Destination Weddings/Real Weddings

Neutral Tones Complement This Tropical Dominican Republic Wedding

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

When you choose a stunning wedding destination, sometimes it’s best to let that venue shine on its own. And that’s exactly what Gabrielle & Brandon choose to do with their beautiful Sanctuary Cap Cana wedding.

On the far west coast of the Dominican Republic is this Caribbean oasis. Neutral-toned marble, thatched-roof suites & waving palms set the stage for this stunning destination wedding. “We did not want to distract from the natural beauty of Cap Cana, so we had our color scheme match the landscape with blues, whites and greenery” says bride Gabrielle, and the results are beautiful.

Creamy neutral tones & a bridal party in light blues & greys give the entire wedding a dreamy look. In Cassie Howard‘s photos, the bride & groom’s joy & scenery shines, just as they ought to.

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

Out Love Story

We are high school sweethearts! We went to rival high schools in our town but being the nerds we are, Brandon and I were both judges for an elementary science fair. Our paths crossed that evening and we have been together ever since.

We met a few months before high-school graduation and had both already committed do different colleges. We survived a year of long-distance before Brandon transferred to the university I was attending. After enjoying the remaining years of college together, we, unfortunately, experienced long-distance again as my dream job was in a different state from Brandon’s medical school.

After surviving 4 years of long-distance, we celebrated by taking a trip to Paris. Our first stop on our trip was the Louvre where Brandon got down on one knee.

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

Why Destination

Working through the initial wedding planning process, we immediately knew that we did not want a traditional wedding in our hometown. We loved the idea of a destination wedding – creating an experience for both us and our guests by making it more than a one-day event. It allowed us to enjoy the company of our family and friends throughout the weekend, so Brandon and I could enjoy the wedding day and not feel like we had to greet all the guests during that night. We could not be happier about that decision!

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

The Venue

Picking a destination sight-unseen was the most stressful part! We did initial discussions with many different resorts throughout the Caribbean but selecting Sanctuary Cap Cana was an easy decision. Aside from being breathtaking, logistically, it was great for guests. The flights were easy from the US to the DR and the airport was about ten minutes away from the resort. This was a huge factor for us because we didn’t want our guests to fly for hours and then have to take a car for a long duration to get to the resort.

Planning from a guest’s perspective as well, it was all-inclusive so everything guests needed (drinks, food, entertainment) were all on-site without having to worry about traveling or making plans. From a planning perspective, we were really satisfied with the wedding packages through Sanctuary compared to others. We felt that the price was reasonable for what was included.

And a great bonus was that it came with a wedding planner who worked with all of the vendors – so it was easy for us to only have to work with one person and then our wedding planner made our requests a reality!

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

The Dress & Attire

My goal for picking a wedding dress was – “I want to look like a mermaid.” I wanted something that made me feel like a “beach bride”. My dress was the perfect combination of traditional (with the lace), modern (with the fit), glam (had a layer of sparkle underneath the lace layer so when it caught the light just right, I had some shine!), and sexy (with the see-through lace on the abdomen).

Brandon’s outfit was revolved around finding the perfect gray suit. He wanted one with some texture in the pattern, but not too much that it was distracting. And he went with a modern skinny fit.

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

The Ceremony

We had an intimate ceremony with my sister officiating and Brandon and I writing our own vows. It was very sincere and heartfelt – something I will always cherish!

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

The Photography

We had seen Cassie’s work on social media from other friends who used her as their photographer. Her photos captured natural light and genuine reactions and emotions. We knew that we needed her for our special day!

It was the icing on the cake to know that she loved to travel and was keen to go to the DR with us! Cassie (and her husband!) were more like guests at our wedding than a photographer. She blended in so well with our friends and family and everyone adored her! This was so important because it reflects in the pictures how comfortable everyone is – nothing felt staged or forced!

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

The Music

While guests were being seated, we played violin versions of modern songs (included Duomo Vitamin String Quartet, etc.). Ceremony songs included: “Beyond – Acoustic” by Leon Bridges for the bridal party, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Haley Reinhart for the bride entrance, and “Talking About Love” by King Topher, for the bride and groom exit. We made a playlist for the cocktail hour that included a variety of easy listening (included Bruno Mars, Leon Bridges, The Lumineers, etc.). Reception songs included: “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars for the bridal party entrance and Brandon and I wore purple hats and cheetah print bandanas to enter the reception to “Purple Hat” by Sofi Tukker. Our first dance song was “Conversations in the Dark” by John Legend.

The reception music was PERFECT! I cannot say enough good things about DJ GCStar. I asked for “easy listening” for background music during dinner and every song he picked was spot on. And then he had the dance floor LIT! Non-stop dance party! He knew exactly the right songs to play for how the guests were reacting and dancing to music. He truly made the night so much fun!

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

The Decor & Details

We did not want to distract from the natural beauty of Cap Cana, so we had our color scheme match the landscape with blues, whites and greenery. I sent pictures I found on Pinterest as floral inspiration for the ceremony gazebo, signs, bouquets, and reception centerpieces. Caribbean Celebrations brought those pictures to life in a way better than I could have imagined! Kept it simple with white roses and greenery!

We had welcome bags delivered to every guest’s room that included a handwritten, personalized card from Brandon and I to them letting them know how grateful we were that they traveled to celebrate our special day. The bags included little travel essentials, personalized koozies, and an itinerary for the weekend.

We hosted a Caribbean-themed welcome party the day before the wedding which was an absolute blast! For the wedding day, our overarching theme for details was simple and timeless (while sneaking in bits of our personality!). We kept our signage in black and white.

Having a destination wedding prevented us from having our dogs as part of our day – so we included them in some details. We had drinks themed after our dogs and we hid them on the back of the cake (being the naughty Labradors they are – eating the cake!).

Brandon is a HUGE basketball fan, so we had custom jerseys made of his favorite team with the numbers of the month and year we were getting married. We changed from our formal wear into the jerseys so we could dance it up all night long!

Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding
Gabrielle + Brandon’s Wedding

Advice to Other Couples

Make it what YOU want. It would have been easy to feel pressured to have a traditional wedding but it wasn’t what we wanted. You only get this day ONCE so it should be exactly how you envision it. We are so glad that we followed our hearts and did a destination wedding.

Share this