Imagine saying your vows on a beautiful beach with the sound of waves crashing nearby, surrounded by family and friends. That's exactly what Courtney and Mike did for their wedding in Cabo, and it was truly a magical experience. We sat down with Courtney to hear all about their love story and the details of their special day, from the stunning outfits to the unforgettable dancing that lasted long into the night. Get ready to be inspired.
How did you meet?
Mike and I met in high school. I transferred to a new school my sophomore year of high school and only knew a handful of people. As a way to make friends (and meet cute boys) I became the manager of the school's soccer team with a friend of mine. Mike was captain of the soccer team so we spent a lot of time together before and after practices and games. We had our first kiss at homecoming and have been together ever since. In September it will be 13 years!
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Mike and I now live in New York City together in the West Village. We love trying new restaurants around the city and going for walks with our Cavapoo named Tenley, which is named after Tenleytown, a neighborhood in Washington D.C. where our high school is located. Mike is a lawyer and I am a talent manager. I started my own management company CLR MGMT.
Can you share your engagement story?
Mike pulled off the most incredible surprise ever. We went on a trip with some friends to celebrate Mike finishing law school for a long weekend. Mike had been planning to propose that weekend for a long time - he got help from my three best friends who were on the trip with us to plan the biggest surprise ever. Mike always told me he didn’t want to propose in front of people so I didn’t think it would happen that weekend. At sunset, Mike planned for us to go to the beach to get drinks before dinner. We had the best day on the beach relaxing and hanging out, and when it came time for sunset it started pouring. I really didn’t want to go out in the rain and tried canceling the evening plans! Eventually I was convinced to go and when I got to the beach there was the most beautiful setup and he got down on one knee! Little did I know that he had planned for both of our families to fly out and witness the whole thing. When I turned around after he proposed I saw both of our families walking towards us! I have never been so surprised in my life, and I’ve never cried harder in my life. It was the best! We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating with our family and friends.
Where was your wedding? Why did you choose this venue?
We got married at Esperanza, a resort in Cabo, Mexico. I had always envisioned having a wedding on the beach, and we also knew that we wanted to have a destination wedding. One of our biggest wishes was for our friends and family to gather and spend an entire weekend together so that everyone could develop deeper relationships that would last into the future. That way, we could enjoy more time with our loved ones not just at the wedding, but on many occasions to come. Once we knew that we wanted to have a beach wedding at a destination, we quickly focused on trying to find a date at Esperanza. We had been going to Esperanza together for many years - we even have pictures together right where we got married when we were 16 years old! We knew the resort had the perfect layout to host an entire wedding weekend all in one place.
How long did it take to plan your wedding? Did you encounter any challenges during the planning process?
We got engaged in June of 2022 and our wedding was on April 1, 2023. We picked our wedding date in August of 2022 and started planning right away. Honestly, our planners were incredible and helped us so much throughout the entire process. I FaceTimed them all the time (I realize this isn’t normal but we basically became family!). They were the best and made the process very smooth.
How many guests did you have? And what was the seating arrangement at the wedding like?
We had about 140 guests. Our seating arrangements were honestly one of our favorite parts about the venue. We had dinner and the reception at Cocina Del Mar, the restaurant at Esperanza. It’s so beautiful and some of the tables were situated on the cliffs overlooking the water. It was spectacular.
Our tables were separated into distinct areas of the restaurant that followed the natural shape of the cliffs. As a result, we didn’t have much flexibility to change table sizes or layouts, so we had to be really creative and thoughtful about where we sat each of our guests. Although at first it was a challenge, we ended up really enjoying the process because it pushed us to be extra thoughtful about where we could seat people to maximize connections, help develop new friendships, and deepen existing relationships. In the end, we loved being so meticulous and thoughtful about the seating arrangements.
Tell us about your outfits. How many different styles have you tried?
I always knew I wanted a dress with long sleeves and a low back, so it made the process really easy. I ended up getting my dress at Mark Ingram in New York. I wore Ines Di Santo's Chiara Dress. At the reception, I changed into a dress I bought four days before the wedding. I had originally planned to wear a different outfit but saw the Strapless Mini from NDS The Label and needed it. I emailed the company and begged them to overnight it to me, and they were incredible and rush shipped it! It was amazing, and I was obsessed.
Mike wore a Ralph Lauren white dinner jacket. He looked so handsome! His dad wore a white dinner jacket to his wedding, and his brother-in-law wore a white dinner jacket when he married Mike’s older sister. It has been really special to form a sort of tradition for the grooms to wear white dinner jackets so that each occasion marking the growth of our family feels connected. In particular, the wedding photos from each celebration all have a nice symmetry and echo one another. We hope to continue this tradition in the future!
For jewelry, I wore Mike’s grandmother’s beautiful diamond earrings. She unfortunately passed away a couple of months before the wedding, so it was really important to me to wear something of hers that day.
On Friday night at our welcome party, I wore a two-piece set by Kyha, an Australian wedding designer. I fell in love when I tried it on and knew I needed to wear it at some point over the wedding weekend. I wore a Christopher Esber skirt to our pool party, with a bikini from Asta Resort. On Sunday brunch, I wore a dress from Jill Sander and a bathing suit under it from my best friend's swimwear company, Tagged Swim!
Were there national/religious traditions at your wedding and how did you implement them?
We were married under a chuppah and had Mike’s great-grandfather’s tallit and my tallit from my bat mitzvah above us.
What was your first dance song? Did you choreograph or improvise?
Our first dance song was "Sunrise" by Norah Jones. We’ve been listening to Norah Jones our whole relationship, so it made the decision very easy. Mike’s brother’s girlfriend is a professional dancer, and we had her choreograph our first dance. It made the process very fun, special, and collaborative. We are so grateful for her help.
One takeaway from our experience with the first dance was to bring as many family members into the whole wedding process as possible, ideally in distinct parts of the wedding. We know that might sound crazy, but finding ways to involve many different people brought us closer to our family and gave us a unique memory with each to take away from the weekend. Now when we think about our first dance, we also remember all the fun video chats with Mike’s brother and his girlfriend when they were trying to make sure Mike didn’t step on my feet!
Did you incorporate any special performances or entertainment into your wedding?
We were fortunate to have my dad, who is an incredible drummer and toured with Buddy Rich in his twenties, play a few songs with our band. Mike and I danced on stage while our friends danced around us, making it one of the highlights of the night.
Did you provide guests with any special gifts, and if so, what were they?
For our guests, we had custom candles made by A Candle For, with our logo branded on them, along with custom matches. We also gave out beach bags and baseball hats at the pool party.
Were there any unique or special elements at your wedding?
We had signature cocktails for each event, but my favorite was the Espresso Mar-Tenny, named after our dog Tenley.
What was the most memorable moment from your wedding day?
Our entire ceremony was the most memorable part of the wedding day. Our dads officiated together, with our moms standing by their sides, incorporating personal touches that made the ceremony feel uniquely ours. We also wrote our own vows, which were meaningful and emotional, leaving not a dry eye in the house.
On a lighter note, another memorable aspect of the weekend was our branding efforts. It was important to me to come up with fun ways to incorporate our logo throughout the weekend, even branding it onto tortillas and bread rolls. Our guests loved the personal touch and they now have keepsakes at home to remind them of the weekend. It was a small detail that made a big impact, and we had a lot of fun with it!
Can you elaborate on some of the vendors that contributed to your wedding day?
Our wedding planners, Lynette and Alejandra from Lynette Dow Events, were truly amazing. They made the planning process so much fun and organized, bringing all of our ideas to life and making sure that everything was just perfect. They went above and beyond to ensure that our vision for the day was executed flawlessly, and were always available to answer any questions we had.
Our photographer, Bailey, was also exceptional. She took the time to get to know us before the wedding, which made us feel so much more comfortable with her on the day. Her talent behind the camera and her kind, funny personality helped make our wedding day that much more special. We are thrilled with the photos she captured of our special day.
In addition to our planners and photographer, my stepmother Nadia, who owns Say Hello Designs, helped us create our unique and personalized paper goods. Her attention to detail and investment in the process resulted in beautiful keepsakes that we will cherish forever. She even designed our "C palmtree M" logo that we used to brand everything and that our guests still talk about!
Lastly, our band, Downbeat, based in LA, was phenomenal. They played all the hits and did an amazing job of keeping the party going all night long. They even welcomed us up on stage when Courtney's dad was drumming and came down off the stage to interact with the crowd. They were truly incredible and helped make our wedding day unforgettable.
What advice would you give to couples who are currently planning their wedding?
Our biggest piece of advice would be to really be fully present for, and engaged in, the whole planning process, and to enjoy each and every moment. It is such an incredible privilege to be planning such a special and happy occasion. Even though in every wedding planning process there will always be unforeseen challenges, stressful decisions, and heartbreaking elements that don’t work out, getting to envision and then build a dream day with people you love, for people you love, is such an exciting period of life. After the planning is all over, you might even find that you miss stressing about what color flowers should be in the centerpieces or who should be sitting at which table. So our best advice would be to deeply engage with each and every detail during the process! Be creative, visualize your dream wedding, and do your best to bring it to life!
And then when it comes time for the wedding itself - don’t let anything take you away from being fully present! Things will definitely not go according to plan, or things might not turn out exactly as you had envisioned. But your guests won’t know that, and your guests will still think it’s a beautiful occasion. Don’t let things get in the way of you being fully present, and holding onto the memories that you are making that day. Walk down the aisle slowly, say your vows slowly, listen to every word of the ceremony carefully, notice each and every little detail of your husband or bride’s outfit - this will help you hold onto vivid memories of your special day!
Friday Florist: @marthalomeliweddings
Courtney Wedding Bands: custom @bondeyejewelry