San Jose del Cabo Destination Wedding | Featured SMP | Claire and Eric
Cabo San Lucas has always been Claire and Eric's favorite spot so when it came time to plan their own wedding, they couldn't imagine a better location to bring all their closest family and friends to celebrate. Located in San José del Cabo, Hotel El Ganzo (where the guests stayed and wedding took place) is unlike anything else you will find in the greater Cabo area. They have created a place that celebrates diversity, creativity, artistry and sustainability. It’s a place where individual expression reins, and guests can indulge and enjoy Los Cabos like never before.
One of the things you will first notice about Hotel El Ganzo is the unique style.
El Ganzo itself actually means "The Goose", a nod to the property's long, white, sinewy exterior alongside the catching work of collaborative artists led by Pablo Sanchez-Navarros, who created the space. The hotel blends a modernist style with rustic elements, with clean white architecture juxtaposing in eye-catching ways with warm wood tones and bright accents which you will see and feel throughout the images below.
When my second shooter Kelsey and I arrived, we knew that this was going to be one of the most beautiful and unique weddings we'd ever photograph in our careers. I'm going to do an entirely separate blog post on my adventures with Kelsey and the fun that we had "behind the scenes" together!
Claire and Eric met through mutual friends and their first day was almost exactly four years before their wedding day.
Claire was living in California and Eric was living in Seattle but after only a few months of dating, Eric moved down to California and the rest is history. Eric told us during rehearsal dinner that right after their first date (which went so well), he had a trip planned to Spain. He was scheduled to be gone for over two weeks. He had barely landed before jumping on another plane back to California to take Claire on a second date, then went back to Spain. And they say chivalry is dead... I would have to disagree!
Eric proposed to Claire in Santa Monica, where they reside. Eric had the entire weekend planned and Claire had no idea what was happening. All she knew is that they were having a date night but afterwards he proposed at one of their favorite spots overlooking the beach with a ring he had designed himself. Immediately after Claire said yes, their entire family and a few of their closest friends popped out from their hiding places and completely surprised her! Nine of their favorite people flew in from Washington, Colorado, and Arizona to celebrate the engagement. Claire was completely shocked. Eric had rented an Airbnb and they spent the entire weekend celebrating with a huge BBQ, riding bikes along the beach with everyone. She still doesn't know how he pulled off such an epic surprise.
Here are a few details about the wedding directly from the bride herself!
How you found the wedding dress and where it was purchased?
I looked at quite a few places before finding my wedding dress. I had a vision of something sleek, simple and classic that I would never look back on and regret or think "ew, that was on trend at the time but now is hideous!"
What was your vision/style/theme/color scheme for the wedding?
In order to not distract from the beauty of the venue we wanted to keep our decor and everything else really clean and simple. Our color palette was black and white with some natural wooden touches and a bit of gold sprinkled in here and there. Overall, our vision was we just wanted to all of our friends and family to have an amazing time so we focused more on ways we thought would enhance their experience instead of focusing on going overboard on decorations or other details.
Why did you choose El Ganzo for your ceremony?
Our ceremony was at the beach club at Hotel El Ganzo, on a palm tree lined grass strip that jets out into the ocean. When we saw the location for the first time, Eric and I fell in love with it. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Our guests all took boats out to the location and back which we thought was a fun extra touch.
What made your ceremony so special?
Everyone took boats to and from the ceremony which was fun. We had beers and margaritas for our guests out on the grass for before and after the ceremony which people seemed to really enjoy. Eric's dad officiated the ceremony which made it all the more special for us. When Eric walked down the aisle with his parents we had a Spanish guitarist playing his parents wedding song, and when I walked down with my dad they played my parents wedding song. I loved the little details like that!
How many guests did you have?
Where was the reception? Why did you choose that location?
The reception was on the rooftop at Hotel El Ganzo. The view from up there is incredible and we loved the drastic change from the ceremony being by the beach to the rehearsal being on the rooftop, having a more modern vibe.
What made your reception so special from your point of view?
Everyone got to the reception and took their seats right as the sun was setting, which was spectacular. Our coordinator did a wonderful job with the decor and everything was picture perfect. Fun details: We had a Polaroid guestbook so everyone snapped selfies as they arrived which has been so fun to look through. For our first dance, we surprised our guests with one of our best friends playing the piano and singing "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. By the end of the song, we had fireworks going off behind us as we danced under the moonlight, it was magical.
What was served for dinner?
We had a dinner buffet with a ton of options. It had a bit of a barbecue theme - but we just picked all of our favorites from the tasting and called it good. We had multiple salads for starters (my favorite was the tomato salad with goat cheese mouse, pesto and pine nuts!) and then BBQ Chicken, fish, sirloin and stuffed peppers as the main course options. For sides we also had baked potatoes and grilled veggies.
What was the cake flavor?
Instead of doing a traditional cake, we decided we wanted a dessert bar complete with Churro's, ice cream, cheesecake and berry cobler.
What advice can you give for anyone planning a destination wedding?
Have fun with it and don't stress the little details. As long as you're in this beautiful location with your closest family and friends - that's really all that matters!!
What was your favorite moment of the wedding day?
Walking out from the ceremony after being announced husband and wife was probably our favorite moment from the wedding day. Seeing all of our family and friends cheer for us and just having that feeling of pure excitement and joy - gives me goosebumps just thinking about that moment.
I think it's really important to hear the perspective from the actual couple on a wedding day! So many months of planning go into a wedding day and I think there is always something new to learn from others. Claire and Eric pulled this off magnificently and I'm still on a complete San Jose del Cabo. high pinching myself that I was there to document it all! Kelsey and I arrived on Wednesday. We attended a fun dinner with majority of the group of 100 on Thursday night as guests, then we photographed rehearsal dinner on Friday night at Don Sanchez restaurant in Cabo and of course, the wedding day on Saturday! I have a lot of images to go through but below you are going to get a glimpse into my absolute favorites!
If you are planning a destination wedding (or local to the US) I would love to chat with you about your special day. Photography is so much more than taking some pretty pictures, it's an experience that should be memorable and amazing. Thank you Claire and Eric for trusting in me to document these precious memories. My heart is full and I love my "job!" and my couples! Vendor credits are included at the bottom of this post.
Thank you to Hotel El Ganzo for the incredible service and experience! I will definitely be back!
Primary Photographer: Emma Rose Company
Second Photographer: Kelsey Leigh Photography
Videography: Mass Video Pro
Event Planning: Hotel El Ganzo / Alejandra Niguyen
Event Design: Diamante Events / Emporio
Floral Design: Flowers and Events
Jewelry Designer: Kendra Scott
Wedding Dress: Sarah Seven
Getting Ready Robes: Helena Quinn
DJ: DJ Ricardo
Venue: Hotel El Ganzo, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico