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Real Wedding | Stephanie & Bryan

Tell us a little about yourselves!

We’re Steph and Bryan, and we live in Brooklyn with our pup Beca. We enjoy most of our time together traveling, scuba diving, enjoying new restaurants and street foods, cooking multicourse feasts, and making memories with friends.

If a Bumble tech glitch didn’t happen 7 years ago, we would’ve never met. Steph went on a girl’s trip to Iceland and her Bumble geolocation never reset back to NY when she returned. A couple months later, Bryan and a few friends found themselves in Reykjavik, Iceland on a trip without an itinerary or plans. Bryan fired up Bumble and Steph saved the day with recs and plans; he even got to see the Northern Lights that Steph missed out on seeing on her trip. Our first date was Bryan’s way of saying thank you when he got back to NY. 

Why did you decide to get married where you did?

We’d imagined a destination wedding from the start because we love to travel and we wanted to create new memories for ourselves and with our guests. Costa Rica, Panama, different parts of Mexico, and the Caribbean were all on the table but we eventually landed on La Paz in Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico. 

Baja California Sur (BCS) is nestled in between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. It’s known for its warm climate, breath-taking desert landscape, some of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches, wildlife diversity, culinary and cultural richness, and laid back vibe. It captures so many elements that we love about travel. 

Once we settled on Baja California, we wanted a venue that could fit all of our wedding guests. We had this romantic idea that strangers would become friends over margaritas and spontaneous shenanigans would happen if everyone stayed in one place. When we visited Baja Club Hotell in La Paz, we fell in love with the property immediately. The architecture, design, culinary program, and team sold us right away. We felt Baja Club was the perfect venue to host multiple events, and we could balance freedom of expression to achieve our creative vision with privacy (we privatized the hotel for the weekend). The sunset views from the hotel overlooking the Malecón and Sea of Cortez are absolutely gorgeous, which was an added perk. Baja Club and city of La Paz were magical. 

How many guests did you have?

58 - our immediate family, closest chosen family, and friends. It meant the world to us that we could spend time with every single guest over our wedding weekend, and see new friendships blossom across different friend groups!

What was your budget?

We wanted to host a celebration weekend that felt like a fun adventure for everyone especially since we were asking our friends and family to join us at an off the beaten path destination. Food, drinks, entertainment, event styling, and service aka guest experience were important to us because guests really remember this and we wanted everyone to have the best time.

We hosted 5 distinct events over 3 days at 2 venues and spent around $120K in the end, which was higher than we set out to spend, but we ultimately felt it was worth it. Being selective about what you splurge on is crucial but also being savvy about saving in other ways is how you can make everything work.

Tell us about your outfits.

Since we planned the wedding together, the one thing we wanted to keep a secret from each other were our outfits (apart from our vows). Our first look was a moment we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

Steph: I never imagined getting married so never fantasized of what our wedding would be like or what to wear until we got engaged. The journey to find out what kind of bride I was and what I wanted to wear was a roller coaster. I probably tried on 150+ dresses, which I know will make me sound like a bridezilla, but you gotta do what you gotta do. 

Once I figured out my bridal style, I knew I wanted a dress that echoed the Spanish - Moroccan architecture and style of our venue and was an elegant but modern interpretation of romanticism and lace. Danielle Frankel is an amazing New York based bridal designer and her Aria gown had everything I was looking for and more. I still can’t get over the lace sleeves! My shoes were timeless and crystal encrusted stilettos for a little extra oomph from Magda Butrym

The tiered mini dress that I wore for my second look was also from Danielle Frankel but an entirely different energy. I felt flirty, fun, and ready to break it down on the dance floor (and we actually broke the dancefloor in 2 different places from dancing so hard)! 

My something borrowed was the veil. A Spanish style mantilla veil was something my heart was set on but because it took me so long to find my dress, I never got around to sourcing one and was ready to walk down the aisle without a veil. Luckily, my coworker who got married a couple months before had a gorgeous lace embroidered cathedral veil that matched perfectly with my dress and brought the whole look together. 

Bryan: I won’t have as many beautiful words to describe my outfit as my lovely wife, but I went with my trusted tailor in NYC to create a custom tropical formal look with a few pieces of flair. I felt it was important to be understated (I wanted all eyes on Stephanie),elegant, but also reflect parts of my personality. The carved white rose cufflinks, spiked patent leather shoes from Louboutin and hand tied bowtie were a few areas I decided to be a bit more pronounced. For my afterparty look, I decided to let the more creative colors fly. Overall, I had a ton of fun creating my custom suits.

What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?

Our vision for our wedding weekend was to highlight what we treasure most in life: making core memories with friends and family, adventures in far flung places, cultural immersion, great food, even better drinks, music, dirty dancing, and lots of laughs. All of those were our north stars in planning along with making sure our guests had an amazing experience, not taking ourselves too seriously, and staying true to what our hearts wanted for our wedding. Also, the “togetherness” of taking over a single venue, and where every guest was invited to every event (even the more traditionally family oriented events such as the Tea Ceremony) was very important to us.

Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?

We wanted the weekend to reflect our personalities and chose to highlight that in traditional and non-traditional ways. 

Theme parties are a major part of our lives so we hosted a 90’s VMA’s costume party for our welcome night where guests came dressed as their favorite celebrity or musical artist from any decade. To take the party to the next level, we surprised our guests with a drag queen who sang iconic pop favorites and closed out her set with a fire dancing performance.  

To celebrate Steph’s Chinese Vietnamese heritage, we hosted a modern take on a traditional wedding Tea Ceremony. The tea ceremony is an ancient Asian wedding tradition symbolizing the union of two families. Typically on the morning of the wedding, the couple serves tea to their parents and family members in an intimate, family only ceremony to show their gratitude and respect. As the elders receive tea, they offer the couple blessings, words of love, and wisdom. To put our twist on an ancient tradition, we invited all of our guests to participate (not just family), and asked every parent on both sides to share a speech. There was lots of laughter and not a dry eye in the house!

Our mutual best friend officiated our brief non-religious ceremony where we shared personalized wedding vows. Summarizing everything you love most in your partner in a few brief minutes isn’t easy, but the final words were truly special. We hand wrote our respective vows in small notebooks and exchanged them after the ceremony so we can read and relive our vows for years to come.

We wanted to truly lean into Baja California’s culture, aesthetics, and cuisine. It was important for us to highlight the cultural beauty of Baja by supporting local vendors, talent, and artisans.

Any tips for couples getting married?

Have fun and listen to each other! Do whatever makes you both happy and feels authentic to your love, especially on your day. Let go of traditions that don’t speak to you or make new ones that celebrate what matters to you. 

On the practical side, create and stick to 3-5 shared priorities for the wedding planning process and the big day. It’ll seriously help with complex decisions, budget issues, and keep you both sane! 

Hire a wedding planner and vendors that you trust especially if you’re hosting a destination wedding. An amazing team and support system frees you up to focus on the big things, making memories, and enjoying time with each other and loved ones. 

Invest in a great photographer that understands your vision and makes you feel comfortable in front of the camera. Someone told us that the only physical thing you walk away from your wedding with is your photos…and they were right! You’ll want to remember your wedding for the rest of your life and your photographer will capture moments that you’ll cherish forever.

Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?

The most important thing is to book vendors that are energized by your vision, know the area well, are a joy to work with, and truly care.

Baja Wedding Planner - we know that our wedding weekend vision was a bit different, and finding partners who appreciated our vision and were excited by doing something different was very important to us. Sydney and Jayna were the best from start to finish, they were so fun and easy to work with, very professional and detail oriented and always found a solution. They have amazing taste and a deep passion for all things Baja, and it shows! We wouldn’t have had our dream wedding weekend without them!

Los Ebano - pictures were always tough for us. We have different aesthetics as a couple and we don’t feel really comfortable in front of the camera. When we met Karla and Jose for the first time we knew they were the right fit for us. They’re fun, down to earth, have an amazing eye, and we loved their creative direction. We never felt like we had to try, and they beautifully captured all of these intimate moments and scenery in a way we didn’t think was possible. 

Karli Strohschein - We were never sold on traditional wedding invitation suites. Instead, we had a vision for a welcome map that was a substitute for formal invitations. Karli worked with us to create a tri-fold map that included a note to our guests, the agenda for the weekend, and a custom map of La Paz with all of our favorite local recs. She also designed beautiful bar signs, dinner menus, place cards, and day of stationery that took our breaths away. We were really impressed with how open and willing Karli was to create something unique and truly personalized. 

Jules Kasol - Bryan really wanted an artist to capture a live sketch of our ceremony so he could frame it for his office. Our planners found the perfect match, and the final product is so cool. 

Allium Floral Studio - florals and styling are never easy, and we went through an embarrassingly large number of mock ups, but the Allium team took our feedback and worked with us to create the right designs for our various events. They created the most magical, whimsical, and beautiful fruit, vegetable and fun-filled tablescapes and arrangements for our ceremony and reception.

Photographer: Los Ebano @losebano | Ceremony & Reception Location: Baja Club Hotel @bajaclubhotel | DJ:  DJ Chachin @chachin_bling | Hora Loca Entertainers: Cabo Fine Entertainment @cabofineentertainment | Planner: Baja Wedding Planner @bajaweddingplanner | Hire: Warehouse Rentals Cabo @warehouserentals | Flora: Allium Floral @alliumestudiofloral | HMUA: Roxsana @makeupinmotioncsl | Catering + Beverages: Baja Club Hotel @bajaclubhotel | Cake: Nim Restaurante @nimrestaurante | Stationery: Karli Strohschein Fine Stationery |

Gift Bags& Fans: The Perfect Gift Décor @theperfectgiftdecor | Live Sketch Artist: Jules Kasol @byjuleskasol | Bryan’s Suit: Grey Custom Clothiers @greyclothiers | Stephanie’s Dresses: Danielle Frankel @daniellefrankelstudio | Steph’s Alterations: Sew Elegant Bridal (Esin Krimidizag) @sewelegantny | Engagement Ring: Private Jeweler | Wedding Rings: Holden @holdenrings (Bryan)

& Private Jeweler (Steph) | Shoes: Christian Louboutin, Magda Butrym (Steph Ceremony) @magdabutrym, Converse x Comme des Garçons (Steph Second look)


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