our proposal story + cabarete life

January 15, 2011

Cabarete life is easy to get used to. Wake up to the sound of the crashing waves and sunshine. Surf, or get lost in your thoughts strolling along the beach. Bargain with local vendors, buying fresh mangoes, papaya, pineapple and avocado. Read books, soak up the sun, practice yoga, and get grounded… I did all that. Every day. I also worked on my laptops every night until my eyes were bloodshot. And devised an action plan. How can we live here and shoot destination weddings, intimate portraits and honeymoons? How, how, oh how?! I paced and researched, and e-mailed and asked around. Every day I told myself I have to try to push and pry all kinds of doors … for any of them to open. Patience is a virtue that doesn’t come easy to me, but what choice is there but to be patient? Only time will tell if determination, stubbornness, and wishful thinking will be enough to get us closer to our goals. For now, here it is, documented. What life may be like. Cabarete’s Kahuna bar. One of the fruit ladies is taking a nap. I catch the Dominican Jazz Festival there – wow, does Cabarete ever have culture! It was amazing.Rob and I get ready to go on a road trip to the other side of the Island, to Punta Cana. First, there is an amazing couple we are shooting, Robyn & Graeme. Second, we are considering making Punta Cana our winter home for 2011, so a little research is in order. We ask around and learn about a new toll highway that goes all the way to Santo Domingo, which we take. It sure is great… But driving in other areas of Dominican Republic … is damn stressful. The trip takes us 8 hours, and we don’t even listen to music – our eyes are glued to the road, tensely scoping out the crazy moto traffic and careless pedestrians. But it’s all worth it. We check out some beautiful sites, perfect for a wedding – Boca Chica, La Romana coast, and finally decide we want to settle in at a resort. We drive a little further, to Dreams Punta Cana, a wedding paradise we’ve heard of. Its’ name is a promise that sounds just perfect for the state that we are in now, even though we know it will be pricey… Pulling into the gate, we get the wind knocked out of us once more, as a millimeter before we turn, a Dominican van full of people passes us on the left!! Good thing Rob was driving like he was in the middle of a road test. We’ve SO had enough… But another surprise is waiting for us – the guard won’t even let us onto the property because we don’t have a reservation… which we can only make either online or through a travel agent… and the only thing we have is our plastic local cell phone! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?!

Taking turns having mini-panic attacks and making each other feel better with sarcastic comments, we turn back towards the nearest internet cafe, all the while convincing ourselves that ‘winging it‘ was indeed a good idea and we will soon think of it as a fun adventure. Pshhhhhh. If the annoying angry Dominican reggaeton music [sorry, but honestly] wasn’t so loud in this tiny internet cafe, the whole Punta Cana would hear the keyboard under my fingertips, as I try to reserve a room for us. Of course, Dreams is all booked and we are left with the only choice, Be Live Punta Cana. It’s all good, we have a home for the night! But wait… will the hotel have our reservation right away?! Nope. Here we go again. Hungry and desperate, we try to leave a passport and credit cards with the concierge, pleading with him to believe us and prepare a room. ‘We promise, that reservation will show up soon!’ After about an hour of putting up with our sour faces, we get some resort bracets. Amen.

Moral of the story – don’t wing it, friends. Not in Dominican Republic.Yay! We are now at Be Live Punta Cana Resort, having a breather from our eventful road trip. There are many Italians and Russians at this resort, people watching is so much fun we don’t even open our books on the beach. People see us with a tupperware container filled with fruit from the buffet and think we are Russian. I think this is very funny.Oh, and one more thing. We are engaged! Okay, okay, here is the story.


Rob once told me he would NEVER propose to me in a romantic tropical destination. Because it’s so cliche and he just wouldn’t have it. And that he wouldn’t get down on one knee either – no surprises there. So I thought maybe one day, he would ask me to be his wife while standing in line at a grocery store, or maybe in a parking lot. Or a lazy Sunday when we spend the day in our pajamas. I did know for sure it would be a surprise and that I would burst into happy tears like they do in movies.

We had been apart for three long weeks, I – in Cabarete, Dominican Republic and he – at home in Edmonton. Every skype date made me realize I cannot imagine my life without him. I knew he felt the same way, from that other side of the screen.

Rob’s first day in Cabarete with me. We go for a long walk on Encuentro beach. So beautiful, serene, and completely deserted. Not a soul in sight. Waves washing away our footprints. Butterflies in my stomach as I gaze at his face. While he talks, laughs. -Baby, I’m tired! We’ve walked for so long now, let’s put the blanket down and camp out for a while, how about here? -Sure. Yes, finally. This is what I’ve been waiting for! Just laying here in the tender sun and breathing in the ocean. I feel so content, feeling his heartbeat, his pulsing palm in mine. We look over at each other and smile. Then close our eyes again. Minutes pass.

-Stand up for a second. -Why? -Just stand up, I wanna show you something. – Um, okay… [standing up, annoyed] what?!

There he is, down on one knee in the sand. Looking up at me, he picks a hand and proceeds to push something on the right finger… -Wrong hand, baby!… My head is starting to spin, is this really happening… Okay, here we go, that’s the right hand. -Will you marry me? … … … -Are you serious? …. Are you serious? -YES, I’M SERIOUS! I’m now on my knees too, our arms tight around each other, tremor and warmth overtaking our bodies. – Of course I’ll marry you. [enter waterworks].

We laughed and [I] cried, as Rob told me about inviting himself over for dinner to my parents’ house to ask for my hand, about finding the perfect ring, about his devious proposal plan… I couldn’t stop staring at the brilliant promise on my hand. It stared back at me and said ‘Welcome to the rest of your life.’ It felt different. It felt real. It felt right.

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  1. elizabeth kowal

    January 16th, 2011 at 01:49

    what a beautiful love story, sigh… and also a new place i now want to visit! sounds like an adventure!

  2. Amber Hughes

    January 16th, 2011 at 13:36

    Awww… that was just beautiful to read Katya. Thank you for sharing… Congrats again! 🙂

  3. Alyssa Schroeder

    January 16th, 2011 at 15:48

    I loved reading this, Katya. So sweet, congratulations again!

  4. Susan

    January 17th, 2011 at 15:56

    Hi Katya

    Found your site from a bing search. I’m looking to have some boudoir type photos taken to surprise my BF…wondering if you can give me a ballpark on prices so I know what I’m working with, and also your general availability?


  5. Katya Nova

    January 19th, 2011 at 11:38

    Thank you Elizabeth! 🙂

  6. Katya Nova

    January 19th, 2011 at 11:38

    Amber, thank you! So cool to be on the other side 🙂

  7. Suzy Welch

    February 3rd, 2011 at 15:08

    Congratulations!!! What an exciting time to be engaged- great news!
    All along from the main page I thought you were located out of Canada- but now I see you are in the DR- que bueno! I understand your roadtrip jitters as I spent a few weeks driving all over the country with friends in a tiny car a few years ago- fun fun. The best was when we saw 3 people on a tiny moto and the middle one was hooked to live IV and another was holding the bag in the air- wish I’d have had a camera- amazing.

    I just sent you an inquiry about our wedding on November 11th- and hope you’re available- especially after seeing all these great pictures at the beach too- my fiance and I both surf and were hoping for a trash the dress if the waves cooperate 🙂
    xoxo Suzy

  8. Katya Nova

    February 6th, 2011 at 19:50

    Thank you Suzy! We would be honored to document your wedding!! We are both in Canada and DR… 🙂

  9. paradisus punta cana + palma real. photo review. | Katya Nova Photography

    June 7th, 2011 at 14:10

    […] more details in between, but I didn’t expect to get stuck on the first step for four months. Rob and I got engaged this past December in Punta Cana, DR and had the luxury of looking at the resorts we came across […]

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