This is probably the best-kept secret among wedding destinations in the world. At the National Arts Center in Mount Makiling, an hour’s ride south of Metro Manila, there is a chapel whose backdrop is a ravine that plunges into a virgin forest almost a stone’s throw from the mighty Laguna de Bai. This non-denominational chapel has no walls. Its architectural signature — and structure — is a cross whose horizontal plank serves as the roof and whose vertical rise becomes the focal point as the altar. Churchgoers sit on smoothened rocks where ferns grow at the cracks. Running through the rough stone floors are rivulets of water signifying the quiet joys of life’s many blessings. To book the chapel, contact the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Intramuros, also known as the Walled City of Old Manila, has stone-block churches and Hispanic houses and cobblestone streets and forts and battlements that can lend your wedding a unique historical twist. Horse-drawn carriages complete the picture. Fine-dining restaurants in the area offer catering services, even inside their premises, which are splendorously cinematic, too. The legendary Manila Cathedral sits at one of the entry points of Intramuros.
At the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay City, in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon, you can have a quiet, transcendental wedding in between the community prayers of Benedictine monks. The church has an austere power in its simplicity, with a breathtaking view of the agricultural plateau and the mountains beyond. There are bed-and-breakfast amenities in air-conditioned comfort.