Here’s a gorgeous destination wedding at Jellyfish Punta Cana, and what a fabulous, love-filled affair it was!!
Francois: ’We met for the first time in 2010, at the W Hotel GhostBar in Dallas, through a common friend. Melli & I kept bumping into each other at social events around town and I gradually came to know she was ‘the one’ … Over the course of time we commented on and liked each other’s stuff on Facebook, then exchanged private Facebook messages, then random SMS texts, then finally, shy phone call conversations, and heartfelt email letters talking about all and nothing. Basically, I fell in love via her writings.’
Melissa adds, ‘Oh, and back at that swanky GhostBar, Francois couldn’t resist taking a photo of me, haha!’
Back at NH Punta Cana hotel, the boys get ‘wild.’
Gorgeous Melissa getting glammed up by the famous Anna Nuet.
Stunning decorations by Gianna & Clara of Jellyfish Restaurant, who pulled off a ‘Great Gatsby’-inspired theme perfectly!
Top three things Melissa loves about Francois: ‘1) Francois always knows how to make me smile even when I’m at my angriest; 2) he always tells me the truth whether or not I like to hear it; 3) he’s very open-minded and shares/does everything with me.’
Gatsby Glamour – gold, black, ivory, white, silver, champagne, blush…
Melissa, on the Proposal:
‘After three wonderful years of never-ending experiences, François, the master planner, had put together the most romantic surprise proposal that was sure enough to sweep me off my feet. To celebrate my twenty-eighth, we decided to treat ourselves to a romantic Europe getaway.
A friend had suggested we sought out professional photography on one of our destinations, Paris. It would be the perfect opportunity for a fun photoshoot as there are incredible backdrop views of the city filled with classic ornate architectural buildings and the ultimate defining structure of the city: The Eiffel Tower. I knew I could not leave Paris behind without having these portraits taken, as such memories would be captured for us to cherish through life. I brought up this spontaneous thought to François, he was against the idea at first as he was not too keen on posing or paying for them. I finally worked my charming ways though, and he agreed.
We headed out from our houseboat that morning towards Le Pont de Bir-Hakeim. There we met Stacy, our photographer. We were ready, smiling and striking some winsome poses despite the weather. Busy working it for the camera, I had no idea what was in store for me on that rainy afternoon in Paris.
For one of the shots Stacy had instructed me to turn my entire body towards the camera, away from François. At the same time, she’d given François instructions on stance, posture, etc, little did I know he did everything but. After the camera flash went off, I turned around, gasped, and realized my dreams were all coming true in that very moment. I was stunned to have found my Prince Charming down on his knees and before me was this beautiful blue box, which he held tightly in his hand.
Turned out, François and our photographer had secretly been conspiring for weeks to plan this perfect moment just for me. Like a fairy-tale, dreams really do come true… Paris, je t’aime!!’
Top three things Francois loves Melissa: ‘1) Melissa never stops smiling with all her ultra-white teeth lol; 2) her ‘never stress’ attitude about life is opposite to me caring about all details of life and the future; 3) she’s the best cook a husband can ask for. Melissa can make anything taste delicious out of nothing.’
Ideal day together according to Francois: ‘It would have to start by waking up next to Melissa in a foreign country, fully rested and with nothing to worry about. Then having a delicious breakfast on the sunny patio of our hotel room. We would end up cuddling and watching a movie while it’s pouring rain outside.’
Ideal day together according to Melissa: ‘Waking up to catch the morning sunrise as we sip coffee/tea at one of our dream destination travel spots (next on our list): Santorini, Almafi Coast, or Maldives, taking in the amazing views and what life has to offer. Then walk around looking for some local grocer goods, wind in my hair, breathing in fresh air, smelling flowers along the way. The night ends beautifully with a bottle of champagne to toast life and its amazing journeys… imagination can take you to the rest!’
Most romantic memory together according to Francois: ‘Every moment we spend together on a vacation trip is romantic: from a simple road trip picnic eating homemade or gas station egg sandwich in the car to eating in a Michelin Star restaurant in Paris. One time we also rented a small cabin called “Love Shack” through AirBnB (for one of our annual ski trips in Crested Bute, Colorado). We stayed on a Peniche/boat on the Seine River right in Front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (again thank you AirBnB). We also stayed in a cozy Bed and Breakfast in Napa Valley, California; at the St-Regis in Aspen where we even had our own personal Butler at our service!!’
Most romantic memory together according to Melissa: ‘Our romantic Eurotrip… we spent 5 days living on a boat floating over the Seine River in Paris. And of course our engagement!!’
As a kid, Francois always wanted to be a Medical Doctor like his father. Melissa wanted to be a Lawyer. Now Francois is an Engineer, Melissa – a Realtor, AND they own a restaurant together.
Francois’ nickname for Melissa: ‘Francois calls me Princess!! Friends call Melli Belli – cause I love to eat, big foodie here!’
Melissa’s nickname for Francois: ‘Same Same or as Melissa always called me: “My Mon Amour” or “My Handsome” lol’
Francois: ‘I love that we share the same views and core values about life, which for us are family, love, ambition, and career. Also, I love that Melissa is not a selfish person. That’s an amazing and rare quality.’
Melissa: ‘Francois always gives unconditional love – he loves me no matter what my faults are. I’m a big dreamer, he lets me dream – and rarely discourages me from dreaming big, but he usually offers practical advice and asks hard-hitting questions that bring me back to reality… party pooper, haha!’
Live Electronic Violonist played during the cocktail hour – he was AMAZING!!!!
Francois’ favourite guilty pleasures: ‘Eating a late night charcuterie plate and any desserts while trying to be healthy = FAIL. Also, sometimes we spend too much time taking pictures instead of enjoying the present moment. We need to be more CARPE DIEM!’
Melissa’s favourite guilty pleasures: ‘Sleeping in!!! Also, cheese of all kinds, prosciutto, charcuterie, late night popcorn drizzled with olive oil and himalayan pink salt & pepper, mani & pedi, online shopping, social media, The Real Housewives, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians.’
Melissa: ‘I take time to make smarter decisions now because of my smart man! All in all, we compliment each other really well, he is like the male version of me and I’m the female version of him. I couldn’t be happier to have found someone like him. He’s talented at what I’m not, and vice versa – we are a winning team, which makes me happy everyday.’
Ana Bello Cake, a piece of art!
BRIDE & GROOM POST WEDDING REFLECTIONS:
What did you love most about your Wedding?
‘We loved the ambiance of Jellyfish Restaurant: the minute we walked in, the minute our guests first arrived, EVERYONE had the same feeling: just WOW! We were also absolutely taken by the Electronic Violinist, he was astonishingly amazing, made every piece of music sound more than beautiful and filled the atmosphere with lots of warmth. The cocktail hour was a big hit with everyone – the live music, the cigar rollers, open air photo booth, the fancy cocktails, the hors d’oeuvres: made everyone mingle smoothly and take in all the fancy wedding decor – our guests had no idea what to expect, especially after a full week at the resort seeing “on resort” weddings day after day.
Our amazing custom zigzag black & white starlit dance floor by EPC events, with help of Irina. We couldn’t have done this without her! She really brought our vision to life, and knew how much this dance floor meant to us. We really wanted our wedding to be different, so everything was thought out carefully, every little detail… the dance floor stole my heart, it really made our outdoor decor pop!! We were the first to have this and couldn’t be more thrilled!
The Fire show got the guests in the mood but the party really got going when the Carnival show started.
We loved everything about our Wedding Week. We are still getting compliments from most of our guests, who say it was the best wedding they had ever attended.’
Any regrets? What would you have done differently if you could?
Melissa: ‘I would have preferred for my hair and makeup not to be done last – we were behind schedule by 1 – 1.5 hrs and things were rushed, not going to lie. If I was finished sooner, I would’ve had more time to gather my thoughts, be more organized, and not be as stressed. My mind was all over the place that day!’
Francois: ‘Since Melissa’s hair & make up took a while, we had to do all the pictures of bridal party, Bride & Groom, family and guests only after the ceremony around 5:45 pm until sunset, which didn’t leave us much time as planned. Also, I forgot to tell my parents to either walk the aisle with me or alone during the ceremony.’
Lastly, if we could go back, we would have invested in having a professional photographer taking pictures for us on the Sanael Catamaran white/black party.’
Most memorable moments from the Day / Wedding week?
‘Our parents hosted an afternoon Wedding Welcome Catamaran Party for all family members, friends and guests. We also had our Asian Tea Ceremony there (quite modern and not the traditional tea ceremony it was). We requested that everyone who attends this event wore all white – and of course the bride and groom stuck out fashionably in shades of white pink and red: the colours of LOVE! The catamaran sail was such an elegant and extraordinary gathering – it really took our breath away. I have to give a VERY big thank you to Jennifer Callado at Sanael Carribean Boat and her crew – they really went out of our way for us, helping us organize the event, making sure all went smoothly, checking on all our guests to ensure they were happy, smiling, and always dancing. The DJ on board the boat was on point, took our playlist and expanded it. I’ve never seen so many uncles and aunts move shake and drop in one place!!!
Cold fire sparklers that went off during our first dance… were an unexpected and breathtaking 45 seconds of our lives, lol!!!
Lastly, the amazing bridesmaids and groomsmen toasts!!! We didn’t request any speeches/toasts from the wedding party till 2-3 days before wedding, this way we got the unexpected, witty, funny, on the spot thoughts that come from the most memorable moments with each person straight from the heart!’
Comments about vendors, resort etc
‘The team at Jellyfish: Janet, Clara, Giana were really helpful and made all our requests happen except for few minor details that no one even noticed. We had a wedding of 85 people, and they accommodated everyone. The wedding reception happened to have ZERO wind, which is rare. We would suggest JellyFish to get extra air FAN for guest sitting inside the restaurant.
Now Larimar Resort was the best choice for our large group and guests with kids. It’s very kid friendly, affordable prices even for last minute guests booking and all the staff were helpful, always there if we needed anything. We would recommend anyone to have a Travel Agent. We had Sharon Kopp and she was an amazing TA.
Rob & Katya Nova could not have been more wonderful. Definitely the coolest and good looking photograph couple! Smiling from the moment we saw them and always snapping away. They taught the bridal party how to pose to make us look good. They added a dose of energy and had a great attitude the whole time. We couldn’t be happier with them.
Diego with CoresFilms was awesome, the drone was a pretty cool feature and we cant wait to see the video.
Anna Nuet and Andrea (aka Blake Lively doppelganger lol) – Make up and hair done Gatsby extreme! Really loved both girls! They recreated 1920’s glam for us and really took their time with each one of us.
Cake Studio Bavaro by Ana Castillo – our divine wedding cake comes to life! We exchanged over 100’s emails on this wedding cake, absolute PERFECTION.’
Advice for future Brides/Grooms?
‘It was hard for us… but our recommendation for any future bride and groom is to take time during the whole week and wedding day to take mental pictures of the moments. Carpe Diem as much as possible! Try to focus and prioritize on the top 5-8 most important details.Spend/invest on things that guests will actually notice and NOT on everything!’