“Tens of thousands of days”—that’s Karen Gallman’s dream for how long she’ll have her husband, Ian Garton, by her side after tying the knot earlier this month in one of Queenstown, New Zealand’s most picturesque destinations.
Time seems to have played a part in their six-and-a-half-year-long relationship; it took Ian three whole years to earn a date with this powerhouse of a woman who would eventually become the Philippines’ first Miss Intercontinental titleholder and a successful professional outside of the pageant scene.
If you had told these two that an engagement and a dreamy destination wedding were in store for them, it would’ve been akin to telling them that one day, birds would rule the oceans and whales would float through clouds—impossible!
It’s funny, she describes, how things turn out over time. Like many of life’s greatest blessings, patience is the key to unlocking them, and without a doubt, Ian with his willingness to wait (and Karen too, at that) reaped the biggest reward of all: a partner in love to last them a lifetime.
“The whole day was just amazing—truly one of the best days of my life,” Karen says.
Below, she details exactly what made her “I do’s” so perfect from her vows and family surprises, to the dresses and the fairy tale of a wedding it all was.
About the couple
How did you and your husband meet?
“This love story began seven years ago. Although Ian and I had both attended the same high school and Ian was a friend of my older sister, Joy, somehow, we never crossed paths during those years. Years later, we were introduced by mutual friends and Ian then spent three years working hard to get a first date; finally in 2013, he achieved his goal and we never looked back since! June 2015, two months before our 5th anniversary, Ian proposed.”
How long have you two been together?
“Six and a half years”
What do you enjoy doing together? Your hobbies, interests?
“We love traveling and exploring different cities with a cup of coffee in one hand. We enjoy our weekly bath over a glass of wine and just chat about life; it’s our weekly ritual.”
Preparing for the wedding
What is your wedding’s theme, and why did you choose it?
“We went for an all-white modern styling with a touch of blush. The bridesmaids wore custom Louis Pangilinan blush-peach dresses and the flower girls wore white dresses with blush-peach bow ties to match. Lastly, the styling team added blush linen napkins at the reception to give it that blush motif.”
How long did you prepare for your wedding day?
“We gave ourselves a good 10 months to choose the venues and plan everything.”
What were the challenges you encountered along the way?
“The biggest challenge would have to be trying to plan a destination wedding. As much as I wanted to be hands-on, it was just impossible. I was in a different country every month and Ian was in London and the wedding being in New Zealand. It was just impossible. So we decided to go for the full planning package with our wedding planner, One Fine Day.”
What was the best part in preparing for your wedding?
“The realization that I will marry my best friend and soulmate is the best part and that the wedding is just the first day of hopefully tens of thousands of days.”
What tips can you share with brides-to-be when it comes to planning a wedding?
“My advice would be to organize it together and don’t sweat the small stuff. Planning a wedding is bigger than you think, so it’s important to start preparing early and to not let it overwhelm you.
“Most importantly, enjoy the process and the big day. Ian and I made the conscious decision to only discuss the wedding preparation and ceremony at least three days out of seven, to allow us not to shift all our focus and attention on that one day so we can instead prepare a life together and be present for every moment—one of the best decisions!”
Tell us something about your wedding gown.
“I had envisioned a simple, classic, and elegant dress for me to walk down the aisle in, and when I saw and fitted the Carid dress by Rosa Clara, I just knew it was the one. As for my reception dress, I had only one name in mind: Patricia Santos. I’m in love with the detailed, sparkly dresses that she makes. When you see one of her designs, you just know it’s by PS. I’m so happy with the outcome and not to mention I received many compliments throughout the evening.”
What about your hair and makeup looks, and accessories?
“I love simplicity. I wanted to go for a classic yet simplistic look on my wedding day, and am really happy with the outcome.”
What were the highlights of your big day?
“The whole day was just amazing—truly one of the best days of my life. The most memorable moment would be the exchange of the vows, that was very special. The most heartfelt moment would be when my youngest brother surprised us both by singing ‘Breathless’ by Shayne Ward. I was so moved seeing Ian cry hearing my brother sing.
“Lastly, the most fun part would be the party. We had an incredible band, Ministry of Tone, that performed the whole night and boy oh boy they did not disappoint. The guests couldn’t stop talking about them! Adding to that, I’d like mention Lost in Love Photography and Moon and Back for their professionalism. They captured the day gracefully and I am just so happy with how everything turned out.”
How did you decide on a wedding venue?
“Our hearts were both set on Queenstown, New Zealand. We first visited Queenstown in 2015 to go skiing and were just gobsmacked by its beauty. We did a trip in April 2019 to scout for venues and decided on Stoneridge Estate for the ceremony because of its beautiful garden with Lake Hayes in the background and The Winehouse for the beautiful cliff and mountain view for the reception.”
Number of guests: “It was an intimate wedding with our closest friends and family. We welcomed 60 guests.”
Ceremony venue: Stoneridge Estate, Queenstown
Reception venue: The Winehouse, Queenstown
Date of wedding: March 3, 2020
Wedding coordinator: One Fine Day (with Sam from The Winehouse)
Photographer and videographer: Lost in Love Photography and Moon and Back
Bridal gown designer: Rosa Clara
Bride’s reception gown designer: Patricia Santos
Bridal robe: Kannah Designs
Groom’s suit maker: Gieves & Hawke One Saville Row London
Entourage gown designer: Louis Pangilinan
Flower girls: Bridal Boutique Manila
Bridesmaid robes: Bridal Boutique Manila
Host: Mark Bailey, one of the groomsmen
Entertainment: Cello & Piano duo for the ceremony and Ministry of Tone for the reception
Celebrant: Liz Maluschnig
Cake maker: Cakes of Wanaka