The bride & I the night before the wedding!

I just spent a beautiful, wonderful, relaxing weekend in the Dominican Republic to celebrate my good friend Tiffany’s wedding.

I have been to the Caribbean before, but this was by far the most enjoyable experience. I went on a cruise once in 2004 — where we stopped in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. I have also been to the Bahamas twice. However, I think the Dominican was my favorite.

I loved seeing the mountains and the clear, blue ocean — plus the tropical jungle areas were really unique to what I’ve seen before.  The photo below is the view from the rooftop wedding that was held at sunlight. Can you imagine? Luckily, I don’t have to 🙂

We spent time in three different locations and every one was amazing. The night before the wedding, we had a party at someone’s house — not sure who but it was right on the ocean with the most amazing view.

Of course there was a pool and we just spent the evening eating, drinking, talking…and Tiffany and Aaron made a really nice speech thanking us all for being there. There is something special about those you find important enough to invite to your small wedding. Every person means something and the whole experience is really meaningful.

When we arrived on the rooftop for the ceremony, there was an open bar, select music, and plenty of time to take photos. Around 5pm, the ceremony began. It was so touching to watch Tiffany walk down the aisle with her Dad. I’ve known her and her family for 11 years (hard to believe!) so it’s even more fun to watch when you know the parents of the bride.

Tiff had the most precious look on her face walking down. It was pure Tiffany and she was in the moment. I love watching the groom watch his bride walk down the aisle so I peaked at Aaron to see a big smile on his face.

Tiffany and her Dad walking down the aisle

The ceremony was short and sweet. The unique thing about it was that the pastor had asked them to email him with words they’d like to be read about one another during the ceremony. Since neither of them knew yet what the other had said, it was really sweet. Of course, everyone teared up. It’s just the beauty of raw, honest love that gets me in these moments. And, it makes you want to cling to your love!

After the ceremony, we all hung out on the deck for awhile, until we headed down to a huge dinner full of authentic Dominican food. I love it because it’s fairly healthy and there’s lots of sweet stuff like yucca! Also included, some amazingly fresh, delicious fish. Everything was awesome.

Bridesmaids Sarah, Cameron & Tiffani

Tiffany’s matron of honor gave a beautiful speech that really summed up how I felt about her as well. She is one special woman — not a superficial bone in her body and always ready to welcome new people in her life at any time of the day. Her personality is one of a kind and Aaron was the perfect complement to her. She doesn’t let anything stop her and works harder than anyone I know. I love her and I’m SO happy for this chapter in her life.

I had a blast meeting a ton of new people while I was there. I also caught up with some people I’ve known for awhile, which was nice. I’ve known several of Tiff’s friends since college but never spent a lot of time with them. This weekend allowed me lots of time to catch up with Katie and Tiffany (not the bride but another friend.) We realized we have a lot in common and wondered how we could have gone so long without having these conversations before!

It was also awesome to meet many of Tiff and Aaron’s friends that I’d not spent time with before. In fact, one of them is running her first half-marathon for the Nike Half-Marathon in DC in April! (Hi Keyani!) I’m thinking about doing a post about this, in fact, because it’s her first and she’s gonna do awesome!

In addition to the wedding being beautiful, the resort was as well. We stayed at the Iberostar Resort in Puerto Plata. It’s my first stay at an all-inclusive resort and I was a big fan. It was so nice just to eat and drink at will without worrying about price.

The pool was HUGE and gorgeous — and they had all kinds of activities going on all day.  I mean, hello — can you say paradise?:

Just a short pathway away is the beach — this long, winding literal paradise. Every time you are at work thinking — oh man, I just wish I were on the beach drinking a fruity drink right now. THIS is the beach you picture. The weather was soooo perfect. Not too hot, perfect breeze…the waves providing the ultimate relaxation background noise. I’ve not been so relaxed in years — seriously. Here’s a shot of the beach:

I really enjoyed spending time by myself on the beach reading, walking long the shore and people-watching/listening. Lots of different languages being tossed around — and some nude beach-goers (woa!) but mostly, it was just nice to soak in the relaxation of everyone there.

Some people seemed to be drinking from morning to night — not something I could participate in. I would just die if I did that but it was a nice option at least 🙂 Got a pic with Katie on the beach on our last day:

Major party foul of the week? I FORGOT my nice camera. So…all of these photos are taken on my iPhone. Not bad but…I cannot believe I forgot that thing when I was going to such a beautiful location. Grrrr!  Oh well, had to just let it go and hope for the best on the iPhone 🙂

A few more shots:

Have you ever been to the Dominican Republic? What about other Caribbean islands? What are your favorites and why? I hope to go back for cheap vacations in the future!
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