A LAKE COMO INSPIRED WEDDING IN PUERTO RICO
After graduating from college and returning home to Puerto Rico, Estefanía Cruzval was spending a lot of time at her local CrossFit Box. She would also frequent a different location to visit with clients of her clothing business. In 2015, she began hearing about another CrossFit member at the other gym, named Osvaldo De Kerkadó. They had several mutual friends, including Estefanía’s older brother, and there were several attempts made to set them up.
The two gym goers finally crossed paths after Estefanía had heard that Osvaldo would be at that particular CrossFit Box. She had started a workout clothing business and would often take clothes to her clients at the gym, so it was the perfect “excuse” to run in to each other. Being 22 at the time – ten years younger than Osvaldo – Estefanía recalls feeling flustered when Osvaldo complimented the color of a pink sports bra she was holding. She responded with, “Oh yeah, that would look so nice on you,” which instantly felt like a facepalm moment.
Later on, Estefanía received a text from an unknown number asking, “Do you still have that sports bra you recommended?” Assuming it was a client, she responded formally and asked who it was before Osvaldo joked back, “You should remember when you make such strong recommendations.”
“We met when I was applying to medical school,” Estefanía shares, “so I wasn’t planning on starting anything. It was my first formal relationship.”
Shortly after the two started dating, Estefanía was off to medical school. Spending that time in a long-distance relationship, however, was more than enough to show the couple that they had what it takes to make things work in the long run.
A Long Engagement
In December of 2017, Osvaldo said he had a formal Christmas party to attend for work, which didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. To Estefanía’s surprise, he ended up proposing at Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, where he arranged for a beautiful setup for just the two of them. They celebrated with champagne and hors d’oeuvres while watching the sunset. It was a wonderful way to have some alone time before Osvaldo revealed his second surprise: An intimate engagement celebration with some of their closest friends and family and Estefanía’s parent’s house.
“I joke all the time that we have the Guinness World Record for the longest engagement,” Estefanía remarks. “At that time, I was a second year medical student. In my mind, I always thought there was a perfect time for something; but in reality, you have to make the perfect time. During that year, I was transferring medical schools and spent the year in Puerto Rico. After my third year, I moved to North Carolina to do a dermatology research fellowship and had slowly started wedding planning; but then COVID hit just months before I started my fourth year of medical school. If it were up to Osvaldo, we would’ve been married a month after our engagement.”
Although planning a wedding may have been put on the backburner for a few years, Estefanía was always looking forward to going through the process. With a keen eye for detail and a love for design, she says she’d be a planner, or working in fashion or interior design if she wasn’t a doctor. So, after a long engagement and securing a date that worked with her vacation schedule, she was thrilled when official wedding plans were underway.
"One of the things I feel so grateful for is that I’ve had such a supportive partner."
A Lake Como Inspired Wedding in Puerto Rico
Estefanía always dreamt of getting married in Italy. Initially, she and Osvaldo looked into having a destination wedding in Lake Como; but after the pandemic, they decided to bring Lake Como to Puerto Rico instead. While most weddings in Puerto Rico revolve around a tropical aesthetic, the couple wanted to transport their guests to Italy and give them a real taste of Lake Como without having to leave the Caribbean. With most of their wedding guests living in Puerto Rico, it was the perfect way to provide everyone with the feeling of a destination wedding weekend.
The couple’s welcome party was inspired by the Amalfi Coast. As an extra special approach to traditional welcome bags, Estefanía and Osvaldo created an immersive experience for their 140 guests by setting up an Italian market. Everyone was able to walk through the market and “shop” for their welcome bags, filling them with favors like mini bottles of Prosecco, olive oils, pesto and sauce bottles, pasta bags, biscotti, hangover kits, and other Italian treats. There were also food stations throughout the market, along a gelato station and a dessert table with cannoli.
Many of Estefanía’s bridesmaids are in medical school or residency, so having the opportunity to spend the weekend together meant everything to her. When the big day arrived, she was surrounded by her mother, sister, and closest friends – plus a hair and makeup artist who “brought good vibes.”
“I didn’t have any nerves whatsoever,” she recalls. “I just felt very sure. We had our first look, so I got the crying out of the way. Marrying Osvaldo felt very easy. It was very special to walk down the aisle with my dad; I was so blessed to have him and my mom and siblings.”
The bride wore a custom wedding dress by Harry Robles that was completely bespoke, down to the custom made fabric. Having been planning her wedding remotely from Illinois, Estefanía couldn’t travel back and forth to Puerto Rico for regular fittings. With complete trust in her designer, the first time she tried on her wedding gown was 5 days before the wedding; and she didn’t put on the full bridal ensemble until the wedding day. The custom wedding dress turned out exactly as she envisioned – a jaw-dropping gown that was regal, subtly sexy, and timelessly elegant.
Transforming The St. Regis Bahia Beach into an Italian Villa
Estefanía and Osvaldo’s Lake Como inspired wedding décor transformed The St. Regis Bahia Beach into an Italian villa. Guests were greeted by floral arches, white roses, and an abundance of greenery. The ceremony took place on the estate lawn, facing the water – the exact setting that made the couple fall in love with the property. It was such a gorgeous ceremony location that the bride wanted to have a moment for herself. For her grand entrance, she walked out alone first and met her father halfway down the aisle.
For the reception, The St. Regis Bahia Beach turned into an Italian garden with crystal décor and long, regal tables surrounding the dance floor. The bride specifically wanted some sort of décor to be cascading from the tables and wanted something unique in addition to the flowers.
“My designer had the idea of having pergolas that went from one side to the other, covering all the tables,” she explains. “We had French mirrors. My parent have Italian statues in their home, so we took the statues from the dining room, mounted them on pedestals, and covered the pedestals in roses for another focal point.”
The bride and groom’s entrance was also a crowd pleaser. To create a regal moment, four violinists stood atop pedestals and performed “Recomposed” by Max Richter as everyone cheered. After enjoying a sit-down dinner, midnight marked the beginning of “hora loca” – or “crazy hour.” The bride changed into her afterparty dress and walked in with live drummers, Samba dancers, smoke machines, and lasers for a late-night celebration that lasted until 3 a.m.
To close out an epic wedding weekend, the newlyweds hosted a farewell brunch on Sunday by the beach.
For their honeymoon, the newlyweds plan on traveling to Italy in September and visiting Lake Como, Milan, Tuscany, and Rome. However, the couple has gone on a few special trips since their wedding, having spent Thanksgiving week in Spain and most recently traveling to Paris. Since they’re still living apart, Estefanía says, “I make every trip our honeymoon.”
While being together long-distance during Estefanía’s dermatology residency may not be ideal, she and Osvaldo have continued to build a solid foundation together.
“One of the things I feel so grateful for is that I’ve had such a supportive partner,” she shares. “Medicine can definitely be challenging and take a toll on your mental health. No matter where I’ve been, he’s literally always there for me; and he comes through, even with his own demanding schedule. I feel very blessed that I’ve had him along the way. He’s never made me hit the brakes on anything.”
During their wedding vows, Estefanía spoke from the heart instead of reading from a pre-written speech. In Spanish, she said: “Gracias por no cortar mis alas, por permitirme volar y soñar y por siempre estar ahí para apoyarme en todo lo que quiero hacer en esta vida, aún cuando la distancia nos separa.”
Translation: “Thank you for not cutting my wings, for allowing me to fly and dream, for always being there to support me in everything I want to do in this life – even when distance separates us.”
>Written By: Lauren Malamala
Location: St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort Rio Grande, Puerto Rico; Planner: Events Viviane Fortuno San Juan, Puerto Rico; Event Design: Emilio Olabarrieta Event Atelier San Juan, Puerto Rico; Dress: Harry Robles San Juan, Puerto Rico; Groom’s Attire: Euromoda; Cake: C & M Master Cake Designers; Hair and Make-Up: Christopher Feliciano; DJ: Big J San Juan, Puerto Rico; Live Band: Cuenta Regresiva Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; Invitations: Momental Wedding Invitations; Ceremony Music: Martirena Enterprises; Cinematography: Juan del Valle Films San Juan, Puerto Rico; Photography: Jose Ruiz Photography San Juan, Puerto Rico;