paradisus palma real punta cana wedding {melanie + ronald}

July 9, 2016

Melanie & Ron are that power Couple whom everyone admires. Their amazing Paradisus Palma Real wedding in beautiful Punta Cana, Dominican Republic was a testament to how loving, loyal, generous, caring and fun they are. Just wow, wow, WOW in every way!!!

The pre-wedding Welcome BBQ was a blast, highlights being: the unique comic book inspired decor, delicious grill, and the karaoke machine Melanie & Ron made sure was the centrepiece of the party. Everyone sang their hearts out!

First, here’s the story of how they met and fell in love:

Melanie remembers, “I was standing at the bar at a restaurant when I saw this beautiful man across the room. I see good-looking men all the time, but there was something different about this guy. He caught my eye immediately and had this aura of home (seriously – I am not kidding…maybe the liquor did it, but that is what I remember feeling). I remember it clearly – he had on a blue button up shirt, bald head, and the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t help but smile back. Later in the night, I see the beautiful guy walking right in front of me to go upstairs. I immediately blurt out “I know you!” The stranger doesn’t miss a beat and comes closer to me saying “hmm…I think I know you too. I saw you from across the room.”  Without thinking, I bluntly say “Yeah, I saw you too, and I thought you were fine as hell.” He then said “Word!” and pushed his way to stand right next to me at the bar. We begin talking to figure out how we knew each other – we were both in MLT – and discover a plethora of other things and friends we had in common. After 5 minutes of talking/flirting, I said “hey this is really awkward because my dad is standing right next to me, probably leaning in and listening. So why don’t we exchange contact info (or maybe we had already, I forget).” By this time, I am thinking he is going to be my DC guy BFF until he leaves for NYC, so I wish him well and even say “you are at a club, there are tons of girls. Why don’t you go check them out, see what you like, and then you and I can catch up later – no big deal.”

He left and came back after 5 minutes. His reason for returning? “I checked out all the other girls in the club and this is where I want to be.” I did a victory dance in my head, but smiled coolly on the outside. He immediately bought me a shot of jack n honey. Then of course I had to repay the favor, so we had another shot of jack n honey, and just ended up talking at the bar the whole night until it was time for me to go. When I left the bar, he sent me a text: “Hi Melanie this is Ron Dukes. You are so beautiful. My nerdy self had to come over and say Hi. Good Night.”

Ron: “I probably texted her all day the next day!!! I believe the text communication that we had over the next few days helped start us on the path of falling in love. We were really comfortable and talked to each other about a lot of things. When we went on our first date 2 days later, we quickly realized how much we had in common and how natural it felt to be together. The first weekend we spent together a few weeks later is when we first realized we were in love and was the first time we said we loved each other.” 

Melanie & Ron, we adore you!! Thank you for your kind genuine hearts, loving openness and trust in us! xoxo Katya, Rob & baby Zion.
palma real wedding bbq

What an amazing idea … Guesterly is an event guide to who’s who! The pages of these handy cute little books are filled with photos of all the guests and some fun facts about them. wedding guest bookspalma real bbq foodpalma real wedding karaokeparadisus palma real wedding

Stunning gown by Marisa Designer. destination wedding dress

Ron: “I love Melanie’s ability to just be herself and not have any excuses or regrets. I love how smart she is and how she strives to be the best at everything she does (work, school, sports / gym, relationship, love, friendships, etc) And obviously, I love how much she exudes beauty and sexiness inside and outside.”

palma real bridesmaids

Melanie: I love Ron’s heart. His commitment and desire to bring joy, happiness and love to everyone around him no matter what it takes. I have never seen anything like it. He authentically assumes the pain and happiness of others – even complete strangers. I also love his sense of adventure, curiosity and passion for life – people, places, things, ideas – and the ease with which he is willing to explore and try things that are outside of the box and unconventional. He is a comic book loving engineer who is always down for a party with friends and is often the last to leave! What I love most is that he is always up for any hair-brain idea I come up with too.”

palma real groomparadisus punta cana bridespalma real bride getting readypalma real groomsmen

First Look. paradisus palma real first look

Melanie: “I love that Ron keeps things simple and does not need a lot of extra flair and fanfare. He focuses instead on the heart of things. What really matters. Saves us a lot of drama and keeps me smiling a lot!”

paradisus palma real wedding palma real wedding photos

Ron: “I appreciate how Melanie is always so worried and concerned about me and is always looking out for me and puts me first.”

paradisus punta cana brideparadisus punta cana wedding

Ideal day together according to Melanie: “Any day that we wake up with no plans and do exactly what we want – being adventurous and spontaneous. If I had to “plan” that day – it would be something like this….we sleep in;  I cook breakfast at home;  we have some “adult time;” then go take salsa lessons or workout; walk around NYC and happen upon a play, museum, live music, a festival, etc; go out to dinner; go home to watch a movie; a little more “adult time” and go to bed.”

paradisus beach weddingpunta cana wedding photographersparadisus punta cana weddingdominican republic weddings

Ideal day together according to Ron:  “We wake up, cook breakfast, eat, do something together like bike / movie / play / museum, cook dinner at home and drink wine and eat together and get drunk and full. Watch something on the DVR or Netflix together and have sexy time, or sexy time first then Netflix!”

punta cana groom flowerspunta cana bridespunta cana beach wedding

Ron on the Proposal:

“We traveled to Barcelona and Madrid for a week in the summer for some overdue rest and adventure. On our last day in Barcelona, we had plans to go to La Pedrera for the Rooftop light show at night. Before heading to the light show, we went out to dinner. Now, Melanie had been anxious and impatient about me proposing for a few weeks. I knew I was going to propose sometime during out trip to Spain.

We both kept our ‘poker face’ on, as Melanie realized something big might be happening soon, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. After dinner, we explored La Pedrera, the Mila Family House that was design by Gaudi. At the end of the show I asked Melanie to sit with me for a while in front of a figure and dug the camera case out of the bag. 

Melanie kept covering her face is disbelief yelling “No! Seriously! No!” (but of course she really meant ‘yes’). Then I said, “You asked me at the beginning of our vacation what is one thing I wanted to accomplish on our trip, and one thing I wanted to do was to let you know how much I love you and truly show you that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

beach groom tearsparadisus palma real weddings

Mel & Ron did a Rose Ceremony for Parents as well as an African wedding tradition called “A Taste of 4 Elements (lemon, cayenne pepper, honey, and vinegar to symbolize – bitter, sour, sweet, hot).

unique destination weddings punta cana

Melanie: “I really appreciate that whenever either of us brings up a challenge, idea or concern – no matter how big or small – that we always work together to find a solution that works for both parties without it feeling like a compromise or someone has to go without. It makes me feel like we value each other as individuals AND as a team.” 

punta cana weddingparadisus punta cana weddingsbarefoot weddings punta cana paradisus beach wedding

THE best candy EVER … from the luxury candy boutique Sugarfina.

paradisus palma real weddingparadisus wedding partyparadisus palma real wedding reception

Next day sunrise: Rock the Dress at Paradisus Palma Real. paradisus palma real sunrise

Most romantic memory together according to Melanie: “There are so many…….one of the funniest was one night shortly after Ron had moved from DC to NY and I was in town visiting him. We randomly stumbled upon a wine bar and started drinking Port. Between the 2 of us, we probably had maybe 4 glasses – not that much – but were very happy, giddy and drunk in love. Directly afterwards, Ron decides we should go to Target (WTH!) so he can get some toiletries. We drive there to go shopping. I remember a moment where I am wandering (more like stumbling) through the aisles without him, lost. Not sure why I am there or where he is. Then we finally see each other. I look at him, smile, holding my head and say “I am drunk and shopping and target! What the hell?” It was in that moment, that I realized how much I loved him. No matter where we were…even drunk in Target….being with him made me feel happy and free….free to do things that made no sense at all, but made us happy!”

paradisus palma real trash the dress

Most romantic memory together according to Ron: The most romantic memory we had together was when I proposed.”

punta cana trash the dress

Melanie’s favourite gift from Ron: “Other than my engagement ring, a Rose Gold watch he gave me for Christmas. It was my first piece of rose gold jewelry. I am obsessed with Rose Gold and he has bought every piece of rose gold jewelry I own.”

Ron’s favourite gift from Melanie: “When she surprised me with tickets to my favorite football team the Buffalo Bills for my Birthday. It was the best game I had seen them play in years!”

punta cana brideskatya nova punta cana

Melanie’s favourite guilty pleasures: “Equinox (the gym); sleeping; French fries; ice cream; mac n cheese; massages; Chick-fil A; ratchet music; burgers.”

Ron’s favourite guilty pleasures: “Cupcakes; peach cobbler; pizza; anything superhero related; rum; anything his granny makes; hip-hop (old skool); buffalo bills; Traveling…anywhere (Paris is his favorite).”

katya nova photographer rock the dress punta cana

Melanie: “I love his booty, his smile, his eyes. All kind of a toss up. The first thing I noticed when I saw him though was his smile!”

punta cana wedding photographers

Ron: “I love it when Melanie gives me a big hug and kiss and tells me that everything will be ok and smiles at me. Her smile and kiss can always get me out of a bad mood.”

punta cana wedding photographers

Melanie: “If Ron had magical powers, it would be to get anyone to put down their defenses. He is so genuine, kind and interested in everyone.”

Ron: “If Melanie had magical powers, it would be the power to make anyone laugh or feel good about themselves simply by touching them.”

punta cana intimate portraits

Melanie: Ron truly completes me. He is everything I aspire to be, but do not feel like I can become without losing the key pieces that make me who I am. Because of him, I get to become better at my strengths and lean on him to be the lead in my opportunity areas. Because of Ron, I am more social and adventurous; I have more exposure to the arts, superheros and traveling; I say YES more; I am more patient, kind and passionate; I love harder; and I strive every day to become a better person; a person who is worthy of his love.

punta cana boudoirparadisus palma real real wedding

Ron: “My life is different because of Melanie for many reasons. She loves me for me and never judges and just lets me live my life. She’s so comfortable in her skin and that has influenced me to be more comfortable in mine. She has taught me how to love, really love unconditionally regardless of what happens. I never thought about building a long term life with someone until I got with Melanie. Building a life together financially, romantically, and emotionally. She motivates me by challenging me to be my best and think more introspectively about my life and what I want from it. She motivates me to reach for my goals and do what I want regardless of the challenges and roadblocks in life. She has motivated me to slow down and smell the roses too. I’ve always been on the go but Melanie has shown me that it is nice to slow down and enjoy the moment and enjoy the simple things we take for granted in life.”

unique palma real weddings


1) Most memorable moments from the Day / Wedding week?

  • Ron: “The First Look – it was amazing! I was so filled with emotion from seeing how beautiful Melanie looked. I felt it all – how much I loved her and how happy I was to be marrying her.”
  • Melanie: “So many!
    • Karaoke time at our Welcome BBQ: it was so special to see our friends and family come out of their shells and join together as family to have a good time;
    • First Look: Ron cried (which was my sole motivation for all the planning. I wanted to see him happy and overcome with real, raw emotion. We had 30-45 minutes to ourselves to be free and capture stolen moments before the blur of a celebration. It was amazing.
    • Wedding Ceremony: When Ron started to read his vows and then put them down and just spoke from the heart. I melted.
    • Wedding Reception: Our First Dance. We made it up and practiced it for one whole night and then just went out and had a ball. The reaction of our friends and family and the dance party that followed after were moments I will not forget.
    • Rock the Dress: Katya, thank you for making us get up at 6 AM! Ron & I will never experience a moment like that again in our lives. We were still on a high from the previous night’s festivities and got to enjoy each other in the beauty of the ocean and our resort in private, in a very public place. For that hour, it felt like he and I were the only ones in the world. Our love was raw and we were just free! … we love the pictures more than anything!”

2) Do you have any regrets? What would you have done differently if you could?

  • “No regrets. We were able to do everything we wanted! If we could change anything, it would be to have hired a videographer for karaoke night as well and spent even more time with our friends and family (possible only if we had slept less!). We didn’t hire a videographer because we were trying to keep costs down and did not imagine the night would be as memorable as it turned out to be.”

3) What inspired your destination wedding?

  • Destination wedding – we are not traditional, and did not want our wedding to be either. We really wanted our wedding to feel authentic to who we were and how we like to celebrate. We wanted our families to share our love for fun, adventure, travel and the beach! The price of a destination wedding was also significantly less than what we would have paid in the US because we were able to decrease our guest list and invite our closet friends. Because of the size and location of our wedding, we were able to spoil our guests with a high quality experience.
  • Color Palette was inspired by our favorite colors. Melanie can often be found wearing coral and mint green, while you will often find Ron in navy. Given it was a beach wedding in the Spring, we went with it.”

4) Any comments about vendors, resort etc

  • “Amazing! Advice when looking for vendors – do HEAVY research on front end to make sure you feel comfortable with your vendors. That way – on your wedding day, you can just trust them to do what they do best – their job – instead of having to micromanage everything. Also remember that you own making sure all vendors are clear on your vision in advance. Anything you can provide that is helpful with this – checklists, agenda, timelines, etc only helps you worry less 😉
  • Katya & Rob – the service you and Rob provide is priceless. I remember falling in love with your photos and then having sticker shock once you emailed me the price (Which in hindsight is a steal!). Over time, I became comfy with your advice that photos are an investment and we spent a glorious weekend together. No lie – hiring you both was THE BEST decision we made during the entire wedding planning process. You fit right in as if you were part of our family (guests are still talking about you both, and Baby Z), you took charge while balancing kindness, you encouraged us to be both present and free in the moment, while also coaching 2 clearly clueless individuals through the process, and you see beauty in a way that is truly a gift. We got our pictures back and fell in love with them. We can’t believe the pictures are what we experienced in real life. Thank you. We are forever indebted to you for capturing the most beautiful moment in our life. We are now plotting ways to work with you again!!
  • Natalia (Paradisus Romance Team) – I am not sure how one person is able to do / coordinate so much. Natalia was everywhere and on top of everything. From the moment I met her in person and we did our final walk through, I knew I had nothing to worry about. She was THE BEST planner and customer service professional I have ever worked with. She asks enough questions to understand your vision and details so she does not have to bother you all the time with small follow-up questions. Awesome!”

5) Any advice for future brides/grooms! 

  • “For most wedding decor, if you plan ahead and see something you like – stalk it until it goes on sale (signing up for mailing lists is an easy way to do this). Also – do not overlook Groupon or GILT. They have great stuff for weddings at over 50% off (We used these websites to get discounts on Ron’s custom suit; all stationary & candy from Sugarfina) We got EVERY piece of wedding decor at a discount on the ticket price.
  • Esty! Etsy! Etsy! Use Etsy to make your custom vision come alive at a lower cost in terms of both price and/or time.
  • BEFORE any serious planning begins, be very clear about what YOU want to remember and takeaway from your wedding day. Ask yourself the same questions about your GUEST experience. Then start planning. Also ask yourself what you remember from other weddings you’ve attended. This vision helps to keep the big picture mind when the details become overwhelming, and you want to spend money on that cute little thing that does not matter. For example, dinner reception centerpieces became an area I thought I should invest time and money in…then I remembered that for the life of me, I cannot tell you what a single centerpiece looked like at any wedding I’ve gone to, but I have always remembered the feeling I have from being there…the experience.
  • Remember that you are planning a wedding to celebrate an amazing occasion. Take planning seriously, but also do what feels authentic regardless of what people advise against. Everyone says “don’t wear your hair down on the beach (windy)”…even my hairstylist on the day of the wedding. I said “thanks, but I am doing it anyway.” On the Day – I felt like me! And don’t stress so much about wedding traditions. It will be refreshing for guests to be surprised, and most of them probably won’t notice what you skipped. We skipped the bouquet and garter toss and opted for more time to dance!
  • A wedding should be a celebration of the bride and GROOM! Even if it seems impossible, try to find ways to incorporate the pleasures and likes of the groom into parts of the wedding (even if his ideas make you cringe). It will help get him excited and involved in at least one part of the planning process, and also signal that his desires are just as important as yours. You are after all planning a celebration for you and HIM.
  • Finally, great advice that was given to me….pick a date and a time where you are done worrying about the details. Designate the worry to your MOH or someone else, so you can spend your time enjoying a moment that will pass by in a blink. My day was 2 days before our wedding, Thursday at 2:00 pm. This was after we met our planner & dropped off the decor, met Katya, and our families had all arrived. xoxo”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Download your free Crafting the Perfect Wedding Timeline pdf, wedding planning tips, drool-worthy inspiration, special offers, recent love stories and behind-the-scenes glimpses into our Caribbean dream life!