People & Inspiration

Love Actually: 'Yes, A Civil Wedding Can Be More Practical And Charming Over A Church Ceremony!'

Love Actually: 'Yes, A Civil Wedding Can Be More Practical And Charming Over A Church Ceremony!'

In a world that can be just as jaded about "happy endings" as much as it is a fan, a civil wedding, in some countries like the Philippines, can be harshly viewed as lackluster or second-rate. Around the world today, people have a much broader view of having their love and commitment publicly bound by law. There are many circumstances that surround couples who drop the bells and whistles and choose to go the civil route in matrimony. Sometimes, a civil union is the first step towards a church wedding. Before their epic European wedding, Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho sealed their commitment here back home with Mayor Nancy Binay, also partly for paperwork and logistical purposes prior to the main event abroad.  

We recently caught up with Tricia Arenas-Teng, a petite, lovely and bright millennial Filipina, hailing originally from Iloilo City. She's been married and settled for almost four years now with her Fil-Chinese husband Nicholas Teng in San Francisco, California. Once a Learning Management Systems administrator for Google, Tricia just recently transferred companies and now carries the same job title but with Tesla, a premium electric car manufacturer. Hubby Nick, tall in contrast, operates in the highly-envied corporate gaming realm. Nick and Trish actively reside and work in Silicon Valley but they met way, way back in Manila as friends.

Both successful man and wife are self-confessed millennial geeks. They had a simple yet elegant civil union at the beautiful San Francisco City Hall in 2013 and Trish was quite keen to give us the deets today on that sweet throwback. "I once had this image that civil weddings were plain affairs done in bland courthouses. I could not have been more wrong. We were very lucky to be married in San Francisco City Hall, which has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world."

One can hardly forget how in the movie Sex And the City 2, Carrie and Big mutually settled on a simple and civil wedding in the end after the entire roundabout riot of planning a huge wedding that the groom flaked on.

[related: In Focus: 10 Unconventinal Engagement Rings For The 'Hipster' Bride]

On the day of her wedding, Trish wore a ready-to-wear Rosa Clara dress and lovely red Manolo Blahnik heels. "At first, I was stressed out trying to create this 'blog-worthy' big wedding from across an ocean. But when we shifted gears and decided to do a civil wedding instead, the planning process stopped being stressful and just became fun. It’s much easier planning centerpieces for two tables  instead of 20!"  

"Logistically, it’s easier to plan a civil wedding in a shortened time frame. We also originally wanted to get married in a Catholic church in Manila, but there was a lot of paperwork and my husband had not been confirmed. It was very hard because half our records were in the Philippines, half were here in the US."

Tricia confessed that she still personally wants to experience walking down a church aisle one day, for a sweet reason. "We had a wonderful civil wedding, but our parents and grandparents were not able to attend. So, I would love to have a church ceremony so they can be there this time. Honestly, there’s still that little girl inside me who wants her daddy to walk her down the aisle." 

"My husband was more in favor of the civil wedding. He understood why I preferred the traditional church wedding, but I also respected that he preferred a more intimate setting."

This year the SFO-based couple will be celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary, yet they still love looking back on that day they were in full "costume" as bride and groom.

"Spending a lot of money to have a fancy ceremony does not guarantee a successful marriage. It doesn’t really matter if you are married in church, on a beach, or in a courthouse; the vows are the same, and your promises to each other are the same no matter where you say them."

ALSO READ: In Focus: Here Are All The Stunning Looks From Vicki And Hayden’s Star-Studded Paris Wedding!

Photos provided by Tricia Arenas-Teng,, and from




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