It all started when one of my best friends called to tell me I was coming with her to Playa Del Carmen in 4 days and she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not usually able to clear my schedule to make such a spontaneous trip possible but thankfully I was able to make it happen. I had no clue what was in store, but I couldn’t wait to find out.
We met at LAX in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, as she was connecting from Maui and had a six-hour layover before our flight together to Cancun. Her boyfriend Shaun was also along for the journey, none of us knowing what we had gotten ourselves into but as the self proclaimed three amigos, we were ready for almost anything!
Five hours later we arrived in Cancun, pretty sleepy but ready to find our shuttle to get us to our base for the next four days. As we arrived in Playa Del Carmen, we couldn’t believe how Americanized the city was with everything from The Thompson Hotel Chain and their famous restaurant, Catch, to Forever 21, to the Apple Store. Needless to say, the comforts of home were not too far, but we were determined to immerse ourselves into the culture and find an authentic Mexican breakfast. We wound up on the beach, just outside our hotel taking in breathtaking views and sipping on some local green juice while indulging in our very Mexican breakfast.
This set the stage for our adventures throughout Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum. From bartering with locals, driving dune buggies to Mayan Ruins on Cozumel, Cave Diving in Cenotes and more time discovering ruins and breathtaking beaches throughout Tulum. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much as we were determined to do as much as possible, while still enjoying the rich nightlife of Playa Del Carmen every evening.
This bring us to Saturday when my friend looks over at me during breakfast and casually mentions we were going to a wedding that evening. Sorry, what?! Wedding?! Oh man, this had to be a joke, as I knew there couldn’t have been time to RSVP for an additional guest. I mean, I’m a wedding and event producer and I’m thinking my friend would never put me in a position to crash a wedding or at least that’s what I was hoping. As I start asking questions, I’m realizing my worst fears were coming true. She wanted me to tag along having only RSVP’d for herself and a plus one, not two. How could I possibly go to this event knowing I would be one of THOSE people I really disliked at my own events, a wedding/party crasher?! How could I fix this as that’s what I do, I fix problems. Yet, I was faced with something I really couldn’t fix but simply avoid. However, avoidance was not an option as my friend was determined I was going no matter how I felt. She kept assuring me all would be okay once I met the bride. Meanwhile, I’m steadily building up with more and more anxiety not knowing how to politely (or not so politely) bow out.
As I boarded one of the 3 tour bus shuttles to the Xcaret resort (another clue how nice this wedding was going to be) where the wedding was taking place, I knew this was going to be an evening that would be hard to forget, good or bad. As we entered the resort, we were led down the most beautiful trail lined by tiki torches and jungle plants that would eventually open up to one of the most breathtaking beaches I had encountered yet. This one was so unique and meant for weddings, as the rocks had formed what could only be described as a water altar which made for a perfect setting for any bride looking to be married essentially in/on the water.
We make our way to the beach, only to be greeted by the wedding planning team asking for our names to give us our own little maraca, which also served as our (or rather their) seating assignment. I quickly avoided this area while my friends distracted the wedding team asking questions.
The wedding design was a cross of the couple’s combined style and culture. The bride was originally from TN and she contributed a very Bohemian Chic style while the groom was from Playa Del Carmen and utilized his local Mexican culture to create a perfect blend into one of the most stunning weddings I had ever seen. While dissecting the various parts of the wedding design, this only suspended my anxiety momentarily, as I started looking around counting up the costs. I mean I’m a producer and sadly that’s what happens in my mind when I attend events. I’m constantly looking at the various details and unique touches, making my want to die knowing this had to be a $200+ per head wedding.
Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, the anxiety was growing more as I was standing in this incredible wedding not knowing how I was going to explain my reason for being there aside from my friend. Soon the dinner bell was being called by a Mayan blowing on a conch shell and we were instructed to follow him as he led us to the dinner location. Well if my anxiety hadn’t reached a breaking point yet, this was going to do it as we arrived at an amphitheater like setting with a surreal cathedral neighboring it that had it’s own Cenote below the altar. Words cannot do this space justice and I won’t try but will include a photo to somewhat help demonstrate it’s unique and stunning beauty.
As we walked into the reception space, I see the moment where I can politely exit and find my way out of there before being caught as a wedding crasher. No such luck, my friend was determined to make this work and I didn’t know how it would ever be possible except that I had noticed more than a few empty seats. That said, I stood in the corner as my friends took their seats and tried to figure out the dynamic at their table. Meanwhile, I’m being filled with more and more anxiety as I see the wedding planning team has spotted me. It happened, they clocked me like any good professional should and I’m standing there with nothing but a smile while dying on the inside.
Out of nowhere, my friend comes running over with a huge smile and grabs my hand to pull me towards her table. I’m fighting her with everything I had but like every other time, she wasn’t having it and was determined to get me to the table. As I arrive, she presents me to the table and everyone welcomes me with open arms. This sounds like I should be relieved but I’m simply feeling like we’re digging the hole even deeper. I’m told to sit at the seat with the name Jess and that was that. Soon the wine and food started flowing and I’m watching the $$ build up in my mind all the while I still haven’t met or spoken to the bride and groom. My friend is continuing to assure me this is really going to be okay.
I had a hard time believing her but if their guests were any indication as to what this couple was like, I might actually survive this dreaded wedding crashing experience. Then it happened, I felt a tap on my shoulder and knew this was it, time to go, only to turn around to see the most warm and inviting, not to mention stunning bride waving at me. I was speechless. She goes on to say how happy she is that I’m there and that any friend of Steph’s is a friend of hers, so get comfortable and enjoy the party! Again, I was speechless. Could I have possibly crashed a wedding and was now being thanked for doing so? This was not reality. At a wedding in the states, this would be one of the last things I would expect one of my brides to say to a wedding crasher especially due to the stress of building their guest lists and getting their numbers to match their desired budgets. Viva la Mexico! At that moment, the party began and the night changed instantly for me both internally and externally.
Within an hour, I was being brought onto the dance floor to dance with the couple and their friends. Then the conga line started where the groom was pouring obligatory tequila shots into our mouths and drinks were being handed out like candy. This was one wedding and party I was never going to forget. The dance floor was constantly going between Mexican and American classics; you got a little bit of everything for everyone, a perfectly beautiful blend between their two cultures.
Then came the traditions, oh the traditions. I was determined to sit out this portion of the evening, as I honestly hadn’t been to a wedding I wasn’t producing in over 10+ years. So when the bride made a point to ask me to be part of the bouquet toss, I couldn’t say no but I couldn’t honestly believe I was taking part. That said, I tucked myself in the very, very back as to be there but not in the line of ‘fire.’ Well that plan failed me, as the bouquet literally hit me in the head. I crashed their wedding and now I was catching the bouquet?! This was the twilight zone and the entire place erupted in cheers and laughter. I died a little and laughed even harder. I offered it up to the other single ladies on the dance floor but no one was going to take it. So there I was, crashing a wedding, catching a bouquet from a bride I didn’t really know and it was my first opportunity to even be part of this in years; my luck of course.
Then came the garter toss and what a toss it was! I haven’t seen such an engaging and entertaining toss like this one before and was even more thankful to have caught it on camera. This culture is one that embraces the fun and sensuality that can come from traditions like this one and this groom was going the extra mile for his beautiful bride. Upon it’s conclusion, we were treated a to mariachi band performance that brought the house down. Such a unique and interactive wedding as the wedding planning team was constantly handing out various costumes, hats, sashes, lights and such to go along with whatever fun was happening on the dance floor. You could feel their energy and love throughout every part of this wedding from beginning to end. I kept thinking to myself, I couldn’t wait to share this experience and carry on the love and light that we were all so lucky to be part of this special evening.
So with that, thank you Kelly & Agustin for welcoming me in and allowing me to be part of this incredible experience. I can only imagine the life ahead of you both and if your wedding day was any indicator as to the rest of your life, you two are lucky to have found each other. Thank you Stephanie and Shaun for making me join you and being the best wedding dates a girl could ask for. I hope everyone out there has a friend like Steph who knows when to stop you and knows when to push you but most importantly can bring you laughter that truly touches and heals your soul even in the MOST uncomfortable experiences. Until next time….