SamErica Creative Retreat in Tulum


It's been about a while (way to long!) since our trip to Tulum and I figured it's about time I did a blog post. Thank you to Erica from SamErica Studios for putting this super fun trip together! Also a big thanks to Kayla (October and Rum) and Melissa (Epoch Designs) , for being such amazing travel buddies and willing models.  And of course big thanks to the husbands who agreed to be dragged around and model too. :)

Day 1

We arrived super early morning on a Monday and after picking up our crew and the rental car, we drove down the coast from Cancun. When we got into town our first goals were to find our house, pick a room and turn on the AC, and then get a drink down by the shore. I think the restaurant and bar at Mi Amor was one of my favorite spots we went to. With an amazing infinity pool and open air to the stunning beach view it was the perfect way to shake off the airport grim. I mean how does life get better than a margarita and an ocean breeze. We got some dinner down the street and made a plan to check out some Cenotes (fresh water limestone caves) the next morning. 

Day 2

We woke up early, made breakfast in our central living room/kitchen, and then sun-screened up. Our first Cenote was probably my favorite of the trip, The Grand Cenote which is just outside of town. Crystal clear water, tons of fish to check out while snorkeling, and lots of secluded spots to take pictures. After swimming around in the cool waters, getting all of us a chance to brave the cave of bird/bats, and doing a little photoshoot, we were all ready to explore the little downtown of Tulum.

It was mid day, and pretty warm to go shopping. But once we grabbed an ice cream, we were ready to shop for all kinds of goodies. I really wanted to buy one of their stunning hammocks, but then I remembered I had a pretty full suitcase. :) After shopping we grabbed the boys and headed down to the beach to find a spot for dinner. The stunning beach front restaurant at Nomade had us all feeling super inspired.

Day 3

We started our first real beach day at CoCo Tulum, which if you have the chance, you must check out. The stunning cabanas, white swings, and Beach front conch shell shower make this spot a must must. Plus the staff was super kind and allowed us to take all kinds of pictures while we were there. A lot of the resorts in Tulum have weird rules about professional cameras so be aware if you ever head down there expecting to be able to take pictures where ever you want. In fact, my photos in this blog are a mix of iPhone and my big camera (can you tell the difference? I can, but I'd love to know!)

After swinging the morning away we decided to take a walk down the main strip by the beach, where there are lots of great shops and restaurants. I think my biggest piece of advice when visiting Tulum is to have transportation figured out. Rent a car, rent bikes, rent scooters. Walking is not super easy with no sidewalks and a lot of things are spread out and in the heat, walking was just not our friend.

One of my favorite spots we stopped to grab a snack at was Raw Love, which had amazing Acai bowls. The heat was definitely getting to me at this point in the day, and that creamy ice cold bowl hit the spot. Also as we were walking/driving around town we noticed all these amazing street signs. Instead of regular signs (like stop, speed bumps, etc.) they were all motivational mantras. It was fun getting to spot all the new signs as we went through town. 

Day 4

Another stunning day! We decided in the morning to go and check out the ruins of the Mayan City of Tulum. We started our tour by seeing a crazy amount of wildlife, including Coati mundi , which are relatives of our raccoon (but I think they're cuter), AND giant huge enormous iguanas. The city is stunning and I can only imagine what kind of thriving coastal trade city it must have been. Our guide was amazing, and taught us so much about the mayan culture and their day to day life. We got really lucky and got to see Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the flyers) while we were there, and I was shocked that those guys could swing in circles, tied to a rope, and play music the whole way hanging upside down.

After our morning at the Ruins, we were hot and ready to cool down so we decided to check out a few more Cenotes. The Cenotes water temperature can be in the mid-high 70's, and the temperature outside was in the 90's. So it was like jumping into a giant liquid Air conditioner. After drinking and swimming the afternoon away, we were all ready to grab some food and crash. Well at least I was ready to crash. Some of the crew decided to go out and dance the night away. The sun, the booze, the heat did me in and I slept like a rock!

Day 5

Probably my favorite beach day, by far! We went to Casa Malca, which was once Pablo Escobars Tulum home.  The staff were super warm and friendly, and took care of us like we were family. We got a little tour when we first arrived, and checked out all the stunning art, enormous art installation swings, and hidden underground pool. This part of the beach was also super clean (there was a a lot of seaweed while we were in town) so this is the only beach I ended up getting into the water at. 

This was also the day that the creative team decided we would work on collecting images for our portfolio and use later. We had and assignment and held each other accountable to hitting our goals. After swinging the day away on a giant swing, and swimming in the bright blue ocean, we decided to explore a bit more of the strip. We had to make a stop at a local favorite, Matcha Mama, and again I got an ice cold bowl. With all the fresh fruit how do you not just gorge yourself on it all?

This day was also my favorite dinner, cause we got like 10 street tacos for 5 dollars. I mean how do you go wrong?! If you stay in town in Tulum you have to try Antojitos La Chiapaneca, it's crazy delicious and crazy inexpensive.

This all feels like just a quick synopsis of what our trip was, but really what I came away with, is what I think travel does to everyone. A greater appreciation for the beauty in the world, a thankfulness for what I have, and a mind reset on my life and business. It's hard to hold on to all of that when you get home, but that's why you have pictures and friends. They're there to remind you and keep you on course. 

Jessie and Mark's South Ponto Mini Engagement Session, Carlsbad

Jessie and Mark's South Ponto Mini Engagement Session-6.jpg

Yesterdays sunset was incredible! I think all the fires here in SoCal (It's the worst that are having fires) have made for some crazy stunning sunsets. It was super warm out and all kinds of romantic. Since we had such a short amount of time, and it was so toasty out, we all decided that getting in the water was the best way to stay cool! And when I say all of us, I mean all of us. I fully fell in the water, and we all got soaked (don't worry, I didn't catch myself, but instead kept the camera safe). 

But back to Jessie and Mark. These two met while living in Colorado, but it took Jessie moving here to San Diego for them to really connect romantically. Mark reached out when he came to visit a friend out here and they set up a coffee date, that neither was really sure was a date or not. That "date" lead to a full week of hanging out, and then that lead to Mark spending more and more of his time here instead of in Colorado. Isn't it funny the way life leads you to someone? :)

I think the thing I really love about this couple is their real connection to each other. You can feel it when your around them, the gravitational pull that brings them together. They build each other up and have real energy about them. They're ready for the next adventure, and I'm so excited to be there to document their big day in October.

Hope you guys love these pictures as much as I do! 



Medina and Arash's Vellano Wedding, Chino Hills

Medina and Arash's Vellano Country Club Wedding, Chino Hills-22.jpg

This stunning Tuscan inspired wedding from yesterday is all kinds of beautiful! I loved working with this amazing couple and what I loved even more was all the love that surrounded them on their big day. Their big beautiful families surrounded them, and made up their bridal party and it just all felt really intimate. 

Medina and Arash meet in college, in an 8am class, which just blew my mind. Number 1, who signs up for an 8 am class? And number 2, who goes? But these two noticed each other. They had a mutual friend who invited them both to a party, and as the saying goes, the rest was history.

The inspiration behind this wedding and venue was their engagement trip. They went to Italy where Arash proposed in the small beach town of Vernazza. The spot near the beach was crowded, so Arash found these stone stairs, followed them up to a balcony next to a church. The Church was right up against the water with a little bench. It was all super private, with no one there. Medina was looking out at the ocean, turned around and he was on a knee proposing. I mean could all have been more picture perfect? I can see it all so clearly in my mind. 

I think with every couple you pick up something new and different trait about them, and I think the words that come to mind with this couple are inspiration and aspiration. Inspiration to those around them, and aspiration to always be better, always do more. And they both have these qualities which make them a real balance. There is a deep well of support for each other, and I can't wait to see what life they build on that foundation. 

Congratulations you two! I hope you enjoy these sneak peaks, and I can't wait to hear all about the honeymoon! 




Wedding Venue & Caterer: Vellano Wedgewood Weddings

Photographer: Great Woodland Photography

2nd Shooter: Brittanee Taylor Photography

Videography: Wanderlust Creative Endeavors

Hair: Jaime Lake 

Makeup: Samira Rashidi

Linens: J & L Floral Boutique

Cake and Desserts: Patty's Cakes

DJ: Marcos Rodriguez

Dress Designer: Sachin and Babi

Bridal Boutique: M Bride

Brides Shoes: Steven Madden

Floral: J & L Floral Boutique