A Laid-Back Beach Wedding in Sayulita, Mexico

Back in 2011, Terence Kirk and Nikki Pappadato were recent college grads starting their first jobs. Shortly after they met, Terence invited Nikki to join him and some friends at a hockey game, but what he really wanted was a date with just her. “A few days later, he took me to the most romantic Italian restaurant for what I consider our real first date,” she says. “We were there for hours, drinking wine and talking nonstop.” They both agree that they knew they’d found “the One,” but of course had to play it cool for a while before they’d admit it! Four years later, in November of 2015, Terence invited Nikki to join him on a work trip to London. “They had to check our bags at the airport, and Terence was so stressed about it,” says Nikki. Little did she know, her engagement ring was in the bag–so Terence snuck back to the desk to retrieve the ring before the bag was thrown onto the plane. When they arrived in London, Terence asked Nikki to take a walk with him to a park on the way to dinner. “I was so hungry, but I reluctantly agreed,” she recalls. When they arrived, the park was closed, but Terence couldn’t wait any longer and got down on one knee in the middle of the street. “I was completely surprised!” says Nikki, who was happy to learn that it wasn’t a work trip after all, but a romantic getaway for two!

Terence and Nikki enjoyed a long engagement, setting their wedding date for March 11, 2017 in Sayulita, Mexico. “We’ve lived near the beach for the past few years, so getting married on a beach just made sense,” says Nikki. They loved that Teitiare Estate was a private place where all 100 of their guests could stay, turning the entire weekend into a celebration. The couple embraced the tropical setting, using palm leaves for a pop of vibrant greenery, but didn’t let having a wedding go to their heads. “We’re very laid back, so we only did the things we really wanted to do, instead of feeling like we had to do them,” says the bride. From churros to tequila toasts, that meant personalizing the day to fit the setting and the vibe they wanted–and nothing else. Photographed by Jillian Mitchell, this beautiful beachfront wedding is major destination wedding inspiration and a reminder to make your big day all about you!

Nikki tried on dozens of dresses she didn’t like before finding just the right one. “I loved that this dress was simple but unique,” she says of her gown by Luella’s Bridal. The gown’s clean lines were the perfect backdrop for Nikki’s structural bouquet, which combined white proteas with ranunculus and palm leaves.

Terence wore a royal blue suit to match the nearby ocean. “We were originally against having a first look, but our photographer and coordinator convinced us that it was the best choice if we really wanted to enjoy the reception,” says Nikki. “I was so emotional on our wedding day, but getting to see Terence calmed me down instantly. We got to hang out, enjoy a margarita, and have some alone time, and it was so special.”

Geometric shapes, like these chairs and tables, added a modern edge to the natural setting. Palm leaves appeared everywhere, from crisp white vases to the prints on lounge pillows.

Dark wooden benches were arranged around a rattan runner, with fans and fresh coconut water available to keep guests cool.

Nikki’s father escorted her down the aisle to “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison.

The couple exchanged vows they’d written to each another. “Terence cried while he read his and had most of our guests crying too,” says Nikki. “By the time we got to mine, I was laughing because I was so surprised by how emotional everyone had gotten!”

The couple left their shoes behind to head down to the beach for photos, scaling the rocks and enjoying their first moments together as husband and wife.

Lounges in the sand surrounded a fire pit, where guests hung out and relaxed before cocktail hour and after dinner and dancing.

The menu was packed full of local flavors. “We wanted the cuisine to be really authentic and represent the region we were in,” says Nikki. Red sangria and hibiscus margaritas were paired with bite-sized empanadas and cones of tuna ceviche.

Continuing with the palm theme, guests’ names and table assignments were written on faux palm leaves that were hung from a macramé curtain.

The celebration continued on the beach, where bare tables were surrounded by clear ghost chairs. White protea flowers were the main focus in the floral arrangements, which also included lush greenery, accented with ranunculus and gold geometric shapes. Each white charger was topped with a palm-printed menu as well.

Café lights lit the dance floor, where a DJ had guests from every part of Nikki and Terence’s lives dancing together. Adds the bride, “Two of our best friends surprised us with a choreographed routine they’d practiced via FaceTime from different countries!”

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