5 Days In Paradise: Our Trip To Tulum!

This spring has been crazy packed with activities and work, and after a few months of go, go, going, a girl needs a break! So a couple weeks ago, Bryce and I took a few days off and headed south of the border to Tulum, Mexico. We spent five days in the jungle and on the beach of Quintana Roo and it was sooo relaxing. Keep reading for photos from our trip and details of what we did!

xo Carm

papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico

Day 1

We got lucky with a nonstop flight from Austin to Cancun. A couple hours later and we met up with our driver at the airport. Tulum is about a 2 hour drive south of Cancun and our hotel arranged for their staff to pick us up. We stayed at Papaya Playa Project and it was such a dream! After checking in, we were led through the property to our room. The paths throughout the property are carved right into the jungle landscape! Our room was a little adobe hut tucked into the trees with it's own ocean-front patio. It was the perfect size for two people with a comfy bed, small closet, and rainwater shower in the bathroom.

After unpacking and changing clothes, we walked over to the hotel restaurant for drinks and dinner. All of the hotel amenities (lobby, restaurant, bar) are all outside, so we were definitely one with nature. We got two delicious cocktails that we ended up drinking practically the entire trip. Mine was called the Map Tulum and was a combination of mezcal, pineapple juice, and a few other things, and Bryce got the Oh My Margarita which was pretty much just a margarita with mezcal instead of tequila. We became OBSESSED with mezcal by the end of this trip. I've had a few mezcal cocktails here in Austin, but they just don't make 'em like they do in Mexico. For dinner we had black bean crab cakes, deconstructed elotes (one of our favorite dishes of the entire trip), and chips and salsa. It was sooo refreshing and sooo good.

papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico

Day 2

It stormed hard allll night, but by the time we got going the next morning, the rain had cleared. We walked over to the restaurant for our daily "jungle breakfast"! Every morning we had the same thing and it was sooo delicious -- a bagel with cream cheese and avocado or salmon, a plantain flour pancake with strawberry jam, and scrambled eggs with black beans, onions, and peppers. Honestly, I could eat this meal for breakfast every single day for the rest of my life and be happy.

After looking at the weather radar, we were expecting storms and rainy weather for the majority of our stay, but once we finished our breakfast, the sun started to come out! We made our way down to the beach club and staked out a spot with a puffy bed, two bean bag chairs, and a coffee table. We spent the rest of the day basking in the sun. For lunch, we had tacos from the hotel and I ate a grilled octopus taco and actually liked it!!! Can you believe that?!

For dinner, we decided to venture out from our hotel and go to a restaurant down the road called Posada Margherita for Italian food in Mexico, ha! Our meal was soooo good. We had handmade pasta, fresh bread, and a bottle of chilled rosé. Simple and delicious.

papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
posada margherita // tulum, mexico
posada margherita // tulum, mexico

Day 3

It rained hard all night again but by noon it was sunny! The storm brought in a LOT of seaweed on the beach but the hotel did a great job of getting it cleaned up. The water was still a little rough, but we swam for a while because you can't go to Mexico and not swim in the ocean!

Later, we headed out for a late lunch at a hotel down the street called Mi Amor. All the hotels in Tulum are on the same street and super close to each other, so we had fun popping around to different spots. It was so cool getting to check out the other hotels because they all had such different vibes. Unlike our jungle/treehouse-style hotel, Mi Amor was sleek and modern with bright decor and an infinity pool. We sat by the pool and had cocktails and another one of the best meals EVER! We got grilled shrimp, beef tacos, roasted chicken, and parmesan fries (because I couldn't resist!).

papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
mi amor // tulum, mexico
mi amor // tulum, mexico

Day 4

Our last full day in Tulum! Once a month, Papaya Playa has a big party called the Full Moon Party and tonight was the night! The staff was setting up for the party all day and you could tell they were sooo excited. Apparently it's one of the biggest parties in Tulum and they were expecting about 200 people to come out!

We got another beach day in and then headed out to grab cocktails at a hotel called Casa Malca. It used to be Pablo Escobar's house! The owner of the hotel is an art collector and had amazing art and sculptures scattered throughout the property. Right at the entrance, there's a spiral staircase that leads to a rooftop deck where you can see the ocean on your right and the jungle on your left for miles! The sunset up there was beautiful. Bryce is obsessed with the artist Keith Haring and Casa Malca is home to the infamous Keith Haring bar so we had to stop in for a drink. When it started to get dark, we headed back to Papaya Playa and had a late dinner at the restaurant overlooking the beach. People were starting to arrive for the party (which went from 9 PM to 4 AM!) and the DJ was playing some very Tulum tunes (think tropical house music). We hung out at the bar and restaurant as the party got started and then headed to bed before things got too crazy!

Day 5

We woke up and had one last jungle breakfast before heading to the airport. We honestly were expecting to be stuck inside all day every day because of the gloomy weather, so we were so glad that we actually got a few sunny days in paradise! And to be honest, the clouds brought in a strong breeze that made the humidity that people often talk about in Tulum feel nonexistent. We can't wait to go back again someday. Tulum was the perfect escape for a little adventure and a lot of relaxation.

casa malca // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico
casa malca // tulum, mexico
papaya playa project // tulum, mexico

A Bright & Peachy Springtime Elopement That's The Definition Of Modern Romantic

When photographer Kayla Snell and I decided to collaborate on this project, we had a very specific aesthetic in mind. We wanted this photo shoot to reflect a romantic elopement for a modern, no-fuss couple. So many different themes emerged as we started designing, and the one that we decided to hone in on specifically was the idea that brides don’t have to spend a fortune to create an editorial-worthy wedding. We really focused on the strategic mix of high dollar and low dollar pieces in order to create a timeless, romantic elopement that feels on-trend and attainable. We were so excited to see this feature get picked up by 100 Layer Cake! You can see the feature here, and keep reading to learn more about the vendors who made this shoot such a dream!

xo Carm

romantic modern wedding in austin, tx

We were searching for a whitewashed, blank slate venue with a slightly European vibe – think less shiplap and more stucco. So when we discovered Garden Grove just 20 minutes outside of Austin, we were over the moon. The venue owners designed the space as a resort for a full wedding weekend. Complete with a swimming pool, man cave, and glamping cabins, there’s not much you can’t do at Garden Grove. It’s the perfect escape for out of town couples wanting to tie the knot in Austin.

The décor was where I really played with the mix of high and low. We rented all of our bigger furniture and décor pieces from Loot Rentals – the giant reed jardinières were my all-time favorite! The high dollar pieces I selected were two stacked marble candlesticks from Anthropologie and linen napkins from Terrain. But I think brides will be surprised to learn that our dinner plates were from Target, all our glassware was from IKEA, and our tablecloth was cut at Joann Fabric. My number one tip when designing on a budget is to splurge on a few show stopping pieces and fill in with basics that blend into the background.

romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx

Christin Armstrong from Clementine Botanical Art knocked it out of the park with the floral arrangements and details. She took our mood board and created something that only dreams are made of. We loved how perfectly the in-season blooms complemented the colors of our cheese and charcuterie spread.

All of our paper goods are from Artifact Uprising and brides can literally go to their website and create the exact same suite. Their modern designs had other wedding vendors in town asking us where we got these cool, custom invitations, and their faces lit up when we told them the were from Artifact Uprising. I guess our little secret is out now! Cinthya Aguilar from Lunita Calligraphy put the finishing touches on our invitation suite with white calligraphy. She also created these super fun cheese flags for us to incorporate into our cheese and charcuterie spread! They were such a sweet addition to a picnic lunch.

romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx

These velvet vows books from Elmo Paperstories had me wishing I was getting married tomorrow! I discovered Sadaf Michaelsen’s fine art stationery on Instagram and immediately fell in love. She offers a rainbow of velvet vows books that are the perfect home for your handwritten vows. Isn’t this bird matching game too cute? We picked up this set from Terrain and were obsessed! The set features a male and female of all different types of birds – the perfect theme for any wedding. 

We imagined our bride and groom hosting their post-nuptial celebration picnic style. Everything we served up can be picked up from your local grocery store for under $100 (including the wine!). To create a cohesive spread, I recommend choosing a color palette to stick to and including small portions of lots of different options. When selecting cheeses, try to choose three or four with different flavors and textures to ensure everyone finds something they love. 

romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx

Ask anyone in town – Taylor Jarrett and Dagny Piasecki are the “it couple” of Austin. Because they both have backgrounds in modeling and are photographers, they were such a breeze to work with. And hello, isn’t Dagny’s red hair to-die-for? I love shooting with real-life couples because they’re so comfortable with each other and that really translates into the emotion you can feel through the photos.

Kayla and I both have an obsession right now with everything from Alexandra Grecco. So there was no question what designer we would be using when selecting a bridal gown from Unbridaled in Austin. The Bainbridge gown is sleek, modern, and comfortable, with a feminine plunging neckline – and the high cut slit showed off the simple, nude shoes we chose from Kenneth Cole.

For hair and makeup that looks fresh, natural, and polished, Makenzi Laine is our go-to girl in Austin. She focused on peachy tones that brought out the green in Dagny’s eyes and perfectly complemented her gorgeous red hair.

romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx

Danae Smale of Feathers & Frosting whipped up, not one, but three cakes for us to show off in this photo shoot. She focused on displaying different textures in the frosting finishes on each cake and the result was just as delicious as it was beautiful.

romantic modern wedding in austin, tx
romantic modern wedding in austin, tx

Stationery: Artifact Uprising
Calligraphy: Lunita Calligraphy
Velvet Vows Book: Elmo Paperstories
Dress Designer: Alexandra Grecco
Bridal Shop: Unbridaled
Hair & Makeup: Makenzi Laine
Rentals: Loot Rentals

Planning & Design: LoveBash
Photography: Kayla Snell
Venue: Garden Grove
Floral: Clementine Botanical Art
Female Model: Dagny Piasecki
Male Model: Taylor Jarrett
Dessert: Feathers & Frosting