For Samantha and Jonathan Glass, it was a playful trio of tequila, travel, and the tropics that made their Playa Del Carmen wedding weekend unforgettable. The two met through a mutual friend back in 2013;"we were both living in NYC at the time, and our friend insisted we would be perfect for each other," recalls Samantha. The Philadelphia natives wasted no time moving in together, and moving back to their hometown, just a year later. "In 2014 we moved to Philadelphia, where we are both originally from," says Samantha. "We lived with each other for about a year; and then our lives changed when we went to Florence for two weeks in the summer of 2015." Jonathan, a finance maven for FS investments, proposed to his now-wife, a fashion stylist and art director, on a romantic getaway to Italy, where he'd once studied abroad.
"Florence was special to Jon, and I had never been to Italy," says the bride. "It was important for Jon to 'marry' his past prior to meeting me with our present [life together]." Nervously carrying the engagement ring en route in-flight (Jonathan even secured the ring box with a lock for extra protection), the anxious groom-to-be remained awake and alert the entire flight. "I remember being on the plane and thinking it was so weird that Jon wasn't able to sleep. Little did I know, he had the ring in his carry-on."
Upon arrival, the couple immediately set out to explore the stunning city by heading to the Boboli Gardens, a site that Samantha had voiced to her future husband she was eager to see. Eager for an entirely different reason, Jonathan confused his soon-to-be bride even further by sprinting to the iconic gardens in a nervous effort not to miss the perfect proposal moment he'd been envisioning. "We started walking toward the gardens, and I was jumping into every store checking out all the Florence fashion. For someone who just arrived on vacation, Jon was nervous and seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere," recalls Samantha.
"When we arrived at the Boboli gardens, it was breathtaking-it was so beautiful, and magical," she remembers. "Jon had walked up a few stairs of the garden to go ask this woman, who spoke English, to take a picture of us. Without me knowing, he said to her, 'I am about to propose to my girlfriend, don't say anything, just take 100 pictures.'" Samantha started smiling for a picture that would ultimately become one of the most important snapshots of of her life. "Jon looked at me, as I was looking at the camera, and got down on one knee. I was freaking out for myself, but also for this woman who was taking these pictures of us! I was hysterically crying, and so happy that we would be able to enjoy the rest of our trip as the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Glass."
The decision for a destination wedding was a no-brainer for the newly engaged couple, who loved the idea of marrying overseas after watching both of Jonathan's siblings tie-the-knot abroad. A decision that wasn't so simple? Finding a location that fulfilled a checklist of requirements: a destination that was easy to get to from Philadelphia and New York, as well as one that would prove special and different enough for guests to never forget. "We loved the idea of our friends and family being away on a vacation together for a long weekend," says Samantha, "we felt it was the best way to celebrate the beginning of our marriage."
After exploring a variety of possible venues, a site visit to Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico finally sealed the deal on the location for their impending nuptials. "The hotel's driver picked us up at the Cancun airport and offered us beer, tequila, sparkling and still water, and cold towels upon our arrival," remembers Samantha. "The gesture completely set the tone for the rest of our experience at the resort." A signature drink and boat ride to the dock of their villa (a lagoon runs throughout the property) made the decision to tie the knot in Mexico a done deal. "Each room came complete with a butler, bikes, and a bottle of Clase Azul Tequila. We were sold!"
Deliberate in the sequence of events that would fill the course of the weekend, Samantha and Jonathan decided to first treat their friends and family to a welcome party upon arrival. La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen, the property's lush, open-air chef's garden, yielded an idyllic backdrop to kick-off the celebration. "It was a 20,000 square feet outdoor dining concept," says the bride. "It had an al fresco kitchen and garden that featured an extensive variety of organic fruits and vegetables, a unique array of Mexican herbs and spices, and over 20 different sections designated for planting." A Mexican barbecue complete with recipes made from farm-to-table ingredients, a Mariachi band and a handful of welcome speeches, set the bar for an impressive three-day affair.
For the rehearsal dinner, guests were engrossed in an authentic Mexican night of drinking, dancing and celebrating; a nonconventional pre-ceremony event the couple dubbed their Fiesta Blanco. "Friday Night was our white party; our rehearsal dinner at Casa Del Lago, surrounding the main pool and emerald lagoon," explains the bride. "We wanted to do an authentically Mexican night, including Mexican food, a Mexican market, a cigar roller, churro cart and a highly anticipated tequila bar. We asked our guests to wear white so the vibrant colors of the market would stand out."
Fashion for the bride and groom was key, and varied from celebration-to-celebration. Their looks were as distinguishable as the events themselves, and as a stylist, Samantha's looks served as fixtures at each event to further cement each evening's theme. The bride donned a vibrant Dolce and Gabanna skirt and bandeau top for the welcome party, which she adorned with Aquazzura shoes and a Fendi Micro Baguette clutch. The groom's shirt and pants were from Brunello Cucinelli, which he accessorized with an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch, a wedding gift from his bride-to-be. For the rehearsal dinner, Samantha changed into a white, semi-sheer halter dress from Jonathan Simkhai, which she paired with white-heeled sandals from Jimmy Choo, and jewelry from Barbara Ellick. Jonathan opted for a Brunello Cucinelli linen jacket and white poplin shirt for the white party, which he complimented with Tod's shoes.
Set on finding a gown that was equally classic and sophisticated, while still sexy, Samantha found success at Mark Ingram Atelier which housed the stunning Naeem Khan frock she donned on her wedding day. "This dress was completely transformed by the amazingly talented seamstresses at Mark Ingram Atelier. I knew I wanted something more high fashion and less bridal in feel–long sleeves, and high neck–very specific and extremely hard to find. When I saw this dress I loved everything about it except for the fact that it originally was shown with a plunging neckline. The seamstress at Mark Ingram completely customized this dress for me and found a way to turn it into exactly what I wanted." The renowned designer, who specializes in embroidery, also made the ethereal tulle veil Samantha wore for the ceremony. Her beauty looks echoed the ease of her wedding's location–makeup artist Jennifer Nam opted for a natural day-of beauty look for the bride, while Frederique Carme kept things simple and chic with a sleek blowout.
A grassy lawn hidden within the property served as the landscape for the ceremony. Wedding planner Jennifer Zabinksi of JZ Events worked with event designer Rafaelle Pata to adorn the site with a custom chuppah that had been embellished with a canopy of dripping orchids and an abundance of greenery. The couple exchanged vows in front of an elaborate backdrop of taupe, green, and white florals-courtesy of florist Vanessa Jaimeses-while guests sat amongst lucite chairs and elegant lit candles. "We knew this location would become something magical, and it was the perfect atmosphere for us to become husband and wife," said the bride.
Golf carts transported friends and family from the ceremony site to cocktail hour at the beachside restaurant, Punta Bonita. There, a jazz trio performed while guests were served artisan pizza and fresh sushi before transitioning to the spectacular reception venue, The Palapa. "It was a wooden tent with unobstructed views of ocean," remembers Samantha, who worked with Jennifer to devise a refined design aesthetic that would transform the room into a candle-lit oasis. Centerpieces of white orchids, hydrangeas and roses topped tables draped in taupe linen which were arranged beneath custom chandeliers that felt beachy, not stuffy. The couple had also incorporated a distinct Dia de los Muertos themed logo by Momental Designs into the style concept of their weekend, adorning everything from the invitations and napkins, to matchbooks and bike signs.
The band Rhythm Collective from Élan Artists served for the night's entertainment, even having brought their own dreamy draped white backsplash to help set the mood for the latter part of the evening. A private lounge area featured a whimsical photo booth, and a Don Julio tequila bar, which guests visited in-between dance moves.
"After four hours of dancing, fire dancers led everyone to the beach after-party outside," recalls Samantha of the couple's perfect ending to their spectacular night. "There, they performed, and invited, everyone to dance on the sand to DJ Dolce Lopez's sets in front of our custom 'love' sign, with after dinner sliders, truffle fries and specialty cocktails. It truly was a toes in the sand wedding." Samantha and Jonathan, who both changed into beach and still wedding appropriate after party looks, ended their night with their toes in the sand dancing with their closest family and friends.
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