An Ethereal Destination Wedding in the Hills of Southern Spain
Not long after Daphne Cebek and Jack Aitken started dating, they booked a trip to Spain. Fast forward seven years and the couple was heading back, this time for their own destination wedding in Málaga on May 12, 2018. The couple, who now live in New York City, first met in college at a mutual friend's party and had instant chemistry, so they planned a date for the next week at a swimming hole in Vermont. "I was working at a golf course at the time, and I told her that I had the day off," Jack says. "In reality, I was about four hours late for my shift. I just had a hard time leaving."
Jack, a research analyst, proposed in Iceland, at a canyon he'd seen some friends visit. The sun was setting (just shy of midnight!) when he got down on one knee, out of breath after frantically searching out the spot. Daphne "was convinced he was falling off a ledge," she says, "and instinctively bent down to catch him!" That's when he started his speech.
Daphne works in an art auction house, but is also a photographer, so the couple often hires photographers for part of their trips. When the sunset engagement was photographed, Daphne wasn't all that suspecting at the start: "I had no clue it was going to be in Iceland based on the amount of traveling we were doing before we arrived and everything planned while we were there," she said. "I'm surprised I did not find the ring when I was going through our bags looking for a sweater!"
The engagement spanned two years, which gave the couple time to save and schedule a wedding spring date in Málaga, just after the rainy season ended and the rolling hills and wildflowers were lush and green. They planned an intimate outdoor ceremony at Cortijo Juan Salvador with 40 guests, most of whom traveled from the United States to attend.
Keeping with the natural theme, Daphne and Jack chose cream paper with gray envelopes for their stationery suite. Nicolette Selman of Isidore and Augustine was the calligrapher, and she addressed an additional envelope to the bride's late father as a way of including him in every way possible at the wedding.
Set in Southern Spain
"Southern Spain wasn't necessarily a question for us," Jack says of the wedding location in Málaga. "It's almost like we both knew that's where it should be." The Cortijo Juan Salvador overlooked the green hills, which had received a lot of rain the prior winter. They hoped embracing the natural beauty of the place would really enhance the ethereal, dreamy mood they were aiming for in an organic way.
Goodies for the Girls
Daphne brought small "self love" boxes for the bridesmaids from New York City. Inside were various beauty items, a small plant, candles, and a woven wall hanging that Daphne made with each woman's favorite colors.
Daphne began the day with her sister, preparing a breakfast of fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, and breads for the bridal party. The bridesmaids wore soft and silky blue floral robes from Plum Pretty Sugar, while the bride wore a white silk version with lace bell sleeves. The group told stories while hair and makeup artists from Oui Novias handled the hair and makeup.
The Bride's Dress
Daphne had to see this Anne Barge wedding dress three times before she knew it was the one, but was thrilled with her decision in the end. She loved the three-quarter length lace sleeves and the slight v-neckline, but made the gown her own by altering the buttoned back to be lower. Despite a recently broken pinky toe, the bride-to-be still wore a pair of light blue block-heels.
Daphne also wore floral crown in a crescent shape on her right side, which ended in the back and fit on top of her veil by Sara Gabriel. "It was plain on the top and it had cascading lace flowers that fell so beautifully," she says. "I knew it would work and match my dress perfectly."
Daphne's mom gave her accessories to complete her wedding-day look: a pair of delicate teardrop pearl earrings and a gold hairpin, which she'd been saving for her daughter's big day.
A Loving and Lighthearted First Look
"The first look was incredible," Jack says. "I never imagined someone could look that beautiful. I was overcome with so many different emotions, but I was so inexplicably happy."
The videographer and photographer warned Daphne that Jack may be a little extra emotional (he'd had to read his vows a few times for the camera), and Daphne couldn't help but laugh. "But it was because I was so happy and just love Jack so much for who he is. He loves me so unconditionally, and truly has the kindest and most beautiful soul."
Shades of Blue
Daphne wanted all of her bridesmaids to wear different dresses from the same color family, so she chose a handful from Jenny Yoo Collection. For her big sister and maid of honor, Chloe, she chose a distinct silhouette and floral design. For her other four bridesmaids, she selected flowy gowns in complementary shades of blue and gray.
"I knew I wanted something charcoal-ish and wool," Jack says of his J.Crew suit. "I love the look of wool suits and thought this worked so well with our color palette and the feeling of the landscape." He paired it with a gray tie from Tieroom, and the groomsmen wore the same. Jack chose a comfortable Thomas Mason shirt and brown suede Hudson loafers.
The groom has known his best man since elementary school and another groomsman for about 15 years. Daphne's brother, Ian, and brother-in-law, Taylor, rounded out the party of four.
Guests dressed in earth tones for the ceremony, which was held on a grassy terrace near the venue.
"I think it was special because we had full creative direction and didn't have to conform to anything that people typically do," Jack says of the big day. "Our ideas and thoughts dovetailed so well with our wedding planner and that ultimately gave us such an amazing day. Our friends and family were there to support us, which is the best thing you can ever ask for, and our best friend acted as our officiant, which was such a highlight of the wedding."
A Memorable Processional
Jack walked down the aisle with his mother to "Highland Wedding," played on guitar and violin. When Daphne's brother, Ian, walked her down the aisle, the guitarist and violinist performed a version of "In Dreams" by Peter Hollens. "Jack is obsessed with J. R. R. Tolkien, and I thought I would surprise him with that song," Daphne says of the Lord of the Rings tune. "It's also beautiful; the melody is really dreamy."
Jack recognized the song immediately. "I held myself together for the beginning part of the ceremony while the bridal party entered, but as soon as Daphne started walking down she looked at me with this radiant, gentle smile and the violin began," Jack says. "I fell apart in tears, but I remember that now so clearly in my mind. That's one of my favorite moments of our entire relationship."
Daphne was happy but nervous and missing her father, but her little brother was kind-hearted and strong, she says. "I looked at my brother who was starting to cry, and I looked out at our family and friends and seeing their smiles and seeing them cry was so emotional for me," Daphne says. "It wasn't until I looked up at Jack that I nearly lost it. I couldn't believe that we found each other in this crazy world. How lucky am I that he is going to be my husband."
The civil ceremony was officiated by the couple's best friend, Job. "Our wedding just brought everything I love together," Daphne says. "I think we couldn't have picked a more beautiful location. We had our ceremony in a spot in the garden that was overgrown with grass and wildflowers, overlooking the rolling hills as the sun was still high in the sky but getting close to sunset." They sky was warm and golden, and "the glow that surrounded us and our families is something I'll never forget," she says.
During the ceremony, Jack's uncle gave an Irish blessing, "something usually done by my grandfather at each family wedding, but he was unable to travel overseas, so my uncle did it in his place," he says. Then there was a poem written and read by one of Daphne's bridesmaids, Rosie. The couple wrote their own vows, which were accentuated by soft classical music on the guitar and violin.
Daphne and Jack exited the ceremony to "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing" played on violin and guitar to create a purposeful "ethereal type sound," as loved ones tossed dried petals their way.
Wedding Portraits at Sunset
After the ceremony, the newlyweds headed farther up the hill to take formal wedding portraits at sunset.
Daphne felt her father's spirit in the wind on her wedding day, she says. They memorialized him by including his framed photo in a portrait of the bride and groom with their parents.
"When I finally reached the ceremony space, we had a moment for all of those who could not attend," Daphne says, noting that included those who weren't healthy enough to travel or those who would be there in spirit, like her father. When she said his name, a gust of wind pushed through the valley. "It was so powerful," she says. "It was my dad—he was there. My mom let out a cry, and I just felt so complete knowing that he was surrounding us with his love."
Capturing the Day
Realistically speaking, Daphne says, the photos and video capture and preserve the day, so setting an appropriate budget is important. Her wedding planning tip: "Invest in your photographer and videographer. Every dime we spent was worth it times a million, and I'd pay them all over again."
A Relaxed Cocktail Hour
"We wanted the whole day to be relaxed and have a slow pace," Daphne says. She and Jack began wedding portraits while guests headed to a two-hour long cocktail hour, which featured an open bar and some small plates. A Spanish guitarist played traditional music throughout the cocktail hour and dinner.
Guests could snack on a variety of Spanish hams, chorizo, local cheeses, breads, and fruits, as well as Spanish fish and mussels.
The Outdoor Reception
Bistro lights and candles decorated the terrace where dinner and the reception took place. The villa was surrounded by overgrown grass and wildflowers. More greenery grew on and around the brick wall behind the table, creating a natural and cozy setting.
A Family-Style Setting
All the guests sat at one long wooden table dotted with candles and floral arrangements of various sizes. Napkins spilled over the edge at each place setting, echoing larger linens arranged around the terrace inscribed with things Jack and Daphne say about one another.
A Linen Menu
One of the inscribed tapestries was dedicated to the menu: corvina (a whole, fried Spanish fish), sautéed vegetables, pork loin, and meat, veggie, and seafood paella were some of the featured dishes. Selections of red and white Spanish wines were paired with the food.
A lightly frosted, two-tiered wedding cake was sliced for dessert. Guests could choose from the strawberry or lemon-and-blueberry sponge cake.
The Wedding Dances
The couple danced to "You and I Always" by Jake Isaac, performed by one of the bridesmaid's boyfriends. After, the groom and his mother danced to "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor, one of their favorite songs.
Photography, Kyle John Photography
Location, Cortijo Juan Salvador
Event planning, Open The Door Events
Videography, Happy Wedding Films
Stationery and Calligraphy, Isidore & Augustine
Music, Mario Moraga
Bride's gown, Anne Barge
Bride's Veil, Sara Gabriel
Hair and Makeup, Jorge Gutierrez of Oui Novias
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo Collection
Groom's suit and Menswear, J.Crew