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By Henry V. Thiel
Adrian Duenas found his true love when he met Marcelo Saenz in Quito, Ecuador, on December 10, 1999, while visiting friends and family. After returning to New York City, he sold all of his worldly belongings and moved back to Quito to be with Saenz.
Both Duenas and Saenz were born and raised in Quito. Duenas attended high school in California and studied at the University of California, Davis, before returning to Quito to finish his degree in Public Relations and Communications, while Saenz received his master’s degree in interior design in Salamanca, Spain. Today, they are partners in life and business, with Duenas as CEO and Saenz as lead designer for their interior design studios located in Madrid, Ecuador, and Houston.
“I knew Marcelo was the love of my life when I met him,” states Duenas. “I don’t recall a specific moment when I knew I would marry Marcelo. The first days turn into months, and then into amazing years, and one random day you don’t remember your life without the other—and that is what we all call family.
“But I have to admit that one day we had a knockdown of an argument, and when I left for work, I wasn’t sure if our relationship would survive,” says Duenas. “To my surprise and great delight, when I arrived back home that night, Marcelo had the apartment set, and he had made a fabulous dinner for us with lots of champagne, and the wedding rings we wanted from Bulgari.
“Over the years, we had discussed getting married, and together we decided that we would get married when we had been together for 15 years,” shares Duenas. “We needed time to plan a big celebration,” he laughs, “and find a location that was convenient for all our friends and family who would be flying in from all over the world for that one special night.”
It turned out to be a great plan, with more than 100 people from Europe, Africa, South America, and even Australia joining them in New York City for the weekend celebration. “It was a great weekend,” they say in unison.
“That is why we chose New York,” states Saenz. “It was where we first visited the U.S. as a couple, and it is our favorite city in the world.”
To start their new adventure in America, Duenas and Saenz tied the knot in New York on November 1, 2014, at Riverpark, the Tom Colicchio restaurant. Being a destination wedding, the grooms hired Anissa Burnet, of Blankslate Events in New York, as their wedding planner.
“Anissa was recommended to us by a gay couple we knew who used her when they got married,” says Saenz. “The photographer was Matt Brown, who is a very well-known photographer in New York who also shoots for the design industry. But we decided to not label anything. We just wanted a wedding like any other. In fact, we never felt the need to turn to an LGBT vendor. We just went for the best quality and service, and we felt it should just be one more pretty and crazy wedding in New York. I guess that’s what we are looking for, right? Be equal! And that’s the philosophy at our BeDesign store.
“Since we were hosting a three-day celebration, Anissa created a web page to help organize all our guests,” adds Saenz. “The first evening, we rented the VIP area of the Highline Ballroom Club to celebrate Halloween. The next day was the ceremony.”
“The one moment from the wedding that I will always remember was the candle-lighting ceremony,” says Duenas, pushing back a tear. “My mother and Marcelo’s best friend lighted one candle each. Then Marcelo and I took those two candles, and lit one candle together as a symbol of our union.”
“Of course, something funny had to happen,” adds Saenz. “Our closest friend who was in charge of bringing the rings to the ceremony fell asleep after the Halloween party and almost missed the ceremony. She arrived just in the nick of time.”
The dapper grooms wore John Varvatos tuxedo shirts and ties with their Prada suits. The reception was held at the Cube, a crystal box in Manhattan, which was purposefully decorated flowerless to achieve a modern and minimal look to showcase the Kartell Abbraccio centerpieces and lighting from Vibia. Upon arrival, guests signed a guest book designed by Enves Diseno.
The reception dinner featured a menu of Tom Colicchio favorites, including Texas brisket, Ecuadorian jumbo shrimp, and New Zealand lamb chops. There was no traditional wedding cake for these boldface-types, who instead served a flawless ginger pear ice cream with a whole homemade pecan pie for each table. Costume candy, fine chocolates, and traditional pastries were brought in from Ecuador—all accompanied by wines from France and Italy, as well as selected spirits from Europe and America. And the after-party was in the VIP room of the Avenue Club.
“Brunch the next day was at Bagatelle, hosted by our best men,” adds Saenz, “who had the waiters dressed as flying superheroes with champagne bottles.”
“After three amazing days with all our friends, we went to Mykonos, Greece, to recuperate. It was one of our best vacations ever,” states Duenas, “but we didn’t call it a honeymoon. When you have been with someone for 15 years, you just celebrate each day, which is what we did, and we loved it.”
Henry Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist, a boutique public relations firm which works exclusively with chef and restaurateurs. He loves Ecuador.