AJ and Emile‘s wedding was 10 years in the making, and it was super important that the couple was surrounded by family and friends who were 100% supportive of their love for each other. They explained that planning a same-sex wedding in 2022 can still be a bit emotionally traumatizing, so only inviting those ready to pour love into their union was the priority!
The couple absolutely loves Mexico and it holds a special place in their hearts, as it was the first place they ever vacationed together. Emile’s mother Sharon used her Delta flight miles to gift them a trip to Cancun and they shared they had the time of their lives, but more importantly, it signaled to AJ + Emile that his parents were finally supportive of their relationship.
They really wanted guests to experience the traditional Mexican culture, with a twist, so they invited their closest friends and family to celebrate with them at the Atelier Playa Mujeres in Mexico. One thing everyone can learn from this wedding is that things may not always go as planned! Sterling Experiences certainly had their work cut out for them when the Quintana Roo, Mexico weather didn’t want to cooperate with an outdoor ceremony or reception! Some last-minute location changes were in order, but the entire day turned out even better than this couple could’ve dreamed of. Sometimes, you just gotta roll with the punches! El Instante effortlessly captured the moments that will surely last a lifetime and we can’t wait to share them with you all. Let’s dive in!
The Big Day
For the entire wedding weekend, LOVE was the theme! The couple made their best effort to greet each of their 95 guests as they arrived in the hotel lobby. Upon arrival, everyone was gifted a pair of sunglasses provided by Geek Eyewear, as well as a custom tote from their wedding team at Pink Pineapple Travel. From there, a full itinerary was meticulously put into action, as there were 3 days of activities planned for their guests, many of whom were experiencing the magic of Mexico for the very first time.
A sneak peek into the weekend’s color palette!! This mixture of royal blue, white, terracotta, yellow & emerald green is giving us LIFE!
Just WOW to these wedding bands!
A Change in Plans
The couple’s entire ceremony, cocktail hour & reception were supposed to take place outdoors. There was a beautiful rooftop location for the ceremony, lush gardens for cocktail hour, and a beachside reception to dance the night away. They even had a fireworks show planned to close out the night, set to “Love” by Nat King Cole, of course. However, because the weather is unpredictable in Mexico, you can plan for over a year & have everything change in seconds.
The weather was clear for most of the day, but then it started to pour down rain about 5 hours before our ceremony & wouldn’t let up. After a year of meticulously planning the most gorgeous outdoor wedding in Playa Mujeres, Mexico, everything was thrown out the window 3 hours before the wedding when more storm clouds rolled in & heavy wind was blowing down our arches. We had to make the decision to move everything inside. This was devastating because we had a vision of what our wedding would look like & now everything had to change. We agreed not to see each other before the wedding, so AJ got to work pulling off an unforgettable wedding that ended up being more memorable than anything we could have planned outdoors.
Groom AJ physically started moving what was available in the nightclub and created an aisle out of beautiful rugs that were already part of the theater. They placed white florals throughout & multi-tiered candles to accent the elegant white arches. While all of the decor was meant for outdoors, the couple shares that there was something magical about seeing that type of decor in an indoor nightclub. It was stunning & their guests were truly blown away…and not to mention, comfortable!!!
“When planning our day, the both of us had so many surprises for each other & our guests. We mentioned earlier about our Welcome Party where we surprised guests with local performers on the beach, but that’s not all. The ceremony included a surprise A Cappella performance of “Flying Without Wings” by Emile, which again brought the house to tears, but the tears didn’t stop there. Emotions were high going into the wedding, as both of us were missing loved ones due to religious beliefs for some and health issues for others, so we wanted to make sure that the 95 guests who were present, felt the love.
We definitely felt the love for our personalized wedding entrance. Our officiant, Sofia, kicked off the reception by introducing the wedding party & then the Grooms, while Beyoncé’s “Party (Homecoming Live)” played in the background.”
If you are on TikTok, you might have seen the video of the exact moment AJ saw Emile walk down the aisle to a violinist playing “Thinking Bout You” by Frank Ocean – it has been viewed by nearly 5 million people on TikTok, receiving nearly 23,000 comments of support while being shared nearly 27,000 times! Incredible!! And if you haven’t seen it, you can see it here.
The couple got married in a Moulin Rouge-style nightclub, on stage, in front of velvet red curtains, as guests looked on from couches, chairs & loungers. I mean, for a plan B this is pretty STUNNING!!
There were so many moments. For me, this is Emile speaking, I was so excited to walk down the aisle with my cape/veil/train. I had this dream for years to create an epic look for my wedding day, but it turned out so much better than I could’ve imagined. And it was so hard for me to keep it a secret.
For both of us, I think we were really anticipating the pretty iconic moment between AJ’s best friend Mikalah Gordon & our other close friend, iCarly actress, and comedian Laci Mosley, as the two reenacted the toast scene from "Bridesmaids," our favorite comedy of all time! None of the guests knew that was happening & we were in tears from laughing so hard.
Partners for life! These two are finally married! …We’re not crying, you’re crying!
The Spectacular Looks
We were dressed in custom looks by Grayscale, one of the hottest designers in the game, but it was Emile’s look that sent the guests into full-on applause. We wore individually designed royal blue tuxedos, but Emile brought the fashion in a cape/veil/train, designed by DaShoné by DaSh, that challenged gender norms and brought AJ to tears!
YES! More grooms in capes please!!
This wedding party looks truly spectacular! The blues perfectly compliment these burnt orange bridesmaid dresses by Azazie!
The Crowd Goes Wild!
The two entered the reception with fabulous hand fans that said ‘Gay AF’ & ‘You Are Perfect Just The Way You Are’ and the crowd went wild (TikTok also went wild too). American Idol finalist and AJ’s best friend, Mikalah Gordon, kicked off the first dances with a trio of songs (“At Last,” “The Rose” & “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), but it was her rendition of the Bette Midler classic that drew the biggest emotional response of the evening.
Relocating the reception indoors was a little bit more challenging! Since the team had less than 2 hours to set up multiple locations, some of the finer details had to be let go of, but in the end, the couple was ecstatic that the event designers were able to make the reception space beautiful in the little time they had.
For their first dance, AJ also surprised Emile by getting on one knee, with handwritten poster boards (a la Love Actually), to profess his love to a medley of “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge, John Legend’s “All of Me” & concluding with Katy Perry’s “Firework,” which corresponded with actual fireworks going off around the dance floor to open the night of dancing. TOO sweet!!!
An Afterparty for the Ages
“And then to close the night, we had the best personalization & surprise that blew our minds. We found out earlier that day that Beyoncé was dropping a brand new song that night. Keep in mind that we got married on a Monday, so this was a huge shock to us. The song, ‘Break My Soul,’ was set to drop at Midnight ET which was 11 PM our time…aka the end of our reception. Again, we were blown away by the synchronicities that kept happening. So we opened the reception with Beyoncé (planned a year prior) & we were able to close the reception with brand new Beyoncé!”
For couples planning a wedding now, I think the best advice would be to stay focused on one another. Planning is important, details matter, and the guest experience should be a priority, but none of those things should keep couples from enjoying the process.
And then, because we are extra, we had an aerialist performance for all of our guests back in the nightclub for our official afterparty where we danced until 3 in the morning. It was all unforgettable.
“The response to our big day has been so overwhelming, that we’re actually in development for a TV show where we showcase certain types of weddings (don’t want to give away too much), so stay tuned for that. Planning a wedding can be so frustrating, but in the end, so worth it! Not much went the way we planned on our actual wedding day, but looking back, we couldn’t imagine anything other than the beautiful, love-filled series of events that unfolded for all of us in Playa Mujeres, Mexico.“
A huge congratulations to these two on a magical wedding… the team at GWS wishes you years of happiness to come!
photography: El Instante // venue name: Atelier Playa Mujeres, Playa Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico // event design: Sterling Experiences // planning: Pink Pineapple Travel // bridesmaid dresses: Azazie // hair stylist: Ebony Roots Hair - Celebrity Hair Stylist | Khalil Long - Celebrity Barber // groom attire: Grayscale - Custom Tuxedos and Da Shoné by DaSh - Custom Cape/Veil/Train // groom's shoes: Christian Louboutin // groom's ring: David Yurman // videography: El Instante // officiant: Sofia Stanley // lighting: Encore // photo booth: Matizze Productions