Ok forget your to do list for a second folks and step away from the mood board for your own big day. I have a little bit of allure and tranquility for you this week to calm, revive and reignite your senses. Are you ready to be transported away?
Once described by Aldous Huxley as ‘the most beautiful lake in the world”, it doesn’t get much better than the captivating glory of volcano-fringed Lake Atitlà¡n in Guatemala. Put it this way, the location’s so good that even Tel Aviv paid a visit… I’ll let Valerie explain that one!
Both Guatemalan born, it was the perfect choice. The wedding party entered to a string quartet rendition of Home, the invitations were hand made locally, the garlands, and table dressings were all indigenous flowers, fruits and vegetables — strictly vividly coloured ones. Pastels, and in fact anything bland, was banned!
I love the whole vibe of this wedding and I’m especially drawn to that floral crown — I mean, wow – so striking and daring but so natural and simple too. It just works…
Daniel Lopez Perez’s photographs capture this rare gem of a wedding in such a crisp way that I’m sure you’ll be just as enchanted as I was by the rich colour, vivacity and freshness of this magical Central American dream.
a volcanic lake venue in the Western Highlands of Guatemala
Valerie, the Bride: We got married by Lake Atitlà¡n in Guatemala We have always gravitated more towards natural surroundings and even though we wanted to do it in some places that were further away, they were not prepared for bigger parties. Plus my mom (jokingly) threatened not to go if it meant travelling more than three hours…. (like a normal jewish mum)
a riot of colour… and no pastels allowed!
We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted our wedding to look like and feel like. Basically we wanted it not to feel too protocol-ish and we wanted to be able to celebrate as much time as we could with family and guests. We also wanted to make sure we added some of our favourite things regarding food, music, games and style. I did not have a colour scheme…the only specs for the florist was that I wanted a lot of colour and no pastels. I heard my florist say my wedding style was rustic bohemian and a bit green.
very special wedding invitations
Our invitations were very special. We had them made by Guatemala Greetings which is a small group of women that make handmade greeting cards in the rural community of Magdalena Milpas Altas, Guatemala.
We really enjoyed working with them as they personalised to perfection our cards and a portion of the sales went to buy medicine for a pediatric clinic in the same community and provided jobs. We wanted the card to be very Guatemalan and to make the guests feel that what they were about to experience was an out of the ordinary fun party. I sat down with one of the ladies and she understood perfectly what I wanted. In the end they even attached a personal note from the women that made the cards. It was an amazing experience.
designing my own wedding dress
I designed my dress myself — it was an ivory french macrame with a structured skirt on top made from a blue flower print silk. I bought the fabric in Buenos Aires, Argentina and had a seamstress make it. I had investigated and tried on some dresses but always felt something was missing…colour! I am a very colourful person but I also wanted my dress to be very elegant and to be able to transform into something more comfortable for the party. (I love to dance too).
I had a simple (no details on it) long veil topped with a wildflower crown. My earrings were shaped as blue flowers.
super cool, super comfortable wedding shoes
I wore Melissa’s Patchouli wedge pumps in cream and red and they were trendy and super comfortable. I never took my shoes off! The ceremony started at 3:30pm and the party ended at 3:30am (that ´s 12 hours of comfortable shoes!)
hair + make up
I decided to let my hair down, natural-ish looking with a braid on the side. I have really long hair and I wanted to be able to show my children and grandchildren that I had long beautiful hair when I was younger. Plus my now husband always used to tell me when we were dating that he loved my hair down. I went for a light grey smokey eye look and pink lips. I had a couple of hairdressers and makeup artists come all the way to do my, my mother ´s and my bridesmaid ´s hair and makeup.
custom bow ties for the groom’s party
Jason wore a James Bond white blazer with a black trouser tux. We contacted a local company called Korbata that uses indigenous textiles to do ties and bow ties and had bow ties made for the groom, fathers, brothers and groomsmen. It was a bow tie and matching hankie in light blue, blue and purple. We also had kippot made from an indigenous textile as well for all the men in the wedding.
three bridesmaids, three bridesgrooms, one groomsmaid and five groomsmen!
We had an interesting arrangement with bridesmaids and groomsmen. The thing is that we both have really good girl and guy friends so we decided the whole bridesmaids on the bride ´s side and groomsmen on the groom ´s side did not work for us. So we had each of our respective friends and family on each of our side. So I had three bridesmaids and three bridesgrooms and my husband had one groomsmaid and five groomsmen. The men wore a black tux with their indigenous textile bow tie, hankie and kippah. The women wore their choice of dress in ivory lace or similar fabric with a smaller version of my bouquet. For throwing the bouquet, I gathered all of their smaller bouquets and tied them to make a big one. I didn’t want to throw mine.
a bougainvillea chuppah design
I saw on pinterest a really nice design with bougainvillea and I really liked it and it was very doable because there is quite a bit of it in Guatemala.
I had a traditional wedding with the seven circles and all…with some twists. We had our parents standing inside the chuppah in front and opposite from each other. So that my parents could see me diagonally and so did his. We also chose a rabbi and his wife cantor who sang most of the blessings which was very special.
In the middle of the ceremony we had an amazing surprise. There was a “party” boat passing in front of the ceremony and the people aboard noticed it was a wedding and cheered and waved at us. The rabbi then noticed and said out loud “I don ´t know if you noticed, but the boat ´s name is ‘Tel Aviv’!” and everyone that was present laughed and enjoyed the moment very much. Also, one of Jason’s best friend made the ketubah by hand with a beautiful coloured tree painting.
music for the ceremony
The wedding party entered with a string quartet version of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and I entered with my father with a string quartet version of Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles.
“no pastels, no roses, no tropical flowers and no tall arrangements”
My wonderful florist was Decoracion Arysa and I gave her ideas and pictures of what I wanted and told her I loved sharp colours, fruits, vegetables, marigolds (which interestingly enough are used in November to celebrate the day of the dead in Guatemala..which is a happy festivity by the way).
I said no pastels, no roses, no tropical flowers and no tall arrangements. Our venue had beautiful gardens and an amazing view so why compete? We also came up with banana leaf underplates and rosemary napkin holders, an entrance with a curtain of winebottles with flowers, a wooden swing with hanging flowers, decorating kites in the food section because november is the windy month in Guatemala and people fly kites everywhere, and many other wonderful things.
our amazing photographer
We hired Daniel Lopez Perez because we wanted pictures that looked more documentary style and artsy than the usual posed ones. We saw he had done some nice work in Atitlà¡n and he actually lived there which was very convenient. We had an interview and we hit it off. So that was it!
a traditional Argentian BBQ
We hated the huge wedding buffets and we are both BBQ lovers (my parents are Argentinian and Jason is a major carnivore) so we hired an Argentinian BBQ parrillero to cook and serve traditional argentinian asado (grill) starting with the choripan, meat cuts and chivito a la cruz (goat set vertically on a cross which is nailed to the ground near the fire.)
no wedding cake… and my biggest wedding budget tip!
I did not have a cake… and I will tell you the secret to planning amazing weddings respecting your budget: Make a list of the 2-3 things that matter the most to you…and spend your budget on those! Make those amazing and make or don’t make the other less important ones. For some people it ´s the dress, invitations, food, photographer, video, cake, etc. For us it was all about the PARTY so we dropped the cake and video and spent more on food and entertainment.
we had garden games for entertainment during the cocktails (while people waited for the wedding party to take the pictures). We hired two live bands: one big band that played all the latin goodies and one that played funk and rock.
We decided to skip the first dance and save our strength in order to begin the party with a huge jewish bang! Everybody went crazy with the horas and dances.
artisanal mask favours
We had artisanal masks made that were copies of traditional wooden masks used in indigenous ceremonies in Guatemala. They were shaped as local folk animals such as monkeys, jaguars, deers,etc. We saved some of them and then hung them as decoration.
advice to other brides and grooms
Don ´t tell people about your wedding plans! If nobody knows what to expect than nobody notices when things don ´t happen or go wrong! Also enjoy it…don ´t worry if your hair is perfect or if the music started late….THIS PARTY GOES BY FAST! Everybody told me this and it is 100% true. Also pace yourself with the drink and choose comfy shoes so that you can accomplish the enjoying of the party 100%! Remember if you have a long dress people will barely see them.
VALERIE & JASON’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Daniel Lopez Perez
Venue — Hotel Atitlan
Wedding Planner — Byron Gomez
Shoes — Melissa
Flowers and decor — Decoracion Arysa
Catering — Parilla Monolo
Entertainment — Son Rumbero and The Mother Funkers
Invitations — Guatemala Greetings
Bow ties — Korbata