Inside an intimate, well-planned destination wedding in Valladolid

Guests from around the world came to Yucatan for an Australian couple's nuptials

The bride and groom greet residents on Valladolid's Calzada de los Frailles. Photo: The Cut / Joseph Pascual
The bride and groom greet residents on Valladolid’s Calzada de los Frailles. Photo: The Cut / Joseph Pascual

Paulina Ortega, a graphic designer and illustrator, and Clark Kent Koga, a product strategy consultant at Google, met in the Philippines and live in Australia. But they chose Valladolid, Yucatan for their destination wedding. After exchanging vows in February at the Coqui Coqui Perfumeria, they spoke with The Cut, a blog edited by New York Magazine. Here is an excerpt of their interview:

Clark: We’d seen the Coqui Coqui perfume shop in Sydney, where we eventually moved together, and we were like, wow, that’s super pretty. We’d been following the brand for a while, and saw they had a perfumery on the Yucatan side of Mexico, with these boutique hotels around the peninsula. Mexico is very similar to the Philippines in that we were colonized by the Spanish, for the same amount of years. A lot of the culture was translated.

Paulina: The establishments where we had the ceremony, La Perfumeria, and the reception, Meson de Malleville, were on the same historic street called Calzada de los Frailles in Valladolid. They were both built in existing structures, the old colonial houses that existed on those streets for ages. We definitely wanted to get married there partly because they had never done a wedding before. We really wanted to avoid places that came with pre-packaged ideas of what a wedding should be like. Everybody else could book rooms around the small town, which is 45 minutes from Tulum. We ended up with about 65 guests. Clark and I flew back again 10 days before the event because we still had a lot to iron out logistically.

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Clark: We had made just the one trip before that—everything else we managed online, although with a great deal of difficulty. We’re talking 7 a.m. calls, Google Translate and endless voice notes and emails. When we arrived, we met with our coordinator [$US2,000], we spoke to the chef, we tried the food. We hadn’t tried the food within 10 days of the wedding! Could have been sh–, but it luckily turned out to be really good.

For the ceremony itself, we asked that no one have their phones out, so they wouldn’t be distracted and also so the photos weren’t ugly with smart phones everywhere.

Paulina: The ceremony was extremely intimate, and emotional for those friends who knew us from the beginning. And then everyone filed out onto the street and we had the mariachi band waiting there. We surprised people with freshly made empanadas.

Clark: There were tequila shots being doled out. Everyone should have a wedding parade. It’s so fun!

Paulina: I didn’t expect to see a stallion when we stepped out of the ceremony. The wedding coordinator told me I had to get on the stallion, so I said okay. The townspeople all came out as well, and they watched and celebrated with us. We headed to cocktail hour at sunset around the carousel, where we served Palomas.

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Clark: The chicken mole was the only thing I remember eating. It was delicious. The funny thing is, we gave everyone disposable cameras for the night, and there were quite a number of photos of the chicken mole. So I think other people loved it.

Paulina: We made sure to have cochinita pibil, the Yucatan version of lechon, which is a Filippino staple. It was so meaningful for us to find these Mexican/Filipino ties and incorporate that into whatever we could.

Paulina: My husband and I love to eat cake, so the cake was a big deal for us. Our favorite cake is the Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake, which we tried to get from New York but they couldn’t deliver it because of customs reasons. We had friends bring in a lot of the birthday cake truffles from New York into Mexico and the recipe is available publicly in the cookbook, so we had a local baker recreate the birthday cake for us: three tiers with the truffles all over it. [$400 for cake, $230 for truffles]

Read more and see amazing photos at The Cut.

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