I Guess I Do

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mackenzie & Eric : Denash Photography

Meet Mackenzie & Eric. What I love more than anything else about this wedding is that there is no doubt in my mind everyone had an absolute blast that weekend - which is what a wedding should be all about. Looking through these pictures made me wish I was on the beach having a drink with them! Their I Guess I Do moments include a flower letdown and a music mishap. Enjoy Mackenzie's story in her own words below.

My husband, Eric, and I met on St. Patrick’s Day in 2005. It was our freshman year at Ohio State. We fell in love over a game of flip cup and the rest is history. I had never pictured myself in a big, puffy wedding dress. In fact, I had never pictured myself in any wedding dress. Many of my friends have secret wedding Pinterest boards. Some are even labeled “Party Ideas” to disguise the fact that they’re planning their future wedding. Kudos to them, but that was just not me. The only detail I was adamant about was the location. When I was 13, my parents took my sister and I on a vacation to the Dominican Republic. I fell in love with the country. Its glistening waters, white-sand beaches and lush landscape had me sold. By the end of the week, my 13-year-old self had declared to my parents, “I am getting married here.”

Fast forward thirteen years: I was engaged to the love of my life but every time someone asked me about flowers, dresses or linen colors, I was repulsed. Eric and I discussed the idea of a destination wedding and he eagerly agreed. We knew we’d get some pushback because the idea was so unique, but I just could not partake in a traditional wedding.

After countless hours of research, we decided to get married in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Their high weather season falls in late winter/early spring. St. Patrick’s Day was the only day of significance in that range. Oh, it falls on a Saturday? Done.

I very bravely chose an all-inclusive resort to host our wedding without ever doing on onsite visit. Upon arrival, I could not have been more thrilled. The grounds were beautiful, the weather was perfect, the water was warm and the drinks were flowing. The resort was better than I could have dreamed. Forty-six of our very closest friends and family joined us in Punta Cana for our wedding celebration. Our guests’ arrivals were staggered throughout the week so we set up shop near the pool each day to greet them. Each time a new couple arrived, excitement washed over me. This is real. They are here for us. We are getting married in paradise!
We spent the week eating fresh seafood, drinking cerveza cón limón, lying under thatched roof umbrellas on the beach and dancing at the pool bar.

I Guess I Do Moment #1: The day before the wedding, my sister and one of my bridesmaids set up what would fondly be remembered as “The Wedding Olympics”. We played various silly games on the beach. Some games centered on items we found at the resort and most included alcohol. One game involved putting a coconut in a pair of pantyhose and tying them around the waist. The object of the game was to move a beach ball from Point A to Point B, using only the coconut. This involved a lot of questionable movement in the hip area. My mother-in-law started for our team. She was having a lot of trouble directing the beach ball and somehow hit herself in the head as the coconut swung through her legs. She ran out of the game as blood gushed down her forehead. Let me remind you, this is twenty-four hours before the wedding and my mother-in-law (who I love dearly and hope is okay but will also be in a lot of pictures) just hit herself in the head with a freaking coconut. Luckily, the cut ended up being fairly small and she was feeling okay otherwise.

I Guess I Do Moment #2: Weddings at all-inclusive resorts are designed to be turn-key. I loved the limited choices on flowers, linens and cakes flavors, but I did have one requirement: no daisies. The morning of the wedding, the bouquets showed up. They were beautiful, they were colorful, but they were mostly daisies. I ALMOST lost my cool until my sister reminded me that I did not care about wedding flowers.

I Guess I Do Moment #3: Our reception dinner was held in a BEAUTIFUL open-air steakhouse on the beach. I spent hours putting together the perfect dinner playlist of beachy songs. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding (or bad Spanish to English translation on my part) because we were in fact NOT allowed to play our own music during dinner. If you've ever been to an all-inclusive, you'll remember that most restaurants are themed by country. In the Dominican, Steakhouse = American, so we enjoyed our wedding dinner to the tunes of '90s country (think Billy Ray Cyrus' Achy Breaky Heart, George Strait and Garth Brooks). My husband and I started laughing each time a new song came on. Several of our guests commented on our "interesting" dinner mix. I will never hear Achy Breaky heart again without thinking of that night.

I Guess I Do Moment #4: I’d like to think I was ahead of this trend. A couple of years ago, I sat down with a glass of wine to watch Disney’s ‘Tangled’ (yes, I’m a Disney dork). In the movie, Rapunzel’s parents release floating lanterns every day on her birthday, in hopes of her return. I immediately fell in love with the idea of floating lanterns at our wedding. This was pre-Ashley Hebert’s season of the Bachelorette, pre-Nick Lachey’s wedding, pre-every other show and wedding in the past two years. I searched endlessly until I found floating lanterns that were bio-degradable and wouldn’t kill every fish in the Caribbean Sea upon landing. I had it all planned out: we would release the lanterns on the beach, and then move straight into our first dance. Halfway through dinner, I turned around to see our sweet wedding coordinator (bless her heart), attempting a test lantern. She was gripping the lantern with all her might but it pulled ferociously in the wrong direction before eventually catching fire. Winds were coming off the water at 40mph, straight towards the palm-studded resort. Our wedding coordinator returned, apologizing profusely. We would not be able to release the lanterns.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. We felt like we were living in small Caribbean town with forty-six of our favorite people. Regardless of the time, we could walk out of our beachside bungalow and run into the smiling faces of our closest friends and family. One of the biggest pros to having a destination wedding is having all week to talk to guests. I didn’t feel pressured to talk to every single person during our reception dinner. Whether it was over fresh mangos at breakfast, lobsters at lunch, while sipping (or chugging) beers at the tiki hut, or over shots of mamajuana on Beebe Island (our own private area of the lobby bar); I can honestly say that I had quality conversation with every single person at our wedding.

One of my favorite memories of the entire trip happened right before the ceremony. We finished pictures early, so we went to the tiki hut on the beach. As we waited for the Dominican judge to show up (we’re on island time, right?), my bridesmaids and I ordered Presidente beer and hotdogs for a pre-wedding snack. There I was, sitting by the sea in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Waves crashed behind us as we drank beer and enjoyed each others’ company. As I looked around the table at my five closest friends, I was euphoric. How many brides are this relaxed minutes before their wedding? My bet is, not many.

As the judge pronounced us man and wife, we kissed and heard champagne bottles popping in the background. Michael Franti’s ‘Say Hey’ blasted through the salty air and perfectly reflected the tone of the entire week. As my husband and I danced up the aisle, champagne glasses in hand, I knew we made the right decision.

My advice to future brides:
1. You can’t please everyone, so make yourselves happy. This wedding is about you and your future husband.
2. There is a certain amount of stress that comes a few weeks before the wedding, regardless of how laid-back you try to be. Something will probably go wrong. Think of it as a great story instead of a great tragedy. At the end of the day, you will be married to your best friend so relax and enjoy it!


Dress: Maggie Sottero  Photographer: Jeff Borts of Denash Photography  Venue, Flowers & Cake: Iberostar Resort, Punta Cana, Domincan Republic

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