Kristen Farrell & Mike Riley
July 13, 2019. Mayakoba, Mexico
Photography: Take It Photo – Lupe Arguello Cancun, Mexico; Location & Catering: Banyan Tree Mayakoba Mayakoba, Mexico; Planning & Event Design: Quintessentially Weddings; Floral Design: Vanessa Jaimes Mexico
Mike Riley and Kristen Farrell first met through a mutual friend at a loft party in New York in 2007. They sat and talked for over three hours while the party went on around them. The two clearly had an instant connection, but Kristen was spoken for at the moment and Mike was living in Chicago. Mike thought, “Whomever marries her is going to be the luckiest man on earth.” Kristen felt like she had known him forever; he was so easy to talk to and they quickly discovered they both had a love for traveling, food, wine, and music. They maintained a beautiful friendship, seeing each other at least once a year for almost a decade. In 2017, their paths crossed once again – but this time, things were different. Kristen and Mike were both single, and sure enough, Mike asked Kristen out that very same night. They have been inseparable ever since.
A year later, after spending several days on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Mike switched up dinner plans at the last minute (or so Kristen thought), and took Kristen down to the Positano Spiaggia, where a stunning yacht outfitted with a personal chef awaited them. As the boat sailed out to sea, prosecco and antipasti were served, Frankie Valli played, and Mike got down on one knee just as the sun set. Completely taken by surprise, Kristen immediately said, “YES!”
The newly engaged couple quickly decided they wanted to have a beach wedding in Mexico – essentially, a vacation with all of their family and friends. Without a clue where to start, they enlisted the help of a highly recommended wedding planner, Rhianne Humble from Quintessentially Weddings. Mike recalls how enjoyable she made the process for them, with no detail overlooked. They started the planning process by taking a scouting trip to Riviera Maya to look at six distinctly different venues. After five, they hadn’t yet fallen in love with one and were feeling a bit defeated. Then, they walked into Banyan Tree Mayakoba; and upon only seeing the beautiful lobby, they knew. Their feelings were confirmed by the warm welcome they received, the natural beauty of the grounds, the delicious food and, of course, the villas with private pools. Each person they interacted with on the property exuded an unparalleled level of care and class, and they couldn’t wait to spend a weekend there with family and friends.
Over the course of the next several months, they made four more trips to Mexico to sample the menu, select their vendors, and to plan their dream wedding weekend. They knew they wanted to incorporate the natural beauty of the lush tropical greens into their wedding, even including the native Monstera leaf on their save the date, invites, and floral bouquets. Kristen recalls that “the wedding planning was just as much fun as the wedding itself.”
Once the big weekend arrived, guests were welcomed with signature Mayan inspired cocktails, a rehearsal dinner overlooking the water, a beach party, and a custom YETI to remember their time together. Mike and Kristen recall that the wedding day itself was pure magic from the moment they woke up. Mike went swimming and hung out with his dad and groomsmen. Kristen remembers feeling super relaxed, drinking champagne, and getting ready with the moms and bridesmaids.
The sun was high in the sky and they had a picture-perfect ceremony on the beach, keeping with the lighthearted, happy vibe of the weekend. As one guest said, “Everyone felt the love in the air on the beach that day.”
Once the sun went down, the cocktail party kicked off at Banyan Tree’s MK Blue, a gorgeous, up-lit open-air palapa. As guests made their way inside, they enjoyed the sounds of a steel drum player, taking in the tropical ambiance Banyan Tree has become famous for. With the lush jungle and waterfalls as a backdrop, Kristen and Mike added brightly colored florals and arrays of candles to the tables, dimly lit by opulent chandeliers.
The newlyweds arrived at the reception by boat, making their big entrance as the music pulsed and their guests danced and cheered them on. Throughout the night, guests enjoyed their signature Riley’s Reposado Tequila rested in personalized Cognac barrels, handmade cigars, late night churros, and a saxophonist and violinist playing along to the beats of the area’s top DJ, Dulce Rullan. After dancing into the early morning hours, they closed down the party with Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
Mike and Kristen could not have imagined a more perfect wedding and have expressed their gratitude to all those who helped them pull off such a magical weekend.