December 20, 2016 marked a very special day for Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia. After almost two years of patience, trust in God, and careful planning, the 34-year-old host got down on one knee, and asked his actress-host girlfriend for her hand in marriage, with closest friends and family there to cheer them on (and, of course, document)!
And two months later, on February 23, the now-engaged couple paid a visit to the set of Magandang Buhay, where they shared details of their love story and kilig engagement.
BiCol have been together for about three years, but Billy already knew he wanted to marry Coleen after the first 12 months of dating. “Parang [sabi ko] ‘This is the one for me’. I’ve decided na yung dasal ko na sana mag-yes na lang siya because I want to take care of her for the rest of my life,” he shared.
Part of what kept him from popping the question was her schedule. At the time, Coleen was filming both daytime soap Pasion de Amor and the film Ex With Benefits. He didn't want to distract her at time when she was busy working. He thought that asking her to marry him would only make her lose focus. So he opted to wait.
The waiting ended up lasting 19 months!
Becoming official was well worth it for these lovebirds, but it was not met without scrutiny. Billy had gone through a very public, very talked about breakup with then-girfriend Nikki Gil, who he dated for five years. Coleen also had her fair share of exes (Enrique Gil and Gab Valenciano, to be specific). There was the age difference, too. Billy's 10 years older than her.
Without getting into too much detail on the trials they went through before or even during the time they became official, the 23-year-old assured everyone once more of her decision to marry the singer-host. “Actually kaya din ako naging sure sa relationship na 'to kasi ang dami na natin pinagdaanan from the very start, nung hindi pa kami sigurado sa isa’t isa. Di pa kami girlfriend-boyfriend… so ang laki ng tulong nun sa amin… At least alam namin na ayun pa lang from the start pa lang lumalaban kami hanggang sa dulo lalaban kami."
[related: The D Word: How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Tie the Knot?]
Billy originally planned on proposing after Ex With Benefits came out. He also wanted to propose during their trip to Spain, but decided against it since both Coleen’s parents couldn’t be present. It didn't feel right for him. The only other option was to have it done in Manila.
A lot of the planning and execution would not have been possible without Coleen’s third cousin, actress and now maid-of-honor, Ria Atayde (who also dropped by the Magandang Buhay set with Dominic Roque and Coleen’s father, Jose Garcia). It helped that during the time he asked, Coleen just happened to post on her social media an article on the “Top 15 Most Romantic Restaurants in Manila.” It also helped that she personally knew the owner of what would eventually be the venue for their proposal: Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge.
There was also the issue of secretly buying and hiding the ring! Ria basically tricked Coleen into getting her finger measured for Billy. “Sabi ko ‘Cuz, may Instagram shop gusto tayo bigyan matching rings and bracelet. Measure mo naman yung ring [finger] mo’,” recalled Ria. Coleen unwittingly gave the measurements to her, which she then handed over to Billy. Once the ring was made, he handed it to Ria for safekeeping.
Ria really took "safekeeping" literally. In her Instagram post she revealed that the ring was the "scariest thing to put in my vault."
When the day finally arrived, Billy was a nervous wreck. He was taking tons of bathroom breaks in between taping that day's episode of It's Showtime. He had cold sweats. And at Ninyo, Billy struggled to get the projector to work (since the idea was to first show a video presentation before asking the Big Question). But seeing as how she said yes, everything went well and was indeed a moment to remember. According to Dominic Roque, “Sobrang sweet ng proposal kasi lagi naman sila sweet together, lalo na si Billy.”
[related: Love Actually: 10 Times Billy and Coleen Proved that Age Does Not Matter When It Comes to Love]
Billy said that both Coleen’s parents have approved of their decision to marry. And what made their "yes" special was how they would've gladly taken him in as a son-in-law, even before he expressed his intentions for their daughter. “Pinakita ko [yung singsing] sa mommy ni Coleen… Si Tito Jose, nag-usap naman kami. Nung kinausap ko si Tito Jose parang nag man-to-man talk kami and sabi nya sa akin, ‘I already know na papunta na kayo doon and it would be my pleasure to have you be a part of my family’,” he said.
Coleen likewise appreciates the trust and freedom that her parents are giving her, as she is set on being given way next year. She values "what they think about the choices that I make. Sobrang masaya ako na malaki ang tiwala nila sa akin to make the right decisions… it’s teaching me a lot and I’m really thankful for that.”
Billy’s promise now that he’s engaged to the love of his life "I’ll always be here not just for Coleen but for the family. And I will try to be the best that I can be as a husband and as a father, katulad ni Tito Jose. Someone who is strong, someone who really knows who to turn to pag kailangan na nang tulong. I respect Tito Jose, I am inspired by him and I’m blessed to have him and the rest of the family in my life… I will not hurt Coleen in any way and gusto ko maganda ang buhay na magkasama kami as husband and wife," he said.
They ended the show with "practice vows," in which they were given time to write what they might say to each other on their actual wedding in 2018. Get ready to bring out the tissue!
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Photographs from Instagram.com/billyjoecrawford, Instagram.com/coleengarcia, and Instagram.com/dominicroque / Artwork by Sheila Mae Domingo