“As absolutely nuts as it sounds, I knew the second I saw him that he was my husband,” Brie Cross recalls of the moment she met Marco Antonio Simental Granados. On July 4, 2011, Brie got a text from her friend to meet her at a restaurant in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood—immediately! "My friend Megan had just started dating one of Marco's friends, and she said there was an 'objectively handsome man I needed to meet,'" Brie explains. Of course, that man was Marco—and seven years later, they said "I do." (Their friends did too!)
After years of doing "the long-distance thing," Brie and Marco now call New York City home but decided that a destination wedding in Mexico seemed fitting, given their engagement in Cabo San Lucas and the groom’s familial heritage. After a deep-dive into “practically every hacienda within a 200-mile radius of Mexico City,” they found Hacienda Acamilpa, a property in Acamilpa, Mexico, that dates to the 17th century. "I had my heart set on a hacienda wedding, and it took quite a bit of searching to find a place with enough space for our events, gorgeous gardens, and a chapel that wasn’t too creepy," she admits. "Hacienda Acamilpa was one of the first venues we looked at, and I knew the second we walked in that it was our place." They set a date for just six months away, on April 14, 2018, and set about planning a destination wedding in a "serious time crunch." "It wasn’t easy and I worked on it morning to night," Brie admits. "I thought since I do fashion PR and front-of-house for fashion shows and events that planning would be a piece of cake—parts were, but I had very specific ideas of what I wanted, or rather, didn’t want." But the time crunch, language barrier, and countless unexpected issues (thanks to mercury retrograde, says the bride!) didn’t intimidate Brie, and they ultimately succeeded in planning a “simple, elegant” event that melded both Mexican and American cultures and traditions.
Keep reading to see how it all came together, as planned by Karen Morlet and captured by Phil Chester.
It was love at first sight for the couple, and it's no surprise why. "Hacienda Acamilpa has an incredible history dating back to the early 17th century, when it was owned by El Colegio de Cristo, a Jesuit organization," Brie explains. "It’s in the middle of the Mexican countryside with nothing around it. You drive down a long gravel road through cornfields and have no idea what’s beyond the wall. We loved giving our family and friends this adventure!"
After having a moment when she saw both Marco and their wedding venue for the first time, Brie admits that she did not have such a feeling while dress shopping. "I was torn between two dresses, but there was something special about my dress and it came down to a feeling," she says of the winning dress, a Carolina Herrera ball gown. "In hindsight, I’m sure I knew it the second I tried it on, but I was so afraid of choosing the wrong one that I got easily overwhelmed. I don’t know how I even considered anything else. I felt like a queen in it!"
Brie carried a bouquet of garden roses and greenery, as did her bridesmaids.
The bride's niece Hadley acted as their flower girl and looked adorable in a Tutu du Monde dress of her choosing. "Right before the ceremony, she decided she’d resign from her duties, so my brother-in-law Matt stepped in and carried her down the aisle, sprinkling the rose petals trying to change her mind," Brie says. "She did not, but he was the best flower girl ever!" Thankfully, the ring bearer Liam, Brie's nephew, was on his best behavior. "He took it so seriously and did such a good job," she says.
The couple married at Hacienda San Jose Acamilpa Chapel, which florist María Limón dressed up by adding striking greenery walls to each side of the altar. "The chapel itself was beyond gorgeous with an elaborate altar and gilded reredos, so we wanted to accent its history and beauty," she says. "I loved the contrast of the gold with the old stone floors and rawness of the chapel. Greenery made it pop!"
Brie and Marco worked with their priest to personalize their ceremony with special readings, prayers, and musical selections. "We were fortunate to be able to make some personal additions to the ceremony, even though we were married in the chapel," says the bride. "The priest was understanding as to the meaning of everything to us." Brie says they particularly spent a great deal of time considering the music. "Our ceremony music was very intentional, purposeful, and meaningful," says the bride, who admits that she probably listened to 30 versions of "Ave Maria" until she found the right one. Another song of note? The processional selection to 2CELLOS instrumental version of "Despacito." Says Brie, "It’s quite pretty, and we thought it was hilarious—we still don’t know how many people picked up on it!"
While doing ceremony research, Brie came across Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII ("I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where") and fell in love with it. "The words describe how I felt when I met Marco without even knowing how to express it," she says. She had the sonnet printed on the back of the ceremony program.
After Brie and Marco exchanged their "updated" traditional wedding vows, the ceremony ended with a Catholic Mexican tradition, during which the bride presents a bouquet of flowers to the Virgin Mary while "Ave Maria" plays. "Marco walked with me, and I knelt at the base of the Virgin," Brie says. "You are meant to pray, but I spoke to my mother as I knew she was with me, and then, of course, I couldn’t stop crying. This photo is one of my favorites from the wedding as, at the moment, only I knew what emotion I felt."
A party immediately kicked off with the entrance of a mariachi band, who ushered guests from ceremony to cocktail hour. But the couple's favorite nod to their Mexican locale surprisingly wasn't the mariachi band (or tequila, for that matter!)—it was the "tournafiesta," a late-night arrival of Mexican street foods like esquites, chilaquiles, and quesadillas.
"Acamilpa is the most beautiful place and has so much character—flora and fauna everywhere, bougainvillea crawling the sides of the hacienda, old caves that are the entry to the property, beautiful chapel...it's absolutely magical," says the bride.
Brie worked with María Limón to top each tabletop with dove-colored table runners and cascading floral arrangements comprised of “all greenery and white roses with some pears and figs strewn in for fun.” Each place setting was complete with a calligraphed menu and place card by Tara Spencer.
The night's menu consisted of sea bass ceviche served in a half coconut as a starter—"100 points for presentation," says the bride—followed by steak with a balsamic-chipotle reduction, mushroom risotto, or sea bass with flor de calabaza risotto.
This was essentially followed by three courses of dessert, with chocolate cake and buñuelos (little Mexican doughnuts) served family-style at dinner and a red velvet cake for cutting after.
The reception music varied widely, but there was one big theme: Dance, dance, dance! First, a father-daughter dance mash-up of "My Girl" by The Temptations and Meghan Trainor's "Dance Like Yo Daddy." "I'm very close with my father, he's my best friend," says the bride. Next: An all-family dance to "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys. Says the bride, "We wanted a killer dance party, and everyone danced all night!"
Wedding Planner: Karen Morlet Eventos
Venue & Accommodations: Hacienda San Jose Acamilpa
Officiant: Padre Tarcisio
Bride’s Dress: Carolina Herrera
Bride's Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti
Bride's Veil: Bergdorf Goodman
Bride's Jewelry: Kentshire
Bride's Hair: Pamela Baumgartner
Bride's Makeup: Gus Bortolotti
Bridesmaids’ Attire: Amsale
Groom's Attire: Ermenegildo Zegna
Groom's Shoes: Ferragamo
Groomsmen Attire: Suit Supply
Wedding Bands: Michael Herman New York
Styling & Floral Design: María Limón
Paper Products: Idyll Paper by Tara Spencer
Catering: Eduardo Kohlmann
Ceremony & Reception Music: AR Producciones
Photographer: Phil Chester
Second Shooter: Sara Byrne