For Bianca King, former actress, model and now entrepreneur, marrying her love Ralph in a small and relaxed elopement was a reflection of their understated unionship, their enduring focus on each other's happiness and a relaxed and loving precursor to the life they vowed to share together.
After balancing their love through each other's lives in the Philippines and Australia, Bianca’s pre-pandemic visit to Sydney, amongst rapidly changing global conditions, led to honest conversations, an engagement and a life-changing move to be with the one she loved. Bianca and Ralphs wedding day wasn’t a running away story, as is usually associated with elopement. Rather, it was about celebrating each other and the bond that makes life worth living.
Here, Bianca shares her love story, the magical moments of her intimate day and why her Natalie Marie rings resemble a lifetime blessing.
Firstly, we’d love to learn more about your love story with Ralph. Where did it all begin?
I was invited as a guest to a friend’s wedding in December 2018 on a gorgeous island in Palawan, Philippines. Ralph is the brother of the groom and was the best man. A few people told me that night that I should meet Ralph. Apparently people were telling him the same thing. When he was giving his speech, I was very into how funny and well written it was. So I thought, I need to place myself on the dance floor where he can see me. Next thing I knew, people were pushing us together and we started dancing. We were inseparable the rest of the night and made plans to see each other again. We went on dates and I was invited to spend Christmas with his family. A few days after New Year’s eve, we went on a beach trip together where I surprised him with a tour on a jet ski off the coast in Batangas, Philippines, where I grew up and that sealed the deal!
We committed to seeing each other regularly even if he lived in Sydney and I lived in the Philippines. We then spent the next year traveling back and forth. Our longest gap was 7 weeks, usually 4 weeks. That’s how we made the long distance relationship work. He had planned to move to the Philippines but the pandemic had other plans for us…
What was the main motivation behind your decision to elope and was it a pivot from what you originally had in mind?
I arrived in Sydney on holiday on March 8, 2020, a day before Ralph’s birthday and a few days before the borders closed. I had only planned to stay for 3 months. By May, I was looking into flights to go back home. Ralph asked me if I really wanted to go back or not. Because if I did, that means I couldn’t enter Australia and he couldn’t enter the Philippines either. So the topic of marriage came up, something we thoroughly discussed. This gave us a chance to talk about things that really matter like finances, what marriage means to us, how we were going to raise our kids and basically aligning on our values and non-negotiables.
A week after that, he popped the question. We were just at home in our bedroom, no fuss, no photos, no ring. Ralph said I can pick my ring - which I loved. He kind of knew I was going to say yes but was still really nervous, he could barely speak. I was laughing most of the time. Lucky for us I was at a point in my life where I wanted to take a break from my current career and launch an online business which meant I could live anywhere. So I sold 90% of what I owned. My friends packed the rest of my stuff and shipped it to Sydney. I haven’t been back to the Philippines since. Our story is an example of literally dropping everything in your life and moving to a different country to be with the one you love.
Can you share more about your special day?
Our families and friends are based in North America, the UK and the Philippines so it made no sense to invest resources into planning anything. Also, we are a very low-key couple. I take pride in being frugal and practical - an attitude that came in handy during the pandemic. I’ve seen brides have nervous breakdowns over planning their weddings and I couldn’t put us through that. Factor in pandemic anxiety. We didn’t even consider getting a venue. I just knew I wanted to do it at home so I could go barefoot and feel relaxed. I had just decorated our apartment to reflect who we are as a couple - minimal, coastal chic and warm. We served tea and cookies at our ceremony at home. The cookies were made by Filipino award-winning pastry chef Miko Aspiras, who is also based in Sydney. That’s as fancy as we got. We then had lunch at Catalina.
What advice would you give to couples considering a minimalistic wedding or elopement?
Do what makes you happy and is practical for you. Remember you have no one else to impress but each other. Sure, if you have friends and family over, you want them to have a good time. But if you want to keep it small, really think about having time to bond with each person you invite. What matters also is that you spend your energy and resources planning your life together over planning a wedding. A wedding party is great but it tends to be a lot of unnecessary expensive fluff. Do the things that will give you happy memories.
What were the 3 most memorable moments of your special day?
Since we rarely have reasons to get dressed up, I love that we looked our best for the day and have beautiful photos. Having one of my closest friends, Mari, help with flowers and clean up at the end of the day was really special. It’s like she shared the entire day from start to finish with us and even stayed over to make sure we were ok. The best memory would be the simple ceremony itself where Ralph and I spoke from the heart, no written vows.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions around eloping?
Maybe that you’re running away from everyone and secretly getting married like how it is in the movies? Our friends and family abroad were very much a part of our wedding and were watching on Zoom.
You designed your own rings which you noted on your journal as an opportunity to flex your creativity and study ring design while creating something that will last forever. Can you share a little more about the experience and how NMJ helped bring your vision to life?
I thoroughly researched online where I would go for my rings and gravitated towards Natalie Marie as her style and branding resonated with me. There was an 8 month waitlist but I didn’t mind. I collected images of rings that I liked and pieced together different things about them. Ralph gave me a budget and I was determined to spend less than that. We picked the main stone together - opting for something small but the whitest and clearest we could find.
I knew that I wanted a ring that was modest, wearable and comfortable so the setting had to be low. But Ralph wanted it to still look sparkly so I went with a nature-inspired cluster design in rose gold. We started with hand drawings then I was given a digital 3D image of the ring. I would draw over the image using my Ipad and apple pen, moving around stones to create a unique cluster. My ring is dainty and looks like a little tiara - perfect for a small finger like mine. For the wedding band, I picked a Half Queenie - it sits perfectly stacked under my engagement ring. I enjoyed the process so much that I would do it all over again. I might “give this ring to my daughter in the future” so I can design another one, just for fun!
Aside from eternal love, what do your rings mean to you?
My rings resemble a blessing. How privileged I feel for being given the opportunity to design the most important piece of jewelry I’ll ever own and finding someone who loves me.
What do you know about love?
Love is comfort and security but also work and commitment. Love doesn’t mean everything is beautiful all the time. It’s a choice you make to nurture your relationship with someone. But love is beautiful and makes life worth living!