You hear a lot about spring breaks gone wrong—but for Perri Bressman and Ari Sason, spring break went very, very right. That’s where they first met in Puerto Vallarta with friends in 2012. Eight years later, they got engaged on a beach, too. This time, it was back in the U.S. “On September 3, 2020, Ari surprised me [with a proposal] on the beach in the Hamptons, in front of our closest friends,” Perri says.
Bringing their relationship full circle, they decided on a tropical destination wedding—but didn’t want to abandon their New York roots. “The [goal was] sophisticated glamour; timeless classic chic,” Perri says. “I wanted to bring a black-tie New York City wedding vibe to the Caribbean and have the best of both worlds.”
The locale? A private villa at Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic, where the bride’s family has spent many years vacationing. “We wanted to bring all of our closest friends and families there as we knew they’d enjoy it as much as we did,” she says. “We knew this venue would be extremely unique and unforgettable—the perfect place to throw the party of our dreams.”
They tapped planner Claire Durán to organize the event as she knew the venue well and was familiar with local vendors. “Once we explained our vision to Claire, we trusted her advice of who we should use. It was important the vendors understood our very specific vision.” That said, it was often Perri who needed reining in. “The most difficult part [of planning] was sticking to my original vision and not changing my mind on décor, color palettes, and small details,” she admits. “Luckily, I had a great team behind me encouraging me to stick with my gut. We made sure to fully embrace the planning process and enjoy every moment of it.”
That joy showed in the results. Keep scrolling for a peek at Perri and Ari’s December 4, 2021, wedding, planned by Claire Durán Weddings & Events and photographed by Asia Pimentel Photography.
Diverting from the more expected tropical palette of poppy hues and vibrant greenery, Perri and Ari stuck with sophisticated black and white, along with hints of gold.
“After some negotiating, I was able to talk Ari into a few facials before the big day,” laughs Perri. However, the groom’s wedding prep was mostly minimal. He donned a sleek Tom Ford tuxedo and bow tie, with velvet smoking slippers.
In keeping with her wedding aesthetic, the beauty vision was “timeless sophistication,” Perri says. “A natural look is always a decision you’ll never regret. I added a bit more lash than I normally do to enhance the drama, but other than that, I tried to look as natural as possible.” She took a unique approach: “I had my makeup artist use all of my own makeup so there were no surprises. I used my favorite lipstick, my favorite blush, my trusted foundation…I’m always happiest when I stick with what I know and love.” One concession she did have to make for the tropical locale: no fragrance. “I was too scared of potentially attracting mosquitos!”
If wedding dress shopping could be an occupation, I would be the CEO.
“I never wanted dress shopping to end—if wedding dress shopping could be an occupation, I would be the CEO,” Perri says with a laugh. That said, the moment she tried on this silk Mikado Monique Lhuillier gown, “my body language changed,” she remembers. “I couldn’t help but dance in the mirror. It fit like a glove and I felt absolutely beautiful in it. I loved the simplicity and elegance. It felt timeless to me and I knew I would love it forever.”
“The first look was truly a magical moment,” Perri shares. “It was extremely emotional. My husband never cries—and he started crying during the first look! It was surreal to see each other for the first time looking our best on our wedding day.”
The bride chose her three cousins—“who are like sisters to me,” she says—as bridesmaids. “I had them wear all black for a few reasons,” she says. “I knew they would feel their best in black and it was important for me to make sure that they felt beautiful. As a former bridesmaid myself, I know how hard it is to find a specific dress with strict parameters. I wanted the process to be stress-free for them.” Plus, she adds, “Nothing is more chic than the combination of black and white in photos.”
The ceremony took place at Altos de Chavón Amphitheatre, a stunning amphitheater that gives off ancient vibes but was actually constructed in the 1970s. “The chuppah was fully covered in lush baby’s breath and sonrío, a local flower in the Dominican Republic with similar look,” Perri describes. “We wanted to keep the ceremony florals and décor simple and elegant, as the venue spoke for itself. I chose furniture that accentuated the amphitheater’s elegance and old-world vibes. I wanted the venue to be the star of the show and to save the over-the-top décor for the reception.”
Perri entered through a stunning arched doorway to meet her parents for their walk down the aisle to “Everytime” by Britney Spears.
The couple was married by a rabbi and exchanged personal vows. “I told the story of how we met and did a brief synopsis of some highlights from our ten-year relationship,” Perri says.
“After the ceremony, we skipped cocktail hour and did an intimate photo shoot,” the bride says. “This was really special because it was just the two of us. We were on a high coming straight from our ceremony and it was so romantic. It’s evident in the photos how much love we were both feeling in this moment.”
Meanwhile, their 150 guests sipped signature skinny margaritas (her cocktail) and espresso martinis (his) while they waited for the newlyweds.
Casa de Campo’s private Casa Palma villa set the scene for their reception. “We loved working on the reception décor; Perri and Ari had such spectacular taste,” says planner Claire Durán. “The idea was to combine different textures and décor [ideas], while also being cohesive. We love to do floor plans with a diversity of table formats, so we had a mix of rectangular and square mirrored tables, and linen-covered tables with elegant geometric references in gold, pink, and beige.”
“The china consisted of whites plates with either a marble effect or a gold rim,” Claire says. “For a pop of black, which was a consistent subtle reference we wanted to have in different elements, we had black Champagne flutes that added an interesting drama component to the tables.”
While our guests were still at cocktail hour, we danced for a few songs, just the two of us.
“While our guests were still at cocktail hour, we headed to the reception and were able to see the finished product before anyone else,” Perri shares. “This was a moment neither of us will forget. We were in awe. We hit the dance floor and danced for a few songs just the two of us. We sipped Champagne and took it all in. It pumped us up and got us ready for the best night of our lives to begin.”
The reception started on a high note, with cold fireworks erupting as the couple made their grand entrance as newlyweds and shared their official first dance.
“We wanted guests to have an experience that felt nothing like going through a buffet line,” Perri says of the dinner service. “So, we hired a food stylist that could collaborate with us on creating an art installation with the buffet, using not only flowers, greenery, and candles, but also food elements and vases of all shapes and sizes.” On offer: avocado and grapefruit salad, grilled lobster, rice with sweet plantains, seafood risotto, and more.
It was time for an outfit change, and the bride’s second entrance was just as dramatic. Dancers pulled back giant feathered fans to reveal Perri in a tropically inspired Haleia dress from the label’s 2021 collection.
The cake was inspired by marble but the newlyweds also chose to include some softness. “We wanted to add sugar flowers that didn’t look too perfectly composed,” Claire says. The couple cut into the bottom tier, revealing deliciously simple chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. A dessert bar also offered mini lemon pies, chocolate truffles, tuxedo strawberries, and more sweet treats.
Then, the party was on. Their DJ flew in from Israel and was joined by a live violinist, saxophonist, and singer, along with a second mobile DJ, to get the crowd going. “We made sure to throw a party no one would ever forget, which definitely reflects who we are as a couple,” Perri says. “With an emphasis on the music, décor, and food, we made sure the elements we find most important were all top notch. We both love to dance—and it was the dance party of the century.”