The trickiest part about planning Myla Dalbesio and Nathan Hageman’s wedding wasn’t nailing down a venue in Tulum, Mexico, and it wasn’t making sure that their 80 guests stayed cool in the hot summer heat (they provided handmade fans for the outdoor ceremony). It wasn’t even convincing Dalbesio, a photographer and a model, that she shouldn’t be cooking for the wedding reception herself (though, she tells The Knot, it was hard to let the idea go).
Instead, the most challenging portion was tracking down a lavender wedding dress and a matching suit to pay homage to Dalbesio’s late parents. The bride’s mother had worn a lavender wedding dress when she married Myla’s father in a Wisconsin public park in 1982.
“It was like she was with me every step that day, like I was wearing her all around me,” Dalbesio, 30, says. “Occasionally, if I asked really nicely when I was a kid, she would let me try on her wedding dress and twirl around the house in it. I remember thinking it was the most amazing thing, and dreaming of a day when I could wear my own.”
After much searching, Dalbesio managed to track down her own perfect gown designed by New York-based designers Sachin & Babi. And Hageman, 42, managed to track down a lavender linen Tom Ford suit, which was no easy task given the specificity of the color. Coupled with their wedding party’s all-white, beach-appropriate outfits, Dalbesio and Hageman were able to curate the wedding of their dreams, one that was both laid back and elevated at times.
Here, Dalbesio tells The Knot about some of the elements of her wedding day that really made the start of the couple’s married life together oh-so-memorable.
From the get-go, Dalbesio and Hageman knew they wanted to get married on the beach, because it happened to be one of their favorite places, somewhere where they’d shared many memories.
“The most important things for us were spending quality time with the people we love, and having a kick-ass party,” she says. The couple rented a beach house for their family members to enjoy, and the couple used the space to host their welcome party, the ceremony, and the day-after party. For some of the events, the couple went with local spots, like Wild for their rehearsal dinner and a reception at Gitano, a fun restaurant and bar that was “dreamy and romantic and tropical… just perfect.”
Neither the groom nor the bride’s parents were in attendance at the ceremony; Dalbesio’s parents both passed away, and Hageman’s parents weren’t able to make it down to Mexico. As a result, Dalbesio had her two sisters walk her down the aisle, and Hageman’s brother and sister escorted him to the altar. “It felt great to be surrounded by that kind of support during such a special moment,” Dalbesio says.
To add the family affair, halfway through the ceremony, the groom’s siblings performed a musical interlude, an acoustic version of “Strangers” by The Kinks.
The venue Gitano lent itself to just the type of atmosphere the couple was hoping for: fun and sexy, with an open-air main area set into the jungle. Candles illuminated the space and chandeliers and disco balls descended from the trees. Dalbesio added a bit of sparkle to the tables with strips of silver mylar confetti running down the middle, but otherwise let the space speak for itself. “We were not into pretension and stuffiness,” she says. “Just a damn good time.”
Dalbesio spent quite a while trying to hunt down the perfect lavender dress for her wedding, and the search thankfully proved fruitful: She got in touch with the designers at Sachin & Babi, whom she’d worked with in the past, and requested a rendition of a sheer, gauzy lace dress with a simple silk slip that she’d worn before during one of their fashion shows.
“The dress was embellished, but had an easy elegance to it, with large ruffles on the sleeves and the hem,” she says. “When I pulled up a picture of it, I realized the shape and design was strikingly similar to what my mother had worn for her dress. Totally buzzing by my realization, we reached out to see if they would be interested in collaborating on a custom dress for the wedding. I was beyond thrilled when they signed on for the project.”
For the latter half of the night, Dalbesio changed into a lavender silk and lurex dress by Erin Featherston. She had bought it second-hand during the search for the perfect dress, and was happy to be able to use it as a reception dress. However, it was completely wrecked after the wedding from a night of intense dancing. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says.
THE BRIDAL ACCESSORIES
Dalbesio’s veil was also custom made by Sachin & Babi, dyed to match the dress. For jewelry, she wore earrings by Ben Amun, and on her right ring finger, her grandfather’s wedding ring. As an added touch, she also made several anklets for herself before she and Hageman flew down to Mexico, including one that read, “Something Blue.”
But perhaps her most precious accessory for the night was a disco ball-shaped purse by Judith Leiber, which Hageman surprise gifted her just before they flew to Tulum for the wedding. “Our reception venue had many disco balls hanging throughout, so [the purse] will always represent that magical night to me,” she says.
THE GROOM’S LOOK
Hageman donned a lavender linen suit by Tom Ford, which they tracked down after months of searching online. They found it, of all places, on eBay–with the tags still attached. The only one available also, miraculously, fit him perfectly. “I am pretty sure it was a sign … of what, I’m not sure,” Dalbesio says. “Of good fashion for our years to come, perhaps?”
Hageman also wore a watch that belonged to Dalbesio’s father, which she gifted to her new husband the morning of the ceremony.
Dalbesio and Hageman incorporated their colors into as many elements of their wedding, and for good reason: they chose to go with the colors of the sunset. “At the end of our engagement trip, we were watching an amazing sunset over the Italian Riviera,” she says. “I pointed out at the ocean and said, ‘Those should be our colors. So we used tones of blues, purples and pinks as accents to our base colors of white and silver.”
The colors showed up in bracelets that Dalbesio gifted her bridesmaids, on the stationery and paper products for the ceremony and reception, in the flowers, the blankets that people sat on during the ceremony, via tissue paper garlands she made and decorated the beach house with, and even in the shot glasses that they distributed among their guests to take shots of mezcal together after the ceremony.
Dalbesio made all of the paper products for the wedding herself, painting watercolors on the programs/fans, the labels and tags for drinks, snacks and wedding favors, the escort cards and table numbers. She also hand-lettered every card with silver ink, using a disco-inspired font in theme with the many disco balls hanging at their reception venue.
When it came to flowers, Dalbesio and Hageman were scrappy. “Because we knew we didn’t want to do very much for flowers at our reception venue, being that it is in the middle of the jungle, all we had to worry about was the ceremony,” Dalbesio says. “The day before the wedding, Nate and I ran to a nearby Walmart and bought out all the flowers in our color scheme. We crafted the bouquets and boutonnieres out of that. My brother-in-law worked with a local to find a few palm fronds to line the aisle, and we augmented that with the rest of the flowers.”
THE FOOD AND DRINK
There were three courses served for dinner, all presented family style. “I love when food feels like a big production, so this was really fun for me,” she says. The first course included quesadillas and grilled avocados topped with slivered almonds. The second course was the taco course, which included mushroom, stewed chicken and short rib options, all served on fresh tortillas. And the third course was the main course, which included trays of pork belly, chick and steak as well as whole roasted cauliflowers and sweet potatoes paired with bowls of rice and beans
In place of a more traditional wedding cake, Dalbesio and Hageman opted for a dessert table with little cups of Dulce de Leche and Guava Cheesecake for guests to grab and go to get back on the dance floor. As an extra bonus at the end of the night, guests were feted with trays of empanadas, bowls of chips and salsas and shredded chicken and tortillas to help quell hungry stomachs.
“No matter how chill you think you are, everyone has a moment when they freak out a little,” Dalbesio says. “Try not to take it all too seriously. In the end, it’s a big party filled with people that love you. Mistakes happen, and if anyone is going to be understanding about that, hopefully it’s the people you invite to your wedding.”
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