Magic, pure MAGIC!!! I’ve been dreaming of photographing a wedding at Cabrera’s most spectacular villa, Flor de Cabrera. It is nestled between the town of Cabarete and Samana Peninsula, a truly remarkable gem on Dominican Republic’s North Coast.
Our genius associate Tamara was the primary photographer for this stunning wedding and I had the honour of assisting her. Huge thank you to our fave cinematography team Diego & Manuel of Cores Films, the lovely Wilvia Medina behind the scenes, and the amazing Flor de Cabrera staff.
Eleni & Mike’s love story started with poker night. “From the second we were introduced, there was just something about Mike that gave me butterflies. I don’t remember our conversation or even the poker game, but oh…I remember those butterflies. I never had that happen to me before, especially with somebody I didn’t even know. He had a girlfriend at the time so I didn’t look into it too much and when we next saw each other a couple of years later, he was single, but I had a boyfriend. The stars finally aligned some time later and we were both finally single, at a friend’s pool party. I was in the middle of a game of beer pong when out of nowhere I felt hands around my waist lift me up, over a shoulder, up some stairs and then out to the pool. In I went with all my clothes on … I was in sheer shock that he actually did it! Coming out of the water I knew what this meant: WAR. The next couple of hours were spent in full combat mode, laughing and forcing each other into the pool.
After that night, we were inseparable as friends! We went out to bars and hung out at festivals with our group of friends, laughed like crazy at our inside jokes and even helped each other with dating advice. I felt so lucky to have made such a great friend that I didn’t realize what was happening between us until he asked me (and only me) to go on a motorcycle ride with him to Harper’s Ferry. It should have felt normal, to hang out with a friend alone, outside the group, but instead I was nervous and excited.
After an amazing day with him, it finally hit me that I might actually have feelings for him, but I wasn’t sure how he felt about me until one night, a few weeks later, when he kissed me. Mike & I finally admitted to how we felt and officially started dating. We met each other’s families, shared new experiences, traveled, and eventually moved in together. Then, almost four years after he threw me into that pool, Mike took me back to Harper’s Ferry and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him! Michael is my best friend and the love of my life.
When Mike proposed to me and I said yes, we went home to tell our parents. After we told them, he pulled out a laptop and said “babe, here’s where we should get married!” and proposed the venue of Flor De Cabrera! It was amazing because he literally took the hardest part of wedding planning for a bride and saved me so much time and anxiety!”
Wonderful MUA in Cabrera, Dominican Republic Ryann Marie Doyle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Top three things Eleni loves about Michael: “his humor, his perseverance to always get what he wants, the love and loyalty he has for family and friends.”
Top three things Michael loves about Eleni: “Her caring personality, sense of humour, and her baking!”
Ideal day together according to Eleni: “Breakfast smoothies, attend a local event or festival, sushi dinner at our favourite place, take a walk in old town for frozen yogurt, go to the gym, cuddle on the couch and watch movies.”
Ideal day together according to Mike: “Make her breakfast, do an outdoor activity, ride my motorcycle, explore a new place followed by cuddling on the couch to a movie we haven’t seen.”
Most romantic memory together according to Eleni: “In Santorini last summer we found a beautiful winery at the top center of the island overlooking everything. We drank some of the best wine I have ever had in my life, watched an indescribable sunset and held hands the entire time.”
Mike on the Proposal:
“I originally planned on proposing to Eleni in Greece the summer of 2015 while visiting her family; however, I realized that I did not want to carry such a valuable item overseas while simultaneously trying to hide it from Eleni for weeks. So I decided to take her for a hike to the place where we had our first date: Harper’s Ferry. I was so nervous, trying to find the perfect private spot to do it on the hiking trail. I finally found the perfect spot, but every time I tried to start my “speech,” somebody would appear. It started to become a little obvious that something was going on! Finally, halfway down the trail I spun Eleni around, got down on one knee and spit it out. It was perfect.”
Most romantic memory together according to Michael: “When we went to Milos this past summer, we rented a dune buggy and drove all around the island, eventually discovering this amazing private beach that we had all to ourselves. We took pictures, played backgammon and swam in the most beautiful water.”
Eleni’s favourite guilty pleasures: “Frozen yogurt, wearing pajamas all day, old movies.”
Mike’s favourite guilty pleasures: “bumming it on the couch and playing video games.”
Eleni loves: “writing, volleyball, yoga, baking.”
Mike loves: “snowboarding, cooking, making people laugh.”
Eleni: “I never wanted to get married. I just didn’t believe in that kind of life commitment for myself. Mike changed all that. He loves me in a way that makes me love myself. I never get tired of telling him how important he is to me. I want to do that for the rest of my life. I never had that before.”
Mike: “I’m just a generally happier person with her in my life. Sounds cliche, but she really does brighten my day and is the last person I want to say goodnight to as I lay my head down to rest.”
Eleni’s fave gift from Mike: “I want to say the “penguin” purse because of the story behind it! For our second Christmas together, Mike wanted to get me something special and his roommate’s fiance had a website for customized purses. So, he designed one for me. The outside was a saddle style bag with plastic lining and black and white shimmery blocks. The inside…was a fabric featuring penguins. The thought behind the gift was so sweet and special that even though I have never worn it in public (and won’t ever) it will always be my favourite gift from him.”
Mike’s fave gift from Eleni: “I can’t really choose one but it has to be all the little gifts she has given me… small things that most wouldn’t think to be that significant. She is very observant, knows what I need, and always takes care of me!”
Mike’s nickname for Eleni: “Pitbull: because I’m very loyal and protective of those I love. I’m also pretty stubborn.”
Eleni’s nickname for Mike: “Peacock: the first time Eleni got mad at me I turned into a “peacock,” chasing her around my yard and “pecking” at her. She laughed uncontrollably. Ever since then, it never fails to get her to laugh.”
How stunning is Flor de Cabrera, Dominican Republic?!
Eleni: “I absolutely lived off of Pinterest for my wedding. My wedding board was a perfect reflection of the vision we created. I was also a maid of honor for three other weddings within 6 months of my own wedding and it was great to have visuals of different ideas. We were able to figure out the most important things we needed while keeping our tiny wedding simple and elegant.”
Eleni: “Our inspiration was simply to make it “unforgettable.” We wanted our wedding to not just be an event that we wouldn’t forget, but rather a party that our guests would never want to leave! Simplicity and elegance was my goal from the start. I felt that rose gold and lavender were the perfect colors to portray just that. We kept the decor simple so we could let the amazing beauty of the Dominican do the rest for us. We weren’t too concerned with making the wedding a celebration of us as a couple so we left out a lot of traditional personal touches, such as pictures and trinkets. We really wanted a celebration of the people who helped us get to where we were individually and together. “
First dance song: “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Goulding.
Eleni: “Mike’s parents surprised us with fireworks during our cake cutting and it was the highlight of the evening. Tamara and Diego (our videographer) were so quick to capture this short moment for us and we are so grateful to be able to keep that memory alive. They are amazingly talented!”
BRIDE & GROOM POST WEDDING REFLECTIONS:
1) What did you love most about your Wedding?
“The venue, Flor De Cabrera! What an incredible place. The natural beauty of the location, the courtesy and friendliness of the staff! I mean, when you have the ocean as a background and humpback whales doing flips on your first day there, it’s hard to find anything wrong! Being able to share such an incredible place with our family and friends put it all over-the-top for us.”
2) Do you have any regrets, what would you have done differently if you could?
“From a bride’s point of view, I would probably have chosen a lighter dress for the location. I absolutely LOVED my gown, but it was definitely heavy and hard to walk a lot in. I’m so glad I had a light and flowy dress to change into after the ceremony. Aside from that, I can’t think of a single thing we would do differently!”
3) Most memorable moments from the Day / Wedding week.
“Our First Look: We are so glad that Katya and Tamara convinced us to do this! The setup was perfect and the experience gave us the opportunity to have the most incredible moment to ourselves before our wedding. It will truly be the moment we never forget and was so emotional for both of us. With the wind and humidity attacking my hair, it also allowed Mike to see me at my best before the ceremony. He looked incredible and seeing the look on his face when he turned around made me so happy. It was pretty cool to see his groomsmen in the background giving him the thumbs up before he turned around as well.
My Dad: When my dad walked into the room to see me for the first time before our First Look, I almost lost it. He had the biggest smile on his face and tears in his eyes. I felt like he was so proud of me and I immediately knew that this was the best day of my life for so many more reasons than one.
One more: back in February, my amazing husband-to-be surprised me by flying my sweet cousin Roula to the States all the way from Greece so she could come to our wedding. It was hands down the most amazing gift anybody has ever gotten me and made me all the more certain I was marrying the best person I have ever known. Having Roula there was one of my favourite things about my wedding.”
4) Any comments about vendors, venue etc
“We can’t say enough good things about our venue or our fabulous vendors! Flor de Cabrera is spectacular and we are already planning a return trip with friends and family. Arturo, Giovanni, Gambriella, Franklin, Francis and all the rest of the staff were amazing! Katya and Tamara from Katya Nova Photography and Diego and Manuel from Cores Films captured every single unforgettable moment for us. They were so in sync with each other and directed us in a way that made us comfortable and still excited. We had so much fun with them and would gladly hire them again without hesitation! My wedding dress was the Pippin gown from WTOO and was altered by the amazing Angie Cavallaro. Mike and his groomsmen got custom made tuxes from Lawrence Clothiers in Springfield, VA. My makeup was done by the amazing Ryann Marie Doyle and my hair is thanks to my sweet cousin Roula Frontidou. My jewelry and headpiece (a belt that we converted) were from BHLDN. My reception dress was from Express. My veil was from BlancaVeilson Etsy. Our rings are from Christian Cain in Shepherdstown, West VA.”
5) Any advice for future brides/grooms!
“Simple is best! When Mike and I talked about our wedding, we already knew we would rather put money in to a 5 day extravaganza than a one day celebration. With a destination wedding, we were able to do just that and even save money on what we would have spent on a single day in DC! We focused our wedding mostly on our guests instead of ourselves. Every detail was done in a way that would have our guests thinking “this was the best week ever!” With the amazing venue, we stayed simple on decorations, flowers and takeaways, like our laser cut wooden place settings. Everything spoke for itself! We love our Flor de Cabrera Dominican Republic destination wedding!”
Dearest Eleni & Mike, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for treating us like family on your Wedding and sharing these amazing memories with us!!! You are so beautiful together. CONGRATULATIONS!! xoxoxoxoxo Katya & Tamara.