On June 30, 2017 in Washington D.C., Michael Dumaine and Javier Ruisanchez met by chance at a nightclub. In the words of the couple, "It was love at first sight." Michael quickly knew that Javi—who is a member of the Puerto Rico National Team for Artistic Swimming—was the one and popped the question on November 18, 2018 in the middle of a photoshoot in Stafford, Virginia. Little did he know that Javi was already planning a proposal, too. In March 2019, Javi got down on one knee (in the rain!) and proposed in front of the Eiffel Tower.
The couple live together in Puerto Rico and wanted to host their wedding there. "However, we did not want our wedding to be a typical destination wedding at the beach," Michael and Javi share. "Puerto Rico is our home, and we wanted our guests to feel welcome from the very beginning. We also wanted to give our guest a true Puerto Rican tradition."
The couple picked out Hacienda Azucena in Rio Grande to host their big event. "We found our venue at the top of the mountains with the view of the rainforest known as El Yunque," they explain. "When we went to visit the location, we fell in love right away. We both got emotional while taking the tour of the entire venue. This place was pure magic, and we knew our guest would love it as much as we did. We wanted an all-white wedding because of the natural beauty of the venue."
The grooms knew that they wanted their wedding to be four things: elegant, unique, authentic, and unforgettable. They added, "We wanted an all-white wedding because of the natural beauty of the venue." To help this vision come to life, Carmen Ortiz, the owner of Hacienda Azucena, signed on as their day-of coordinator.
However when the pandemic hit, the couple needed to postpone their wedding until August 8, 2021. "We knew we wanted everyone to stay safe and healthy, and we truly felt like it was our responsibility to postpone. However, we had planned this beautiful wedding and had thought about all the details, so having to let our guest know that we would need to postpone was definitely hard for us."
With a more long-term timeline, they also asked Ortiz to become their full-time planner. "She helped us with absolutely everything and made sure our day was unforgettable," Michael and Javi note. "Every step of the way we made sure to communicate, take everything one thing at a time, and try our best not to get overwhelmed with wedding planning. After all, this day was all about us and our love for each other."
Despite setbacks, the couple hosted an absolutely stunning and intimate party for their 56 guests featuring beautiful décor details and a fun party celebrating their culture. Ahead, see Michael and Javi's beautiful wedding, planned by Carmen Ortiz and photographed by Jose Ruiz Photography.
While some couples might wait to see each other at the altar, the grooms got ready together along with their wedding party, which included Javi's two cute nephews as ring bearers.
That morning, Michael gave Javi a glimpse into their honeymoon to come. "We decided to wait a few months since there are still Covid-19 travel restrictions in some locations, and Javi has a busy schedule of traveling with the National Team," they share. "The honeymoon was a surprise for Javi since he had no idea where Michael had picked." The couple will be taking a trip to Greece for Summer 2022.
The grooms decided to give each other another surprise in the form of their wedding day attire. So, they both separated to get ready with their mothers. "We met up with Vestium and designed our black-tie wedding tuxedos. From the fabric to literally every detail of the tuxedo, we were able to design it all," they share. "However, neither of us knew what the other one was wearing until the day of the wedding."
Michael donned an all-black paisley patterned jacket with a silky finish for his look. He also wore a custom crystal boutonniere from Eva Guadalupe, who also designed jewelry for the bridesmaids.
Javi also gave Michael a sentimental gift to wear on the big day—the watch given to his grandpa at his mom’s wedding. "Since Michael's grandpa had passed away a few years ago, Javi wanted to make sure that his presence was still felt. Javi went ahead and got the watch fixed so Michael could wear it as his something old," explain the couple. "It was a very special moment when Javi gave the watch to Michael as no one knew about the surprise. There was not a single dry eye in the room."
When you lifted up the collar, they engraved 'Tu Alma Gemela' which means 'your soulmate.'
"I wanted to make sure my suit was unique," explains Javi. "My tux consisted of a flower-printed blazer with black pants. On the inside of the blazer, I went with gold details and a few personalized details that reminded me of our relationship. I had personalized on the inside of the tux our wedding date and our favorite bible verse. When you lifted up the collar, they engraved 'Tu Alma Gemela' which means 'your soulmate.'”
Javi also received a Movado watch as a gift from his mother on the big day. His best friend also gave the pair matching cufflinks engraved with their initials.
"Our first look was incredibly special," share the grooms. "We were both surprised by what we had picked to wear (and slightly relieved that they matched). But, it was special to be by ourselves and to have that moment be captured."
This day was all about us and our love for each other.
"Planning was the total opposite of what we thought it would be like," reflect the grooms. "No one had prepared us for what it would be like to plan our wedding during a global pandemic. Every step of the way we made sure to communicate, take everything one thing at a time, and try our best not to get overwhelmed with wedding planning. After all, this day was all about us and our love for each other."
Before parting ways before saying "I do," the couple decided to explore their decorated ceremony and reception locations to celebrate their hard work.
"We wanted the reception to be unique. We went with a transparent tent with yellow lights and chandeliers with flowers which we thought would add to the beauty of the venue," note the grooms.
"When it came to the centerpieces, we wanted simplicity," they add. "We wanted to have white candles with gold details, and lots of flowers. We did specify to our vendors that we wanted to make sure our guest could carry a conversation without having the table décor get in the way."
Making a stop to see the entire space was joyous moment for the grooms. "Everything was set, and it was just about enjoying the moment and the entire day," they share. "We were not nervous or stressed, and we truly had a blast the entire day."
"We won’t lie and say finding the ceremony décor was easy because it was not,"
explain Michael and Javi. "We had many ideas for the ceremony, but those ideas kept changing probably every week for a few months. The one thing we knew we wanted was white petals down the aisle with white lanterns at the end of every other row. Finally, we decided to not do a lot when it came to flowers for the altar because after all, the view from the altar was the most beautiful view."
"We ended up going with white azucena flowers in the altar that were not too tall so the flowers would not get in the way of the view," the grooms continue. "We also added personalized fans for our guest that said 'love is all you need.'"
Each groom was walked down the aisle by their mothers. Michael and the wedding party processed to “Sweetest Devotion” by Adele, while Javi walked down to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Kina Grannis.
After processing, the bridesmaids and flower girls—who all wore white—took seats along with other guests. "Our ring bearers wore black suits since we wanted them to look like ring security," add the grooms. "Honestly, they stole the show when walking down the aisle!"
"We wrote our own vows, and we kept them short and sweet," explain the grooms. "Everyone says that ours vows described our love so well."
Remember that the wedding is one day, but marriage is forever.
The couple's reflections from their wedding day? "Decide your wants and needs for the wedding as a couple, and let the rest of the planning flow from there," they share. "Remember that the wedding is one day, but marriage is forever."
After the wedding, the pair snapped some pics with their bridesmaids. "Javi loves fashion, so all the girls knew he would be the one calling the shots on the styling of the wedding party. We have viewed every single one of them as their own individual goddess and wanted them to feel incredibly special and beautiful," they share. "Even though we were choosing each other for life, these girls are our girls for life!"
"We decided to have them pick the dress they wanted to wear. All of them wore the same fabric, just different styles. We also had two bridesmaids on each side who wore the same dresses. All looked absolutely stunning with their dresses from Amsale." The bridesmaids also all donned earrings by Eva Guadalupe and pearl bracelets from Blue Nile.
The grooms finally took their place at their own sweetheart table to enjoy their reception dinner. "We wanted our menu to be authentic Puerto Rican food," they share. For appetizers, traditional dishes of alcapurria, bacalaito, and sorullitos de maiz were served. For the entrée, rice with onion, mini mofongo, chicken, and barbecue pork were on the menu. "We also had a coffee bar with different kinds of Puerto Rican coffee which was a huge hit at our wedding," the couple adds.
For their first dance, the couple took a turn to “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur.
The grooms also made sure to have a moment with their mothers on the dance floor. "Michael chose 'I Hope You Dance' by Lee Ann Womack. Javi chose 'Como Yo Te Amo' by Raphael and had his sisters join him halfway through the dance," remember the pair.
"Even though we had an open bar, we decided to add two signature cocktails. We decided to name them after our dogs Dolce and Gabbana," the couple shares. "Dolce was a strawberry daiquiri and Gabbana was an infusion of vodka, cranberry juice, and orange juice on ice with a slice of fresh lime. Gabbana was definitely the crowd favorite."
Later in the evening, the couple cut into a lemon and chocolate cake created by Vanessa Caro. "We wanted something elegant that had gold details and she made that vision come to life," note the grooms. "We added a cake topper that was actually Javi’s sisters cake topper from her wedding, which was our something borrowed."
"We met dancing and love to dance, so we decided to have Yuvi Plena come to surprise our wedding guests. Yuvi Plena is the best plena group in all of Puerto Rico," explain Michael and Javi. "Plena is a genre of music and dance that is native to Puerto Rico and makes everyone want to dance. This was our way to bring a little taste of Javi’s ethnicity and culture to our guests."
"To this day, our guests are still talking about how amazing Yuvi Plena was," say Michael and Javi. "During those 30 minutes, every single person was on the dance floor with us."
"One of the best memories of our wedding day was seeing how our friends from different paths of our lives became friends with each other," reflect the grooms. "Our families asked us after the wedding if all of our friends knew each other prior to the wedding, because it seemed as if they had been friends for years. This reassured us how much our friends mean to us and how amazing our support system really is."
Ceremony and Reception Site Hacienda Azucena
Planner Carmen Ortiz
Officiant Ministros de Bodas PR
Wedding Party Attire Amsale Bridesmaid
Flower Girl Attire Azazie Tink JBD
Wedding Bands Yuvi Plena
Floral Design Noel Cruz
Invitations Paper Crafts Puerto Rico
Cake Vanessa Caro
Accommodations Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Gold & Beach Resort
Videographer Zura Film (Zuriel Ramos)
Photographer Jose Ruiz Photography
Jewelry Eva Gudalupe
Hair and Make Up Jaime Iván
Bridesmaids Gift Bag & Robes U N I Q U E
Rings Blue Nile
Masks Ecliptica Atelier
Special Help Yaska Crespo Event Planner