Sharon has become a ‘destination wedding sister’ to so many Brides across North America who have never met her in person, but feel close and deeply grateful to her. Over the last few months, she devoted literally hundreds of hours to unifying the voice of Punta Cana Brides and helping many Couples plan their destination weddings in Dominican. It’s pretty incredible, really!
Rob & I were particularly excited for Sharon & Michael’s wedding because this would be the first Sunrise Wedding since our very own in April 2012!! Everything about it was absolutely amazing…
Now, here comes their Love Story!
One day, a certain Southern gentleman came across a friend of a friend’s facebook profile. Immediately, he was in awe: this Yankee City girl was beautiful and smart, having just finished law school! He kept looking for a way to meet her and stars finally aligned just before Christmas in 2009, at a bar on the infamous Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY. And so it began.
Sharon: ‘First, he tricked me into giving him my number by asking to see my phone (he called his own number with it). Second, he danced with me and swept me off my feet. Finally, he grabbed me by the hand that night, dragged me up to the bar and asked some ‘inappropriate’ questions about a previous relationship I’d been in.’ The chemistry was there, and so were the butterflies…
After much persistence on Michael’s part, they finally went out together – for frozen yoghurt at Pinkberry.
Michael: ‘I was having such a great time with her, I didn’t want it to end, so I lied and said I was actually starved and hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Sharon asked if I was in the mood for sushi and took me to her favourite sushi restaurant – Okinawa on Bell Blvd. That’s how our tradition of having frozen yogurt first and sushi second started!’
Michael was perfect – but Sharon was still skeptical and hesitant, having just had her heart broken. She told him that they were just friends and that she wanted to hang out with other people. ‘But why?’ Michael asked innocently, ‘I’m going to marry you one day.’ She blushed and asked, ‘How do you know?’ ‘When you know, you know,’ he said.
Mayte Mari & Nati transformed Huracan Cafe into a stunning, magical wedding venue, running solely on COFFEE, ADRENALINE, AND LOVE.
A magnificent sunrise greets Sharon as she gets ready to walk down the aisle!
Sharon shares the Proposal Story:
‘Saturday, November 10, 2012, Michael and I flew down to Charlotte for a job interview on that Monday and to get sworn in on Tuesday to the South Carolina bar.
The week before, Michael was telling me to get my hair & nails done etc. (supposedly because I had this job interview coming up). He even bought me new suits! I didn’t think much of it; I knew he wanted me to feel confident at my interview. Then a few days before, Michael asked if I wanted to go on a special date he would plan. This wasn’t uncommon for him and of course I was more than happy to agree!
That Sunday morning I get super primped up for this date and we hit the road. I keep trying to guess where we’re going … and after about 2 hours, we pull into the parking lot of the Biltmore Estate. As we’re waiting in line to pick up tickets, I say, ‘If these are your dates, you’re going to run out of really good ideas for proposals’ and then I add, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d ask you where the ring was, but I can see you have no room for it’ (Michael was wearing a button down and jeans).
Little did I know, he had The Ring in the pocket of this vest that he was going to wear ‘because it’s his brand new vest and he wants to wear it,’ which was still in the car.
We’re then told to start our walk at the gardens of the Estate. At one point, Michael mentions how sad he is that we never bring our camera anywhere anymore and how we don’t have pictures of any of our activities…
Some time later, a guy with a clipboard comes up to us while we’re at the greenhouse and we ask him to take our picture. He says, ‘funny you should ask’ because there’s some sort of a ‘pilot program’ that the Biltmore is doing – basically, a professional photographer follows us around for about an hour and it’s free and if we want to buy photos, they charge us, and the good thing is that she’s very familiar with the property and could show us all the landmarks because the property is very large.
We start posing in different places and Michael is being dorky and cute (doing things like making a heart shape with both our hands) and I say, ‘If this is how you’re going to act during photoshoots, I guess I now know you’re going to be dorky and awkward during our engagement shoot too.’ I’m still oblivious!
Finally, as we get to the top of this hill area that overlooks the mansion, he turns to the photographer and says, ‘Is this the best view on the property?‘ and she says it is, so he then says, ‘I guess this is a good place to propose then’ and gets down on one knee. I’m like, ‘OMG, THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING’ and ‘YOU’RE KIDDING’ and ‘SHUT UP’ and ‘STOP IT’ over and over again. He’s holding both my hands and saying all these sweet things, like how we’ve been together for three years, it’s been three years too long that he’s waited to propose, that I’m his best friend and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and can’t wait to call me his wife and then he pulls out a ring from his vest and asks me to marry him! I’m SHOCKED … ‘Yes! Of course!’ and grab him and kiss him and hug him and he slips the most beautiful ring on my finger!
And so he starts to explain everything – how he had planned to propose before in Central Park, but all the parks in NYC were closed because of Hurricane Sandy and so he had to cancel that photographer, that he found another photographer in NC for our shoot at the Biltmore, how he asked my parents for permission while I was at work the Friday before we flew to Charlotte, how he had been saving up for the ring for a while, etc.’
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!!!!!
Baby Elizabeth stole my heart…
The Speedo Guy.
Beautiful ceremony by Rabbi Ancel Salamon (email@example.com)
As a kid, Sharon always wanted to be a lawyer. (Check!)
As a kid, Michael used to think that when you ‘grew up,’ you just got to pick who you wanted to be. Naturally, he chose ‘Captain Planet.’ (Check!)
Top three things Sharon loves about Michael: ‘I love how sweet/caring/thoughtful he is, Michael is always willing to help someone else out, even strangers – and you don’t see much of that in NY! I love how funny he is; he always makes me laugh. Also, his blue eyes make me melt!’
Top three things Michael loves about Sharon: ‘1. I love the fact that she admits that I’m smarter than her. 2. Her laugh. 3. The fact that we can be silly around each other at all times.’
One of the most beautiful set-ups Huracan Cafe has seen! (Mayte & Nati don’t even have to wear make-up, they are permanently covered in glitter, hehe!)
This sign was lovingly made by Sharon herself!
Ideal day together:
‘There’s nothing we love more than just spending time together. Some days, the perfect day is binge-watching movies or TV on the couch, or reading while snuggled next to each other. Other days, it’s going for a hike, kayaking on the river, or going for a long walk on a beach. The perfect day wouldn’t be complete without our dearest baby girl, Bowie, snuggled up next to us or running as fast as she can with her ears flopping in the wind. (We are most upset about the fact that Bowie wasn’t able to travel with us to attend the wedding). The bottom line is, our perfect day is spending as much quality time with each other as possible.’
Behind the scenes, Nati finds a few minutes of peace – together with Mayte, they had stayed up for nearly 48 hours… if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is!!
Dolled up girls, with the fabulous Krystie Ann & Indira Sanchez.
Stole. My. Heart.
Most romantic memory together:
‘We love to take trips together and experience new things. One of our favourite trips was in 2010 when we went to a resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was there that we decided we were going to have a destination wedding. It was incredibly romantic.’
Sunrise ‘Rock the Dress’ on the beach of Breathless Punta Cana resort, where Sharon & Michael stayed for their mini-honeymoon (they LOVED the place, by the way!)
Favorite guilty pleasure: ‘Eating dinner while watching reality television (the Bachelor and Survivor are some of our faves!)’
‘One of the nicknames we have for each other is ‘Bean.’ We call each other ‘bean’ or ‘bean-bear.’ Sometimes he calls me ‘jellybean.’
Michael: ‘I love that Sharon never says no to me and will always do anything to help me out, whether it’s in the middle of the day or night (scheduling appointments, running to the store, and many other things).’
Sharon: ‘I love that when Michael does the food shopping for the week, he’ll buy me all my favourite things, even if they’re not on the list (like goat cheese & olives – even though he hates both). I also love that he does the laundry, but I think that’s because he doesn’t trust me to do it, haha!’
Michael, on Sharon’s hidden talents: ‘her hidden talent is that she is actually more domesticated that she lets on; her cooking is amazing! She can also throw a mean spinning elbow. I’m pretty sure I only had to show her that move once before she got it down.’
Sharon, on Michael’s hidden talents: ‘he’s really into MMA. Most of his friends probably know this already, but he has a purple belt in jiujitsu. I’ve seen him train and he’s definitely better than he thinks he is. I love watching him in action, it’s really manly and very attractive!’
BRIDE & GROOM POST-WEDDING REFLECTIONS:
What did you love most about your wedding?
‘The sunrise ceremony and the groom’s reaction. There is something incredibly romantic about a sunrise. It’s different from a sunset. I consider a sunset to be romantic in a sexy, sultry way; but a sunrise is romantic in a beginning-of-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way. It’s hopeful and awe-inspiring. Is there a better way to start your wedding day than marrying the love of your life as soon as the sun rises? I can’t think of one! If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it at sunrise – again and again! Part of the reason we chose to do it then was because my husband didn’t want to see me before the wedding or do a First Look, which was so worthwhile because his reaction to seeing me walk down the aisle was the most beautiful, amazing thing I will never forget. I feel so lucky that my groom’s reaction was so emotional.
Oh, and the speedo guy. We all can’t stop laughing about speedo guy!’
Any regrets? What would you have done differently if you could?
‘Wedding planning was fun, but especially in the last month or two and the few days we were at the resort, it was incredibly stressful. There were so many things that I didn’t think about at the last minute and my budget flew out the window. While I had the best bridal party a girl could ask for, I wish I had someone who had done a destination wedding before to help me with the process. It would have been nice to have someone at the beginning help me outline my budget (and tell me that I was forgetting things to budget for), remind me along the way things that I didn’t know I should be doing until later, and help me when I was spending hours online looking for the best prices for things to go in my welcome bags.
I would have “let go” on the day of. I spent a lot of time worrying about guests, vendors, the schedule, etc. I would leave more time than I thought necessary for things – it would have been better to sit down and relax to wait because we were running early than to feel stressed because we were going to run out of time before the guests arrived for cocktail hour to take photos. I also highly recommend paying everyone and everything related to your wedding asap. Pay for your entire wedding at your tasting and then bring a credit card that any extra charges from that night can go on. I will say though, that I felt really lucky that my day didn’t “go by so fast” because I had literally an entire day for my wedding since we started at sunrise (we got to share some special alone time after the ceremony before I went back to get ready for the reception and since the ceremony was done, it was just getting ready for the fun party), but the ceremony itself flew by; I wish I had stopped and taken a breath and looked around at everyone and made sure I was more in the moment.
One last thing – we wanted to have our guests be on their own, enjoying their vacation and so we didn’t schedule any group activities. Then, everyone kept asking us what our plans were, but we had none! They wanted to know what we were doing for dinner or if we wanted to join them on any excursions. I wish we had done daily meetups at one location at the same time every day and scheduled at least 1 excursion that we invited our guests to join us on.’
Most memorable moments?!
‘1. The Soul Train line that started the dancing at the reception and nearly everyone jumping off the pier into the ocean to top the night off, especially since Michael said that if at the end of the night everyone ended up jumping into the ocean, then it would have been a success – guess he was right!
2. Speedo guy. We look back and laugh at that all the time now!
3. For me, Michael’s reaction to seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle. For him, it’s seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle.’
Comments about vendors, resort etc
‘Paradisus Palma Real is an incredibly beautiful resort and my guests loved it. My mom and sister have already mentioned how they want to go back (my mom said she wants me to plan a yearly trip starting next December). However, I was incredibly disappointed with their service. All their restaurants are reservation only, but when you go to the front to ask for a reservation, they tell you that they’re booked and it’s nearly impossible to get in. My friends who had upgraded to Royal Service were able to get reservations, though. Now, if the restaurants were actually packed, I would understand. However, consistently my guests and I noticed that the restaurants were nearly EMPTY! I don’t believe people are making reservations and then just cancelling them – they must be trying their best to push people to the already-cooked-and-paid-for buffet food (which was mostly inedible and I am not a super picky eater). Half our guests got sick (do not eat the calzone from room service – or any cheese for that matter), too. The employees all expect tips BEFORE the service. We only had the opportunity to eat at Market Grill and Bana (other than the buffet) and those had good food. Unfortunately, even though we were there for 5 nights, we only got to eat dinner at a restaurant and not the buffet for 2 and we had to tip $20 to even be seated! Basically, if you’re a bride/groom and you’re booked at this resort, you should upgrade to Royal Service so that your butler can get you reservations for your guests and yourself.
Now on to the good stuff: I seriously think I had the absolute best team. I researched for a very long time. Katya Nova & Rob are just amazing. You can feel their warmth and positive energy. Katya has this deep passion and love for life and it shows in her work. It shows in her personality, too. It’s incredibly important to have a vendor whose work product you enjoy, but more so to have someone there who is like a friend, part of the wedding, and who vibes well with you. Pascal of Caribbean Emotions was amazing, too. He showed up earlier than I expected, stayed later and got me my wedding movie before I even left the D.R. I never felt uncomfortable or awkward with a camera in my face when it was Katya/Rob or Pascal behind it and I’m not a super comfortable person with cameras and people looking at me – I feel so awkward!
Krystie Ann did my hair and makeup (and hair for my bridal party and the moms) and I am not even exaggerating when I say that I have never liked my hair when it’s professionally done or put up, but she is the BEST hair and makeup artist I’ve EVER seen. Both my hair and makeup were exactly what I was going for. It lasted all night for everyone! Indira did a great job for makeup for my girls, too. They raved about both Krystie Ann and Indira for their look. I can’t find a better artist in NYC, home of hair and makeup, than Krystie Ann, if I tried. And last, but certainly far from least, the food at Huracan Cafe was delicious and the service amazing, but their planners and decorators, Mayte Mari and Nati, are like the fairy godmothers of weddings. I couldn’t imagine my wedding designed by anyone else. My maid of honor said, “It’s like your pinterest came to life!” and that couldn’t be truer. The decor was exactly what I wanted, only better than I could have ever dreamed (including my cake table and the amazing cakes by Cake Studio Bavaro). I wouldn’t change a single vendor if I could do it again. Whatever hiccups I ran into were more than made up for by how amazing, amazing, amazing all my vendors were. I am literally in tears thinking about how much I loved working with them all and how I wish I could do it all over again because it was so awesome the first time! This is the team you want for your wedding dreams to come true!’
Advice for future Brides!?
‘Be in the moment, let go and enjoy. You don’t get a re-do, so push aside anything that isn’t going perfectly according to plan and focus on the amazing things that are going on, especially the fact that at the end of the day, you get to go home with your soul mate, best friend, lover, husband. The rest is just details.’
*** FYI: SHARON FOUNDED THE BEST ‘FORUM’ FOR PUNTA CANA BRIDES ON FACEBOOK. The liveliest, most up-to-date conversations about destination weddings in Punta Cana are happening there, so go ahead and join!
Dearest Sharon & Michael, your love for each other & passion for life is the hard-to-find kind… Your Wedding was so special to Rob & I, we can’t wait for you to come back and visit! xoxo