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jellyfish punta cana wedding photographer {natalie + mike}

June 18, 2017

Natalie and Mike share an obsession with all things Harry Potter, a blooming career in Pharmacy and the clear fact that they’re crazy about each other.
Natalie, on how they met and fell in love: “Pharmacy class 2010, we met through mutual friends. We tried to take it sort of slow at first but became pretty much inseparable that entire summer. He would make dinner for me late at night when I got home from work. It was pretty much at that point that I knew he was a keeper. Mike quickly found the way to my hear: good food!”
Mike adds: “We were celebrating the end of a rotation block and had a small get-together in our back yard. We hit it off, and by the end of the night, were ignoring everyone else. I haven’t looked back since.”
As a kid, Natalie dreamt of becoming a Victoria’s Secret model, she confesses: “it didn’t quite work out that way, haha!” … while Mike wanted to grow up to be just like his hero, his Dad.
Natalie & Mike both lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for 6 years during school until they moved to Dallas, Texas together in 2013.
Their Jellyfish Punta Cana wedding was an absolute DREAM. My favourite parts … Mike’s reaction to seeing Natalie during the First Look, the priceless faces of the flower girls during the ceremony, and spending quality time with N & M during our sunset Rock the Dress session at Juanillo Beach. Magic!!!
Warmest THANKS to the incredibly talented Gianna, Clara & Janelkis who decorated and helped plan the Day at Jellyfish Restaurant, Krystie Ann & Olga Montilla for glamming up the ladies, Pastor Rick York for officiating the ceremony, and Sharon & Carol of Barefoot Bridal for being such wonderful TA’s.
Natalie & Mike … BEAUTIFUL humans, inside and out. We are so grateful you chose us and trusted us with the Big Day! Hope you feel our love through the images. xoxo Katya, Rob & the family. 
Colour palette inspiration:
Coral, mint, and gold. Natalie: “I knew I wanted small accents of these colors but I didn’t want a color overload. I wanted to keep things organic and natural with lots of greenery and creams. The more greenery the better. Everything turned out perfect!”
Mike’s top three favourite things about Natalie: “One of the first things that drew me to Natalie was her quiet confidence. She doesn’t need to be the centre of attention, but, to me, has always had a strong presence in a room. I also love how sweet Natalie is, which most of our friends and family will tell you is a stark contrast to my own personality.”
Natalie’s top three favourite things about Mike: “His ability to react quickly under pressure.  For example, I drop a glass of water and freeze, while he’s already there cleaning it up. It is the perfect complement to me, because I am the exact opposite. Also, his protective instincts: he never lets anyone in his family be treated unfairly … Lastly, he shows a huge amount of passion for every venture that he undertakes.” Natalie: “The First Look was amazing. I was totally surprised at how emotional I got. I also think I surprised Mike, haha. I am not a crier at all normally, but the moment was so personal! It allowed us to spend some time together with just us the day of the Wedding. I would highly recommend it.”  
Mike:  “I would definitely agree that the First Look was the most memorable moment of the day for me.  I knew seeing Natalie would be emotional for me that day, so having that moment between the two of us was special. It was even more powerful than I had anticipated.” 

Ideal day together according to Natalie: “Lazy day watching movies, take out Chinese food, and wine.”

Ideal day together according to Mike: “Sleeping in, getting brunch, and spending some time outdoors. Then end the day with some couch time with the pup.”
Favours:  Curry’s Leather.  Natalie on the Proposal: “I was working all day and when I came home, Mike said we were going out to dinner. Once we were ready to go, he said ‘I want to show you something.’ He took me outside to our backyard and showed me the garden that he built for me with all my favourite veggies and herbs in it. I had no idea he was even doing it! He also had lights strung up above the garden. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Our dog Oliver was right there in the middle of it the entire time and it couldn’t have been more perfect!”
Most romantic memory together according to Natalie: “Spending time in Jamaica together last summer. This was our first real vacation, and it was so fun to get away and just spend time alone together.”
Mike adds, “Jamaica is hard to top. It’s such a beautiful island, and the entire weekend with Natalie was incredible.”

Natalie’s favourite things to find in the fridge: “Olives, cheese, champagne.”
Mike’s favourite things to find in the fridge: “Cookie dough, hot sauce.”

Natalie: “I absolutely love Mike’s shaved head, which he did not have when we first met. But now its just an added bonus!”
Mike: “Natalie is definitely the reason I made it out of school alive.  She keeps me grounded and reigns me in when I need it most.”
Bridal gown (make):  Sottero and Midgley.
Groom’s attire: The Black Tux.

Natalie: “I have absolutely NO REGRETS. I feel like everything went off without a hitch and I could not be happier! The only thing I may have done a little differently was to slow down and take in all the details. I felt so rushed and that I needed to go around and talk to everyone, that I did not get to walk around and see everything. For example, I did not even get to look at the welcome table or even see the cake until we cut it!  But I will at least have the pictures and video to recap it all for me!”
 
Mike: “I don’t have any regrets. I worried that I might miss some of the party, but to no one’s surprise, I don’t think I left the dance floor.”  

Cake:  Ana Bello of Cake Studio Bavaro.

Natalie’s favourite guilty pleasures: “Pasta, wine, cooking shows, and anything salt and vinegar flavour.”
Mike’s favourite guilty pleasures: “Doughy, undercooked food.”

Rock the Dress, Juanillo Beach near Sanctuary Cap Cana, their amazing honeymoon resort. 
Why Destination Wedding?
“Our family and friends are spread out all over the country.  We rarely get to spend much time with them. No matter where we’d have the wedding, a lot of people would have to travel and stay in a hotel anyway and we would probably only get to spend two minutes with them at the wedding. So we decided a destination wedding would be best for us. This way, we got to spend an entire week with them. Our families & friends also really got to know each other as well over the week, which was really nice. The memories we created on this trip were really amazing. Looking back, this was the best decision we could have made!  We did a lot of research online and wanted to pick a destination that was affordable and fairly easy to travel to for our guests.
A Punta Cana destination wedding in beautiful Dominican Republic made perfect sense. At first I was struggling because everything seemed so cookie cutter and not personalized at all (at resorts). I stumbled across Jellyfish Restaurant on Pinterest and I instantly knew this was our venue.  All of the wedding pictures from Jelly seemed so personal, like you could really see the bride and groom’s personalities through the decor and the details.  And it was the best decision!!”

BRIDE & GROOM POST-WEDDING REFLECTIONS:
RESORT? VENDORS?
 
“Our group stayed at Now Larimar.  It was great because it is so close to Jellyfish. It was a good size for our group as well (around 60 guests). It was just large enough where we were not on top of each other, but not so large that we never saw anyone. The hotel staff treated our group really well all week. They really went the extra mile to take care of us! The rooms were very nice and I was impressed with the service all week. The resort food was ok, not really awesome but also not bad.  Overall, I think this was a great resort for a group. 
 
Krystie Ann did the hair and makeup for myself and my five bridesmaids.  We all looked like supermodels!  She was so great. It was a very long day and a lot of girls but she did a really good job keeping us on track. I was nervous not having a hair & makeup trial beforehand, but Krystie saw one picture and knew exactly what I wanted!!  I can’t say enough good things about her!  We were in such good hands! 
 
As I already said, the Jellyfish was so amazing!!  They literally nailed my vision with minimal communication before hand. We exchanged a few emails with some inspiration pictures and requests and had one phone call before we got there. It was so nerve wracking with so little communication but they were awesome. Everyone there was fantastic and helped to make the entire evening go smoothly.  My guests still cannot stop talking about it! 
 
We used Live Storytellers for our videographers. While I haven’t seen any finished products yet, they were great to work with. They stayed the entire day and did not leave until the party was over.  I can’t wait to see what they captured!
 
Lastly, Katya & Rob were so amazing!! They made us feel so comfortable, as we were totally nervous. Being in front of a camera can be so awkward but they made it so relaxed. I love the photos, I am so thrilled! It is amazing how much life they have captured in the images.
 
My guests were OBSESSED with the boomerang booth as well. It was so much fun!!
 
Also, Katya was so helpful in the planning process.  I know she has  seen so many weddings so I bounced so many questions off of her. Her blog post ‘Destination Wedding 101…” was literally my guide to planning. It was beyond helpful and I trusted all her recommendations!!  Looking back after the big day, she knew exactly what she was talking about!”
BUDGETING ADVICE?
Natalie: “I’m not gonna lie, the budget is definitely the hardest part. I am not that good at budgeting to be honest. But here is what I would say, put the most money into the things that people will remember and the things that are most important to you. For me, that was food! I am a huge foodie and I knew mediocre resort wedding buffet food was not for me. The food at the Jellyfish was totally worth it.  We had lobster with champagne sauce and beef filet. This was one of the pricier options but it was literally amazing! My guests raved that it was the best food they had all week. I am so happy that I chose to spend the extra money for this!” 
COMMUNICATION?
“We used our wedding website on The Knot to keep our guests up to date with information.  I also including a welcome letter in the welcome bags that included important events for them to attend throughout the wedding week.  We used a travel agent, Barefoot Bridal, to help arrange all of the travel plans for our guests.  I cannot recommend this enough!  It made my life so much simpler.  They handled all the negotiating and maintaining of the room blocks at the hotel. They also fielded all the questions about booking and created a custom website for us that answered many questions.  Looking back I may have added a line to my RSVP cards for the guests’ emails. It may have made communication a lot easier if I just sent out a mass email about things.  But all-in-all, it wasn’t too hard.”
BRIDAL BUYS?
“I ordered all my stationary from a store on Etsy, called Dea & Bean. Everything was handmade and really unique. Since it was a nontraditional wedding, I wanted something that was out of the box.  It probably ended up being a little more expensive than regular invitations but since it was a smaller wedding, I was able to spend a little more on them.  I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.  Some of our family are still talking about how cute they were and they made sure to show all their friends!  I also ordered most of the other details for the wedding on Etsy, including the luggage tags, wedding programs, mad lib cards, etc.  There are so many unique things on there.  I like that its all handmade with love from a small business. I feel much better about supporting a small family business than big companies!  I got my dress at Bridal Boutique in Lewisville, TX.  My advice would be do not get anything too heavy or two long of a train, it is just too difficult to walk through the sand all night.  The most important part is that it is something you are comfortable in!”
ADVICE FOR FUTURE BRIDES & GROOMS?
Natalie: “Really slow down and enjoy the day.  It literally was the fastest-flying day of my entire life. I cannot even believe how fast it went!  Make sure you do not stress, let someone else handle it the day of. You just enjoy it!”
Mike: “Try to relax and take in each part of the day. If you’re as antsy as I was for the day to go exactly how I imagined, just try to embrace the nerves and not let them take you away from being present.  Enjoy the time with your groomsmen before the wedding and when you see your bride it will all wash away instantly. Rob & Katya do an unbelievable job of guiding you through the day, so there’s almost no thinking needed, remember that.”

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