Robeyda Vargas and Manuel Antonio Guevara first met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in June 2010. “After a competitive game of badminton—which I won—we exchanged numbers,” Robeyda remembers. “Our first date was on his birthday, June 17, nearly 12 summers ago.” They dated for eight years, while Manuel went through law school. Then in 2019, he proposed. “On the rainiest day in January, skipping puddles under a shared umbrella, Manuel proposed at the edge of the Hudson River, with the Manhattan skyline in the background,” Robeyda says. “After dinner, we headed home where a surprise engagement party awaited.”
Their wedding planning journey had its ups and downs. “Originally, Manuel and I planned a large event in El Salvador, his parent’s home country,” Robeyda says. “Our wedding plans came to a halt twice—the uncertainty in the earlier days of the pandemic was a nightmare. Overwhelmed with frustration, we decided to cancel. However, we did not anticipate the sadness that slowly crept in.” When they began to sense a return to “normal,” the couple resumed planning—treading carefully to avoid the heartbreak they’d felt the first time around. This time, though, it was meant to be. “Our wedding in Antigua, Guatemala, gave us the opportunity to create a more intimate and personalized experience for our family and friends,” the bride shares. “Antigua is enchanting: The city boasts colorful Spanish baroque-influenced architecture with terracotta tile roofs and cobblestone streets. It is a place rich in history and culture.”
They worked with a wedding planner based in the region to bring their vision to life, and pegged vendors from around the world: El Salvador, France, Mexico, Guatemala, and Portugal. “When selecting who to work with, I valued synergy and human connection above a vendor’s years of experience and reputation,” Robeyda says. “The vendors we decided to work with were passionate about their craft and treated each project with enthusiasm and professionalism. They made me feel seen, heard, understood, and valued.”
The couple’s venue set the tone. “Las Capuchinas is nestled between volcanos: Volcan Acatenango, Volcan de Agua, and Volcan de Fuego—with the latter erupting every 10 to 20 minutes throughout the day,” Robeyday says. “The ruins, in the middle of three majestic volcanos, were the perfect backdrop to our love story.”
“I did not have a ‘theme,’ but I described my [vision] as ‘deconstructed elegance,’” Robeyda says. “We set the tone with our invitations. I worked closely with Nora, from Acqua & Ink, who used my wedding dress and venue as inspiration. The invitation was wrapped in a Japanese paper sleeve that mimicked the tulle of my dress, while the ribbon mimicked the grosgrain ribbon of the sleeves. She added watercolor artwork that resembled the walls of the venue.”
“Our main focus was creating a memorable experience for our family and friends,” Robeyda adds. “We paid close attention to different touch points where we could further enhance their stay. For example, Manuel and I went door to door in our pajamas, and delivered disposable cameras so that each guest could document their adventures in Antig."
The adventure began with their welcome party, a fun and vibrant affair the night before the wedding. The bride donned a Johanna Ortiz red-and-white striped silk set. “At the welcome party, each guest received a gift by Dulces Tipicos Santo Domingo, which supports local women and communities in Guatemala. It was a handwoven gift basket filled with traditional Guatemala sweets and rum and adorned with Guatemalan textiles, two maracas, and a worry doll. This particular style honored Guatemala and paid homage to my Caribbean roots.”
“I barely wear makeup; I feel more comfortable making a statement with my clothes,” Robeyda says. “So, I opted for a soft, natural look and choose sculptural pieces that captured my personality perfectly!” For her hair, she made a last-minute change. “I thought I wanted my hair gathered back until the morning of the wedding—it just did not feel right. Jorge Cepeda was so incredibly patient and worked with me to create my final look. I never thought of wearing my hair down, but the style resembled my mother’s wedding hairstyle, making my look that much more special.”
Robeyda’s groom gifted her a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, and unexpectedly had a hand in her final beauty statement. “I rarely get my nails done and completely forgot about them. It was the morning of my wedding by the time I remembered, and it was too late to schedule an appointment,” Robeyda recalls. “Manuel heard about my dilemma and that morning walked all over Antigua trying to find a nail polish in a color I liked. He described it as the last trial. Unfortunately, the color selection was not great, so I went with clear polish—my nails looked great!”
The gown is an intricate, layered piece—it reminds me a lot of myself.
The bride wore Danielle Frankel’s Ruby wedding dress, a silk wool satin gown with delicate pleated tulle sleeves gathered with grosgrain ribbon details. “Danielle’s aesthetic captures elegance in its most visceral form,” Robeyda says. “I was drawn to Ruby’s sleeves, the pleated tulle fabric manipulation emblematic of Danielle’s designs. At first glance, Ruby is delicate and romantic but upon further inspection, it is an intricate, layered piece—it reminds me a lot of myself. I felt that Danielle had designed Ruby just for me.”
“I opted for a crescent bouquet," describes the bride. "I wanted a lavish, romantic, garden-style bouquet, with cascading foliage that would not obstruct the dramatic tulle sleeves of my dress.”
Manuel looked dapper in a Proper Cloth tuxedo with meaningful details. “My mother, a seamstress by trade, sewed in a ribbon embroidered with ‘Robeyda & Manuel January 22, 2022’ in the inner lining of my tuxedo jacket,” he says. “[I accessorized with] a bow tie and cufflinks. I purposely did not wear a watch as the only time that mattered was that which I spent with my new wife.”
They held their al fresco ceremony in the gardens of El Convento, with the ruins as backdrop. “We highlighted the beauty of the gardens by using cane-back chairs and locally grown greenery and flowers to create a focal point at the altar and complement the space,” Robeyda says. Each seat was adorned with a personalized palm fan engraved with the couple’s names and featuring a long black tassel.
The bride walked down the aisle alone. “My youngest brother, Robely, escorted me through the courtyard and the garden, then dropped me off at the beginning of the aisle, where all I could see was Manuel,” Robeyda shares. “I will forever cherish that walk with my brother and the moment I looked at Manuel—it was as if the rest of the world disappeared.”
My vows are the first love letter I wrote Manuel—it’s a story of time and of our love.
The couple exchanged personal vows in Spanish. “I will never forget this: I wrote my vows at 4 a.m. in Guatemala, three days before our wedding,” Robeyda shares. “The months leading up to our wedding were very demanding, but in Antigua, suddenly the world was quiet. My vows are the first love letter I wrote Manuel—it’s a story of time and of our love.” For his part, Manuel sipped Ron Zacapa rum as he wrote his vows. “I quoted and weaved in Nikki Giovanni’s poem ‘Love Is,’” he says.
“Ain't No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell rang out as the couple joyfully recessed down the aisle, waving to their 28 loved ones in attendance.
“The ruins are inherently beautiful and called for simplicity—to honor them, I focused on creating sculptural statements, such as the reception arches,” Robeyda says. “I wanted our guests to feel as if the arches had always been there, a secret garden in the middle of an 18th-century room. [Floral designer] Bea De La Roca used locally grown foliage and various local flowers, primarily white and ivory, to create the overgrown look of the arches. The tables were lined with candelabras and low centerpieces that spilled about the table setting and down the sides of the table. There was a sea of candles in the middle of the table. It is impossible to describe how magical it felt.”
“The primary color [in the palette] was pearl, similar to my wedding dress. I used gold accents throughout—notably, vintage brass pieces. Among my favorite were brass photo easels and shell-shaped brass place-card holders honoring my Caribbean roots. Everything felt not quite perfect, and I found that to be beautiful.”
“I went with a textured buttercream cake," says the bride. "The texture was similar to the walls of the ruins. It was imperfect, nestled amongst flowers, foliage, and candles; it made an effortless statement.”
“When looking for our wedding photographer, it was important to find someone that valued real human connection,” Robeyda says. “Adriana Rivera is a true gem in the industry, an American with roots in El Salvador. Her ability to capture moments, feelings, and emotions is unparalleled. Our wedding was planned around her availability.”
For their first dance, the couple selected a romantic Mexican ballad: “Amarte es un Placer” by Luis Miguel.
“The menu was very important to Manuel and I,” Robeyda says. “We chose Clio’s, a French restaurant with Guatemalan influences. It was heavy on seafood but the lomito al humo del bosque, a Guatemalan beef dish, was among our favorite.” To accompany the meal, guests sipped signature drinks—a spicy mango margarita and passionfruit sangria—named for the couple’s cats, Milo and Oscar.
Robeyda changed into a second sculptural dress for the dance party, a taffeta mini dress from byEfraín Mogollon. Paired with a Lele Sadoughi headband and low vintage Chanel shoes, “it felt like the bridal version of loungewear,” she says. “Manuel and I did not stop dancing. I went back to the table once, for cake, and never returned! We danced so much that our knees hurt for days.”
Looking back, Robeyda admits that the wedding industry can be “suffocating,” she says. “There is an overwhelming amount of information, a myriad rules, and expectations. I moved away from this commercialization. I felt my personality was getting lost in do’s and don’t’s. I feel the pandemic has changed the way we celebrate life;.I hope that more brides feel empowered to plan and design their wedding their way—just like I did!”
Venue Las Capuchinas
Wedding Planner PlanIt4U
Bridal Designer Danielle Frankel
Tailor Anthony Turner
Bride’s Shoes Jimmy Choo
Bride’s Hair and Makeup Jorge Cepeda
Welcome Party Attire Johanna Ortiz
Second Dress Efraín Mogollon
Bridesmaids’ Dresses Shoshanna via Saks Fifth Avenue
Wedding Bands Cartier
Floral Designer Addy Florales
Invitations Acqua & Ink
Guest Book Scribble & Jot
Music Ceremony: Clasico Instrumental
Cake Sofia Cobian
Accommodations El Convento Boutique Hotel
Videographer and Photographer Adriana Rivera