An NI man shared a glimpse of his intimate “elopement-style” Mayan wedding in Antigua, Guatemala.

Michael McLaughlin, 34, a plumber from Co Tyrone, and his wife Sandra Kazancevaite, a research analyst from Vilnius, Lithuania, who both live in Omagh, were married on 14 November 2022.

In our weekly Inside My Wedding column, couples dive into their special day to share some tips for the bride and groom.

Michael told Be: “We met in Antigua, Guatemala in 2016 while we were both traveling through Central America. We had a long distance relationship in Europe as we met on various city breaks and then lived together in New Zealand in 2018/19.


“We got engaged in August 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania.”

Michael shared all about their beautiful day.

Tell us all about your wedding day!

Our wedding took place on November 14, 2022 in Antigua, Guatemala, where we originally met in 2016 while we were both traveling through Central America. It was a getaway style wedding, just the two of us. We had a Mayan style wedding because it is unique to Guatemala and we both cared because it was different but important.


How did you start planning?

We’ve had the idea of ​​an elopement in Guatemala since we got engaged, but didn’t start planning in earnest until August 2022 as we were almost certain there would be no further Covid-19 restrictions to disrupt our plans .

Instagram and Facebook were the main basis for our planning as we could see the locations and portfolios of the photographers.

Michael and Sandra

Tell us your location.

We chose to host the ceremony at the Casa Troccoli restaurant as they had a beautiful roof terrace overlooking the old city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It had 3 volcanoes in the background.

Tell us about your suit and Sandra’s wedding dress!

We didn’t put much emphasis on our wedding attire because last year I wore a suit I got from a best man to my friend’s wedding and Sandra found her wedding dress online that fit perfectly.

What was the best part before your day?

As our wedding was abroad it was exciting to get away from it all and have some free time to be honest. We arrived in Guatemala a week before the wedding and did some traveling before arriving in Antigua two days before the wedding to speak with the photographer, videographer, florist and restaurant manager.

The happy couple

Just to make sure everything is going according to plan as we have only talked via WhatsApp and video calls so far.

What was the best moment of your day and your other favorite parts?

The ceremony itself was definitely our favorite part of the day as we had never experienced a Mayan wedding ceremony before and our shaman Tz’ules assured us that everything went smoothly.

The photoshoot through the cobbled streets of the old town was also great with so many friendly locals passing by, congratulating us and random cars honking their horns.

bride and groom

What would you advise other brides and grooms to plan first and what are your top tips?

Most couples today are probably under a lot of pressure to have a big wedding, but while it was just us, our families and friends supported our decision – and many people said it was a great idea. Which I think is because there is less stress and it is more adventurous.

If you’re planning to go away, do some research on your chosen destination and use Instagram and Facebook to find local suppliers and get inspired – or you can even book a local wedding planner to make things easier.

What was the hardest thing to plan?

It wasn’t really that bad to arrange it, but it was a bit difficult to choose a place because we couldn’t be there to get a feel for it.

Michael and Sandra

Did you have a theme?

We wanted an alternative theme as we both come from different cultures but love to explore other countries and cultures. The atmosphere was casual and comfortable.

Is there anything you would do differently or wish there was something you didn’t have to worry about?

No, we wouldn’t change a thing and we are very happy with how it went and how everything came together easier than we thought.

Our 2 week trip to Guatemala was followed by a 2 week honeymoon in Colombia which was amazing!

All photos by Jorge Ortiz Jarquin –

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