couple on beach at altar

Sweet Punta Cana Real Wedding


November 25, 2022
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Mason & Co.

Mark and Stephanie met in 2010 when they both started working at a grocery store. The two hit it off right away but didn’t start dating until 2014. Several years and an engagement ring later, and the couple began brainstorming their dream wedding. What better way to celebrate their years together and the years to come than taking a little vacation to the sunny Caribbean? Read below to learn about how Stephanie and Mark planned a beautiful event in the Dominican Republic!

Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
A: I always knew I wanted to do a destination wedding. I was lucky enough to grow up going to all-inclusive resorts and I am definitely my happiest when there’s a beach and sunshine! Once Mark got to experience an all-inclusive resort for the first time, he loved it just as much. As soon as we got engaged, we knew right away that we were going to have a destination wedding. We just really wanted a fun and stress-free wedding and we thought by having a destination wedding it would be just that!

Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it?
A: We chose Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for our destination because of its beautiful beaches! We knew we wanted both the ceremony and reception to be on the beach, so that definitely played a big factor in our decision. We’ve been to Punta Cana many times before and have always loved our time there. As for the resort, we worked with our wedding planner, Karolina from Diamonds Destination Weddings, to help find the perfect resort for us! After looking at their wedding package and reading many reviews, we knew it was the perfect resort. Luckily, we didn’t run into any issues with our destination.

Q: Did you use any resources when planning your destination wedding that you feel would be helpful to other couples?
A: My wedding planner! I definitely couldn’t have done it without her. She helped me from the very beginning of planning to the very end (even helped me when I was already on vacation!) She was always in communication with the resort’s wedding planner and answered all my questions. I also joined a few Facebook groups for destination brides and there were definitely some helpful tips and posts on there too.

Q: What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
A: When choosing a destination, we definitely wanted to keep our guests in mind. That is also why Punta Cana was such a great option for us because we could get a direct flight from Ottawa. Karolina from Diamonds Destination Weddings is a travel agent as well, so she took care of all of the bookings making it completely stress-free for us!

Q: Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to do a destination wedding?
A: By choosing to have a destination wedding, we definitely saved some money! We started planning our wedding in 2021, so with the increased prices of venues and wedding-related costs in Ottawa due to the pandemic, it would have been quite a bit more money to have a local wedding. We didn’t necessarily choose to have a destination wedding to save money, so we definitely still splurged on certain things so we could have our perfect day!

Q: How do you think your wedding would have been different had you not held it away from home?
A: I definitely think I would have been a bit more stressed and overwhelmed had I not had a destination wedding. By having a destination wedding, we had a whole wedding week to enjoy and celebrate with our closest friends and family. So I think if I had a local wedding, I’d be overwhelmed with everything leading up to one day. We also had our reception on the beach which was a blast! I really can’t imagine any other reception space topping that!

Q: Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
A: The number one piece of advice I kept getting before our big day was to slow down and enjoy the process! And now that the planning and wedding are over, I 100% agree and will always pass that advice down. It’s definitely easy to get wrapped up in planning which can be stressful at times. The wedding day goes by so quickly and before you know it, it’s over! So have fun planning and don’t let the small things get to you because, at the end of the day, it’s YOUR day. You have to make sure you and your significant other are going to have the best day ever. Take every moment in and have fun! I also highly suggest getting a wedding planner! They truly help you every step of the way and make planning so seamless.

Vendors: Photographer: Stephanie Mason & Co.; Videography: Peaking Zebra; Wedding Planner: Diamonds Destination Weddings; Ceremony/Reception Site: Dreams Onyx; Florist: Beach Brides Lab; Stationery: The Invitation Studio; Cake: Dreams Onyx; Hair: Olga Montilla; Makeup: Krystie Ann; Gown Designer: Essense of Australia; Grooms/Groomsmen Clothing Designer: Surmesur

Couple in Punta Cana doing a destination wedding by the ocean
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Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Destination Weddings
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