"Hey girl, I heard you went to art school."
Diandre and Noel first met at Diandre’s childhood friend’s surprise birthday party in their home state of California. Diandre recalls not knowing many people at the party and she was sitting in the corner by herself. In a flash, Noel slid right next to her and said, “Hey girl, I heard you went to art school.” And the rest was history.
Six months later, they started dating and continued to as Diandre finished up school on the east coast. “Legend has it, I called ‘dibs,’” Noel adds. “I liked her so much that I wouldn’t let distance separate us for long. Dee definitely inspired me to make more ‘business trips’ to the east coast when she was staying out there.”
As both creatives — Diandre has a background in illustration and design, and Noel is a tattoo artist — it was easy for them to relate and to grow as a creative couple.
The day Noel popped the question was, according to Diandre, one of the best nights of her life. “Noel threw a small surprise birthday getaway for me in Joshua Tree, California,” Diandre describes. “He rented a sweet little yellow house in the middle of the desert and invited our close friends to celebrate. And on top of that, the Supermoon was out and shining in all its glory! He built a fire in the backyard and invited us out for a toast under the Supermoon. Then he got on one knee and I started balling like a baby. I have to say our wardrobe choices were amazing — he was wearing a poncho and I was wearing a fur caplet over pajamas.”
“The Moon was insanely big and bright,” Noel adds. “You can see all the stars that night in the desert. An evening I’ll never forget. I was nervous AF, but there couldn’t be a better setting. After she said yes, we had a blast after that.”
Planning the Wedding
At first, Diandre and Noel planned on getting married in Hawaii with a small group of friends and family, but their parents wanted to celebrate with both sides of their big, beautiful Filipino family. The couple loosely envisioned a barrio fiesta themed wedding to celebrate their California and Filipino heritage. The wedding was hosted on a Spanish-style winery called Holman Ranch in Carmel, California, and they had about 300 guests.
Growing up in Northern/Central Cali, Mexican and American culture also had a big influence in both their lives. So they came up with the idea of having a mariachi band playing covers of our favourite songs, like “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash to kick off our wedding ceremony and “Ring of Fire” to close it out.
The couple’s ultimate goal was to give their guests a glimpse into their world and really showcase both their personalities — and, of course, to have fun.
“It was like our combined art installation performance piece project,” Noel laughs. “I imagine our family sees us as weird artists with abstract views and lifestyle. Our wedding was a way to express how eclectic and classy and cultured we can be. I’m sure we still confused some people, but we had exponentially more positive feedback on how unconventional it was. I sometimes wish I could have experienced the wedding as a guest.”
Noel and I felt that wearing Filipiniana represented our experience as a diasporic Filipino couple working to subvert and reclaim their personal and national identities.
One of the biggest reasons Diandre and Noel decided on Filipiniana-inspired garments for their wedding was because of its power and symbolism. “The barong and terno are garments that have such a profound, beautiful history and cultural weight,” Diandre says. “Noel and I felt that wearing Filipiniana represented our experience as a diasporic Filipino couple working to subvert and reclaim their personal and national identities. Out of all the wedding details, the garments were the one detail we were committed to getting 100% right.”
Diandre came across VINTA Gallery through a Google search while researching custom Filipiniana wedding dresses and formalwear. Diandre says that is was VINTA Gallery founder Caroline Mangosing’s “cultural and design sensibility, the skill of the master dressmakers and ethical, slow-fashion philosophy of the brand” that made VINTA a perfect fit for their dream wedding.
“When Dee showed me VINTA, I was sold right away,” Noel says. “It was apparent from the jump that VINTA had the style aesthetic we were desperately looking for to pull off the look we imagined.”
When Caroline first spoke with Diandre and Noel, they clicked right away, and it was clear that she wanted to work with the kindred, talented couple to bring their modern Filipiniana wedding vision to life. Diandre and Noel were really the best clients a designer could have, Caroline adds, as they both wanted to have a creative hand in the pieces VINTA was making for them.
“I felt like they really understood what I was doing with VINTA on a philosophical level because they’re both artists with an inspired consciousness about their cultural identities,” Caroline says. She remembers them coming into the meeting with mood boards and everything — a designer’s dream. “I loved it so much, it was a proper collaboration and the outcome was just beautiful. It was an honour and a joy.”
"Wearing Vinta made me feel beautiful and proud. Proud to be a Filipina-American artist marrying another Filipino-American artist."
For the couple, it was all in the details. There was so much cultural and personal meaning behind the embroidery designs and the result was nothing short of special.
For the groom’s barong, Noel incorporated the Filipino motifs of mountains and lightning (kinilat), eyes (ufug/ofog) and rice bundles (tinay) that represent fertility, ancestral protection and abundance, respectively.
“For many years I’ve studied and practiced tattoo which was primarily inspired by Pacific Island art and culture,” Noah says. “Motifs from the Northern Ilocos region speak to me because that is where my family is from. My garment represents our modern and ancient roots. The flow and symbols are inspired from the Chaklag warrior chest tattoo of the Kalinga. In general, it represents our connection to our people and ancestral lands.”
The result was a stunning, 1970s-inspired custom VINTA short-sleeved black barong with Noel’s embroidery designs on the sleeves and the chest and back from the shoulder in a triangle.
Diandre wanted to wear a classic Filipiniana wedding dress, so Caroline presented her with three variations of a column silhouette. After Diandre approved one of them, she sent Caroline her embroidery designs, which were to be placed minimally around the neckline, terno sleeves and on the edge of the overskirt/train of the wedding dress.
“The floral embroidery on the terno sleeves of my dress were California poppies and sampaguita flowers,” Diandre explains. The embroidery on the chest area included torch ginger flowers symbolizing passion, pomegranate blossoms symbolizing fertility, and more poppies and sampaguita.
“Wearing Vinta made me feel beautiful and proud,” Diandre adds. “Proud to be a Filipina-American artist marrying another Filipino-American artist. Even though it’s a tiny and probably frivolous gesture in the vast scope of decolonialized resistance, I felt like I was sticking it to the man. While looking utterly elegant and fabulous.”
The Big Day
As the wedding planner and host, Diandre admits she found it hard to really indulge in her emotions for most of the day, though she did get quite emotional during their “First Look” — “Noel looked so damn handsome!” Their photographer, however, was able to whisk the couple away from the chaos and carved out time for Diandre and Noel to have some quiet, tender moments together during photo sessions.
Noel, on the other hand, had all the feels that day. “I felt almost every emotion that day. Insert corny Filipino joke here: Love is the only emotion that mattered that day. Dee looked absolutely amazing. I am a lucky man.”
A Final Note
“We have such immense gratitude to our generous parents who not only made our dream wedding a reality, but also fostered us free-thinkers and artists,” the couple adds. “And of course, major shout out to Caroline and the master dressmakers at VINTA who are nurturing a new era of Filipinx pride with artistry and integrity.