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A Wedding That Combined Cartagena’s Tropical Aesthetic with ’50s Havana Cuba Magic

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Sergio Sandona

|Planning by 

Robbins Otoya Destinations 

After first meeting as teenagers, reconnecting in 2015, and then doing a year-and-a-half of long distance between New York and Florida, Carolina Pino was reunited with Karl Neuman in Miami. In December of 2020—after quarantining due to the pandemic—the two planned a weekend getaway to the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Before dinner, Karl asked Carolina on a walk. They strolled and reached the resort’s legendary overlook with an expansive view of the bay. The ground was covered in white flower petals, and Karl stooped onto one knee and proposed. Both of their families emerged right after Carolina’s ecstatic “Yes!”

The bride-to-be always knew where she would one day say “I do.” When she was fifteen years old, her family attended a wedding in Cartagena, Colombia. “I told my parents right after that trip that I had left my heart in Cartagena,” she recalls. “It was the most alive and magical city I had ever visited, and everything about it just felt so unique and special.” Meanwhile, Karl’s family is Colombian, and he grew up spending his summers in Cartagena. His brother and his sister had weddings in Cartagena, so he initially rebuffed the idea of having his own nuptials here. But Carolina’s enthusiasm was contagious, and he was easily convinced.

Carolina and Karl enjoy hosting soirees and envisioned their wedding as an elevated house party that fused Cartagena’s tropical aesthetic with ’50s Havana, Cuba magic. The couple enlisted experts, Robbins Otoya Destinations, to plan the wedding weekend. Inspired by the city’s historic buildings, the team selected yellows and oranges in the floral arrangements and blue accents on the tables and floors.

Carolina kept her bridal outfits timeless and fun. First, she wore a white Brock Collection dress for the rehearsal dinner and welcome party. Then, she put on a set by Colombian designer Andrés Otalora for the beach party on the islands of Baru. The bride changed into a special white crochet cover-up by Brazilian designer Andrea Almeida.

As for her wedding dress, Carolina knew she needed something that would emulate the grandeur of the ceremony’s cathedral. She saw potential in a Monique Lhuillier dress at Mark Ingram Atelier and customized it further. The original strapless neckline was originally too low-cut, so she requested a sweetheart top with a matching high-neck lace bolero. When her mother saw this gown, she declared that Carolina had to wear her diamond drop earrings with rubies—a dazzling something borrowed. Carolina slid into Amina Muaddi satin pumps and held a matching Amina Muaddi crystal-handle box bag.

Amanda Paige applied Carolina’s subtle but glamorous makeup and styled her sleek hair. Selecting perfume for her wedding day was also of utmost importance to the bride. She spritzed her own concoction of Cafe Rose by Tom Ford and the Bulgari Rose Magnifying scent.

While the dress code for the men was “black tie white dinner jacket,” the groom opted for a standout black tuxedo jacket by Brioni. Carolina gifted him custom cufflinks engraved with the longitude and latitude of the cathedral.

While getting ready, the bridesmaids wore pink lounge suit sets from Sleeper—a gift from the bride herself—before changing into custom-made ivory dresses. Carolina’s sister, the maid of honor, donned a custom-made orange Filomena Fernandez gown with a corset.

On January 29, 2022, guests congregated among the candle-filled Cathedral Santa Catalina De Alejandria. The Robbins-Otoya team brought in bushels of greenery and baskets of white florals by Cartagena Mágica to adorn the space. Father Robert Vallee from Miami officiated the service. “It was the ceremony I always dreamed of having,” Carolina gushes. “We could not stop smiling!”

Shonny Y El Hijo Del Búho crooned during cocktail hour at the Plaza De La Proclamacion. After sipping drinks, guests joined a massive parade of traditional dancing and cheering all the way to Casa 1537 .

The bride and groom entered while “A Pedir Su Mano” by Juan Luis Guerra played. “It’s the same song my parents walked into at their wedding and is all about a man proposing and planning a wedding for his future wife,” Carolina explains. “It’s a party starter!”

The lantern-lined courtyard featured a cigar roller station with custom cigars. Karl’s favorite coffee shop in Cartagena, Epoca, offered a full-service coffee bar. Inside, Juan Felipe Camacho, chef of the renowned Don Juan restaurant, cooked delectable fish crudo and traditional Colombian meat. “The toasts were probably my favorite part,” Carolina confides about the reception. Her sister and maid of honor, Alessandra Pino, and Karl’s best friend, Lance Ladaga, delivered speeches. The new Mr. and Mrs. Neuman laughed and happy-cried throughout both.

The band, Nómina Del Pin, and DJ Martin D’Arce alternated performances throughout the night, only punctuated by a surprise serenade from Alfredo De La Fé, Latin music’s premier Cuban-born violinist. Carolina’s parents brought him out as a gift to the newlyweds. Karl chose the first dance song, “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges” because it will be forever timeless.

At midnight, the deejay revved up the music, and the lights coruscated. This was the Latin wedding trend of “La Hora Loca,” or “The Crazy Hour,” which is one hour of heightened celebrating that turns a reception into a party-within-a-party. The chef made classic Colombian fried foods and Sancocho, a traditional Colombian beef soup. All of the ladies tried on Colombian headpieces, which made for excellent photos shot by Sergio Sandona. The dancing ended in the early morning hours, but the streets outside were still bustling with people. While Carolina and Karl promised an after-party, they snuck off early and headed straight home. They spent the next day reconvening with a few friends and family in their rented house, catching up, and hearing everyone’s riveting stories from the weekend.