Valeria & Stuart, Part 2

And now, Valeria’s rich, amazing, wedding graduate story continues… (And can we talk about the dress that she made herself, her amazing ceremony, and her heart bursting love for all of you?)

We had an imperfect wedding. Just like life.

And just like life, our “Two-week wedding celebration” was, at moments, beautiful in that the sky was so blue I was convinced I didn’t need anything for my something blue. Funny, in the imperfection – I spent  quite some time doing my hair with some rollers and as soon I got in the golf cart that drove us from the room to the wedding location the wind messed it all up and the fresh flower I had put on it blew away after 10 minutes.

Sad, in that I never thought my dad wouldn’t be there and, although I truly believe his spirit was with us, my human mind still would have loved to see his smile when seeing my dress for the first time or to hold his hand while walking down the aisle.

And happy, for having the people we consider our own little circle of love with us that day. And because both of our families were spending two whole weeks together, getting to know each other in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and all while sipping margaritas.

It was a true celebration that joined our families’ traditions, the traditions of the place where we married, and other little things other things that represent who we are.

The day of the wedding went like a dream. All the guests and my husband arrived at a pretty gazebo at the beach while I was in my room getting ready. I did my own hair and make-up (imperfect but cheap, following my everyday look). My mum, sisters, baby nephew and brother in law picked me up, so we had a private moment to do a prayer in my dad’s memory.

I arrived to what I thought was the bluest of the skies and sea, and we had a civil wedding, a champagne toast after, and the photographer took some pictures. So far, so typical right? Then my new husband and I disappeared behind some trees and bushes while the guests were taken to an area right on the beach were they saw  some smoke and some food laid out (cacao beans and corn). They thought we were going to have some kind of barbecue wedding reception, but what they saw was a Mayan shaman and the two of us appearing from the bushes, barefoot, while the shaman’s assistant was playing drums and singing.

And right there we had the most wonderful Mayan wedding blessing. It was all about the true meaning of marriage, the union of two people in communion with the Universe. Asking permission for that union from the four cardinal points at the beginning, with lots of incense,  and symbols – like washing each other feet to reflect on our humility as husband and wife, tying on each other’s wrist a  band made of flowers, inviting some members of the family to join us in a prayer, saying spontaneous vows to each other and finishing by throwing some of the flower petals as an offering to the sea. Amazing.

Our guests were so happy to have seen something so different and to also be able to understand a bit more of the culture of such a magnificent place like Mexico. And for us, it was the true meaning of our wedding. To be able to commit to each other, while standing at the beach, almost the same beach that brought us together for the first time, and having our closest people as witnesses of that. And to still have my dad’s presence somewhere around us, despite his physical absence.

We didn’t plan for a reception after dinner due to costs and the size of the group, so instead we spent the evening in one of the live music bars where the guests requested that the singer play a song for us . She called us on microphone to go in front of the stage and we danced right there, in front of tons of people we have never met and they all gave us a great round of applause at the end.

We wanted a nice wedding and a nice honeymoon and we got both for the same price. I didn’t want to spend crazy money on my dress, yet I poured my soul and every single hour I had after work for about two months in order  to make myself a dress that reflected my style, my background and, although it was nerve racking at moments, I would do it again and again. And I would recommend it to anybody who is thinking about it. It’s easier than you think, especially because nobody would dare judge its construction or design or fit and instead they will be moved by your bravery at taking such a task on. Plus, you will end up with a great heirloom. All that for almost no money.

In terms of money and budget, yes, a destination wedding  was cheaper than a wedding in any of our countries, and we were able to financially help some people that otherwise would have gone into debt to join us, or missed out altogether. And that money was the best money ever spent (I am the kind of person who compares the prices per liter or kg in the supermarket to save a penny or two and yet I would easily have saved and spent it again for something like that).

Yes, our wedding was imperfect. We planned it in the middle of the hardest moments that you can have as a daughter (or son). And we were tested as a couple. Experiencing loss and stress put a very clear perspective on weddings and life in general – when something like that happens, you worry less about minute details like napkins or color schemes or any other thing I could have stressed about before. What’s really important becomes clear.

If I could give anybody in their planning process a little tiny advice, I would say:

  • It’s ok to have the wedding you and partner want. We definitely didn’t want a big production, and the minute we were clear about that everything else fell into place.
  • It’s ok not to invite everybody you know. We didn’t. For us the wedding was meant to be intimate, with the people that have an everyday emotional involvement in our lives. That meant that, for example, some of my larger family didn’t find out until last minute or my coworkers didn’t know until I was back from Mexico.
  • It’s ok to feel guilty about planning something so nice when other things in your life are not so nice. It’s ok to feel sad as well. And happy and sad as the same time. You are only being human. You are planning your wedding while your life still happens. And no matter how you may feel, you still deserve all the happiness of the world. You will see how the people who really care for you will be there to hold you through the tears and share the fun in the same measure.
  • It’s ok not to have a dress three months before the wedding. It is only a dress. And it’s ok to have a bit of fun when you see the horror on peoples face when you tell them.

I hope you enjoyed this. I doubted whether to write or not, but it has been a wonderful way of remembering the wedding. So often, you ladies who post on APW have truly been my “ladies around the kitchen fire” and I felt it was important to share with you.

Lots of love for all of you, with admiration and respect, hugs and kisses.

Photos by: Arrecife Studios

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  • Jo

    This is the perfect follow-up to this morning, and wonderful advice for anyone.

    <3 and yes, still crying.

  • Valaria,
    Holy cow. What an incredible, amazing perspective. I am so impressed at your level headed approach to a wedding amidst loss–and the result! I can feel the joy and love through your writing and the photos. All of my best to you and your husband as you start your lives together.
    P.S. I love love love the picture of you and all the ladies in pinks and purples…did you request that?

  • Jen M

    Bellisima. Felicidades.

  • carrie

    So beautiful. Thank you for sharing and congratulations!

  • Amanda

    Woow! All the best to you Valeria & Stuart. Sounds like you had a beautiful wedding, surrounded by joy and love, and as cliched as that sounds, I do not know how to express it otherwise. And your dress… so beautiful. I love dresses that are short and long at the same time, so sexy. I did not dare to wear something like that to our religious ceremony though. And the embroidered cotton lace (tiras bordadas), so pretty. I am mexican… and was also wondering, is part of your family mexican? Anyway, all the best wishes . While planning our wedding from afar and basically on our own (through skype and messenger) I could also relate to the “ladies around the fire” sentiment that APW´s community provides. Also the part when you and Stuart would fly to each other every now and then, we also had the long-distance-see-you-once-every month relationship for a while. And I am really sorry for the loss of your dad, but I am convinced he was there with you, watching everything.

    • valeria

      Hi Amanda.
      I am originally from Argentina.I moved to Spain for five years before moving to England.It was in Spain that I met my now husband.
      I wanted the dress to be suitable for warm weather so I made it in cotton batiste.Also I wanted to reflect my latin cultural background.While leaving in Spain I got fascinated by flamenco and the whole flamenco fashion,so sexy.
      What you said about the mexican dress its true.Originally I researched the mexican dress and I planned to add some hand embroidery detail like the mayan costumes but at the end I didnt have the time and I added the pink flowers.
      Thanks for your comments!

  • Blown away right now. I can’t even express what you have given me. Thank You.

  • What a beautiful post and what a beautiful wedding. Thank you to Valeria and Stuart for sharing a little bit of their lovely day with us!

  • Abby C.

    Oh, Valaria, that was fantastic. I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad.

    It’s great to see other destination brides on APW. We were basically in the same boat – my fiance’s mother is not in good health and lives in Dubai while my family lives in the US. We looked very seriously at Italy as a compromise, but in the end, travel will be too difficult for my future MIL, so the wedding will be in Dubai.

  • marbella

    So beautiful. Thank you!

  • The symbolism in the Mayan blessing ceremony is truly moving. It sounds like a rare experience for you and your close family and friends to partake it.

    Also, I have to add that I love seeing all your female guests in a shade of pink. It’s such a pretty picture.

  • These pictures are drool worthy – absolutely gorgeous. Everything about them. Your dress is, too.

    The Mayan blessing resonated with me – something that humbling and united must have been intense and beautiful.

  • K

    Thank you so much for sharing. And please accept my best wishes and sympathy for your family. Seriously, from one stranger to another, thank you.

  • memery

    “it’s ok to not have a dress 3 months before the wedding”
    thank you! tomorrow is 3 months until my wedding, and… I do not have a dress yet. :)

    • clampers

      I know! I loved that one too. Really makes you feel better about everything…even if you are not stressed, everyone else seems to be. Like Valeria says, “It is only a dress!”

    • I was the same way. I was originally going to make mine, but then got so stressed over it that I ended up hiring someone at the three month mark. Don’t worry, you’ll find something fabulous.

    • emily rose

      yeah girl, no worries :) i had a giant dress disaster and didn’t even try mine on until about 5 days out. it was all fine in the end (it’s just a dress!) and the whole debacle makes for good stories later.

    • Kim

      Three weeks out and I’m staring at the pieces of my dress strewn about the house:) And you know what? I’m surprisingly zen about it all. I agree with you, Valeria, that putting all your heart into making the dress is worth it. At least I hope so!

  • clampers

    Ohhhhhh man this post really resonated with me. Thanks so much. Your bullet points at the end are spot-on.

    How does APW have this way of just sort of reading your mind and telling you exactly what you need to hear?!


  • It’s ok to feel guilty about planning something so nice when other things in your life are not so nice. It’s ok to feel sad as well. And happy and sad as the same time. You are only being human. You are planning your wedding while your life still happens. And no matter how you may feel, you still deserve all the happiness of the world. You will see how the people who really care for you will be there to hold you through the tears and share the fun in the same measure.

    Brilliant. I struggled with this for a long time after my mother died last year. I still struggle, but as I sit here just over a week from marrying my Aussie in a similar manner (Hawaii, halfway between my family in Wyoming and his family in Perth), I realize that it is and always will be OK for me to feel that joy amid all the sadness.

    You had a wonderful, smart, beautiful day. Congratulations for that. And for being strong and confident enough to carry on.

  • Raqui

    Yes! The sadness and the joy. My mother’s sister is at the end stages of metastatic cancer and my fiance and I are about three months out from getting married. We’re doing things simply with just immediate family and closest friends in the area. I’m hoping to focus on the joy and spirituality of the day. I don’t have a dress either or sewing skills, but I have seen things for $79 at H&M that would do – so I’m not so fussed.

    Valeria – thank you for sharing your inspiring and hearfelt story. The sewing of the dress felt very cathartic to me. Also the luminous pics. Wow. Wow. Wow. Felicidades and many blessings to you and your family.

  • Crying at the desk, overwhelmed by your words, your story, the beautiful day you shared with us. This is a wonderful post and from someone who had a wedding after a loss, I just want to say that I am so proud of you both for moving forward with the day your Dad and your family wished for you. And on a lighter note, your dress is gorgeous!

  • LC

    You’re the type of person I think would be fun to be friends with – completely open and fiercely loyal to your family.

    Glad it was such a wonderful day and so happy you shared it with us! You had me tearing up at work.

  • m

    “It is only a dress. And it’s ok to have a bit of fun when you see the horror on peoples face when you tell them.”

    Love this. Its like the look on people’s faces when you tell them there is no rain site.

    • We didn’t have a rain site, either, and it poured all morning. Then, as we were scheming how to get and keep 150 people inside the house, it stopped raining and my cousins got out backpack leafblowers and dried the grass and the ceremony platform/dance floor. Then the sun even came out, and everything ended up being fabulous!
      But the leafblowers were key, so if you’ll be having it at home, keep that in mind! Maybe even have a couple of neighbors standing by with extras, just in case…

  • LPC

    Can I tell you how lucky I feel to have been sitting at the fire for this one? Thank you. I should wear ruffles, in your honor.

  • Mayweed

    Valeria, you’re awesome.

  • “You are planning your wedding while your life still happens.”

    I can’t think of a better way to encapsulate this community.

    Valeria, thank you for sharing your wedding. You are absolutely gorgeous and I LOVE your dress. Be prepared for people lining up to place orders! It’s playful, sexy, totally beach-y and beautiful.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. Both the strength and vulnerability you expressed in this post is truly inspiring. Congratulations on your marriage.

  • Valeria, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful wedding and all of the complicated and wonderful emotions that came with it. I too am planning a wedding that will be missing my father, who died 5 years ago. The absence is not as immediate, but it will be felt, and reading about your experience reminds me that it’s going to be okay for me to be a little bit sad on that day that my dad won’t be there, and that it’s possible to incorporate that sadness into a completely wonderful day. No matter how much planning I do, I cannot have the wedding I dreamed about as a little girl (yes, I was one of those girls) because my dad won’t be walking me down the aisle, but embracing that fact has actually taken the pressure off and made me more open to different ideas and the realization that just because it isn’t going to be what you thought doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be amazing. You are clearly headed for a long and loving and meaningful marriage with your partner and I wish you all the best.

  • valeria

    Hello to all you lovely ladies,
    Thanks for the comments.Good luck to all of you in the process of planning.I sincerely hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful wedding day and an even more wonderful married life.
    See you soon around APW,
    lots of kisses and hugs

  • Angela García Borreguero

    lo primero, siento mucho que hayas tenido que pasar por un trago tan malo como es perder a un padre. Pero como tu dices, la vida ocurre, todo el rato, y no para en ningun momento.
    Me encanta que hayais sido capaces de celebrar vuestra nueva familia, a pesar de todo. Os deseo una vida plena, llena de buenas sorpresas, y sobretodo de mucha paciencia y amor.
    Gracias por compartir tu historia con nosotras.
    Un beso

  • I agree with everything you said, invite who you want, don’t stress on the dress, etc.. and have fun! A point which is forgotten in many a wedding