A Stunning Spanish Garden Wedding and Pool Party

This massive reception took place on the bride's former family land.

Updated 04/03/18

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

While Natalia del Rivero and Christopher Darling officially married in an intimate chapel wedding (see the bride's chic look here!) on September 14, 2017, they decided to host another party, inviting 325 guests to celebrate again at Finca Cortesin in Casares, Malaga, Spain, two days later.

The couple selected the venue for a number of reasons. First, it was important to the bride and her parents that she marry in her home country of Spain. Also, the land on which Cortesin is built once belonged to the bride's maternal grandfather, renowned architect Luis Gutierrez-Soto. And finally: "Chris is a big golfer and the course at Cortesin is beautiful—his one request for the wedding was that we host a golf tournament the day before so this was a perfect location," explains Natalia.

To help coordinate the details, Natalia and Chris enlisted the help of their close friend Claudia Aguirre of A-Tipica, a wedding and event design firm in Madrid. “Planning the wedding would have been extremely difficult without her,” says Natalia. Together, they set out to create an elegant, chic, and sophisticated event in both the garden and beach settings. As a creative person—she's the creative director of Del Rivero Design—Natalia knew what she liked, and was very decisive throughout the process, though she admits that she's not a girl who has dreamt of her wedding day since childhood.

The day after hiring Claudia, Natalia sent her a presentation with the color scheme, mood board, and floral direction—and after four trips to Spain from their home in New York City, that vision came to life. "Even though it was black tie, it didn’t feel at all urban, but more old Marbella chic,” she says.

Keep reading to see more of Chris and Natalia's big day, as photographed by Patricia Lyons Photography.

venue Finca Cortesin Hotel

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

venue Finca Cortesin hotel

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

In addition to the bride's family ties to the venue, Natalia and Chris selected it because they loved the pool and surrounding tropical landscape.

invitation suite

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

wedding reception menu

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The bride designed all the paper goods, including the save-the-dates, invitations, menus, ceremony programs, fans, escort cards, and olive oil labels and tags. For the table names at the reception, she even hand-painted tiles!

olive oil wedding favors

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

In addition to creating the paper suite, the couple tackled one additional DIY project: the olive oil favors. The bride's family produces their own olive oil at their country house in Spain, so they bottled it up, attached custom labels, and gifted a bottle to each guest.

bridal hair accessories

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

For her updo, Natalia had a custom ceramic headpiece made in Madrid by an old friend, Ana Maria, who owns a studio and shop called Mimoki.

bridal suite

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

Natalia’s rose blush and champagne-colored gown was designed by Vera Wang. It featured an organza bodice with beading and velvet appliqué flowers, and the bride added an extra train to amp up the drama factor of its tulle and organza skirt. “I wanted something different and creative that would reflect my personality and would work well in the location,” she says. As per Spanish tradition, the bride's future in-laws gave her the dress as a wedding gift.

bride in champagne dress

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The bride donned custom Jimmy Choo heels, which were personalized with the wedding date on a small plaque on the shoe's sole.

bride in champagne dress

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

bride getting ready

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

When Natalia went for her last appointment at Vera Wang, she had another dress on her mind. In fact, she almost didn’t try on the non-white dress! “On our way out, [my mom] pulled the dress and asked me to try it on," she recalls. "Bingo! That was the dress. I loved how the color worked with my olive skin.”

bride's bouquet

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

While she was getting ready, Chris sent over a letter and gift of three pavé bands and a Cartier Trinity Ring. Natalia calls this one of most special moments of the day.

witnesses

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

In keeping with Spanish tradition, Natalia had witnesses in lieu of bridesmaids. They each dressed in a long blush gown of their own choosing.

flower girls

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

flower girl

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The flower girls were Natalia’s two goddaughters along with the daughter of the couple's dear friends from New York. They looked adorable in custom linen and lace dresses made in Madrid by Marta Ussia, paired with flower crowns by Susana Sanchez.

father-of-the-bride walking bride down the aisle

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

Natalia’s father walked her down the aisle as a trio of her best friends (all professional singers) sang “She” by Elvis Costello.

garden wedding ceremony

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The ceremony took place in the garden of Finca Cortesin, which had a church-like setting with a beautiful floral arch and an antique icon painting of the Virgin Mary. The altar was decorated with linen and antique cotton and lace, while the aisle runner was made of natural jute and lined with white floral planters.

bride and groom at altar

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

Natalia and Chris made their ceremony personal by asking friends and family to do readings and sing songs. The couple followed Spanish tradition and didn’t exchange spoken or written vows.

bride and groom first kiss

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The groom wore a custom midnight blue tuxedo made by tailor Borja Martin of Scalpers in Madrid. He completed his look with a custom tux shirt from Proper Cloth NY, a Cartier watch (a gift from his bride’s parents—a tradition in Spain), a bowtie and pocket square from Bonobos, slippers from Stubbs and Wootton, cufflinks from Tiffany & Co. (a gift from his mother), and shirt studs from Turnbull & Aster, which Natalia gifted him for their first anniversary.

ceremony exit with dog

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

When the newlyweds recessed, Natalia’s friends sang “Il Mio Canto Libero,” by Lucio Battisti. Their dog, Chuchita, sensed the importance of the moment and walked out with the couple!

champagne wedding dress

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

bride with bouquet

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The bride accessorized with her late grandmother’s ring, her own engagement ring, as well as her new gifts from Chris.

bride and groom ceremony exit

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The cocktail hour featured three signature drinks: margaritas, Moscow mules, and tinto de verano, a Spanish cocktail. There were also professionals slicing Iberian jamon for guests on the spot.

pool side reception Finca Cortesin Hotel

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

pool side reception

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The reception tables mixed low arrangements with tall tropical leaf centerpieces. The couple named each table for a restaurant they have been to together, with theirs being called Mermaid Inn as a nod to their first date location. (The escort cards had blurbs about the importance of each.)

blue wedding decor

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

Place settings incorporated white-and-blue ceramic chargers, along with blue and clear glassware and gold cutlery. The menus, too, kept with the palette and were designed in blue and white and wrapped with a thin navy velvet ribbon holding an olive tree branch with the name card. Olive oil bottles with custom labels were placed at every table.

finca cortesin pool

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

Lit partially by lanterns in the pool, dinner was typically Spanish, including arroz caldoso with lobster, and seabass, filet mignon, or porcini ravioli.

cutting the wedding cake

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The groom hates chocolate, so the couple had two desserts—warm chocolate souffle floating in white chocolate soup with gooseberries, and brioche bread pudding with meringue ice cream and caramel—plus their lemon-raspberry wedding cake.

first dance

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

reception dancing

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

The newlyweds’ first dance was to U2’s “With or Without You.” After, Natalia danced to Sting's “Fields of Gold” with her father, which was particularly special as it was the only part of her wedding she’d ever imagined ahead of time.

couple kissing on dance floor

Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

Spanish weddings can go all night! So at 2:30 a.m., to keep their guests up and dancing, Natalia and Chris passed out espadrilles in white, navy, and light blue to women who wanted to take their heels off. And at 5 a.m., they served mini burgers and American hot dogs alongside churros with hot chocolate to represent both their heritages—and to keep the dancing going until 6:30 a.m.!

Venue: Finca Cortesin || Planner: Claudia Aguirre, A-Tipica Madrid || Bride’s Dress: Vera Wang || Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Groom’s Attire: Scalpers || Hair Accessories: Mimoki || Hair & Makeup: Eva Villar Beauty || Floral Design: Susana Sanchez || Invitations & Paper Products: Del Rivero Design Co. || Calligraphy: Sofia Millares || Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Kiss the Ring || Catering: Miguel Angel Sevilla || Entertainment: DJ Mickey Pavon; Charlys Angels || Photography: Patricia Lyons Photography || Second Shooter: Lori Miles

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