A Destination Wedding at a Hacienda in Mérida, Mexico

Adam Rusnak remembers the precise moment he first laid eyes on Megan Allen. They were both freshmen at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and Megan walked into his dorm with a mutual friend. “I remember thinking she was beautiful, but I didn’t really say anything except for ‘hey,’" he recalls. "I hoped the next interaction would go better.” It did, although they stayed firmly in the friend zone for the rest of college and even after they both moved to Cleveland. “But, over the course of a year, he went from being my buddy to my close friend, to my partner in crime, and, finally, to the partner I wanted to have for the rest of my life,” Megan says.

In 2016, they got engaged after three-and-a-half years of dating. “We were on our couch, in our pajamas spending a lazy Sunday watching our favorite Christmas movie, Elf,” Megan recalls. “It was a simple moment filled with so much love and suited us perfectly.” For their wedding, the couple decided to have a celebration in their hometown of Cleveland—but, first, they wanted to host an intimate destination wedding in Mérida, Mexico, where Megan’s parents own a home. “We wanted to intimately and spiritually commit ourselves to one another while sharing my family’s culture with Adam’s family and our close friends—all in a little piece of paradise,” Megan explains.

Keep reading to see Megan and Adam say "I do" at Hacienda Xcanatun, an 18th-century hacienda-turned-boutique hotel in the heart of Mérida, Mexico, as photographed by Addison Jones

In keeping with the spirit of their intimate celebration, “Adam and I decided to forego a large bridal party,” says Megan whose sister served as her only bridesmaid. Her niece, Josephine, was the flower girl and both helped Megan as she got ready for the day.

“I stumbled across Grace Loves Lace on Pinterest and immediately fell in love with their gowns,” says Megan of her dress designer. “I’d initially picked another dress at my first appointment, but a few weeks later, Grace Loves Lace released a new collection and I knew their 'Edie' gown, with its Spanish fringe, dramatic train, high neckline, and sexy silhouette, was the one for me.” The bride completed her bridal look with earrings from BHLDN and Steve Madden heels.

“Nearly every day since second grade, I’ve worn a gold chain with a little gold pineapple on it,” says the bride, who shared a moment with her father before the ceremony. “When my parents were teenagers, my dad didn’t quite know how to initiate a conversation with my mom. So one day he approached her and asked her what her favorite fruit was. She replied ‘pineapple,'" Megan explains. "The next day, he returned, handed her a pineapple and asked her out. M sister and I have always worn pineapples as a nod to our parents’ love.”

Megan’s wedding gown’s high neckline meant she wasn’t able to wear the necklace as she usually does, so her florist she wrapped it around her bouquet so she could still have it with her.

At the ceremony site, guests kept cool with the help of sandalwood fans, which were displayed next to palm-printed ceremony programs.

“My family had visited Hacienda Xcanatun several times for special occasions, so it was a place that I held close to my heart,” says Megan of their ceremony and reception venue. “It doesn’t hurt that it’s a breathtaking property with several lush hidden gardens.”

“My amazing girlfriend performed Cat Power’s ‘Sea of Love’ on her ukulele during the ceremony,” says Megan. “She played the chords while my sister and niece walked down the aisle, then began singing when it was time for me. It was the most beautiful moment!” The flower girl sprinkled petals picked from a tree in the bride’s parents’ backyard earlier that day. 

She’s the strongest, most caring, hard-working, beautiful person I know.

“She’s the strongest, most caring, hard-working, beautiful person I know,” Adam says of his bride, who walked herself down the aisle, meeting him halfway. 

We’d worked so hard to get to that day and we chose to use our vows to explain what that journey had meant to us and what it had done to strengthen our love for one another.

Adam faced severe health challenges in the months leading up to the wedding, which made the day even more significant. “Our wedding day was a day we couldn’t guarantee he was going to get to,” says Megan. “Writing our own vows became central to us. We’d worked so hard to get to that day and we chose to use our vows to explain what that journey had meant to us and what it had done to strengthen our love for one another.” The ceremony also incorporated Mayan, Reiki, and Spanish traditions.

The groom, who donned a black suit by Calvin Klein, almost had a wardrobe malfunction that became one of the funniest moments from the day. “He’d had his suit jacket tailored once more about a week before the wedding,” says Megan. “As many times as I asked, he refused to try the jacket back on with his shirt and vest and insisted it would be fine. The day of the wedding, he goes to put on his jacket—and it’s three sizes too small! He panics and starts telling everyone in the room how mad I’ll be and that he should have tried it on when I asked. After a few minutes, his little brother chimes in that his suit jacket feels way too big. It turns out Adam mistakenly grabbed his 12-year-old brother’s jacket instead of his own!"

Looking back, the couple says that one of the best parts of hosting a destination wedding was the amount of time they were able to spend with their 50 guests. “One of my favorite parts of the wedding day was starting it by the pool with all our closest friends and family members in the sunshine,” says Megan.

The bride, who is based in Ohio, handled most of the planning along with her mother. “The planning process, mostly done via email and over the phone in two different languages, was a little stressful but we wouldn’t have done anything differently," she says.

Guests sipped margaritas and enjoyed a four-course meal of food traditional to the Yucatán, with chocolate lava cake and slices of the couple’s coconut wedding cake for dessert. 

Megan and Adam shared their first dance to James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go,” performed by the bride’s friend on the ukulele. “As we were turning to leave the dance floor, we looked up and were shocked to see the most gorgeous fireworks display,” says Megan. "A surprise from my parents!"

After the wedding, the newlyweds took their guests to beach houses they had rented in Progreso, Mexico, for a little rest and relaxation. Says the bride, "Our guests traveled to another country to help us celebrate, so the least we could do was try to give them a wonderful vacation.” 

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