No one can railroad the ânew normalâ bride
Dainty, dreamy embroidered bridal gown by Malu Veloso.

No one can railroad the ‘new normal’ bride

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

And there’s no stopping a wedding!” exclaims restaurateur, writer, food stylist and events planner Sandee Siytangco Masigan. “That I know for sure now.”

Everyone loves a wedding, especially at a time like now when love boosts sagging moods — even if you are just witness to it. For instance, at the St. Alphonsus Mary di Liguori parish church in Magallanes alone, there have been a total of 37 weddings from January to June 2021.

Sandee held a one-day wedding fair at the XO46 Bistro at S’Maison at The Conrad recently due to the number of inquiries she has been getting.

“I feel it’s auspicious to be hosting so many weddings at the restaurant. Love gives off the best vibe and heaven knows we all need that right now,” smiles Sandee. XO46 hosts at least one wedding reception a day, sometimes two.

“We usually host the receptions, but more and more we have ecumenical ceremonies being held at the restaurant,” reveals Sandee. After all, XO46 has a veranda with panoramic views of Manila Bay. It simply can’t get any better than that — sweethearts, sea and sunset.

Spiced carrot cake with cream cheese and buttercream frosting, topped by fresh flowers.


“I can’t say it’s been easy in this pandemic,” admits Sandee the restaurateur (Sandee and husband Andrew Masigan have 30 years’experience in the restaurant business, starting with their first venture, Dimsum N’ Dumplings).

“But luckily, apart from my life in food, I was honed in events. I love putting things together. I love the challenge because the market is younger. Their tastes are different, the aesthetic is different. It’s a fun learning experience, too. We enjoy listening to their stories and their needs, and we do our best to fulfill them,” says Sandee, whose daughter Amanda recently graduated from a university in Spain.

Though the bridal fair was by appointment only, several brides and coordinators turned up for the event.

After all, love doesn’t get locked down with the lockdown. And for couples in love, the question often asked is, “Why wait?” If they were to be stranded on an island surrounded by sharks, they would surely have chosen each other for company.

And while “stranded,” in many ways due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, who best to be stranded with than the one you love? (Well, for the ladies, Hyun Bin is no longer available.)

Besides, weddings are dreams-come-true for most women. And not even a lockdown can mask that dream.

In fact, says Sandee, the “new normal” bride is focused and purposeful.

“She has a good idea of what she wants for her special day. No one can railroad her,” she attests.

The bride of 2021 “also does a lot of research before going to us or other suppliers. She is very empowered.”

This, adds Sandee, makes the job of event planners much, much easier.

“We don’t look at ourselves as coordinators, even if half the time that’s how we end up helping our couples. We are enablers. We enable them to make their dream weddings come true,” says Sandee.

A romantic table setting by XO46.


Couples are also being very creative under the new normal, during which guests are limited to about 50 or 60 people for the entire restaurant. According to Sandee, most weddings average not more than 30 people in the venue.

Even if all their guests cannot be invited to the reception, the newly-wed couple still endeavor to make them part of the wedding.

“The couple have us send food to their guests so they could all be together on Zoom!” shares Sandee, who, by the way, bakes the dainty wedding cakes herself.


The wedding fair, held amid current health guidelines, was in response to something unexpected — the popularity of weddings under the new normal.

“Our wedding fair was like a one-stop shop — stylists, coordinators, photographers, videographers, jewelry, desserts, plus the trimmings and amenities that XO46 offers were all on display.”

“We were getting a lot of inquiries and bookings for smaller, more intimate weddings and other events in the last six months or so. So, we put together a list of what our clients were asking for, their preferences and what they needed, so we thought of putting together the suppliers they were asking us about,” Sandee explains.

The fair’s exhibitors included Petal Swing Event Stylists; Idealbeat Lights & Sounds; Calligraphy by Den (signages and giveaways); Dream Catchers Photo Cinema; Silver Light Event Photography; Zachary’s Event Management; Malu and Letlet Veloso (gowns and masks); Nobela Manila (jewelry), plus the trimmings and amenities that XO46 offers.

Though it is challenging to be planning and enabling weddings under the new normal, Sandee finds it cheerful as well.

“I personally love it. There’s so much bad news these days that a wedding is such a welcome break!”

So you see, what love joined together, let no pandemic put asunder.

Restaurateurs Sandee and Andrew Masigan of XO46.



(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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