Diaspora Feature Story

“Ball gown moments” dream of four finally came true

Two grooms and “dreamy wedding gown moments for three sisters.” From left to right: Francis Adriel, Lence Alonzo, Kristian Cuesta, Aireen Lao Sencio, groom Raffy Reyes and groom Michael Lao, Mae Lao Gonzales, Christian Esmundo, Mylynn Lao Medina and Jomari Reyes. Photo © Abner Galino

CHANCES are, if a woman wishes to marry, she most likely wishes to walk the aisle in a wedding ball gown. Right?

Well, that’s when circumstances were ideal. But when reality bites, she could settle for less. Nevertheless, settle or not, the “wedding ball gown dream” doesn’t just fizzle out.

Michael Lao, 32, a same-sex marriage groom, has three sisters who are all married. However, they didn’t exactly get to wear their “dream wedding gowns” during their special moments.

“It may sound silly, but it was my dream for my sisters to wear those dreamy wedding gowns. And now that I am getting married, I asked them to be my groomsmaids so I can walk with them down the aisle on those wedding gowns,” narrated Michael.

But it wasn’t just about Michael wanting that moment to happen. There wouldn’t be a story to tell if not for fashion designer (whom Michael has never met) who helped him realized the “dreams.”

“I really wanted it to happen but I also don’t want to go beyond our humble budget. I thought I needed to stretch my luck and gather all my courage to ask a fashion designer that I adore, Puey Quiñones of Cocomelody, to be our fairy godmother (principal sponsor) and to lend as four gowns for the wedding,” recalled Michael.

Michael e-mailed Puey and, to his surprise, he got a positive response.

“He was in his store in Japan at that moment and told me that we can go to his shop in LA and choose any gown to borrow for free,” Michael added.

“So weeks before my wedding, we went to his shop. Cocomelody caters to all sizes and have a great range of designs — from simple to the most elaborate ones. Each of my sisters was able to pick a gown of her dream.”

Puey Quinones (LIFESTYLE)

Quiñones’ generosity extended to a fourth groomsmaid, Lence Alonzo, 29, a good friend to both grooms Michael and Raffy Reyes.

So, here’s some tidbits about Michael’s sisters:

Mae Lao Gonzales, 36, a fresh nursing school graduate from the Philippines when she married at age 20. She eventually became a registered nurse (RN) in the US.

Mylynn Medina, 45, married at aged 25 when she and her husband were starting out a life here in the US. Her husband eventually became a registered nurse (RN). The couple have two kids, aged 19 and 12.

Aireen Sencio, 38, was also building up a life here in US with her husband. They chose to buy a house over a lavish wedding. The married at a courthouse and had a simple reception at a hotel. They were blessed with two daughters.

Raffy, for his part, praised Michael for his efforts to reward his sisters with the “dreamy wedding ball gown” moments.

“This just showed how loving my husband is. Long ago, even before meeting me. My husband already have in mind who he would pick for his groomsmaids when he get married one day. He wanted them (sisters) to be happy too on that special day,” Raffy said.

“I’d like to share this story. I feel very blessed to be married to the right man.”

Michael and Raffy were married last January 7 at the Knollwood Country Club in Granada Hills.

“I am so grateful to my brother for thinking about how to make us happy on his wedding day. My wedding was practical and simple. But he knows how I’ve dreamed of walking down the aisle with the most beautiful wedding gown. It may not be my own wedding today but it did make up somehow for what I’ve missed when I was marrying,” said Mae, one of the three sisters.

“Of course, a big shoutout to Cocomelody and Puey for providing the gowns that made our dreamy wedding gown moments come true,” she concluded.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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