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Devany and Austin Soldner’s Destination Wedding in The Jewel of Latin America

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Nikhol Esteras Photography

|Planning by 

Oaxaca Destination Weddings

“In short, Austin and I met at a ‘wine night’ in our apartment building,” Devany Smith, an education specialist at Summit Public Schools, shares of how she first encountered Austin Soldner, co-founder and CEO of Futuremood Studios. After a long day of work, she headed to the bottom floor of her artistic residency, housed in a converted Buddhist monastery. “It really was love at first sight,” Devany says of when she sat across from Austin.

After a year together, Austin proposed in a romantic spot overlooking the Bay Area. Once officially engaged, they headed back to Devany’s parents’ home, where both of the couple’s parents and siblings were waiting to celebrate.

Austin’s design background was very useful, when they began planning their wedding vision. The two wanted to get married somewhere that had meaning to them and quickly agreed on Oaxaca, Mexico. “We instantly fell in love with Oaxaca for so many reasons: the beautiful church, Santo Domingo, the love of mezcal, and food, and the beautiful cobblestone roads,” the bride explains. “I am also Mexican—my mom is from Jalisco—so we wanted to celebrate my culture and heritage and bring in the beautiful customs that my parents had in their wedding as well.” To help plan everything for their autumn nuptials, the duo hired Freiderike of Oaxaca Destination Weddings.

Devany did extensive research to select small, curated bridal boutiques in San Francisco to visit in order to find her dress. At WildBride, Devany found “the one.” Her Ribelia gown by Pronovias was classic and simple with a long train, perfect for following her down the aisle at the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán. She paired it with a custom veil by Alisha Jemelian of One Blushing Bride. For jewelry, Devany worked with independent jeweler Opal Milk to design custom pearl earrings—a nod to her birthstone.

On October 16, 2021, the traditional Catholic mass was held under the church’s intricate gold ceiling—the temple is actually considered the jewel of Latin America. A German Catholic priest from the Mexican coast led the service. “It felt serendipitous because Austin is German, and I am German-Mexican,” the bride shares. “It felt like a beautiful hybrid of our worlds.”

The couple’s madrinas and padrinos (four closest women and men) performed the rosary, followed by the lasso ceremony and exchanging of the rings. Austin reflects, “It was the most beautiful and important hour of our lives.”

Immediately after being announced as husband and wife, the newlyweds surprised their guests with a calenda (parade) outside. It was one of the first to happen after the pandemic, so the whole town gathered in the square. Devany was handed her custom flower crown with six real red roses, and she and Austin held papier-mâché turkeys, while they danced with everyone and walked through town to the reception at La Fábrica Patio.

The dinner space was romantically strung with sprawling greenery by Ornato Eventos, and the meal consisted of delicious native Oaxacan cuisine from Casa Oaxaca el Restaurante. For music, the groom hired two deejays to entertain his guests, but being a former disc jockey himself, he ended up mixing the entire night. “It made me so happy to see Austin happy, doing what he loves!” Devany exclaims. “He, of course, snuck away to dance with me too.”

The Soldners shared a first dance to “Real Love Baby” by Father John Misty and reveled with their loved ones until 2:00 a.m. “Our friend cleared everyone out and insisted we dance one more time to our first song alone,” the bride recalls. After their last dance, the pair walked around the corner to Hotel El Callejón, where they spent the night in the property’s two-story glass house.