We were fortunate enough to spend five glorious nights in the balmy tropics of the Dominican Republic. With reason to go for our friends Luis and Carina’s wedding and with opting to extend the trip for 7 of our friends we had a great time! Before I get into the details of the heavenly villa we rested our heads at for four days let me showcase the wedding because it was a fantastic party (and because we have epic pictures that Polly took that I am waiting to get).
We flew redeye into Santo Domingo airport over Thursday night, arriving Friday afternoon. Everything went smoothly aside from having to wait in the plane at the gate in Miami for two whole hours on Friday. Our shuttle was there to pick us up and this is where we met the trio from Georgia Tech that were joining us for the whole vacation. The ride to Caso de Campo, where the wedding and reception were being held and where we all were spending two nights at, was about an hour and a half drive from the airport. We were all quite sleep-deprived, anxious to get there, and hungry upon arriving. Check in provided us with a glass of champagne and we found our hotel room especially inviting.
We all changed and cleaned up for dinner and then got into our individual golf carts to ride 15 minutes (!) to the resort’s marina to find a place for dinner. We chose a nice looking, open air restaurant, right alongside the pricey boats docked in the marina. It was definitely a pleasant atmosphere but a pricey and mediocre-at-best dinner. After filling up we walked around the marina and waited for the wedding party and family to finish their rehearsal for pre-wedding drinks at one of the marina’s bars. Just after 10 pm the whole crew arrived, a bunch of champagne was popped, speeches were delivered, shots of Brugal rum were taken, and it was definitely good to get to talk to not only the bride and groom but our other friends and to meet several of their friends and family members. We headed back to sleep at midnight and boy did we sleep…
We woke up at the early hour of 11 am, made coffee and received gift bags from Carina and Luis of Dominican coffee, water, chocolates and plantain chips. Bryan and I packed bags for the beach and headed out on our golf cart. We stopped at the resort’s supermarket for picnic essentials; a charcuterie package, a loaf of fresh and hot bread, yogurts, and a chicken salad. We headed for Playa Minitas and found some beach chairs and pulled out our spread to make one mighty fine large shared sandwich. We swam for awhile, met up with our other friends, and enjoyed a bit of sun before having to head back to the room to get ready for the wedding. I was a bit frantic because I had an hour to shower, shave, do my hair, makeup and everything else and let me tell you that my hair and the Caribbean humidity and saltwater do not like each other! But we were ready by 5 pm to meet the shuttle bus at the hotel lobby to head to the ceremony venue.
The ceremony was absolutely stunning. The replica Catholic church was ancient looking and gorgeous and the views across the grounds and river running beneath were lush and beautiful. The sun sets early in the Dominican and there was a very nice breeze that kept everyone cool. We took some pictures with the views before taking our seats for the procession. The bridesmaids were in “royal purple” and Carina looked phenomenal in a very intricately lacy wedding dress. She was glowing and so was Luis. I have to say both mothers also looked amazing! The ceremony was long and the spanish-speaking Cardinal was a little choppy in speech and in adhereing to the program. It was over an hour long ceremony. After that everyone was ready to party. We hopped on the bus shuttle to take us back to the Flamboyan Center which was right next to the hotel.
The reception was the best party I have been to in a very long time, if not ever. We had champagne and a few light bites to hold us over before the wedding party arrived. We were also given sketches of the church for our wedding favors and the boys picked up their cigars for smoking later. We were eventually moved to the main dining area where our table of all Seattlites were placed directly between the main bar and the dance floor. The wedding party made their grand entrance and they immediately started with speeches and champagne toasts. Finally we were invited to dig in to the buffet. The buffet featured a couscous salad, green salad, smoked salmon salad, mixed vegetables, roasted potatoes, fish baked in banana leaf, grilled chicken, boiled shrimp, ravioli, pasta, and a roasted pig with head and all. I definitely had my fill of food and most enjoyed the fish and pig. The wine was flowing at our table and was constantly filled throughout dinner. We were brought out chocolate cake slices but there never was a cake cutting ceremony. The cake was the best wedding cake I had ever tasted but I never did get to see what it looked like. I had also picked up a chocolate tart and a mini key lime pie from the dessert table to share with Bryan.
Next the dancing started. There were the first dances and then the Latin dancing began with their wedding band. Instantly everyone was out on the dance floor and having a great time. I had never seen so many people head to the floor so quickly. Bryan and I greatly enjoyed the Latin music, really trying to remember our salsa lessons from last year and eventually really getting into a groove. The band played two short sets with a break in between and the DJ stepping in with American music. Then we had two professional Latin dancers come out to show us how its done, lead a congo line, break out accessories to adorn ourselves with, there was the bouquet toss, the garter toss, several group rum shots, and more I’m sure I am forgetting. Around 2 am they brought out another food bar that was the best food we had all night. They had this Dominican beef stew with yuca, potatoes and other interesting root vegetables in craving-satisfying salty rich broth that I had two bowls of.
I hit a wall at about 3:30 am and from then until when we left the wedding party (with about 15 people still dancing) at 5 am I was a dancing zombie. It had never felt better to climb into our bed for sleep, our short sleep as we had to wake up at 9 am to get packed and ready for our shuttle to the next duration of our vacation…