This Couple's Chic Wedding Weekend Took Place on the Beach in Mexico
When Trevor Walsh dropped on bended knee to pop the question to Ariel Kaye, the query was "Will you be my girlfriend?" and the setting, their Santa Monica, California, middle school, in 1996. She said yes, but the seventh-grade romance lasted, says Ariel, "all of a few weeks."
The pair's friendship continued past the breakup; through high school; during summers while he attended Harvard and she NYU; and into adulthood, as he opened Facebook's Brazil office, then started a gaming firm, and she worked in advertising in New York City. "We were always zigzagging into each other's lives," says Ariel. And while they had the occasional romantic moment over the years—such as a stolen kiss in Paris, when they were backpacking with friends at 18—"it was really a love for each other as friends first," she insists.
Eventually, Ariel moved back to Los Angeles to start Parachute, a home-essentials brand, and after Trevor left Brazil to return to L.A., the pair finally decided to give romance a try. Within a year, they were living together. On Christmas 2016, as they walked their dog on the beach, he dropped on one knee again—20 years after the first time. Now the question was "Will you marry me?" A few weeks later, during a vacation in Mexico, they spent a couple of days at the Hotel Esencia, near Tulum. Entranced by the romantic beachfront setting, "we looked at each other and said, 'This would be a magical place to get married,'" Ariel recalls.
They did just that on May 5, 2018, inviting 141 guests for a three-day weekend that included a welcome fiesta at their favorite Tulum restaurant; a beachfront nondenominational ceremony, officiated by a childhood friend; and a next-day pool party that went late into the night. In planning, the couple played to their strengths. Trevor handled music, assembling a "supergroup" of musicians dubbed Jennifer Hartswick & Friends, who flew straight from Jazz Fest in New Orleans; and compiling playlists for each event and for iPods in the guest rooms. Ariel helped oversee the décor, complete with a dance floor area filled with Parachute-collection pillows, lush flowers, and bright colors everywhere. "I wanted to create a magical environment," she says.
Together with Laura Allin for Gather Events, Ariel and Trevor realized their vision of a "disco jungle," including a mirror ball over the outdoor dance floor, a wedding cake-shaped piñata, and maracas their guests shook during the ceremony. Trevor's one regret: "That I can't time-travel and do it all again." But as Ariel points out, "we're already talking about going down for our anniversary."
An Illustrated Invitation
The invitation suite by Rachel Rogers Design featured a hand-painted crest showcasing the couple's initials and an image of their dog, Lox.
Welcome to Mexico
The Night Before
The night before the wedding, shuttles carried everyone to El Tábano, "the first restaurant I took Trevor to in Tulum," says Ariel. "Because we had everything else planned at Esencia, we thought it would be fun to get people into Tulum to see a different part of the area and mix things up a bit."
In keeping with the festive dress code, Ariel wore a white A.L.C. top, colorful striped Carolina Herrera skirt, and strappy Manolo Blahnik heels, and held an Oscar de le Renta clutch. Trevor donned pants and a white linen shirt from Club Monaco, Comme Des Garçons shoes, and the Rolex watch Ariel had given him.
A Welcome Dinner
El Tábano's vintage tables and assorted chairs, and its open kitchen, make you feel like you could be in someone's home. All-white papel picado were strung under the palapa-style roof and Studio Mondine dressed each table with flower arrangements in shades of yellow and orange atop neutral linens from the bride's company, Parachute.
Guests feasted on guacamole salad, tortilla soup, fish tacos, ratatouille-stuffed poblano peppers, pork-leg pibil, and dark-chocolate flan, washed down with spicy margaritas, as a mariachi band played.
A Little Something
Ariel wanted the rehearsal dinner to set the tone for the weekend and in doing so embraced color and kitsch a bit more than she normally would. "I went to Mexico City a few months before the wedding and ended up getting so inspired by the local décor and crafts found in the markets," she says. That’s where she got the idea to use mini sombreros at each place setting.
Pre-ceremony Ariel relaxed with her sister, Trevor's sister, and her two best girlfriends, all lounging around in Parachute robes.
The First Look
The couple's first look, before the ceremony, "was a private moment for us," recalls Ariel. "The whole weekend was really surreal in so many ways, but moments like that felt really grounding and a nice reminder of why we were there." Ariel wore a French-lace dress she designed with Estee' Couture by Estee' Yao, and Trevor donned a bespoke linen suit by Flavio.
An Ear for Style
The Bride's Bouquet
Studio Mondine combined butterfly ranunculus, lisianthus, hyacinths, tuberoses, parrot tulips, and palm leaves for the bride's bouquet.
A Welcome Refreshment
Fresh young coconuts were set out for mingling guests.
A Beachy Chuppah
A chuppah covered in bougainvillea served as a ceremony marker.
Ariel's mother and sister walked down the aisle just before the bride.
Personalized maracas were tagged "shake at the kiss."
Tying the Knot
The couple read their own vows and observed a few Jewish customs, such as the breaking of the glass at the end of the service.
Ariel opted for two wedding bands—one solid gold to match Trevor's band and a diamond eternity style. Trevor designed the rings, and had jewelry belonging to the couple's grandmothers melted down to create Ariel's engagement ring.
The newly minted husband and wife walked back down the aisle to Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours."
Signature cocktails included a tequila-and-xcatic-pepper-based Paloma and this flor de humo, made with hibiscus, lime, agave, and mezcal.
Surrounded by Friends
Guests, including these friends of the bride, followed a "tropical chic" dress code.
Getting into the fiesta spirit, a friend of the groom's had a mariachi-style suit custom-made for the occasion.
So Happy Together
The groom's parents were all smiles on the big day. Ariel had asked that her mom and sister, and Trevor's mother and sister, all wear soft pink or coral dresses of their choice.
Even the hotel pool dressed for the day, with floating alstroemeria and slices of citrus.
A Moment with Dad
The bride and her dad wore matching smiles.
Festive Escort Cards
Cards from a lotería game—a kind of Mexican bingo—directed guests to their tables. The brightly colored cards, featuring characters such as el diablito, or the little devil, and items like sandía (watermelon) were labeled with guests' names in a script font.
A Lush Tablescape
Pillar candles weren't the only thing lighting up the reception dinner on the main lawn. Studio Mondine created lush arrangements of oncidium orchids, lisianthus, ranunculus, and parrot tulips, with accents of palm leaves, caladium leaves, and dried tomatillos. Tequila in hand-painted shot glasses from local markets helped guests get fired up. The flowers were set out during cocktail hour, to minimize their time in the wilting sun.
A Festive Toast
Guests toasted with colorful shot glasses that also doubled as favors.
Menus tucked in custom Parachute napkins previewed the seated dinner: Yucatán lime soup plus ancho-chile-and-coffee-rubbed tenderloin, and whole local fish, served family-style.
Speeches (and a hilarious rap by Trevor's family) spurred lots of toasts at dinner.
The First Dance
The couple's first dance was to their band's version of the Beatles' "Something."
Lounge areas were set up at the reception and topped with small pillows and linen throws from Parachute that were brought in for the occasion.
Dancing continued until around 2 a.m.; then die-hards headed to the after-party.
In Neon Lights
Above the dance floor hung a replica of a neon sign that graces a wall in the couple's Los Angeles home. "Anyone who has been to any of the places I've lived over the past 10 years has seen that prominently featured in my living room," says Ariel. "People were so excited to see it at the wedding; it's something that I think made everyone feel very special."
An acrylic-and-paper late-night-snack menu was mounted on wood.
A Quick Change
A Cake to Break
A cake-shaped piñata took the place of a traditional wedding cake.
The Party Continued
"Having been to 34 weddings before planning my own, I knew that the weekend would fly by and the last thing I wanted was for our guests to leave quickly after the wedding before having real quality time to relax and enjoy our time together," Ariel says.
So everyone spent the day after the wedding at what Ariel describes as a "pool party turned into a sunset party turned into a dinner party—the party didn't stop." The crowd swam and lounged poolside, enjoying tacos, margaritas, and piña coladas as friends of the couple acted as DJ. When it became clear no one was going back to their rooms, "we had an impromptu dinner party with 100 of our guests," says Ariel. "The hotel set up a long table around the pool and brought us even more tacos to feast on. Trevor and I had the opportunity to give toasts over dinner and to thank our friends for being the most beautiful tribe of all time. It was such a magical day. I never wanted it to end."
The Happy Couple
Trevor kept cool in a Vilebrequin swimsuit, Open the Kimono kimono, and Garrett Leight sunglasses. Ariel stuck to bridal white for the pool party too—this time in the form of a Marysia two-piece, Mes Demoiselles cover up, Ray-Ban sunglasses, Lizzie Fortunato earrings, Saint Laurent wedges, and a headpiece by Magnetic Midnight.
On Monday, the guests cleared out and the newlyweds ordered room service and caught up on their sleep.
Location and catering, Hotel Esencia
Event design and planning, Laura Allin for Gather Events
Flowers, Studio Mondine
Photography, Bryan from For the Love of It
Videography, Button Up Photography
Stationery, Rachel Rogers Design
Rentals, Archive Rentals
Table linens and textiles, Parachute
Bride's gown, Estee' Couture by Estee' Yao
Makeup, Olga for the Halcyon Agency
Groom's suit, Flavio
Lighting and A/V rentals, AV Solutions in Cancún
Transportation, Experiencias Mayas
Signage fabrication, Spoken Glass
Neon sign and piñata, Samaya Lounge
Music coordinator, Jesse Lauter
Tequila, Casa Dragones
Rehearsal-dinner location, El Tábano