Stuart White is one smooth dude. The recording engineer was giving then-girlfriend Lislie Yeung a back rub when he worked his way down her left arm to her wrist and hand, where he slipped a diamond ring on her finger. "I didn't want to complain but was thinking, What is this? A hand massage?" recalls Lislie.
The couple's destination wedding planning was about as relaxing as Stuart's proposal, says Lislie, a shoe designer. "A lot of things just fell into place," she admits. "I wanted the process to be painless, and to include my creative friends." In fact, Lislie and Stuart planned their wedding in just six months.
They returned to the spot where they first vacationed together — Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — for their Feb. 2, 2014 wedding on the beach at Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa. The color red dictated the decorations. "It's a key color in Chinese celebrations, and also Stuart's favorite color," Lislie explains, "and it helped give the wedding a classic Mexican feel." Photographer Kate Headley was there to capture every breathtaking and vibrant detail.
Lislie worked with a sample maker to design a custom gown that featured head-to-toe guipure lace, a deep sweetheart neckline and subtle mermaid skirt.
Her shoes? Lislie designed them, of course! The bride created the peep-toe, strappy shoes for Derek Lam's Spring 2014 runway collection, and they were the perfect addition to her edgy yet feminine look.
With the exception of the few inspiration images she sent to her florist, Lislie had little to say about her bouquet. "I told him red and fuchsia and really fresh and lively," she says. "The mix of peonies and roses was gorgeous."
Lislie wanted Otomi dresses (Mexican gowns characterized by bright embroidery) for her bridesmaids. "But they are not cheap," she says, "and I couldn't find someone in Mexico to take on the work." So the bride turned to a friend, the designer behind Svee, to make custom burgundy crocheted dresses, perfect for the beach. "I wanted it to be something they could wear after, not just another bridesmaid dress," Lislie says. "And it was perfect with the bright flowers!"
At the ceremony, an iron arch draped in roses, peonies, greens and more waited for the couple at the end of the aisle. The fresh flowers were reused in the couple's reception centerpieces — so smart and economical. The florist also decorated the Chivari chairs along the aisle with peach and red roses, tied together with bright satin ribbon.
Straw fans and "toss bags" — small satchels handmade by the bride, who stamped them with a giraffe and stuffed them with shredded paper — waited for guests on their seats. Lislie's seven-year-old half-brother served as the couple's ring bearer, donning a light grey three-piece suit pinned with a red rose boutonniere.
Stuart remixed a version of Canon in D for Lislie's walk down the aisle. "It was perfect for him to add his touch to it," she says.
After their first kiss, guests showered the newlyweds with confetti as they walked back up the aisle.
Stuart and Lislie treated their guests to an open bar. "The hit of the night was definitely tequila," Lislie recalls.
Guests nibbled on appetizers during a cocktail hour, while at dinner they had a choice of short ribs or salmon. "The presentation was beautiful," Lislie says.
The reception was held on the resort's restaurant patio, where a mix of tables dressed in red linens — including Otomi-printed runners that mimicked the bridesmaids' dresses — were covered with vibrant centerpieces overflowing with roses and greenery. At each place setting, guests found miniature donkey piñatas, a DIY-project by the bride! "We filled them with custom M&Ms printed with our names and the Chinese character for double happiness," says Lislie.
The couple's two-tiered red velvet cake was covered in white buttercream and decorated with delicate blush roses. "It's our favorite flavor," the bride gushes. Lislie surprised Stuart with a groom's cake decorated as a Technics turntable. "It was his favorite flavor, carrot cake," she says. "He loved it!"
The bride changed into a red and brown lace dress for the reception, which helped her stick to Chinese tradition. "Chinese brides usually wear red for dinner," she explains. "But I loved that my second dress was a more modern take." Lislie and Stuart took a spin around the dance floor to King's "Dancing in the Moonlight," then turned up the tempo, twisting to "Do You Love Me" by the Contours.
Guests danced until 11 p.m., when the resort cut the power to the outdoor reception space. "We thought the party was over,'" Lislie recalls. But that wasn't the case. The bride had preordered a fireworks display, and then forgot! "When the fireworks came on, it was really the perfect surprise."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa || Wedding Planner: Annie Germain of Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa || Bride's Wedding Dress: Custom || Bride's Reception Dress: Derek Lam || Shoes: Derek Lam || Jewelry: Jayce Wong || Hair & Makeup: Ka Lam Makeup || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Svee || Wedding Bands: Blue Nile || Florist & Rentals: Cristhian Event || Invitations & Paper Goods: Kelly Kam and Kalo Make Art || Music: Boots || Catering: Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa || Cake: Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa, Pie In The Sky || Photography: Kate Headley