As featured on Martha Stewart Weddings.
Sharing this gallery with all of you is extra special to me. With all our weddings, it is always part of my purpose to become good friends with our couples (something that comes naturally, not forced). But then, with Fernando and Kevin the level of chemistry was just insane. I can genuinely say I LOVE THEM so dearly, and that I had an absolute blast planning their celebration.
In a much deeper way, serving a same-sex couple was something I wanted to do since the beginning of my career, but hadn’t had an opportunity to do so. Finally being presented with the opportunity to orchestrate their celebration…. folks, this was 100% personal to me.
To introduce this fabulous visual recap of their day, I want to let their words take you a bit through their journey.
“We met on a warm night in June of 2011 in Manhattan, where we were both attending college. That was the last first date either of us ever had to go on. Over the past 8 years, we’ve seen each other through undergrad and graduate school, some very difficult losses of loved ones, raised a neurotic dachshund, and merged our friends and families into a fabulous circle of support.
After Fernando proposed in Paris at the beginning of the Summer of 2018, we spent several months mulling over the type of wedding we wanted. Ultimately, I pushed for the wedding to take place in the Dominican Republic, where Fernando’s family is from. Seeing the quality of Claire’s work and the unique position she held to pull off a destination wedding of this caliber, Fernando had no doubt she’d be the perfect fit. We shared a similar serendipitous feeling upon touring the amphitheater at Casa de Campo—as if it was made for us. Ultimately, with Claire’s help, we were able to execute the wedding of our dreams: modern and minimalist with an elegant flare, sophisticated and charming but with drag queens and a drum line. It was the most fun and most beautiful night of our lives.”
Now, let me take you through this AMAZING gallery by Lance Nicoll. It starts with some landscapes from Altos de Chavón, a 16th century mediterranean villa replica by Casa de Campo, followed by two beach sessions at Minitas Beach with Fernando and Kevin the day before their wedding.
Their day arrives. March 14th 2020 — just as the pandemic is becoming a widespread serious issue. We all knew that this was the last wedding we’d be doing for a while. A few guests drop last minute, but overall, with cautious, we proceed. Looking back, it truly feels surreal. Nobody could have imagined that the day after the world (for us in this side of the world) was going to change so drastically.
But I digres…
One of the things we love about doing weddings in Casa de Campo, is that we have not only their incredibly beautiful venues for us to use for the events, but also hundreds and hundreds of private villas, many of which can be used for events, with a special permit. While Fernando and Kevin knew very well that they wanted to do their ceremony at Chavón (that mediterranean villa I mentioned above), they also wanted to find a modern and minimalist villa that represented that aspect of their aesthetic for the reception to happen there. As such, we enlisted the services of our friends of Mr Luxury Villas to find them the perfect spot. This villa ended up doubling as the event villa as well as their place to get ready. Below, we show you that process of their getting ready, as well as their first look and portraits (including family and closest friends) at Altos de Chavón.
A few of my favorite things from this next gallery section:
Kevin’s cufflinks had the names of his late mother and his aunt, and Fernando’s cufflinks had the name of his late sister.
Fernando designed all the stationery. And he NAILED IT!
Fernando’s Alexander McQueen suit and Kevin’s Lapel Laureate custom tux. pardon the stereotype, but these guys REALLY KNOW how to dress to impress. I was blown away for how extra handsome they looked.
The love and support of their families.
The colorful explosion of all their friends.
Enough preamble. Let’s move into the Ceremony now. There’s so much to cover!
The ceremony happened in the Amphitheater of Altos de Chavón. I won’t even attempt to describe this masterful architectural creation and let the photos do all the talking, but for a reason was this place inaugurated by no-one else than Sinatra. There’s that.
The ceremony took place on the stage, which has a semi-circular shape. I had seen so many wedding there with a typical setup, but all my creative brain cells were asking me to go round and work with the natural composition of the space, to lead to what felt to me like a more harmonious setting. The space was calling for it us to create that “circle of love”, and the guys were all in. So in the ceremony their guests were surrounding them, and I truly love how it turned out.
Kevin’s brother, Colin, took the role of officiating the ritual. And one of its sweetest aspects of it all was that one of the poems that were read was from their late mother’s journal.
At the end of the ceremony, the grooms exited the stage by going up the steps of the Amphitheater, and there they joined Lance for a few additional portraits, before they rejoined the party with their guests, who were enjoying Cocktail Hour around the perimeter of the top of the theater, entertained by singer Luana Ruff. Catering from Casa de Campo is always “on point”, and in this occasion guests were able to enjoy hors d’oeuvre options like cucumbers with goat cheese and fresh mint, fish ceviche with casava, and rice croquettes.
After the Cocktail Hour, the grooms and their guests we transported via shuttles to the private villa where the reception was going to be held.
The floorplan consisted on three long tables that led up to the lounge area, dancefloor and stage. A clear tent-roof, palm trees galore, frog style minimal floral arrangement and candle-light all made the perfect atmosphere for the party, that culminated in an epic Drag Hora Loca (entertainment hour) performance (which was hard to get in a conservative society, but worth every single second of the research effort).
Some of my favorite details were:
All the reception stationary designed by Fernando
The cake circle panel (another thing I knew they’d love from the minute it popped my brain). We played with the slope of the field, so people would see it perfectly through the whole when standing or sitting from the tent.
Their souvenirs, which were room perfumes that they specially sourced and bottled in personalized containers.
The amazing menu by Casa de Campo, which included rise with coconut, fresh fish fillet with estragon sauce, beef fillet with chimichurri sauce, and so many other delicious options.
Fernando’s mother STUNNING Balmain dress.
The tropical china from Divano, and the white rectangular linens in the type of fabric that my very picky self likes, and that they sourced especially for this event (thank you!!!)
The high and clear structures of Vialx, always making each one of my events be protected from the very unpredictable tropical rain, yet letting my clients and guests feel fully in the open.
It’s impossible not to keep choosing. But I’ll stop to not make your read any longer. I know you want to get to the photos.
A few final fun? facts:
Their wedding was on March 14th, 2020, literally the last weekend before the COVID crisis exploded in the Americas. Many guests had to rush to the airport next day before the DR closed flights.
The grooms stayed in Casa de Campo for a week after their wedding for a mini honeymoon. During their stay the hotel shut down and became a ghost town. They stayed out in a private villa and made it back to NY in one of the final flights available.
If I can do it all again, I’d do it and exactly the same. This event was simply epic, and I couldn’t have asked for a better closing of our pre-Covid era.
I am forever grateful to Fernando and Kevin for having trusted me and my team with one of the most special days in their lives, for their love, and friendship. I am incredibly glad that we, together with the rest of the fab team below, were able to give you the day you always wanted!
Hope you all loved this wedding gallery as much as we did!
Wedding Credits: Wedding Planning and Design Claire Duran Weddings & Events Photography Lance Nicoll Photography Venue & Catering Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic POC: Masiel González Specific locations within Casa de Campo: Beach Portraits: Minitas Beach Ceremony and Cocktail Hour: Altos de Chavón - Amphitheater Reception: Private Villa via Mr Luxury Villa Fashion Groom 1 Wedding Look: Alexander McQueen (suit) Toga Archives (loafer) Zana Bayne (harness) Groom 1 Beach Portraits Look: Eckhaus Latta (shirt) Sies Marjan (pants) Groom 2 Wedding Look: MTM suit by Lapel Laureate Aquatalia (oxfords) Groom 2 Beach Portraits Look: Sies Marjan (shirt and pants) Mother of Groom 1 Balmain (gown) Louboutin (sandals) Kay Unger (cape jumpsuit) Valentino (studded mules) Fathers and Best Man/ Officiant / Brother of Groom 2: The Black Tux Flowers A collaboration between: Claire Duran Weddings & Events AND Carmona Decor Punta Cana Rentals Divano Wedding Stationery Fernando Taveras (one of the grooms) Production (sound, staging, tent, lighting) Vialx Cocktail Hour Singer Luana Ruff Reception Band Glamband Reception DJ Joeury Durán Decor Panels/Stands Manuel Vasquez Photobooth Flipea Drag Queen & Drummers Performers (Hora Loca) Drag Klembert Fierce