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Once Jared Carter proposed to Amanda Weingarten on his parents’ dock in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, in 2012, the travel-obsessed couple went to work researching an original (but still accessible) destination wedding spot. The bride fell for the colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala, and pitched the locale to her groom, who needed little selling on it; coincidentally, he had been there years earlier for volunteer work. Then it was on to convincing their loved ones to join them. After an 18-month engagement spent doing just that with Jared’s South Carolina relatives and their pals in Charleston (where the duo live), the couple went south with 160 guests for a five-day adventure of volcano hikes, a coffee plantation tour, bona fide Guatemalan cuisine, and, of course, a wedding!
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International travel may have left their attendees uneasy at first, but it’s the very topic that forged a connection between the bride, who works for The Citadel Foundation, and the groom, a critical-care nurse, when they first met in December 2011. Amanda was celebrating her birthday at a bar; Jared was playing wingman for his brother, who was chatting up her friend. As solid copilots, they entertained themselves by talking about their globetrotting. “We realized we had a lot of travel experiences in common,” says Amanda, who let Jared take her number, breaking her normal code of giving fake digits to men in bars. “He called to wish me a happy new year and then asked me out,” she says. “His brother and my friend never went on a real date, but we’re living happily ever after.”
For their wedding’s stationery (by Braxton Crim), plum tones and a wax seal evoked Antigua’s regal past as Guatemala’s former capital city.
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The Welcome Bags
Their Central American celebration began on Friday night, when guests salsa-danced, enjoyed cigars, and ate handmade tortillas at a barbecue in the lantern-lit garden of a private home. The couple thought that the best way to welcome guests to Guatemala was to gift them goodies local to the area. And they did just that. Coffee grounds held salted plantain chips, Guatemalan coffee, and a booklet with a map and guide to the fun-filled five-day celebration. A striped luggage tag, made by a local women’s cooperative using native textiles, doubled as a gift tag and wedding favor.”
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For the candlelit vow exchange, guests filed into the restored ruins of San Jose El Viejo.
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Lovely Little Ladies
Amanda’s adorable nieces preceded her down the aisle in their Bhldn dresses.
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One of seven blessings the pair penned for the service read, “May you be better together than either of you are apart.”
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Matthew Robbins limited the bride’s clutch to one flower—a phalaenopsis orchid—and one color. “Amanda wanted something bold and cascading but unfussy, so using only one variety of orchid kept the more dramatic and classic cascade very fresh and unique,” says Matthew.
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This vintage ride, the groom’s pick, added a touch of Old-World glamour to the couple’s ceremony exit and reception entrance.
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Post-ceremony, everyone moved to the nearby Casa Santo Domingo Hotel for a cocktail hour with rum-spiked tamarindo aguas frescas, then dinner and dancing. Guatemalan maracas served as escort cards, dance floor props, and favors.
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Glazed ceramic vases bursting with lisianthus, native succulents, fuchsia orchids, and hydrangeas shared the table with mercury glass votives. Matthew Robbins designed the tables using an embroidered fabric sourced from a shop in Guatemala City. The linens’ tone-on-tone pattern and gauzelike weave is indigenous to Cobán, a city in Central Guatemala, and the fabric is all-natural cotton, free of dyes and bleaches. An Antigua artisan designed the custom metal charger plates that were topped with tasseled napkins woven by women in a local co-op.
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European, Asian, and Latin food stations made for a worldly dinner in the grand venue.
For dessert, Amanda and Jared designated an entire room. An apothecary chest was mounted on top of a refectory table—both antiques stored in the monastery-turned-hotel’s basement—and piled with macarons, jars of homemade candies, petite cookies, and individual cakes. A tropical garland of orchids, leaves, and ferns spilled over the display.
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In a nod to their Latin-influenced locale, the newlyweds spun into the Bachata version of “Stand by Me” after a few bars of traditional ballroom dancing to the Ben E. King original. “Oh it was so fun! We threw a surprise in there,” says the bride of the salsa dancing. They also participated in the traditional hora dance.
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Pillows in colorful, bold floral motifs decked out the after-party lounge. A local artist spent months finding and sewing the pink-, red-, and purple-toned covers.
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Ceremony Location: San José El Viejo
Reception Location and Catering: Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
Event Design: Matthew Robbins Design
Event Coordination: Helen Russ Events
Flowers: Adolfo Cojulún Hass Eiaf
Photography: Corbin Gurkin
Videography: Rodolfo Walsh Photo & Video
Stationery Design: Braxton Crim Design
Makeup: Petra Makeupstudio