Before I preside at a wedding, I usually make it a point to interview the couple to hear their story. I think it’s great to get a sense of how they met and how their relationship developed, and mine it for what message God may have for them and for us.
In most cases, the versions are, as expected, very similar, but sometimes, for reasons ranging from funny to disturbing, the man and the woman can come up with very different versions. I’m happy to report to you that the stories I got from Joseph and Candice when I interviewed them were quite identical, but the interesting thing about that meeting is that we also got another angle of their story from Honey, Candice’s sister, who came along.
Our story begins not so much with Joseph and Candice, but with their mothers, Pacita and Patty, who have been best friends since high school. When Patty’s family moved to Australia, the two lost touch for a while. But in Easter of 2006, they renewed their friendship when Pacita decided to bring her family to visit her best friend in the Gold Coast, and what a perfect way for Joseph and Candice to meet, right? The only problem was, they didn’t because Candice was at that time still studying in Melbourne. It wasn’t until Candice and her two sisters, Honey and Stephanie, visited Manila that our future bride and groom finally met during a dinner hosted by Pacita’s family for them.
It didn’t take long for the more observant in the group to begin suspecting that something was afoot. There were several telltale signs. First of all, reliable sources have it that the moment Joseph laid eyes on Candice, he immediately volunteered to be the balikbayan sisters’ official tour guide in Manila.
Telltale sign no. 2: Candice was usually a very bubbly person, but for some strange reason, she acted very shy around Joseph since that first night they met. In fact, her two sisters kept exchanging meaningful glances with each other as they observed this very strange and new behavior from Candice.
Telltale sign no. 3: Before the night was over, Joseph had texted Honey to ask for Candice’s number.
At first Joseph was giving the sisters a tour of Manila, but after a while, it was only Candice who was getting all the invitations. And finally, the sign that said it all for her sisters: Candice came home one day to announce that she was extending her two-month vacation in Manila to eight months! Her sisters were not surprised.
But neither were Joseph and Candice surprised. They immediately hit it off since that first time they went out on an unofficial date, when despite a bad cough, Candice agreed to watch a James Bond movie with her now exclusive tour guide. The times spent together led to a deep friendship between them. They got to know each other well, and liked what they discovered about each other. They grew so close that by the time Christmas arrived, Joseph held Candice’s hand for the first time in public, and after a serious talk, they were officially together.
Of course soon Candice had to go back to Melbourne. And from 2006 onwards, Joseph and Candice had to nurture long-distance relationship. As they shared with me, it was difficult, not to mention very expensive since they made it a point to meet at least every three months. After three years, Joseph was able to join Candice when he flew to Melbourne to complete the second term of his MBA studies.
Their experiences when they were apart were at times exhausting: They were living in different time zones! But also, more importantly, they learned many valuable lessons, and I suspect that even if they didn’t know it then, those lessons have been preparing them for marriage.
I asked them what it was that they found most special in each other. According to Joseph, Candice more than anyone else inspires him to be a better person. She brings out the best in him not only in terms of his career but also his life in general. She is always coaxing him to come out of his shell. What has endeared Joseph to Candice on the other hand is how he understands and keeps supporting her dreams. Of course Candice says that it also helps a lot that her entire family is head over heels in love with Joseph.
You know, distances and differences usually pull couples apart. But what struck me most about the case Joseph and Candice is that instead of pulling them apart, the distance between them and their differences, both personal and cultural, have actually brought them closer to each other. As many married couples will attest to, even the best of marriages encounter distances and differences. That is a part of life. That is part and parcel of being part of a living and evolving relationship. But both of you, Joseph and Candice, have already undergone excellent training in how to manage distances and differences for the good of your relationship, and this training will serve you well. My prayer for you is that as you begin your married life today, you will be able to continue to celebrate your differences and allow them to summon the best from each one. Remember that if God is in the midst of Your relationship, He will help you because He alone can bridge any distance between our hearts.
And so dear friends, as we stand witness to Joseph and Candice committing their life and their love to each other, let us join them by committing our support for them. Joseph and Candice, your families and friends, especially those gathered here on this most special day, rejoice with you both and promise you our love and our prayers.