Ellen Bennett & Casey Caplowe's Wedding Was Outside-The-Box in Every Way

It’s safe to say that nothing about the wedding between Ellen Bennett and Casey Caplowe was ordinary or expected—and her yellow ombre gown was just the beginning.

The couple, two Los Angeles-based, creative-minded entrepreneurs—she’s the founder and CEO of the apron and culinary brand Hedley & Bennett, he’s the co-founder and chief creative officer of the digital magazine GOOD—approached their wedding like it was the adventure of a lifetime, both for themselves and their guests.

The destination, Mexico City, was an obvious choice for Ellen—and not only because her mother is Mexican. “I moved there when I was 18 for two months, but stayed for four years,” she says. “My time [in Mexico City] taught me about life in a way nothing and no one ever has.” Ellen and Casey picked one of the most colorful, festive weeks to be in the bride’s favorite city; as Ellen puts it, “The city is already amazing, but during Day of the Dead it’s on steroids.” The couple enlisted the help of Memora Eventos, and visited the city nine times throughout the planning process.

The end result was a three-day event that took friends and family on a journey with surprises at every turn; the no-black dress code helped set the tone. “We wanted to make sure it was colorful, but it ended up inspiring guests to take it to a level they don’t usually bring to a wedding,” Casey says. “You had this feeling that everyone was part of the show.”

About 220 people made the trip, including a who’s who of chefs—Enrique Olvera, Nancy Silverton, and Jonathan Waxman, to name a few—and a number of female entrepreneurs that Ellen counts as her closest friends, including Alli Webb (the founder of DryBar) and bridesmaids Jihan Zencirli of Geronimo and Joy Cho of Oh Joy. Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson was also part of her wedding party.

More than anything, Ellen was thrilled to introduce everyone to a country that means so much to her. “A lot of people walked away with a newfound love for Mexico, and that was amazing,” she says.

How They Met

Ellen and Casey were set up by their mutual friend Sonja Rasula—who clearly knew what she was doing. According to Ellen, “She said to me ‘I know your husband. This guy is calm, collected, and dignified, and you’re way more out there—so I think you’d be perfect.’”

Their first date, planned by Sonja, included dinner with nine other people just in case they didn’t click. But by the end of the meal, Ellen had already invited herself to join Casey on an upcoming trip to Burning Man. Accepting her self-invitation was quite a departure for Casey, who describes himself as slow-moving and deliberate. “She’s so full of life and fearless in this wonderful way, and I wanted to know more,” he says. “Even though six days of camping with someone I don’t know could have been a terrible idea, I said, ‘let’s do it.’” For the next three weeks, they hung out as friends, mostly prepping for the trip, which—of course—was a success. “When we got back to L.A., it was a bit like, ‘OK, now what do we do?!’” Ellen says. She moved into Casey’s home six months later.

The Proposal

Almost four years to the day they met, Casey asked Ellen to marry him in Jackson Hole. “We’re adventurous, so I felt like the proposal had to be something substantial,” says the groom.

Two years earlier, Ellen fell in love with a rose gold Heidi Gibson ring with a round-cut diamond surrounded by baguettes and smaller round diamonds that give it a hexagonal shape. “It looks like a starburst, and has an antique vibe, but it’s not,” she says. Luckily, Casey was paying attention back then and knew just what to buy.

When he found out the total eclipse was taking place August 21—the day before her birthday—he knew that was the moment. The day before the eclipse, on a visit to Grand Teton National Park, Casey was set to pop the question right away, but Ellen said she wanted to go white-water rafting. Finally, just before sunset, they made a journey into the woods where Casey would find the perfect spot. “She was ahead of me, and I was hiding and getting the ring,” he recalls. “I came around the bend and she’s standing 10 feet out into the river.” He did what any man on the same mission would do, and walked right into the water.

At Ellen’s request, he did it again on solid ground, so he could get down on one knee.

The Fashion

The dress code said no black allowed—and Ellen led the charge with a custom-made yellow ombre gown by Christian Siriano. But the hunt for the dress was not easy. “I tried on about 90, and couldn’t find one I loved,” she says. “At Kleinfeld, I put on Christian Sirano’s ombre pink dress almost as a joke—but I loved it.” Through a connection to the designer, Ellen was able to have it made with a deep-V neckline and in her favorite color. “We worked together to find the exact shade I wanted,” she says. On working with the designer, Ellen added, “I really love that he ended up doing it because he is all about love and inclusion, and embraces color as much as I do. Plus, it was made in the U.S. and that is important to me.”

To complete the outfit, she wore yellow gold and floral Gucci heels for the ceremony and satin Tori Burch mules embellished with yellow ostrich feathers for the reception. For ehr somethings new and blue, her friend and jeweler Maya Brenner gave her a ring with three small turquoise stones. As her something borrowed, Ellen loaned diamond earrings from Casey’s mother, as well as a bracelet from bridesmaid Daniela Soto-Innes, the chef at New York’s Cosme who also helped curate the menu on the big day.

Her bridal party wore vibrant jumpsuits—or a suit, in the case of Jesse Tyler Ferguson—in a spectrum of colors from light peach to fuchsia. “They each picked one that suited their personality,” Ellen says.

Casey, meanwhile, wore a navy tuxedo and bright pink loafers, both from Paul Smith. His six groomsmen donned navy suits, with pops of color coming from assorted vintage scarves used as pocket squares, matching tie clips, and socks.

The Day Before

On Friday, every guest was invited on a day trip to Xochimilco, an area south of the city that’s home to an ancient canal system. Locals and visitors alike flock there mostly on weekends and hire trajineros to take them on boat rides.

About 190 people joined for the adventure, which began with breakfast pastries at the dock from chef Gerardo Vazquez Lugo of Restaurante Nicos and ended at a plot of land where, four months earlier, Ellen and Casey had planted hundreds of marigolds—the same flower found all over the city for Day of the Dead. “One guest wrangled some people for a giant soccer game, you had people picnicking on the grass, and others running through the fields doing photo shoots,” Ellen says. There were also tortas, quesadillas, and Don Julio margaritas on offer.

That evening, the wedding party and significant others had a casual rehearsal dinner at Tacos Orinoco. The restaurant was on the couple’s list of favorite restaurants in the mini magazine they had created for guests, so “people we knew were cycling in and out, sitting at the end of our table,” Casey says.

The Ceremony

The 40-room Condesa DF is one of Mexico City’s most popular hotels—and for Casey and Ellen, it was the perfect place to stay and host their ceremony. The property is built around a peaceful, leafy open-air courtyard, and they imagined standing in the middle with family and friends around and above them, looking down from the balconies. “I’d never seen that before at a wedding, and it immediately captured our imaginations,” Casey says.

The day of the wedding there was a threat of rain, but it held off—until about 15 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin. “We had a five-piece orchestra, and you could hear the violin playing through the rain. It felt like we were in a movie,” Ellen says. “I was ready to fully embrace it and get soaked, and out of nowhere the sky just cleared.”

The couple stood under a chuppah as Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Ben Goldhirsh, the co-founder of GOOD, took turns officiating. Other ceremony moments included Casey’s sister reciting the lyrics to Mr. Rodgers’ “It’s You I Like” and Ellen’s sister reading the final paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 2014 opinion that legalized gay marriage. But the most magical moment took place just after the ceremony, when guests standing on the balconies dropped thousands of flower petals on everyone below, orchestrated by Mexico City based florist María Limón. “They just kept coming down,” Casey says. “The sky was filled with red, pink, and white petals. It was truly one of the more amazing things I’ve experienced.”

The Reception

To get from Condesa to the reception venue in Juarez, the couple paid more than a dozen public microbuses to go off-route for an hour. Upon arriving at Proyecto Público Prim—a gorgeous setting made up of two restored centuries-old buildings and a plant-filled center courtyard—guests entered through a show-stopping, rainbow-colored ribbon installation. “You pushed through large hanging strips of blue ribbon, then green, and so on,” Ellen says. “We also blanketed the floor with marigold petals, so you were hit with this ‘Where am I?’ kind of feel.”

The overall ambience was that of a beautiful, elegant backyard party—made possible with long picnic tables and benches, no assigned seating, no fancy dishes or silverware, and plants at every turn. Tablescapes featured a full spectrum of colors, made by mixing flowers and greenery with produce like eggplants and cabbage, plus bowls of salsa tucked inside to use during the meal.

The Food

Instead of your classic sit-down menu, Ellen and Casey had a vision of recreating a traditional Mexico City market, complete with stalls of everything from tamales to tostadas.

Pulling it off was a team effort, one that included Soto-Innes of Cosme, as well as culinary coordinator Sergio Camacha and caterer Eduardo Kohlmann. There was a room filled with corn dishes like chicken tamales and potato-and-chorizo flautas, another with seafood tostadas, and one more with mole from Oaxaca and barbacoa brought in from Aguascalientes. There were also women making tortillas by hand.

“Not only was the food amazing, but you were transported to a whole other world,” Ellen says. “Every room was an experience.” Guests could load up their plates and find a seat at a table—or not. “There was this looseness about it that was so cool,” she adds.

Chef and chocolatier José Ramón Castillo, the founder of Que Bo! chocolates, was in charge of the sweets. He did a cake made of small corn muffins, but the showstopper was a display of truffles, bonbons, pastries, and fruit tarts all showcased on a beautiful Day of the Dead ofrenda.

The Morning After

Why eat eggs for brunch when you can have tacos? Ellen and Casey convinced El Califa, their favorite taqueria, to open early just for them. “I was convinced that nobody would come, but about 140 people showed up,” Ellen says. That afternoon, the couple and some friends had a late lunch at the beloved local hotspot Contramar. A number of wedding guests coincidentally ended up there as well, and the table got bigger and bigger. “The party just kept going,” Ellen remembers.

The Honeymoon

From Mexico City, the newlyweds flew to Tulum for a few days, splitting their time between the boho-chic Papaya Playa Project and the romantic, nine-room La Valise. The short getaway was actually Casey’s parents’ idea; they were going and told the newlyweds to come, too. “We ended up hanging out with his parents almost every day,” Ellen says, adding, “I’m not a sit-on-the-beach person, but this was so perfect because we were able to soak in all of the wedding.”

The couple is planning a proper honeymoon in the near future, likely to Israel, India, and Thailand.

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