A Modern Beach Wedding in Tulum, Mexico

Planned by Diana Romo Weddings

Updated 10/18/19

Photo by Melissa Marshall

It’s common for kids to tease one another that they’ll end up marrying their elementary school crush, but for Katy Guo and Dustin Cox, it's exactly what happened. The Chicago-based couple met in 1999 as fifth-graders on the playground and were engaged 18 years later when Dustin proposed on the beach in Santa Monica.

The beach also served as the backdrop for their October destination wedding in Tulum, Mexico. “We’d always wanted an intimate, eclectic event, and Tulum was the perfect setting,” Katy says. “We’re big foodies, too, and the cuisine there is some of the best we’ve ever experienced.”

Keeping reading for all the details of Katy and Dustin’s stylish destination wedding, as planned by Diana Romo Weddings and captured by Melissa Marshall. It's full of ideas for couples who want a beach wedding without a beach "theme"

Wedding invitations
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Wedding invitation detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Invitation suites sourced from Etsy hinted at the natural, outdoorsy celebration with modern, minimalist touches to come. 

Welcome dinner at Kitchen Table
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Sparkly dress detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Enjoying expertly prepared meals with their guests was a priority for the couple throughout the wedding weekend. One of the highlights was, “having all of our friends and family gathered for our welcome party at Kitchen Table,” remembers Katy. Tucked away within the jungle at Tulum National Park, the eco-friendly restaurant specializes in fresh, locally sourced fare that the food-loving pair loved.

Bride getting ready
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
The bride and her mother
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

“Tulum has a boho-style to it,” says Katy, who wanted her wedding-day look to match the location’s chic-yet-natural vibe. The bride turned to Playa del Carmen-based makeup artist Zoë Elizabeth to create her romantic, wavy do. 

The bride in her Rue de Siene gown
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Wedding gown sleeve detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Katy chose an embroidered gown and veil by Rue de Seine, purchased from Kaylee Archer's Alice in Ivory bridal boutique in Chicago. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! Kaylee was involved with the entire process and made sure I left with the perfect dress," she says.

Bride and bridesmaids
Photo by Melissa Marshall 
Bridal Bouquet detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Bridesmaids wore matching light-tan gowns from Show Me Your Mumu. “I wanted to capture the natural look of Tulum and have the dresses stand out against the blues and greens of the beach,” says Katy. Bouquets by María Límon included red anthurium and eucalyptus. 

The bride and groom kiss
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Portrait of the bride and groom
Photo by Melissa Marshall 
Portrait of the bride and groom
Photo by Melissa Marshall 

The groom donned a light ensemble from Suit Supply, while his J.Crew tie was held in place with a clip engraved with his initials (a gift from his parents). The couple posed for photos before heading to Ak’iin Beach Tulum, which hosted the ceremony and reception. The vibe of the day was relaxed, festive, and fun. For example, "with about two minutes left to get to the venue to start the ceremony, Katy, myself and all of our friends took a shot of tequila at our hotel bar!" Dustin remembers.

Shoes Optional sign at the beach
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Guests remove their shoes on the beach
Photo by Melissa Marshall 

“We have a close knit group of friends and family, which made for a more intimate invite list,” says Katy. A “Shoes Optional” sign greeted the couple’s 60 guests as they arrived at the beach for the 5 p.m. ceremony set against the ocean backdrop.

A bridesmaid and groomsmen process up the aisle.
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

During the ceremony, an acoustic guitarist performed songs including Michael Bublé’s “Everything,” Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” and “Here Comes the Sun,” by The Beatles.

Katy and Dustin marry at the beach
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Katy and Dustin hug their relatives during the ceremony
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

One of Dustin’s favorite memories from the day? “Seeing Katy walk down the aisle with her dad,' he says. Once at the altar, the couple hugged their parents before the ceremony began.

The couple exchanges rings
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
The couple exchanges rings
Photo by Melissa Marshall 
The couple kisses
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Dustin and Katy wrote their own vows. "We both included references to our bulldog, Mika,” says the bride. “We each wrote from the heart about what life had been like the last 13 years of dating, and how excited we were to spend our lives together in the future.” 

The couple hug during the ceremony
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
The couple recess down the aisle
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
The couple leave the ceremony
Photo by Melissa Marshall 

The newlyweds recessed to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours)” as guests cheered them on.

The couple together at their reception
Photo by Melissa Marshall 
The couple at their reception
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

After the ceremony, Katy and Dustin took a moment to soak in the emotions and excitement of the occasion. “Everything goes by so quickly,” recalls the bride. “At the end of the day, everyone will have a good time and is there to celebrate you, so take time to relax and enjoy the process.”  

Cocktail hour sign
Photo by Melissa Marshall 
Passed hors d’oeuvres detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Guests mingle at the cocktail hour
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

During cocktail hour, guests sipped the signature passionfruit Mezcal drink and nibbled on passed hors d’oeuvres. “Our menu included lots of seafood dishes like ceviche, fresh fish, and shrimp and lobster tostadas,” Katy says. “The venue did a great job of scoping out some restaurants we’d really enjoyed during previous trips to Tulum and brought a little of each to our menu.” 

Acrylic seating chart
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Seating chart detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

“We're pretty minimalistic, so everything was very clean and natural-looking,” says Katy of the reception décor. The couple worked with Diana Romo Weddings to bring their vision to life through unique details, such as this acrylic seating chart

Reception tables
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
Reception tables lower light
Photo by Melissa Marshall
Chandelier detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Arrangements of greenery hung above long wood reception tables decorated with flowers and string lights, while chandeliers added an unexpected, elegant touch to the thatch-roofed space above.

Place setting detail
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

Place settings highlighted the couple’s carefully chosen, six-course menu that included chocolate mousse as well as a red velvet, coconut crème, and Dulce de Leche wedding cake. 

The couple shares their first dance
 Photo by Melissa Marshall
The groom dips the bride on the dancefloor
 Photo by Melissa Marshall

The couple performed their first dance to Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” and danced with their parents to “All of Me,” by John Legend for the father-daughter dance and “I Won’t Let You Go” by James Morrison for the mother-son dance. The couple’s fathers also provided one of their favorite moments from the reception. “My dad and Katy’s father were lifted up on the dance floor by our friends and paraded around while the music played,” says Dustin. A DJ kept everyone dancing until the evening ended, the sound of guests’ cheers and laughter mixing with the crash of waves from the sea. 

Wedding Planner: Diana Romo Weddings || Ceremony & Reception Venue, Catering: Ak’iin Tulum || Officiant: Christian Carballo || Bride’s Dress & Veil: Rue de Siene || Bride’s Jewelry: HRH Co. || Bride’s Shoes: Lulus || Hair & Makeup: Zoë Elizabeth || Bridesmaid Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu || Groom’s Attire: Suit Supply || Groomsmen’s attire: Express || Wedding Bands & Engagement Ring: Alan Rocca || Floral Design: María Límon || Invitations & Paper Products: Etsy.com || Music: Scenic Music Shows, Los Juanras, Plug In Audio || Wedding Cake: Zaida Marcos || Rentals: Archive Rentals || Favors: Imari Mexico || Transportation: Your Cancun DMC || Videography: Red Carpet Films || Photography: Melissa Marshall 

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