Portadown couple celebrate with Filipino-style wedding

NIHRC says 68 children were married in NI in 2014
NIHRC says 68 children were married in NI in 2014

Their romance began with a chance meeting when they competed at Portadown Music Festival five years ago and led to their marriage earlier this month in the Philippines, the bride’s homeland.

Janet (nee Martinez) was a member of Portadown Ladies Choir when the couple met at Craigavon Civic Centre back in 2001. The groom Stephen Brown still sings with the town’s male voice choir.

“I suppose you could say we harmonised right away,” said Stephen (baritone) as he recalled the night that he and Janet (soprano) first hit the musical heights. “We’ve been in tune with one another ever since!”

Janet, a psychology graduate from the University in Cagayan De Ora in the Philippines, has lived in Portadown for 29 years. She ran her own Thai Restaurant, before moving to her present job as a classroom assistant at Ceara Special School in Lurgan.

The wedding took place at a mountain resort in Cagayan De Ora, in the southern region of the archipelago, with a pastor conducting the ceremony – the couple wore traditional Filipino wedding apparel.

“The wedding was organised by Janet’s nephew Arvine Bantigue, a professional wedding planner, and his firm made all the arrangements,” said Stephen, a former policeman, now an operations manager with a security firm.

He added, “Her dress was beautiful – she looked terrific – and I wore the traditional barong. They don’t wear suits out there, because of the heat.”

Best man was Paul Hewitt, Janet’s son from her previous marriage, with Paul’s girlfriend Catherine Forde, the chief bridesmaid. The other four bride’s attendants were her various friends and relatives.

“The celebrations were of the family type, much the same as back home”, said Stephen. “We stayed in the Philippines for three weeks and were back home in time for the male choir annual concert on Friday night. I was on-stage with the choir and Janet enjoyed it immensely.”

The honeymoon is being spent in Ontario, a mixture of visiting Stephen’s Canadian relatives and sight-seeing, especially the majesty of the Niagara Falls. But before then, they are having a reception at Portadown Golf Club, where friends, relatives and male choir members will be the guests.