Our Small Religious Ceremony Pt. 2

…continued. *This story was written in 2020.

I won’t lie. Having purchased our first home together, paying for a postponed wedding in Mexico while dealing with the impacts of a pandemic, we weren’t exactly in a position to “go all out” and spend a small fortune on our religious ceremony. The key was to “splurge strategically…” 

Your wedding team plays a crucial part in it. An experienced planner, photographer and floral designer can make anything happen, even during a pandemic. When discussing the budget for our Mexico wedding, I told my husband (fiance at the time) there were few things I wouldn’t compromise on…photography, our wedding team and the dress. Because an experienced team can actually save you money in the long run since they know where to save and splurge without sacrificing your taste and style…

KT Merry, our wedding photographer, has documented some of the most luxurious celebrity weddings around the world including Kate Upon, Lea Michele and more. She’s shot editorial campaigns for leading designers such as Monique Lhullier and is regarded as one of Harper Bazaar’s top wedding photographers in the world. If you aren’t familiar with her, take a peek at our photos here and here; they’ve become some of our most treasured memories.


Having seen it all, KT suggested we choose “key” moments instead of dispersing thin floral arrangements throughout the design. For me, this meant creating “one major floral statement” opting for more tropical greenery and less florals (for texture and drama!) Which is why I enlisted Palm Beach floral design studio, Renny & Reed, to help conceptualize and create this moment. Not only have they worked with the White House, Four Seasons, St. Regis and Peninsula, among many others, but they know me well and the feeling I wanted to capture… “as if the structure had always been there and was growing alongside the facade of the church.” To create synergy between the two destinations (here and Mexico), I asked our florist in Mexico to send us a list of florals we plan to use next year in order to weave in those same elements into our civil and genuinely treat the design as a true appetizer to our big wedding next year. 

I wanted a palette composed of white, tropical green with hints of bougainvillea; along with vines and hanging bananas (yes, bananas) cascading down the design. The moment we first arrived at the church, just seconds before walking down the aisle, I gasped when I saw the floral design greeting us in front of the doorway. It was everything I had envisioned and more — unique, impactful yet timeless.

We also splurged on my bouquet, knowing it would double as an accent for my dress, which was vintage-inspired (like the movie Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn). I opted for Lily of the Valley as did my husband for his boutonnière. Our mothers and his grandmother wore different flowers. 

Having spent the bulk of our budget on those two areas already, we selected lush tropical greenery for our home. Reed’s team creatively styled and flanked the french doors leading to the backyard with trees in varying sizes, wire lanterns and ceramic vases. I had this feeling that it was going to be perfect (and it was!), in fact it looked as if it had always belonged there…

After we got prepped and primped, I knew I wanted a vintage car to take my father and I to the church. The driver played classic love songs during our ride, was gracious and so patient as I (naturally) ran late. 

Remember those oversized button downs I love wearing from my husband’s closet? Well, I wore one instead of traditional bridal lingerie (there were a lot of people at the house) as we both got ready at the same time. I helped him, as our photographer snapped photos of us at home. We opted for this route knowing we’d do a proper “first look” in Mexico. Besides, it made me feel more at ease having him by my side the entire time. If there’s one takeaway from our wedding, it’s to toss out the wedding handbook and do what feels right for you two…


My petite veil was custom-made by Anita Aguirre, founder of Girl and a Serious Dream. Inspired by her own wedding and her architectural education, Anita created Girl and a Serious Dream providing the most beautiful custom lace options to brides. Together, we collaborated on the design and went with an ultra-traditional, delicate lace that mimicked a mantilla. She nailed the color, length and concept – all of which was done virtually and in weeks. It brings me so much joy knowing my veil is an heirloom I can personally pass down… Thank you Anita! 


My mom gifted me her mother’s pearl clutch, an heirloom I wore as my “something old.” My grandmother (once a professional flamenco dancer) passed away when my mom was very young due to breast cancer. Though I never met her, my mom says our personalities are very similar (me being a former professional ballerina), which made it feel even more meaningful to have this heirloom on our special day. I styled the rest of my accessories with earrings from Jennifer Behr and classic heels by Jimmy Choo

Pedro’s 94-year-old grandmother wore her husband’s wedding band until two weeks before our civil ceremony. Then, she gave it to Pedro. The band had an engraving with their 50-year anniversary and now our wedding date. Instead of having a ring bearer, it was so significant that she held our rings and we wore her old mantilla over us (which she used at her wedding) during the ceremony. Pedro’s great-grandmother brought over this mantilla from Spain; it’s nearly 100 years old. Typically, godmothers pin the mantilla, but given the intimacy of the day we asked our mothers to do it. I will never forget how happy his grandmother looked when we exchanged rings and were pronounced “husband and wife”…


Ashley D Studio, our illustrator, created the most beautiful invitations for our Mexico wedding that we unfortunately couldn’t use so we repurposed the design and turned it into wedding programs. The illustrations on the program came directly from the murals at the hacienda we’re getting married at next year. It was back in February, during my visit to Merida, that Ashley asked me to take lots of pictures of the venue to serve as inspiration for her design. She captured it beautifully! If you look closely, you’ll see the scallop shape comes directly from a shell above the main door at the hacienda along with many other intricate details. I admit, this too came together within a matter of weeks…if not less! 

It’s so easy to focus on what could go wrong these last few months, but despite all the changes, hoops and hurdles thrown at us in the age of the pandemic, I’ve been shown (again and again) what truly matters. Our love. The love was truly palpable on our wedding day. It felt like we had been waiting for this moment for what seemed like a lifetime; and the fact that we hadn’t been around our family for some time made it extra special to share this moment with them. 

We can’t thank our entire wedding team enough for making these moments possible, creating something remarkable, and for giving us our own slice of heaven during one of the toughest years.

Click here for Pt. 3 where I share all the details of our intimate reception… 

Xo, Stephanie

A huge thank you to our wedding team!

Planning: Heather Lowenthal, Posh Parties

Photography: KT Merry

Videography: Chelsea Anne

Floral design: Renny & Reed

Church: Plymouth Congregational Church in Coconut Grove 

Catering: Suzanne Michael Luxury Events

Plates, linens: vintage; Etsy

Illustrations: Ashley D Studio

Table accessories: Only on the Avenue

Cake: Earth & Sugar

Dress: custom Carolina Herrera via Ever After

Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Tabitha Simmons

Veil: custom, Girl and a Serious Dream

Headband, earrings: Jennifer Behr

Makeup: Jenah, @theJayyAffect

Hair: Lutz Karpf

Car: Florians Classics

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