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When the world is ending, whom do you want by your side?

By BEA TRINIDAD, The Philippine STAR Published Jul 18, 2021 6:00 am

Earlier this year, Danielle Braff, a writer for The New York Times, wrote about “The Great Pandemic Wedding Boom.” She said, “Historically, scary, stressful times have led to increased marriage rates,” citing hurricanes, the 9/11 attacks, and tsunamis as examples of these critical moments.

The global pandemic is no different as we witness the rise of micro-weddings, intimate celebrations, and civil unions. However, Braff prefaced her article with an important question we rarely think about: If the world is ending, whom do you want by your side?

Life-changing moments such as the pandemic can either handicap or propel people to make decisions in their relationships.

So I interviewed four couples that decided to commit to one another. Their “I do” stories show that modern marriage is no longer about obligation or gender roles but about fulfillment and growth. And in moving on from these trying times, these couples prove to be more resilient than ever.

DJ Mo Twister & Angelika Schmeing

”It is way more than just a piece of paper,” said DJ Mo Twister. “It is way more than just a ceremony. I feel different, proud of myself. I feel legitimate.” 

DJ Mo Twister was adamant that there would be no wedding hashtag for his union with Angelika Schmeing. Instead, they both wanted an intimate wedding ceremony, joking that to avoid a traditionally big Filipino wedding, it was either going to be a destination wedding or held on Christmas day. But, unfortunately, the pandemic called their bluff.

 Mohan Gumatay (DJ Mo Twister) and Angelika Schmeing (Angelicopter) tied the knot in Iceland last June 16.

After their on-air engagement last May 2020 on his show, “Good Times with Mo,” they decided to get married in Iceland with their children. Angelika explained, “They have about 300,000 people there. They’ve handled COVID pretty well. So, I feel safe to go and travel.”

The place also held some sentimentality for the couple as Mo said, “I’ve been there several times. She has been there. We went together, right before COVID. So, we have a familiarity with the place.”

Choosing Iceland as their venue is not only about safety and sentimentality; it served as the perfect analogy for their marriage. According to Mo, “there’s going to be storms, but that doesn’t take away the natural beauty of everything. So I think marriages can be like that, right? It could be stormy. It could be rainy. But at the same time, it could still be a tourist attraction.”

Although there were muddy shoes and torn dresses on their wedding day, Angelika said, “I was just so happy to tell Mo that I really choose to be with him forever.”

No matter the circumstances, the couple agreed that the key to relationship success was a positive mindset.  Mo said, “Just make the best you can out of a very quick-moving life.”

Moritz Gastl & Jess Wilson

Moritz Gastl and Jess Wilson originally planned for a destination wedding in Salzburg, known as the backdrop for the film The Sound of Music. However, around February 2020, they knew something wasn’t right when countries started to announce closed borders, travel bans and halted immigration. A month later, they officially canceled their dream wedding.     

 Moritz Gastl and Jess Wilson wed in Palawan on June 26, 2021.

In almost two years, the couple ended up planning five different weddings to make way for the evolving vaccination rollouts and quarantine restrictions. 

When I asked Jess what it’s like to arrange a pandemic wedding, she said, “We’ve already been together for nine years. I wanted to just move on with our lives. I didn’t want to keep planning, but I was open to the changes.”

Even the paperwork was a challenge as it took about the same time as the pandemic. Jess jokingly said to Moritz during this time, “Honestly, it’s hard to marry you.”

These days, couples will get married without showmanship. Instead, weddings will be about living in the moment, resiliency and the decision of whom you want by your side, no matter what.

After all the changes, Moritz and Jess walked down the aisle together last June 26 at Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort in Palawan.  In a way, this moment represents how modern couples now see themselves as equals and companions throughout the trials of life.

Jess said, “We walked out together down the aisle, holding hands. And it just felt right,” Jess said. “It didn’t feel right to focus on us individually at the time. It was more just about we’re here today, together. And we’re here to say our vows in front of our friends and family.”

She added, “This is our love story for life. And it only gets better from here.”

Carlo Roman & Maria Isabelle Itchon

I would say we are each other’s best friends,” says Carlo Roman. “To some extent, modern marriages have done away with traditional gender roles.”

Carlo and his bride Maria Isabelle Itchon also planned for four different weddings in locations such as Tagaytay and Bohol. However, the lockdowns and Taal volcano activity made it difficult for them to lock in a final date.

Maria said, “It was so difficult. It took three weeks to wait for a marriage license here in the country. And then once you get that, there’s a lottery.”

 Carlo Roman and Maria Isabelle Itchon got married in Tampa, Florida, on

Finally, as they were both tired of waiting, Maria decided to wed in Tampa, Florida, where her family was. She explained that it was the simplest solution: “It was the fourth wedding we planned, which took only one week. We paid $80, and that was it.”

For the couple, the overseas ceremony was just to make their union official. The transformation from being in a long-term relationship to married life happened eight months before the wedding when they were quarantined together in Maria’s condo after being sick from their friends’ wedding.

Carlo said, “Moving in together really highlights the clash between how we used to live and how we live now. What has changed over the past seven to eight months was significant.”

Maria added, “You don’t have to be financially secure to get married. I don’t believe in that. It boils down to: do you want to spend the rest of your life with this person? Can you live with this person? Do you still tolerate them? Or do you hate everything about them? Take the romance out of it. It’s putting up with another person. Honestly, that’s what marriage is. It’s when the good outweighs the negative. That’s something we decided.”

Patty Tiu & Mark Thompson

Patty was not the marrying type. And Mark was still young when they met. But Mark getting sick in 2017 made them reconsider. 

Mark said, “I was in the hospital for a week, and Patty was the one helping me out.”

Unfortunately, the hospital wouldn’t recognize Patty as someone who could sign the forms because they were not married. Patty joked about it, but eventually, Mark did propose that same year. She said getting married was about “security.  It is knowing that you’re legally bound by law, that you should take care and love each other and look out for each other.”

Patty said, “The original plan was we were going to fly out his family from Sydney to Palawan. We already had the hotels and flights booked. My gown was already being made. His suit was already being made. And then, the pandemic happened.” Patty cried out of frustration, like most brides that scheduled their wedding in the last year and a half.

 Patty Tiu and Mark Thompson signed their marriage contract on July 23, 2020 in La Union.

Late last year, the couple noticed their marriage license was about to expire. So they decided to get married on July 23, 2020 in La Union by signing their marriage contract.

Patty shared, “I was so happy that we got married in the city hall because that’s actually my dream wedding. I wanted to wear my sneakers, even if that would not please people.” So, they wed in Uniqlo clothing and didn’t even have rings prepared. Instead, they got matching tattoos because they knew that their marriage would be forever.

“His success is also my success,” Patty said. “And my success is also his success. If he makes it then I already make it.”

Before the pandemic, weddings were grand and full of frills, from hundreds of guests, extravagant decor, overflowing spreads of food and drink, and even a much-thought-about hashtag on social media. The hashtag existed so that the couple and guests could look back at the pictures to reminisce about the day as it was.

These days, couples will get married without showmanship. Instead, weddings will be about living in the moment, resiliency and the decision of whom you want by your side, no matter what.