When small-town Minnesota girl Illana Klane moved to Mexico City, she had no idea she would meet her future husband David Mauser, a Mexico City native living in San Diego, California, at her roommates’ wedding. Seated just a table away from one another at the reception, David asked his friend to introduce him to Illana. The couple immediately hit it off, and when the weekend festivities were over, their international romance was only beginning. Illana and David visited one another in their respective cities for ten months until she returned stateside to be with her beloved.

Following a sweet proposal over breakfast while vacationing in Panama City, they began planning their destination nuptials. “We knew we wanted to have our wedding in Mexico,” says Illana. “We wanted it to be a fun getaway for everybody.” In merely seven months, the “Mexican-American duo” orchestrated the event of their dreams with the help of two consultants – choosing one Mexican and one American, like themselves – “and got the absolute best of both worlds!” declares the bride.

Nearly 300 guests joined the couple in Puerto Vallarta for their wedding weekend. Timed slightly before sunset, the oceanfront ceremony space was adorned with natural wooden elements and an abundance of garden-inspired florals. Familial components were also incorporated into the décor: The tallit used for the chuppah belonged to the bride’s grandfather – a Holocaust survivor – and one of the Kiddush cups used is David’s grandmother’s. “The [vow exchange] was the most important aspect of the celebration for me,” says the groom, whose rabbis led the bilingual service. “Following my family’s traditions and sharing that special moment with the people I care about most was very [significant].” 

Illana was resplendent in an ivory gown with lace cap sleeves and delicate bodice details. She carried a bouquet of cascading vanilla blooms and verdure as she made her way to the floral-embellished chuppah to meet David, who wore an alabaster tuxedo jacket with ebony lapels and a bow tie. During the ceremony, the tropical climate of the locale proved to be quite the plight. “I started to feel a bit weak,” recalls the bride. “The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and was laying on the ground… Faint number one!” After a quick curtsy, the ceremony was back in action. “A few minutes later… Faint number two!” she says. Determined to marry the love of her life, Illana smiled, held David’s hands, and the couple was married at last.

Joining loved ones on the upper pool terrace of the resort, the newlyweds entered the magical reception to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Round and rectangular wooden tables decorated with natural-fiber linen runners, burlap table numbers, and lantern centerpieces surrounded by white and green florals welcomed guests to the beautiful outdoor area overlooking the ocean. Each diner’s place setting was marked with transparent gold-rimmed chargers and either black-and-white striped napkins or ivory napkins tied with twine and accented with rosemary sprigs. 

Following the sit-down dinner, guests enjoyed slices of a white four-tiered cake embellished with fresh flowers and selected a variety of sweet treats from the impressive dessert bar. Though the culinary delights of the evening were delectable, David and Illana affirm that their first dance to Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I” was the best part of the whole wedding. “[It] was an experience you never forget,” David confides. “All of our guests began singing along and clapping around us,” adds the bride. “It was the warmest, most special moment that we will remember always.” Loved ones continued dancing and celebrating with the newlyweds until 4AM. 

So what’s the secret to organizing a nearly flawless destination event in less than a year? In addition to hiring an incredible wedding consultant and designer, the couple encourages other brides and grooms to include their families in planning the celebration. “Especially your parents and those close to you,” suggests Illana. “They love getting involved.” David agrees, “We could not have done it without the help of our parents. They were the glue that kept it all smooth and running in the right direction.”