 churchgoers that can be accommodated inside. The head-on approach to the entrance greets with a well-maintained landscaped courtyard, complete with a fountain.
Inside, the ceiling is arched with square designs all the way to the altar, while the sides are lined with windows that can double as doorways. Simple wooden pews line up down the longish aisle with geometrically-designed tiles, leading the altar that is ornately designed in gold. Blue lighting provides a dramatic backdrop behind the altar when lit.
The church of St. James the Great in Ayala Alabang Village is a popular venue for weddings because of its combined charm and luxurious elegance that simply elicit wows from anyone entering it for the first time. It is especially ideal for large weddings because of the available space. Note, though, that weddings here do not come cheap. For parishioners, the basic package is at P15,000 without air conditioning, and P23,000 with air conditioning. Non-parishioners are charged P22,000 without air con and P28,000 otherwise. These packages include the services of a priest, use of red carpet, and floral arrangements that may seem almost bare to some. The church only allows floral arrangements acquired through the Mother Butlers’ Guild, with prices ranging from P15,000 to P35,000.
A non-refundable 50% downpayment is required to reserve the date and time of the ceremony, with the balance to be paid in full at least two months before the wedding and after the canonical interview has been made. The church allows weddings to be held at 10AM, 3PM and 7:30PM on weekdays. On weekends, the allowed slots are 10AM, 3PM and 7PM. No weddings are held on Sundays.
Those who wish to get married in this church should also do well to learn about certain restrictions. For example: The church holds a meeting for suppliers, that is, for coordinators, videographers and photographers. Note that the last two are only allowed to position themselves in certain areas to maintain solemnity and avoid disruptions. Only certain types of songs are allowed to be sung or played. Butterflies, poppers and use of laptop are not allowed; rice grains or petals should be thrown outside the church.
The church has a multipurpose hall located at the lower ground that can serve as reception area for about 100 pax (with catering and musicians). But there are quite a number of venues nearby (in Alabang) for larger parties, including the clubhouse and Fernbrook Gardens in Portofino, Madrigal Center, Hillsborough. Other possible venues are in Taguig City, such as Blue Leaf Pavilion and the Manila Polo Club.