Inside the incredible Swan Lake themed 18th birthday in the Philippines costing $41,000

Most young girls dream of growing up to become a princess, and for one young woman this became a reality on the night of her 18th birthday,    

Danica Carmelina, an aspiring doctor and ballerina from the Philippines, threw the event of a lifetime, treating her 170 guests to a $41,000 ‘Swan Lake’ themed bash complete with two gowns, a five-tiered cake and decor worthy of a wedding. 

Speaking to FEMAIL, Danica said she was able to bring her debut dreams to life with an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer over several months leading up to the party on May 31. 

The team all worked together based on mood boards Danica had been working on which specified the event needed to be ‘pink, feminine and extravagant’. 

Danica Carmelina, an aspiring doctor and ballerina from the Philippines, threw the event of a lifetime, treating her 170 guests to a $41,000 'Swan Lake' themed bash complete with two gowns, a five-tiered cake and decor worthy of a wedding

Danica Carmelina, an aspiring doctor and ballerina from the Philippines, threw the event of a lifetime, treating her 170 guests to a $41,000 'Swan Lake' themed bash complete with two gowns, a five-tiered cake and decor worthy of a wedding

Danica Carmelina, an aspiring doctor and ballerina from the Philippines, threw the event of a lifetime, treating her 170 guests to a $41,000 ‘Swan Lake’ themed bash complete with two gowns, a five-tiered cake and decor worthy of a wedding 

Speaking to FEMAIL, Danica said she was able to bring her debut dreams to life with an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer over several months leading up to the party on May 31

Speaking to FEMAIL, Danica said she was able to bring her debut dreams to life with an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer over several months leading up to the party on May 31

Danica wanted to pay homage to her ballerina roots for the gathering, and opted for a Swan Lake theme, which she was able to bring to life with the help of an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer

Danica wanted to pay homage to her ballerina roots for the gathering, and opted for a Swan Lake theme, which she was able to bring to life with the help of an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer

Speaking to FEMAIL, Danica said she was able to bring her debut dreams to life with an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer over several months leading up to the party on May 31 

An event planner and decorator made sure the party stayed on theme and suited Danica's request to keep things as pink as possible

An event planner and decorator made sure the party stayed on theme and suited Danica's request to keep things as pink as possible

An event planner and decorator made sure the party stayed on theme and suited Danica’s request to keep things as pink as possible

What is the significance of an 18th birthday – or ‘debut’ –  in the Philippines? 

In the Philippines, an 18th birthday – known as a ‘the debut’ – is one of the biggest events of a woman’s life. 

Several generations ago in the Philippines, debuts were also a way of introducing a young lady to society as a woman – one then eligible for marriage at the age of 18.

Of course today, the age of marriage is notably higher than in the past, but the Filipino debut lives on. Over the years it has become less marriage-oriented and more of a celebration of the debutante’s life and entry to adulthood. 

For many Filipino parents with daughters, the debut is a serious consideration, and one they long plan and save up for.

Traditionally, the debutante wears a grand ball gown and is surrounded by family and friends throughout a program that includes a rehearsed cotillion by the entourage, an ’18 roses’ segment, where the important men in the debutante’s life present her with a rose and invite her to dance, and an ’18 candles’ segment, where the important women in her life give individual speeches and well wishes. 

Source: The Culture Trip 

Danica’s gown designer worked alongside the teen and her mother to create two immaculate dresses – one for the main event and a second for the after party. 

‘My first dress was inspired by Swan Lake. We worked together to create the look. It cost about 150,000 pesos (AUD $11,183), and it really was perfect,’ Danica said. 

‘I’ll never wear it again, I think I just want it to be remembered as my birthday dress.’ 

Her second dress was for the after party – in which the elder of her guests said their farewells and parted ways, while her school friends stayed to dance through the night. 

It was a sleek, black number and far less extravagant. She said she’d definitely wear it again – maybe to a friend’s party – because it was easier to dance in. 

Danica wanted to pay homage to her ballerina roots for the gathering, and opted for a Swan Lake theme, which she was able to bring to life with the help of an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer

Danica wanted to pay homage to her ballerina roots for the gathering, and opted for a Swan Lake theme, which she was able to bring to life with the help of an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer

Danica wanted to pay homage to her ballerina roots for the gathering, and opted for a Swan Lake theme, which she was able to bring to life with the help of an event planner, stylist, master of ceremonies, orchestra, light crew and designer 

The team all worked together based on mood boards Danica had been working on which specified the event should be pink, feminine and extravagant

The team all worked together based on mood boards Danica had been working on which specified the event should be pink, feminine and extravagant

The team all worked together based on mood boards Danica had been working on which specified the event should be pink, feminine and extravagant 

Her first dress featured feather fabric, ruched edges and a daring plunging neckline which rolled into a structured skirt and a train

Her first dress featured feather fabric, ruched edges and a daring plunging neckline which rolled into a structured skirt and a train

Her first dress featured feather fabric, ruched edges and a daring plunging neckline which rolled into a structured skirt and a train

The second dress, a sleek, black number, was less extravagant

The second dress, a sleek, black number, was less extravagant

She said she'd definitely wear it again - maybe to a friends party - because it was easier to dance in

She said she'd definitely wear it again - maybe to a friends party - because it was easier to dance in

The second dress, a sleek, black number, was less extravagant. She said she’d definitely wear it again – maybe to a friends party – because it was easier to dance in

How did Danica bring her party to life?

Stylist: Mindworks Productions

Photo & Video: Nice Print Photography & Exige Weddings

Hair & Make up: Dang Miranda Jhin Pangyarihan

Gown Designer: Yeye Pantaleon Ords Jewellery 

Event Planner: La Belle Fête Weddings & Events

Lights & Sounds: DreamStage Lights and Audio

Host: JC Alelis, Master of Ceremonies

Venue: Hotel Conrad in Manila

But it was the photography, taken by Nice Print Photography & Exige Weddings, that truly captured the beauty of Danica’s big day.  

Immaculate photos of the party showcased the highlights, including her friends touching tributes as they handed over presents in Louis Vuitton bags and the moment Danica performed a ballet number for guests.

‘I was able to showcase what I love to do and dance at the party,’ she said. ‘I only rehearsed for a week and danced to a swan lake song.’

Guests were treated to a buffet dinner and a series of games, including a Q&A where the winners were offered prize money and gift vouchers for their favourite stores. 

Danica's friends played Q&A games where they won prize money and gift vouchers if they knew the 18-year-old best

Danica's friends played Q&A games where they won prize money and gift vouchers if they knew the 18-year-old best

Danica’s friends played Q&A games where they won prize money and gift vouchers if they knew the 18-year-old best

The aspiring doctor and ballerina took FEMAIL through her lavish coming-of-age celebrations, which were held in her home town in the Philippines on May 31st

The aspiring doctor and ballerina took FEMAIL through her lavish coming-of-age celebrations, which were held in her home town in the Philippines on May 31st

Danica said she'd been planning the 18th of her dreams since she was a little girl and was amazed by how perfectly it all came together

Danica said she'd been planning the 18th of her dreams since she was a little girl and was amazed by how perfectly it all came together

‘My parents and I have always spoken about throwing a big party. I used to always tell them about it growing up and they really wanted me to be able to experience it,’ she said  

Danica said she’d been planning the 18th of her dreams since she was a little girl.

‘My parents and I have always spoken about throwing a big party. I used to always tell them about it growing up and they really wanted me to be able to experience it.’

She said her father, a civil engineer with his own business in the Philippines, was particularly overcome with emotion throughout the night, and that the party was the first of that scale she’d ever had.

‘We don’t really do sweet sixteens here, and an 18th is the most important birthday because its when you’re of legal age,’ she said. 

‘I had so much help building my debut to be perfect and I wouldn’t change a single thing looking back on it. It really was a dream come true.’

While she’d love to plan more parties in the future, Danica said she’s now prepared to turn her full attention to studying medicine at university when she starts in September. 

Ot was the photography, done by Nice Print Photography & Exige Weddings, that truly captured the beauty of Danica's big day

Ot was the photography, done by Nice Print Photography & Exige Weddings, that truly captured the beauty of Danica's big day

Ot was the photography, done by Nice Print Photography & Exige Weddings, that truly captured the beauty of Danica’s big day

Immaculate photos of the party showcased the highlights, including her friends touching tributes as they handed over presents in Louis Vuitton bags and the moment Danica performed a ballet number for guests

Immaculate photos of the party showcased the highlights, including her friends touching tributes as they handed over presents in Louis Vuitton bags and the moment Danica performed a ballet number for guests

Immaculate photos of the party showcased the highlights, including her friends touching tributes as they handed over presents in Louis Vuitton bags and the moment Danica performed a ballet number for guests

The aspiring ballerina had a Swan Lake themed 18th birthday bash and performed for her guests

The aspiring ballerina had a Swan Lake themed 18th birthday bash and performed for her guests

The aspiring ballerina had a Swan Lake themed 18th birthday bash and performed for her guests

The aspiring ballerina had a Swan Lake themed 18th birthday bash and performed for her guests

The aspiring ballerina had a Swan Lake themed 18th birthday bash and performed for her guests