As I stood there barefoot on the beach, in my sweated-through black suit and scraggly ponytail, I surveyed the scene in front of me: A circular fire pit built straight into the earth, rimmed with about 25 beautiful people in their late 20s, in gorgeous gowns, barefoot, hair loosing itself from previously perfect updos, sitting on natural benches made of sand, laughing and cuddling together with drinks in their hands – the wedding venue just behind them where the DJ was finishing the evening with a few more songs. The girls were all wearing flower crowns of baby’s breath, their dresses a little dirty on the bottom from hours of dancing. It was already 2 a.m., but no one was ready to call it a night.
We first met Regina and Brandon five and a half years ago in the Bahamas. Brandon was the best man in his brother Jonathan and Melissa’s One and Only Ocean Club wedding in December 2008. Regina was Brandon’s new girlfriend. So we kinda knew what we were getting into when they booked us to photograph their Rosewood Mayakoba wedding in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Brandon lives every day to the fullest. He is loud, opinionated, demanding and relentlessly energetic. He commands any room with his larger-than-life personality (he kept a microphone with him for almost the entire reception so he could rev up the party whenever it slowed down). So we were surprised to discover another, very endearing side of him during his and Regina’s destination wedding weekend. Brandon is tender; he is extremely sentimental (he cried all day leading up to the ceremony); and all he really wants is for everyone to be together (after he took his shirt off at the reception, he went around trying to rip all the other guys’ shirts off too, including Ben’s. If Brandon’s shirt was off, he wanted everyone else’s off too). But most of all, he has a deep and passionate love for his friends and family, and especially his new wife.
Regi, as everyone calls her, is his quiet counterpart – stunningly beautiful, loyal, supportive, and always up for whatever Brandon wants to get into. Beautiful girls can be intimidating, but not this girl. Regi is goofy, unassuming, loving and warm.
It had long been my dream to shoot a wedding at the Rosewood Mayakoba, and the property did not disappoint. Regi and Brandon generously allowed us to stay at the Mayakoba, where we could be in the mix of everything. We arrived Wednesday and started with a portrait session. On Thursday we hung out with the main crew on the beach, sipping margaritas and taking pictures of them hanging with their closest friends. That night was the rehearsal dinner; Friday was the welcome party, and Saturday was the wedding. It was a weekend full of happy tears, hilarious laughs, lots of tequila, and memories no one will ever forget, including Ben and me.
That image from the beach at Regi and Brandon’s wedding is just one of those flashes of memory, where everyone is young and beautiful and wild at heart – an image that, if it were me and those were my friends, I would carry with me the rest of my life.