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The Bride Wore Three Dresses Custom-Designed by Laura Vassar of Brock Collection to Her Wedding in Mexico

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Norman & Blake

|Planning by 

Alison Bryan Destinations.

Marla Moravec’s first meeting with Robert Mohr almost sounds like the opening scene from an early 2000s rom-com blockbuster: They were across the room at a nightclub in Las Vegas, Nevada, when they locked eyes. They lived in different cities but called each other every day. After Marla visited Rob in New York City, he easily convinced her there was no better place to live in their 20s, and she soon made the move to Manhattan.

Eight years later, Rob competed in a triathlon race in Hawaii. He and Marla stayed in Lanai afterward for a mini vacation where he proposed to her at the aptly-named Sweetheart Rock.

The couple did not rush into planning. “I didn’t even think about it for a whole year after getting engaged because I knew it would become all-consuming for me” Marla confides. When one of their friends married on a small island with a wedding weekend that felt like adult summer camp, she and Rob realized they wanted to recreate something similar.

Hotel Esencia near Tulum, Mexico, wound up being the perfect property for their wedding, especially since the couple often visited the town for a reprieve from New York winters. “The hotel has an old-world magnificence, classic white stucco buildings woven seamlessly around the jungle and beach, topped off with tropical birds and other wildlife wandering around the property’s gardens,” Marla notes. “It was important to us for our guests to truly relax upon arrival and be able to dip into their room anytime during the weekend for a siesta or an outfit change without fretting about shuttles or itineraries.”

To bring her Pinterest boards to life, Marla enlisted Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck from Alison Bryan Destinations. This partnership easily turned into a friendship over the two years they planned the wedding. The couple also booked Norman & Blake for photography. She boasts, “The way they capture light is unmatched! They were so sweet to work with, and I am completely mesmerized by the photos of our wedding.” The flora and fauna Happy Menocal invitations set the tone for the weekend. 

As a wardrobe stylist with a robust history in fashion, Marla relied on one of her former Moda Operandi connections, Laura Vassar of Brock Collection, to design three looks. Marla’s rehearsal dinner dress was slinky and low cut, made from ivory double-paneled silk. She committed to the inherent Bianca Jagger-esque glamour of such a gown and wore chunky platforms and a thick gold necklace from Over The Moon’s Grace Givens. Marla’s beloved and trusted hair stylist, Jessica Gillin, pulled her hair into a high-impact ponytail, while Nikki DeRoeset applied the bride’s shimmering makeup.

Laura Vassar’s design for Marla’s wedding gown consisted of a constructed bodice with embroidery that loosely hung over the skirt that slightly draped behind the bride’s every step in Aquazurra heels. She paired the look with her Coady Culha engagement ring and vintage earrings—a gift from her friends at the previous day’s bridal luncheon.

By night, she changed into a long sleek slip dress with sandals and a sparkly something blue, an aquamarine Irene Neuwirth necklace. One of the weekend’s most elemental staples proved to be her Rebecca de Ravenel straw bags. She even ordered them for her bridesmaids, who wore Markarian and Luisa Beccaria to the ceremony. 

Rob went to P. Johnson and worked with Tyler to create a classic—but relaxed—navy suit. His groomsmen similarly wore custom P. Johnson suits in a slightly darker shade of blue.

Welcome drinks on Thursday night were a tribute to the quintessential charm and spirit of Tulum. Alison even sourced local craftsmen to recreate the Hartwood Bar and bins of copal burning alongside the entry where a mariachi band greeted guests. Dart Collective took over music as the night continued on. Dressed in a Chloé chiffon gown and vintage Celine platforms, Marla also wore a pendant choker from Grace Givens.

Friday’s rehearsal dinner was elevated and sophisticated—a tropical, refined feast with chic Caribbean decor in the lush palm garden. Marla clarifies further, “—like a dinner party at your fanciest friend’s house.” Even when their table linens were snatched away at customs, Alison magically pulled something else together. The Two, local musicians, serenaded guests with soulful covers of the greatest hits, and they all capped the night off with Carajillo, a coffee-infused liquor.

On the palindromic date of December 11, 2021, or 12-11-21, Marla and Rob were married by one of their dearest friends, Hayden. Despite the nearby ocean, Marla knew she wasn’t a “beach bride.” Instead, she and Rob said “I do” on the front steps of the palm tree-lined hacienda and exchanged Octavia Elizabeth bands. Their pink floral altar was a creation by Gabriela Salazar of La Musa de las Flores whose plan was to create an arrangement that would “look as though it was growing on the arch above the steps and wildly along the aisle with nothing too precisely placed.” 

After the ceremony, guests moved to the lawn for an oasis dotted with floral fabric pillows and then to the pool for the dinner. The sunset and wispy trees made the milieu look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. 

The newlyweds were grateful to have a small wedding because they were able to talk, hug, and drink tequila with every guest. Esencia created an incredible pescatarian menu, except for the juicy Beefbar mini burgers at cocktail hour. The bride and groom shared a first dance to “Back in the Tall Grass” by Future Islands. Their friend Clark Winter, or rather Clariktoo, took over music duties and played a legendary set while the waves crashed in the distance. After near-endless dancing, the party continued on the beach under a canopy of disco balls with Conor Cook deejaying.