It took almost 20 years for Jorge Pardo to ask Alexis Johnson out. Well, maybe a few years fewer, depending on who you ask: One night, the artist did invite the partner at Paula Cooper Gallery out to dinner. However: “He thought it was a date, I didn’t,” Alexis says.
Her uncertainty was understandable: The two had long been friends, first meeting in 1998 at the Los Angeles restaurant Lucques. Alexis was a waitress, and Jorge was a frequent patron. (His gallerist at the time dated the restaurant’s owner.) Alexis ended up becoming that gallerist’s assistant. For years, she worked with Jorge professionally as she rose up the art world ranks. Yet jobs changed, as did cities. But in 2016, both were in New York, and both were single. Jorge asked her to dinner again, with no crossed wires: “This time we were both in agreement it was a date,” says Alexis. “We’ve been together since.”
The couple became engaged in November 2020. They settled on Hacienda Tecoh—an art project by Jorge that combines 17th-century ruins with modern pools, gardens, and pathways an hour outside of Merida, where the couple have a home—for their wedding. “Jorge worked on it for six years. It’s a really magical place,” Alexis says. They set the date for February 2022, and asked wedding planner Angelina Cardenas to help pull it all together.
Alexis never tried on a single wedding gown. It never even occurred to her: “I had a Pinterest board of dream dresses, none of which were wedding dresses. I knew I wanted volume and color,” she says. Her top pin? Zendaya modeling a sunshine-yellow Christopher John Rogers dress in a Bulgari ad. Through mutual friends, she was able to reach his studio director, David Rivera. Turns out, the dress was a one-off for that advertisement—so if she wanted something similar, it would need to be commissioned. Alexis took the fashion plunge: “I knew this was a major opportunity and so I proceeded. I was getting married at 50 years old…if not now, when?”
On February 26, Alexis walked down the aisle with her father in a billowing custom Christopher John Rodgers gown. Jorge, in a linen suit he designed himself, was waiting for her at the end. Alexis had left the ceremony planning up to Jorge. He infused Mayan traditions throughout: both were blessed with palo santo, and the officiant spoke in both Spanish and Yucatec Maya. Rawestudiofloral adorned the area with tropical greenery. Even in the Yucatan heat, Alexis and Jorge’s six-month-old daughter, Woodsey, stayed remarkably composed throughout. “She generally has a very agreeable personality, but it was hot and the ceremony was a bit long, yet she was cool as a cucumber,” says Alexis.
Afterwards, a reception was held amid Hacienda Tecoh’s jungle landscape. As a wedding gift, Roberto Solis—who co-owns the restaurant Huniik in Merida with Jorge—crafted a menu which included pork belly with grilled pineapple.
As the music turned louder and guests hit the dance floor, Alexis changed into a Target x Christopher John Rogers floral dress. “It was the perfect contrast and complement to my wedding gown and great for dancing,” she says—which they did all night long, to the tracks of DJ Equal. “We danced in the jungle late into the night with a spirited abandon. We’ve all been cooped up for so long, you could sense everyone’s desire to connect, move their bodies and have fun!”