Destination Wedding | Secrets Silversands | Riviera Maya, Cancun


Kelly and Kale first met at a college party on the Southern Illinois University campus many years ago.  But it wasn't until several years later after initially meeting at SIU, friends encouraged them to get reacquainted.  And as to not leave you in suspense, their first real date led to many more, which turned into a lifetime promise of togetherness!   Ultimately leading to a beach destination wedding in Mexico. We know, you're shocked right? We hope you're not disappointed that we spoiled the happily ever after ending for you. Ha!   

At one point early on in their relationship, Kelly relocated for work several states away from Kale, who stayed back home to run his business.  Their love was stronger than the distance between them, and soon work brought Kelly back to central Illinois, and to the love of her life.  

Kelly and Kale exchanged wedding rings and vows in a short, intimate beachfront ceremony at the all-inclusive Secrets Silversands resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.  Kelly's father walked her down the beach and to the end of the dock where Kale and about 40 of their closest friends, along with their 2 newest friends...their photographers (yay!) were waiting for her in the gazebo over the water.  Adding personal touches to your wedding day is meaningful and we are always excited to see the unique things our couples come up with.  Kelly had her late mother's wedding ring and a photo of her mom attached to her bridal bouquet.  Having personally lost my (Heather) father in high school, I'm acutely aware of a little bit of sadness that finds a spot in what is a very joyous day...your wedding day.  We love how Kelly kept the memory of her mom close to her throughout the day.   Another personal touch was Kale's best man...who served double duty by also being the officiant.  Very cool!  The couple included a wedding sand ceremony that expresses the coming together of two people or two families.  Kelly and Kale each poured a different color of sand into a decorative glass container and the two colors join together as they became 'one'.   It is a very simple idea that can be incredibly powerful.  And after Blake (best man AND officiant said 'You may kiss the bride,' all the guests exited the gazebo for a group champagne toast before moving on to the cocktail hour and reception. 

From the gold laser cut 'name tags' on the dinner plates to the personalized maracas with Kelly and Kale's names and wedding date, there were thoughtful touches all throughout the evening.  Their generosity started when their guests first arrived in Mexico with a surprise catamaran excursion that took us snorkeling in front of Ricky Martin's house and a quick trip to Isla Mujeres.  How incredibly awesome is that?!  You can view pics from that fun day here.

The number of guests may have been small but this crew kept the lighted dance floor packed all night long.  It was such an unusual dance floor that added an element of fun to an already fantastic reception.  And just when we thought the night couldn't be more perfect... one of the groomsmen came over and said, "Hey, what do you think about us jumping in the pool?"  Ummmmm...... you don't have to ask us twice!?  We ran over to the opposite side of the pool and readied our flashes in anticipation of the big splash.  That was epic!  Make sure to scroll down to the very bottom to see that fun pic.  Many of the guests commented after that, "THAT is so Kale!"  That was music to our ears, because as wedding photographers our goal is to capture the couple just as they are...we want their personalities to shine and for those who look at their pictures to FEEL love, not just see two people posed for a photo.  

Kelly and Kale, we were thrilled to have been a part of your wedding day.  A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.  We wish you both a lifetime of love and laughter!


Heather and Kristin


Scroll to the bottom of this post, below ALL the images, and you will find the comment section to leave a note for the bride and groom. 

15 comments-  Kelly and Kale receive a complimentary 11 x 14  print of their choice.  

30 comments- They will receive a 16 x 20 print of their choice.  

40 comments- Kelly and Kale will receive a 16x20 CANVAS and a custom phone app with images from their wedding day. 

So go on, spend a few seconds leaving a comment on this blog post by Monday, March 19, and you can say you chipped in to get the portrait they have hanging on their wall!

Ceremony and Reception Venue - Secrets Silversands

Florals - Alquimia Events

DJ - Encore DJ

Wedding Rings -  Bride's Blue Nile and Groom's Helzburg Diamond

Bridal Gown - Elite Bridal Shop

Bridesmaids' Gowns - Azazie

Groom/ Groomsmen Attire - Express

Videographer - LunArts Films

Invitations - Minted

Menus - Zazzle

Make-up and Hair - Sara Tamargo

Chairs, table, chandelier, plate chargers, lights above dance floor - Alquimia Events

Lighted dance floor - Encore DJ

Maracas - Weddings in Riviera Maya 

Travel Arrangements - Travel by Beth


Kristin Darling and Heather Wanninger have over 12 years of combined experience photographing the connection between couples on their wedding days in Champaign County, throughout Central Illinois and beyond.  Located in Mahomet, Il, they have photographed weddings in Chicago, New York, and Mexico and are eager to add more locations to their list of destination weddings. 

Are you recently engaged?  Whether you are planning a wedding in central Illinois, in another state or overseas, Kristin and Heather would love to learn more about your plans.   Shoot them a message and say hello!  They capture love and connection through a fun, relaxed, and creative process providing you with images that will provide you with memories that last a lifetime.