The fact that Lauren + Nico even met at all is a lot of luck – but probably fate.
“We met when I, (Lauren), went to the DR for a week to research my Masters – I was writing an entrepreneurship curriculum for youth served by an organization called the DREAM Project in Cabarete. Nico had worked for the organization for the last ten years. We met as I was observing one of their programs called “Deportes Para La Vida” (Sports for life). Nico was leading a Fiesta Del Condon, teaching teenagers about safe sex. The first picture I have of him is from that session, and it’s a pretty hilarious one”.
“We talked over lunch about soccer, Nico played professionally for three years in the DR, and I lived for nine years in Argentina and Brazil growing up. A few days later, we stayed up all night talking. Then I left the DR to finish my Masters. I never thought I would see him again, and he never thought he would see me”.
“When I landed in NY, he had sent me a message. It said he knew how crazy it sounded, but he had a connection with me that he had never known was possible and wanted to keep in touch if I was open to it – which was exactly how I felt. We talked every evening for hours, and when I finished my Masters 2 months later, I went back to the DR”.
“I kept going back for weeks at a time every month, and after six months, Nico proposed. I said yes, of course, almost from the beginning we knew we would be together forever, so the proposal was not a surprise”.
“After living a real hell to have Nico granted an immigrant visa, he moved in and met my parents almost immediately after, and asked their permission to marry me. He proposed again and officially in New York. We pinch ourselves every day that we are together because there is no way to put into words the challenges we faced over the last few years to be here”.
Our Wedding Vision
“The most important part of our wedding and how we always envisioned it was like a celebration of our love in a way that could make everybody feel included. We had a trilingual ceremony in English, Spanish, and Creole that we wrote ourselves, and that was ministered jointly by my best friend who is Dominican American and Nico’s brother. We wanted everyone to feel included, to understand what was going on and to know how important it was to us that they were there. There were major race, class and language barriers that we did our best to bridge, so we spent a lot of time talking and planning for how to do that. We wanted it to be a great weekend where everyone has multiple days together and leaves feeling like they have a second family, just as I felt with Nico’s family the very first time I met them”
Any detail that would help tell the story of your day?
The one thing I was insistent about was an open-air ceremony and reception with no tent. I always knew there was a chance of rain, but wanted to risk it. Of course, it was beautiful all week until the day of the wedding when it was cloudy and drizzling. We delayed the start of the ceremony a few minutes hoping it would clear up. While walking down the aisle, I could feel the raindrops. In the end, it held off for the most part during the ceremony and cleared up immediately afterward. We ended up dancing until 2 am. A little rain really must be good luck!
What advice would you give out to a couple planning their wedding?
Be flexible! We planned our wedding around a ceremony venue up on a mountain. Still, We ended up changing our venue location a few months before the wedding because it was getting logistically impossible to get all the guests to the site. It was the best decision we made (it ended up drizzling just before our ceremony and would have been full-on raining on the mountain) but was a complicated process to decide since so much planning had gone in. And as everyone else says – have fun! Dance with your friends, eat your wedding food, try to let your nerves go. Enjoy every moment; it all goes by too quickly!
Most memorable moment?
The whole week. We were in the DR for an entire week, and most of our family and friends were as well. We had events Tuesday through Sunday for all of the guests. The best part was seeing our friends and family from all different parts of our lives to become friends with each other. Many now keep in touch after the wedding. We’re so grateful to have all of that time together; it was the best week of our lives.
Is there anything you would change or do differently?
Get a bigger dance floor!
An emotional Garden wedding ceremony followed by a magical toes-in-sand reception and party until the bodies hold. The perfect wedding celebration and the delight of any destination wedding photographer and according to our books, everything a destination wedding should be.
I hope you’ve enjoyed just a little sample of all the prettiness we got to capture for Lauren, Nico, and their families at their stunning Beach-Garden Wedding in Playa Dorada, Dominican Republic, and also Lauren’s insights about her destination wedding planning.