When Ashleigh and Matt told me that they planned to elope in the Dominican Republic, taking them on as clients was a no-brainer for me!
DECIDING TO ELOPE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
I always love it when a couple comes to me with the idea of getting away for their wedding! If you’ve been around my blog or social media for any length of time, you know that I’m 100% on board for any new adventure, and travel is always at the top of my to-do list.
While I’m a Chattanooga-based wedding photographer, I love to travel to–or WITH–my couples! (See my other destination wedding photographer blogs.) Ashleigh and Matt are a prime example of traveling with. These two live here in Chattanooga, and they wanted to get married in January. But they really wanted a warm-weather wedding. So they decided to take their intimate wedding on the road and elope in the Dominican Republic, and they hired me to go along.
Because they planned an international destination wedding, Ashleigh and Matt chose to keep the event small and intimate. Only a handful of their closest friends and family made the journey. I mean, it’s one thing to elope in the Dominican Republic. It’s another to do it barefoot, beachside, and with a handful of your besties! They rented a huge house for everyone on a resort property with a private, secluded beach. The group spent 4-5 days together in vacation mode enjoying each other’s company and soaking in some good, quality time and sunshine. When it came to the big day, Ashleigh and Matt did include plenty of the traditional aspects of a larger wedding and reception like a first look, dinner, and dancing. They just did it all on the beach in the Dominican Republic!
GETTING READY FOR THEIR ELOPEMENT CEREMONY
The setting for Ashleigh and Matt’s Dominican Republic elopement was stunning. We were surrounded by lush, tropical plants, and the scenery surrounding the resort property was absolutely amazing. I loved seeing the mountains from so many corners of this property. I was in heaven when I hung Ashleigh’s dress for a photo on the master bedroom terrace, and, the mountains show up in the distance. Those Pixar-quality puffy clouds…I mean, come on! What a dream!
The house they’d rented featured gorgeous Spanish architecture and had a private back garden with pool, outdoor shower, hammock. Ashleigh and her bridesmaids got ready upstairs, while Matt and the groomsmen took over the lower level. The large windows provided perfect lighting for the getting ready shots. Matt and the guys wanted a casually dapper look, and, since we were at the beach, they skipped formal ties. Ashleigh, her mom, and the bridesmaids all wore flowy, floor-length gowns. This look was so classy, but also perfectly relaxed for a beach event. I loved the see-through, sheer fabric bodice of Ashleigh’s dress with all the sparkles!
In these photos, you’ll see Matt and Ashleigh both freshening up their hand-written vows. I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE when couples write their own vows. This allows for a higher level of vulnerability and intimacy in a wedding, and it takes everyone on a really beautiful emotional rollercoaster! Can’t recommend it enough–write your wedding vows, my friends!
As you scroll, you’ll notice views of a private cove with far-off mountains in the background. Arriving in the Dominican Republic a day before the elopement ceremony allowed me time to location scout. I took a golf cart around the resort property and found an outlying, rocky section of beach with absolutely stunning views. I knew this was where I’d want to get those yummy, post-ceremony bride and groom portraits the next day.
BAREFOOT BEACH ELOPEMENT IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
We set up Ashleigh and Matt’s first look under a canopy of tropical trees near the ceremony site. Both bride and groom were barefoot, which lent another sort of intimacy to their elopement. These two were so emotional and excited at this moment! You can even see Matt pinching his nose to keep from crying. I love the sun flares coming through the lush greenery in this scene and yummy details like the flowers in Ashleigh’s hair and the twirl of that skirt. I mean, can you feel their love?!
This was one of the more relaxed and chill ceremonies I’ve witnessed. There were so many wonderfully silly and genuine moments during this elopement and such a sense of closeness between the couple and their friends and family. Following the first look, the couple shared a round of shots with their wedding party to get things rolling. Matt’s best friend was their officiant, and he and Matt skipped down the aisle arm in arm! Oh, and you can see he’s got some white flowers zipped into his pants, which lent to even more big laughs during the ceremony.
Although this was a beach wedding, the trees went up almost to the waterline, so the lighting wasn’t too harsh, and that bit of cover made the already intimate event that much more private. Ashleigh and Matt shared their vows with each other, and let me tell you: these two needed no direction. They were so into each other, very natural and genuine with their joy and affection. After a killer first kiss with a giant dip(!), Matt and Ashleigh walked through a shower of confetti and immediately shared a champagne toast. OMG look at these smiles!!
BEACHSIDE BRIDE AND GROOM PORTRAITS
One thing that is VERY cool about small weddings is getting the whole group into my frame! I love that Matt and Ashleigh will have these group photos from their Dominican Republic elopement.
After we wrapped up group shots, I took Ashleigh and Matt out to the beach for some bride and groom portraits. Then, as the dusk began to settle and the light got glowy, we made our way over to that rocky overlook I’d found the day before. I wanted to get that sweeping view as a backdrop for them. Guys, for real, this couple needed so little direction. Even Matt with those booty grabs! They were so sweet and giddy and giggly, and it was precious. And these sky colors were delicious.
Sometime during this part of the evening, Ashleigh started to not feel well. She kept smiling between it all, but when we headed back to their reception on the beach, she kept taking short breaks from celebrating. She was a total sport though, and she managed her first dance with Matt–complete with confetti–and another dance with her mom. Since the group was so small, everyone fit at one table for dinner, which was so special. And Ashleigh’s family and friends partied on, while also giving her so much love and support.
The evening was a total success and one for the memory books, for sure.
HIRING A US-BASED PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOUR INTERNATIONAL ELOPEMENT
Like I wrote at the beginning, Ashleigh and Matt are from Chattanooga. When they starting planning their elopement in the Dominican Republic, they could have chosen a local DR photographer for their event. While this wasn’t out of the question, they decided to hire me and take me along with them.
Why? Well, there are plenty of reasons to hire a US-based photographer for your international elopement.
- You’ll share cultural understandings, and your photographer will understand your American standards for wedding photography.
- They’ll speak your language and communicate in familiar ways with you.
- For ease during the planning, your photographer will often share a timezone with you.
- You’ll likely be able to meet in person ahead of travel (especially if you’re as local as me, Ashleigh, and Matt).
- And sometimes a US-based photographer will price a package for you that could discount their typical wedding package fees (think of it like trading photography for travel currency).
I love getting to travel to/with my clients. The extra effort of planning and coordinating and being a dynamic “part of the team” is so much fun. When hired for a destination wedding/elopement (domestic or international), I love spending time researching and planning on Google Maps and online resources in advance. Scouting locations, checking out where the sun rises and sets, getting the nitty-gritty details all lined up. These are the extra-mile sort of things that light me up!
Another huge perk of hiring me as your destination wedding photographer is that I’m a super durable traveler. I’m extraverted, flexible, go-with-the-flow. I know how to make on-the-fly adjustments to make the best of new or unexpected situations. I’m an expert at travel, and I’m an expert at travel photography. SO, if you are a Chattanooga couple interested in eloping internationally, let’s chat!
HOW TO ELOPE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: START HERE
Guys, there are loads of resources online if you’re looking to plan a destination wedding. If you think you might want to elope in the Dominican Republic, start at the website for the U.S. Embassy in the
Dominican Republic. And once you get the ball rolling, contact me so we can start planning together!