Cabo Wedding Planner Gets Married!

Posted on September 26th, 2017 by Melissa Paul

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WHEN ELSA WED HER MARIACHI it was truly a family affair for all of us at Elena Damy! 

As a professional wedding planner and former member of #TeamElenaDamy, Elsa Dilasser’s wedding to Giovanni de Hernandez, was one wedding celebration we couldn’t miss! And the whole Elena Damy team was more than honored to take part (and attend) their beautiful Baja wedding! Since this was such a special occasion for us all, we thought we would interview Elsa to hear her thoughts on what it was like to be in the bride’s seat, planning and attending her own wedding here in Los Cabos, Mexico.

{Team Elena Damy} How did you meet Giovanni? And how did he propose to you? 

{Elsa} We met eight years ago through a mutual friend. We would see each other around town here and there, and then for years, we didn’t see each other at all. Then, we ran into each other again and that’s when the magic happened. We haven’t been apart since.

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Giovanni proposed to me in New York City, specifically in Central Park, by the Belvedere Castle. We were on vacation, and after visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art, my favorite museum, we decided to walk through Central Park to the West Side. He stopped by the Belvedere Castle and asked me if I thought he was a romantic. I was surprised at first by his sudden question, and then asked him “why”? And his answer was “Just wondering because I wanted to know if you would believe me if I told you I kept the cork from our first bottle of wine we shared together?”  I thought he was crazy and my first answer was “No, you didn’t. The waiter must have thrown it away or something.” And then Giovanni told me “Actually, I did! I kept it” and he started pulling the cork from his pocket. And there he was handing the cork to me, but I couldn’t see the other side of the cork. When I asked to see the cork, to see if it was truly the one from our first date, Giovanni turned the cork around. Pinned to the other side of the cork was an engagement ring! Of course, I was speechless! And then, there he was, popping the question…


What kind of celebration did you imagine/dream of? A long weekend of parties? A week of small, intimate gatherings?

At first, we wanted a very small and intimate wedding with no more than 40 guests. We thought it would be easy to keep things small since most of my family is in France and his family here in Mexico is not large. But as we continued to review our lists of colleagues, friends, and family, our guest list kept getting bigger. We were blessed to be with 90 of our closest friends and family members, many of the traveling from Europe and the United States.

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Since my family was traveling to Mexico from France, and some of them for the first time, we decided to have an entire week of wedding-related activities. We wanted to have many opportunities to spend quality time with all of our guests. One of the highlights was going to Espirito Santo Island up near La Paz.

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Another wonderful excursion was paddle boarding for my bachelorette party, followed by a whale watching tour in Cabo San Lucas. We were blessed to see many whales and it was the best tour I’ve experienced in my 17 years living in Cabo!

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We also arranged to have our legal wedding ceremony take place on the beach in San Jose, and kept the attendees to only 10 of our closest family members. You can’t get married in Los Cabos without some part of the celebration happening on the beach! And after the legal ceremony, we all went to the Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo and enjoyed a delicious dinner at La Lupita, Taco & Mezcal. Everyone LOVED it.

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The day before our wedding celebration, Giovanni and I took our family to Todos Santos, to discover our soon-to-be-home.

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Did you know exactly what/where you wanted to have your wedding? Or, as someone who knows all the event spaces and has planned it all, were you overwhelmed with the location possibilities?

We knew exactly what we wanted. Since my family is from Normandy, France, and I was raised between the city and the country, I wanted the rustic barn feel. Giovanni is from Mexico City and we both love the traditional architecture and style of mainland Mexico, such as the hacienda, and so forth. But we wanted to find a wedding venue that brought all of those elements together, basically, a traditional hacienda surrounded by beautiful gardens but which allowed a late-night celebration to rage on into the wee hours.  (The French and Mexicans love to party!)  I remembered a private location in San Jose that I fell in love with back in 2003, and when I investigated it again for our wedding, I knew it was the PERFECT place for our wedding!

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Since Giovanni hadn’t been to Hacienda de Oasis, I arranged a meeting and tour with the owner. It only took us five minutes to make our decision. Once we walked under the beautiful tree with the cactus growing in and around it, which symbolized our love of both of our heritages blending together, we knew we had the right place for our wedding.


What did you plan to help your guests feel welcome and included in the celebration?

We included elements from both of our cultures, in the music, the tri-lingual speeches, the format of the ceremony, and in the food and drinks. We also chose to skip formality, keeping the celebration mingling and meeting, letting our families blend together naturally throughout the party. So, no sit-down dinner with place cards was needed and everyone enjoyed themselves.


You had your wedding gown custom made for you, why? And what was the process like? Who was the designer?

My wedding dress could only be designed by my best friend Staci Snider, as she is a very VERY talented fashion designer in New York. The wedding gown journey was a beautiful experience, from start to finish. We had a preliminary phone call about what I was looking for in my dream gown. Then I sent her photos of dresses I liked but for very specific reasons (the neckline, the length, the volume, the fabric or the sleeves).

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Staci started drawing some sketches and we picked one of them to work from, then she did a working muslin version of the gown and invited me to come to New York for fabric shopping. What a wonderful trip that was! We found a fabric that we both liked and thought would work perfectly with the cut and style of the dress. Another, more specific muslin version of the gown was made to confirm the structure of the gown. Of course, another gown fitting was required and back to New York, I flew, only two months before the wedding! I have to admit, like many of my clients, I was worried the gown would not fit, or that I would not be able to lose more weight if it didn’t! But I trusted Staci and knew that she was going to design an amazing wedding gown for me.

Then, because of the other weddings I was planning as a professional wedding planner, and Staci designing her next collection, we got a little tight in time and I could not go back to New York before the wedding. Staci kept asking me not to lose any more weight! She arrived in Cabo San Lucas five days before the wedding and the final fitting required another two inches be taken in as I had lost more weight. The benefits of working with a full-time, extremely talented fashion designer!!! The gown was spectacular and beyond my wildest dreams!

Then, add to that the incredible makeup and hair styling services Alma Vallejo, Cabo Hair and Makeup Professionals did for me. I felt like a fashion model! Natural enhancements and soft, romantic makeup that lasted the whole wedding day! They did an amazing job and I never felt more beautiful!


Did you plan your own wedding? Did you have a wedding day coordinator?

I planned my wedding by myself for the first stages (selecting vendors, finding the location, menu tasting, cakes, etc..) but when the week of the wedding came I needed the help of another professional. As I say to my own brides all the time, I would not be able to make it by myself and I wanted to enjoy each moment without worrying about details. I wanted to be a guest at my own wedding! The entire week! Of course, I couldn’t trust anyone else than Claudia Morales, my former partner-in-crime at Elena Damy. She did an amazing job coordinating all the logistical details I had planned, and together with Carlos and Elena Damy, the event was perfection in design and execution! Despite the pouring rain, which took us completely by surprise as it never rains in February, having a trusted team of event professionals on hand took the stress away.


What type of ceremony did you have?

We decided to have a non-denominational ceremony in both languages (French and Spanish) and only a great minister who knew both of us could officiate. That was Marco Arechiga. When a friend like Marco, who is also an extremely experienced and funny stand-up comedian, takes care of your wedding ceremony, it just brings it to another level of warmth and celebration. And laughter, lots and lots of laughter! It was a true blessing to have him marry us.

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Describe the event concept/vision/design that you imagined for your wedding?

We wanted a rustic, warm wedding with elegant, natural elements woven through the details. Using wood furniture, lush white flowers, loose greenery, mosses, and a hint of metallic copper (my favorite design material), Elena Damy managed to take my design vision and elevate beyond imagining! Adding in tons and tons of candles, hanging from trees, in lanterns of every sort placed on tables, along walkways, on tables, and in unexpected places throughout the venue, it was pure romance!


Since the ceremony was at night the candles were a big part of our mystical decor. I wanted something that reminded me of my favorite family reunions back in France. This is specifically why using wood was very important to me in the whole event concept.


What three words, maybe five, describe the way you felt on the wedding day?

Loved, Blessed, Over the Moon! I want to redo it all over again!


What was the biggest challenge you faced?

The pouring rain! But we all know rain on your wedding is GOOD luck, right? The rain was a blessing for us, it brought us all together and broke the tension of the day.


Looking back, what was your favorite moment of the day and/or weekend? What was Giovanni’s?

Hard to pick just one! But I would say the wedding ceremony was my most favorite moment of the weekend. It was really emotional, sentimental and romantic. Giovanni is a true Mexican and loved the mariachis who performed. And I have to say, their performance really was a highlight of the party.

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Knowing how much of a gourmand and foodie you are, tell us about the menu! Did you pair wines with the meal?

We had food stations that reflected our respective homelands; one focused on French culinary delights, such as imported cheeses, desserts and pastries; and the other food station dedicated to delicious Mexican specialties.

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Both food stations made everyone really happy, especially the cheese station! Our cake was a pièce montée, a traditional French wedding cake, created by a talented French chef living in Todos Santos. Not such an easy wedding cake to make, nor is it easy to take on the move! Traveling with the delicate cake from Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas in the pouring rain was not easy, but it made it and we absolutely loved it!

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What wedding traditions or rituals did you SKIP and why?

Throwing the bouquet! I could not imagine throwing away, or giving away, a floral bouquet from Elena Damy! It was just too beautiful.


We also chose not to have traditional paper invitations. The postal service across Mexico is not reliable in any way, nor did we want to create garbage. We liked the eco-friendly, tech-savvy idea of emailing our invitations. All of our guests appreciated the gesture.


Did you have any special music played or performed? And what did the songs mean to you?

Of course, entertainment was a priority! For each aspect of the event. And we wanted to have, and did, a completely versatile (French and Mexican) selection of musical performances. We decided to hire one of our favorite deejays, DJ Adan Mijares, who kept the music flowing with ease and energy. But, of course, as mentioned previously, both Giovanni and I wanted to have Mariachis play at the end of the evening. Ordinarily, in Mexico, the Mariachis come at the end of the wedding and we wanted to follow the tradition.


One of the special moments was during our wedding ceremony and it was a complete surprise for Giovanni! We had selected our songs for the processional and the recessional, but I surprised him by having one of his best friends play my bridal processional. Giovanni was extremely moved by the gesture.


How did you end the night? Was there a big send-off? Or did you hang out by the pool into the wee hours?

The Mariachis performed at the end of the night, and since everyone was staying somewhere away from the reception venue, we all went our separate ways after the event. My sister and I could not go to bed!!! I never wanted that day to end.


As a professional wedding planner, what did you learn about planning your own wedding? What surprised you?

I couldn’t believe that Elena didn’t need much information from us to create the most picture perfect wedding for us!!! She translated our thoughts and visions into something beyond our dreams! It was amazing, actually. I would close my eyes anytime and trust her completely, in a heartbeat.

And also, even if I tell my brides to enjoy their day as it will fly by “really fast” – I had no idea how fast until I experienced it for myself! I could not imagine it was going to go SOOOOO fast hahaha 🙂

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Did you take a mini-moon? Where did you go? And where are you going on your big honeymoon this summer?

We did not take a mini-moon after the wedding, but we did go for a very long honeymoon to France and then Croatia. I wanted to show Giovanni all my favorite places in France and get some time for just the two of us in Croatia. It’s been an amazing year of celebration and we couldn’t be happier!

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{Photo credits: Wedding photos courtesy of Pink Palm Photo; All other photos: Giovanni and Elsa; Wedding Planning, Event and Floral Design: Elena Damy: Destination Weddings; Ceremony Minister: Minister Marco; Catering and Pastry: Chez Laura; Venue: Hacienda de Oasis; Wedding Gown Designer: Staci Snider; Hair and Makeup Services: Alma Vallejo, Cabo Hair and Makeup Professionals.}


One Response to “Cabo Wedding Planner Gets Married!”

  1. Minister Marco

    It was such an honor to be your wedding officiant Elsa and Giovanni!!! Every single vendor you had was GREAT!!!! I am looking forward to your 5th Anniversary Vow Renewal 😉


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