Honoring an annual weekend jaunt organized with his group of friends, Jose Letayf jetted off to New Orleans looking forward to a lively vacation. However, he got more than he bargained for when his close crowd ran into Ross Markowitz’s assemblage. “One of my friends met one of his and they introduced us,” Jose remembers. Ross quickly adds, “It was not love at first sight; I had to pursue Jose for a week after the trip ended.” Eleven years later, the duo was stronger than ever – however, “not once did we ever talk about marriage,” Ross reveals. “We just did not think it would ever be possible.” That being said, Ross had no expectations of a proposal when the two voyaged to Hong Kong in late 2014. “After a few post-dinner drinks, I asked him, ‘Will you marry me?’” recounts Jose. Aware of the fact that they had been drinking, Ross was sure that his beau was kidding, answering that they would discuss it the following day. When the subject was broached the next morning, Jose was admittedly a little upset and inquired, “Why would I ask such a question if I were not serious?” Knowing that he wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with Jose, Ross promptly accepted.

Upon intelligently selecting Thomas Bui of Thomas Bui Lifestyle to design their wedding, Jose and Ross went about the coordination process the only way they knew how. “We’re both businessmen and we’re accustomed to having a solid plan,” Ross explains. “So, we had a standing appointment with Thomas every Tuesday night for the length of our engagement. He didn’t tell us until after the wedding that no other couple meets with him so regularly! He exceeded our expectations.” From the beginning, the pair emphasized to their planner that, unlike other couples, they wanted to shift the focus of the day onto their guests. “We concentrated on making the day about our friends and family – all of the people that had supported us and our relationship over the years,” Jose muses. In order to accomplish this, they commissioned classic ivory boutonnieres for every man in attendance to make them a part of their wedding party, personalized ballet flats for every woman to allow them to dance the night away, and custom Champagne flutes with the name of each reveler etched in calligraphy.

Seventeen months after Jose popped the question on the other side of the world, 250 guests gathered to witness the grooms tie the knot at their seaside venue in San Diego. Silver chairs adorned with the couple’s first initials rested underneath tents comprised of sheer white linen. The crisp ivory aisle popped with two columns of greenery, grass and ferns alike, housing full-sized cherry blossom trees flanking it on either side. The altar featured the same saplings accented with countless blossoms in varying shades of blush and pearl constructed into a chuppah covered with a lovely pontifical cloth featuring Hebrew lettering. Both dressed in stylish black tuxedos, Jose was escorted down the aisle by his parents followed closely by Ross, accompanied by his brother and sister. “We wanted to show respect for my parents, who attended in spirit, so we included a reading in their honor and laid flowers in two empty chairs during the ceremony.”

One of the most exceptional aspects of the service was the way in which the grooms blended their respective backgrounds. “I am a New York Jew and Jose is Mexican Catholic,” Ross divulges. “As such, we had a rabbi, a priest, and one of our best friends marry us. We included most of the traditions of both faiths, and it was magical, as the two families got to experience different cultures.” Desiring to keep with customary wedding rituals, Jose and Ross decided not to write their own sentiments: instead choosing to recite traditional matrimonial vows. “We didn’t think we’d ever have the right to get married, so we wanted to go about it the conventional way,” Jose notes.

After spending some time mixing and mingling in the open-air lounge area for cocktail hour, attendees made their way inside to find an opulent fairy tale come true. Alabaster curtains encircled the vast space, which displayed a classic color concept of creams and pinks. Cascading floral fixtures of wisteria and vines as well as dreamy crystal chandeliers seemed to float overhead – as did members of an acrobatic group poised above the entrance, pouring Champagne into guests’ glasses as they walked into the space. Round tablescapes accommodating light pink linens, clear votives in differing heights, and three-foot centerpieces brimming with blush peonies and cherry blossoms surrounded the custom dance floor and stage, upon which revelers were treated to a variety of exciting performances. “When we first walked into the reception as husband and husband, it was so surreal,” Ross shares. “We never thought we would be in this place with everyone who loves us so much.”

Besides the heartfelt illustration of commitment and the playful atmosphere, the focal point of the evening was surely Jose and Ross’ seven-tier cake. The confection included Swarovski crystals, pink pearls, and sugar roses. Additionally, the newlyweds provided take-out boxes so that friends and relatives could take a little piece of the sweet treat home with them. To the grooms, their nuptials were the perfect expression of time-honored customs, modern flair, and guest consideration. “As we got further into the planning process, we decided to add more special entertainment for everyone that was not part of the original plan,” affirms Jose. “We do not regret a single dollar spent – everything was spectacular!”