This is another installment from the BAZAAR Bride archive of pre-lockdown weddings. We first discussed telling Tessa and Zach’s love story at the end of 2019, after they tied in the knot in September prior to the pandemic. As one of the last weddings before gatherings were restricted and stay-at-home orders were put in place, we hope their wedding weekend in Mexico will inspire couples planning intimate affairs at home and future destination celebrations.
It all began with a friend request (yes, we’re talking about Facebook) and a friendly poke in 2008. Tessa Tran and Zach Schau shared mutual friends, and Zach decided to make the (digital) first move.
Zach’s best friend from college, Alex, had gone to high school with Tessa and was talking her up when they were all at a bar over winter break one year. “He was telling me how she was this epic tennis player and would crush me on the court. I’d been playing pretty competitively all my life, so that sounded cool. She was far too pretty to approach then and there, so I took the wuss approach,” Zach explains of the virtual nudge.
Tessa remembers Zach’s first move a bit differently, however; to her recollection, it was she who took the bold first step to ask him out. “He poked me to get my attention, but I never responded,” Tessa tells BAZAAR Bride. “We remained Facebook and Instagram friends but still had never met in person. In 2013, I went to dinner with my friend, Margrit, and she randomly mentioned Zach’s name. It sounded familiar, so I looked him up. I didn’t know much about him, but from [his] pictures, he looked like a nice guy I could have fun with. If he poked me in 2008, I was optimistic he’d still be interested five years later. I messaged him that night during dinner. What did I have to lose?!”
A week later, they went on their first date.
Two years later, Tessa, the creative director of accessories label Chan Luu, and Zach, the founder of Milo cookware, moved into their first apartment together. A year after that, they bought their first house in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the time, they were not thinking about marriage, and buying a home together might have seemed crazy to some—but it felt right to them. The Los Angeles natives called it The Milo House—named for the street it was on; subsequently, they named two of their businesses after that same street and their home together.
Their respective careers required lots of travel, so the two valued spending time at home together as a result of constantly being on the road and in the air. Come their five-year anniversary, Tessa wanted to stay in to celebrate. “I was making branzino,” she says of a dinner that soon evolved into more than just a simple meal at home. “After I prepped the fish and put it in the oven, I said to Zach, ‘We have 15 minutes, let’s exchange gifts!’ He said he was nervous, because his gift was really small. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, God, he forgot our anniversary and got me a gift card or an IOU.’ I told him small was perfect, because I got him something really big.”
Months earlier, Tessa had ordered a huge, vintage cutting board from France. She gifted the large piece to Zach then continued to chop onions for dinner. He came over beside her and sat on the counter. Tessa doesn’t remember what he said, only that he proposed while she was chopping onions. Blame it on the alliums or her excitement, but tears were flowing.
Given that he was proposing to a jewelry designer, Zach thought it best to propose with a band so that the two could pick out a ring together later. He had it on authority that Tessa would love the band he popped the question with; she had seen the recycled 14-karat gold, hand-hammered piece by Kelci Potter a few years earlier. “It was unpolished and organic, which is an aesthetic that always speaks to me,” she says. Tessa had mentioned to her girlfriend who was with her the day she spotted it that the piece would be the perfect wedding band—and that message was slyly passed along to Zach.
After getting engaged, Tessa’s 94-year-old grandmother passed down a family heirloom—a brilliant-cut round diamond. It was stunning and sentimental, as Tessa’s grandmother was a huge inspiration for the bride-to-be. Tessa designed a minimal setting with four eagle prongs sitting on a slim, two-millimeter gold band. After the one-of-a-kind piece was made, she designed another pearl ring with a champagne diamond inlay to stack with both the solitaire ring and the gold band Zach proposed with.
Tessa had a clear vision when designing her engagement jewelry, but the wedding planning was a bit less decided. She and Zach vacillated between a few possible locations to celebrate with their family and friends. At first, they were thinking Kauai or Santa Fe; both places were special to the couple, but the unpredictability of rain at the former and scheduling issues at a specific venue they had in mind at the latter ruled them both out.
Another spot they loved was Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California. During their first year of dating, they had spontaneously driven down there on Christmas Day for a getaway. “We remember it always being so much fun and adventurous. Over the years, we went back to visit and explore new areas [in the region],” Tessa shares of the location they ultimately decided on for their destination wedding. Zach adds, “The people [in Baja] are cool, laid back, and authentic. The food scene shines really bright. And it feels like way more of an adventure than Napa.”
Friends and family often describe Tessa and Zach as being productive and that they’re all about cramming as many things into a day as possible. Constantly making and creating, the duo would take a somewhat similar approach to their wedding; the couple put together a three-day weekend of celebrations, all documented by The Times We Have on photo and video.
Their wedding weekend began at Deckman’s, a sustainability-focused restaurant, where the bride’s and groom’s immediate families and wedding party gathered for an intimate dinner overlooking the vineyard at dusk. The food was cooked over an open fire and enjoyed solely by the glow of candlelight atop one long, communal table. La Libelula (which handled floral design for the weekend) created arrangements that evoked the feeling of an overgrown backyard with sunflowers further accenting the haystacks and foliage of the setting.
Tessa and Zach kept their looks on the more casual side to match the ease of the event—she wore the same vintage Yohji Yamamoto bustier her aunt wore at her wedding 18 years prior, along with a vintage Dries Van Noten skirt, Chan Luu earrings, and Carrie Forbes x Chan Luu raffia sandals. Zach sported one of his staple looks: white jeans and a white T-shirt, adding a fresh pair of espadrilles to suit the setting.
The following evening, a larger group assembled for the rehearsal dinner at Encuentro Guadalupe. The modern and minimal space set the tone for the decor. As for the menu, beautiful and creative dishes had been presented during the couple’s tasting, but all Tessa wanted was tacos—so tacos, tacos, and more tacos it was.
The night started off pretty tame, but per Tessa’s account, it escalated into a fantastic party as the night wore on. Speeches that were both touching and hilarious were given during dinner, and then the dance party began. Tessa’s cousin moved a few tables and benches aside to make room for an impromptu dance floor. “All I remember was doing the Macarena, laughing a ton, and feeling so much love in the air,” Tessa recalls.
One of the few things she does remember clearly from the night is every piece of her chic ensemble. It was the first time she would be seeing all their guests, and Tessa wanted the vibe of the evening—and therefore, her look—to be colorful and festive. She wore a long, peony-pink silk halter dress with ruffles by Azeeza, which had been her final purchase from Barneys before the store sadly shut its doors. The maxi dress was a “something new” to balance the “something old” she’d donned the night before. She paired the dress with a Prada bag (new, and olive green) and shoes (vintage, and orange), and custom earrings she’d made for herself. Zach also countered his outfit from the previous night, choosing all black—jeans, a black-linen button-down, and another pair of espadrilles.
“It was the first time all 135 of us were together, in another country, in the most epic room overlooking the Valle,” Zach explains of the lively night. “It really opened up the weekend in the best way I could imagine.”
With numerous gorgeous venues in the area to consider for their wedding day, the couple didn’t take their venue choice lightly. After careful deliberation, they chose the Bruma Hotel and worked with planner Karla Márquez Ulbrich of Márquez Ulbrich Concierge to bring it all together. Recommended by a trusted friend, Karla also knew the ins and outs of the area. Plus, Tessa liked the idea of hiring as many local vendors as possible.
The day of the wedding (and the two days prior), Tessa wanted to spend as much time by the pool with friends and family, and as little time getting ready as possible. “I didn’t want to worry about washing and drying my hair,” she explains. She hired a local hairstylist to blow out her hair whenever she needed, and then styled it herself. She took a similar approach with her face. Wanting to look and feel like herself, she did her own makeup throughout the weekend—getting a few great trade secrets from her talented friends Chanel Cross and Katie Danza ahead of time so she could practice.
And when it did come time for hair and makeup, it was (naturally) done in style. Tessa wore a white-and-pink Marni slipdress to get ready for her wedding day before she put on her A La Robe dress, which she purchased from LOHO Bride in Los Angeles. She typically gravitates toward shapeless shift and swing dresses, and was considering taking that route for her wedding, but she ended up going in the opposite direction stylistically. She fell in love with the simple slipdress with a slit at the back and a one-shoulder neckline.
An airy gauze veil was a nice contrast to the slinky dress, which was also purchased and styled at LOHO Bride. Jewelry was kept minimal—the bride wore simple pearl Chan Luu drop earrings and a pearl comb on her veil that her mom, hair accessories designer Jade Tran, made. Her shoes, strappy white heels by The Row, were equally minimal.
Zach wore a linen COS suit Tessa picked out for him just a week before the wedding. “He’s a jeans-and-tee guy, and we had a hard time finding a suit,” she explains. “I thought he would look cool in something more relaxed, plus the weather was going to be hot. The navy linen suit worked out great.” He skipped the tie and socks and slipped on a pair of navy Sabah shoes to complete the look instead.
They got married at the property’s Casa 8 under an oak tree well older than a century. Its leaves created a natural arc, symbolizing their own version of a chuppah. Plus, Tessa wanted to keep the decor light at the ceremony so it was “no-frills, just us.”
Overall, the color palette and design focused on soft greenery, with subtle accents of orange, peach, and blue. The bridesmaids and mother of the bride fell into those tones, too, wearing a mix of Loewe, Khaite, Ulla Johnson, Brock Collection, Rachel Comey, vintage Chanel, and a dress found at Santa Fe Vintage. Tessa’s bridal party donned looks they’d chosen themselves, accessorizing with a pair of custom pearl earrings designed by the bride. The guys wore a mix of neutrals with white T-shirts, Henleys, and button-downs layered underneath. The flower girls and ring bearer followed suit with their ensembles, the girls topping their white dresses with fresh floral crowns.
Right after the ceremony, Tessa changed into a linen bustier top and a mermaid-silhouette skirt by Brock Collection, and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. “I loved the raw-edge details,” she says of her reception set. “There were no clean finishes.” She swapped her earrings for another pair of her own design, this time a pair of champagne diamond crosses; she grabbed her Gucci purse before heading to the reception at Fauna, the on-site restaurant where a mariachi band played as guests arrived for cocktail hour.
When it came to the food at the reception, the couple considered no options and relied on the chef at Fauna to do what he does best. “Chef David Castro Hussong’s food is elegant, unique, and seasonal. So seasonal that we didn’t pick out the menu ahead of time,” Tessa says of the family-style fare at the wedding reception. The entire menu was chef’s choice, and the couple went in completely blind. “It was a little nerve-racking, but easier on the planning I suppose! We were not disappointed. His food is delicious, and his plating was so elegant. I trusted him 100 percent to do his thing.”
Tessa and Zach put their trust in their floral design team as well. During their initial meeting, Tessa and La Libelula discussed the bride’s vision for each event—and then Tessa left it in their capable hands. “It turned out beautifully,” says the bride of the rustic but modern reception design that incorporated the restaurant’s handmade ceramic tabletop items and place cards made by the bride using Italian paper and watercolor pens.
“My friends kept calling me ‘the most chill bride,’” she says. “It’s weird, I have so much attention to detail, but when it came to my wedding, I had a vision and trusted the team we hired to carry it through. I didn’t want to stress if every detail wasn’t perfect as long as we were having fun. It’s all about the tone we set for the rest of our guests. I wanted everyone to feel relaxed and let loose,” Tessa explains.
And let loose they did. The newlyweds chose “Cool Cat” by Queen for their first dance song, selected from a playlist Zach put together on Spotify for their first date. Over the course of their relationship, the playlist grew from about a dozen tunes to 500-ish songs. “We discovered ‘Cool Cat’ en route to our wedding and fell in love with it—and once again with each other—on our road trip to the Valle. So that was it!” Zach explains. They winged the dance itself. “We don’t need choreography,” he says.
As the party picked up, there was a brief interlude for an emotional surprise. During dessert, Zach interrupted the party to sing a song he wrote for Tessa after being inspired by a friend who surprised his own wife with a wedding performance. For months leading up to the wedding, Zach (who plays music for fun but had never written anything before) called another best friend, Sam Sugarman (a guitarist who plays with Childish Gambino), and together they worked on an original. They practiced before Tessa got home from work to keep it under wraps. When it was time to perform the final song, the lyrics and melody brought Tessa to tears.
A bar on-site was reserved for the after-party, but the couple were so partied out they never made it themselves—they heard it was a good time though.
“I’m so happy we didn’t elope. I get it now when couples say that their wedding weekend was the best weekend of their lives,” Tessa says with hindsight. “When I think back to that weekend, it always puts a smile on my face. Whether it was eating breakfast with the squad, hiking the property with friends, or tying the knot! The small and big moments were all so special to me.”
Zach agrees. “While Tess and I have had incredible weekends over the past eight years [together], the wedding weekend was the best,” says. “There was an abundance of love in the room—every room—for a full, long weekend. For four days, we were surrounded by a group of people we love, who love us right back, sharing food and wine, singing and dancing, and storytelling. Everyone came for us, and everywhere we looked at every moment, one (or one hundred) of our best friends were right there. How could you not have the best time?!”
Right after those amazing few days, Tessa and Zach took a mini-moon in Mexico. They had been to Mexico City many times and love returning to visit the mercados, the flower market, Luis Barragán’s homes, and eat their way through the city. “The food scene in CDMX is bananas right now and has been for years,” Zach explains. “It’s so easy to find magical meals. I particularly love that you can have the most memorable meal for 200 pesos or 2,000 pesos, and they’re both equally incredible.”
After Mexico City, the newlyweds flew to Mérida in the Yucatán, where they checked in to Coqui Coqui for a few days and stayed in the hotel’s most coveted room above the perfumery. A few days later, they moved into an Airbnb and were joined by two friends. Together, they stumbled across many hidden gems and swam in the cenotes in the rain.
Over Christmas, the pair went on an official honeymoon to Amanoi in the south of Vietnam for five days. They loved being at the hotel, but Tessa’s favorite part of their stay was exploring the neighboring villages and markets filled with local fruits and vegetables, and seeing miles and miles of salt fields. The adventure continued as they spent a little more than a week traveling up the coast to Danang, Hanoi, and the Ha Long Bay. They also used their honeymoon as an excuse to travel with friends and family. “[They] joined us on both trips,” Tessa explains. “Why not? We have the rest of our lives to spend together.”