We’re pretty sure this is a first for STG: an interfaith Jewish wedding that took place in the crater of an extinct volcano! Yes, really.
Though you’d never know it from the photos of Panama’s lush paradise of El Valle de Anton, where lucky bride Ida, a college counselor at a Jewish high school in Panama, has a country home in her family. She and Joey, a photographer and videographer, couldn’t have found a better spot for their dreamy modern country wedding. We’re positively drooling over the gorgeous photos by Mauricio Arias from Chrisman Studios and Alvaro Chingand the wonderful trailer by Visu Films.
Despite having 600 (!) guests at their wedding, they managed to keep the feel intimate by keeping things personal with touches like personalized vows the bride and groom read to each other (both of which happened to begin by talking about food – our kind of couple!) and having their miniature dachshund walk down the aisle.
We’ll let the bride, who looked lovely in Patricia Avendano, fill you in on the rest.
How we met
Ida, the bride: We met in a geology class at Florida State University (they have a branch here in Panama). And our love story began like any other… with chocolate chip cookies! As usual, like with any other man (including the skinny ones like him) the way to his heart was through his belly. I brought cookies to class one day and offered them to everyone in the class and the rest is history!
Before we started dating we became friends, good friends, at least that’s what I thought. But friendship quickly turned into something more and in February 2011 we started dating, even though we knew I was leaving for college in the USA in August of that same year. We did long distance for 3 years, have been dating for 7, and now we’ll be together forever because we are getting married!
A Wedding in the Country
Our ceremony and reception were both at Criadero del Leon, my family’s country house which is located in El Valle de Anton, Cocle. El Valle de Anton is a small town located in the crater of an extinct volcano. It’s a 2-hour drive from Panama City, and it is a popular getaway for people who live in the city. The weather is usually cool ranging between 22C – 18C, in our opinion perfect for an outdoor wedding.
We always dreamed of having a “different” wedding, at a place where nobody had ever gotten married before. Also, we wanted it to be personal, because even though we were planning on a pretty big wedding (600 guests) we wanted it to be as intimate as possible. El Valle has always been part of my life as I have been going there on weekends since I was born with my family. It also became special for us as a couple because we have made it a habit to go at least once a month on weekends.
Fairy Tale Wedding
We didn’t have a specific theme in mind, however, I wanted something modern, but with country style, given the location. I think what it ended up being was a fairy tale, or at least what my perfect fairy tale wedding would look like.
In terms of color scheme, I always dreamed of having light colored decoration, whites, and pastels with a lot of green. I love hydrangeas, therefore, we incorporated them into the decoration as well as in our invitations. We did have a wedding planner who doubles as a decorator, and it would have been impossible to do it without him. His name is Rolando Domingo, and he has been planning our family events since my Bat-Mitzvah!
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Did For Us
I found Smashing the Glass on Instragram and fell in love with your posts. I love how you are inclusive of all types of Jewish weddings. Now I read the blog from time to time and love reading about the different love stories and weddings.
I wanted something simple and elegant, but special for our invitation. We went with a very simple design in letterpress in dusty blue. As a detail, we added embossed hydrangeas to two corners on the invitation. The invitation was designed by Tarjeteria Persa.
Hair + Makeup
At first I thought I wanted to get married with my hair in a bun, because it’s what you’re supposed to do… But then, I went to try it out and decided that I definitely didn’t want to get married with my hair that way. That day I decided I felt more myself with my hair down, and that is what I wanted to look like on my wedding day.
After the ceremony, my hairdresser put my hair up in a messy bun so I could dance all night long and not worry about being hot! I am so happy I was able to get married with my hair loose, and then pick it up for the party. It was the best decision! Carlos “Tino” Silva, has been doing my hair and makeup since my Bat Mitzvah, therefore I would have nobody else do it for my wedding day.
A Patricia Avendano Dress
I bought my dress at Gaudi Novias here in Panama. It’s the best bridal shop! My dress was designed by Patricia Avendano, a Spanish designer. I tried on many dresses at the shop, but none completely convinced me until I tried one of Patricia’s designs and started crying. However, the sad part was, it didn’t fit and it also had several details that I was not exactly excited about. Because I got so excited about the dress they spoke to the designer and had her make something custom for me. As soon as it arrived in Panama I knew it was “the one”. It was exactly what I dreamed it would be and more!
I wore very simple jewelry that day. Just earrings and a tennis bracelet. The tennis bracelet is my mom’s, and the earrings were my great grandmother’s. Of course, I wore my perfect engagement ring which is from Mercurio Joyeros.
My headpiece was from Always and Forever. I wanted something sparkly but that wasn’t too much. I found the perfect one there. Judy, the owner is the best! I always dreamed of wearing a veil for my wedding, but I didn’t want the veil to overshadow or cover my dress’s long train. I went for a simple but voluminous veil that was at the length of my hips. I had the veil custom made at Bodas Gladys.
I knew I wanted colored shoes, be it blue or red or anything but white! I searched for a long time and ended up getting teal Manolo Blahnik heals. The same one Carrie from Sex and City wore, but in teal.
Of course, I was not going to dance all night in those shoes, so I changed into super funky and cool sneaker heals from the brand Grezzo. I would 100% recommend any bride to buy these, they were SO comfy and I danced with them from 7pm until 2am, when I finally could not take it anymore and switched to flip flops!
The handsome groom
Joey wore a beautiful blue suit. It was perfect for the occasion. He has always said that he is more of a bow tie kind of guy, however, he had never in his life worn a bow tie, until our wedding. We picked an Hermes bow tie, and to make it a little playful it was blue with ladybugs.
Bridesmaids in Red
They were dressed in red, as I wanted them to contrast and stand out from the decoration which was very light. I wanted them to be comfortable with their dresses so I gave them the fabric and told them they could design their dress however they liked. I think they all looked fabulous. The groomsmen wore guayaberas and khakhi pants, they looked very handsome!
An Open Chuppah
Rolando, our wedding planner, showed me an initial design, which was nice, but that wasn’t what I had in mind because it covered the green backdrop and sunset that I wanted. I asked him for something more open and that was it. Five days before the wedding when they started to put everything together they showed me how it would look like and it was perfect, exactly what I dreamed it would be.
An Interfaith Ceremony
Given that we had an interfaith wedding, I think it was already special. I don’t know anybody who has gotten married in an interfaith ceremony in Panama yet! Besides this I think what was most special about our ceremony was the fact that we both wrote and read our vows. I found it particularly funny that we both started out vows by talking about food, I think this says a lot about us, lol! Reading our vows was definitely our favorite part of the ceremony.
Our music choice
Joey walked with his parents down the aisle to ‘Good Life’ by One Republic.
Bridesmaids, groomsmen and the cute kids that also walked down the aisle had ‘Sweet Disposition’ by The Temper Trap.
I walked down the aisle to ‘Maestro’ by Hans Zimmer.
For recessional we had ‘Do You Believe In Magic’ by The Lovin’ Spoonful.
We entered the party with our bridesmaids and groomsmen to the beat of ‘You Make My Dreams’ by Hall and Oats.
Our first dance was ‘Many I Have This Dance’ by Francis and the Lights.
Finally, in Panama it’s tradition to dance the waltz after the first dance with family members. Instead of playing the waltz we decided to dance to ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Frank Sinatra.
Truenos y Relampagos was in charge of music and entertainment for the night.
It was beautiful, and all designed by our wedding planner and decorator Rolando Domingo.
On my bouquet, I had a picture of my father, who wasn’t able to be there in person, but I know he was there in spirit. He passed away when I was 17. I had my mother walk me down the aisle.
Toughest and easiest decision at the same time. Joey is a photographer and videographer, therefore you know he would be VERY picky about who would document the most important day of our lives. We decided on Mauricio Arias from Chrisman Studios to be our photographer, and we were so happy with the results.
Joey had met him a couple of years ago in Medellin, where he attended a workshop that Mauricio was teaching. To help him, we had Joey’s friend Alvaro Ching also photographing the wedding. He is the best photographer in Panama, no doubt about it! We are so so so happy with our wedding pictures; they are more than perfect! Exactly what we wanted, and MORE!
For video we had Visu Films, which is owned by Joey’s friend Sebastian. They were able to capture the love and happiness we all felt that day.
Dulce de Leche Cake!
When the time came I immediately went to my friend Maria Alejandra, the owner of Carmelitas, a boutique bakery in Panama as I knew she would help me create the cake I dreamt of. We decided on a simple white cake with white flowers and small details such as leaves in gold. The flavor was chocolate with dulce de leche filling, delicious!
My overall catering was done by the one and only Charlie Collins. Best catering in Panama! Food and desserts were all exquisite.
Before the ceremony and after the ceremony (right before the party began) we had an amazing Jazz band called C3 Project. For the party we had Truenos y Relampagos DJ’ing throughout the night. We also had a surprise musical guest. His name is Mr Saik, a famous reggeaton singer from Panama. Our guests were so excited when he began to sing, it was insane!
We didn’t have party favors per se, but for our guests that travelled from other countries we had goodie bags waiting for them at their hotel rooms. Those included snacks, water bottles, a map of El Valle, and suggestions of what to do around town. The bag was printed with our wedding crest, and served as a favour for those guests who made the long trip to Panama!
I made special cups for the bridal party and immediate family. I wanted them to feel special throughout the night and I thought that was a cute way of letting them know that they were a big part of our big day.
I made robes for the bridesmaids and handcuffs for the groomsmen.
We had flip flops for our women guests who wanted to continue partying even when their feet couldn’t take the heels any longer.
Dog Down the Aisle
Our dog, Maggie, walked down the aisle! She is a four-year-old miniature dachshund, and she is our daughter. Her leash and collar were made by hand by Rolando our wedding planner. She looked SO cute! Maggie isn’t very well behaved so we had to have someone walk her down the aisle. At first, my nephew Rafael walked her, but halfway down the aisle, my 1-and-a-half-year-old niece Ivanka decided she wanted to take her, so she took her from Rafael, and continued to walk alone with Maggie!
At 10pm we had the “hora loca” aka crazy hour, where the guests were given cute hats and props to party with. The animal hats were a complete success, all of the guests loved them so much, they took them with them. Some guests have even sent me pictures of their kids wearing the hats!
I had a little corner in the dessert area dedicated to my grandmother. She is currently 93 and was a baker before. I baked her famous prune cake and we served it at the wedding. There was a picture of her next to it. She was really excited to see it. I thought it was a great idea to honor her, and her legacy.
Not everything could be perfect… We were supposed to go to New Zealand for our honeymoon, however… when we arrived at Los Angeles for our layover and tried to check in for our next flight to Auckland, they told us we weren’t going to be able to board because we didn’t have a visa. We didn’t know we needed one, and the travel agency didn’t tell us!
However, we had to figure something out, and thankfully we ended up going to Argentina, where we had a great time. We visited Iguazu Falls, Patagonia, and Buenos Aires. Our favorite part was Patagonia for sure, but the rest was also great!
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
The best advice I can give is to not worry about the things that didn’t go as planned. The only ones who know that they are not going the way you planned is you! Guests have no idea if the flowers were supposed to be a lighter shade, or that your bouquet was supposed to be red roses. For all anyone knows, things are going exactly as planned! My wedding day went by SO fast, I can’t even explain how it was gone in a minute. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s because it’s true: ENJOY EVERY SECOND!
Ida & Joey’s little white book
Photography – Chrisman Studios and Alvaro Ching
Videography – Visu Films
Wedding planner – Rolando Domingo
Bride’s dress – Patricia Avendano found and fitted at Gaudi Novias
Bride’s shoes – Manolo Blahnik and Grezzo
Bride’s accessories – Mercurio Joyeros, Bodas Gladys and Always and Forever
Groom’s attire – Hermes
Hair + Makeup – Carlos “Tino” Silva
Band – C3 Project
DJ – Truenos y Relampagos
Catering – Charlie Collins
Cake – Carmelitas
Stationery – Tarjeteria Persa