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Fashion / Weddings

From Falling in Love at the Vatican to a Dream Wedding in Dallas and Spain

This Caring Couple Embraces All of Seville's Traditions for Days of Magic

BY // 08.12.19
photography Ernesto Villalba

Tessa Mugica — formally Teresa Mugica Montana, Baroness of Essendine — and Robert Montana had just finished lunch at Da Gelsomina in Anacapri, Italy, when Rob popped the question. It was just a year into their courtship, but Rob — an emergency medicine physician who now runs the foundation Cross Cultural Care (globalC3), which provides free medical care in Liberia and other war-torn countries — was ready.

They were in Southern Italy to attend the wedding of Tessa’s oldest brother, Jose Miguel Mugica, and his fiancée, Simona Durante. Tessa and Rob met while working at the Vatican — she as an art historian in the Vatican’s secret archives, he as a Pontificio Consiglio delle Comunicazioni Sociali.

“We were on the top of a hill overlooking the sea,” Tessa says. “It was very natural, spontaneous and beautiful.” In short, she says, “Rob wanted to come to the wedding as my fiancé.”

What followed was a wedding in many steps. In Dallas, where Tessa has lived for 17 years, the couple wed in a civil ceremony in the presence of Tessa’s 15-year-old daughter, Carlota Fedorko, and Rob’s parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, and his 103-year-old grandfather.

“We were married in front of a judge at the Hôtel St. Germain, where we had a beautiful dinner and hired a French band called La Pompe,” says Tessa. “It was intimate, and perfectly romantic, but we wanted to celebrate our marriage in front of God and our family and friends, honoring my Catholic traditions in Spain.”

Planning began for a proper regal wedding in Seville, that would ensue a few months later over the course of several days.

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Tessa’s Spanish roots run deep. She was raised between Pamplona, Madrid, and San Sebastián.

“My mother came from a very traditional, very well-known family from Pamplona,” she says.

Her mother, Rosa Maria Mugica Goñi, a woman of inimitable style, had an interior design company. She proved an endless source of inspiration as Tessa built her life and her own design career. She has an interior and product design company in Dallas and was a former VP of product design, creative, and marketing for Wisteria. Tessa is the quintessential Renaissance woman.

“I am a humble and passionate art collector. I absolutely love to dance. I love authentic people and international politics. I love to live and be part of different cultures and countries,” she says.

Tessa’s passions played into the three-day wedding in Spain.

“With guests coming in from all over the world, we wanted to offer a taste of the different Sevilles that represent our souls and lifestyles,” she says. “The popular flamenco-gypsy Seville. The 21st-century cuisine and contemporary Seville. And, finally, the aristocratic Seville that is full of tradition.”

Teresa & Robert (Photo by Ernesto Villalba)
After the cocktail reception, guests were guided to the Salón Real, where an imperial table set for 100 was waiting. (Photo by Ernesto Villalba)

The wedding weekend began on a Thursday, with flamenco and tapas at Casa Cuesta, a neighborhood restaurant that has been in business since 1880. Friday night was an homage to Seville’s contemporary culture, with dinner at Restaurant Abades Triana, which serves a modern spin on traditional Andalusian cuisine. The most memorable moment came by way of Tessa’s daughter, Carlota, who made a speech in honor of her mother and new stepfather.

Then, the big day. The historic Catholic church Santa María la Blanca was chosen for both its history and treasure-filled baroque interior. Santa María la Blanca is the only church in Seville that has the remains of three religions. Originally a mosque, the place of worship became a synagogue in 1252 at the orders of King Alfonso X. In 1391, it was consecrated as a Catholic temple.

“The austere exterior contrasts with the artistic treasures inside,” Tessa says. “It shows impressive plasterwork with geometric and plant motifs, rosettes, angels, cherubs, and even a reproduction of the Giralda tower, which occupies the entire surface of the vaults, dome, and intrados of arches. These adornments, together with murals and tiled plinths, reflect a mature baroque style.”

Flowers were designed by Flores Búcaro Sevilla.

“The church needed something outstanding outside but minimal floral intervention inside,” Tessa says. “So we went for the very loose green arch at the entry and whites and green in the interior.”

The Dress and a Tiara With Meaning

The bride’s dress was designed by Madrid designer Eva Atienza and handmade of silk rustic gazar, with a base in crepe and Chantilly lace that was hand-transferred and sewn to the skirt. Of special note was Tessa’s tiara, which belonged to her grandmother, to whom Tessa was very close.

“It belonged to my mother’s family and is made of antique silver and antique-cut diamonds,” she says. “It’s quite modest, but it was important for me to wear it that day because of its meaning.”

After the ceremony, a lunch reception was held at Hotel Alfonso XIII, a historic landmark of ornate, neo-Moorish design.

“After the cocktail reception, guests were guided to the Salón Real, where an imperial table set for 100 was waiting. This salon is magnificent, with nine majestic bohemian crystal chandeliers from the beginning of the 20th century,” Tessa says.

The couple’s monogram, which includes the barony crown, was embroidered on dinner napkins; the flowers were simple but full of impact with a beautiful floral runner in colors symbolic of Seville: pink, red, and purple.

Post wedding, it was back to reality for the newlyweds. The couple spends much of their time working and traveling in support of Rob’s foundation.

“We are focused right now on fundraising to cover the expenses of a new doctor and his family that are coming to our project to work at St. Timothy Government Hospital in Robertsport,” she says.

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