At the end of a stressful and exhausting year, on the last new moon of 2020, Mandy—the influencer and mental health blogger behind Girl & The—created a vision board. She “decided to be clear with the universe about what she wanted to manifest and invite into her life, specifically when it came to finding the right life partner,” the couple shares. “On her vision board, she included images of an engagement ring, a timeless love, and a destination wedding. She also created a very detailed list of traits she wanted to find in her future husband. Some of these characteristics included: ‘New Yorker with a thick New York accent,’ ‘someone who gets excited about food,’ ‘someone who wakes up jolly.’” The list went on.
Less than a month later, she swiped right on Brian, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker. His pickup line was “What’s your favorite sandwich?” It launched a discussion about food, and Brian, a native New Yorker, revealed that his pick was a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Delicatessen. Mandy swooned.
“After a few weeks of chatting, Brian and Mandy finally met for a date on January 28, 2021,” they share. “Since it was love in times of COVID-19, they wanted to make sure they could safely hangout. Much to his surprise, Mandy had organized to have his favorite sandwich delivered since they weren't able to eat indoors at Katz's Deli.” The date was monumental: “January 28 was the first full moon of 2021, and astrologically it is known to be the luckiest day of not just 2021, but in 36 years,” the couple says. “It’s also known as ‘The Day of Miracles,’ when the sun and Jupiter—planet of luck and expansion—connect in the cosmos, bringing good vibes for all.”
A relationship blossomed immediately. In the ensuing months, they got snowed in together during two historic blizzards, shared home cooking, FaceTimed their families, and watched every episode of “Schitt’s Creek.” Over Valentine’s Day, they took an impromptu trip to Cancun; when they returned, they were both certain they’d found the one.
Brian began kicking around ideas for elaborate proposals—but by July decided he couldn’t wait any longer. “On Brian's birthday, July 11, Mandy hosted a rooftop party with friends,” the couple remembers. “Right there, when she least expected it, Brian dropped down on one knee.” (Check out footage of the adorable proposal on Mandy’s Instagram.)
They knew they had to return to Cancun for their wedding, but, “planning a wedding in a foreign country during a global pandemic isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world,” Mandy admits. So, the couple turned The Eventeur, destination wedding experts and travel agents. “Planning a destination wedding requires patience and lots of trust,” the couple shares. “We never met with our vendors in person, did things like cake tastings or visits of any kind. We booked the Hilton Cancun sight unseen.” But, Mandy had no doubts. “I love Mexico so much and have always felt a connection to Mexican culture because it reminds me a lot of the values that my Persian heritage is built on, like hospitality and a love for food, dance, and a good party.”
The vibe? “If I had to use one word to describe my aesthetic, it would be ‘camp,’” Mandy says. “Brian also gravitates towards camp-style films. We wanted to create a whimsical, camp, secret-garden party vibe to transport our guests, and ourselves, into a dream.”
That’s exactly what they did. The couple exchanged vows in a spectacular, fantastical celebration on June 27, 2022. Scroll on to see all the chic details, planned by The Eventeur and photographed by Kape Photography.
“We had an invite list of people flying in from seven countries and 12 states,” the couple shares. “We wanted to make sure this would be a multi-day experience that would leave guests making their own memories as a family, but also with us as we become one big, happy, blended family unit.” “Cancun has a special place in Mandy’s heart because her big, fat, Persian family loves vacationing in Mexico every year,” they say. “We loved choosing an all-inclusive hotel because with a large number of people, there is always something for everyone to do, eat, and see. We wanted it to feel like a big family vacation.”
The duo worked with Minted on a chic invitation suite that set the aesthetic tone and detailed all four days of events, from the welcome party and rehearsal dinner to the ’80s-themed recovery day pool party.
“I love a personal touch and, since we had 225 guests traveling to celebrate with us, I really wanted to make sure they felt like they were each seen, recognized, and appreciated,” Mandy says. To do that, the couple created welcome bags—complete with custom watercolor art by CharmCat—packed full of their favorite goodies: “Wiley Wallaby licorice; Mario Badescu rosewater facial spray, a nod to Persian culture as rosewater symbolizes feminine energy; Sun Bum sunscreen; J.R. Watkins aromatherapy tablets that we love using in the bath and shower.” They also included a personalized message and a custom newspaper about their love story by JRC Prints and even customized Tic Tacs.
The couple initially connected over food, so “it was important to us that our personalities were apparent through our choice of food served throughout our four-day wedding weekend,” the couple says. Their welcome party on June 25 kicked things off with a sushi-forward menu. “We also had fresh churros and personalized fresh coconuts named after our nephew and ring bearer, Taytum, because he and Mandy have a tradition of drinking fresh coconut juice together.”
“I feel like I’ve been training for wedding planning my whole life,” Mandy says with a laugh. “I have been a bridesmaid 14 times and have planned countless bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, birthdays, and more. I fully embraced my role as a bride—after all, I’ve waited 37 years for this.”
She worked with a seamstress to customize a chic feathered frock for the welcome party; Brian donned a casual suit from Topman.
Mandy had been preparing to be a bride her whole life—and preparing her skin for at least nine months. “I wanted to have my best skin walking down the aisle,” she says. “I worked with David Shafer to come up with a plan that best suited my bridal skincare goals.” An aesthetician from Shafer’s clinic recommended the DiamondGlow facial, which exfoliates, extracts, and infuses the skin with SkinMedica Pro-Infusion Serums when pores are most receptive.”
“Three weeks before, I also got a Clear + Brilliant Laser Facial at Ever/Body,” Mandy says. “And, I have a regimented skincare routine. Some products I really relied on to prep my skin for the big day were Mario Badescu cleansing oil, SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge pore mask, and Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 V.
In addition to food and skincare, music was a top priority. “We love music, and Brian has an extensive record collection,” Mandy says. “Music is always playing in our New York City apartment so we had to make sure that music was playing at our wedding as much as possible. We hired an incredible saxophone player, Ariel Rossini, to join us at our welcome party.”
“We wanted to honor Brian‘s dad, who has passed, so we had a cigar and whiskey bar—two of his favorite things—at our welcome party.”
For night two—the rehearsal dinner—Mandy again worked with a seamstress to custom design a dress, this one inspired by “Emily in Paris.” The location? “Chambao steakhouse, a nod to Brian and his dad's love for steak,” Mandy says.
"We surprised our family and bridal party at our rehearsal dinner with acrobats and a fireworks show set to Frank Sinatra’s 'New York, New York,'" shares Mandy. "It was a special, intimate night away from the hotel to properly thank our family and closest friends for all they’ve done for us to lead us to the aisle."
Finally, the wedding day. Mandy got ready with her bridesmaids and ring bearer, nephew Taytum. “I am a big scent person. I love the way it helps set the mood and vibe, so I knew choosing a scent was important and would create a core memory. I chose Parfums de Marly’s Delina Eau de Parfum."
“I am a manicure obsessed girly and have probably been thinking about my wedding nails since I was five years old,” Mandy says. “I spent a lot of time trying to get them to a healthy place; I even did three rounds of IBX nail repair treatments to get my nails stronger so they could be natural and long on my wedding day. While I love a colorful manicure for my day to day life, I wanted a timeless look and opted for one coat of OPI Funny Bunny and two coats of OPI Bubble Bath for the perfect bridal blush nude.”
Having been a bridesmaid so many times herself, Mandy wanted to make sure her own ladies enjoyed the experience—so she showered them with gifts, including favorite items from Grande Cosmetics, Stephanie Gottlieb, Hey Maeve, Babor, and Algenist.
The influencer has worked with makeup artist Lucas Dean for years.”I let him choose the inspiration for the big day,” she says. “He chose a timeless look inspired by Adele that would capture my best self.” The look had a defined wing with natural shadow—bright and ethereal. Lucas used products by Charlotte Tilbury and Makeup by Mario, and got the dewy, glowy look with Babor's Hydra liquid foundation and concealer.
“Two months before our wedding, we found out that my original wedding dress was stuck in Ukraine,” Mandy says. “Being a curvy girl, I am definitely not a sample size so I was so stressed out about finding a dress that would fit me right. My friends at BHLDN quickly came to my rescue and found me the most incredibly dreamy Watters gown.” She highly recommends the shop. “BHLDN carries dresses from sizes 0 to 26. They make in-person appointments so lovely with samples that are in all sizes, so brides of all shapes and sizes can see themselves in dresses rather than have to imagine what it would look like in their size.”
Her accessories were fashionably curated. “I worked with Jennifer Behr to curate a collection of items that were romantic and feminine, with lots of floral and crystal embellishments to go with our garden party theme,” Mandy says. “Stephanie Gottlieb and I worked together picking diamonds for the big day that were timeless, elegant, and classic and did not steal away from the dress.” Since her gown had layers of tulle rosettes, Mandy wanted to keep the jewelry simple but fun. “We chose a set of diamond flower studs that complimented the florals on my dress.” She found an designer on Etsy who created her “extra extra royal length,” pearl-adorned veil.
As the groom got ready, he read an emotional note from Mandy. As for his fashion? “Brian has always loved a Hugo Boss suit,” Mandy says. “He always felt most comfortable in their cut and didn’t want to shake things up. He paired it with a Tom Ford bow tie because we love Tom Ford’s signature oversize style—it adds just a little bit of drama.”
The groom kept his late father close on the wedding day, with custom cufflinks gifted by the bride that had a portrait of his dad engraved in them. “He also had patch of one of his dad’s old shirts sewn into his tuxedo as his ‘something old,’” says Mandy, who used fabric from the same shirt to sew a heart into her dress.
Brian was “a total stranger to skincare” before meeting Mandy—but his bride encouraged him to dip his toe in. “Brian worked with Ever/Body to create a custom skincare plan for him leading up to the big day with a series of hydrafacials.
“With 225 guests, it was important to have some time alone to reflect on the journey getting to the big day before celebrating with all our guests,” the couple shares. “We exchanged cards that we had written for one another and danced to one of our favorite songs, ‘At My Worst’ by Pink Sweats.” They had also taken weekly lessons leading up to the wedding with Anton Domansky. “It became something we looked forward to every week, an intentional time put aside to connect as a couple and keep the wedding planning process fun.”
Always an advocate of expressing personal style, Mandy did not want impose any rules on her bridesmaids. “We partnered with Lady Black Tie, which has a size-inclusive range of cuts and silhouettes,” Mandy says. “The girls stuck to the pastel color palette with shades of pink, peach, champagne, and sage.” The groomsmen wore classic slim-fit black suits from H&M.
“We wanted to merge our two cultures in a Persian-American ceremony brimming with traditions that are near and dear to us both,” the couple shares. “The sofreh aghd is a traditional Persian wedding ceremony spread that dates back thousands of years. There are many symbolic items in the sofreh aghd spread, all of which represent an element of the couple’s new life and marriage together.” Among the items: a mirror to bring light to the couple’s future; almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts for abundance; gold coins for wealth and prosperity; eggs to represent fertility; honey for a sweet future; and more. “Each sofreh is unique and designed around the bride and groom’s personal style—ours was modern, colorful, eclectic, and non-traditional.”
“The Persian sofreh aghd is supposed to have a holy book—the bible or koran. Instead, we opted for a vintage book from 1786 of old French poems—it even included pieces by Persian poets Rumi and Hafiz,” Mandy describes. "The ceremony is usually officiated by a religious leader, but we chose my 25-year-old cousin who is so special to both Brian and I.”
It was very important for me to have cane incorporated into our wedding day.
“When we immigrated to the States, my dad bought a cane rocking chair from a garage sale as one of the first pieces of furniture,” Mandy recalls, “Cane has always had a special place in my heart and makes me feel like a kid again. It was very important for me to have cane incorporated into our wedding day; we were able to find the most beautiful cane chairs for our reception and ceremony.”
A string quartet played pop songs like “Unforgettable” by French Montana, “Peaches” by Justin Bieber, and “One Dance” by Drake. As the bride entered, they took up a throwback to the couple’s early dating days: The “Schitt’s Creek” version of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.”
Mandy’s mother accompanied her down the aisle. “My mom has been my rock; she embodies so many qualities that I admire and respect,” Mandy says. “Having her alongside me as I walk into the next chapter of my life was important to me not only to honor her, but also to carry her energy, to emulate her as a wife and future mother.”
The ceremony paid homage to Mandy‘s best friend, who had passed away six years prior from suicide. “Butterfly confetti cannons that were released during our ceremony, because a medium once told me that Alicia visits me in the form of a butterfly,” Mandy says. “Without fail, whenever I need her most I always tend to see butterflies. I wanted to see tons of butterflies on a day when I knew she would be sorely missed.”
"Our ceremony had 'Sugar Girls,' a Persian tradition we altered to make more modern," shares Mandy. Rather than have happily married older women who grind sugar over our heads during the ceremony, we chose women who embody traits we admire, respect and want to usher into our future.
The couple exchanged meaningful rings: Mandy’s a recreation of an eternity band from Brian’s grandmother and mother; Brian’s a gold band engraved with “love at first bite,” a nod to their first date.
“Our ceremony was very much a hybrid of Western and Persian cultures so we amended things to fit our personalities and values,” the couple shares. “While a traditional Persian ceremony does not have a portion for vows, it was important for us to write personal [ones].” During Mandy’s vows, three of the couple’s friends burst into a surprise flash vocal performance of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” another nod to “Schitt’s Creek.” “It was was a hit,” Mandy says, “and a surprise to the groom and guests!”
Moving into cocktail hour, “I really wanted a showstopper of a seating chart,” Mandy says. “We went with the cutest drink tags on Champagne flutes that were filled with rosé. It’s one of my very favorite details of our wedding."
Finding purveyors on Etsy became a sort of theme during wedding planning. “I wanted to make sure we were supporting small businesses,” the bride says. “I’m usually a DIY girly, but I decided to outsource a lot of our details by partnering with some really cool independent designers on Etsy.”
“I really wanted to transform the Hilton Cancun into a secret garden,” Mandy says. “I had never imagined getting married at a hotel, but because we needed someplace large enough to accommodate our big, fat, Persian wedding, a hotel made the most sense. We worked with our wedding planning team and an incredible up-and-coming floral designer, Aralia, to transport our guests to a whimsical, secret garden.”
A mix of round, rectangular, and farm tables added variety to the space. “The tables alternated in style, with completely different florals on each one,” Mandy says. “We had pastel candles on each table to create a romantic vibe with dim lights.”
“As a mental health blogger, I have something called the Virtual BFF pep talk generator; I send subscribers daily affirmations, because I believe that affirmations have the power to change a life,” Mandy says. “It was important to me to incorporate affirmations into our wedding day and to encourage our guests. We included a positive affirmation on every single place card, and tried to personalize them as much as possible.”
“We worked with local baker and cake designer Zaida Marcos to create a mid-century modern pastel cake,” Mandy says. Flavors included coconut cake with Key lime buttercream, banana nut cake with cream cheese, and chocolate cake with hazelnut praline.
Fireworks exploded as the couple performed their first dance, a mashup that began with Justin Bieber’s “Anyone” and ended with “Suavemente”; by the end, guests were on the dance floor with them.
“We hired a well-known Persian DJ from Toronto, DJ M1LAD, who is incredible at choosing music for bilingual events to make sure that all of our guests—regardless of their heritage or language—could vibe with on the dance floor,” Mandy says. It was just one way they made the reception uniquely their own. “We decided to skip out on a lot of traditions like a bouquet toss. I have felt there was always a spirit of exclusion in that tradition, and never wanted to make any of our guests feel left out in any way.” She adds a piece of advice for other to-be-weds: “Don't do anything that feels inauthentic to you for tradition's sake.”
“Seeing 225 of our nearest and dearest friends break it down on the dance floor until 1 a.m.— to everything from Persian to hip hop to EDM—was a surreal experience,” the couple reflects. “Some family members hadn't seen each other in 30 years. We left the dance floor knowing that our friends and family had created new friendships and memories to last a lifetime.”
Venue and Catering Hilton Cancun
Wedding Planner The Eventeur
Bride’s Hair Prep Hair
Bride’s Makeup Lucas Dean
Bridesmaids’ Dresses Lady Black Tie
Groom’s Shoes Christian Louboutin
Groom’s Styling Matt Stoll
Flower Girl’s Attire Etsy
Floral Designer Aralia
Invitations and Signage Minted
Guest Book After The Tone
Custom Signage ZCreate Design
Reception Scent Soycandle
Photo Booth La Cabina
Transportation Lomas Travel
Photographer and Videographer Kape Photography
Additional Photography Delbarr Moradi