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Sophia & Chris' Destination Wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
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Sophia & Chris' Destination Wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Venue: Beach at Excellence El Carmen | Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Specialist: Melinda Shelly
Number of Guests: 57

The Love Story
Sophia and Chris's love story began at Florida State University, thanks to some mutual friends. Their love bloomed, and after a year of being long-distance, they finally moved in together in Jupiter, Florida. Their next adventure took them to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they now call home. In October 2022, Chris popped the question to Sophia with a romantic proposal atop Half Dome in Yosemite National Park!

The Planning Experience
Sophia and Chris originally planned to elope in Patagonia and celebrate later with their closest family and friends. However, after attending Sophia's cousin's wedding, they realized how special and rare it was to have family together to celebrate their love. With a traditional wedding out of the picture, they began researching what the best option would be for them. Since their families were spread across the world, their loved ones would have to travel no matter what. They decided the best way to tie the knot was to have a destination wedding and to turn it into a vacation for everyone. After considering multiple options with their Certified Destination Wedding Specialist, Melinda Shelly, they chose their dream venue at Excellence El Carmen. They loved the incredible wedding package, the resort's modern yet fun and elevated atmosphere, and the convenience of the large airport in the Dominican Republic. The cherry on top was that it was a new location they had never been to, and they love visiting new places!

The Celebration
To make this day uniquely theirs, they added a few fun wedding elements. Each table was named after a location significant to their relationship, they had an otter cake topper to represent always seeing otters when they surf, and a piñata filled with party props and candies. They really kicked off their celebration with Hora Loca entertainers that dressed in vibrant costumes and some even walked in with slits and balloons. Their whole guest list enjoyed every bit of it! One of their favorite activities throughout their celebration was renting out a boat before their big day with all of their guests. They snorkeled, partied, ate delicious BBQ skewers, went down the water slides, and more. It was the perfect way to kick off their time in paradise with all of their loved ones.

The Memories
One of their most cherished memories is when Sophia saw her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and brothers all walking into the resort at the same time. "I immediately started to cry because I hadn't seen them all together in years, and it was incredibly special to have them travel for my wedding," recalls Sophia. Even her 92-year-old grandma came, which made it all the more special! They plan to return to Excellence El Carmen for their one-year anniversary and are considering traveling to nearby islands to explore.

Advice For Future Couples
Their biggest piece of advice to couples planning their destination wedding is to firstly, expect delays in responses during the planning process. To stay ahead, be proactive by initiating inquiries and obtaining quotes promptly. Secondly, request photos of all aspects you're considering. For instance, we opted for a lighted dance floor assuming it would complement our string lights, but upon seeing it, it wasn't what we expected. Having photos can prevent such
surprises. Lastly, simply relish the day!

Other Vendors: 
Photographer: Seasons Photo Studio
Dress Designer: Vera Wang
Shoes: Nine West 
Jewelry: Christie Nicolaides
Hairpiece: Anthropologie
Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie
Menswear: Indochino


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