Real Weddings: Shayda and Daniel
Inside a cross-cultural ceremony on a private beach in Cabo San Lucas
Shayda Omidvar, 33, a freelance producer in the advertising industry, met Daniel Delidjakov, 37, a developer for a software company, on a dating app in September 2020. Two years later, the couple got engaged at the Scarborough Bluffs, and in April 2023, they celebrated their wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, merging Iranian, Turkish and Bulgarian traditions. Here’s how it all came together.
Shayda: Daniel and I met online. He sent me a “like” on Hinge. On my profile, I said that one of my irrational fears was extremely large bathrooms.
Daniel: I told her I completely agreed. It’s like the opposite of claustrophobia. I thought Shayda was pretty. She seemed cool and easy-going.
Shayda: One of Daniel’s photos was a Polaroid, which made me think he was a bit artsy and not a total normie.
Daniel: We were supposed to meet for a walk, but I got anxious about it at the last minute. I thought she wouldn’t like me. So I deleted the app a few hours before our date and basically ghosted her.
Shayda: I was getting ready when I saw his profile had disappeared. I had his Instagram handle, so I messaged him and asked what was up. He explained that he was having some anxiety about the meetup. I thought, I don’t want this baggage. So I told him to take care of himself. And that was that.
Three months later, I realized I’d been single for a while and dating was not going my way. I wanted to find someone. For some reason, Daniel was the first person that came to mind. I thought I should check in on him and see how he was doing. So I messaged him.
Daniel: I realized that this was my second chance to see what Shayda was about. We arranged a date a few days later. I wasn’t anxious at all this time. I definitely wasn’t going to ghost her again. We went for a walk in Ontario Place with her dog, Prince.
Shayda: I did ask Daniel why he bailed on me. His answer was honest. He was open to talking about his anxiety, which I appreciated. I also liked that he brought his camera along for our date and was taking photos of the scenery. We talked about photographers we both knew and liked. After the walk, we got burgers at Happy Coffee and Wine and went back to my place.
Daniel: I basically stayed at her apartment that whole weekend, with a break in the middle to have dinner with my family. I came back with some of my mom’s homemade chocolate cake and then stayed until I had to go to work.
Shayda: We saw each other almost every day after that. We went on walks and talked about our families and upbringings. I was born in Vancouver. My mom is Turkish, and my dad is Iranian. They’re both immigrants.
Daniel: I’m Bulgarian. I grew up in Sofia and immigrated to Toronto in 2000, when I was 14. Turkey and Bulgaria are neighbours, so we noticed a lot of overlap in our cultures, especially the food. Shayda would be making a Turkish dish, and I’d notice that it was similar to something my mom used to make. At the time, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment at Jane and Dundas.
Shayda: I was in an apartment in Parkdale. My roommate had moved out shortly after Daniel and I started dating. So, in September 2021, Daniel moved in.
Daniel: I liked that Shayda is so family-oriented. We both have big families—I have three siblings, and she has two. She has a lot of friends, which signalled to me that she was a good, trustworthy person.
Shayda: Daniel always made me feel so calm. I never felt any judgment coming from him. Early in our relationship, we talked about marriage and kids. Those were both things that I wanted soon.
Daniel: Both of us felt like we couldn’t wait to take the next steps in our relationship. By October 2021, we bought a house in Corso Italia, and we moved into it in February. As we were buying the house, we talked again about getting married and decided that sometime in 2022 would be a good time to get engaged. I didn’t want to tell her exactly when I would propose, though.
Shayda: I told him the kind of ring I wanted: a bezel-set, east-west facing, emerald-cut diamond on yellow gold. Every day after we’d decided it was the right time, I’d wake up in the morning and wonder if today was the day Daniel was going to propose to me.
Daniel: I was waiting for the perfect time. I had actually brought the ring out with me on a few occasions and not popped the question. The right moment didn’t come along until we went on a walk at the end of August to the Scarborough Bluffs. We’d done the same walk early in our relationship. I wanted to ask Shayda to marry me in the exact place where I had taken my first photo of her.
Daniel: I didn’t actually get down on one knee. I had a little speech ready, but I bumbled through most of it. I just held Shayda by the shoulders, looked into her eyes and told her how she made me feel. It always felt very right to be with her. It was a sign that I needed to marry her.
Shayda: I started crying immediately. I knew the moment was coming, but it still didn’t prepare me for all the emotions I felt. It was really overwhelming. I saw the ring, and it was perfect. It made me feel, at that moment, that Daniel would do anything to make me happy.
Shayda: I had actually started planning our wedding six months before we got engaged. I’m one of those people who had been planning their dream wedding since they were a kid. I was sketching wedding dress designs in elementary school. I started a Pinterest board ten years ago.
Daniel: We wanted our wedding to be a really good party. Both of our families are from all over the place, so we figured we might as well do a destination wedding.
Shayda: My parents live in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for half of the year. Daniel and I had spent Christmas there and loved it. We figured that Mexico would be a fun destination for everyone involved. We’d have just under a hundred guests in total.
Daniel: Our date was set for April 2023. The ceremony would be on a private beach in the gated community where Shayda’s parents live. We loved the ocean view and white sands. Then we’d drive our guests to an Airbnb with a huge outdoor space for the reception. It’s in the middle of the desert, surrounded by cacti. It feels like a little getaway.
Shayda: We wanted a wedding that felt modern, fun and playful. But, at the same time, we wanted it to be elegant and timeless. We actually ended up flying most of our wedding vendors down from Toronto, including our photographer, video director and florist. Some of the vendors were already friends of ours. With others, we just loved their work and couldn’t find anyone locally that fit our aesthetic. Red is my favourite colour, so we had monochromatic red florals. I asked the florist to make the flowers look like they were waves coming up from the sand.
Daniel: Since it was a beach wedding, I thought about wearing a beige or white suit, but in the end that felt too casual. I decided to get a simple black tuxedo with a bit of shine on the fabric.
Shayda: I’d been following Canadian fashion designer Sid Neigum for a while. He had a dress from one of his first collections that I loved, but he’d only made it in black. I emailed him and asked if he’d be willing to do the same one but in white. He agreed. It’s a three-quarter-sleeve wrap dress in pleated chiffon with boning in the sleeves and hem to create a curvature effect. One friend said I looked like a jellyfish, which I thought was appropriate since we’d be by the ocean.
Daniel: We decided to legally tie the knot in Toronto beforehand—doing it in Mexico would have involved a lot of paperwork. We recreated our first date, with a small ceremony at Ontario Place. It was just me, Shayda, her best friend, my best friend and his wife, plus an officiant.
Shayda: On the big day in Mexico, Daniel and I got ready in separate rooms at my parents’ house. I did my hair and makeup myself. First it was just me getting ready, then my sister and mom came in to check on me. My dad joined us at some point. It was kind of a family affair, with everyone getting ready in the room together. It was fun and exactly what I wanted.
Daniel: When I got to the ceremony, I felt elated. I was so excited to have all of our friends and family together. Even though it was a lot of people, I felt very comfortable. It was a beautiful day with great weather. I was worried that I’d be too hot in my tux, but it was 23 degrees with a light breeze.
Shayda: Walking down the aisle was the first time I got butterflies. That moment felt bigger to me than the legal ceremony because everyone important was there. It was a huge milestone. We had set up carpets all along the aisle because I was worried about walking in the sand with my shoes. We brought them from Toronto. My sister and Daniel’s sister had suitcases full of carpets.
Shayda: At the end of the aisle, we set up a Sofreh Aghd, which is a traditional Persian wedding spread with items that have symbolic meanings. Daniel and I were seated facing the table and our guests. The table had a mirror so we could reflect on our future together. There were coins to represent blessings of wealth, wheat and nuts to represent blessings of nourishment, eggs for fertility, and two candles representing the fire between us. Our sisters held a veil over our heads while loved ones ground sugar onto it to symbolize the sweetening of our marriage.
During a Persian ceremony, there are usually passages read from the Quran. But, since we’re not religious, we had our family members read poems we’d chosen from each of the languages we speak: English, Turkish, Bulgarian and Farsi. We exchanged vows after that, which we’d written, and then we fed each other honey, another symbol of sweetening our marriage.
Daniel: I had never been to a Persian wedding before. I really liked that it involved our family members and that every object or action had a symbolic meaning.
Shayda: After the ceremony, I felt so proud of the beautiful wedding we’d planned—and of finding the love of my life and getting to marry him.
Daniel: Then our guests hopped onto shuttle buses to the reception venue. It was very much in the middle of nowhere. Some of them said they were kind of weirded out, being taken down this dirt road. But then you turn a corner and see this beautiful house. It’s like an oasis.
Shayda: Our guests were greeted with drinks and appetizers. My dad actually surprised us with a mariachi band. The planner made sure their uniforms matched our wedding decor.
Daniel: After Shayda and I arrived at the reception, we did our first dance to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” It was well chosen because there was a full moon that night. Then we did a Bulgarian tradition: the breaking of the bread. That morning, my mom had baked a huge, knotted loaf that was the size of an extra-large pizza. It was presented to us in an embroidered cloth from Bulgaria. We stood back to back and held the bread over our heads while traditional Bulgarian drumming played. Then we had to pull the bread apart. Whoever got the bigger piece would be the “boss” of the family. Shayda got the bigger piece.
Shayda: I think Daniel let me win. After that, we had a family-style dinner with steak, shrimp, sea bass, sides and salad. That same bread was actually served to our guests with their dinner. Then I changed into my second look. It was a disco-inspired red outfit with hugely exaggerated bell-bottoms and ruffled sleeves. The material was sparkly, so it still looked fancy. I wore platform Crocs with it—I called those my wedding Crocs.
Daniel: I wore a cream linen suit and a white linen shirt that had red embroidery on it. Then the DJ started up the dance floor. Shayda and I had been making a playlist of songs together throughout our relationship, so we pulled songs from that and added songs that we thought were fun. We also had a lot of Turkish, Persian and Bulgarian classics that are meant for dancing.
Shayda: By 3 a.m., my dad basically pulled the plug on us. I didn’t realize it had gotten that late—our vendors had gone into overtime. We did pick a last song to play, which was “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star. Then we went back to the resort most of us were staying at, the Riu. I was exhausted. We fell asleep immediately.
Daniel: I was happy that we more or less remembered the whole night! There were lots of people doing shots with us, but I didn’t feel drunk or hungover the next day.
Shayda: I remember thinking, That was the best party I’ve ever been to. It was such a special day.
Daniel: Married life feels the same, except I’m still getting used to calling her my wife.
Shayda: That took a minute for both of us. There’s such a sense of comfort in having Daniel as my husband for the rest of my life.
Daniel: We booked our honeymoon for October—a week in Ireland.
Shayda: Although, it’s now a baby-moon, because we found out in June 2023 that we’re pregnant.
Daniel: I’m excited. I don’t know if I can picture myself as a father yet. I hope I make all the right moves.
Shayda: It’s happening faster than either of us expected. But, like everything else in our relationship so far, it feels good. I know it’s going to work out.
Date: April 6th, 2023
Photography: Val Sankhāra
Video director and editor: Boy Wonder
Ceremony venue: Pedregal Playa, Pegregal Beach
Officiant: Portia Larlee
Florist: White Oak Flower Co.
Food: Salt & Sugar Co.
DJ: DJ Edwin
Bride’s dress: Sid Neigum
Bride’s second outfit: Sleeper
Groom’s outfit: Harold by Harry Rosen
Groom’s second outfit: RW & Co. suit and Nor Black Nor White shirt
Balloon installation: Karl x Dom
Wedding bands and engagement ring: Alexis Gallery
Sofreh Aghd design: Mega Projects and Minoo Omidvar