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You know how some people get really excited at Christmas? Yeah… I get that way when my favorite photographers send me incredible destination weddings from places like Turks & Caicos, and Nicaragua. Hello magical.

Yes. Stellar photographer Cindy Johnson is really, really amazing, and somehow always gets to go and shoot these incredible destination weddings. Seriously, what memo did I miss to have this not be my life? Sigh.

I was going to wait and show you these, but I can’t. I can’t, I’m just too excited! I’m just going to tease you with a little bit of heavenly wedding candy,  you only get three, and then you have to  go to bed and wait … Stay tuned.

Photo Courtesy of Photographer Cindy Johnson

Photo Courtesy of Photographer Cindy Johnson

Photo Courtesy of photographer Cindy Johnson

So one of my favorite photographers, Randi Voss spent the last week in Hawaii.

“Doing what,” you may ask.

Shooting this beautiful, amazing, magical wedding.

Sigh.

This is her job.

Jealous.

More to come.

Ok my little wanderlusters, listen up. Traveling is amazing. But sometimes it’s not. And what better way to make your travel mishaps worth it than by entering to win  a “dream trip” to make up for the bad one right?

Whether you’re planning a destination wedding, honeymoon, or bachelorette party weekend… this is for you. Enter Travel Guard’s “World’s Unluckiest  Traveler” contest, and turn your travel woes into a $10,000 dream vacation.

Super easy. Go to Travel Guard, upload a video, or a series of photos that show just how terrible your vacation was. Share your stories, and read and watch others and vote on your favorites.The one thing I know about traveling, is just about anything you plan goes out the window, so I know you have some stories up your sleeves ladies.

Book your honeymoon during the rainy season? Bachelorette party gone bad at a beachside bungalow? Rental Car disaster with your underage cousin Bob? Write it down. Take some photos or video tape the misery for your chance to win.

Check out entry # 7 and #261 at www.travelguard.com, for a horrifying honeymoon experience and a mother of the bride disaster!

You can enter all year long, and each month, Travel Guard will give away two Flip UltraHDTM camcorders – one to the entry that receives the most votes, and one to a random person who votes for the winning entry. At the end of the year, each of the monthly winners will be posted for a final round of voting to decide who wins the $10,000 travel grand prize ultimate dream vacation.

Sounds like a win- win to me kids.

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss Photography

This beautiful New England destination wedding comes to us from the very talented Randi Voss. I love Randi and every wedding she sends over seems better than the last. Alison and Paul are originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but opted for a small destination wedding in Maine, followed by a huge hometown reception to celebrate. I kind of love this idea. There’s something really wonderful about having as many people as possible there to celebrate with you, and still enjoying the intimacy of a small ceremony. Love.

Alison said… “After getting engaged on the same day as the closing of our house (and being together for 6 years), we didn’t want to wait too long to actually get married. Waiting until 2010 seemed so far off so we decided we would attempt to plan something for the Fall of 2009 (much to the nervousness of my parents who I think will admit they didn’t think we would be able to pull it off!). As Paul and I began the wedding discussions they started to head towards a destination wedding direction. We liked the idea of doing something different in contrast to the normal hometown wedding ceremony/reception all in one day or even a ‘normal’ destination wedding in a warm, sunny, beachfront location.”

I’m a big fan of this wedding and the double party. Seriously Who wouldn’t want to go round two in their wedding dress? I also love, love, love, the details of this wedding. From Alison’s “pretty in pink shoes” to the meaningful pennies and monogrammed mason jars. Too cute.

Plus this super bride managed to move into a brand new house, get engaged, plan a destination wedding AND a hometown party in 7 months! That’s pretty amazing.

We’ll have more from Alison and Paul when their hometown soiree kicks off, but for now, enjoy these amazing images from their September ceremony in New England.

The Dress...

From the bride… As funny as it sounds, the ideas for our two main colors – sage green and chocolate brown, came from kitchen dish towels that we had bought for our new house. As soon as I saw the color combination together, the color choice was made. We thought the colors would be perfect alongside the outdoor setting of the B&B in addition to the fall time of year. A little time later, as we started to really plan out the flowers, we brought in accents of pink for a pop of color and pulled in a bit of ivory as well.

Flowers...

More Dress...

Good luck...

From the bride…  My favorite moment of the day and of which Randi captured so beautifully was Paul’s and my ‘first look’ before the ceremony. We had seen each other earlier in the day, but separated for most of the day as the girls got ‘beautified’ with hair and makeup and as the guys lent their skills in setting up the tented-reception.  By the time we were all ready I was so excited to see Paul and to spend a few alone minutes with him just taking in everything together. I was not emotional at all before or after that moment but as soon as I saw Paul, I couldn’t stop the tears, happy tears of course.  Paul quickly was able to calm me down (which he does so well) and we were ready to get started!

After seeing his bride...

Seeing each other for the first time...

From the bride… The task of planning a destination wedding was a little daunting since we were not at all familiar with the vendors available in that area. However, with the help of Paul’s relatives, who own the Inn where we got married, this worry soon went away as they provided great recommendations in all areas such as catering, flowers, cake, etc. Believe it or not, we never even had a cake tasting for our wedding cake!  The vendors were extremely open to working with us through emails and phone calls, although we did make one pre-wedding trip to Maine in July to finalize a few things and of course to get our all-important marriage certificate!

Wedding...

Programs...

Runner...

From the beautiful bride… As soon as I became officially engaged, the obsession with all of the wedding internet sites, blogs, message boards, etc. began as well. The images that I was drawn too included the rustic, garden-style, outdoor weddings that paid great attention to details which were carried throughout the ceremony and reception. Our choice of the Peace With-Inn provided the ultimate back-drop for this “look”.

The Ceremony...

Newlyweds...

From the bride…  Understanding that only a subset of our family and friends would be able to join us in Maine, we also wanted to have a reception for our larger group of friends and family back in Pittsburgh after we returned from our wedding ceremony in Maine. On one hand, Paul and I wanted an intimate, relaxed style to our actual wedding ceremony, but we also are two people that don’t shy away from big celebrations either so another reception was an order!

Stealing moments...

Vintage Chic...

Shoes...

Vintage kisses...

Centerpieces...

Beverage Details...

Mason Jars...

From Alison…  After going through 10-20 invitation books, I was drawn to the casual/modern look of the lower case letter-style and after selecting the invitation, was set on carrying the monogram and lettering style throughout our Maine wedding and Pittsburgh reception.  For our wedding in Maine, I was able to bring this detail into our invitations, ceremony programs, aisle runner, out-of-town guest bag tags and cookies, beverage napkins, mason jar tags, etc.

Cake...

Group Shot...

Walking through the field...

Guests warming by the fire...

Cheers...

From Alison… Now here is when I could go into comments about how the day went so fast and that before I knew it, the wedding was over and there wasn’t anything more to look forward to wedding-wise, but this is where the perks of having a ‘back-home’ reception come into play…yes, our wedding ceremony was over and we were officially married but we still had a big party to look forward to in only a month! So instead of the wedding celebration being over within a day, we had an excuse to keep the celebration going through our reception in October! For our October reception, Paul and I are really looking forward to spending the time with the family and friends that were unable to spend the time with us in Maine. Stay tuned for my updates after our October reception!

Yes… there are more.  I just couldn’t narrow them down. They’re just too beautiful. Here are some more FABULOUS photos from Rocco & Larah’s San Juan del Sur Nicaragua, wedding reception from Cindy Johnson

Reception- San Juan Del Sur

 

From the lovely bride…“Eventually we all went down to the restaurant for the reception, which featured seafood pasta, beef tenderloin, and grilled mahi-mahi.  We heard great speeches over both a champagne and tequila toast.”

 

Entering the Reception

 

Cigar Rolling and Tequila Shots

 

From the bride…“Then it was time for dancing!  I danced with my father to Guns N Roses Sweet Child Of Mine.  We topped off the night with non-stop dancing until finally I donned a white bikini, stripped down the groom, and most of the wedding party found themselves in the pool. 

“Overall, the wedding was a complete fairy-tale for us and our guests.  We were skeptical about a destination wedding in a developing country, but in the end we could never have done better in the US.  It was more magical and the staff at the resort did a better job than we ever imagined.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, and feel that our entire wedding was one of the highlight of my life so far!”

Reception

Scheming...

Reception

Water Dancing...

Into the Pool

Thank you again to Cindy Johnson for her AMAZING Photos! To check out more of her beautiful work check out her website!

Here are some more beautiful photos from Rocco & Larah’s San Juan del Sur Nicaragua paradise wedding, courtesy of the very talented Cindy Johnson

 

Rocco & Larah

From the beautiful bride… “At 5:00, it was time for the sunset ceremony on a deck overlooking the bay.  Our close mutual friends married us in a beautiful ceremony and then we all posed for group pictures as a guitar and violin duo serenaded us.  This was followed by cocktails as night fell.”

Rocco & Larah

Group Shot

This Real Wedding was sent to me from fabulous wedding photographer Cindy Johnson!   These are just some of the amazing photos from Rocco and Larah’s beautiful paradise wedding in San Juan, del Sur Nicaragua. Cindy also did up a killer video that I’m going to share with you too!

Rocco and Larah met in optometry school. So cute. While they were there, they took several trips to Nicaragua together for medical missions. Once they got engaged, they decided to return to the resort where they had spent so much time in the past, to get married!

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Johnson Photography

From the lovely bride… “Our wedding in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua was hailed by most guests as truly the “best wedding ever.”  One guest even commented that it seemed as though we were all in a movie. The week of  February 14,  71 guests, including ourselves traveled to a small fishing town in Southwest Nicaragua, near the Costa Rican border.  Most of us stayed at Piedras y Olas Resort, one of nicest resorts in the entire country.  The resort features private villas built into a hill, overlooking the entire town and the bay.”

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Johnson Photography

From the bride… “The festivities began with a welcome dinner at a local restaurant on the beach on Friday night. On Saturday morning I hosted a spa luncheon and both mothers,  my sister in-laws and matron of honor had fun getting mani/pedis and our hair done while sipping mimosas. In the afternoon, Rocco and I spent an hour on the beach with our photographer taking fun photos on the beach and in the local streets.”

Photo's courtesy of Cindy Johnson

Rocco and Larah

 

Rocco & Larah

 

Rocco & Larah

More photo’s to come!

As everyone pinches their purse strings and adjusts to our not-so-hot economic climate, wedding goers can expect some changes in the air.


Smaller weddings with fewer guests

This is especially true now. The best way to cut your budget is to cut your guest list first. That way you can still treat your guests to a beautiful wedding with the unique and wonderful things you want without blowing your budget.


Destination weddings or destination type weddings closer to home

Again… your guest list can seriously shrink with destination weddings. People simply can’t afford the travel, hotel accommodations, gift…the list goes on for everyone they know. Your closest friends and family will make the trip, the others will skip but still send a gift. It’s a win-win.

More green and eco-friendly products and services
Green weddings have crossed the trendy threshold and are now in a full blown category as more and more people strive to live more sustainable and eco-chic lives.  Because of this, the “green wedding” has gone mainstream and vendors are tweaking existing services to accommodate the environmentally friendly couple.

Simplified decorations, centerpieces and wedding invitations
We’ll see a step back toward sweet and simple as people continue to have beautiful weddings without the fuss and fluff. This means simple yet elegant and budget friendly centerpieces alternatives and DIY invitations and decorations. More of that to come.


Increased use of online RSVP’s vs. traditional main-in RSVP’s

We’ve had this discussion already. But I for one feel there are ways to cut paper, postage and the killing of trees for some of your invites including the bachelorette, the shower and maybe even the wedding depending on what kind of party you’re planning to throw. Although I have to say I still really love a real paper invite. You can always do recycled.

Buffet Meals, Hors D’oeurve and cocktail receptions
Opting for one of these budget friendly options eliminates the stuffiness that can accompany a sit down dinner, and if done right can make for a really great party atmosphere with tons of dancing, mingling and snacking throughout the night! These are especially great for outdoor receptions! The possibilities are endless!

Cheesecakes, cupcakes and miniature desserts
Again. I’m a cupcake whore and I think having them at your wedding is an excellent alternative to pieces of stale cake that often go uneaten because the dance floor is full.  For go the cake. Downsize to miniature versions that look beautiful set out, and won’t cost you the farm.

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