A High-Fashion Wedding at an Ancient Miami Monastery

Planned by the bride and coordinated by A Love For Detail.

Troy kissing Santana's hand as they exit the ancient monastery in Miami

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

As the vice president of marketing at Eberjey, Santana López is a bonafide fashion girl–so it’s only fitting that she’d remember exactly what her now-husband, Troy Davis, was wearing when they met at a day party in 2011. “I remember Troy pulling up to Anja Bar in Meatpacking District in his very New Yorker black peacoat and my friend and I freezing because we were wearing miniskirts in the dead of winter,” she recalls. Santana and Troy became fast, casual friends until eventually started to date in 2013.

Five years later, Troy took the next big step in their relationship by proposing during a trip to Zihuantanejo, Mexico. “'[It's] the place where my family and I had vacationed since I was a kid, where my parents went on their honeymoon, and where we had all vacationed with my mom one last time the year before,” Santana explains. “It was on that last trip to [Zihuantanejo] the year prior where Troy asked my mom if he could marry me.”

Since Santana and Troy were never in a rush to get married, they took their time to plan their dream wedding: An 85-person affair on April 22, 2022. “I’m originally from northern New Mexico, where my family has lived for hundreds of years. Beyond that, our roots go back to Spain,” the bride explains. “I originally wanted to get married in New Mexico, but we knew so many of our family and friends wouldn’t be able to make the trek to Taos or Santa Fe, so we started looking at venues in Miami where we live.”

When they spotted the St. Bernard de Clairvaux monastery—a 12th century Spanish cloister that was shipped over to the United States in pieces—the couple knew the historic site could fulfill their secret garden vision.

“Our venue was the basis for every decision that was made, from my dress to the color scheme,” Santana says. “When everything revolves around one specific element, it’s easy to stay on track and not fall into an inspiration spiral on Pinterest. After I compiled my [inspiration] boards, it was just a matter of finding vendors that were as excited about my vision as I was.”

Having worked in the fashion industry for so long, the bride knew she could bring her vision on her own. For some extra help, she enlisted A Love For Detail to ensure the day went off without a hitch. With an assortment of mostly Latina vendors, special family moments, and, yes, multiple outfit changes, the day was everything Santana and Troy envisioned. Read on for an intimate look at the festivities as photographed by Paula Jackson.

Santana and Troy's white and green invitations

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Santana and Troy wanted their wedding to be a “wild and ethereal secret garden, with undertones of glamour from a bygone era.” The nuptials started off on the right note—literally—with these subtly elevated invitations from BHLDN x Minted.

Santana in a silk strappy dress and Troy in white pants and a blue shirt

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Before the big day, the soon-to-be weds hosted a rehearsal dinner for their inner circle. The bride made the event a fashionable affair with a Jacquemus dress and Bottega Veneta shoes.

Santana in a backless silk wool gown with a cowl neck and lace gloves

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

For the big day, Santana knew she wanted a dress with an old-world vibe—but didn’t want anything that felt “overly princess or medieval.” Fortunately, she found exactly what she was looking for in a raised cowl neck, silk wool gown from Danielle Frankel. “When I tried on the dress and it felt like it was from another era, especially the scarf draped accent on the back, I knew it was the one,” the bride shares. “I also knew I didn’t want a veil, so the fact that the dress allowed me to show off my back was the icing on the cake.”

Santana's lace gloves and heels

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Santana accessorized her look with Danielle Frankel gloves, mint green shoes from Altuzarra, and sentimental jewelry. “I wanted to wear something that belonged to my mom, so I choose the diamond earrings that my dad gave her on their 10th wedding anniversary,” she says. “And, because I felt that my dress needed statement earrings since I wasn’t doing a veil, I attached baroque pearls to the back like an ear-jacket. It was the perfect combination of old and new.”

Troy's black tuxedo

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Troy is a big fan of Italian tailoring, so he sported a double-breasted tuxedo from Ermenegildo Zegna. “I was told that a black or white jacket would be a little stark compared to the color of the bride’s dress, so we designed a navy wool tux with black grosgrain lapels and paired it with a wing tip collared shirt,” he shares. Rounding out the look was a vintage Patek Philippe watch that belonged to Santana’s grandfather and Christian Louboutin shoes. “I went rogue with the Louboutin shoes,” he adds. “I think Santana was pleasantly surprised by my choice.”

Santana and Troy's first look

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Since the couple loved the character of their hotel, Esmé Miami Beach, they decided to do their first look at their accommodations.

Santana and Troy kissing during their first look

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Though Santana planned a lot of the day’s small moments, she decided to wing her first look the day-of. “Paula, our photographer, suggested stepping outside onto historic Española Way, so we went with that,” she explains. “All the passersby and al fresco diners at The Drexel got to see our first look. It was fun and spur of the moment. I think it’s so important that your wedding day has a little bit of spontaneity.”

Santana in a blush organza trench

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

“Because we had to travel to the monastery from the hotel and I didn’t want to wear and wrinkle my dress in the car, I needed to change into something that would be easy to take on and off,” she shares. “I found this sheer blush organza trench that was the perfect mix of practicality and bridal whimsy.” To make her travel outfit a fashionable affair, Santana paired her Material layer with Stuart Weitzman shoes.

Santana and Troy's outdoor ceremony with white folding chairs and flowers down the aisle

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

As the couple put it, “When you have a mystical, vine-covered tree as a backdrop, you really don’t need much else.” They kept the ceremony area simple with aisle flowers, Spanish hand fans, and flower petal cones fashioned from vintage sheet music.

Santana lighting a candle in the monastery

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

“I decided to write both my late mom and sister letters on the morning of the wedding,” Santana explains. “When we got to the monastery, I placed the letters by the memorial candles where I lit two white candles in their honor. It was a special way to honor their memory, knowing their flames would be burning throughout our day.”

Santana walking with her dad down the aisle

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Santana glided down the aisle with her father and a lush, Anthurium-centric bouquet. “We did a first look but I still wanted there to be a little element of surprise as I walked down the aisle. So, I kept the processional song a secret from Troy,” she shares. “I went with one of our favorite songs from the early days of our friendship, ‘Fade into Darkness’ by Avicii. It sounded so beautiful covered by the live string quartet.”

Santana and Troy reading vows to one another

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

In addition to reciting their own vows, Santana’s Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII was read in both Spanish and English. “That might be the most honest love poem ever written,” the bride gushes.

Santana and Troy kissing

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

After exchanging their Cartier wedding bands, the couple sealed their lasting love with a kiss.

Santana and Troy recessing up the aisle holding their dog

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

The newlyweds recessed down the aisle to “Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris, another surprise Santana had up her Danielle Frankel gloves. “The lyrics of the song, although you couldn’t hear them because we had a quartet, were perfect for the moment,” she adds.

Santana and Troy holding hands next to their floral arch

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

After the ceremony, the happy couple snuck away to snap a few photos with Paula Jackson. “Walking outside to the cocktail hour, we were able to capture a photo inspired by the iconic photo of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette on their wedding day,” the bride says.

Santana and Troy's bar menu and flower decorations

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

For cocktail hour, guests were transported to Havana with a cigar roller and Latin band that played the couple’s favorite tunes by by the Buena Vista Social Club and Celia Cruz.

Troy surprising Santana with a toast

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Santana and Troy drinking wine together

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

“Troy also surprised me with a toast dedicated to my late mom, where we all drank the same wine that we drank the night Troy asked my mom if he could marry me,” Santana shares. “It was incredibly sentimental and so thoughtful. He still has the cork from that night.”

Santana and Troy's banquet table with white tablecloths, floral centerpieces, and blue taper candles

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Santana wanted the tables at the reception to feel ethereal and airy—“like a whisper or light breeze”—so she dressed up the space with blue accents, transparent glassware, and a mix of dry and fresh florals. “Our invites had pressed foliage on them, so we mirrored those by placing pressed florals onto the calligraphed menus.”

Santana and Troy's place settings with lucite chargers and blue knotted napkins

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Bill Hansen delivered with a Latin-inspired menu, including Peruvian ceviche and bacon-wrapped maduro plantains for cocktail hour appetizers as well as yuca-crusted mahi-mahi for dinner. “We also made sure our guests had sustenance and passed around a late-night snack of fried chicken and truffle fries,” Santana adds.

Santana and Troy sitting at their reception table

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Before dinner was served, Santana and Troy had a few minutes to get a sneak peak of their reception. “As the sun was starting to set, sunbeams made their way to the tables and the ambiance felt so magical,” the bride recalls. “Like we stepped back in time.”

Santana and Troy's first dance

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

After an impromptu dinner prayer led by Troy’s great uncle, the couple shared a first dance to Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’.”

Santana and Troy's three-tier white cake decorated with greenery

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Troy with cake smashed on his face

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

For dessert, guests enjoyed a chocolate, salted caramel pecan cake from Earth & Sugar, which Santana eventually smashed into her newly minted husband’s face! “I’m not sure what came over me in the moment but smashing the cake in Troy’s face was one of those unplanned, hysterical moments,” she recalls. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming, not even myself, and neither of us were afraid to get dirty because we knew we were changing soon.”

Santana and Troy's hora loca disco dancers

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

“We both love the glitz of the ’70s, so it was only fitting that our reception have a Studio 54 twist, complete with DJ and trio of instrumentalists,” the couple says. “We both did a quick outfit change—we needed it after the cake!—and followed our hora loca disco dancers to the dancefloor to ‘You Should be Dancing’ by The Bee Gees.”

Santana in a feather after-party set

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Speaking of an outfit change, Troy slipped into a silk dinner jacket, black pants, and collared shirt from Ermenegildo Zegna while Santana opted for something that was “fun to move in.” “I’m a sucker for the feather trend happening right now, but I wanted something one-of-a-kind, so I started scouring vintage websites,” she shares. “I was able to find a white dress and matching feather scarf from the ’70s that was perfect for the Studio 54 theme of our dance. Paired with gold rhinestone Gucci shoes, what is more disco than that? I can’t wait to wear this whole ensemble again.”

Santana and Troy's champagne tower

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Since Troy is known for being a champagne connoisseur, a tower of bubbly ruled the reception.

Santana and Troy hugging at their after-party

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Guests danced all night long to a pulse-pumping playlist by Event Factor.

Santana and Troy kissing in front of their floral arch

Photo by Paula Jackson Photography

Looking back on their big day, the couple stresses the importance of living in the present. “We got caught in 90 minutes of traffic on the way to the monastery and didn’t have time to take half the pictures we wanted, including portraits in the beautiful gardens,” they share. “We could have snuck away during cocktails or dinner to take the photos, but in the end, we wanted to soak in the moment and decided we’d rather spend quality time with each other and our guests.” After all, very few things can rival spending quality time with the people you love—and some great outfits.

Wedding Team

Venue St. Bernard de Clairvaux

Day-Of Coordinator A Love For Detail

Bridal Gown Designer Danielle Frankel

Bride’s Gloves Danielle Frankel

Bride’s Jewelry Maria Tash; Chanel; Van Cleef & Arpels; Cartier

Bride’s Shoes Altuzarra

Bride’s Hair & Makeup Bellelite

Bride’s Getting Ready Look  Eberjey

Bride’s Travel Look Material; Stuart Weitzman

Bride’s Second Bridal Gown Vintage 1stdibs

Bride’s Second Shoes Gucci

Bride’s Rehearsal Dinner Attire Jacquemus; Bottega Veneta

Sister of the Bride’s Dress Acler via Moda Operandi

Groom’s Attire Ermenegildo Zegna

Groom’s Shoes Christian Louboutin

Engagement Ring Custom

Wedding Bands Cartier

Floral Design Simple Florals

Invitations BHLDN x Minted

Calligraphy Calligraphy by Elaine

Seating Chart Miami Writes Co.

Guest Book FêteFone

Music Event Factor

Entertainment Event Factor

Lighting Event Factor

Catering Bill Hansen

Cake Earth & Sugar

Rentals Mi Vintage; Photog Booth

Favors Cigar Stud

Accommodations Esmé Miami Beach

Photography Paula Jackson

Videography VMF Films Co.

Related Stories