Once Upon a Time in Mexico

 In Culture, Feature

Two St. Louis couples make Mexico the destination of their dream weddings.

Adhar & Damon
This couple tied the knot with a spectacular Spanish-style celebration in the same place their love took root—in her hometown of San Miguel de Allende.

Before he even met her, Damon Johnson had been intrigued by Adhar Usher, as he’d heard of her beauty and free spirit from a mutual friend. Turns out, the two instantly clicked on their first encounter. Not long after, Adhar invited Damon to her hometown of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the two grew closer on the trip. Although they worked in different cities for a while after college—Damon took a job in Park City, Utah, and Adhar started her career in St. Louis—the distance didn’t hinder their love for each other. In March 2008, Damon proposed at his parents’ vacation home in Seaside, Florida. In April, the couple, along with 90 friends and family members, returned to the same hotel in Mexico that they’d traveled to early on in their relationship—this time to become husband and wife.

Sentimental Ceremony
Adhar’s childhood dream of tying the knot in her hometown, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, came true with a four-day bridal bash in the Sierra Madre Mountain valley colonial town. A welcome party kicked off the celebration with a guitar player, apps and margaritas, and a rehearsal dinner at an old hacienda followed the next night. An organically opulent garden and ornamental stone wall served as a breathtaking backdrop for the April 25 nuptials at the 17th-century Antigua Villa Santa Monica Hotel.

Flower Power
A local street vendor worked wonders with native blooms. Orange and pink rose balls draped from white ceremony chairs brought out the colors of the day. Multi-hued rose,
hydrangea and orchid clusters popped off the centers of the chic lace dinner table linens, and a simple, single flower graced the top of every napkin. A gorgeous greenery-filled floral grouping exploded from atop a stone fountain in the center of the dining area. Fresh flowers even filled each layer of the
three-tiered butter-cream cake from Casita Feliz bakery.

Unforgettable Fiesta
A traditional Mexican wedding celebration followed the nuptials, as guests carried custom porcelain shot glasses and made their way to the reception alongside a flower-decorated donkey toting tequila. A 10-piece mariachi band escorted the couple to a poolside cocktail hour, and an eight-piece Mexican rock band later jammed a mix of American oldies and Mexican tunes on the
dance floor. A poolside taco stand and faux press-on mustaches upped the fun. Sparkling golden streaks streamed across a pitch-black sky in a surprise beachside fireworks display that ended the day as beautifully as it began.

Walking the Aisle in Style
Adahar’s fit-to-flare Pronovias gown from Amore Today’s Bridal (636.536.0007) featured an elegant elongated bodice and a bottom bell-out skirt that added a touch of poof. Damon looked dapper in a gray custom Mark Shale suit by Coppley, and his groomsmen sported similar-color suits with matching Valentino ties and Brooks Brothers (314.726.6600) pocket squares. Flowing, deep-coral bridesmaids dresses carried out the wedding colors and the free-spirited nature of the day.

A Local-Flavor Feast
Guests got a true taste of the local drinks and cuisine—starting with a pre-ceremony sampling of agua de Jamaica, a purple-hued juice made with dried hibiscus flowers, and Horchata, a homemade rice milk. Authentic apps of sliced cucumbers and fried churros, or Mexican-style chips, bundled in a basket and served with salsa tided everyone over until dinner. Cream of poblano pepper soup and a mixed green salad with citrus avocado vinaigrette kicked off the meal, with Chiles en Nogada—a spice-and-driedfruit- stuffed poblano pepper topped with a walnut cream sauce—as the featured dish.

Attention to Detail
During the reception, votive candles encircled the dinner-area fountain and emitted a romantic evening glow. Table cards numbered in Spanish and tied to tin stars guided guests to their tables, and friend and graphic artist Kyla Strawhacker infused coral-hued floral filigree into steel-framed table setting placards.

The Bride
Adhar Usher, 27
Community Relations Manager, Wind Capital Group

The Groom
Damon Johnson, 28
President, ReCareer Inc.


Cabanne & Jim
This perfectly paired couple hosted a sophisticated soiree in a luxuriously tropical locale

Smitten from the start, Cabanne Schlafly and Jim Howard have a chance encounter to thank for bringing them together. After spotting Cabanne at the Contemporary Art Museum’s Dada Ball several years ago, Jim introduced himself to her at a mutual friend’s after-party. She gave him her number, but somehow, Jim came up a digit short. They figured out the mistake when they bumped into each other at a Cardinals’ game a month later and got to talking. They parted ways relieved—Jim that she hadn’t blown him off and Cabanne that he was into her. “We were just so happy that it wasn’t what either of us had thought,” she says. A first-date candlelit swordfish dinner Jim cooked at his place ignited their romance, and the more time they spent together, the more they realized they were a perfect fit. During a summer getaway in Vail, Colorado, Jim surprised Cabanne when he pulled out an engagement ring over an intimate dinner at contemporary French restaurant La Tour.

Stunning Ceremony
A breathtaking beachfront ceremony May 24 at the first-class Ana y Jose Beach Club in Tulum, Mexico, satisfied Jim’s love of the rustic outdoors and Cabanne’s desire for barefoot luxury. A bamboo aisle runner led to a bamboo altar beautifully decorated with oranges and dendrobium orchids. Guests honored the couple’s request to wear melon-hued attire—creating a tropical sea of color among friends and family members. Sharing a just-betweenthe-two-of-them moment, the couple whispered vows in each other’s ears. The officiant performed a traditional Mayan lazo ritual.


Cabanne enlisted Connie Simpson of R&M Designs (314.821.2932) to custom create her dream dress from certain elements of others that she liked while shopping around. Her all-lace, fitted gown featured an elegant sweetheart neckline and a big-drama open back. The ultimate finishing touch—satin Manolo Blahniks.

A Ring to Remember
Impressed with the jeweler’s expertise and personable service, Jim turned to Igal Alon of Mavrik Fine Jewelry (314.909.6818) to custom design the wedding rings. Cabanne’s engagement ring features a round diamond in a platinum, antique-European-style setting, as well as an etched leaf pattern that also appears on Jim’s wedding band. Alon created a pavé diamond eternity wedding band for Cabanne’s right hand because she wanted the engagement ring to stand on its own.

Divine Dishes
Hot pink sheers draped from a palapa on the sand and brightly colored custom-made cushions on stark-white lounges added decorative drama to the dining area. A salad with watermelon and goat cheese served as the first course and tlalpeno soup prepared with veggies, shredded chicken, cheese and a touch of chipotle followed. A grilled salmon filet bathed in sweet white wine sauce, topped with sweet orange, lime, grapefruit and epazote and served with rice pilaf and grilled veggies made for a mouthwatering main course.

Sweet Treats
Bamboo encircled the edges of the three tiered, vanilla with raspberry coulis wedding cake, and dendrobium orchids decorated the top. Gateau au chocolat and ice cream served as another delectable post-dinner dessert.

Pretty on Paper
Nationally known stationery designer Cheree Berry (917.532.0490) designed all the wedding-day stationery in the hot pink and bright orange color scheme. Save The Date cards with butterflies featured the clever RSVPs “Have wings, will fly” and “Cocooned. Can’t make it,” and the words “Eat. Pray. Love” graced the bottom of the fuchsia dinner menus.

Sipping Sensations
Refreshing, fuchsia-colored dragon fruit and Vodka cocktails served as the couple’s signature drink during a post-ceremony cocktail hour, and four servers enacted a Mayan celebration by heating coffee at a station with four different liquors after dinner.

The Bride
Cabanne Schlafly, 30
Senior Director of Business Development,
S. King Collection

The Groom
Jim Howard, 42
Vice President of Sales, Pharmacy OneSource, Inc.

Margaret Singer Photography;Summer Gibbs Photography

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