I still remember that day — that whole weekend — quite vividly. I get goosebumps thinking about it. December 31, 2012.
That was the best day of my life (thus far) and it was filled with so much joy, love, laughter, tears, and of course, tequila. Because you can’t have a wedding in Mexico without tequila, and that alone brought both laughter and tears (the latter, mostly the morning after).
I had hinted last year that my then-fiancé and I were searching the Gold Coast of Northern Baja for an appropriate venue that felt very us — us meaning no highrise hotels, no grand resorts, no churches or courthouses. We’re surfers and snowboarders, climbers and kayakers — in short, a casual couple with a love for being outside. But finding an outside venue in the middle of winter was hit or miss.
The Gold Coast is not too far south of the San Diego border, so its weather is similar to San Diego year-round. December can be sunny and warm or cool and cloudy — usually both, and often in the same day. We took our chances with a bohemian-inspired beach wedding on a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline that sees few other visitors, which made it the perfect setting for us.
Right in between Rosarito and Ensenada is a little-known village called La Misión, and it’s known mostly to surfers who come to ride its beefy beach break called La Fonda.
Sitting right in front of this break is a tiny, charming, Spanish-style hotel with only 12 rooms for rent. Poco Cielo — loosely translated to mean “little heaven.” And it was.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but enter through the wrought-iron gates and suddenly you find yourself in a rustic, homey, family-owned inn with brick walls, hand-painted murals, colorful string lights, wood-burning chimeneas, and the most magnificent view of La Fonda from the terrace, as well as miles of empty coastline in either direction.
Poco Cielo sits on a hundred-foot cliff above the beach, which affords it amazing dolphin sightings at breakfast (and lunch, and even dinner). Last year I spotted a pod of at least five dolphins from my bed! It was a glorious way to wake up.
Climb down a couple hundred stairs and you’ll find yourself on the sand… often by yourself, and sometimes in the company of a horse trotting along the shore. It feels like old Mexico, even though California is only an hour away.
Our wedding was on a Monday — New Year’s Eve 2012. Our family and friends started arriving on Saturday, and from the first round of margaritas toasted at noon on the terrace, it was loud, exciting, and high energy all the way — in spite of the weather.
The days leading up to the wedding unleashed the most insane weather I’d ever seen in the three years we’ve been going down there for New Year’s Eve. It was pouring one day, then hailing the next. Hail… in Mexico of all places. It was so cold that we all joked we felt like we were on a ski trip together — everyone in their down jackets and wool mittens and Ugg boots. (An upside to all that cold was that everybody brought home a beautiful Mexican blanket as a souvenir. I’m pretty sure our 65-person wedding party single-handedly wiped out the town’s entire inventory of blankets for the winter!)
And even though most couples would be freaking about the weather and frantically drawing up a Plan B, we had no such panics.
Each night I willed the weather gods to send us their biggest, baddest storms — and to get it all out of the way so that we’d be blessed with sunshine on our wedding day, the only day where weather really mattered. In fact, we had so much faith in some kind of divine intervention — channeling the “secret,” I suppose — that we didn’t even bother with a Plan B. We were Plan A all the way.
After a thunderous night with a cold snap in the air, we woke up on New Year’s Eve to blinding, brilliant sunshine blazing through our window. To describe our utter shock and sheer joy would be an understatement. The cloudless sky, the warm windless air… I wanted to pinch myself. Just like that, the weather gods smiled down on us.
I almost don’t want to retell the rest of the day because I fear I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. I wouldn’t be able to describe the silly, sisterly, raucous, rockin’-to-the-iPod morning I spent getting ready with my best girlfriends… the flutter I felt when I looked in the mirror for the first time after the dress, hair and makeup were all in order, and saw that I was actually a bride… the nervous/excited anticipation of making my entrance to Jack Johnson’s “Angel,” strummed and sung by an amazing friend, and seeing the words “Will loves you” written in the sand… the overwhelming waves of love and gratitude that came over me as I looked around our circle and realized that every single person was there to celebrate us… and the vows that I’d written only a week before the wedding, vows which felt so perfect in my heart and which I could only hope were deserving of Will.
We eschewed many (most) of the wedding traditions and centered our ceremony around the weaving of a God’s eye (Ojo de Dios). Rooted in Mexican history, a God’s eye is a spiritual object woven with yarn and wood and created in celebration of a life event. The weaving of a God’s eye often involved meditation or prayer, with the weaver focusing all of his positive energy, hopes and dreams into the yarn.
We passed a ball of yarn around the circle, with each of our loved ones holding on to a piece, everyone connected to another. For several minutes, we asked them to think about a beautiful memory that we had all shared, or perhaps a happy wish or words of wisdom for our future together, and to infuse the yarn with their blessings.
As we walked around the circle and wove our God’s eye from the hands of our family and friends, the flow of good vibes in the circle was palpable. The weaving ceremony allowed us to share a private moment with each person, which we were so grateful for.
The God’s eye now hangs in our home, filled with all the love and joy and energy from our wedding day. We still feel it, every single day.