When Francesca Nicolas Brugal went over to one of her best friend’s apartments in 2015, she probably didn’t anticipate that she’d get married to their roommate, David Rubin. However, the twosome jumped on the fast track to forever when they reconnected on Bumble in 2018. “What started as a ‘We should catch up, haven’t seen you in years’ turned into basically our first date, since we continued to see each other from then on,” Francesca explains.
Two years later, David got down on one knee and proposed during what Francesca thought was a celebration for her 30th birthday. From the moment she said yes, Francesca and David knew they wanted to get married in the Dominican Republic. “I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and lived there until I left for college at the age of 18,” the bride explains. “Growing up, I spent my weekends and holidays at Casa de Campo and, as a couple, we’ve spent important milestones there.” Naturally, the couple selected a private villa in Casa de Campo and invited 225 of their closest friends and family members to attend.
The couple wanted their October 23, 2021 nuptials to have a “laid-back sophistication.” “We wanted it to be very personal to us both, but also fun and funny,” Francesca explains. “Elevated and sophisticated when it came to decor and food, but laid-back and relaxed in attitude.” With a lush backdrop, non-stop music, and a beautiful blend of traditions, the day struck a perfect balance between picturesque and personable.
Read on for an intimate look at the day, as planned by Sarah de Castro of Bloom Planners and photographed by Adriana Rivera.
The festivities kicked off on a fun note with Brugal Rum party favors and colorful invitations from Unigrafca RD, which were polished off with a personal finishing touch. “I designed our emblem that was used in the wedding invitations,” Francesca shares. “Wanting to make it very specific to us, I introduced Dominican elements such as a plantain tree on the top of the crest, a hummingbird, and the bougainvillea flowers which are very typical in the Dominican Republic and Los Angeles, where we live.”
“I’ve always loved playing with different hairstyles and headpieces, and knew that these were going to play a role on the wedding day,” Francesca explains. The bride spent months creating the perfect coiffed creation: a low ponytail surrounded by flowers, a birdcage, and a veil from Loho Bride.
Before slipping into her Alex Perry wedding gown, the bride spent some quality time with her inner circle—including her adorable flower girls and ring bearers.
“I wanted something different and timeless; elegant but simple,” the bride says of her silk corseted pleated gown. “When asked about how I wanted to feel on my wedding day, a few things came to mind: I wanted to feel great in it, dance comfortably, not be hot, and wear it all night because I only had one night to wear something I loved so much. This dress checked all the boxes.”
The groom sported an “etiqueta tropical” attire for the ceremony, which included a custom ivory shawl tuxedo from Fitwel and his maternal grandfather’s gold cufflinks.
We had full trust that the wedding, party, and our lives together would turn out right.
Francesca and David shared a sweet first look before the ceremony. “David and I both were incredibly calm: no nerves, no rushing, or last-minute worrying,” the bride shares. “We had full trust that the wedding, party, and our lives together would turn out right.”
Photography was always high on the couple’s priority list, and the stars aligned with Francesca scrolled through Adriana Rivera’s’s Instagram feed.
“She is insanely creative [and] explained her creative process and timelines, which I loved because I am a sucker for schedules and clear communication,” the bride says of her photographer. “Once in person, she made it so fun. From memorizing everyone’s name to the music she played, it was like having another friend at the wedding.”
The couple wanted their decorations to enhance the venue’s natural beauty, so they opted for wooden furniture as well as gold accents. For the ceremony, Sarah de Castro of Bloom Planners placed woven fans with the couple’s emblem on each seat and decked out the entrance with jute rugs and custom planters filled with lush greenery.
David was escorted down the aisle by his parents—and a few flower girls and ring bearers were close behind. “We were really excited that my nephew had learned to walk a few months before and could be a part of the ceremony,” Francesca shares. “He loves the attention and his dad being the officiant would facilitate him walking down the aisle to him. But, as he scanned the room and worked himself to walk, one of the flower girls had caught up to him and literally brushed him off and kept on walking as if she had no time to waste. He followed behind her with a really cute robotic-like walk and then ran towards his dad.”
The bride glided down the aisle with her parents and a bouquet of peonies, blushing bride protea, and greens in hand.
The ceremony was a way we could honor our values and traditions, and most importantly, the families who brought us up.
“David is Jewish and I was raised Catholic,” Francesca says. “For us, the ceremony was a way we could honor our values and traditions, and most importantly, the families who brought us up.” The couple infused Jewish traditions like circling and the Seven Blessings into their ceremony, as well as Arras Matrimoniales, a Hispanic tradition that promotes prosperity in a couple’s marriage.
Of course, the couple found even more ways to honor their family ties during the ceremony. Francesca’s brother acted as the officiant. Her sister, who served as maid of honor, recited E.E. Cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart.” “It was incredibly touching and brought everyone to tears,” she shares.
After exchanging David Yurman wedding bands and breaking the glass, the happy couple sealed their marriage with a kiss.
Francesca and David recessed down the aisle to music from singer and trumpeter Viktor Mitrov.
The couple snuck in a few more pictures with Adriana before heading to the reception area. “We haven’t been able to get over seeing and showing the photos yet,” the bride shares.
Decked out with wooden furniture, a cluster of paper lanterns, and ample greenery, the ceremony’s decor seamlessly transitioned into the party area. “We continued to use a lot of natural materials and greens for the reception decor,” Francesca shares.
The couple selected Chichí’s “Procura” for their first dance, swaying under a tent of Tivoli lights.
“Music is very important in Dominican weddings. A big part of it is the party and we are big dancers,” Francesca explains. For the perfect, pulse-pumping playlist, the couple enlisted a seven-piece band called Glamband, as well as Miami-based DJ Korduroy.
Casa de Campo delivered with a healthy and refreshing menu, complete with grilled lobsters, pumpkin ravioli, and a carving station with New York sirloin. As for dessert? Milona Cakes designed a four-tiered naked cake with lemon and dulce de leche.
One of the couple’s favorite moments from their wedding was swapping stories with the rest of their family and closest friends the next day. Throughout all the reminiscing, one thing became very clear: Francesca and David’s nuptials were representative of them. “Do and choose things because they are close to your heart or feel right for you and your partner, and not only because ‘they’ve been done before,’” Francesca shares. “I feel that helped us create an experience that was truly ours and that we will cherish forever.”