IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A look back on Sarah Lahbati, Richard Gutierrez’s love story
With more than a decade of romance between them, one can argue that Sarah Lahbati and Richard Gutierrez’s relationship is one of the most enduring and admired in show business.
But before their supposed rift widen, allow us to take a look back on the love story—including highs and lows—of Sarah and Richard.
February 2010 – Sarah enters showbiz
Sarah began her showbiz career at the age of 17 when she won the GMA reality competition “StarStruck” in 2010. The actress was vocal at the time that 26-year-old Richard, who had already been in show business for years, was one of the actors she admired and wanted to work with.
“Well, lumaki ako sa Switzerland pero napahilig ako sa Pinoy movies, and siya ‘yung first actor na napanood ko. Hindi naman maikakaila or maitatago na magaling siya,” Sarah said of him.
May 2012 – Sarah, Richard star in TV series together
Sarah and Richard were among the cast of the 2010 GMA variety show “Party Pilipinas,” but it was in 2012 when they were paired up for the first time in the 2012 TV series “Makapiling Kang Muli.”
Richard would later reveal that even before starring in a project together, Sarah already caught his attention after he saw her for the first time at a commercial complex.
“Syempre ‘di ba nagsisimula physical attraction muna—nagandahan ako sa kanya… Nakita [ko siya] sa isang commercial complex [habang nasa kotse ako]. Napatingin ako tapos humaba ‘yung leeg ko tapos sabi ko, ‘Sino ‘yon?’” Richard recalled.
The actor said that filming their first TV series gave him more opportunity to spend time with Lahbati, and that he made the most out of it by showing “simple gestures” to the actress.
“Niligawan ako ni Chard sa set, pati si mommy. Talagang he made an effort nung dumadalaw si daddy dito sa Pilipinas, talagang nagpakilala siya,” Sarah said, referring to her Filipino mom Estrella and Moroccan dad Abdelilah.
“By the end of the show, do’n na kami naging official,” the actress added.
“Makapiling Kang Muli,” which premiered in June 2012, aired its final episode in September of the same year.
September 2012 – Sarah, Richard travel together to Switzerland, France
The couple flew to Europe and visited Sarah’s dad who was based in Geneva at the time. The trip also served as Richard’s birthday gift to Sarah, who was set to mark her 19th birthday then.
“I’m very happy na nagkasama kami, na we got to explore some places na hindi ko pa napuntahan and nagkaroon kami ng time to bond,” Sarah stated in an interview.
When asked to define their relationship, Sarah replied, “Hindi naman namin tinatago ‘yung relationship namin. ‘Yun na yon, kung anong nakikita niyo.”
January 2013 – Pregnancy rumors
Sarah shocked fans after she announced that she was leaving show business indefinitely to pursue her studies in Switzerland. Pregnancy speculations then hounded the actress and her boyfriend after kibitzers insisted that Sarah was supposedly “plumper” when she boarded her flight to leave the country.
Richard initially denied these rumors, saying that “someone just spread it and, all of a sudden, people were asking [him] about it.”
“Sarah’s vacationing; unwinding and spending quality time with her family,” he stressed at the time.
Sarah’s indefinite leave and allegations against GMA executives sparked a legal battle between her and the Kapuso network, which maintained that they disapproved of the actress’ leave and that she violated her contract with them.
June 2014 – Zion
Ultimately, the couple admitted that they were already parents to their firstborn, Zion, with Richard revealing it through the Gutierrez family’s reality show “It Takes Gutz To Be A Gutierrez.”
The actor said that they initially kept it from the public as they didn’t want to make Sarah’s pregnancy a “tabloid circus.”
Sarah, for her part, announced the new member of their family by sharing a photo of hers and Zion’s hand on social media. It was later revealed that Sarah gave birth to Zion in April 2013.
February 2015 – In no rush to get married
The actress underscored that she would want to focus on Zion and attend to his needs rather than “prioritizing what [she] wanted.”
Though she and Richard did talk about getting married at the time, Sarah said they were not about to rush into it.
“We’re planning bit by bit… we’ll get there. Even before we had him, Richard and I were sure we would be spending the rest of our lives with each other,” she pointed out.
September 2015 – Ricard: Getting married is in the plan
Richard stated that he and Sarah wanted to “make it right,” teasing how they were just “looking for good timing” to tie the knot. The actor also stressed at the time: “We’re very happy where we are.”
August 2017 – Sarah, Richard announce engagement
Sarah announced that she said yes after Richard popped the question before the snow-capped mountains of Zermatt, Switzerland.
For his part, Richard declared: “I love you and I can’t wait to start this new chapter of our lives together.”
Prior to their engagement, Lahbati had already bore a blue sapphire band which she called a “promise ring.” According to the actress, the ring has long been given to her by Richard and that she only wears it during a few special occasions.
September 2017 – Baby No. 2
The couple revealed on their reality show and on social media that there will be an addition to the family. Sharing more about Sarah’s pregnancy, Gutierrez said he had noticed that his fiancée was “moody,” which clued him into her pregnancy.
March 2018 – Sarah gives birth to second child, Kai
The couple announced that Sarah had given birth to their baby no. 2, named Kai, on March 21, 2018.
June 2019 – Sarah, Richard start planning wedding
The actress revealed that she and Richard had started in June 2019 their preparations for their wedding. Months later, the pair announced that they would hold their wedding ceremony in March 2020 in Manila.
“We chose March because we got engaged in March. Kai was born in March… March is a very special month for us so we felt March would be right to get married,” Sarah spoke of their wedding date.
March 2020 – Sarah, Richard marry in civil wedding
The couple’s grand wedding was set for March 14, 2020 at the Shangri-La Fort but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community quarantine was imposed days before the ceremony.
In light of the public health emergency, Richard and Sarah—whose wedding decorations were already set up—announced on March 12 that they would postpone the ceremony “as [they] do not want to put anyone at risk.”
The couple then decided to have a simple civil wedding which was attended by less than 20 people. Among those who were present at the ceremony were Richard’s twin brother Raymond, father Richard, sister Ruffa and mother Annabelle Rama.
March 2021 – First wedding anniversary
The pair marked the first year of their marriage with a vow to keep their love and trust in each other “through the highs and lows.”
“I know the road ahead will not always be smooth, there will be speed bumps along the way, some inevitable [setbacks], but with [God’s] shining light upon us, I know our love will always be victorious,” Richard said.
Sarah, meanwhile, told Richard, “[You] and me, hand in hand. Through life’s ups and downs. Together. Today, tomorrow and forever.”
December 2022 – Sarah, Richard contemplating Baby No. 3
The celebrity couple disclosed that they had been giving some thought to having a third child. Among those who were delighted over the pair’s revelation was Richard’s sister Ruffa Gutierrez, who seemed to be looking forward to having an addition to the Gutierrez family.
Sarah and Richard sparked breakup speculations in November after fans noticed that the pair have only been showing photos of their individual bonding moments with their sons on their respective social media pages.
While they have yet to confirm or deny these rumors, Richard’s mom Rama disclosed that the actor has been staying in her house for a month now.
Rama added that while she is not allowed to speak on the matter at the moment, the public “will know about the truth in due time.”
Sarah’s dad, meanwhile, intrigued fans after he dropped a cryptic post about not minding the “dogs barking.”