The connection between art director and brand consultant Natalia Swarz and her future husband, artist Armando Mesías, was set into motion back when she was only nine years old. “Our mutual friend, Jean Paul, who later became our wedding officiant, lived in my same building in Cali, Colombia [where the couple is originally from],” she says. “I took drawing classes with him and at that same time, he had a rock band with a group of friends and one of them was Armando.” Eight years later, Natalia reconnected with Jean Paul, who eventually introduced her to Armando, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The couple dated for seven years, some of it long distance after Armando moved to London to pursue a fine arts masters degree. When Natalia later relocated to Barcelona, Armando followed her there and a few years later he proposed in front of the front door of their building. “A few months ago I had fallen in love with an artwork Armando made; I wanted it so bad but when I saw it it had already sold,” she remembers. “The day he proposed, he brought it up and said he had made a new version of the artwork for me. I was very excited and curious to see it and suddenly he took out of his pocket a ring box which he had made using the same materials as the artwork!”
Both Armando and Natalia are avid travelers (she recently launched a travel website called Hotel Weekend.) During a trip to Lisbon a few years ago, the two decided if they were ever to get married, it should be there. “We went to Lisbon two months after the engagement to check out venues, from rooftops with the most beautiful views, to castles, but we ended up finding the gorgeous Ajuda Botanical Garden.” she says. “I’ve always been very close to flowers and gardens since my grandmother is a florist, so we grew up surrounded by plants and botanical illustrated books.” The venue included magnificent gardens with a river view, and a greenhouse with a bar and dance floor inside.
As for the aesthetic of their wedding, the visually-oriented couple wanted something that felt very true to themselves. “We throw a lot of dinner parties at home and I always try to be very detail oriented,” she says. “This was a bigger and better version of one of our dinner parties!” They worked together with florist Manuela from Gang & The Wool on their vision. “It was a really fun project,” she says. “Manuela flew to Lisbon a few days before the wedding so she could go to the countryside and pick the plants she wanted herself, and flowers from the local flower market. It was all very spontaneous and fun, since she used everything she could find around Lisbon.” Planners Muza Weddings were also on hand to help with execution. Long wooden tables, ceramic plates, and silk napkins were chosen for dinner, and each plate featured a small arrangement Manuela had created as a special luck amulet. “We used our own handwriting for the place cards and a mix of fruits and flowers were on top of the table runner,” Natalia adds. “I was very inspired by all the cool Scandinavian girls that love to mix and match.”
Natalia knew she wanted something simple and bohemian for her wedding day and found just what she was looking for in a beautiful silk dress with dot and floral embroidery and a sheer cape overlay by Zimmerman. “It had an asymmetrical shoulder that I loved,” she says. She accessorized her look with black Jimmy Choo flat sandals and Mallarino earrings. “For jewelry, I wanted something from Colombia,” she explains. “One earring was a parrot with a silk flower and the other was a smaller orchid—it was the Latin touch that I needed.” She finished everything off with a vintage bracelet from her mother and a braided hairdo inspired by Valentino’s runway beauty look.
Meanwhile, the groom’s outfit was made by Martelo Bespoke in Colombia. He wore a shirt by The Kooples, no tie, core suspenders, and Eytys shoes. He also whipped out his Ray Ban sunglasses during the ceremony since it was so sunny.
On September 21, the last summer day of the year, guests gathered at the labyrinth garden of Ajuda for Natalia and Armando’s wedding. “My mom passed away eight years ago, but she had her own place at the ceremony,” the bride shares. “We put a photo of her and my father sat right next to her.” The bride was escorted by her father to the song “Sylvester Stallone” by Angus and Julia Stone. Jean Paul, their mutual friend that brought them together, officiated the event, while Natalia’s sister, and Armando’s best friends each gave speeches during the ceremony. After they were officially married, the two exited off to “Twistin’ The Night Away” by Sam Cooke.
Friends and family then gathered in the balconies for cocktails and a live performance by musician Daniel Gonima, who was actually part of Armando’s teenage band. Strawberry mojitos (Natalia’s favorite) and beer (Armando’s pick) were offered while soft music played in the background. “This was all right as the sun was setting behind the river,” she says. “All of our friends were catching up since most of them live everywhere in the world.”
Dinner in the greenhouse followed and a traditional Portuguese bbq meal was served. Natalia herself kicked off the toasts, as she wanted to thank everyone who had taken long flights in order to celebrate with them, and was followed by toasts from her father and friends. For dessert, the newlyweds chose chocolate cake and offered brigadiers, a typical Brazilian candy, for an added sweet touch.
Once it was time for dancing, Natalia and Armando chose “Cupid” by Sam Cooke as their first dance song as husband and wife. “It’s an inside joke we’ve had since the beginning; the song is part of an 80s movie that we love,” she says. It was later followed by “Cali Pachanguero” by Grupo Niche, a salsa song about their shared hometown. “It made everyone stand up and dance!”
The festivities went on until 4:00 a.m. as guests enjoyed a mix of 90s pop music and Latin staples like salsa, merengue, and reggaeton. The couple then relaxed with a mini moon at Santa Clara 1728, the Lisbon hotel they stayed in during their wedding weekend. But, of course, the two globetrotters have an official honeymoon in the works for later this year. “We’ll do a road trip around Mexico and are thinking of staying at beautiful hotels like Coqui Coqui and Tulum Treehouse,” Natalia adds. “We chose Mexico because we love the food and its people. We wanted a place to have fun, eat, chill, and swim. We’ll see how it goes!”