When asked to describe her wedding in just three words, today’s bride said: Casual, laid-back, dinner party. According to Jess and Dave, they aren’t “resort type people,” but they wanted a destination wedding, so they rented a house on the beach in Mexico, hired a local planner, and were able to have the entire celebration right there. From the fresh coconuts served before and after the ceremony, to the gorgeous palm ceremony arch, to the late night bonfire, it was certainly an extra-special, yet still casual and laid-back, dinner party.
Photography by Jillian Mitchell.
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? My husband and I are big fans of travel….and tacos. We knew we would rather spend our wedding budget on an experience with a small group of friends and family, rather than just a single day… the question was, where? Lucky for us, a friend of mine from childhood had relocated to San Pancho years before, and had long been pitching it to us as a vacation spot – which also turned out to be the perfect place for our wedding. We knew we wanted a destination wedding, but are definitely not “resort” type people. We wanted a place with the perfect blend of authenticity and culture, with enough accessibility for our guests and family to feel at ease, and San Pancho was the place. Oh, and tacos, there had to be amazing tacos. We purposely rented a home on the beach large enough to stay with a group of our friends, and could serve as the wedding home base for the week. We were able to get married and have the reception right on the sand in front of the house.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Something will go wrong, and no one will notice – so don’t sweat it!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? If you can afford it (especially if getting married in another country) hire a wedding planner. We did, and it was the best decision we made. She helped us keep our budget in check and was able to really understand who we were and the kind of party we wanted to throw.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Our wedding trip was 9 days long, and we got married smack in the middle. It all went by so fast, the only thing I would do differently would be to have a few extra days on the end of the trip to wind down before going back to reality! We didn’t do traditional honeymoon, and I just wanted more time for us together and didn’t want the trip to end!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Again, hiring a planner, while it is an expense, it was key for us staying on budget. She knew how much we were willing to spend and was able to be honest about what we could and could not expect to accomplish within that. People say at the end of planning you just start adding and adding things because you get nervous. We never did that because it was all laid out in front of us. Also be honest with yourselves about how much you are willing to spend and stick with that number. While the memories do in fact last forever, the bills will too if you aren’t careful!
“We had fresh coconuts for before and after the ceremony,” says Jess. “There was also a bottle of rum on hand so people could add their own pizzaz.”
“For our ceremony we wanted something short and sweet, with no religious speak. We had already filled out paperwork in the States, so the ceremony was purely symbolic. Honestly, I remembered a friend’s wedding some years back and how I liked the no-nonsense but still sweet vibe to their ceremony. I reached out to them and asked for the cliff notes. We pretty much modeled it from there. We then gave our officiant Joe free rein to taylor to his liking (this wasn’t his first rodeo), and voila! We knew we would be writing our own vows, so we focused on that as the place to express our more personal feelings.”
Who officiated your ceremony? My husband’s dear friend, Joe, served as our officiant. In addition to being an old friend and colleague of Dave’s, Joe has quite the reputation back in Boston for his experience as a master of ceremonies. As he was already confirmed as a guest, he was an obvious choice. At the wedding, I had more family presence just because of logistics, so it was especially nice to have someone who Dave considers to be like family to him to play such a big role in our day.
What was your ceremony music? We had a fantastic mariachi band who came and played our processional and recessional, as well as the cocktail hour music.
What were your vows like? We did write our own vows, but to take a little of the pressure off, we gave ourselves a template to follow – one we created ourselves. We made a list of 15 or so things that we promised to do for one another throughout our lives together. They ranged from the serious and sentimental from, “I promise to be patient,” to the more fun, “I promise not to go to IKEA with you when I am hungry.” It was the prefect blend of sweet and humorous. Did I mention Dave cried like a baby?
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? In the middle of our vows – yes, our vows – someone’s cell phone started ringing. Joe looked up from his wedding script, everyone froze, I scanned the crowd and loudly announced “OH MY GOD, MY FATHER’S PHONE IS RINGING.” My dad was checking the caller ID and announced to everyone that he was sorry, but he had to take the call! I said, “well, don’t let us disturb you, go right ahead.” I think I was in shock. He ran off to the side while we all looked on in amusement (and horror for some, I am sure), he then let out an excited yell – his first granddaughter, my niece, had just been born back in the States! And now that we knew everyone was doing well, we could get back to the task at hand. Cue the round of applause, can we finish our vows please?
“We wanted the reception to feel like a dinner party for friends. One long table, family style food, wine and Mezcal flowing freely. We skipped all of the traditional stuff like being presented as a couple for the first time, cake cutting, etc. We just wanted to eat and drink and dance! We did not have a wedding party, so there was no best man or maid of honor speeches. Rather, an incredibly sweet toast by our mutual friend, Tom, followed by another tear jerker from my father. I was so tempted to take a phone call while he was speaking, but I refrained.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Bright colors and flowers, the whole Mexican fiesta vibe. On a trip to San Pancho the year before our wedding, I visited the most fabulous store called Revolucion del Sueno in neighboring Sayulita. I loved their look, their style and merchandise. Our wedding planner Yazmin was able to turn the few inspiration photos I had sent her into the absolute perfect manifestation of my vision. She knew what I wanted even when I didn’t – she was a godsend.
Menu: Canapes: plantain croquettes with poblano sauce / gaspacho shots with roasted almonds / grilled nopal, cheese and onion quesadillas / adobo grilled octopus “sopecitos” / shrimp taquitos with guacamole // Family Style Dinner: mahi mahi with tomatillo and chipotle sauce / grilled arrachera and bell pepper tacos / roasted chayote with fennel seed / Mexican red rice / tomato, cilantro, corn and avocado salad / sweet potato purée
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Coconut Mexican flan with caramelized pineapple and toasted pumpkin seeds. We also had a churro station for later in the night.
Please tell us about any other special details from your reception. The Mariachi band who played our ceremony and cocktail hour was amazing. They put on such a fantastic show for our guests! They were a definite highlight, and such an unexpected surprise for everyone.
“After dinner we danced our faces off! We decided rather than have a wedding DJ we didn’t know, we had a DJ we were fond of from back home mix us a three hour dance party that was heavy on the 80’s and 90’s with a hint of Beyonce at just the right moments. Going this route saved us no money, but was worth every penny. The mix was all killer and no filler, we are still playing it at home to this day.
“Like the summer dinner parties we planned with friends back home, we wanted to make sure we had a bonfire burning late into the night for when we were all winding down and just needed a place to hang. I am still being reminded by Dave that at the end of the night I was making sand angels by the fire still in my dress, rationalizing my behavior by saying I was never going to wear it again, so what?!”