Our love of weddings knows no bounds. From a mountainside ceremony in Colorado to a Cipriani extravaganza in New York, we love it all. So when Kerry Beach, of Kerry Beach Events, brought us along to Tulum, Mexico to join her and Chellise Michael, of Chellise Michael Photography, we were beyond thrilled! These two incredible women have spent the last decade escaping NYC for the beautiful beaches of Tulum and in the past few years have expanded their businesses to this tropical paradise – to the benefit of wanderlusting couples everywhere. (PS did we mention they are not only total babes but also best friends? #LifeGoals ) We sat down with this dynamic duo to chat about how they split their time between the city and the beach, what inspires them when they are working with couples in Tulum and what a perfect day looks like in tropical Mexico.
Nüage Designs: How is it splitting your time between NYC and Tulum? What are the different sorts of energies that you get from these very different locations?
Kerry Beach: Tulum has this energy about it that makes you feel like you can take deeper breathes. You can dream big and do great things while really being connected to the ocean, nature, and a deep Mayan tradition. It is spiritual and sophisticated all at once. Alternately, after some time in Tulum it’s fun to return to New York. New York is always pulsating. It’s alive and upbeat and a great place to explore your goals and dreams because there is simply so much to experience. I’ve grown so much as a professional in NY.
ND: With events all over the US and the world, why is working in Tulum unique to you?
Chellise Michael: The country of Mexico has always been a favorite of mine. I love the people, food, culture, and simplicity of life that they have. Tulum is a very magical and grounding place to be. Every time that I am there, I quickly acclimate to their slow pace of life. What I love most about it is having the option of a comfortable, accommodating beach life, or spending the day in the lazy town of Tulum which is full of charm, and great little taco shacks.
ND: What inspired you to start planning and designing weddings in Tulum?
KB: I started visiting Tulum 9 years ago. I would travel there alone to simply take some time to myself to reflect and enjoy the beach. I took kite-boarding lessons, read books, and just let myself unwind. My now husband was the first person I really invited there to share my love for it. After we got engaged there was no question that we wanted to be married there. Working in luxury events for years, and really loving my experience with my own wedding in Tulum, it was clear to me that this was a passion I wanted to pursue professionally.
ND: With the wedding industry just starting to pick up in Tulum, do you find yourself coming up with creative solutions to problems that you might not face if planning something domestically?
KB: I’ve learned so much about destination weddings. Hiring vendors you trust, considering all possible issues and planning for them, it all comes with choosing this profession. Truly, the most challenging thing for my clients and why they decide to hire me is because I understand the community and challenges of Tulum and my vendors are solid. Whether it be the wind, power requirements or simple service needs, we always find creative solutions to make it work with the beach environment!
CM: I can’t say that we have any problems with shooting in Tulum! The light is incredible and there’s nothing better than feeling the sand under my feet as I take pictures. If couples do choose to get married on the beach, I highly suggest not having their ceremony at sunset. As romantic as it sounds, being backlit with deep orange skin isn’t going to look good in photos. Save sunset for cocktail hour, it’s a lovely way to end the day as you transition to dinner.
ND: How do you consider the natural Tulum environment when working on a Tulum wedding?
KB: I always say, don’t argue with the jungle. Tulum is very rustic and romantic while still exuding a chic and stylish vibe. I go for linens that go along with that. For example for Jason Wu’s wedding I selected a textured white table linen, White Sand Tuscany, whose contrast to the White Hemstitch napkins, which had gorgeous stitching, gave it a bohemian elegance and created interest rather than choosing, say, a more straightforward un-textured linen. It was altogether romantic, elegant and chic. Alternately, rustic wood tables are a favorite here and allowing the wood to be exposed lets me play around more with lace runners, like the Ivory French Lace I used for a recent shoot, and airy light napkin fabrics. I do avoid things that are too heavy looking or argue with the jungle, like satin or dupioni.
CM: Photo shoots in Tulum are always full of so much more freedom! Colors and textures are naturally abundant from the landscape and the breeze is incredible! It’s such a romantic place, so my couples are so much more relaxed and playful in front of the camera. We carry our cameras with us as we experience Tulum ourselves whether we are in town, walking the beach, etc. so there’s a story of being in Tulum given to our couples. On the wedding day, if the couple wants to shoot in the colorful town we create a timeline that allows us to, or we can do an intimate shoot with the couple a few days after the wedding in other locations.
ND: When it comes to a Tulum wedding, what do you think rank as the most important things for your couples?
KB: Quite honestly, the venue truly starts the experience. Knowing your clients vision and truly getting them connected with the right venue that best suits their needs and budget is so very important. The venue will really set the tone for the rest of the planning process. At the same time, I listen to my clients’ priorities and let that guide the process.
CM: People get married in Tulum because of the beach so that’s definitely a focal point for photos! But there’s so much more to Tulum than the beach, so we like to incorporate the architecture of the properties, the forest, and the colorful town of Tulum.
ND: Why should couples planning their Tulum wedding reach out to work with you? What kind of expertise do you bring to the wedding process?
KB: I offer more clarity and guidance in the booking process and cut out a lot of time it could take if doing it on their own and alleviate a lot of stress they might face if trying to plan from abroad with little or no experience with the area. I also work with an elevated list of vendors who I trust and who I truly believe offer the best services in their fields. We work well as a team and that’s where the magic happens!
CM: Things are run on “Tulum Time” there, so don’t expect anyone to get anything to you “now” it just won’t happen, sorry! It’s a very slow place to be and live in, so you must understand and accept that the people of Tulum live in zen and on very slow wi-fi. So if you want to get married there, you must have trust in your experienced vendors and go with the pace given.
ND: You get to work with your best friend and an incredible wedding professional fairly often on these dreamy Tulum weddings. What’s the secret to the magic that comes to life when the two of you are together?
KB: Trust and fun. I trust her and her team when it comes to scouting locations, doing their best to understand the environment to create amazing shots, and that those photos will really capture the vibe and personality of the clients. They are so very fun on top of being professional and this brings out an ease in couples that lets their energy really come through in the photos. They truly care about connecting with their clients so the entire process feels amazing.
CM: 100% trust in each other, big time. We have a non-verbal communication and understanding of what the overall feeling of the wedding/styled shoot is and how to visually accomplish it together. As friends, we definitely have the same taste in style, so it’s easy to appreciate what she creates.
ND: If we came to visit you in Tulum, what would be your top recommendations on things to see/eat/do?
KB: Los Aguachiles at the end of town is a lovely local eatery. Tacos, tostadas, ceviche, you name it. The seafood there is so fresh. And to boot, 4 people can eat and drink there for no more than $40 total. It’s amazing! Also, a visit to the bio reserve is a must. You can take a tour that takes you through a fresh water river with mangroves all around you. The water is crystal clear. You sit in your life jacket, which has been flipped upside down and look like bright orange diapers. It’s hilarious fun while taking in some of the most beautiful nature in the area. Definitely visit Coba ruins and any of the amazing cenotes. The list goes on, but those are a great start!
CM: Spend the first day doing absolutely nothing but eating guacamole and drinking Micheladas on the beach. You must get acclimated properly! Then go into Tulum town proper, get off the main strip and eat tacos at Aguachiles, walk around and take pictures. There are several cenote tours, but the best ones are the kind that you can rent 4x4s and drive to them, it is so fun!
ND: If you had a whole 24 hours to yourself in Tulum, what would a perfect day look like?
KB: I would get my usual iced coffee from KiBok in town. Then I’d head to Uno for their super healthy breakfast. I’d then head to Casa Violeta to do some work at my favorite corner table facing the sea (maybe with a glass of bubbly) then I’d go for a swim before heading out to grab the Octupus Ahau at Ahau Tulum for lunch. More swimming or even some paddle boarding on the ocean with my dear friends at Mexican Caribbean Kitesurf would come next. I’d then hit the beach road for some early evening shopping, especially at Calo Calo. A “kisses in the car” cocktail at Gitano followed by dinner at Arca and I’d call it the best day ever.
CM: Wake up in my hut to the sounds of crashing waves and chirping birds, go to breakfast in my swimsuit, then walk down to the beach and lay there all day. No phone, no music, just the ocean, a big shady umbrella, guac, and a Michelada. After that, I would rinse in the ocean, put on a comfortable dress and walk to Gitano for dinner and make some new friends. I would be in bed by 10pm so I can wake up wit the birds again.
ND: What else is on the horizon for Kerry Beach Events in Tulum?
KB: I’m actually building a house there at the moment. It’s going to be a bed and breakfast with a highly curated concierge service, from rooftop Mayan cooking classes with custom cocktails to private excursions to hidden gems with some of my favorite tour companies.
ND: Any other wisdom or advice you want to leave us with here?
KB: When visiting Tulum, just breathe. Know that you are there to experience something amazing, even if that is undefined and you’ll feel it for yourself. It’s that happy place when you are sitting on the beach with the sun shining and the salt water in your hair. Tulum is not Cancun, it’s not Paris, it’s a quiet place full of inspiration, so sit back and get inspired!
CM: When working with us, all that couples need to do is get dressed and have trust and comfort in our direction. We always do a pre-wedding portrait session to gain this comfort. And for destinations like Tulum, we pre-scout amazing locations for them. Sometimes a specific location does not work out when we return because of the weather, lighting, or other distractions, but we just roll with it and hope our couples do too because it always works out! We also suggest being prepared for adventure, there’s a lot of incredible photos to be made that will require the bride and groom to walk up a cliff near the ocean, thru some grass, or sand, so bring extra shoes that will protect your feet.
Between the gorgeous photos and the perfect day agenda, these ladies have us dreaming about the beauty and magic of this Mayan beach town. Go ahead and book us on the next flight to Tulum because we are definitely believers!
Designer/Planner Kerry Beach Events | Venues Casa Violeta, Sanara Tulum, Villa Pescadores | Photographer Chellise Michael Photography | Hair & Make Up Sharon Becker Beauty | Dresses Rebecca Schoneveld | Rentals Archive Mexico