Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Smoke show: Taal volcano eruption takes centre stage in Philippines couple's wedding photos

A large column of ash provided a memorable backdrop to this Filipino ceremony

As the adage goes, a bride should have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue on their wedding day – but one newlywed swapped out the latter for something plume.

Chino Vaflor and Kat Bautista Palomar, who tied the knot in the Philippines on Sunday, January 12, didn't let the eruption of Taal volcano derail their wedding plans, with the natural disaster instead providing a backdrop to their official photos.

The volcano, which has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents living within the surrounding area, erupted on Sunday, sending clouds of steam and ash 15 kilometres into the air.

Taal lies more than 60 kilometres south of the capital Manila, on an island in the middle of Taal Lake.

While the incident caused hundreds of flights to be delayed or cancelled, Vaflor and Palomar went ahead with their plans, with the ceremony held around 10km from the volcano.

"We noticed white smoke coming out of Taal during preparations around 2pm and from then on we knew something unusual was already going on with the volcano," photographer Randolf Evan told the BBC.

In Evan's pictures from the day, the couple exchange vows in front of a rising plume of smoke while images taken later that evening show guests dining underneath a billowing cloud and lightning.

Following the ceremony, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to “level 4”, indicating a hazardous eruption was “imminent”.

The volcano, which is located on a small island in the middle of a lake, is the Philippines’ second most active but one of the world’s smallest.

"We could feel the ash raining on our clothes," Evan added. "But it didn't feel alarming until night time came when it became a bit heavier and mud-like."

All guests stayed at the wedding, despite the threat level rising, with many feeling safe due to the venue being situated on higher ground.

"Surprisingly everyone was calm and relaxed," Evan said. "It was an intimate wedding so guests were mostly the couple's family and close friends, and thus nobody really left."

On Monday, the volcanic activity increased, with lava seeping out of Taal. The situation has continued to develop on Tuesday, with the volcano spewing fountains of lava 800 metres into the air as well as the area being gripped by frequent earthquakes.

Experts believe a more perilous eruption is due, with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology revealing they "don't see activities slowing down".

Updated: January 14, 2020 12:53 PM

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