Paulina Paige Ortega, an art director, graphic designer, and visual artist, and Clark Kent Koga, a product strategy executive for Google Australia, met in college at a mutual friend’s birthday party. “It was a bit of a set-up actually, except only Clark was aware of that part,” Paulina says. “Our friends knew he fancied me, and they did their best to make sure I went to the party that night.” After ten years of living in different countries and stints of dating long-distance, Clark popped the question at home in Sydney. “It was so earnest and perfect; we kept laughing and smiling about it all night.”
Having lived all over the world, the two knew they wanted to do a destination wedding. They had been on a trip to Mexico, where they made their way to the Coqui Coqui residences and perfumery and fell in love with the place. “Mexico felt so much like the Philippines in many ways but was just different enough to be a new experience for everyone—a beautiful holiday destination for all our friends and family,” Paulina says. They set the date for February 23rd, 2019. “We did the very Asian thing of first checking if it was a good feng shui date for a wedding, as one does. Thankfully, it was.” And for day-of help, they hired wedding coordinator Mario Olverac.
To get the full Yucatán experience, they started off with their bachelor and bachelorette parties in Tulum, then had their welcome party in Cobá, next to Mayan pyramids, and ended with a ceremony and reception in the inland town of Valladolid.
When shopping for her wedding wardrobe, Paulina knew she wasn’t into anything super bridal but loved a good fashion moment. For the welcome party, she found a beautiful, vintage Thierry Mugler dress from the ‘80s on Shrimpton Couture. “It was simple but had joyous little elements and was amazing to twirl around in,” she says. “I never wanted to take that dress off!” She completed the look with her mother’s earrings, which she’d worn to her own wedding, and Rochas satin embellished flats.
Her wedding dress was the first one she saw. After looking at more than one hundred other dresses after that, she returned to the Roksanda gown. “It felt perfect and right to me. It’s true when they say, go with your gut.” To accompany it, she wore delicate pearl drop earrings by Natasha Schweitzer, minimalist white sandals by The Row, and a custom-designed veil with painterly sampaguita (jasmine) buds by Gabbie Sarenas.
For the reception, she changed into a dress from Jacquemus’s La Bomba collection and put on a handmade headpiece by Colombian designer Lucia Echavarría, of Magnetic Midnight, and sparkly Miu Miu earrings.
The groom wore a custom suit from Melbourne-based Trunk Tailors, shirt by Filipino designer Carl Jan Cruz, bolo-tie clip and necklace from Filipino jeweler Namì, and silver metallic brogues by Thom Browne. “It was important to him to look formal and dressed-up but also veer away a little from the typical groom look,” Paulina explains.
In February, at the poolside ceremony space, the bride and her father walked down the aisle, while a mariachi band played. The sans phones service was officiated by the husband of the mutual friend that introduced the couple. After reciting vows, the newlyweds walked out into the street to start the callejoneada with a parade stallion, freshly made empanadas, and free-flowing mezcal. Making their way down the historic Calzada de los Frailes, the march ended at the reception venue.
Guests, already in high spirits, were greeted with Paloma cocktails and served a beautiful traditional Yucatán feast that consisted of Cochinita Pibil, Pollo en Mole, handmade tortillas, Arroz con leche, and chocolate tamales. After being well-fed, the dance floor was the place to be for the remainder of the night.