While many couples are choosing to delay their dream wedding until after the COVID-19 pandemic, this couple decided to have a "secret intimate wedding" instead.

Guess how much they spent? No more than PHP5,000.

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Cherry Lou Abellanosa, 27, and Francis John Parcon, 29, tied the knot via civil rites on Friday, September 25, 2020.

They were wed at the Hall of Justice in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato.

In her post on Tuesday, November 10, Cherry shared, "We had our SECRET / intimate wedding last September 25, 2020. No one knows except our parents [emoji]. People close to me might get surprised (Feeling kasi nila pag ako ikakasal, super bongga and sosyal).

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"But the practical side of me would always say 'Let's save and invest our money. After all, wedding isn't about pleasing other people. It's a celebration of love & couple's union.' And no matter how grand your wedding is, there will always be negative comments from dissatisfied guests."

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Not your typical dream wedding

Cherry told PEP.ph in a phone interview on Monday, November 16, both she and Francis initially planned a grander wedding in 2021. 

They were timing it with the pandemic in mind, considering the safety and comfort of their parents especially and their friends. Moreover, Cherry didn't want to burden their guests with traveling to Kidapawan City, where she and her family reside.

On the other hand, Francis's parents and relatives live in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, some three hours away from Kidapawan.

Cherry said, "Naka-planned na talaga na postponed na lang for next year kasi nga iyong parents niya ay senior citizens na and he's coming from ano pa... Malayo kasi iyong lugar nila sa amin and kailangan pa nila mag-travel. And dahil senior citizens, pahirapan ang pagpasok dito sa lugar kaya nakapag-decide kami na i-postpone na lang next year."

Meanwhile, in an interview with Francis and Cherry via Facebook messenger, they related to PEP.ph what made them decide to have their wedding sooner than they planned. 

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Cherry Abellanosa, FJ Parcs

Francis said (published as is), "We wanted to save up first para sa bahay and future business. But at the same time, we wanted to get married na. So we did it without breaking the bank.

"We don't want to ask financial help for our parents since it's our decision naman to get married. And since I'm working overseas, I don't want to postpone it na. (baka ma agaw pa eh) anyways, we can push thru with the church wedding soon pa din naman."

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Cherry added, "Marami kasing pwedeng mangyari sa loob ng ilang months and baka hindi pa matuloy so grinab na lang iyong opportunity na civil wedding na lang muna."

It took them only a few days to plan their big day.

Cherry recalled, "After the prenup nagplano kami na okay sige, secret wedding na lang. Late na nga namin nasabi sa parents namin na magpapakasal kami.

"Siguro one week before the wedding, dun pa lang namin in-inform na magpapakasal na kami pero ano muna, civil wedding muna."

Minus the wedding rings, the couple only spent around PHP5,000 for their wedding.

The bride wore a dress she bought from an online ukay-ukay shop. She said, "Actually, wala akong ibang mahanap na sa closet, iyon na lang. Ang cost nun is PHP500. Medyo mahal for ukay kasi online na nabili."

As for their other expenses, Cherry revealed, "Ang bayad lang naman sa hall of justice is PHP300, and then iyong make-up artist PHP1,500. After the wedding, parang early dinner lang sa isang family resort dito sa North Cotabato after the wedding. Wala talagang grand na decoration."

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Cherry Abellanosa, FJ Parcs

For the future

Francis further affirmed that the future of their family is much more important than a show wedding worth thousands of pesos.

He told PEP.ph, "Yes, we won't deny part of the dream (is a grand wedding). But as we mature, priorities change. Given the situation na pandemic, we prefer to be practical."

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The 29-year-old seaman added, "Iyong sa akin po kasi, iyong pagiging praktikal, nasa choice din po ng taoMas inisip kasi namin iyong future kaysa sa ngayong panahon, instead of gagastos kami ng malaki sa isang araw ng kasal, ise-save nalang namin for the future, like bahay, sasakyan, lupa.

"It's best not to overthink what the other people might say."

Cherry averred, "If they have budget naman and kung gusto talaga nila ng engrandeng kasal, why not? We're not saying naman na mas okay na maging practical. Pero what we're saying kasi is sa side lang namin, pandemic and if mag-grand wedding kami, naka-mask din naman, parang hindi namin bet.

"A piece of advice siguro, they should stick to what they really want. They stick to their budget and wedding planning is much easier if hindi nila iisipin iyong sasabihin ng ibang tao."

Francis agreed, "Sa gustong magpakasal in times of pandemic, choice niyo na po kung simple or engrandeng kasal kung meron naman po kayo budget."

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Cherry Abellanosa, FJ Parcs

The simple wedding story of Cherry and Francis caught the interest of thousands of netizens.

Their post has garnered more than 95,000 reactions, 30,000 comments, and 56,000 shares.

Francis told PEP.ph, awed their post has inspired that many people, "We were shocked. We didn't expect na mag-viral and madaming makaka-relate. Our intention lang naman is to publicly announce and let our friends and relatives know na nagpakasal na kami.

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"Ang dami na kasing nagtatanong kelan ang date ng kasal after they saw our prenup pics and video."

Cherry echoed his statement, "Hindi talaga namin in-expect na kahit 1,000 likes. Nagulat na lang kami and parang hanggang ngayon nga may nagko-comment pa din."

Now, the newlyweds are focused on saving up for a stable future, keeping in mind to put their finances in order before they start building a family.

Cherry said, "Siguro kumbaga mas less struggle siya financially kasi nakapag-prepare na kami ahead prior na to building a family. Previous work ko kasi is financial advisor so parang nasa isip ko kasi always ang budgeting talaga. Hindi lang iyong as of the moment but I always try to parang imagine kung ano bang dapat gawin sa future, dapat prepared.

"May emergency fund dapat, parang ganun. Feeling ko mas less struggle siya, when it comes to financially, in the future."

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Francis said he had to leave Cherry days after their wedding to spend some time with his family in Sultan Kudarat.

He's been back to Manila since then to prepare his departure papers before boarding an oil tanker vessel.

Cherry, on the other hand, is kept busy by her online clothing business. 

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