This Beach Wedding in Los Cabos, Mexico, Incorporated Tons of Local Details
Not all online dating matches turn out to be a perfect fit—but when Kirsten and Deran spent their first date talking at a coffee shop for two hours (and continuing the conversation for another outside, after the shop closed) they knew they had something special. "We had already set up our second date before the first one ended," says the couple. Two years later, while planning a trip to Italy, Kirsten made it clear that getting engaged on the Amalfi coast would be "kinda great"—and Deran delivered with a sunset proposal and a diamond ring.
The couple remembered a trip to the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort in Mexico, where they had joked about having their wedding long before their nuptials became a reality. They scheduled a second trip and were lucky enough to see a ceremony take place on the property while visiting. "Watching this beach wedding from the terrace above, with the ocean in the background, was so striking that we knew we wanted something like that," says the duo. "We saw another event, which included a bonfire on the beach, that same night—an awesome idea which we totally stole."
On May 11, 2019, Kirsten and Deran tied the knot with their own ceremony in the sand, while 58 loved ones joined them for a day full of thoughtful touches: a mariachi band that led guests to the cocktail hour, a menu inspired by the local cuisine, custom maracas used as escort cards, and an original watercolor portrait of the venue that attendees signed instead of a guest book. "Our goal was to create a unique experience for our guests, so that it would be memorable years later," says the couple. They followed up the wedding with a sunset cruise for all their guests the following evening, and decided to delay their honeymoon. "We didn't plan a honeymoon right afterward," says the couple. "Cabo and the resort itself were already beautiful!"
The couple's paper suite, designed by Pretty Post Calligraphy, involved a relaxed, scripted font in a watery blue shade to anchor the invite and RSVP design, while additional elements included a watercolor sketch of the venue.
In the Bag
Kirsten and Deran's focus on layering the weekend with custom touches began with the welcome bags, which included drinks, chocolates, fans, sun hats, and shawls in natural fiber totes.
Lace and Leather
For her wedding dress, Kirsten decided on a Monique Lhuillier number with a trumpet shape and sweetheart neckline. Though her first instinct was to choose an ivory lining to match the cream Alençon French lace detail, she took a gamble and opted for a darker lining that would make the lace pattern stand out. "The champagne color worked perfectly under the golden sunlight in Cabo," she says. "It added a soft and romantic touch to the entire look."
She accented her ensemble with gold leather and crystal Miu Miu stilettos, a jeweled belt from Paris by Debra Moreland, a semi-cathedral-length veil from Toni Federici, and diamond earrings with a matching tennis bracelet.
The bride's hand-tied bouquet from Florenta Flower Design included garden roses, white peonies, lisianthus, and a variety of foliage. While planning the wedding, Kirsten found herself drawn to images of southern garden weddings, and the unfussy shape of her arrangement helped blend that style with the Mexican beachfront location.
The duo scheduled their first look for before the ceremony. "We had actually spent a lot of the morning together, so we weren't nervous to see each other," they say. "During the first look, we felt relief—it felt like the wedding events were actually starting!"
Gray Ladies (and Gentlemen)
The couple chose gray for both the groomsmen and bridesmaids to help the flowers stand out; men ordered suits from The Black Tux and the women donned matching chiffon dresses from David's Bridal. "We went for a classic and elegant style with flowing fabric that works well with beach breezes," says the couple.
On the Waterfront
Like the wedding they saw on their site visit, the couple's beachfront ceremony took full advantage of the stunning scenery. A wooden structure was decorated with heavy floral garlands, while garden-inspired arrangements on the ground lined a natural aisle runner. Wooden chairs contrasted with the white sand to add rustic warmth.
With Open Arms
Kirsten's father escorted her down the aisle—a three minute walk that, she says, ended up being just a little too long for the flower girl—to an instrumental version of "Rewrite the Stars." Deran was waiting for her with open arms.
You May Now Kiss the Bride
Professional officiant, comedian, and celebrity wedding favorite Minister Marco Arichega oversaw the non-religious ceremony. After exchanging vows they wrote themselves, the couple embraced for their first kiss as husband and wife.
A Musical Interlude
As the newlyweds decamped for a private portrait session on the beach, a mariachi band led guests to the cocktail hour where the hotel offered a full bar, appetizers, and a chef-staffed ceviche station.
Welcome to the Party
Traditional maracas, customized with paper tags and prints of birds and flowers and displayed on a vintage door, served as escort cards.
Dinner Al Fresco
Long wooden tables were dressed with gauzy runners, while round tables were topped with organic linens. The deep tone of the crossback chairs grounded the cooler tones and neutral palette of the rest of the décor.
The centerpiece design incorporated a mixture of materials that combined rustic vessels with elegant accents, including glass candle holders, mercury glass votives, and solid vases. The couple chose to keep their centerpieces low and lush so guests could easily talk over them.
On the Menu
At food stations, chefs served a menu inspired by the local cuisine. Choices included corn and beet salad, fried sea bass, Oaxacan mole chicken, tequila flambe shrimp, grilled skirt steak, and carnitas. They ended the meal with a selection of desserts, from sweet potato pie and coconut custard to mousse-filled fritters and tequila and brown sugar Mexican coffee.
Practice Makes Perfect
Kirsten, a violinist, and Deran, a pianist, planned to perform "The Gambler" by Fun as the first song of the night. "That turned out to be too ambitious," they say, "so it became our first dance." The instrumentation relies heavily on violin and piano, and the lyrics, they say, "are very touching, though with some bittersweetness and maturity which keeps it from being too sugary and poppy."
Weeks of dance lessons paid off as they performed moves they call "foxtrot-ish." "We didn't want to just sway left and and right for a couple minutes—kind of boring. We spent most weekends before the wedding taking a one-hour dance class." The dance class was their only DIY project: "The rest," the couple says, "we left to the professionals."
A Sweet Moment
The couple's three-tier vanilla cake from Cakes by Donna in Cabo was frosted with gray watercolor icing and edged with gold accents. "It was finished with a cute bear groom and a bunny bride topper, made by Kikuike Studio," says the couple. "It didn't match anything else, but they were basically us."
Light the Night
Kirsten and Deran surprised their guests with a fireworks display during their cake-cutting ceremony—an event that required careful timing and coordination between the musicians, photographer, fireworks team, and catering staff, but resulted in one of their favorite moments of the day. "It all worked out awesome!" says the couple. "This was memorable both for us and the guests."
After the Party
After the reception, the newlyweds and their guests moved back to the beach where lounge furniture and a bonfire created a cozy spot for an after-party. The low-key end to the night was especially unforgettable for Deran, who loved seeing Kirsten relaxing with her closest friends. "She was down at the beach, bonfire flickering warmly, still in her wedding dress, surrounded by friends she doesn't see a lot—let alone all at the same time—just relaxing and chatting after a hectic day," he says. "She worked so hard to make it a memorable night, and everything really worked out."
Photography, Luna de Mare
Location and Catering, Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
Event planning, Grit & Gold
Flowers, Florenta Flower Design
Videography, Carlos Plazo
Officiant, Minister Marco Arichega
Stationery, Pretty Post Calligraphy
Cake, Cakes by Donna in Cabo
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Hair and Makeup, Yi Bridal
Bridesmaids' dresses, David's Bridal
Groom's suit, Hugo Boss
Menswear, The Black Tux
Cake Topper, Kikuike Studio
Linens, La Tavola