At her grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration a couple of years ago, Devon Hird knew she had found the perfect place to get married. The 30-year-old wedding planner from North Vancouver was with her boyfriend, Kris Dunn, in Bucerias, a small Mexican town north of Puerto Vallarta where she and her family were renting a private home called Casa de la Reyna. “We knew we wanted to come back to that house for our wedding,” she recalls.

Devon and Kris had first met in high school years earlier but were reintroduced in 2004 when their mutual friends began dating, and they started spending more time together, taking camping trips and meeting up for barbecues. “I knew she was special from the day we first met,” admits Kris, who works in Langley at Opsal Steel. “Our relationship just progressed naturally from there.”

For Devon, it was Kris’s sense of humour that drew her to him, as well as their shared outdoorsy spirit. “We both love spending time outside doing adventurous stuff, be it travelling, camping or going to the lake,” she says. She felt certain she’d found her life partner and was ready to move forward into the next phase of their lives together.

Even so, Kris’s proposal in July 2011 caught her off guard. The couple had dined at the Cactus Club Café in West Vancouver and took a walk into Ambleside Park afterwards, the location of one of their first dates. In his pocket, Kris was carrying the ring he’d had especially designed for Devon. “But until that evening, I hadn’t had a full game plan for a proposal,” he says. “It all came together on this beautiful night on a rocky slip.” Since she’s in the business of wedding planning with locally operated Fairy Godmother Weddings, taking on her own big day was a cinch for Devon. “I’d seen several weddings through my work, so I knew exactly what I wanted and what I didn’t want,” she says.

But a destination wedding hadn’t been top of her list until her grandmother’s milestone birthday in Mexico. “It wasn’t the fact that we wanted the beach or the sunshine,” she reflects. “Rather, that we wanted to be back at Casa de la Reyna. My parents have been vacationing in Bucerias for 12 years and are friends with the owners. We definitely consider it ‘our house’ down there.”

In the months before the wedding, she discovered the restaurant Karen’s Place in Bucerias and booked it for the food portion of her reception. As she chatted with owner Karen, she discovered the restaurateur could connect her with a local florist, hairdresser and DJ. “Once I found the right contacts in Mexico,” says Devon, “the rest was easy.”

One thing Devon knew she didn’t want was a tropical beach-themed wedding with all the characteristics she often sees in destination weddings. “I wanted a non-destination destination wedding,” she says with a laugh. “So I sent the florist a picture of a bouquet I liked — no lilies, thank you! — and she copied it.”

For her wedding palette, she chose sunny yellow and navy, with white polka-dot accents. “I love the colour pink, but I didn’t want it in my wedding colours,” she explains. As a concession, she dyed her shoes hot pink, surprising her guests when she lifted her long poufy gown to reveal the bright heels.

The couple wisely opted for a 4 p.m. ceremony, when the hot afternoon sun would be less intense. That day, 75 family and friends who had flown in for the wedding gathered on the grassy front lawn of the rented house, overlooking the ocean. Devon dazzled in her ivory Mori Lee gown with its organza skirt, a dress she had fallen in love with long before she became engaged. “I’d seen it in the window at Bryan’s Bride in Burnaby when I took my cousin shopping for her graduation dress,” she recalls. “So when we got engaged, I knew what I wanted to wear and I refused to let the heat of Bucerias affect my choice of dress. I went straight back to the store, tried it on and loved it right away.”

On the front of her bouquet, Devon clipped an antique heirloom horseshoe pin loaned to her for the occasion by Kris’s family. “It’s been worn by each woman that’s married into the family,” she explains. Watching his bride walk down the aisle on her father’s arm was an incredible moment, admits Kris. “Just being down there with family and friends together at the house, and standing up there with all my groomsmen watching my beautiful wife was amazing,” he says.

Kris and Devon had written their own vows and recited them before a marriage commissioner in the bright sunshine. Then, as guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the couple left the Casa for photographs in and around the streets of Bucerias. Later, the wedding party joined guests at Karen’s Place, walking along the beach as both locals and tourists clapped and cheered them on. A mariachi band greeted them at the restaurant, where a tasty dinner of filet mignon with coconut shrimp awaited. After noshing to their hearts’ content, the entire group strolled back along the beach to Casa de la Reyna for a party complete with dancing and fireworks. “We ended the night with several guests jumping into the pool,” Devon recalls.

She and Kris were deeply touched by the number of friends and family who flew to Bucerias for their wedding, renting condos in and around Bucerias or staying at a nearby resort. “We have a very large family and we were so happy and impressed that so many came,” she says. “It also allowed us to spend a whole week after the wedding with our guests, rather than just a day.” Her uncle had flown the furthest, travelling from the island of Cape Verde off the coast of Africa.

Four days after the wedding, all the guests moved to the Royal Decameron resort in Bucerias to spend another week together. The newlyweds then remained for another three nights to honeymoon on their own, before returning to Vancouver to begin their lives together as husband and wife — the sunny memories of their special time in Mexico forever etched in their minds.

Venue — Ceremony Casa de la Renya | Venue — Reception Karen's Place Beach Restaurant | Photographer StonePhoto | Wedding Planner Fairy Godmother Weddings | Bride's Dress  Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner, Bryan's Bride | Bridesmaid Dresses BCBG | Groom's Attire Tommy Bahama shirt, Moores Clothing trousers | Groomsmen Attire Island Importer shirts, Moores Clothing trousers | Bride & Groom's Shoes The Shoe Company | Hair & Makeup  Fer Hair Salon | Flowers Cattleya Boutique Florist | Cake Pie in the Sky | Disc Jockey DJ Javier Langarica Gutierrez | Live Music Mariachi Real de America | Bride's Ring Romance Jewellers