Lizzy Okoro and Kevin Palafox had a serendipitous meeting. Lizzy was living in New York at the time and Kevin, who was visiting, had been forced by Hurricane Irene to delay his flight out of the city. He was about to leave their mutual friend’s birthday party, when she walked in. The two had never met despite going to UC Berkley at the same time and having more than a dozen of the same friends. After the birthday girl introduced them, they hit it off and had a long distance relationship for three years, before Lizzy moved to Los Angeles to be with Kevin. They’d been dating for five and a half years when he proposed to her on Christmas Eve in front of both of their families. “Family is the foundation of who we are, so it was perfect that he involved them,” Lizzy says.
After remembering that a friend’s former boss had gotten married at Hacienda Sac Chich, and having no success finding a venue in Los Angeles, despite looking for eight months, the couple decided to have a destination wedding in Mérida, Mexico. “I remember thinking, this is my dream venue—historic, modern, unique, outdoors. We love to party and wanted something that felt like millennial Great Gatsby and that’s exactly what our venue provided!” says the bride. To help with planning, Lizzy and Kevin hired local wedding planners Yes I Do Eventos.
The bride had to be conscious of the weather and her small stature when choosing a gown. “I am 5’0″, so I knew that a slim fitting dress would work best for me. I also had to take into consideration that we were getting married in 90 degree weather with crazy humidity so I had to keep things simple,” she says. She wore a custom dress, but her jewelry was the most sentimental part of her outfit. “Kevin’s mother passed away from breast cancer while we were in college, so I never had the chance to meet her. I wore a turquoise ring of hers that his aunt loaned me. That meant more to me than anything else I wore that day.” And Kevin wore a white tuxedo with blank pants, all from The Black Tux.
The ceremony was filled with emotions. “As I walked down the aisle, Kevin was already bawling,” says Lizzy. The original birthday girl, who introduced the couple at her party in New York, officiated the union, and the two wrote their own vows. “Kevin is Mexican, and I am of Nigerian descent. When we first started dating, I would tell him he’s my dream man, but he would respond back saying, ‘Are you sure your dream man’s not a 6’3” Nigerian guy?’ [During the ceremony,] I shared my journal entry from when I first met him, where I proclaimed that he would be my husband. Seeing his response and the response of our guests was really gratifying.”
Guests moved to the lawn of the hacienda, which is nearly the length of two football fields, where a custom tent and dance floor were waiting for them to kick off the reception. The DJ, who is well-versed in playing Nigerian music, was flown in for the occasion. And the menu fully took advantage of the Mexican location. Guests dined on mini tamales, poc-chuc tacos (a local type of roasted pork), esquites (Mexican corn), and sopa de lima (traditional Yucatecan soup) with their entrees. And for dessert, a delicious tres leches cake.
During the festivities, one of the couple’s best friends sang a song for them, and Kevin’s best man, Lizzy’s co-maids of honor, and Lizzy’s father gave speeches. “I was very nervous about my dad’s speech because he’s a bit of a wild card, but he had our guests dying of laughter.” For the mother and son dance, because Kevin’s mother couldn’t be there, the women in his family stepped in. “Kevin’s grandmother, aunt, and sister took turns dancing with him, which had everyone in tears,” says the bride. And then for their first dance, the happy couple moved to “All Yours,” by Submotion Orchestra.
One of the bride’s favorite parts of the evening was when some flying uninvited guests showed up. “At one point during the reception, our tent was surrounded by fireflies lighting up the sky. Our guests thought we had brought them in for the occasion!” says the bride.
And coincidentally, the wedding landed on a close friend of the bride’s birthday, so a custom cake was brought out and the party sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her,” Lizzy says. “At the end of the night, we served tacos with shots of tequila to make sure we sent our guests off full and happy!”