It's no secret that planning a wedding requires a lot of hands-on help and support. Behind every show-stopping soirée is a talented group of professionals who are working tirelessly to ensure that a couple's vision becomes a reality. This is especially true of destination weddings planned from afar—when you don't live near your wedding venue, being able to implicitly trust your vendor team, who will be your eyes and ears on the ground, becomes even more crucial.
Tika Sumpter and Nicholas James, who were married in Mexico on May 14, 2022, called upon a skilled squad to help execute their modern-bohemian celebration. Ahead, we interviewed a few of the key players who were responsible for bringing the duo's destination nuptials to life and asked them to discuss their background, reminisce on the pair's romantic bash, and share their must-know wedding advice.
Ximena Perez, event designer for Amy Abbott Events, is the creative genius who planned our cover couple’s dreamy destination celebration in Mexico. Although the Cabo-based pro has been an esteemed wedding planner for eight years, she never set out to work in the industry. After studying business and marketing in school, Perez started her career in hotels and hospitality. While working in that field, the professional was exposed to countless weddings, which helped clarify her purpose. "Ever since I started working in a hotel, I was always interested in the weddings and events department, and I found my way into it," Perez says.
As fate would have it, her career path changed in 2017 after connecting with Amy Abbott, owner and founder of Amy Abbott Events. "While working at a hotel, I started working in the weddings and groups department as a coordinator, where I met Amy," Perez recounts. "We worked together on several events and weddings she did at the hotel I was working at, and when I left this hotel, she called me and asked me to work with her." Entering the world of weddings ended up being the most rewarding decision for Perez. "Clients are different every time, so each wedding is always different, and it’s never boring," she explains. "You are basically in charge of the most important day in someone's life."
At Amy Abbott Events, Perez and the company's 11 additional planners pride themselves on executing "organized, flawless, and absolutely stunning" events, and that's all thanks to the group's attention to detail, patience, and enthusiasm. "Our mission is to work as a team to create a seamless atmosphere of collaboration," Perez notes. Founded more than 16 years ago, the company is the premier wedding and event planning design team in Los Cabos.
When Perez starts planning a wedding, she strives to learn about her couple on a deeper level, which she believes is key to orchestrating an event that authentically represents them. "I try to connect with my clients [from] the first day, so I get to know them and understand their vision and expectations," she shares. She also aims to create an easygoing and stress-free experience by offering clear communication throughout the process. "I want my clients to feel certain and informed at all times," the planner adds.
While mapping out Tika and Nick's bohemian bash, her approach was just as methodical. The planner employed her organizational tactics to make sure the process was as smooth as possible for the couple. "I tried to give them the time and space needed for the planning process," Perez recalls. "I organized and set deadlines for each item, and I scheduled Zoom meetings with them to go over the timeline and details." It certainly paid off!
They were very laid-back and relaxed, but they knew exactly what they wanted... Their love for each other is contagious, and they are such a happy and fun couple.
What else made the wedding a success? The couple! Since the bride and groom had a clear vision in mind, designing their day was a seamless and fulfilling experience for Perez. "They were very laid-back and relaxed, but they knew exactly what they wanted," Perez remembers. "They trusted me from day one, and they made the whole process smooth and nice. Their love for each other is contagious, and they are such a happy and fun couple."
For anyone who’s also planning a destination affair, Perez has one sage piece of advice: Hire a wedding planner! "Your planner will be your eyes and ears on the destination, will help you find the right vendors, and will create the perfect timelines based on the location," Perez explains. "You'll want to know that every piece of the planning process has been taken care of, so that when you arrive, it goes smoothly."
Once you find a planner, Perez recommends that engaged pairs refine their vision in order to land on one cohesive style that resonates on a personal level. "Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration, but try to find your own style and add your own touch to it to make it yours," she notes. She also urges couples to familiarize themselves with their destination—everything from the weather to the culture—to conceptualize an aesthetic that complements their surroundings.
You and your planner are designing a beautiful, special event, so it's essential that you hire a great photographer to document every detail and moment. For their big day, Tika and Nick tapped Los Angeles-based wedding photographer Jana Williams to capture their special day. Today, Williams has 12 years of weddings under her belt, but she admits that she first stumbled upon the profession by accident. While Williams was working in fashion, one of her clients asked her to photograph her wedding. "I had no idea what to expect, but I was hooked after the first wedding," she reveals.
In fact, she was so enamored with capturing couples' love stories that she decided to launch her own wedding photography business, Jana Williams Photography, on October 11, 2011. "Weddings are such a good fit for me," Williams explains. "I love photographing people, fashion, products, and natural moments. I also found my natural talent, which is posing my people to look amazing and directing them in a way that looks natural."
Every wedding has a timeline, but no two weddings are alike. My job is to be ready for anything and know exactly how to handle it.
In order to get the most authentic shots, Williams creates a comfortable environment that allows her subjects to truly be themselves. "It's so much about connection, care, and genuine investment in my clients," the photographer says of her approach. She also knows how to read her environment, staying alert and on the lookout for any photo-worthy moment that pops up. "Every wedding has a timeline, but no two weddings are alike," she mentions. "So, my job is to be ready for anything and know exactly how to handle it."
The most rewarding part about working in weddings? "Showing people how beautiful they really are," Williams says. "I feel like photography can change a person's life. In the right light and with the right photographer, a person can seriously be re-inspired with themselves and gain a ton of confidence."
Throughout her career, Williams has photographed countless high-profile clients and celebrities, and shooting Tika and Nick's nuptials was another defining moment. She describes their boho beach wedding as a moving day full of love for one another, their family, and their friends. Since the celebrity couple is used to being on camera, Williams didn’t want it to feel like any typical photo shoot. So, she adopted an "open" and "hyper observant" approach. The result? "I captured natural moments that I knew they would love while keeping the posed photos to a minimum," she says.
Although the wedding was brimming with touching moments, one of her favorite parts to document was the processional. "Tika walked down the aisle, and [it was] the way Nick got emotional," she remembers.
Every photo from the special day was a beautiful depiction of the couple's love, which is partially attributed to the relationship the newlyweds formed with Williams. "Find a photographer you feel a connection with, someone who you feel can read your social cues and give you a break when needed," she advises.
Flowers can transform any wedding space, and the actors' coastal ceremony and romantic reception setups certainly didn't skimp on gorgeous blooms. From their circular arch adorned with pampas grass to the hanging installations of baby's breath over dinner tables, each floral decoration helped build the aesthetic Tika and Nick envisioned. And Luca Ravera, founder and head designer of Aria Vera Floral, made it all possible.
Floral design has been part of Ravera's family history for generations now, so when he opened his own firm in Cabo six years ago, it was a natural fit. However, his calling wasn't just based on family allegiance: Ravera finds joy in building floral assortments because they play a pivotal role in telling a couple's narrative. "I truly enjoy getting to know our clients, their likes and dislikes, and how they're imagining their big day," the florist shares. "We always try to use our expertise to create unique stories through floral arrangements." He also enjoys the creative process of turning a concept into something beautiful and tangible. "Seeing the happiness of the couples in that moment when they see their dreams have become a reality [is my favorite part]," Ravera reveals.
Working with our cover stars was an experience to remember. "Tika and Nicholas are charming, friendly, and best of all, they knew exactly what they wanted for their big day," Ravera recalls. "At the same time, [they] gave us plenty of room for creative expression. An exceptional couple!"
Tika and Nicholas are charming, friendly, and best of all, they knew exactly what they wanted for their big day. At the same time, [they] gave us plenty of room for creative expression. An exceptional couple!
While designing the duo's floral arrangements, Ravera made sure to choose blooms that captured not only Tika and Nick's desired aesthetic, but also key elements that spoke to their identities. For the bouquet, the florist worked with Tika to create a vibrant assortment of peonies. "Tika loves peonies, so the bouquet was really constructed around them," Ravera notes. "The peony is a flower that is synonymous with love and beauty, both of which really reflect Tika's personality. The bouquet really set the floral style for other pieces throughout the ceremony, reception, and after-party."
Ravera's favorite detail of all? The reception centerpieces. "We gave the centerpieces a lush and organic feel with a palette composed of nude tones, peaches, and blues," he describes. "It was an incredibly unique color palette that was created especially for Tika and Nicholas."
If you're planning a destination wedding and are struggling to find the right buds for your far-off nuptials, Ravera recommends checking out the local flora and fauna. "Couples should definitely consult with their floral designer about plants and flowers indigenous to their destination, and which will be in season while they're tying the knot," he advises. "I know it's tempting to go with what you know, but if you just ask, I think a lot of people would be surprised with what local gorgeous and more sustainable options are out there."
When Tika and Nick exchanged heartfelt vows, they wanted the perfect playlist to help set the mood. To that end, they recruited Cabo-based Organic Trio to play instrumental tunes during their ceremony and throughout cocktail hour. Before assembling their band in February 2019, the three members were all working on private events and had been doing so for over 10 years. Once they saw a gap in the Cabo wedding market, they decided to take action and deliver a unique sound experience for couples getting married in that area. "In that time, we saw a big need for a high-end wedding trio in the Cabo area due to the popularity of weddings here," explain violinist Donají Espinosa and bassist José Manuel Sandoval.
The group started their ensemble to make wedding days even more noteworthy, and being able to watch that happen has been life-changing for them. "We realize how much we connect to our clients, how they are emotionally moved by the music we play," they say. "It is an honor for us to be able to perform and get the appreciation and positive feedback we do."
We realize how much we connect to our clients, how they are emotionally moved by the music we play. It is an honor for us to be able to perform and get the appreciation and positive feedback we do.
The group says performing at Tika and Nick's wedding was a career highlight. "It was a great experience for us," they reminisce. "Partially because of the excellent planning that was in place, but mainly because we were surprised by how much time Tika and Nicholas chose to spend with us personally even though their time was in such high demand."
The musical group also enjoyed working with the actors because they sent their specific song selections a month in advance, giving the trio ample time to practice and prepare. From rock and R&B to country and pop, the playlist had a mix of genres, and playing the tunes live captured the day's sentiment perfectly. "It created a one-of-a-kind, sublime moment full of love, joy, nostalgia, and most importantly, love," they recall.
While they understand that there's a lot of pressure to curate an exceptional wedding-day soundtrack, the musicians believe that picking compositions that are significance to you as a couple is the single best way to make your celebration even more meaningful. "Choose songs that you both truly love, songs that mean something to you, that take you back to that special moment when you met or your first kiss," they instruct. "Doing this will greatly enhance the entire wedding experience because the emotions felt by the bride and groom will be genuine and personal."
Tika's wedding-day hairstyle was simple and elegant, and she has Annagjid "Kee" Taylor, CEO of Deeper Than Hair, to thank. Taylor, who has been a hairstylist for 21 years and a salon owner for a decade, always knew styling hair was her calling. And her successful track record is confirmation that she was right. "I first started in my mom and dad’s basement," she reflects. "Now, I have my own salon, hair care line, YouTube channel, book, and I do hair for TV and film."
When Taylor started Deeper Than Hair, which is based in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, she wanted to make an impact that extended beyond the surface. "My mission is about more than just doing hair," she notes. "It's creating a lifestyle. It's making clients happier than when they arrived. It's about following my dreams and helping my staff also do so.” Through hairstyling, Taylor’s goal is to instill confidence in her clients. "No matter how unhealthy [your hair] is, there is hope that you can get back on track in some way, shape, or form," she asserts.
Even though Taylor was set on becoming a hairstylist, tackling brides' hair for their wedding days was never part of the plan. "I honestly only do wedding hair whenever my long-time clients are getting married," she admits. Since Taylor has been working with Tika since 2012, she didn't hesitate when the actress asked the pro to be part of her wedding team. That long-established bond and trust allowed the hairstylist to create a style she knew would strike a chord with Tika, which took the pressure off. "She's more like a sister at this stage of the game," she says. "Doing her hair comes second nature, like doing my own, at this point."
Tika wanted a sleek and minimalistic hairstyle that she wouldn't have to fuss with on the beach, so they settled on a simple low bun. Since Tika was getting married on the beach in high humidity, Taylor made sure to prep the bride's hair accordingly. That meant using a select handful of products to prevent frizz and maintain shine. "Before I blew her hair dry, I made sure to use Satin Shield heat protectant since we were in hot temperatures outdoors," she explains. "That also causes a barrier between her hair and high temperatures before I pressed it with my 22TiTania Flat Iron. That helped it stay straight. Then, I slicked it back with Braid Bae Styling Gel to make sure [her hair] was held tight and to give it a light hold. Once that was done, I used Glass to give it that perfect amount of shine."
The actress also decided to sport a crystal tiara and cathedral-length veil. The secret to keeping her veil in place? It was all in her hairstyle. "I just pushed the comb attached to the veil into her structured, slicked-back hair, and it stayed without a problem because it was basically locked within her hair," Taylor reveals.
For destination brides who are worried about the climate ruining their hair, Taylor shares her top tricks. "Choose styles like ponytails, buns, updos, braids, and twists," she shares. "These kinds of styles are structured, and the weather won’t alter it as quickly. Also, choose holding gels and sprays to hold them down for the day."
Be your beautiful, timeless, authentic self. Don't choose the popular wedding styles. Dare to be different.
If you're unsure which hairstyle is right for you, Taylor urges brides to choose a look that personally suits them. Then, she suggests playing around with accessories to upgrade your everyday style. "Just always be your beautiful, timeless, authentic self," she advises. "Don't choose the popular wedding styles. Dare to be different."