A wedding in the woods with seven guests

Newlyweds Andre ‘Dindi’ Zabala and Kris Bayos. There was no reception so the cutting of the cake happened at Twin Lakes County Park in Westchester County.  Photos by Melissa Wahler of Sava Studio

By Cristina DC Pastor

It was a wedding planned a year ahead.

When the Coronavirus contaminated the world and made New York a public health hotspot, Andre ‘Dindi’ Zabala and his bride Kris Bayos decided to just go through with it “not knowing if the situation would improve or get worse.”

So, on a hot summer afternoon of July 18, Dindi and Kris exchanged vows at the Church of the Assumption in Tuckahoe N.Y., witnessed by seven guests. Eight, if you include the officiant Fr. Adolfo Novio. The guests who attended the wedding had assigned roles — scripture reader, wedding singer or errand runners. The Matron of Honor doubled as the flower girl and ring bearer. As the hairdresser did not attend the photo shoot, Dindi fixed his newly wedded wife’s hair. The “multitasking guests” made the Zabala-Bayos nuptials quite unique in keeping with heightened requirements of the pandemic where people are constantly bombarded with reminders to avoid big crowds and keep a healthy distance from one another.

“Our wedding was simple yet special,” said Dindi when interviewed by The FilAm via email. “The mood was pretty intimate and stress-free.”

Kris said: “We definitely saved a lot of money. Having your wedding in the time of the pandemic was a blessing in disguise in a sense.” The biggest chunk of the bill went to the wedding rings.

The party of seven includes officiant Fr. Adolfo Novio.
Into the woods, the wedding party goes wacky.

It was an uncommon wedding. The bride walked the aisle alone, approaching the groom by the altar. There was no reception after the church ceremony. No bouquet toss, and most definitely no all-night line dancing. The cake cutting and champagne toast were held in the woods of the Twin Lakes County Park. There was a small dinner at Toscana restaurant for guests who remained after the mass. Only three people did, and one of them was the priest.

Recalled Kris, “There was a short first dance as we stepped out of the church, right by the front door. We danced while the bells were ringing.”

Met in church
The couple met at the Our Lady of Pompei Church in Manhattan. Dindi, a life insurance agent, was a volunteer for the Filipino Pastoral Ministry community. One day in 2015, Kris went to mass; the two became fast friends.

“Dindi was one of the first few people who welcomed me on that first Sunday I went to Pompei to hear Mass,” said Kris, who works at a medical staffing agency in Brooklyn. “When I finally moved to New York City in late 2016, I became a frequent churchgoer at Pompei. Dindi and I became more than acquaintances.”

They heard mass together, went hiking, and played badminton. “Being in the company of our church community shaped our friendship,” she said. “However, it is also because of our friendship, that it is hard to pinpoint when we actually started dating. It’s as if there was a seamless gap between our friendship and our courtship.”

In the absence of a hairdresser, Dindi Zabala fixes bride’s hair as Matron of Honor Maricar Tangonan snaps a picture.
In a seemingly dystopian time, the beauty of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline showed up on Dindi and Kris’ wedding day.

The pair discussed getting married during a road trip from New York to Sacramento in October 2019 to visit family. They chose July 2020 as the best wedding date given that it was a summer month and most family members would be able to attend.

“We actually never considered postponing our wedding until after Covid,” said Dindi.

“Nobody can tell us when the pandemic will be over so, we figured, what’s the point to postpone?” Kris said.

The ceremony was aired live on Zoom and Facebook for relatives and friends who could not attend.

“It’s a pity that we didn’t have our dear parents, family members and friends present for the occasion, but I sincerely appreciate the uniqueness and calmness of our wedding day,” she said.

The photo shoot went way into the evening from Tuckahoe all the way down to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway where the couple posed and frolicked against the glimmering backdrop of the New York City skyline.

It may have been a sad occasion for Kris because of her parents’ absence. But when she walked toward Dindi waiting expectantly by the altar, there were only tears of joy.
© The FilAm 2020

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