Taro Niggemann and Janthina Fong’s Filipino-Bavarian Wedding
October 22, 2018
It was happenstance when Taro Niggemann and Janthina Fong met. “Taro was in Manila over New Year’s Eve and he was to meet his Tinder date at the (then) newly-opened Valkyrie. She was running late, so he chatted me up in the meantime,” says Janthina. They lost each other as the night went on but that first conversation made enough of an impression on her that she remembered it the next day. “I remember having breakfast at The Peninsula at 6:30AM thinking, ‘Wait, what about that German guy with the name of a vegetable?” she says. They met again two weeks later when Taro was back in Manila for work and out on another Tinder date. “He matched with a friend on Tinder. She got sick and passed the date on to me. On first seeing the guy’s photo, it turned out to be Taro! We had our first official date at the Blind Pig.” When he had to leave for the airport, he asked if she would like to see him again.
Their relationship began as a long-distance affair, with him based in Hong Kong and her in Manila. When Janthina was accepted at a New York University for graduate school, she deferred for a semester. Taro asked her to move to Hong Kong to see if they could make it work. “It was not easy and it was probably by far, the biggest test we had to face as a couple, particularly so early on,” she says. “By the time I had to make a final decision about the deferment, I already knew I made the right choice for us. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Taro proposed in Chiang Mai during Chinese New Year. “Taro asked me out on the leafy, ornate-teak balcony of our hotel and showed me an attachment on his work email—a zoomed in jpeg of a diamond he chose. He wanted me to have the stone and ring of my dreams, so all I had was this funny little jpeg attachment and a very matter-of-fact proposal that was more of a declaration rather than a question,” she says. “So pragmatic and so German!”
On that balcony, they sat and discussed what their married lives would be like, where they would live, and how they hoped to raise their future children. They kept the engagement to themselves until they returned to Hong Kong. “It was so romantic to have a little secret between just the two of us. We also never announced the engagement on social media, so it was really nice every time we told our loved ones the good news face to face.”
“We didn’t have a wedding planner or stylist,” says Janthina. “Taro wanted to do it the German way, which was initially horrifying for my mother and I, as only a few would dare do this in our culture.” This meant that both Taro and Janthina worked closely on every detail, with both of them super organized and extremely proactive in planning the day. Every supplier received a detailed Power Point deck to keep everyone on the same page, and friends on both sides pitched in and helped to make sure everything would go without a hitch. “Styling was easy since we already had such a wonderful setting; we didn’t want to overshadow it by manufacturing a theme,” says Janthina.
The wedding took place in Germany, in Schloss Elmau, a castle in a remote valley nestled in the German Alps. “Taro’s family has been visiting this place for five generations and it was also where I was introduced to his family for the first time,” says Janthina. “We could not be happier to share our favorite place in the world with the people closest to us from all stages of our life.” Janthina’s family and friends, and Taro’s family and friends were housed together at Elmau’s retreat, to allow everyone the chance to meet and get to know each other, doing activities like tennis, walking in the lake and taking a dip at the many pools and saunas.
The festivities began the day before the occasion with a walk through the valley. Everyone dressed in trachten (traditional German garments). During the Bavarian-themed dinner, the wedding party was serenaded by a local Bavarian band while enjoying beers and schnapps. The next afternoon, Janthina’s father walked her down the aisle to “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” The ceremony followed German and Filipino traditions. They had a champagne and cake reception on the property’s terrace, followed by a two-hour break.
Schloss Elmau provided the catering, producing a five-course dinner that showcased fine, contemporary European cuisine with hints of Asian flavor. The wedding speeches were set between courses. The couple chose not to have a wedding host but nevertheless enjoyed it when Janthina’s more extroverted friends took it upon themselves to spontaneously host the night. “They brought so much humor and warmth to the entire weekend that it really captivated the Germans, who were not necessarily used to weddings with a host or emcee,” says Janthina. The after-party lasted until 6AM, to the surprise of their Ibiza-seasoned DJ. “I personally loved that many of the last people standing had never met each other before and were from all corners of the world,” says the happy bride.
Reflecting on her wedding a few months later, Janthina says that what made it all special were the people and the common understanding between two different cultures. “We credit our guests to being so open to introducing themselves, learning about each other, and even exchanging information after the wedding to stay in touch. Everyone was full of praise for each other. We were pleasantly surprised at how exciting and positive the clash of cultures was,” she says. Even if they had no wedding planner, friends and family all stepped up to help. “None of this would have been possible without all the help we received from friends and family,” says Janthina. “After the wedding, the single, most widely repeated compliment we received was how we were blessed with the best wedding speeches in recent memory. When you plan a wedding, you can get caught up in all the details, but in the end, it is really the people that make the memories worthwhile.”
Scroll down to see more photos from Taro Niggemann and Janthina Fong’s wedding…
Photography by Kreativ Wedding
Bridal Gown Carolina Herrera
Bridal Veil Oscar de la Renta
Reception Dress Maison Rabih Kayrouz
Bridal Shoes Gianvitto Rossi
Makeup and Hair Melanie Hoppe of Les Artists by Josef Stockinger
Groom’s Suit Ash Tailor
Rings Jewelmer Joaillerie
Bridesmaid’s Gowns Martin Bautista
Flower Girls Dresses Marie Chantal
Florist Blumen Rosl
Invitations Paulina Paige Ortega
Calligraphy Fozzy Castro-Dayrit
Caterer Schloss Elmau
Cake Three-tier cake with Swiss meringue buttercream and berry mascarpone filling
Drinks Louis Roederer Champagne, Hugo cocktails, German whites and reds from the Pfalz and Rheingau regions and espresso martinis
Giveaways Monogramed canvas bags with Schladerer schnapps, little Bavarian sausages and a personalized map of Elmau
DJ Petko Pantic