Mandi Meng spent Memorial Day weekend of 2012 at the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York. There, some friends of friends introduced her to Scott Kotchko, and they immediately hit it off. A couple of years later, Scott planned a weekend getaway to Rhode Island, and Mandi sensed that a proposal was in store on their trip. But as she was packing engagement-worthy outfits, Scott completely surprised her by popping the question right then and there. They had a champagne toast on their rooftop before kickstarting their romantic getaway as a newly-engaged couple.
Since the pair dreamed of a destination wedding, they smartly lined up an all-star planning team that included the local pros from Event Design by Marianna Idirin and a wedding coordinator from their venue, Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. On December 12, 2015, a year and four months after they got engaged, Mandi and Scott welcomed 60 guests south of the border for a beachfront ceremony and reception. Ana & Jerome Photography were on hand to capture every beautiful moment of this couple's sunny destination nuptials.
The bride always knew she wanted a wedding in the sand, but it was particularly hard for the couple to find a venue in Cabo San Lucas as the area had been hard-hit by a hurricane in 2014. Many properties weren't opening again until late spring, so Mandi and Scott had to pick their space based on reviews alone. With help from their wedding planner, they pulled off an unforgettable day inspired by the colors of sea glass and the venue's stunning surroundings. "I wanted to use a lot of natural wood elements and greenery to enhance the beauty of the hotel without being overwhelming," the bride says.
To get guests excited for the party to come, Mandi and Scott chose a Mexican-inspired invitation suite, complete with a postcard save-the-date. "The hardest part of planning was tackling the guest list," Mandi says. "Since we were having a smaller destination wedding, we really had to narrow down who we were able to invite, which was incredibly difficult."
The bride spent the morning getting ready with her 'maids, who donned adorable robes in a fun tropical print. Talk about picture-perfect style!
Mandi's Amsale wedding dress, a corseted silk taffeta ball gown with lace applique details, was the very first style she tried on. "Luckily, Amsale was having a trunk show at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta on the day I went shopping, and the runway sample fit perfectly," she says.
The bride accessorized with her grandmother's art-deco watch from the 1920s, her father's fraternity pin attached to the pocket of her gown, and custom Lazaro diamond earrings from the groom. The finishing touch was her bouquet of white roses, succulents, greenery, cotton blossoms, and blue hydrangea, all tied with a silk ribbon.
Bridesmaids chose their own dresses, following Mandi's request that they each select a look they loved in a sea glass-hue.
The groom wore a John Varvatos tuxedo paired with a Paul Smith shirt and Gucci bowtie. He also wore Stubbs & Wooten shoes, a vintage Omega Speedmaster watch, and custom jet skull cufflinks by Lazaro, a gift from his bride.
Groomsmen wore their own black tuxedos with black bowties. "We wanted a classic look, which was updated by succulent and raffia boutonnieres," Mandi says.
A live band played the harp, ukulele, and cello during the oceanfront ceremony. At the end of the beachy aisle, the bride and groom had a custom-made chuppah constructed out of natural wood and white panels.
As the bridal party made their entrances, the band performed Voluntary Trumpet, and when Mandi and her father began their walk down the aisle, the band switched over to Pachelbel's Canon in D. The duo chose a personalized ceremony, most of which Scott wrote himself. "He even wrote the vows we recited, which made it really personal and special," says Mandi.
After the ceremony, Mandi changed into a white lace and silk chiffon dress from Grace Loves Lace, complete with a plunging back. "I actually found it on Pinterest and had to order it custom from Australia — that's how much I loved it!"
At the reception, guests were treated to another stunning view of the ocean as they took their seats in mismatched vintage chairs at round wood tables topped with blue linens. Centerpieces of white roses, succulents, and cotton blossoms were surrounded by mercury glass candles. Each table was marked with a glass box filled with pale blue blooms.
As a nod to their Mexican venue, the bride and groom swapped traditional place cards for mini Casomigos tequila bottles with guests names and seating assignments.
In addition to comfortable lounge seating, guests could slip away for a visit to the couple's tequila bar for drinks. To amp up the romantic ambiance of the space, Mandi and Scott lined the reception area with silver and gold lanterns from Morocco. Dinner was a full Mexican buffet, which included a guacamole bar and al pastor station. For dessert, everyone lined up at a made-to-order churro station and dove into the couple's three-tier vanilla wedding cake with succulent detailing.
Mandi and Scott shared their first dance to "Field of Gold" by Eva Cassidy. Shortly after, a gift from the couple's parents surprised everyone. "We were dancing on the terrace overlooking the ocean, and the sky was lit up with beautiful fireworks. It was truly a magical fairytale moment," Mandi says.
After soaking up every moment of their big day, the couple stayed at the venue for a mini-moon. They're currently considering Greece, St. Lucia, the Maldives, and Thailand for a longer honeymoon to celebrate.
Venue, Catering & Cake: Esperanza, an Auberge Resort || Event Design, Rentals & Flowers: Event Design by Marianna Idirin || Bride's Wedding Dress: Amsale; Grace Loves Lace || Groom's Attire: John Varvatos || Music: Trio Los Mosquitos; Francisco Alatorre; DJ Ernesto Flores || Photographer & Videographer: Ana & Jerome Photography
Hosting your own beach wedding? Then get inspired by another couple's oceanfront wedding in the video below.