When Tika Sumpter and Nicholas James started planning their wedding, they quickly agreed on one top priority: They wanted to treat their family and friends to an unforgettable experience. “I wanted everyone to feel taken care of, have a great time, and feel like they were on vacation,” Tika says. With that overarching goal in mind, the actors, who first met on the set of the television show The Haves and the Have Nots in 2015, decided that having a destination wedding—which would allow them to spend days, not hours, with their loved ones—was the perfect way to celebrate their marriage and help their guests unwind.
The only problem was neither Tika nor James had ever really given a destination wedding much thought, so a dream locale wasn’t already on their radar. To get inspired, they thought back to a vacation they loved and might want to replicate in some way: their babymoon. In 2016, shortly before the birth of their daughter, Ella, Tika and James visited Cabo and fell in love with the area. “It was so beautiful, and it wasn’t too far away from California, so it was an easy trip,” the bride remembers. And, after experiencing months in lockdown at the start of the pandemic, the couple felt strongly that their guests would jump at the opportunity to book a flight and get out of town. So, with the help of a local wedding planner, Ximena Perez of Amy Abbott Events, the pair set their sights on a wedding at Chileno Bay Resorts & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and got to work planning a weekend-long celebration, which was photographed by Jana Williams Photography.
Knowing that they couldn’t possibly be there to make every decision in person, Tika and Nick entrusted Ximena to make their vision of a boho-chic beachfront affair a reality. “We wanted vendors who were reliable and excellent at what they do,” Tika explains. “I wasn’t on the ground and I didn’t know anyone in Mexico other than my wedding planner. That’s why I really relied on Ximena’s expertise and vendor list.” And, thanks to Ximena’s expert planning chops, Tika says it was almost as if she didn’t have to plan anything at all: “It was so breezy, as if it wasn’t planning anything at all. My bridesmaids kept asking, ‘Are you okay?’”
Beyond creating an amazing experience for their guests, Tika and Nick quickly arrived at their top wedding-planning priorities. For the bride, incredible food and music were must-haves. “I think that’s really what sets the tone for a wedding,” Tika says. Nick’s top priority? “Making Tika happy,” the groom laughs.
The pair set the date for May 14, 2022, and invited guests to join them for a weekend of festivities in Cabo San Lucas with a watercolor invitation suite created by Gia Boyd. "My favorite part of the planning process was just looking at all of the names of my friends and family who were coming," Tika remembers. "Each one made me smile, so it made me even more excited to plan something beautiful. I wanted everybody to have a great time. I really had my friends, my family, my future husband in mind—it wasn't just for me. It was a real celebration of all the people who have held us up on this journey to make it what it is. They're really part of that thread. It was almost like a gift for them to really love where they are, love being together, and just overall having a really great time."
From the very moment guests arrived for the adults-only affair (the only children in attendance were Ella and her two friends), Tika and Nick made sure they felt welcomed and appreciated: In their rooms, attendees found tote bags, which were emblazoned with the couple’s custom crest, filled with essentials they would need for the weekend: sunscreen, beer and koozies, and a mini survival kit.
Though the couple and their loved ones began arriving as early as Wednesday, the festivities officially kicked off on Friday, May 13, 2022, when everyone gathered for Tika and Nick’s open-air welcome party. There was only one snafu: A number of guests who were flying in on Thursday and Friday were met with delays and cancellations, and Tika and Nick worried some of their guests wouldn’t make it to Mexico in time for the wedding, let alone the pre-wedding events.
“The logistics of that were difficult,” Tika recalls. “I kept getting messages that people wouldn’t be in until much later than they thought, so that was a lot. But I decided I wasn’t going to let anything change my mood. I told myself, ‘Whatever is happening is out of my hands.’” In the end, everyone made it to Mexico for the wedding itself, but the bride has a word of advice for couples throwing destination weddings: “Fly early! I’m so glad I came in when I did—I would have been freaking out if I had been scheduled on Thursday or Friday.”
The décor for the welcome party hinted at the rest of the celebration to come: easy, colorful, and fun. The couple chose a grassy spot for the party, then had the team at Amy Abbott Events set up lounge areas around the perimeter to encourage conversation and relaxation among guests.
“We told people to sit wherever they wanted to sit—we really wanted people to get to know each other,” Tika says. Long white tables were topped with blue runners and small arrangements of local flowers and cacti.
The bride, wearing a guipure lace mini dress from Jonathan Simkhai, and groom, in a white linen suit, wanted the evening’s menu to speak to that same laid-back vibe, so they asked the hotel’s chefs to prepare their takes on local favorites. “It was basically local-inspired Mexican cuisine. I just wanted them to do what they do best,” Tika says. Some of her favorites? Beef tacos, churros, and chocolate. “It was all incredible. I wanted everybody to taste the flavor of Mexico.” Cans of Pacifico beer, topped with slices of lime for guests to squeeze, were the drinks of choice for the evening.
The couple took a relaxed approach to entertainment, too. In addition to live music and lawn games, Tika and Nick opened up the microphone and gave any guest the opportunity to give a toast. “It was incredible. Almost everybody cried at some point,” Tika remembers.
Guests from every part of the couple’s lives stood up to share sweet memories, words of encouragement, and even songs. “My older brother’s speech was amazing. He started by saying, ‘You’ve always been my friend. I remember when you were five or six years old, you looked up at me and said, 'You're my friend,’” Tika recalls. “After that, he just had this incredible speech prepared, and then he turned it into singing [Andrew Gold’s] “Thank You for Being a Friend.” Everybody started singing together!”
Tyler Perry, who the bride credits with playing a major role in her relationship with Nick (it was Perry's television series they were working on when Tika and Nick met), also grabbed the mic. “We're great friends, so hearing both ends of the stories—when things were bad and things were good and everything in between—was so great,” Tika laughs.
By the time the speeches were over and the night was coming to an end, the couple began to feel their first (and only) wedding-related regret: "We're still upset with ourselves for not having our videographer there," the bride says. "I will kick myself for the rest of my life for that."
Following tradition, Tika and Nick chose to spend the night before their wedding apart, but the groom-to-be wasn't entirely alone: Five-year-old Ella, who played the part of both flower girl and ring bearer, stayed with her dad, then rejoined her mom to get ready before the ceremony began. "I was super present the morning of,” the bride recalls. "I woke up, wrote my vows, meditated, did a short workout, then went to the spa to steam and sit in the salt room. I loved how aware, calm, and present I felt."
Tika, who was also joined by her mother on the morning of the wedding, wore a strapless Galia Lahav wedding dress down the aisle, one of only four gowns she tried on, and while it worked beautifully for her beachfront destination, the bride says she didn’t shop with location in mind. Like so many other engaged people, her search began with a Pinterest board of styles and silhouettes she loved; looks from Galia Lahav kept finding their way to the top.
"I kind of knew right away. It wasn't about the destination. It was about how I felt in the dress. I wanted to feel sexy, but I also wanted to feel like a bride. This is my first and last wedding, I’m praying, so I just wanted to kind of blow it out," Tika says.
Despite the fact that Tika regularly wears beautiful gowns on the red carpet, she says trying on wedding dresses felt entirely different. “I’m usually anxious before a red carpet. There’s a different level of pressure to that,” Tika admits. “This didn’t feel like pressure. This day was one of the most special days of my life besides having my daughter, and I just want to feel and look special. When that feeling came, I knew it was it. A red carpet is for work, right? This is for our lives.”
Though her wedding dress wasn’t chosen for the beach, Tika deliberately chose hair and makeup looks that worked well for the destination while still ensuring she looked and felt like herself. “I didn’t want to have to mess with it, especially for a beach wedding,” Tika says of her polished, knotted low bun, which was arranged by Annagjd Taylor. Her makeup was just as effortlessly stunning; Kristene Bernard nailed the fresh-faced beauty look Tika was after. A mini crown and veil from Galia Lahav completed her look.
She carried a bouquet of punchy coral charm peonies, garden roses, and ranunculus, all accented with foliage and small blue flowers, which was created by Aria Vera Floral. Smaller versions of the bride’s bouquet were arranged for Tika’s attendants.
Ella’s dress, from Itty Bitty Toes, looked remarkably similar to her mother’s; the only difference was that Ella’s gown featured butterfly appliqués where Tika’s had a floral motif.
Nick wore a custom sky blue suit created by Franc Milton, Isaia shoes, and a Cartier watch inscribed with the couple’s initials and wedding date. The underside of Nick’s jacket collar also held a special inscription: the couple’s wedding date was embroidered in pale blue on the white lining. Shortly before the ceremony, the groom added a boutonnière with a pale pink rose and greenery to his lapel.
The couple's wedding ceremony was held on the beach at Chileno Bay Resort, overlooking the ocean. White crossback chairs were arranged on either side of the aisle, and guests were encouraged once again to sit where they pleased. A ring structure—decorated with dried palms, pampas grass, and florals in shades of pink, peach, and ivory—served as the focal point of the ceremony space.
Organic Trio performed during the ceremony, and Nick made his entrance to their rendition of Lee Brice’s “One of Them Girls.” The couple’s wedding party entered next. Finally, Tika and her mother, Janice, made their way down the aisle towards an emotional Nick to the tune of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” “My father, Arthur Curtis Sumpter, died when I was 13, unfortunately. I’m so grateful that my mom got to see this moment,” Tika says of her meaningful entrance.
"As we were walking down the aisle, all of a sudden the wind really started blowing, and I thought, 'Is this a blessing? What is this?'" Tika remembers. "My mom was busy trying to make sure the back of my dress was okay, but I was really at peace. To me, nothing could go wrong at that point."
Once Tika arrived at Nick’s side, she made a concerted effort to look at all of the guests who had gathered there for them. “I remember looking at all the faces and taking them in,” she says. “I wanted to remember the moment.”
Then, the couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves—”I think mostly we wanted to be honest with one another,” the bride says of their ceremonial promises. “We not only went over the great things, but we also recognized the hardships we had getting us to the point where we are now.”—with their daughter by their side.
“[Actor] Michael Ealy said to me after, ‘Your daughter got to see what love looks like through you guys coming together,’” Tika remembers. “It was beautiful to have my daughter there and knowing she'll remember that forever.”
For her part, Ella spent the ceremony waiting for one very special moment: the kiss. “After the ceremony we were like, ‘What did you think?’ And Ella said, ‘I was just waiting for you guys to kiss!’” Tika laughs.
Following the ceremony, the newly-minted Mr. and Mrs. Muscarella (that’s Nick’s legal last name) took portraits around the property and enjoyed a few minutes of alone time.
While the couple was busy taking photos, their guests moved to cocktail hour where they enjoyed appetizers and a selection of signature drinks. "Nick really loves mezcal, so we worked with the property's mixologist during our food tasting to come up with something special," Tika says. "I just wanted to do something fun for my drink, something sweeter. "
The couple settled on a trio of signature drinks that would delight their guests, which remained on offer throughout the night: Hers was a pink lemonade-based cocktail with vodka, grenadine, lime, and sparkling water, which was served in a glass with salted rim; his was a mezcal-based sip with Aperol, limoncello, floral water, and sugar, finished with a grapefruit garnish. A sage margarita was also on offer.
Organic Trio treated guests to more live music throughout cocktail hour, which was a perfect way to pass the time until Tika and Nick rejoined the group following their brief interlude. And when they did return, soaking up every second with their loved ones remained the top priority. They chatted with family and friends and even posed for photos with guests, including Perry.
Next, guests moved to Comal, Chileno Bay’s oceanfront restaurant, for the reception; they found their seating assignments on an acrylic board that was decorated with a neon “Better Together” sign. Additional lounge areas were set up throughout the space, encouraging guests to unwind and connect with one another.
Inside the restaurant, white rectangular tables were topped with palm chargers, blue ceramic plates, blue water goblets, blue and white flatware, and pom-pom napkins. Overhead, stunning arrangements of baby's breath created a cloud-like display across the ceiling.
Plenty of candles gave the space a soft, romantic glow, and centerpieces comprised of white and peach flowers nodded back to the ceremony decorations.
Since Tika and Nick had decided to sit at their own sweetheart table, they gave their daughter and her friends their own table, too. “She came up to me and said, ‘Mom, I have my own table!’ And I said, ‘I know! I did that for you!’ She loved it all,” the bride laughs.
“I didn't want it to feel complicated,” Tika says of the reception décor. “Even if it was complicated for the people who put it together. I wanted it to feel beautiful and lush. When you look at water, it just flows—that's what I wanted it to feel like. I wanted the colors to feel like we were on vacation.”
And for nearly all of their guests, it was a true vacation. “It was an adults-only wedding, and I have never seen my friends so blissful in their lives. They're walking around saying, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ They were loving life, and that felt like something we had been able to give to them.”
For dinner, guests enjoyed starters of cucumber gazpacho and tuna tiradito. For their main courses, everyone had a choice of red snapper or roasted chicken. Dessert was, of course, a wedding cake—Tika and Nick chose a three-layer chocolate mousse and red velvet cake, which was decorated with fresh flowers.
“I remember sitting at our table and having a chance to take in the room. Alone. Nick was doing something and nobody was talking to me. Nobody came up to me. And I was just smiling at the beauty of it. There were these huge, colossal baby’s breath arrangements hanging from the ceiling, and they just looked like clouds. Everyone was talking to each other, eating and drinking, the ocean was right there, and the music was on,” Tika says. “I felt like I was a conductor of an orchestra that was playing beautifully. And it was the perfect, perfect concert. I just sat back and smiled.”
Once dessert was served, the party really got started. Tika and Nick shared their first dance to “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain, then opened up the dance floor to their family and friends. DJ Alex Services, who set up shop behind a custom booth emblazoned with a neon “The Muscarellas” sign, kept the party going all night long—save for one brief intermission when Tika surprised everyone, including her husband and daughter, with a firework show over the ocean.
After, Tika snuck away to change into her second look of the night—a Taller Marmo mini dress sourced by her stylists, Wayman and Micah. “I wanted something fun and flirty, short and a little sexier so that I could dance,” Tika says. The dress, which featured a fun feathered hemline and cuffs, nailed the aesthetic and made it possible for the bride to spend the entire night on the dance floor.
Though the official revelry was over that night, the bride and groom were able to spend one more day with their loved ones before everyone headed home, something that Tika felt made the weekend even more special. “Nick and I really got to see our guests, to talk to them, and I don’t know if that would have happened if we didn’t have a destination wedding,” the bride says.
After the wedding, Tika and Nick took their first solo vacation in five years—a honeymoon in Bora Bora. There, they had a chance to relive the entire weekend, and they say they wouldn’t have changed a single thing. “The wedding was everything we wanted and more. We laughed, we cried, we danced. At the end of the day, the people who mattered most were there, the place looked gorgeous, and we’re so grateful to be married to my guy,” Tika says. “We had fun. We had a lot of fun!”
Wedding Planning Ximena Perez of Amy Abbott Events
Wedding Photography Jana Williams Photography
Wedding Venue Chileno Bay Resorts and Residences
Floral Design Aria Vera Floral
Bride's Wedding Dress and Veil Galia Lahav
Bride's Shoes Badgley Mischka
Bride's Hair Annagjid Taylor
Bride's Makeup Kristene Bernard
Bride's Stylist Wayman & Micah
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands Los Angeles Diamond Factory
Groom's Attire Franc Milton
Groom's Shoes Isaia
Bride's Rehearsal Dinner Dress Jonathan Simkhai
Bride's Second Wedding Dress Taller Marmo
Bridesmaids' Hair Marva Stokes
Bridesmaids' Makeup Mecca Dickerson
Bridesmaids' Dresses Jenny Yoo
Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Entertainment Organic Trio
Reception Entertainment Alex DJ Events
Rentals Del Cabo Weddings
Signs and Stationery Serendipity Cabo
Welcome Bags Lavanda & Tinta
Production and Lighting Stage Pro Cabo
Videography Elysium Productions