It Doesn't Get More Epic Than This Couple's Amphitheater Ceremony and Private Villa Reception in the Dominican Republic
Kevin and Fernando met when they were both attending college in Manhattan in June 2011. Over the next six years, the pair supported each other through unfortunate losses of loved ones and undergraduate and then graduate school, and even raised their dachshund together. And then came the next big step: On a summer trip to Paris in 2018, Fernando asked Kevin to marry him.
The couple decided to host a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic, where Fernando's family is from, and invited 108 guests to Casa de Campo in La Romana for their March 14, 2020, wedding. "We wanted the ceremony and cocktail hour to feel cinematic and the reception to be the best party our guests have ever been to, hands down," Fernando says. They asked guests to draw inspiration from a look book on their wedding website to encourage them to dress in bold looks come the epic celebration.
The couple enlisted Claire and her team at Claire Durán Weddings & Events to design a modern affair with a green-and-white color palette accented with few pink and gray. "They made our entire vision come to life beautifully while putting us at ease and allowing us to enjoy the day for what it was: the best day of our lives!" Kevin shares. About 30 guests cancelled at the last minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was more important than ever for Kevin and Fernando to give guests an amazing experience (their last for quite some time!) at their destination celebration.
Fernando is an architectural fabricator and model-maker, so he wanted to take on the task of designing and printing all of the couple's stationery. "It was a huge undertaking, but I wanted to take on any and all tasks that I was capable of producing myself in order to stay on budget," he says. He had access to digital tools that allowed him to print and laser-cut all the components out of cardstock. He also created a logo that merged the first letters of each of their names; the monogram was seen on the save-the-date, suite, and seating chart.
Pink and Gray
The couple worked together to source Kevin's suit's fabric from B & J Fabrics in New York City; they opted for a custom leaf-pattern, which Lapel Laureate fashioned into a suit. He paired his ensemble with light gray oxfords from Aquatalia and silver suspenders; he also wore a white bow tie for the ceremony and switched into a silver one when it was time to party.
Made for Him
A Pop of Black
As the finishing touch, Fernando also wore black and white loafers with a buckle accent by Toga Archives.
The Cuff Links
Fernando laser-engraved their cuff links to memorialize loved ones that have passed on. Kevin's was inscribed with his late mother's signature and the hand-written initials of his late aunt; Fernando embraced his late sister's memory by carving her signature on his.
A First Look
The couple chose to have their first look at Altos de Chavon, which is a replica 16th-century Mediterranean village on the grounds of Casa de Campo. "The area is cobblestone with a lush landscape and overlooks a huge, gorgeous river," Kevin says. "It was the perfect place!"
Talk about drama—the pair's ceremony and cocktail hour took place at the Grecian-style amphitheater on the property, where risers that seat 5,000 people served as a dramatic backdrop. On the central platform, translucent acrylic chairs circled lush arrangements of greenery and white flowers. The stage entrance was decorated with four large arrangements that coordinated with the lush florals at the center, where the couple exchanged vows.
Bold guest fashion abounded on Kevin and Fernando's big day, partly in thanks to a look book they provided ahead of time.
Fernando entered the ceremony with both of his parents; Kevin followed with his father as "Mystery of Love" by Suffian Stevens played through the amphitheater's speakers. Kevin's brother officiated the ceremony, during which the duo exchanged hand-written vows. One of their readings was pull from the song "Love Changes Everything," from the musical Aspects of Love (Kevin came across the clip when he was reading his late mother's diary). "The whole of the ceremony was so much more moving and emotional than either one of us really anticipated, and the energy in the room was intense, in a good way," Kevin says.
Some Time Alone
Kevin and Fernando snuck away after the ceremony for a quick photo session with their photographer; they managed to greet their guests during the latter half of the cocktail hour. The interlude also took place inside the amphitheater, where guests enjoyed entertainment from a bossa nova singer and passed appetizers including avocado bruschetta with lobster and fish ceviche.
Be Our Guest
The couple's reception took place at a modern private villa, where three long tables with crisp white linens were paired with the same translucent chairs from the ceremony. Palm trees served as the tropical backdrop and a comfortable lounge area was set up with a couch and additional seating.
Find Your Seat
At the reception, a pink frame structure displayed a seating chart with the couple's custom logo, placed front and center.
On the Tables
Each table held an eclectic arrangement of taper and pillar candles in white, black, and green. Small blue-and-white bud vases held one or two stems. Each place setting featured gold-rimmed leaf-patterned plates and gold cutlery. Tall black wine goblets created a dark contrast to the white linens and Lucite chairs.
Time to Eat
For dinner, the couple served entrées like chicken cacciatore, "catch of the day'" fish fillet, and beef fillet with chimichurri sauce.
The "Do Not Play" List
Kevin and Fernando gave their DJ a list of songs to avoid during the reception, and also had a band with both male and female singers later in the evening. The couple shared their first dance to "Blessed" by Daniel Caesar.
Kevin and Fernando wanted to include a La Hora Loca, which translates to "The Crazy Hour," a Dominican tradition where masks and props are used to liven up a party. The couple wanted to put their own twist on the tradition, so they worked with their planners to find drag queens to come in playing the drums and wearing feather wings and headdresses.
The couple sent everyone home with a room spray in a modern, minimalist bottle. "We mixed the scents together in our tiny little Brooklyn kitchen and Fernando engraved our logo on each bottle," Kevin explains.
At the end of the evening, both grooms changed into white speedos and jumped into the pool while their guests looked on. Some guests even jumped in, too! "As a result, the unofficial after-party was basically a pool-meets-dance party!" Kevin says. The couple stayed at the resort for a week after their nuptials for a mini-moon and managed to make one of the last flights back to the United States before COVID-19 travel restrictions went into full effect. They're hoping to plan a trip to Europe for their honeymoon in the near future.
Photography, Lance Nicoll Photography
Venue and Catering, Casa de Campo
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Claire Duran Weddings & Events
Flowers, Carmona Decor; Claire Duran Weddings & Events
Kevin's Suit, B & J Fabrics; Lapel Laureate
Kevin's Shoes, Aquatalia
Fernando's Suit and Harness, Alexander McQueen; Toga Archives
Fernando's Shoes, Zana Bayne
Music, Luana Ruff; Glamband; Joeury Duran
Lighting and Sound, Vialx
Décor Panels and Stands, Manuel Vasquez
Photo Booth, Flipea
Drag Queen and Drummer Performers: Drag Klembert Fierce