Nico Rittmeyer is a wedding crasher—or, at least, he became one to get closer to cellist Anna Mathias. “After our first few dates, when we were first getting to know one another, he crashed one of my wedding gigs to hear me play,” Anna remembers. “He had casually asked me what time and where my gig was, and I thought nothing of it—until I looked up just as I was about to start performing and he came strolling past security wearing sunglasses and a suit he’d bought on the way. Within 10 minutes of being there, he was shaking hands, congratulating family, and drinking Champagne with the bride’s father.”
It was well worth the risk. Four years later, the former professional soccer player got down on one knee. “We got engaged on November 24, 2018,” Anna shares. “We spent the day doing all our favorite ‘usual’ activities. We spent the morning at our favorite coffee shop, went for a walk around downtown Charleston, and even looked at what ultimately would be our first home together. Just as sunset started, we walked along the battery in downtown Charleston and he proposed by the water. He even had a hidden photographer, my one request.”
As a cellist and the director of content and social media for Lovely Bride, Anna has seen hundreds of weddings and brides, so she knew she wanted something truly different—and she ruminated on it for a long four-year engagement. “Originally we were thinking of eloping, but we visited Antigua in January 2020 and started to think about getting married there. As soon as I saw Santa Clara, it was love at first sight,” she says. “The architecture of the 18th-century ruin is a work of art and it literally takes your breath away when you step into the open-arched space.” Guatemala, in general, holds a special place in their hearts. “We’ve been traveling there together since the first year we started dating,” Anna says. “Nico’s mom is from Guatemala and he played soccer for the Guatemalan National team. From the colorful walls to the cobblestone streets to the surrounding volcano views, Antigua is one of the most magical places I’ve been.”
It definitely fit the bill for “different,” but even so, “the vision for my wedding changed throughout the planning process,” Anna admits. “When you work in bridal, you are constantly seeing new ideas. Deciding on the final wedding vision was probably one of the hardest parts for me because I had so many details in mind that I’ve loved seeing from real weddings. I knew I wanted to err on the side of timeless and romantic with thoughtful trend-forward elements—and I couldn’t help myself when it came to the Instagram-worthy details.”
The couple hired a local wedding planner—“they know the best vendors and will make your life so much easier,” Anna advises other destination brides—and dug in. Read on to see the incredible results of their November 11, 2022, wedding day, planned by Saguzo Eventos and photographed by Deirdre Alston.
The bride DIY-ed the entire wedding paper suite to stunning effect. “I purchased a watercolor of Antigua from an artist on Etsy,” she says. “With his permission, I designed the invitation using the watercolor, and used Guatemalan huipil fabric as the invitation covers. It took hours to hand-glue the fabric squares inside the cards, but the end result was worth it! Many of our guests kept the fabric and framed it.”
Two days before our wedding, Nico and I hiked Pacaya volcano with our photographers and a wedding dress stuffed into a backpack.
“Two days before our wedding, Nico and I hiked Pacaya volcano with our photographers. We stuffed a wedding dress—Louvienne’s ‘Liliana’—and a suit into a backpack and off we went,” Anna says. “When we finally made it to the top, we changed behind the tallest rocks we could find. While we were up there, we also enjoyed pizza from Pacaya Pizza, made from the lava’s heat.”
The next day, they hosted a welcome party atop Casa Troccoli, and Anna donned another Lovely Bride purchase: the Stevie dress by Lovers Society with a removable train. (“Future brides, don’t be afraid to be as extra as you want for your wedding day looks,” she says.) The first big event of the weekend was a hit. “The restaurant has the most gorgeous views of the volcanos. We spent the night drinking margaritas and dancing.”
The bride and groom had breakfast together the morning of their wedding, before separating to get ready. “The vision for my wedding makeup was just an elevated version of the makeup I wear daily,” she says. “Instead of a lot of inspiration photos, I had a conversation with my makeup artist about what I liked and didn’t like, and used her previous work for inspiration. I think it helps a lot when you find something a makeup artist has already done, instead of bringing in inspo from a different artist.” They enhanced Anna’s eyes and used her favorite lash clusters by Kiss. “I also used Charlotte Tilbury’s lip liner in Iconic Nude and lipstick in Super Model. I use this combo every day, so I knew I would love it on my wedding day,” shares the bride.
“My dress shopping experience definitely looks different than most,” Anna admits. “I have been working [in bridal] for over four years, and in those four years have tried on hundreds of dresses and teared up over more real brides than I can count.” She thought this would make choosing her own dress harder, but “when I saw the first collection of SAINT Bridal, the decision became so clear,” she says. “As soon as the first samples arrived, I tried on the full collection and I immediately knew Emmett was the one.”
The romantic style featured a structured bodice with appliqués trailing down to the skirt, and an exposed boning statement back. Removable tulle sleeves changed up her look throughout the day. “My family and friends kept saying that Emmett was ‘me in a dress’ and that’s exactly how I felt when I first put it on. It was truly love at first sight.”
“Nico channeled his inner James Bond,” in a classic black tuxedo, Anna says. “He also wore Le Labo Santal 33. We always buy each other Le Labo as gifts, and Santal 33 has always been his favorite scent. We customized his bottle to say ‘For 11.11.22.’”
“First looks have always been some of my favorite photos,” Anna shares. “Because I have tried on so many dresses, I always joked that Nico would turn around and say ‘seen it.’ I thought some of the magic of the first look or the wedding in general wouldn’t be as magical. Luckily, I was wrong and the entire day was so special from start to finish.”
Bridesmaids picked their favorite dress style by Bec + Bridge in the color sand. “I love the neutral tone and elevated, flattering silhouettes,” Anna says. “I could not be happier with how it turned out!”
“Our ceremony decor was so dreamy,” Anna gushes. “Santa Clara is so magical on it’s own, but the team at Addy Florales complemented the space perfectly and made it even better. We had cane chairs, white flowers with greenery that lined the aisle, candles, and a small rug to frame the space. The ceremony arch shape was intentional to mirror the shape of the Santa Clara arches.”
Anna and her dad arrived to the ceremony in an orchid-adorned tuk-tuk and were preceded down the aisle by a “flower grandma.” “I always wanted a flower girl, but all of our friends with kids wanted to come without their kids,” Anna says. “We asked Nico’s grandma, and I’m so glad we did! She threw white rose petals out of a pearl bag. It was something we’ll remember forever—and now she’s a flower grandma TikTok star.”
Music, of course, was paramount for Anna. “We had a Spanish guitarist perform for our prelude, ceremony, and recessional,” she says. “I went back and forth on the ceremony song list for weeks! Ultimately, I chose songs I felt like represented Nico and I as a couple. For the prelude, our guitarist played classic flamenco songs.”
A friend officiated the wedding, which included touching personal vows and ended with a joyous recessional to “Electric Love” by Børns.
A mariachi band led the couple’s 77 guests from the ceremony into cocktail hour, where they sipped rum horchata and spicy margaritas and noshed Guatemalan appetizers.
I had the idea to embroider everyone’s name on a napkin.
“Our reception was filled with romantic white flowers, candles, and pops of trend-forward elements,” Anna describes. “The tables were set with stunning wood-carved chargers and we used a mix of geometric black and white vases for the table florals.” There was one ultra-personal element, as well. “I had the idea to embroider everyone’s name on a napkin. I bulk ordered the napkins from Amazon, and had my grandma’s neighbor—who has an Etsy shop, Sew Southern—embroider all 77 names.” She continues: “Our guests absolutely loved the personalized touch, and they were even used on the dance floor! Who needs glow sticks or a limbo poll when you have napkins?”
One of the bride’s favorite moments was the first dance—much to her own surprise. “I was so nervous, so I decided to give our guests sparklers during the first dance as a distraction,” she says. “They added the most beautiful backdrop to the dance floor and looked incredible in our video and photos.” The song? “The Way I Love You” by Michael Leah. To future brides, she adds: “No one cares if you’re not a great dancer. They are there to celebrate you and your love.”
“Our cake was truly a work of art that also tasted incredible! The design was all white with a 3D textural floral design that wrapped up the three tiers.” Inside, it was flavored with vanilla Ferrero Rocher. “My one regret is not eating more cake.”
The owner of their favorite Antigua club, Las Vibras, served as DJ and put on a stellar set, finishing with Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance.” But there was one more surprise in store, even for the bride and groom. As Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” resounded through the reception space, fireworks exploded in the sky. “I thought that was going to be the grand finale, but mother nature had other plans,” Anna recalls. “Just as we were gathering our things to head to the afterparty, there was an earthquake—thankfully not a large one! We all joked that the earth was celebrating our marriage with us. What a way to send us off!”