While they both went into their relationship not necessarily looking for “the one” Marissa says eventually she started to picture herself planning a future with Justin and “couldn’t imagine my life without him. He’s just my person.” Justin must have felt the same way because he got down on one knee as Marissa was coming home from work one night, and despite having dated for about three and a half years, she was still caught off guard and excited for this new stage in their lives.
The celebration was short lived though, because Justin had to leave the next day for Russia, where he played in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). For months they lived apart, until Marissa was able to join Justin, but there was a lot of distance between them for much of the engagement. And because Marissa is from Minneapolis and Justin is from Edmonton, Canada, the couple decided it was only fair to both of their families to have a destination wedding. To fully enjoy the planning process, rather than feel stressed by it, the couple opted for a long engagement, concluding with a beautiful destination wedding at Unico 20˚87˚ in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Initially wanting to get married in British Columbia, Canada, they instead opted for Unico, which Marissa describes as, “a modern resort and exactly what I was looking for. I got excited again about the planning process once we decided on Unico.”
For the ceremony, the couple chose a gazebo off the beach, and the Nayade Terrace, an intimate space just perfect for their 65 guests, for the reception. As Marissa walked down the aisle she wore a dress by Berta, a gown that she knew was meant to be hers from the moment she first put it on. The slim A-Line style with an illusion neckline and cap sleeves complimented the bride’s gorgeous figure, and was the perfect choice for her tropical celebration by the beach. She accessorized with a big bouquet filled with simple white blooms and lots of greenery, to emphasize the tropical vibe. Marissa’s sister and two best friends made up the bridal party and wore designs of their own choosing in silver sage crisp, a pale sage green hue from the Show Me Your Mumu collection. Justin’s three best friends from his childhood were his groomsmen wearing gray suit pants and white button down shirts.
For the floral décor, Marissa sent photos of florals she liked to her planner and those were used as inspiration for the palm runners at the ceremony, as well as the palm runners and birds of paradise that decorated the reception tables. All of it gave off the “simple but elegant” effect that Marissa and Justin were going for. As for their strawberry and vanilla cake, while they picked the flavors, they chose to leave the design elements up to the experts.
When it came to the bride’s most memorable moment from her wedding, she describes a special moment on the dance floor during the reception that involved everyone who witnessed her nuptials. Marissa recalls, “Our planner had asked us the morning of the wedding if we wanted to move the reception location inside because there was a 40% chance that it was going to rain later in the day. We really liked the outside set up that we chose, so we decided to take the risk. Right after we finished dinner and our first dance the rain drops started to come down. Normally, I would have been upset about rain on my wedding night, but instead everyone headed to the middle of the dance floor and we all started singing and danced in the rain. It’s almost as if the rain brought everyone closer. Thinking about it makes me want to be able to do this all over again.”
Destination weddings can be tricky, and there are always pros and cons to having one. If they could plan anything differently Marissa and Justin say they would have scheduled their actual wedding closer to their arrival date, with more days to relax afterwards, rather than having 5 days in Mexico before the ceremony. “It wasn’t something I logistically thought about when planning our wedding but would encourage people to consider that when planning a destination wedding.”
Marissa and Justin realized that while it can be complicated, there are definitely benefits to having your wedding “away from it all.” “My favorite part of having a destination wedding was being able to make it last for more than a couple days. If you have a traditional wedding you invest all this time and money into one day and that day goes by so fast. It also felt more personal to me because with a smaller group I felt like I had the chance to spend a little more time with all our guests.” Clearly this tropical and intimate wedding turned out as beautiful and celebratory as the fireworks of the fateful night that Marissa and Justin met on Lake Minnetonka.
Photographer: HDC Photo
Reception: Nayade Terrace at Unico Hotel, Riviera Maya
Ceremony: The Gazebo at Unico Hotel, Riviera Maya
Reception Entertainment: Sigfrido Canche
Dessert: Pastry UNICO 20°N 87°W
Catering: Banquet Chef UNICO 20°N 87°W
Planner: Lisa Cantallops
Coordinator: Maribel Ramirez
Travel Agent: Lisa Ruchti from Romance Travel
Bridal Gown: M Elizabeth Bridal
Bridesmaids: Show Me Your Mumu
Menswear: Justin wore a custom-made suit from a vendor in Shanghai, China