Exchanging vows in Tulum, Mexico, an oasis surrounded by azure waters and sun bleached patinas, Natalia & Clay’s wildly romantic ceremony began barefoot, the iridescent Caribbean sea their backdrop.
Magnetised by the lustre of the ocean, Natalia opted for raw styling elements, cohesive with the natural surrounds. Textures of wood and elegantly white botanicals were used for the arbour.
Bringing to life the idea of an ethereal, yet relaxed Summer reception, the outdoor celebration unfolded beneath the stars. Canopies of fairy lights swung gently above white washed tablescapes, subtly styled with textural elements of glass, white blooms and candlelight..
Documented by LANE handpicked photographers, Forged In The North
NAMES: Natalia Pinto & Clay Maffett
WEDDING DATE: April 9, 2016
GUEST NUMBERS: 140
HOW WE MET: One Sunday in October 2010, Clay accompanied his roommate (a Washington Redskins fan) to watch NFL football at Red Jack’s Saloon, a noteable “Redskins” bar in San Francisco. Natalia, being a Washington, D.C. native, was there to watch the game with friends, as well. Clay noticed Natalia the moment he stepped in the bar, but before he could work up the courage to talk to her, she walked up to him, handed him a pen and paper, and said “want to sign up for a SF Redskins fan club?” Clay replied, “I’m a Falcons fan,” and thought he’d ask Natalia for her number later in the day. This was not a good decision, however, because Natalia left the bar before he ever had a chance to talk to her again.
Fate stepped in the following weekend when, despite a rainy forecast, we both decided to skip watching football in favor of visiting the German Tourist Club’s fall festival in Muir Woods. Pilsners in hand, we recognized each other beneath our raincoat hoods and mutually acknowledged the bizarreness of both being in the rainy forest at the same time before exchanging numbers. Then we fell in love.
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Clay’s parents have a beautiful lake house in the Appalachian Mountains in Northern Georgia near the North Carolina/Georgia border. Natalia’s parents came to visit the weekend before the Fourth of July last year to meet Clay’s parents for the first time. Everyone except for Natalia knew Clay had the ring, but no one knew when he was going to ask the question. After dinner one night, just the two of us went out to the dock for some wine, and Clay asked Natalia under the light of a full moon if she’d be his wife. She said yes. Everyone was elated when we told them in the morning, and a group of our friends from San Francisco joined us the next day to for weekend long celebration of the 4th and our engagement. It was an unforgettable week.
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Marriage to us means friendship. We’re a team, and we’re taking life on together. Marriage means family. It’s important that we’ve been embraced by and become part of each other’s existing families, so that the family we create ourselves is part of the whole. Marriage means fun. Whether traveling or just sitting on the couch, we try to laugh and enjoy ourselves as often as possible. The best way to be happy is to create happiness.
WEDDING LOCATION: Tulum is a magical town, filled with myth, majestic nature, and an unrivaled beach. It embodies so much of what we care about. When visiting some of Natalia’s family in Mexico last year, we decided after some friends’ recommendations to make a quick 24-hour jaunt down to Tulum, and we fell in love with the place. It’s rustic and “off the grid,” which matches our love for camping and nature. Its boutique stores are great for leisurely shopping while walking up the main road, and the boutique hotels are perfect for relaxing and feeling closer to the community, not to mention the extraordinary cuisine. We wanted to share this incredible place with our friends and family and establish our own mini community there for a week long celebration.
We were incredibly lucky to have found Casa Malca as our venue for reasons that are too many to count. The nine bedroom home and adjoining hotel rooms are set along a private beach amidst the lush Yucatan jungle and marry three inspiring elements — art, nature, and laid-back luxury. New York gallerist Lio Malca is the man behind the hotel which is filled with contemporary artwork, including a sculpture by Kaws and a restaurant donned in Keith Haring print wallpaper.
The architecture, rooms, artwork, food, drinks, pool, and beach are all terrific, but one of the biggest standouts was the hotel staff. They made us feel welcome, appreciated, and at ease. Many of the wedding guests stayed at Malca and loved it as well. We plan on spending our future anniversaries there for years to come.
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THEME/STYLE: When one enters Tulum for the first time it’s impossible not to be captivated by the enchanting ambiance of the hotels, stores and community nestled in the jungle. The feeling is hard to describe. We wanted to elevate the natural elements of Tulum and the unique ambiance of Casa Malca to something create different and ephemeral, based around the idea of having a formal affair on the beach. Our theme’s focus was very much on the magic of the ocean, the moon, and a touch of whimsy – at one point I explained my vision as Marrakech meets Tulum for a Truman Capote Black and White ball. There is something romantic about wearing a gown and drinking champagne barefoot with the sand between your toes and the waves crashing nearby.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Forged in the North photographed our wedding. Heidi and Ryan are an incredible husband+wife duo out of NYC. We’d seen and admired their work online and are incredibly lucky to have had them join us in Tulum. Not only are they basically the best photographers ever (just look at their work), but they’re truly amazing people to spend time with, and our wedding benefited not only from the memories they captured, but from their presence in the festivities.
BRIDE’S DRESS:I fell in love with a dress made by the talented Berta Bridal and worked with the special team from Bridal Galleria in San Francisco to get it ordered and fitted. With a sheer lace bodice and impeccable beading, the dress felt elegant, somewhat Spanish in style and represented the theme I envisioned for the wedding. I surprised myself when I actually liked the detachable train, something not very beach’esque, but the idea of having a surprise element to the dress during the ceremony made me smile. I changed for the dance party into a comfortable Mara Hoffman dress.
BRIDESMAID’S SHOES: All of my friends have great style and I asked them to wear whatever they felt the most beautiful and comfortable in.
FLOWERGIRLS/PAGEBOY OUTFITS: My three amazing nieces, Emilia, Amalia, and Ximena, wore crisp, white, broderie anglaise knee length dresses and donned delicate flower crowns. Our two dapper and adorable ring bearers, Matias and Agustin, wore traditional Mexican Guayabera button down shirts with linen khakis.
WEDDING RINGS: Natalia’s engagement ring is an almost-square cushion cut diamond in a 4-prong solitaire setting. The platinum band is ¾ pavé. Her wedding band is an estate channel set standing Baguette diamond eternity band. Clay’s band is medium-width hammered platinum.
JEWELRY/ ACCESSORIES: Natalia wore simple diamond drop earrings. Clay wore vintage sterling silver Aztec calendar cufflinks. We had the most incredible custom-made fox masks that we wore throughout the event.
GROOMSMEN ATTIRE:The groomsmen wore white dinner jackets with black tuxedo pants, cummerbund and bowtie. The groom and best man wore Ralph Lauren jackets with floral bowties and pocket squares made by Neck and Tie Co.
MAKEUP: I worked with the insanely talented Zoë Elizabeth who did my makeup for the rehearsal dinner and ceremony. I wanted something fresh, natural and dewy with lots of lashes, peachy toned cheeks and a somewhat vibrant peachy lip. It turned out perfectly.
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: I designed our stationary, which featured a textured background of the ocean taken from one of my mother’s oil paintings. Our stationary featured a triple moon logo with a silhouette of our dog Sgt. Pepper, who joined us at the wedding.
FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could create meaningful, fun, and useful welcome guest bags. I designed cream bags with an illustration of the palapa tipis that are spread throughout Casa Malca’s property. In these we placed personal typewritten welcome letters, water, local treats, and other fun Mexican games. My mother Anamario Hernandez, who is an incredible artist, completely surprised me when she made over 100 small oil paintings for each guest – a ocean landscape that she has perfected over time. This oil painting was the backdrop for all of our stationery, so this was a really special touch that tied everything together. My mother is also known for her unique necklaces. They feature a circular oil painting of the ocean that is enclosed within an antique pocket watch that’s also partially filled with sand, small shells, and sometimes tiny diamonds and pearls. She made and gifted these necklaces to my bridesmaids and flower girls. During the reception, we had a beautifully decorated escort table that was filled with personalized tequila bottles from a family tequileria.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: We wanted the floral decor and bouquets to be minimalist and sophisticated while taking a queue from the natural environment. For my bouquet, simplicity best complemented my detailed dress. I chose a Calla lily bouquet tied in linen. For the bridesmaid bouquets, we went for longer stemmed bouquets filled with white ranunculus and peppered with green leaves made of eucalyptus. The groomsmen’s boutonnieres matched these. Green leaves and white flowers filled the reception area. The tables featured greenery and white flowers placed in antique glass bottles and speckled with some buganvillas to add a touch of color.
VIDEOGRAPHY: Natalia works for GoPro and we decided that instead of getting a videographer, we would distribute GoPro’s to friends and family so that they could help capture everything.
PREPARATION: Clay and I woke up early to the view of the ocean from our master suite at Casa Malca and had about 3 hours of downtime before get-ready time. Clay, Anderson (our officiant), and I took some time to ourselves to talk about the ceremony before we all went our separate ways, Clay with his groomsmen and me to the master suite to hang-out and start hair and makeup with my bridesmaids and close family. It was such an awesome and special afternoon. One of the coolest parts of the day was that our balcony had a direct view of where the ceremony and reception were going to take place, so it was incredible to see it all come together up to the moment I walked down the stairs towards the aisle.
CEREMONY DÉCOR/ RECEPTION DÉCOR:The ceremony was on the beach in front of the main house. The decor was very organic and played into the overall theme of the wedding and Casa Malca’s vibe. Guests entered through the main entrance walking on a path of persian rugs, through giant wooden doors towards the beach. We had a triangular tipi’esque arch that was draped in greenery and set atop a gorgeous rug. From the ceremony, guests moved to the restaurant/pool area for cocktail hour. We had an awesome escort card table that featured miniature animals for each guest that corresponded with their table (we chose to name our tables after collective nouns, i.e. A Memory of Elephants or a Wobble of Ostrich)
Dinner was in front of the main house on the beach under trees that were strung with twinkling lights creating a moody glow. The reception/dancing was in front of Casa Malca’s bar, with a huge disco ball floating in mid air above a dance party that lasted until 4 am. We had lounge vignettes of pouf cushions, couches, and chairs spread throughout the area for people to relax in (one of Casa Malcas palapa tipi’s had a bunch of pillows and rugs inside it to create a private chill area).
WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: We worked with Kerry Beach from Kerry Beach Events to help bring our vision for the style of the wedding to life. She has lots of connections with local companies in Tulum and helped source the best vendors to bring everything together.
WEDDING SONGS:Pre-Ceremony: Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats (Acoustic) Processionals: Steve Winwood - Higher Love (Acoustic) Bride Processional: Canon in D (Acoustic) Recessional: Lindsey Buckingham - Never Going Back Again (Acoustic). First Dance: Queen - You’re My Best Friend.
ENTERTAINMENT:Music is insanely important to both Clay and I and was at the top of our priority list. We wanted to not only pay homage to the local culture through live music but to also keep the energy up and our guests dancing until the wee hours of the evening through methodically chosen tunes. Enter Mogo Mogo and DJ FLO.We came across Mogo Mogo on YouTube during a quest to discover the best local Tulum musicians, and in our opinion, we found them. They play a high-energy style of regional folk music called Son Jarocho, and they far exceeded our expectations. They played throughout dinner – multiple breakout dance parties ensued as they played. For the reception, DJ Flo from NYC spun a wide variety of old and new tracks until 4am. Kerry introduced us to FLO, and we are so grateful that he was able to spin for us. We talked to him in the weeks leading up to the wedding about the types of music we listen to and wanted to hear during the reception, and he did an amazing job of using that foundation to build the night’s musical selections and create an awesome dance party.
FOOD & BEVERAGES: When planning food and drinks, we wanted to make sure our guests were never hungry or thirsty, with an open bar that went until the party ended and food being served throughout the evening we think we succeded. Cocktail hour featuerd some small canapes, and for the dinner we opted for a family style three course experience that was planned by Casa Malca’s incredible chef Simone.
HONEYMOON:We are both lovers of adventure, nature, camping, and discovering unique places to sleep. After strongly considering Japan, South Africa, and South America, we landed on magical Chile. We explored the southern Patagonian landscape and Atacama desert, staying with Tierra Hotels in each location. Tierra offers an all inclusive experience, including a wide variety of guided excursions to choose from. Each excursion we went on was beautiful, informative, and fun. We rented a car for a not-so-quick detour to the Magic Mountain, a hotel that looks like it came from the mind of J.R.R. Tolkien, found in the middle of the Huilo Huilo Reserva Biológica - part of the central Patagonian rainforest.
GIFT REGISTRY: We decided to register on Zola.com, a new registry platform that really provides a lot of flexibility around selecting registry items.
CELEBRANT: Our dear friend Overton Anderson Currie III.
READINGS: We wrote our own vows, which is something we will forever be grateful that we decided to do. Some of our readings included: an excerpt taken from Le Petit Prince that discusses what it means to tame something; an incredibly touching passage found in Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass that speaks to eternal love; and some words of wisdom Kurt Vonnegut shared about the importance of being in the present and acknowledging happiness. Lastly, our officiant incorporated a reading from late American astronomer Carl Sagan about the cosmos, life, and love.
ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: We brought our awesome dog Sgt. Pepper with us! She’s the best and played a role in the ceremony, leading everyone in during the processional.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: Coincidentally, I actually found a lot of my inspiration from The LANE , in addition to Pinterest. I also found inspiration in iconic parties from times past, ie Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: So many memorable moments, the ceremony being the number one. Some other standout moments included Clay singing a Ben Folds song called The Luckiest during dinner. I will cherish that moment forever. The speeches were also so heartfelt and touching.
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE…Enjoy every moment, and don’t let yourself get caught up in the details. Relax and roll with things the day of the wedding. Things will go wrong and/or not how you planned, and that’s okay, things go by so quickly and you owe it to yourself to take it all in and enjoy it.
CLAY & NATALIA'S CONTACTS:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Forged in the North
BRIDE’S SHOES: Prada
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: Two Birds Bridesmaid
JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES: Custom Masks
HAIR: Alex Corbanezi
CATERING: Casa Malca
WEDDING PLANNER: Kerry Beach
WEDDING VENUE: Casa Malca
HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Chile, Tierra Hotels
GIFT REGISTRY: Zola