Imagine meeting your Prince Charming on a girls’ trip to Mexico. After an unexpected meeting and fairytale relationship, Louisville native Whitney Brown married Puebla, Mexico-native Carlos Naude on Labor Day weekend. The wedding festivities spanned the entire weekend and included a welcome party, horseback riding, boating on the Kentucky River, lots of delicious food and a reception complete with tacos, a Bluegrass band and tattoo artist. Their wedding, much like their relationship, was full of excitement and enchantment, passion and love, morphing elements of their two cultures into the perfect embodiment of “Whitney and Carlos.”
The couple met while they were both on vacation in Sayulita, Mexico, in 2011. Whitney was visiting from New York City and Carlos from Stockholm where he lived and worked. Whitney was at a bar with friends when she noticed an extremely handsome stranger looking her way.
“As we’re leaving to go to the next bar, Carlos runs after me, grabs me by the shoulder and says, ‘Hi, my name is Carlos. I’m about to tell you the cheesiest thing you’ve ever heard, but I’ve been dreaming about you.’ I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, who are you? You’re way too cute!’ He was really tall and handsome with tattoos, and it was just like something out of a movie,” says Whitney.
She brushed it off thinking nothing would come of it. The next day Whitney and her friends were hiking when a car drove toward them, one of the passengers yelling, “Girl from my dreams!”
Carlos asked for Whitney’s phone number, and they began a long-distance relationship. Mostly communicating via Facebook Messenger, texts and phone calls, the couple formed a strong bond. After several trips to visit one another, including Carlos buying a ticket for her to visit him in Stockholm, he moved to New York City, where Whitney lived, and the couple moved in together.
“Seeing him again in Stockholm dressed in city clothes and just the way he smelled and spoke to me, I knew I was going to marry this man,” says Whitney. “It’s crazy to think Carlos was just out there waiting for me, and I could have just as easily not gone to that bar that night. He’s my best friend, and it’s so crazy to me that life happened that way for me. Everyone deserves this kind of love and experience.”
On Whitney’s 30th birthday, they started what Whitney thought would be a night out on the town at their favorite taco shop. As they sat down at their table, the waiter brought out champagne and all of Whitney’s closest friends came out to surprise her. Following this surprise, the waiters brought out a large menu board saying there was a set menu for her birthday. As everyone is reading the menu, Carlos stands up to give a speech.
“This was so out of character for him, because he’s very modest. He starts thanking everyone for being there and when he’s finishing up he says he has one last thing to say, turns the menu board around and it’s beautifully painted, ‘Dear Whitney Brown, Will You Marry Me?’”
The couple spent a year planning the wedding, ensuring every detail was nothing short of perfect. Carlos flexed his graphic design muscles to create an invitation worthy of such an extravagant event — a movie poster featuring a photo of the couple on the beach, echoing their own love-at-first-sight moment in Sayulita. The bride took the time to plan a weekend getaway for her guests at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, which served as the venue for all of the weekend’s festivities.
“I had been to Shaker Village a lot as a kid, and I just loved the history of the property. When I was looking for a venue, it popped into my head, because I wanted the whole wedding weekend to be in one place so no one ever had to leave the property unless they wanted to,” says Whitney. “We could hop around from room to room and have everything very close together, but it all still felt very different. It could not feel more like Kentucky than that venue and the things we did.”
Guests arrived on Friday to an ice breaker party, giving everyone time to meet and get to know each other, something very important to the bride and groom. Upon arrival, guests received a gift bag including homemade chocolate-covered, moonshine-soaked cherries, a bottle of San Pellegrino, wine, a fan and a red bandana complete with a thank you note from the bride and groom. They danced the night away enjoying margaritas by the main house. The following day was spent horseback riding and taking a cruise down the Kentucky River on the Dixie Belle Riverboat.
“I had never been horseback riding like that in Kentucky. This was not for the faint of heart — we were galloping and leaping over the creek. I was just so happy and I saw more joy on Carlos’ face than I’ve ever seen,” says Whitney. “We got to experience that together, something we’d never done together before.”
The couple’s talented friends serenaded the rest of the guests with live music while everyone enjoyed BBQ sliders, macaroni salad, corn on the cob and bourbon-spiked Arnold Palmers catered by Wild Thyme Catering. Guests stayed in various buildings throughout the property creating a camp-like retreat on a property that is the very essence of the Bluegrass.
Whitney and Carlos wed on a September Sunday just before sunset, after a slow morning preparing for the big day. The bride did her own hair and makeup and dressed in a gown specially made for her with the help of a New York City-based seamstress. Carlos wore a three-piece denim Ralph Lauren suit. The couple put an even more personal spin on the ensembles with fun hats, shoes and sunglasses.
The intimate ceremony took place on the land of Shaker Village, a beautiful field serving as the backdrop. They married under a handmade wooden archway adorned with flowers matching the bride’s bouquet, arranged by the bride’s mother’s close friend. They opted not to have a dedicated bridal party, but rather enjoy the occasion equally with all of their friends. The bride’s sister served as the maid of honor and the groom’s brother as the best man. Guests embraced the modern cowboy, chic country theme wearing cowboy boots, hats, bandanas, fringe and bolo ties. The bride’s mother walked her down the aisle where the ceremony was officiated by close friend Cary Mossier. As the couple recited personalized vows, butterflies fluttered around them, one of which landed on the bride and her sister.
“One of the most memorable parts of our wedding was while I was saying my vows. This butterfly kept landing on my veil, and then it would land on my sister and go back to me,” says Whitney. “Everybody was convinced that it was our dad there with us.”
After the ceremony, guests made their way to the barn on the property, where they were greeted by a Bluegrass band and a short film created by the couple, titled “Islands in the Stream,” about how they met. Dinner was true to Carlos’ Mexican heritage — an assortment of tacos, rice, beans, chips, salsa and guacamole catered by Silver Dollar in Louisville. After dinner, a New York DJ presided over the party while a piñata and a tattoo artist were on hand for more creative celebration.
After a wedding weekend of fun with close friends and family, the couple jetted off to Morocco and Italy for a beautiful honeymoon. Their wedding reflected the beauty of their relationship — fun, unexpected, laid-back and the perfect combination of the bride’s Bluegrass roots and the groom’s Mexican heritage.
Thank you for giving us a peek into your gorgeous and intimate day, Whitney & Carlos!
- Photography: Bruno Rezza
- Wedding planner: L&M Detailed Events
- Venue: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
- Bride’s gown: Designed by the Bride
- Hair & makeup: the Bride
- Groom’s formalwear: Ralph Lauren
- Invitations, programs & menu cards: the groom
- Flowers: Kathy Beardsley
- Catering: Wild Thyme Catering & Silver Dollar
- Music: The Misty Mountain String Band & DJ Christy Thompson
- Cake: Desserts By Helen
- Guest accommodations: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
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