Sunday, August 20, 2017

5 Things I learned planning our destination wedding

5 Things I learned planning our destination wedding

Planning any wedding can be overwhelming, especially one to a place you'e never even visited! Below I've listed a few things I learned along the way! 

Thank you so much to everyone who made it down! Our wedding week was so special and we love you all so much!
#1: it's going to be a small wedding, and that's ok!
The idea of a destination wedding with all your friends and family is such a fun one! All the time in the sun, hanging out and catching up with your loved ones only to end the week with a giant party and gorgeous dress! Can it get any better? Yes and no: The reality is, getting everyone that you love for a whole week just isn't going to happen.  We ended up with 12 - including us.  At first, we were a little disheartened about not having everyone there, but it worked out for the best. Everyone got along so well and I couldn't have asked for a better vacation! Also, let me tell you, trying to evenly split your time with everyone who traveled so far to see you and making dinner decisions and lunch decisions and trying to keep everyone happy is work, but worth it!! 

This is me cheesing so hard with Carmen, our wedding planner.  This fancy golf cart was so fun to ride in! I also got to hop in on my way down to the ceremony! 
#2: The resort wedding planners have this down to a science, trust them!!
Our wedding planner, Carmen, was amazing! We met with her the morning after we arrived at the resort and she walked us through everything and made sure we had exactly what we had always dreamed of. She had the perfect combination of business and warmth and she actually ended up performing our wedding ceremony! I went into our destination wedding trusting the process and the planners and I had literally no stress! *except fitting into my dress!

#3: Traveling with a wedding dress is fun, but not easy!
I can only imagine that walking through an airport with a giant wedding dress is similar to going anywhere 9 months pregnant. It felt like everyone had to ask if we were flying off to get married! Which, of course, we were, and we were super excited to be doing so but it can get exhausting having the same conversation 100 times before 6am, but nice to have complete strangers strike up a chat! Also, just go ahead and be prepared to stuff your gorgeous dream wedding gown into the overhead compartment. I called the airline 6 months prior and even asked again the morning of and was assured that they would hang my gown in the coat closet only to be told upon boarding the plane that there was no coat closet and it would have to be stored overhead. I was not a happy camper! Luckily our wedding package included having my gown steamed and all was well in the world again!

#4: Be flexible!
Any time you are planning an outdoor wedding you know that potentially you have to deal with the elements! The morning of our wedding we were hanging out in the pool when the bottom dropped out of the sky! We got lucky and it quickly passed but I did my best to relax and wait it out because getting upset is going to do nothing but ruin your day! Another element we didn't think about was the heat!!! I originally planned on having dinner after the wedding at this gorgeous restaurant with curtains of seashells that blow in the wind. I didn't care what the food was I just wanted to be there for the atmosphere and photo ops! Here's where the flexible part came in- it was so hot we couldn't stand to be outside in our wedding clothes any longer. So last second we decided to head back to our favorite French restaurant for some air conditioning and yummy food! We still got to take some photos in the beautiful restaurant and we got to cool off! win/win!!

#5: ( a tip form the Groom) Take care of those taking care of you!
We went to an all inclusive resort where tipping is included (it's even all over their website) but taking the time to tip and thank the staff goes a long way. It doesn't have to be a huge amount but when they are happy they make sure you are extra happy! We even had a cabana comped for us on the day of our wedding! Side note: having a cabana for a day is really fun and totally worth the extra cost! The guys were able to watch TV while hanging out at the pool and the day of extra special pampering was a great touch!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Breathless Punta Cana

We had such a wonderful time staying at the Breathless Resort in Punta Cana! 

When we were looking for a spot for our wedding week we specifically wanted a resort that had a lot of restaurants and lots to do!  Every night they had shows and we ate some lots of really good food! I do think it's pretty ironic that while restaurants were really important to me when we were initially looking, we ended up eating the same foods over and over :) The French restaurant Coquette was amazing! We actually ate there three times (once was for our weddings reception) and of course I ate the same meal each time! One of the really awesome things about Breathless is that we had access to Now Onyx which we could walk to right next door. It's a family resort and they also has some really great restaurants! We ate at their steak house, Blue Water and their Italian restaurant, Capers (the gnocchi here was amazing and quite possibly the best thing I ate all week!)

The night life was super fun. One night they had trapeze artists and fire dancers and they were juggling with knives.  Another night we were dancing with men on stilts! I was amazed that the same entertainment team had so many different talents that they unveiled over the week! We had a white party on the beach one night and a black light foam party in the pool another (side note: it's very hard to dance in the sand!!) The night of our wedding there was a Great Gatsby party and we got to dance on top of the pool :) 

The resort has just as much to do during the day as well.  Every morning they had water aerobics in the pool and sand volleyball.  While we spent the majority of out time by the pool there was lots to do on the beach if that's the type of vacation you are looking for.  I think it would be a great resort to have a bachelor or bachelorette party and overall it was a pretty amazing place for a wedding week!!  

The grounds here are so well maintained! A few days we did lay by the pool to the sound of weed eaters, but I guess thats the price you pay for beautiful landscaping (and 10 days on vacation, I mean they have to cut the grass at some point!!) 

The hibachi dinner was reservation only and because of our party size we didn't get a table until 9pm!   You could eat at the sit down part of the restaurant without a reservation but it was a different menu.  The reservation might have been late but it was totally worth it and it was some of the best hibachi ever!

This was our last dinner before we had to go home.  At first all the portions seemed so small but it turns out they always filled us right up! Plus, with an appetizer, bread, main course and dessert you need them to be smaller to enjoy all the food!

I stole this photo from Kristina's snap chat :) We were so exhausted by the time this photo was taken. Relaxing by the pool all day is very tiring work!

Thanks so much for reading! If there is anything else you want to know about this resort let me know in the comments! :) 

xo- Em

Friday, August 18, 2017

Punta Cana Pool Side

If you follow me on instagram (@onesouthernbelleblog) you might have noticed a little change in scenery the last week or so :) Chad and I went to the Dominican Republic with our friends and family.  We have been planning this trip for a while and it was better than we ever could have imagined!  When we first decided to go we were living in Charlotte, and since we have moved it made our time with them even more special! 

We have been going non-stop this summer (and really ever since I met Chad to be honest!) and while the resort had lots to do, we spent the majority of our time by the pool just catching up with our friends!  The bartenders and waitresses were amazing (they love to call you their "family") and so kind to us. I know that they have a really hard job and we are so thankful for them and their amazing attitude that really added to our experience! 

We might have waited in a long line to get them, but these pina coladas in a pineapple were Ah-mazing!!! We actually re-filled them a few times :) 

This photo is actually from right outside our room! It was so cool to have little gardens everywhere! 

On Wednesday, we lined up on the beach for a fresh coconut with vodka (I think) As fun as the thought is to drink from a freshly cut open coconut, it's terrible!! Coconut water (especially warm coconut water!!) it NOT for me! We quickly disposed of our coconut/vodka and had them refilled with pina coladas!

They had these really fun swings at one of the pool bars! 

Hey Chad! Good job re-applying the sunscreen!

This little hut is actually where they keep the rafts at night, but it also made for a cute shady area to enjoy my pineapple drink!

My worst childhood pool fear came true this week! My freshly colored hair, turned green!! Chad found me sitting on the floor of our bathroom soaking it in tomato juice! (which worked like a charm if you ever have the issue!) We all had a good laugh and luckily it came out just fine!!

Thanks for stopping by! Tomorrow I'll be reviewing the food and nightlife!

xo- Em