A wedding on Times Square

Jesse and Marie at the altar of Broadway billboards. Photos by Tom Wang

By Cristina DC Pastor

While half the world was glued to Westminster Abbey on April 29, a couple from Clifton, New Jersey was having their own royal wedding on Times Square.

Tie designer Jesse Chao and his bride Marie Grace Singgo from Iloilo wed around the same time as Prince William and Kate Middleton. They were one of three couples who were accorded their own royal wedding courtesy of the TLC Discovery reality show.

“It was magical,” said Jesse, designer and owner of Vittorio J Ties. “Marie and I are still recovering from the whole experience.”

Jesse, a Chinese who grew up in the Philippines, met Marie in New Jersey. They were students at Montclair State University when they started dating a month after 9/11. After eight years together, they got engaged in 2009. He remembered popping the question on a rainy day visit to their old campus, and Marie complaining about being drenched and muddy.

They knew it was just a matter of time before they would get married. But they did not reckon it would be on Times Square in front of millions of viewers. But trust a lazy day on the Internet, and before long, the pair was filling out an online application to be part of the TLC Royal Wedding.

“It took us over three hours to complete,” Jesse told The FilAm. “I knew that it was going to be pretty competitive and we needed to sound witty and stand out from the crowd.”

Yellow cabs line the aisle.

They soon got a call from Semi Sweet Productions and the casting director telling them to show up for taping. From that moment on, Jesse and Marie’s life became a torrent of stress and excitement. There was a lot of planning and communication with the casting director and TLC. A lot of pressure, too, to get everything set up for the event. Marie tried on four different gowns and chose one with a simple cut created by Anna Maier.

“I added a Swarovski crystal at the waist to make it look classy and glamorous,” she said.

“The funniest thing about the whole experience was Marie’s anxiety during the process. There were times when she was completely freaking out! In my head, I knew this was a once-in-a-life time opportunity and really tried my best to convince her to go with the flow. I’m glad I did because everything turned out great,” recounted Jesse.

On the day of the wedding, the three winning couples were asked to wait at a backstage at Duffy Square. Hordes of tourists and New Yorkers had gathered, waiting for the show to begin.

The actual ceremony began at 7:30 a.m. As the couples were called one after the other, they marched toward Mitch the Minister who was waiting on Times Square. In about five minutes, each couple was pronounced man and wife to roaring cheers from the crowd. Jesse and Marie were the picture of child-like giddiness. They brought their party of 25 to a nearby Thai restaurant to continue the celebration.

“Like most long-term relationships, we had our ups and downs, but I always knew she was the one,” Jesse said. “She is everything a man wants in a wife and I am excited to spend the rest of my life with her.”

“We were very very happy,” said Marie.

A more private wedding is being planned for September by the couple. St. Paul Church in Clifton will be the site for the ceremony, and La Quinta Hotel in Secaucus for the reception. More than 200 guests were invited to this sequel of a nuptial.

Two weddings, two dresses and two rings.

“It’s once in a lifetime, right?” Marie said with a laugh.

Cristina DC Pastor is the founding editor of The FilAm. She is a contributing writer to Feet in Two Worlds.

One Comment

  1. Ava C. wrote:

    Thanks for posting this. I saw it on TV and was looking for more info online.

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