Olivia and Keith's Dia de los Muertos Beach Wedding
Like many couples, Olivia Baniuszewicz and Keith Pollock met at a bar. But it wasn't until a few weeks later that the initial spark turned into a flame—well, let's just call it a campfire, since they were on a camping trip in Pennsylvania. Keith asked her out that summer night, while in a tent with Olivia and two of her girlfriends.
Back home in New York City, the first date was a bit less of an adventure—as she was sick and the plans included a juice and a walk on the Highline. But five years later, on November 1, 2014, their voyage continued with 90 guests on the beach in Mexico at Be Tulum Hotel. Coinciding with Dia de los Muertos, the stylish destination getaway incorporated the holiday theme, plus local elements, the bride's bohemian aesthetic, and a beachy vibe. With the whole hotel rented out, it was an intimate weekend with loved ones together in the same piece of paradise.
Bievenidos a Mexico
Guests were welcomed to Mexico with tote bags that read "I Heart Tulum" and sported the couple's hashtag. Inside was a collection of goodies including water, sunscreen, tequila, bug repellent, chips, gum, and a guide to the area.
The couple discovered Tulum early in their relationship, and it's one of their favorite places to escape to for a long weekend. "We both love tequila, Mexican food, and authentic locales," Olivia says of the city they chose for their destination wedding.
Olivia wore a custom long-sleeve lace Erdem dress with an open back and high neckline, white Prada T-strap sandals, and a crown of fresh orchids. She carried a bouquet of white ranunculus and asters made by Xochitl.
The bride accessorized with gold bracelets and diamond earrings and gave her mother a "no ugly crying" handkerchief she found in the Etsy shop WrenBirdArts.
Keith wore custom Stubbs and Wootton slippers embroidered with his monogram.
The Bridal Party
Olivia's bridesmaids chose their own gowns. "We left it up to them, and they all looked great," the bride recalls.
Bridesmaids were given white floral crowns instead of bouquets.
The Head Coverings
Gray suede yarmulkes with the couple's names and wedding date were ordered from Mazel Tops.
Flower petals and painted rocks lined the aisle of the beach ceremony.
Keith and his parents, Carol and Mark, walked down the aisle together.
Walking With Dad
Olivia and her father, Leslaw, entered the ceremony as "Eyes Closed" by the Narrative played.
For the ceremony, a chuppah was constructed using a piece of lace brought back from Poland (where a big portion of the bride's family still resides). It also included hanging feathers, tropical flowers, and leaves.
The couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves during the late-afternoon service.
The Ring Bearer
Keith's nephew Max served as ring bearer, carrying the bands down the beach in a sand-filled bowl.
Footloose and Fancy Free
A shoe check was set up so guests could swap their footwear for flip-flops.
Portraits on the Beach
The newlyweds took photos on the beach before sunset.
Ceviche, adobo chicken, guacamole, and shrimp and avocado tostados were some of the appetizers that were served.
What's for Dinner
The menus were another collaboration between Happy Menocal and Betsy Dunlap, with illustrations of several ingredients surrounding the outline of the evening's feast.
The Mexican meal kicked off with a selection of salads, including one showcasing a local cactus, and entrées consisted of shrimp tacos, flank steak tacos, huitlacoche and cheese empanadas, tamales with red sauce, beef puntas, chicken with cream, chile strips, Mexican rice, and enchiladas suizas.
All of the servers at the hotel had their faces painted to keep in line with the Dia de los Muertos theme of the night.
Custom Krazy Straws were made with words like "amaze," "bueno," and "babe" and placed in coconuts set out during cocktail hour.
The Escort Cards
Calligraphed cards outlined guests' seating assignments and were paired with friendship bracelets. "I'm known for always bringing back friendship bracelets from my travels for my girlfriends," Olivia says. "This was a nice way to bring everyone together, let them know what they mean to us, and implement a bit of our personalities into the details."
Long tables were set with runners, candles, and arrangements of spray roses, ranunculus, anemones, lisianthus, and assorted greenery.
A small flan cake was dressed up with Keith's grandmother's vintage topper—which was also used at all of her children's weddings.
After a first dance to "Stay With You" by Tarrus Riley (a nontraditional reggae love song), the dancing and partying continued with lots of contemporary and pop music played by New York City-based DJ Foto—including old-school Britney Spears and tunes by Kid Cudi, Jay-Z, and Taylor Swift.
A Photo Op
"The social media manager in me made sure to create perfect photo ops for people," Olivia (a social media and digital content manager) says. This teepee was a big hit. Guests also popped in to the photo booth where they posed with Dia de los Muertos props.
In addition to flan, chocolate mousse and mango soup were offered up for dessert. A churro cart was also set up on the beach. A bunch of Keith's friends ran to the beach when they spotted it and started chanting "Churro cart! Churro cart!" until they plugged in the lights. "It was kind of hilarious watching a bunch of grown men get so excited," Olivia says. Everyone in the party slowly migrated to the beach for late-night sweets and a bonfire on the sand where the festivities continued into the wee hours.
Photography: Luke & Katherine Griffin of Max & Friends
Location and Catering: Be Tulum Hotel
Planning: Destination Weddings Tulum
Officiant: Rabbi Stephen Spiegel
Hair and Makeup: The Makeup Pros
Churro Cart: Manuel Lara and Flor Maldonado