The couple threw a destination wedding inspired by their shared love of travel
Paul Karmiryan is married!
The Veronica Mars star, 32, tied the knot with Stella Mayilyan on Nov. 19 at the Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun, Mexico, surrounded by 90 of their loved ones.
Karmiryan tells PEOPLE the pair chose a destination wedding because their shared love of travel "has been a big part of our journey" together. "It was fitting to do a destination wedding to celebrate our union surrounded by the people we love, in paradise," he says, noting they also saw it as an opportunity to really savor the moment.
"Sometimes the wedding and celebration can be over in a blink of an eye. The thing we love about destination weddings is you get the whole weekend celebrating with family and friends and get to actually spend time with them and create more memories in the process. It is a more intimate experience," he explains.
Joy Tours and Travel handled all of the travel arrangements for the couple and their guests.
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The festivities kicked off with a welcome gathering at one of the resort's popular bars overlooking the ocean. On the eve of the wedding, Karmiryan and Mayilyan hosted a rehearsal dinner on the beach with close family as the sun began to set.
To bring to life their vision of an "elegance in paradise" aesthetic, Karmiryan and Mayilyan included plenty of white flowers, lit candles and twinkly lights in their outdoor ocean-view wedding. During their ceremony, which blended traditional and cultural elements inspired by their Armenian heritage, the couple exchanged handwritten vows.
The actor says that special moment between him and his bride was a highlight of the wedding. "It felt like time stopped and the emotions ran wild," he recalls of exchanging vows.
Karmiryan's brother, David, officiated the ceremony, which the In the Vault star says was a "no-brainer" as his sibling has been a "pillar" and role model for him and Mayilyan. "We look up to and respect him so much," he explains. "He made the moment so special, funny and heartfelt."
Mayilyan wore an elegant Ines Di Santo off-the-shoulder gown which she loved the moment she set eyes on it. "She knew at first glance that it was the exact dress she had been dreaming of for her wedding day," says Karmiryan, who wore a custom suit by William and Company.
The bride made her walk down the aisle to the romantic song "She" by French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, a cover of which was memorably featured in the Notting Hill soundtrack.
When it was time to celebrate at the reception, Mayilyan swapped the formal gown for a more casual, flowy dress.
"It fit the classic Cancun beach theme, and was perfect for dancing the night away!" Karmiryan says.
Guests enjoyed a three-course dinner, preceded by an array of appetizers and starters. The newlyweds chose a classic three-tier wedding cake adorned with pearls.
Karmiryan and Mayilyn shared their first dance as a married couple to a cover of "Adventure of a Lifetime" by Izzamuzzic.
"At first we wanted to do a choreographed dance, but then we decided to not be performative about it and instead strip it down and keep it a raw and intimate moment," he tells PEOPLE. "It was magical — we absorbed every second of it."
The day after the wedding, guests gathered at the pool bar for a "hang(over)," featuring live music, drinks, dancing and swimming. "We got to enjoy our guests for the last time before they returned home," Karmiryan notes.
Afterwards, the newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon — filled with tropical drinks and sunsets on the beach — in Tulum. "It had been on our list of places to go for so long and it is right next to where we got married," Karmiryan says. "Phones off and quality time!"
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As he looks back on the wedding, Karmiryan describes it as the happiest day of his life so far. "It truly was unreal and a dream come true," he raves. "We are so fortunate and couldn't have pictured a more beautiful celebration of our union."
The couple first met in an art class 16 years ago and struck up a long friendship that would later turn romantic. They began dating in 2018 after connecting at their mutual friends' wedding.
"Timing is truly everything," Karmiryan reflects. "It has been a serendipitous full circle journey, and we are so lucky for the individual growth that led us to be ready for our two puzzle pieces to fit perfectly."
Karmiryan popped the question during a vacation in Dubrovnik, Croatia. "It was a surprise trip for her, and she had no idea. I told her to dress up because we were going to go out for dinner and I found a beautiful ocean view of Old Town," he says.
"We have a tradition where when the time hits 1:11 we always say something we are grateful for, so as we were expressing our gratitude I popped the question, and spoiler alert… she said yes!"
Now that they are officially husband and wife, the pair is planning to do a lot more traveling and hopes to start a family soon.
"[For me, being married means] having a partner in life who supports and pushes each other to grow and be the best versions of ourselves as we navigate through this journey of life," Karmiryan says.
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