Dubai diaries: Diary of a bride-to-be

Dubai - Here's what happened to a dream wedding amidst the pandemic.


By Kirstin Bernabe-Santos

Published: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 8:57 AM

Today, I was supposed to finally wear my white Mikado ballgown down the aisle and meet my crying groom at the altar. My hair would have been coiffed in signature Blair Waldorf style, under a thin veil sprinkled with glistening crystals. I should have been eating and dancing our wedding night away. Instead, here I am, writing about it.

As we all know, Covid-19 had other plans for us brides-to-be. Some 125 guests were invited to what would have been a ceremony at a small hilltop church in the Philippines, followed by a dinner reception at a garden of almond trees. On that day in March 2020, the world had already shut all borders. My husband and I were cooped up in our flat in Dubai Production City, days after catching one of the last planes that flew from Manila to the emirate at that time. Spirits were low, but we were extremely thankful that we — and over a hundred of our loved ones — were all safe from Covid-19. “One year from now, by March 2021, everything will be all right,” my husband and I told each other. We were 101 per cent sure that 12 months was too long a time for a virus’ life, so we immediately moved our wedding to exactly a year later.

Clearly, we underestimated this big C. The Philippines is currently facing daily cases at all-time highs of 7,000-plus, with mass vaccination crawling at a snail’s pace out of the pipeline. With weddings now restricted to a maximum of 10 attendees back home, there was no way ours could have happened. But there was also no way Kevin and I would be drowning ourselves in gloom and doom today. After all, the pandemic had taught us to bounce back better. Thankfully, we are in the UAE, a holiday gem a lot safer than most places in the world right now. Here, we have the opportunity to relish an alternate story and still have a blast.

Today, I’m not really just ‘writing’. I’m typing away under the sun, right in front of the glistening waters off Fujairah’s Dibba shore — my feet covered in sand and my hair tangled up in a salty, messy bun. Wearing my mermaid-inspired one-piece, I waded my way into the gulf and swam behind a long entourage of striped coastal fish. While we could be cutting a three-tier cake and twisting our arms in a ceremonial toast, we enjoyed digging into a serving of molten chocolate cake and exchanging spoonfuls of affogato at the Lava Beach Club. Instead of holding a rustic bouquet of Ecuadorian roses, hypericum berries and eucalyptus leaves, I happily sported a garland of flowers around my neck. Kevin and I were laughing and napping the day away. Still, I couldn’t help but ask him, “Our wedding now seems too anticlimactic. Will you still cry when you see me walking down the aisle?” And he said, “If my dark blue three-piece suit in subtly patterned wool would allow it. The groom’s attire has to be in your blog, too, you know?”

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