Tech strategist Michelle Bahamonde Santeli and Andrés Turégano Eling, an investment banker, first hit it off at mutual friend’s going away party. “We all went to college together but I had never met Andy,” Michelle explains. “We struck up a conversation over some tortilla chips.” Six years later, the two were taking a walk around the New York Botanical Garden when they decided to sit down under a tree for some shade. “After chatting for a bit, he got down one knee,” she remembers. “We spent the rest of the day doing one of our favorite things: eating!”
The international couple briefly discussed getting married in Barcelona or Costa Brava, where the groom’s family is from, but later decided on the bride’s hometown of Quito. “We knew there was only one place we’d want to have the reception: The Union Club of Quito,” she says. “I called the aesthetic ‘al fresco al dentro’ [meaning ‘al fresco indoors’] since I always wanted an outdoor wedding, but Quito is too cold at night.” In order to help her achieve her vision, Michelle hired wedding decorators Cayetano y Monica, who created an indoor explosion of orchids, roses, and other native Ecuadorian flowers.
To match the grandeur of her venue, the bride chose a vintage Nina Ricci Haute Couture dress she immediately fell in love with after spotting it on 1stdibs. “I never stepped into a single bridal shop or tried on any dress other than the one I ended up wearing,” she says. Monvieve later made her a sixteen foot long matching veil, which she paired with Hangisi Manolos and diamond platinum earrings shaped like orchids that she borrowed from her mother.
The groom, meanwhile, wore a Ralph Lauren tuxedo, Isaia shirt, and Ferragamo opera shoes. Since bridesmaids aren’t a tradition in South America, the bride only featured flower girls and page boys, all in custom outfits and Papusse Milano slippers, and her sister served as maid of honor while wearing a dusty rose Sachin and Babi gown.
The day of the wedding, the couple and their loved ones gathered for a traditional Catholic ceremony in La Compañia de Jesus, a 400-year-old baroque Jesuit church in the old town of Quito. “We had a 20 person choir, a mezzo soprano, and a chamber orchestra,” she says. “It was quite a lovely and dramatic mass.” Once they were declared husband and wife, a wedding procession with traditional Quiteño-Andean dancers and musicians (as well as the Virgin of Quito and Our Lady of Sorrows) followed in one of the main plazas nearby.
At the Union Club of Quito, a five-course seated dinner with dishes celebrating Ecuadorian food was served, while a dulce de leche cake followed as dessert. The bride’s mother and the groom’s father gave toasts in Spanish, which were later translated into English by family members. For music, the couple decided to offer a little something for everyone and hired a Spanish guitar trio (as an homage to the groom’s side of the family) for cocktail hour, a big band for dinnertime, and a DJ, American band, and a salsa and merengue group as the entertainment during the party portion of the evening. “Our first dance was ‘Only You’ by The Platters, as a small homage to my father who passed away two years ago,” Michelle says. “This was one of his favorite songs.”
While everyone was up and dancing, the newlyweds were later surprised by a family friend who arranged a performance by a mariachi band. But the party was still far from over. “The last person left around 6:00 a.m., so it was quite a long night.” Thankfully the couple followed their weekend wedding celebrations with a relaxing honeymoon in the French Polynesia. “We vegged out for almost two whole weeks,” Michelle adds. “It was glorious.”