Home » A Tropical Disco Wedding in Cartagena With Afro-Colombian Touches

A Tropical Disco Wedding in Cartagena With Afro-Colombian Touches

by Staff

Liz and Theron were introduced in 2012 through a mutual friend, Dwayne, at the annual DanceAfrica block party in Brooklyn, New York. They were both in relationships at the time so their interaction was just friendly. Although they saw each other at events over the years, it was not until 2014 that their rapport became romantic.

Fast forward to December 2018, the couple started a new tradition of chopping down their own Christmas tree. When they went out to a park to choose a tree, Theron insisted Liz take the first swing with an axe that was engraved with: “Will you marry me?” “Our dogs got the zoomies when he dropped to his knee to pop the question and I just lost it as well!” Liz says, “Plus, I was floored when I saw he had picked out a ring with an emerald stone from my home country, Colombia.”

The couple knew they wanted to get married in Cartagena, Colombia because of its rich Afro-Colombian culture and traditions. “Theron is from Guyana so we both wanted our wedding weekend to celebrate our brown and blackness,” Liz says. The couple had just seven months to plan, so as soon as they landed Santuario San Pedro Claver in Cartagena as their ceremony venue, they sent save-the-dates to their 80 guests for their April 9, 2022 wedding. “We appreciated the church’s dedication to pay homage to its Afro-Colombian and indigenous history and that we could have the freedom of having Theron’s line brother, Chris Binns, officiate our wedding ceremony,” Liz says.

With a short timeline, the couple was happy to find availability at Bellas Artes for their reception. Liz’s wedding vision was inspired by a large mango tree in the center of the patio space. “The mango tree reminded me of my childhood on my grandmother’s farmland and despite her no longer being alive it felt like a good omen and a blessing from her,” she says.

Pulling inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical realism writing in “Love in the Time of Cholera”, the couple aimed to pull off a tropical disco-themed wedding inspired by Colombian and Guyanese art, food, and culture. Liz planned most of the wedding herself with help from her mom, who is a florist, and last-minute help from a local month-of-coordinator, Claudia Carillo. See all the details ahead captured by the couple’s friend and photographer, Grace Gatto Photography.

Liz got ready for the wedding day in her hotel suite with her daughter, Hunter, after enjoying a wedding day massage gifted by her Matron of Honor, Alexandria. Having traveled to Cartegena five days before the wedding, Liz made sure she brought her favorite skincare products with her, including LINNÉ’s renew face cream, Evanhealy’s  Blue Cactus Beauty Elixir, Waleda’s Skin Food, and Dr. Hauschka’s Clarifying Toner and Rose Day Cream.

“My vision was simply to feel and look like myself,” she says, “I requested a no-makeup makeup look because on an everyday basis, I usually just wear eyebrow gel and a lip stain.” She wore her natural curls pinned into a side bun with a Frida Kahlo-inspired crown of green orchids. The finishing touches were a nude gel manicure and her go-to fragrance, Le Labo Santal 33.

The morning of the wedding, Theron met up with his father, brother, and best friends at a local barbershop for facials, haircuts, manicures, and pedicures. He wore a custom Indochino ivory tuxedo with customizations on the inside of the jacket. He finished his look with Calvin Klein loafers.

The couple wanted to have a non-denominational ceremony, so they chose to hold their ceremony outside of the church. “The entrance to the cloisters of San Pedro Claver is a lush, tropical green oasis surrounded by old walls and arches,” Liz says, “We loved the contrast of the serene greenery against the worn out, decaying textured walls of the Spanish Colonial era church.” They set up ghost chairs on either side of the aisle, with two twenty-foot floral aisle arrangements leading to the altar, which was flanked by two eight-foot tall floral pillars with anthuriums, bougainvilleas, birds of paradise, gladiolus, and roses.

The couple hired a string trio to play songs like the Game of Thrones theme song, Outkast’s “Spottieottiedopaliscious,” and Etta James’ “At Last.” They even played “Baby Shark” when it was the couple’s daughter’s turn to walk down the aisle with the ring bearer, the Matron of Honor’s son. Two groomsmen, Dwayne and Zane, served as the couple’s flower men. “They carried a large flat basket of rose petals and charismatically threw them onto our guests while cascading down the aisle,” Liz says. Dwayne was dressed in traditional North African attire with gold accents, while Zane wore a black and white houndstooth jacket with linen tux pants and a linen collarless shirt.

Theron became emotional as he saw his bride walking down the aisle with her parents. Liz wore a Jenny Yoo gown with an illusion bodice, botanical inspired appliques, sheer back, and chapel-length train. When she found the gown, it didn’t need any alterations, but a month after purchasing the dress, she was told there was a shipping delay. She ended up buying two other dresses. When the original dress arrived in time, she decided to wear all three looks on the day.

Liz’s bouquet featured calla lilies to honor her grandmother’s favorite flower. “I also asked my mom to include her favorite flower orchids, and my favorite anthuriums,” Liz says, “It made my mother so proud and happy to make the bouquet and it warmed my heart to hold something that was made with so much love.”

It made me so emotional and grateful to experience that collective love, peace, and joy.

The couple’s officiant was Theron’s best friend from college. He asked their friends and family to stand during the ceremony to pledge their support of their commitment, and it ended up being one of the couple’s favorite parts of the day “Our tribe’s energy is unmatched and we’re blessed to have them as our witnesses,” Liz says. After the couple exchanged their own personal vows, they had a minute of silence. “During that minute, all I heard was the breeze coming through the gardens and corridors of the cloisters and it made me so emotional and grateful to experience that collective love, peace, and joy,” the bride says. Then, the couple held hands and jumped the broom.

As the couple and their guests exited the cloisters, they were joined by percussionists playing cumbia and Afro-Colombian folk music. “My Matron of Honor’s father, who is like a bonus father to me, flew all the way from Milwaukee with his own drum and joined the Colombian percussionists to bless us during the Walk of Honor parade,” Liz says.

Musicians and dancers led the crowd to a nearby park where 30 horse-drawn carriages were waiting to take guests to the reception venue. “We also had strangers and locals waving at us like we were royalty and shouting their best wishes to us,” Liz says, “It felt like a dream!”

At Bellas Artes, the couple’s reception took place around the mango tree in the center of the patio. Disco balls and raffia and rattan lamps in varying styles and sizes were hung from the tree. Wicker peacock chairs were set up at the couple’s sweetheart table, which was embellished with a trailing arrangement of vibrant tropical flowers and greenery.

Liz and Theron entered their reception as the groom’s cousin, Masud, also known as DJ MOS, got everyone on the dance floor. Guests enjoyed three signature cocktails along with traditional Colombian Caribbean food. At midnight, the catering team served a traditional Colombian stew as a late night treat.

The couple’s three-tiered wedding cake was embellished with vibrant florals and guests enjoyed an assortment of other desserts as well.

Towards the end of the night, percussionists, singers, and dancers in costume came out for the Hora Loca or “crazy hour” to re-energize guests on the dance floor. They even had a battle of the sexes dance off! Liz changed into a fringed white jumpsuit for this fun part of the night. The couple kept the party going in Columbia with just the two of them before heading back home.

The couple reflects how the entire wedding weekend from beginning to end was a true joy and celebration. It began with a welcome event along the coast of Columbia. “As the boat returned to its dock, our mothers surprised us with fireworks and we lost it with happy tears,” Liz reminisces. “Theron lifted our daughter up to his shoulders and our loved ones surrounded us, jumping up and down as we danced to the Isley Brothers’ classic ‘Shout.’ With the fireworks in the background, sweat and tears flowing down our faces, this was truly one of the most unforgettable moments of our lives.”

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