Planning a Filipino wedding abroad? Sinta may have what you need

The garden wedding of Sinta founders Gelaine Santiago  and  Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer. Photo by Jessica Hoang

A year ago, Gelaine Santiago  and  Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer sat at the center of a backyard of a historic landmark where they wed in front of family and friends.

A Filipina born in Bulacan and raised in Toronto, Gelaine, 29, married her college sweetheart Jérôme, 33, a French-Canadian from Québec. They met through a student organization called AIESEC while she was a Biology major at Guelph University and he was studying Computer Engineering at Laval University.

While the couple remembers the bright sunny afternoon on a nice Toronto summer day, many of the guests remember the beautiful ceremony: the sponsors who walked the aisle and gave their blessings, the lighting of the candles, and the veil and cord that symbolically united the bride and the groom.

“It felt very special to be able to include Gelaine’s culture within the ceremony,” said Jérôme recalling that day in June 2018 where they vowed to be together ever after. “It was definitely special and a great experience to have the veil attached to me and I was also happy to have chosen close friends as sponsors for the ceremony.”

The wedding was conducted in both French and English. “We set out to plan a wedding that incorporated both cultures and family heritage in meaningful ways,” said Gelaine.

It’s been a year since. Gelaine and Jérôme are now proud parents of Sinta & Co., a wedding boutique that assists couples who are planning to incorporate Filipino wedding traditions into their big day.

The couple cites research from WeddingWire in 2019, stating that 58 percent of couples are now marrying outside of their race, religion, ethnic, or regional background. They said, “Nearly 1 in 5 couples incorporate cultural elements related to race or religion into their ceremony to pay homage to their background.”

Unity cord
Ornamental comb or the ‘payneta’
Wedding pillow

“We realized that there were very few resources online to learn about Filipino wedding traditions,” said Gelaine. “After speaking with other friends in our community, we quickly realized this wasn’t just a challenge we faced, but that couples faced around the world.”

Meaning “love” in Tagalog, “Sinta” aims to be a celebration of the beauty of Filipino heritage, craftsmanship, and culture on your wedding day, said the company in a statement. Parent company Cambio & Co. has 2,000 customers throughout North America. Gelaine, as a co-founder of Cambio & Co., was a recipient of this year’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award for creating a business within Canada that promotes culture through fashion.

Sinta has a website – — that offers items one might need for a Filipino wedding. Accessories such jewelry and bags; meaningful gifts; and ceremony essentials, such as cords, veils, and unity coins. Gold filigree earrings handcrafted by ‘plateros’ in Ilocos Sur,  and capiz earrings  hand-cut in Cebu are some of the accessories made by artisan communities in the Philippines.  Formal attire, such as the Barong Tagalog for men and Filipiniana  gowns made from pineapple fabric for women may be available from the website’s vendor directory.

What dishes to serve at a Filipino-inspired wedding is another informative feature of the website. Here, Gelaine explains the Philippine tradition of Kamayan, which means eating with hands food that is generously spread over banana leaves. Gelaine and Jérôme who got engaged in Vietnam, urge couples “to not be afraid to get creative” on their big day.

“Weddings, after all, go beyond the couple themselves,” said Jérôme. “They’re also a celebration of all the people who have come before us, who are with us today, and who represent the future.”  From the officiant, he said his French-speaking family understood the meaning behind the cord and veil and the coins through the ceremony.

“I don’t imagine there has been tons of Filipino weddings in French! My family was quite glad to learn and discover those traditions,” he said. – With Cristina DC Pastor

© The FilAm 2019

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