Derek and Vanessa's destination wedding to Puerto Rico came in the middle of February, which is precisely when this photographer (and just about every other New Yorker) wants to be on a tropical island. My big rule for out of town weddings is "get there early", so I arrived for their Saturday wedding on Wednesday. It was a good thing; on Thursday I was sprawled in a beach chair, beer in hand, watching the news as a huge snowstorm pummeled New York City.
Derek and Vanessa gathered with about 40 friends and family for an intimate beach ceremony just outside the private residence they rented for the occasion, and afterward we headed the short walk down to the hotel Villa Cofresi for their legendary gigantic coconut drinks first and dinner after.
Coincidentally, I was staying at the Villa Cofresi, and every evening I would walk by this huge empty patio going unused. The bar was noisy and crowded but this second-floor outdoor patio was spacious and gorgeous, so it seemed like a much more ideal spot to hang out with the wedding guests. I asked Derek and Vanessa if they would mind me slightly changing their cocktail hour plans. They were fine with it, so the day before the wedding I tracked down the manger and got her to agree to let us use it - for free, too! They even made sure there were chairs and tables for us. I'm so happy that the guests had a great place to relax and unwind after the ceremony, and I love the way the photos came out.
Their five year old daughter served as flower girl, and delivered one of the sweetest wedding moments I've photographed. No one had told her to fling the petals from her basket, so she very properly padded out onto the sand, selected ONE flower, and gently laid it on the path before skipping to her dad for a kiss.
They exchanged their vows right on the ocean and we were able to walk over to drinks and then dinner just as the sun was setting and the pelicans were diving for their supper.
Congratulations Derek and Vanessa! I'm so happy I was able to photograph your beautiful beach wedding.