Today’s feature from Shanell Photography comes with a gust of saltwater, as we head to the Dominican Republic to preview Jake & Kelsey’s wedding along the coast. They opted for a palette of soft pastels, purple and light blue – and combined with the ocean water blue, it created a simple but beautiful backdrop for this small destination wedding.

from the bride, Kelsey: “I always knew I wanted a destination wedding; just the thought of getting married on a tropical beach with my closest family and friends had a ring to it. Neither Jake nor myself like to be the center of attention so a small wedding was something we intended.

Just like any other wedding a lot of hard work and planning goes into a destination wedding. I started planning over a year ahead by researching the perfect spot and marriage requirements. After that the fun began! Planning the details was the hard part. It was hard not being able to physically see, taste or smell any of my details of the day. I had to ensure trust of my wedding planner that everything I picked out would come together, and it did.

My day began by getting breakfast with all of the girls who were at the resort. After that we packed up all of our wedding day attire and went to the spa. At the spa we were pampered with snack and drinks and took over the room. We started to get ready and get our hair and makeup done. Once our makeup and hair was done my bridesmaids got into their dresses and met me outside. A special part of the day was revealing my dress to my bridesmaids. I kept it a secret from them and seeing their reaction was a very special moment and worth keeping from them.

Not only did I have a first look with my bridesmaids, I also had a first look with my father. I am not sure who was more nervous, me or him. I walked out to see him and he was standing there trying to keep still as he knew I waited behind him. As soon as he turned around we both lost it. Seeing my dad breakdown made me more emotional as I’m his first born, first one getting married. My dad isn’t one to always show emotion but he let it all out that day. We both just looked at each other and smiled, he gave me a hug and wouldn’t let go. I get teary eyed just thinking about it again. My father has always been there to support our family and I couldn’t be more prouder to have him play a big part in my special day.

After everyone was done taking pictures we rode a golf cart to the beach where the ceremony took place. Being on a public resort you had a lot of people staring and commenting how pretty you looked, me being one not for attention it made me smile. Now the butterflies started as we all lined up to enter the ceremony where the guests were. I can still hear the music playing as my bridal party entered and then the music of my entry began. There was so many people from the beach watching as I walked down the aisle, but none of that mattered, all I was focusing on was Jake’s reaction as I walked down. It was so hard to keep the tears back.

The ceremony went on and I continued to have those butterflies in my stomach. As the legal part came to an end my friend Jackie came up to perform our sand ceremony. This was also a special part of my day, as she has been a close friend since high school. The sand ceremony was something I thought would be a creative idea to do being on a beach and combining our sands to one.

As the ceremony came to an end the cocktail hour began. Everyone could let loose a little now that the “hard” part was over. The bridal party continued with pictures as everyone else enjoyed live Caribbean music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres all on the beach.

Next was the reception where we had our first dance, cried during the speeches, did the bouquet and boutonniere toss and celebrated with our friends and family. It was so magical spending time dancing and celebrating the first day of the rest of our lives. I didn’t want the night to end. But unfortunately it came to and end and afterwards everyone came back to my hotel room and still celebrated. We then all went to the club/bar area and danced until the night ended.

The next day came and went and we still were celebrating with everyone. It was something in a magazine, having all of your friends and family celebrate your marriage on a tropical beach in a different country, I still think about it everyday. My favorite part of the day was the location. Everything about being on that resort was beautiful and it didn’t even have to try. It also was something else to have people stop you the next day and tell you how beautiful your day was. It was one of the best vacations of my life and I will treasure it forever.

Advice I give to future destination brides is don’t stress – I know that sounds cheesy but you won’t even remember the little details you were so worried about. Also trust your planner and be patient, my wedding planner made all of my ideas come to life even though it would take her a couple of days to respond to my lengthy email. I promise the only thing that matters is celebrating with your closest family and friends on a breath taking location.”

photography: Shanell Photography /  flowers & details: CR Flowers Event Co. / wedding dress: The White Dress /  barefoot sandals: Nelipots / Calligraphy Tags: Cali O’Rourke

Bajan Wed