"You are my home. You are my happiness..."
This was part of Shalani Soledad's wedding vow, which she recited late this afternoon, January 22, at the St. Benedict's Church in Ayala Westgrove, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
As for the groom, he told his bride, "I waited 44 years before God gave me this favor..."
And with some 500 guests as witnesses, Councilor Shalani Soledad was officially pronounced wife of Congressman Roman Romulo at around 6:45 p.m.
One of the highlights of the ceremony, which began a little past 5:30 p.m., was the homily of His Eminence Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales.
Cardinal Rosales stressed that it was love that brought the couple together, and not "economic welfare" or "political status."
He also advised the couple to be "kind," "patient," "understanding," "not to be jealous," and "do what God calls you to do."
SIDELIGHTS. The wedding was the first time that Shalani saw her father, Adolfo Aguirre, and her mother, Evelyn Soledad-Yumol, together.
But the bride initially walked down the aisle alone.
Halfway through her march, Mr. Ramon Soledad—her mother's brother, who was instrumental in bringing the bride into the world of politics—accompanied her.
Next, her biolgical father joined the bride.
And the last man who walked with her before reaching the altar was Dan Yumol, her stepfather.
The background music, "If It's Love," "Fields of Gold," and "Just The Way You Are," was sung by Gail Blanco.
Celebrities in attendance were Senator Bong Revilla and wife Lani Mercado, Richard Gomez and wife Lucy Torres, Mariel Rodriguez, Migz Zubiri and wife Audrey, Valerie Concepcion, Marco Alcaraz and girlfriend Lara Quigaman.
Reception was held at the Evoliving Center Dockside in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
PARENTS' MESSAGE. The program was simple and short, as the family said they wanted the guests to enjoy the food prepared by Florabel Catering.
"Nagustuhan niyo ang pagkain?" asked the groom's sister, Mons Romulo, twice, to which we readily answered, "Oo naman!"
The menu had smoked salmon and romaine lettuce salad with herb croutons, Parmesan flakes and longganisa bits; chicken binakol with Baguio spinach; roast U.S. Angus rib eye with mashed potato; queso de bola cheesecake; suman latik with Batangas tsokolate; plus malunggay iced tea.
About 800 people joined the newlyweds at the reception, which showcased a 10-minute fireworks display.
Two of the highlights were the parents' messages.
The first speaker was Roman's dad, former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Aberto Romulo, who talked about the day his eldest son told him that he'd finally found the lady, "the one I want to spend my life with."
The senior Romulo said it was the present DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Roman's ninong, who had nudged the congressman, "You should meet Shalani."
Months later, Roman finally introduced the councilor to the Romulos.
Alberto Romulo recounted how Berna, his youngest daughter, remarked about Roman, "He is absolutely smitten."
Mons, Alberto said, called the pair "a perfect match made in heaven."
He ended his speech with a toast: "Friends and family, may I now ask all of you to join...to join me as I offer a toast to our beloved Shalani.
"May Shalani and Roman live happily ever after, always in God's good grace, and with this blessing in the abundant favor of their countrymen, their family, and their friends."
The second important speaker was Shalani's mom, Evelyn. When it was her turn, she recounted the day Roman asked for her daughter's hand.
Her candid reaction, she said, was: "Why so soon?"
Roman answered that he had found "true love" in her daughter.
The feisty Evelyn then asked for three things from her would-be son-in-law.
First, "Roman, mahalin mo ang anak ko."
Second, that he and Shalani must go to this chapel in Bicol "where I prayed often after the storm sa buhay ni Shalani."
(Everyone present understood the storm to mean Shalani's breakup with her then two-year boyfriend, Benigno Aquino III.)
Third, that he "help and accept" Shalani's family and friends.
In the end, Evelyn recounted, "Nanginginig si Roman, itong lalaking ito na hinarap ako, prinangka ako, inalok ng kasal ang anak ko—sino ako para tumanggi sa isang Congressman Roman Romulo?"
The lovely mom of the bride thanked the Romulos for welcoming Shalani into their family.
Then she also thanked Willie Revillame for giving her daughter the chance to be part of his show even if "she's not a very good host," and giving her something "na pagkakaabalahan," to make her forget her "heartbreak."
It was close to midnight when guests began leaving the venue with good memories of the couple's big day, plus tikoy to bring home for the celebration of Chinese New Year.