Nicole & Derek met at a Mexican cantina – Nicole was enjoying margaritas with one of her girlfriends, and Derek was their sexy bartender.
‘I remember being introduced to him, and thinking nothing of it,’ remembers Nicole. ‘There’s no doubt that’s he’s extremely attractive, but for some reason (probably because of his good looks and confident attitude), I immediately pegged him for being a meathead, who was probably a player with the ladies, so I didn’t think twice about him after that. Later that night one of our mutual friends told me he had been asking about me and wanted to take me out to dinner. I said; “Well if he really wants to take me out, he can ask me himself.” The next morning my friend Dan sneakily invited him over to his house for breakfast with all of us. Derek came into the living room, sat down next to me and said, “I hear you think I’m a meathead and a player, but I’m actually far from that, and I’d love to take you out for dinner if that’s alright with you.” I just about died! Haha. So, I tucked my tail between my legs and agreed (it was only a dinner date, if I didn’t like him we’d never have to go out again), right?!’
Derek: ‘I fell in love with her with as soon as she walked in for our first official date, wearing that amazing little yellow dress.’
‘I fell for him right away,’ confesses Nicole, ‘while he was a bit intense, he was very charming and witty, and I liked the fact that he had a sense of humour / was a jokester (when I walked into the restaurant, he was waiting in the bar area, and he had the hostess ask if I was the girl from match.com here for my first date). This is one of those moments where now in our relationship, I would laugh and call him an idiot – I use it as a term of endearment. Needless to say we had a great time on our date, so great that it ended with a steamy make-out session in the parking lot before parting ways! I drove home on cloud 9 (which is rare for me – I’ve always been quite picky when it comes to dating).’
Here’s their incredible wedding celebration at Jellyfish Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Dearest Nicole & Derek – WE. ABSOLUTELY. ADORE. YOU. Rob & I feel so blessed to have been there with you – the kindness, charisma, love & care that radiate from you are remarkable. Hope you know how much you inspire those around you. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for sharing this magical Day with us! xoxo K+R.
Inspiration for having a destination wedding:
Nicole: ‘We really wanted to be able to spend more than 6 or 8 hours with our friends and family, AND Derek and I are paying for the wedding ourselves, so with a guest list over 250 people, it would have been really hard to pull off a good party with our budget. While we’re bummed that not everyone is able to join us on our Wedding Day, we are SO SO happy we decided to do a destination wedding. We got to spend the whole week celebrating with our loved ones, and we’ll still be able to throw a party this summer to celebrate with everyone back in the States, so it’s really a win-win!’
Derek: ‘Living in New England where it’s cold, snowy, wet and COLD 7 months out of the year inspired us!’
Nicole on choosing the location / venue / resort:
‘First of all, Punta Cana is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so even though we’ve never been, we knew it would not be a disappointment. The venue OMG, I just feel so incredibly lucky for having found out about the Jellyfish! I was doing some research online and although resort weddings are beautiful, I just really wanted to have a unique, private location to celebrate the most special day of our lives together. As soon as I stumbled upon this magical place, I KNEW it was THE place! (and I never just “know” because I am so indecisive about a lot of things – I like to do my homework to ensure I’m making the best choice). Jellyfish is like a freakin’ fairytale fantasy come true.
After doing a ton of online research, reading yelp and trip advisor reviews, we finally decided on Paradisus Palma Real for the wedding week. Many other resorts looked amazing, but this one just looked and sounded like it had everything (even golf if the guys wanted to drag themselves away from the beautiful beach)! Plus, it just so happened to be close to Jellyfish, which was a big plus!’
Derek: ‘As a kid, for the longest time I wanted to be a cowboy from the Wild West (after visiting Six Gun City). Then that turned into wanting to be super soldier for the US Government after watching WAYYY TOO many action movies! And I really wanted to be Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell after falling madly in love with Kelly Kapowski.’
Top three things Nicole loves about Derek: ‘1. I know I can always depend on him – he’s always there to support me emotionally, and he has an incredible work ethic. He would work 4 jobs if he had to. 2. His sense of humour and ability to make me laugh, and his can-do attitude – if there’s a will there’s a way. 3. His heart. He can be a little rough around the edges / have a tough exterior, but when it comes down to it, he would do just about anything for anyone if they needed him – especially people he is closest to. He is very loyal.’
Make-up & hair by the wonderful Anna Nuet & her fab associate Andrea.
Nicole: ‘For most of my childhood I wanted to be a model or an actress. I used to bust out to Madonna, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and do little performances in from of the mirror. Sometimes I’d make up stories and act all the scenes out myself (I was an only child, so sometimes there just wasn’t anyone else to play with me, haha!)
Top three things Derek loves about Nicole: ‘Her HUGE heart, her compassion for everyone and everything, and the way she sees the world. She’s everything I’m not and everything I wish I could be.’
Ideal day together according to Derek: ‘I know this may sound SO gross, but I love the days we don’t have anything to do and we can lay around in our comfy clothes, watching movies, binge watching shows and eating junk food ALL DAY!’
Ideal day together according to Nicole: ‘What Derek said! I love those days where we can just lounge and enjoy each other’s company. I also love any time we can experience something new together. I get super excited when we do something for the first time. I think of every experience as something that has potential to be one of our best memories afterwards!’
Nicole: ‘I love that Derek can always make me melt by making me laugh even when I don’t want to. Sometimes you just need to forget about what’s bothering you and have a good laugh. He can be so cute and silly sometimes. Even when I try to resist (specifically those times when I’m annoyed by something he says or does), he usually always finds a way to make me crack a smile. There have been times when I’ve left the room pretending I’m still annoyed, just to make a point, but I secretly chuckle when I get out of his line of sight (it’s like when a little kid swears and you know you’re not supposed to laugh and reinforce the behaviour, but you can’t help it so you turn around and chuckle) haha.’
Nicole: ‘I love that Derek is a great cook, and that he likes to snuggle (most of the time)… I love it when he… sings in the shower and when he dances around singing in his towel.’
Nicole: ‘Derek brings so much to my life on a daily basis, I can’t imagine my life without him! I think he makes me laugh for one reason or another just about every day, which is pretty awesome. He’s made me realize that sometimes it’s necessary to take risks in life, and dive into the unknown, and that it’s ok to be “selfish” once in a while – that you can’t always spread yourself so thin and try to please everyone, while putting your own needs on the back burner. He has also helped me to become more assertive.’
Nicole on the Proposal:
‘It was so sweet! Literally! It started with Derek showing me a website for this new cupcake store in town – he was talking about how these two local women who were best friends opened this shop together. We had lunch plans nearby for that Saturday… Derek doesn’t like cake, but he loves peanut butter & bananas, so as we were looking at the cupcake flavours, he saw a banana peanut butter cupcake and was like, “wow, that actually sounds good! Want to stop by after lunch on Saturday?” I agreed, of course…I should have known something was up because he checked in with me about 6 times within that next 48 hours to make sure I still wanted to go to lunch and stop at the cupcake place. I really had no idea though! We went to lunch and everything was normal – he wasn’t acting nervous at all (little did I know, he was freaking out the entire time, haha!) We made it into the cupcake store and I started looking around at the cute décor, just being in my own little world, meanwhile Derek was kneeling behind me with the ring! I was so transfixed by the flavour descriptions to see if they had the peanut butter cupcake he was supposedly looking forward to trying, that I didn’t even notice that the cupcakes scattered throughout the case spelled out “Will you marry me Nicole?”!!! I also didn’t think anything of Train’s “Marry Me” song playing in the background either! I turned around to be like, “Aw babe, I don’t think they have the cupcake you wanted” and there he was, speechless, expecting me to yell “YES!” It took a minute for my brain to process what was happening and then I yelled “SHUT UP!!” I was SO beyond surprised! Derek had brought our camera to the store earlier that morning so the whole thing was caught on tape, which was amazing. Such a great day!’
Derek: ‘Without question, Nicole is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She makes me want to be a better man every day. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I know for sure I would NOT be in a good place. Before her, my life didn’t have a lot of meaning. However, she ALWAYS saw the good in me when others didn’t, and I’ve wanted to do more and give her more because of that.’
Nicole: ‘I really appreciate Derek’s sense of humour – he has a way of making light of any situation. I also appreciate when he recognizes that I need a little extra TLC after a long day or week. He’ll give me a foot massage, or do something to help make my life easier, like cooking a yummy dinner!’
Derek: ‘For me, it really is about the little things. I love when she just curls up to me, or I’ll look over to her and she’s staring at me and will just say “I love you so much babe.” Things like that just really make me feel special.’
Nicole: ’Instead of asking “where are you” or “whatcha doing?” via text, we usually just type, “peep.” It’s just a silly thing that stuck. When we first started dating Derek would text me several times a day. One day I didn’t hear from him for like 6 hours, so I texted him saying something like, “ Hey babe, I haven’t heard a peep out of you all day” and he responded, “peep”… and nothing else… like, “here I am.” I thought it was so cute and funny. For some reason, it stuck with us.’
Nicole’s favourite guilty pleasures: ‘Over the past few years, I’ve suddenly begun to love anything and everything sweet; candy, chocolate, cake, pie, you name it…those are my guilty pleasures…along with shopping.’
Derek’s favourite guilty pleasures:‘Eating junk food. Like ice cream, cookies, and candy (especially Sour Patch Kids!)’
Derek: ‘I love that Nicole knows exactly when to give me space, and when to be cute and burry her little head into my neck… I’m extremely ticklish around my neck and it instantly gets me to laugh!’
Nicole’s favourite things to find in the fridge: ‘cheese, fruit, yummy leftovers, Sangria, and on occasion, a frozen Reece’s is exciting.’
Derek’s favourite things to find in the fridge: ‘ice cream (chocolate chip), frozen Kit Kats & Reece’s Cups, and Gatorade!’
BRIDE & GROOM POST-WEDDING REFLECTIONS:
What did you love most about your Wedding?
Nicole: ‘The feelings I had on that day! The venue was out of this world; like something you fantasize about, but don’t necessarily think you’ll ever experience for your wedding day in real life. Jellyfish is just magical, and the people are amazing – they put it right over the top. Other than that, I’d say having so many of our loved ones together in the same place!’
Derek: ‘I would have to say the journey / ride leading up to the actual celebration. From the moment of waking up that day and hanging with friends and family at the beach and pool, to getting ready before heading over to Jellyfish. Then arriving at Jellyfish and meeting you AMAZING people, to standing by the tree nervously awaiting Nicole’s arrival (First Look). From sun up to sun down it was just a collection of emotions that are hard to truly express, but that was the best part of the wedding for me.’
Any regrets? What would you have done differently if you could?
Nicole: ‘Not doing a boudoir shoot with Katya, and not having Katya & Rob for longer. Other than that, I honestly can’t think of one thing!’
Derek: ‘I can honestly say I have NO regrets. Everything turned out better than I could have expected. I guess my only regret would be that I don’t have the ability to freeze or stop time just so I could live in that moment for a little while longer!’
Most memorable moments from the Day / Wedding week?!
Nicole: ‘1. Getting off the shuttle at the resort with Derek and my two best friends and their significant others. We were instantly blown away by the view from the Paradisus lobby. That’s when we realized we had arrived in paradise! Let the vacation and wedding festivities begin! 2. Waking up on our wedding day, looking at Derek and being like, “wow” I am marrying this man today! Then every single moment of the rest of the day. When I was gathering my wedding things and meeting up with my bridesmaids, all day getting ready with the girls, Anna, Andrea, and Janet at Jellyfish. The wedding itself, having so many of our close friends and family there just for us, was incredible! The fact that everyone got along so beautifully, and many new friendships were made was awesome for us to observe. Watching everyone on the dance floor busting moves and having such a great time was a really special moment for Derek & I. It’s hard to put into words all the emotions I was feeling. So grateful, special and loved, and I just had so much love, joy and appreciation in my heart that whole day. I made sure to sit back and take it all in multiple times throughout the day/night. 3. The First Look. OMG, can you say butterflies!?! It was almost surreal, the feeling I had as I was slowly approaching Derek. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I wasn’t nervous to see him, I just had butterflies, like electricity buzzing in my body as I walked up behind him. I knew he was nervous by seeing his body language, but as soon as I put my arms around him, we both mellowed out, and the nerves just disappeared. We had both been preparing for this moment for so long, and then all of a sudden it was real, and we had been away from each other all day getting ready for this very moment! When he turned around, it was almost like something out of a movie, waiting for his reaction (and trying to hold my composure and not cry instantly). It was so amazing to have that time together before the ceremony to talk a little, calm our nerves, have some “us” time before the “I Do’s” and the whirlwind of family, friends, music, and all the other wonderful distractions that come with being the bride and groom. Everything about your day will be special, but this moment isn’t something you can ever reenact or replace. I will never forget it as long as I live. Clearly, I highly recommend you do this, haha!’
Derek: 1. ‘The First Look – That by far was one of the most intense moments of my life. I unfortunately lack the vocabulary prowess to accurately describe that moment, however it truly is something that takes your breath away. My absolute favoriteu and memorable moment. 2. Friday evening before the wedding – everyone was pretty much there already and all of our friends hung out and just had so much fun laughing and messing around. That is the evening my large friend earned a nickname “Diablo Rojo” from the staff which he has yet to shake since being back in the States! 3. Arriving at The Paradisus Palma Real – I remember handing over our luggage and just being totally blown away by the view from the main lobby. At that moment I knew that this trip was going to be everything we hoped it was going to be! 3a. Meeting Katya & Rob – You two are the most amazing people I’ve ever had the luxury of meeting. There truly is something magical about you two, I feel honoured to have met you, and even luckier that you were able to be part of our wedding. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you!’
Comments about vendors, resort etc
Nicole: ‘Where do I even begin?! I honestly feel like we hit the lottery! Every vendor was super friendly, down-to-earth, accommodating, professional and so talented! It’s amazing because you put so much time and effort into this day, and so much trust in people whom you’ve never met. So many things could potentially go wrong (especially when planning from afar), so then when everything went off without a hitch, it was almost hard to believe! I was over the moon with how well everything turned out! We are so lucky to have met all the wonderful people and to have had such a fabulous turnout.
Katya & Rob – I fell in love with their work after viewing their blog. I looked at the work of several photographers in the area, but I just kept coming back to them. In retrospect, I didn’t even need to look elsewhere after seeing their blog the first time, haha. Beyond the amazing photos they take and the emotion they capture in those photos, I got a real feel for who they are as people, and I wanted to be surrounded by those people on the most special day of our lives. As soon as I reached out to Katya, the deal was sealed! She is so genuine, sweet, and oh so helpful! Katya & Rob made our wedding day THAT much more incredible with their presence. Both of them are so positive, uplifting and calming (during a time that can be a little chaotic and nerve-wracking!). They made the whole picture-taking process as effortless as I’ve ever seen it, and waay more enjoyable (and unique) than anything we’ve ever experienced (and we’ve both been in a lot of weddings!) The First Look was so special, and having the music they brought was amazing as well; it made it so much easier for everyone to loosen up, dance and act natural as opposed to there being nothing but awkward silence. All of our guests commented on how wonderful they were as well. I am so lucky to have found them and will forever remember all that they contributed to what has been the most special day of our lives together thus far! 🙂
Anna Nuet & Andrea (hair and make-up) – WOW these ladies are amazzzing! Not only were they fun to hang out with and talk to all day, they are super talented! I’m very particular about my hair and without ever doing a trial, Anna just got it. I honestly have never felt so beautiful in my life as I did getting out of her chair! It was a great feeling! They made me and my bridesmaids, and both moms all look and feel gorgeous! I honestly can’t believe that out of 8 bridesmaids, not one of them were feeling “meh” about the way they looked. I’ve been in several weddings and at least one girl always ends up being unsatisfied for one reason or another, but not this time! These ladies really understood what people wanted to look like, and knew how to play up their features without anyone looking or feeling too made-up. Everyone looked stunning.
The Jellyfish Restaurant – besides the fact that the venue itself is spectacular, the food was absolutely delicious, and the people are so wonderful. Isaac (owner), Giana & Clara (decorators), Janet (restaurant manager/ bride’s best friend), Fabian (the friendliest, most fun bartender there is!), our DJ AMAZING Ariel, who kept us all dancing all night long, and the rest of the staff were all such a joy to spend our wedding day with!
Ana Bello Cake – we got so many compliments on our cake! Not only was it beautiful, people kept telling us how delicious it was and how it was not your typical, “dry, boring wedding cake.”
The Paradisus Palma Real – our experience was fantastic. The people were the best – so friendly, full of smiles – the food was great, especially for an all-inclusive, and the grounds were immaculate. The rooms were a tiny bit dated compared to the pictures I had seen online, but they were clean, spacious and really were very nice. The rest of the resort was an A+.’
Derek adds: ‘Katya & Rob – there aren’t enough words to describe how incredible these two are. There is a light around them that shines bright and brings out the best in everyone around them! The Paradisus Palma Real was absolutely amazing. The staff there are so accommodating and the resort itself is fantastic. The Jellyfish has to be one of the coolest places I’ve ever been too, and not just because I got married there. If anyone is thinking about doing a destination wedding and it’s in Punta Cana, you have to do it there. Whatever you do, DO NOT DO IT AT THE RESORT, unless you want, as Rob put it, “a fat European man in a speedo watching the entire thing, iPad in hand.“ Which is 100% true!’
Any advice for future Brides/Grooms?!
Nicole: 1. ‘Everyone says, make sure you take a moment to step back and take it all in, and for good reason! It really does go by so fast! Find your husband/wife and look out at your guests, even if just for a minute or two, so that you can reflect on everything leading up to this day, and the result of the hard work you put in. I just kept thinking to myself, “I don’t want this to be over and I don’t want to forget this feeling!” 2. I’ve read it on this blog, and I heard my friends say it time and time again – don’t sweat the small stuff!! I know nothing seems small when you want it to be perfect, and when you know every little detail. There were a few things that weren’t exactly the way I had envisioned, and it didn’t make even the slightest difference. On the day of your wedding, honestly, just let all the insignificant stuff go and cherish every moment. The last thing you want to do is look back and realize you were a ball of stress and all you can remember is stressing out about things. In the end you, and all of your guests are going to enjoy themselves regardless – even if a less-than-perfect scenario occurs, so just look at where you’re getting married! And look at all the people who came all this way to celebrate with you! 3. Don’t skimp on your photography – if you have to, skimp on something else, like a few flowers or the favours, or something else no one will notice, miss, or remember in the long run. Your pictures will keep your memories alive even when your own memory starts to fade; and when you put so much time, love and effort into the most special day of your lives, don’t you want the best quality of pictures to remember it by?! The quality of the photos that capture all those special moments come from not only the camera, but the people behind the camera! Not all photographers have the ability to capture people’s emotions the way Katya & Rob do. Just sayin’’ 😉
Derek: ‘The only advice I can add is what 1,000 others have said before me, just try and take it ALL in because it honestly goes by so fast that before you know it, it’s over. Remember to laugh, remember to smile and remember it’s your day even though you’ve spent countless hours making sure you’re guests are taken care of!’