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!

      barefoot bride and groom kiss at dusk overlooking water after they elope in the Dominican Republic

       

      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.

      tropical green leaf lush, tropical greens overlooking a pool surrounded by wooden lounge chairs and white umbrellas palm trees surrounding a pool and villa wedding dress hangs from Spanish tile roof on balcony overlooking palm trees and mountains in the Dominican Republic ruffled hem of hanging wedding dress man in white button down shirt sits on a white couch behind white orchids man's hands while he writes a letter on lined paper women clink glasses in a toast while others apply makeup in mirrors woman in colorful robe applies mascara in front of a mirror and large windows men in blue dress slacks and white shirts clink beer bottles together in a toast men in blue suit pants stand in a line with their arms around each other man pins white boutonniere on groom's blue sport coat palm trees and white lounge chairs and umbrellas surround a pool women getting ready in a large bathroom while bride's sequine bodice gown hangs from a curtain rod bride and two bridesmaids in colorful robes stand in front of a canopy bed white hammock slung between two palm trees woman in colorful bathrobe with white flowers in her hair writes a letter at a desk brides mother fastens the back of her wedding gown in front of white-curtained canopy bed brides mother buttons the back of her wedding gown men ride the back of a golf cart on street two men and a woman stand on stone sidewalk under palm tree groom in blue suit and white shirt and flip flops stands on stone sidewalk under red flowering shrubs private beach inlet surrounded by lush greenery with mountains in the background

       

      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!!

      bride in white gown taps grooms shoulder as he waits barefoot in the sand for their first look barefoot groom in suit turns to see his bride in her gown for their first look groom hugs bride who has white flowers in her hair bride in sequin topped gown hugs groom in blue suit under lush trees as they elope in the Dominican Republic bride in sequined topped gown raises bouquet of white flowers into the air as she and groom smile barefoot groom twirls barefoot bride under lush green canopy as they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom kiss surrounded by greenery as they elope in the Dominican Republic two men play guitars under trees on the beach several men in button down shirts raise shot glasses in the air as a toast groom and friend in blue suit pants skip barefoot through the sand to ceremony site two men play guitars under trees on the beach bride in flowing gown holds hands with her mother in seafoam green dress as they walk barefoot in the sand down the aisle mother of bride hugs groom at the front of the aisle with flower-covered wedding arch behind them wedding guests stand as officiant welcomes bride and groom and others to ceremony site on Dominican Republic beach bride and groom laugh as officiant begins ceremony under white-curtained wedding canopy bride and groom hold hands during their ceremony as they elope in the Dominican Republic with close friends and family groom smiles at bride while officiant reads as they elope in the Dominican Republic bride holds microphone and smiles widely during her wedding vows as she and groom elope in the Dominican Republic bride holds microphone during her wedding vows as she and groom elope in the Dominican Republic on the beach bride holds microphone during her wedding vows as she and groom elope in the Dominican Republic on the beach bride and groom and officiant all laugh under white-curtained arch bride and groom bow their heads together and hold hands on the beach as they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom share first kiss on the beach as they elope in the Dominican Republic with close family and friends groom dips bride during kiss as they elope in the Dominican Republic with friends standing and cheering during beach ceremony bride and groom turn to walk down the aisle as guests cheer and photograph them with cell phones bride and groom walk through confetti after they share their first kiss during a beach ceremony in the Dominican Republic bride and groom kiss through confetti after they elope in the Dominican Republic on the beach with friends and family bride and groom kiss with confetti in their hair and toast with champagne after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom smile with confetti in their hair and toast with champagne after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom kiss with confetti in their hair and toast with champagne after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom stand on the beach in the Dominican Republic with family members following their elopement ceremony bride and groom stand on the beach in the Dominican Republic with family and friends following their elopement ceremony

      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.

      bride and groom on private beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride in sequin bodice wedding gown and groom in blue suit walk barefoot on beach as they elope in the Dominican Republic groom in blue suit kisses bride in white sequined gown on beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic groom in blue suit kisses bride in white sequined gown on beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride in sequin bodice wedding gown and groom in blue suit walk barefoot on beach as they elope in the Dominican Republic bride in sequin bodice wedding gown and groom in blue suit walk barefoot on beach as they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom kiss on private beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom on private beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom kiss on private beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom walk on private beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic groom in blue suit kisses bride in white gown with beach, trees, and mountains of the Dominican Republic behind them groom in blue suit kisses bride in white gown with beach, trees, and mountains of the Dominican Republic behind them groom in blue suit hugs bride in white gown with beach, trees, and mountains of the Dominican Republic behind them bride and groom hold hands. she wears several bangle bracelets bride and groom hold each other on a rocky overlook of the beach after they elope in the Dominican Republic brides veil swirls around her and groom on a rocky overlook after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride holds her dress train and grooms hand on an overlook of the ocean groom in blue suit kisses bride in white gown with beach, trees, and mountains of the Dominican Republic behind them groom kisses bride's temple as she laughs with ocean behind them bride and groom hold hands on rocky beach overlooking water in the Dominican Republic bride and groom snuggle closely on a rocky beach in the Dominican Republic groom in blue suit hugs bride in white gown with beach, trees, and mountains of the Dominican Republic behind them bride and groom hold hands. she wears several bangle bracelets barefoot bride and groom kiss at dusk overlooking water after they elope in the Dominican Republic groom hugs bride from behind as they show off their new wedding bands after they elope in the Dominican Republic moon rises over palm trees white covered chairs and table bride wears flower crown and grooms hand bride and groom hug tightly during their first dance bride wearing flower crown smiles and dance with groom as guests shower them with confetti bride and groom hug each other tightly during first dance while wedding guests watch in the background groom dips bride for a kiss on the dance floor while guests shower them with confetti bride and groom dance with wedding guests in the dark night after they elope in the Dominican Republic bride and groom dance with wedding guests in the dark night after they elope in the Dominican Republic man dances in the dark night with light flares around him bride in flower crown and sequined wedding dress hugs her mother on the dance floor wedding guests dancing in the dark night bride in flower crown and sequined wedding gown dances with wedding guests at her Dominican Republic elopement reception wedding guests dance in the dark groom kisses brides cheek during their Dominican Republic elopement reception party

      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!

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