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Sarah's Planning Journal - Dreams Punta Cana ***PIC HEAVY***

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First of all, thank you so much for this site!  Most of my ideas came from other brides!  I spent quite a few days at work simply looking through the forums and making notes – so thank you!!!


How It Began:


I met my husband in a beach bar on a sunny July afternoon in 2006.  He was telling his friend a story and his friend found it impolite to drink while someone was speaking to him.  After 5 minutes of noticing this lack of consumption, I decided to step in between the two of them, point at my future husband and say, “Hey you!  Shut up!†and turn to his friend and say “There you go!  Now you can drink!† His friend thanked my profusely and we have been inseparable since.


The Proposal:


I usually come home from work before my husband and I always greet him at the door with a kiss (along with our puppy, Tilly).  Well, one random Wednesday in May (2010), he came home and there I was waiting in the foyer!  He took me in his arms and we had the MOST passionate kiss imaginable!  He told me that he wants to come home like this for the rest of his life and he could not imagine marrying anyone other than his best friend.  Since it was so spur of the moment he had yet to call my father to ask permission.  So he picked up the phone and called my parentâ€s house line 3 times, my fatherâ€s cell phone 4 times, his work number twice and my motherâ€s cell phone once.  No response!  He was getting frustrated so I said “Ah, you know heâ€ll say yes!† He proposed with the claddagh ring he gave me a few years back.  About 10 minutes later (after I had popped open the first bottle of champagne); my father returns the phone call.  He believes that something has happened to me because of so many calls so my husband stops him mid-sentence and said, “I love your daughter very much, so much that I just could not wait -- I just asked Sarah to marry me, is that cool with you?† Yes, he said “is that cool with you?â€!!  My dad laughed and he said, “Of course, but you are on speakerphone and Sarahâ€s mother and my business partners just heard what you saidâ€.  It was classic!  And yes, I found “the†ring about 4 days later. 




I am not very good at taking photos of diamonds so this is the best I could do!  Here is the picture of my E-ring. 




I have two wedding bands – one on each side of the E-ring.  I did not like the way ring guards look nor did I like the way one band looked either but I liked how two of them look (of course, canâ€t have too many diamonds!!).



 wedding ring-sarah.jpg


My husband wanted a “manly†ring and this is what he ended up liking:



wedding ring - tom.jpg


I found a picture taken by the photographer which is much better:


wedding rings - photog.jpg




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The Planning:


We decided to have a destination wedding since we have rather large families and a U.S. wedding would include a guest list of roughly 400 people.  Neither of us wanted that and we are adventurous and figured we would try something new – first couple in either family to venture away from church/country club weddings.  We booked at Dreams Punta Cana and never looked back! 





Our STDs were ordered from Wedding Paper Divas and the quality was excellent! 





I would have preferred to have the invitations the same as the STDs but they were entirely too expensive (over $1,000 for 120 invites – included envelopes, enclosure cards, etc).  I found theme-appropriate invites online at myexpression.com which turned out to be a great find since my programs, pre-travel brochures, welcome letter, luggage tags were all used on the same stationary.  I printed the invites on vellum paper (Staples) and cut them to fit the invitation size and punched two holes at the top (two slits, DO NOT USE A HOLE PUNCH – you will see the big holes and it looks awful).  My mom tied the bows with raffia. 





Yet again, taken from the site, I made pre-travel brochures with luggage tags (not pictured):







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Welcome Bags:


I was particular about this because I wanted “useful things†and we opted not to have favors on the reception tables so we got waterproof cameras online as the big gift for the guests.  With 60+ guests I did not think about the weight of luggage issue and these were very heavy but we “oh darn†upgraded to first class to get 4 checked bags free of charge!  J


Here is the welcome letter – many guests said they cried when they read it! 



welcome letter.jpg


Here are the content of the welcome bags – we got the sand buckets from Target for $1, the waterproof cameras online for $4.50, the hangover hit various places, the room card holders on Ebay, the cards from the Dollar Store, and the stationary from myexpression.com.  We included a schedule of events and a welcome letter addressed to each guest.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen had a second schedule of events for the wedding day which included hair appointment times, lunch, photos, etc.  Having the second schedule of events for the bridal party proved to be helpful because everyone knew the times instead of everyone asking us!




My husband Greek and I am Irish so we are pretty big drinkers so we decided have a little fun… so we had beer pong balls made with our wedding logo on it.  We ordered these online from Executive Advertising and everyone loved them!  We even brought down two inflatable beer pong tables for the pool (order Air Pong instead of Port-O-Pong – Air Pong is definitely HIGH quality – ordered from Air Pong website).  We had a family beer pong tournament with brackets (like the NCAA tournament).  We had a TON of fun!



beer pong.jpg


The playing cards – I got sheets of sticker labels (8x10) from Staples and cut to fit the box (great purchase was my paper cutter – best $40 I ever spent!):




Hangover Kit contents – Pepto, alcohol swabs, OFF, Bandaids, After Bite, Tylenol, Hand sanitizer, Emergen-C, Shout, Motrin – A few guests used ALL of these items! 


hangover kit.jpg



The welcome bag for our ring bearer included a beach-themed coloring book with crayons and sand toys!  He loved it all!


ring bearer welcome bag.jpg

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I am not a typical bride and I would never wear a gown, plus my husband loves my legs!  So, I found my dress at White House Black Market (love that store) with my sister and my niece who was all of 10 days old!  It is VERY simple but I would not have it any other way! 





My husband wore a Tommy Bahama white linen shirt with matching white linen pants:                                                   


tom's outfit.jpg




Wedding Accessories:



For our anniversary in September 2010, my husband got me my wedding jewelry (which was a surprise!) – He did great!!!

wedding jewelry 1.jpg


wedding jewelry 2.jpg


Haha – a great find!  I got these on the sale rack at DSW for $18!  I could not believe it – I will definitely wear them again!!!


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The bridesmaids†dresses - We ordered the dresses from Victoriaâ€s Secret.  I do not know if the girls will ever wear the dresses again but I did not want them spending $200 on a dress they only wear once.  The dress was on sale for $50, what a steal!


bridesmaid dresses.jpg


Bridesmaids Gifts:


I LOVE giving gifts and my girls are awesome so I splurged!  The first initial bag (i.e. “M†for Maggie) is from the Christmas Tree Store for $1, the starfish flip flops worn for the wedding were $30 from Zappos (on sale), the Coach Passport holder was $30 on sale at the outlet, and the Coach wristlet was on sale for $40 or $50 (I cannot remember).  I also wanted to get them monogrammed jewelry rolls but the jewelry roll/travel bag (pictured) combo was only $5 more … but the jewelry rolls were discontinued so they gave me the travel bag for free!  I also got the starfish jewelry (worn for wedding) from Kohlâ€s – on sale $25-$30 for the set).

bm gifts 1.jpg


bm gifts 2.jpg



bm gifts 3.jpg


bm gifts 4.jpg


bm gifts 5.jpg

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The groomsmen wore the same Tommy Bahama white linen at the groom shirt but with khaki colored linen pants. 


gm outfit.jpg



Groomsmen Gifts – Flip video cameras.  The guys LOVED the present.  They were on sale at Amazon for $110. 



gm flip.jpg





Parentâ€s Gifts – 8x10 Photo frames from Lenox – we put our favorite picture in the frames and gave to both parents when we saw them when we returned from our honeymoon.


parents gift.jpg


Ring Bearer Gift – wooden toy trains!  We had 1 ring bearer and no flower girls.  We decided early on that any children who attended the wedding would be a flower girl or ring bearer but none of the little girls in the family are coming. 



ring bearer gift.jpg



Wedding gifts to each other – Since he got the E-ring at Kettermanâ€s (a family-owned jewelry store in Northern Virginia) and our wedding bands there – he also got me opal earrings and diamond and opal necklace for my wedding gift.  Kettermanâ€s has become quite a hit in our relationship now! J


wedding gift 1.jpg


I did a boudoir session for him – the photobook turned out to be amazing and Iâ€m definitely doing it again (maybe for our 1-year anniversary).  He LOVESSSSSS the book!


wedding gift 2.jpg






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Hair – I picked a few inspiration pictures and let the salon do whatever they wanted --- it came out FANTASTIC!!!  (sorry, this is the best picture of my hair):




Flowers – I could care less about flowers.  I picked calla lilies because they were white and our colors were blue and white. 







The bridesmaids carried one long-stemmed calla lily with a flowing blue ribbon attached that matches their dresses (I was too lazy to attach the blue ribbon – the florist added a white bow to each flower so it looked fine).


bm flowers.jpg




The ring bearer carried up a wedding present my parents got from my aunt 30+ years ago…






The programs… (same stationary as invites)







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We substituted place cards for starfish!  The board looks like sand (it was supposed to have sand on it but oh well – I didnâ€t care).  The starfish were purchased at the Christmas Tree Store and they were about $.50 each.  We used the sticky dots to get the place cards to stay and then my mom, the genius that she is, decided to make the starfish into ornaments since it was a December wedding.  You just take your place card and sticky dot off and the white bow unravels and there is your ornament! 




Our guest book (yet, another BDW find) was a map of the DR that everyone signed.  It was easy to transport in its tube and we are in the process of getting it framed now!  I ordered it on Ebay.


dr map.jpg


I ran with the “beach-y†theme and decided on sand castles for the centerpieces.  I found these online and fell in love!  My mom is the artistic one in the family and I never inherited her genes so this was her “projectâ€.  We had the sand castles sitting on a blue plate with some sand layering the bottom.  We have starfish, seashells, sand dollars and sea glass scattered on the plate.  Our table markers were photo frames of our favorite beaches (Riveria Maya, Dewey Beach, Crete, Saint Martin, Santa Monica, etc).  We wanted to incorporate our dog in the wedding so she was at the sweetheart table with the newlyweds! 



sand castle.jpg


table 1.jpg



We opted for just white table cloths because we did not like the resort offerings and we were not bringing down our own linens!  It was plain but Iâ€ll take plain over ugly (which was what the resort was offering)!



table 2.jpg



Again, in line with the drinking … we decided to have shot glasses for each guest (ordered from Oriental Trading – and sticker labels from Staples).



shot glasses.jpg



We also had cocktail shakers for each table (ordered from Food Warehouse for $3 or $4 each and the quality = bar-quality!).  We asked the lobby bartender to make us Sex on the Beach shots for the cocktail shaker -- he made quite a few refills, too!!! (We took the idea from a former bride on the forum).


cocktail shakers.jpg










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Our wedding cake inspiration – we ordered the fondant seashells and starfish from Cakes by Sam for roughly $100 which will be more than enough!  The packaging they came in is incredible and we carried the fondant pieces onto the plane instead of checking them.  We opted to forego having the people for our cake and the sand is brown sugar.     


cake inspiration.jpg




cake actual.jpg


The heart-shaped object (center-bottom) was supposed to be our cake topper but, oops! we gave it to the baker too late (oh well)!  (we left the packaging on during transport to prevent scratching – I do not recall where we ordered them from though).


cake topper.jpg



Garter – My husband loves the Redskins but I am a die-hard Eagles fan so I got both (ordered from Ebay) – he took off the Eagles one first and nearly died until I told him there was a second garter – then he was happy!






I found the champagne flutes at the Lenox outlet.  I fell in love with them and they were on sale for $15 (I thought they were $50 when I went to the register to pay so I was pleasantly surprised). 



champagne flutes.jpg


One small tidbit – greet your guests upon arrival at the resort.  We had 60 guests and we greeted every single one of them with champagne.  I am telling you, everyone commented on how they were impressed with us greeting them!  They loved it!  I will admit that it was a pain in the rear to get everyoneâ€s travel schedules but the TA helped with that (she had everything in Excel) and we e-mailed the guest who booked outside of the TA and requested travel information.  Everyone arrived between 2pm and 5pm so we just parked ourselves at the Lobby Bar and for the afternoon and drank while we waited.  We arrived on Sunday and guests arrived Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so four afternoons were spent in the lobby.  We went out of our way to make sure our guests felt special and who wouldnâ€t want a nice glass of champagne after they arrive to their destination – especially since it was an island filled with palm trees and beautiful weather? 


I hope you enjoyed my journal – If you are still counting down the days to your date – donâ€t stress out – when you are there nothing matters!  I had not a care in the world!  I was getting married in the Caribbean with family and friends… the weather was beautiful and everything was perfect!!!

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AMAZING planning journal Sarah!! You did such a fantastic job with every little detail.


Congrats to you and your new hubby!!! :)

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