Kelly & Neal knew they wanted an intimate weekend with their amazing friends & family, so a destination wedding was an easy decision. ‘We were working towards a big wedding in Chicago and started to get a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a 6 hour (super expensive) party where we would be the center of attention, surrounded by people who loved us but also some we may not know very well.’
Zoetry Agua Punta Cana was the perfect choice, a gorgeous boutique property with amazing food, drinks, and service.
Neal: ‘We met through mutual friends but didn’t truly ‘notice’ each other until I’d grown out my hair – beyond a buzz cut. I knew something was special when we’d text back and forth while dating and I’d agonize over every word of my responses.’
Kelly: ‘The first 8 months of our long-distance relationship were hard… emotionally exhausting… leading to a short breakup when I decided I needed to move on. But during that time, Neal recognized how much I meant to him, that we needed each other and couldn’t be without one another. We broke our relationship down and rebuilt it into exactly what we needed from each other – and 5 months later I moved from Minneapolis to NYC so that we could we begin our new life as a couple.’
Top three things Neal loves about Kelly: ‘her ability to laugh, love and have fun.’
Kelly on the proposal:
‘We got engaged on a private electric boat cruising the Chicago River. I knew something was up that morning but we had been together for so long that every moment felt like it could’ve been an engagement moment! After we got engaged we had lunch at a great spot downtown, then packed up our dog and headed to a Michigan beach community for the weekend where Neal had tons of amazing things planned.’
Top three things Kelly loves about Neal: ‘the best word to describe Neal is …kind. He is just an amazingly genuine person who always gives the benefit of the doubt, treats everyone fair and just, and loves me with the same kindness. Neal is also reserved in some moments and hysterical in others – give him a couple of beers and he is 100% the life of the party!’
A private, tender, emotional First Look.
Most romantic memory together:
Neal: ‘we went to Fire Island in NY in the fall and sat on the beach watching the waves come in. That was the first time we said ‘I love you’ to each other.’
Kelly: ‘wow, we had the same response! So fun, haven’t talked about that being our most romantic memory, but I love that it meant so much to us both.’
Ideal day together according to Neal: ‘wandering around a new city with no plans!’
Ideal day together according to Kelly: ‘we would sleep in with our little furbaby John Henry, grab brunch together at one of our favourite restaurants in Chicago, wander a neighborhood or park with our pooch, maybe hit a dog park, do some window shopping, and eventually leave the dog behind for a little date night including champagne and oysters somewhere! If we hold out for some fun between the sheets, even better!’
Neal’s favourite gift from Kelly: ‘my suit because I wear it at other weddings when we’re having the most fun.’
Kelly’s favourite gift from Neal: ‘he is a very sentimental gift giver – but the most thoughtful and unexpected gift came last year, more than 2 years after we left NYC and he managed to find THE leather and gold wrapped bracelet I had regretted not buying at a NY Flea Market years ago when we were broke and living in NYC.’
Neal’s favourite guilty pleasures: ‘having a boozy brunch.’
Kelly’s favourite guilty pleasures: ‘my passion for cool ranch doritos and prosecco (maybe together, definitely apart).’
Kelly: ‘With Neal by my side, I feel settled, complete, and loved! He’s my person!’
Neal: ‘I love that Kelly shares many of the same interests and is accepting of my individual interests. With her by my side, life is more fulfilled and inclusive of family and friends.’
Kelly: ‘I love that Neal works really hard but knows how to turn it off and focus on me when we need quality time. It’s something I should learn from. I also love how he surprises me with little sentimental things and flowers.’
When you are upset or irritated, what’s a way your fiancée can make you melt?
Neal: ‘when Kelly asks about what’s bothering me, then takes my mind off my problems by making me laugh.’
Kelly: ‘Neal has a great way of getting cheezy when he can tell I’m stressed or upset, it usually makes me look at the bigger picture and just chill out, and realize it’s out of my control.’
BRIDE & GROOM POST-WEDDING REFLECTIONS:
What did you love most about your Wedding?
‘The dance party and how much our friends got down! Also, the ceremony conducted by our amazing friend Paul who put so much thought and love into his words! I don’t know that there was a dry eye in the group. Lastly, saying I DO and putting a ring on it. I can’t help but smile every time I see Neal’s ring on his finger.’
Any regrets? What would you have done differently if you could?
‘- Our guitarist showed up late due to a scooter accident when he was on his way. So we regret the resort not having a backup plan for music, as anything can happen to disrupt the day. Thankfully the sound of the ocean was so amazing we barely missed the music!
– I also regret not being able to do hair earlier in the day at the spa. On the wedding day we had a very leisurely morning, then it became very rushed as we approached the ceremony. There’s nothing wrong with getting your pampering done early and enjoying the day with your girls, then having touch ups done right beforehand.
– I also should’ve hired a hair/makeup person from offsite, relying on the resort (even though my hair turned out fine) was an oversight I should’ve researched and found an amazing person whom I could’ve spoken to in advance (in English) and talked through what I wanted. Thank god for a backup Bobbi Brown makeup compact purchased before leaving Chicago “just in case!”
Most memorable moments?!
‘- We hosted a rehearsal day and rented a 60 person catamaran for all of our guests to get out onto the water and enjoy the Caribbean. That evening we had a Dominican BBQ on the beach complete with impromptu speeches by some of our guests, cigars, and a campfire on the beach with s’mores (well the DR’s version of smores — rainbow marshmallows, chocolate and saltine crackers instead of graham). Zoetry tried and worked so hard to complete our vision, even if at times things were lost in translation!
– Kelly was so relaxed the morning of the wedding that when she went to go into the pool she forgot she didn’t have swimsuit bottoms on (only swimsuit top) and bent over and flashed her butt at all of our friends! It was an amazing laugh for everyone including Kelly and kept everything in perspective. Sometimes you just need a really hearty laugh with your favourite people and all stress/anxiety melts away!’
Comments about vendors, resort etc
‘- DJ Mannia was the best! We gave them some specific music we wanted played and they mixed it together perfectly to keep everyone dancing all night long!
– Innovart floral also did an amazing job, I couldn’t believe how breathtaking the bouquets were
– Nexus Tours coordinated our transportation and catamaran Bebe2 cruise which was a highlight of the weekend for everyone. They also worked with us on rates.
– PuntaCanaNow was our roundtrip transport for all guests to/from hotel and they were always on time and really reliable
– Of course we love Katya & Rob! 🙂
– Zoetry Agua Punta Cana was the perfect setting for our group. It’s so intimate, but felt like the resort was private to our group of 44! They had enough activities and lobby events in the evenings to keep us perfectly balanced between having plenty to do and zoning out and relaxing! Neal and I are super relaxed people with stressful jobs, so when we vacation we want to have impeccable service and luxury. We got exactly what we were hoping for and the service at Zoetry is really second-to-none! We loved every moment, and were so thankful for the staff. Anny the event planner worked her butt off putting all of the plans in motion to have a near flawless event. She made lots of recommendations along the way (like moving venues for the dinner to an air conditioned more beautiful space) and we couldn’t have been happier. I highly recommend Zoetry as the perfect wedding destination, and we know we’ll be coming back soon!
– Laura Erikson at Luxe Destination Weddings was also an amazing resource and planner to help coordinate the vendors, get answers to questions, and communicate everything Neal and I were hoping for!’
Advice for future Brides?!
‘Having a destination wedding can be stressful because you relinquish some control! You can’t taste the cake, see/pick the flowers, tour the resort (usually) so it’s important you relax and know that everything is going to be perfect. If something is unexpected take it in stride. You’re surrounded by your husband and people who love you (and are on vacation!). With this attitude you’ll avoid any bridezilla moments and enjoy everything!’
Kelly & Neal, you are such an incredible Couple … kind, genuine, and you have impeccable taste! Thank you for sharing this wonderful Day with us, hope you feel the love in the images we’ve captured!! xoxo K+R.