Michelle and Julie’s Aruba wedding this past week was BEYOND. Strap yourselves in, folks this is a looooong post! A few years back, Michelle and I were single together, living our best lives. We met up for happy hours, commiserating about online dating and the duds we were meeting. Until she met Julie! I watched their romance blossom online through Instagram and Facebook; from Patriots games to barbecues to cooking the most amazing pasta sauces from scratch to the absolute Holy Grail of Bloody Mary’s. MY KIND OF PEOPLE!!! When Michelle told me the news- they were engaged and planning for a wedding in Aruba I was so excited for them..and secretly hoping she would hire me to photograph this amazing escape! Let’s just say that manifesting things is a real thing! It was a done deal and we were all so so excited for their Aruba wedding to happen!
Enter 2020, do I even need to recap any of that?
Onward! By the time their Aruba wedding rolled around (after having to swap dates around, like most of my clients) many people were vaccinated, or had gotten into the swing of how to live a safe life and avoid catching covid. I admit, I was super nervous to travel on a plane, this was my very first flight since October of 2019 when I had gone to London.
Creative partners for Michelle and Julie’s amazing destination wedding in Aruba:
Getting ready location + rehearsal dinner location: Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive Resort, Oranjestad Aruba
Wedding ceremony and reception location: Ricardo’s Restaurant and Bar, Oranjestad Aruba
Wedding planner: Alberto Groeneveldt
Flowers: Elsa’s Flower Shop
When we checked in at Newark, this was the line to drop off your checked bags. HOLY HELL PEOPLE!! Keep looking in that line allllll the way to the left of the frame…yes. They were ALL in line to check in via Jet Blue! Those of you who have traveled with me know how early I like to get to airports and man I was a nervous Nelly! We had a really fun group traveling in for the start of the week o’ fun.
Flying in to a tropical island is always a visual treat!
As it happens, the resort where we were all staying, the Tamarijn, was where my ex and I had honeymooned in 1999! It felt good to see the place again, this time with our daughter. It’s a magical, beautiful place and this bunker bar was where we found ourselves getting refills of our Boom Aruba drink: vodka, coconut cream, splash of pineapple and seltzer! Basically a Pina colada with vodka and seltzer according to the bar tenders who made it faithfully each day for the masses that were led by Michelle and Julie!
There are some words that I really enjoy hearing: PALAPA is high on that list! If I heard Julie say PALAPA once I heard her say it a thousand times, and I could hear it a thousand times more!! PALAPA MUZZY!!! Another word I love: SALCHICHAS!
This spot outside our room was where we would congregate most days and hang, bob around in the water, make drink runs, laugh. Pick through so many of the amazing shells and coral that washed up on the beach each day. It was a slice of heaven for a group so fatigued by this past year and we soaked it up each day, grateful for it.
On Tuesday Michelle, Julie, Georgie and I took a trip to Ricardo’s Restaurant and Bar, the place where they would have their Aruba wedding ceremony and party afterwards! This was the very first time they touched the water since arriving. This beach was stunning, the sand so soft underfoot, the water warm and beautiful.
Some scene setters from my iPhone throughout the week! In case you are planning an Aruba wedding and want to know what to expect. Pure beauty, crystal clear water, soft white sand and gorgeous sunsets. Not too shabby if you ask me!
Thursday rolled around and it was rehearsal dinner night! Julie and Michelle skipped the option of having an engagement session before in Connecticut. Nah, they didn’t need all of these non wedding photos taken before, but thank you anyway!
Wait for it.
Now, I propose engagement sessions for most people as a way to learn to get comfortable in front of the camera. Having ME photograph you is not the same as taking bathroom selfies! Unless your selfies look like this and your mirrors yell and encourage you! Which, they don’t. Come on. I am WAY more fun! Check out these SMOKE SHOWS BABY!!
Flash forward literally one minute into their pre rehearsal dinner photo session, of which we had about maybe 15 minutes to do it…. and they are literal HAMS. They love the camera and the camera loves them! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!
PALAPAS!! I wish the word rainbow got me more jazzed, but actual rainbows really do! Julie’s dress and shoes were over the top amazing.
Hey girl, check out those sexy calves!!!
Now, the entire week I had been poking around here and there and literally everywhere, taking in the light. Scouting. Looking. Stalking. This pink bush was so pretty and it was in a little alleyway ash type thing that most everyone would just scoot on by. Not me! I will find spots and see spots that you won’t which is why you hire me! My eyes are different!
Heading to their rehearsal dinner at the Red Parrot at the Tamarijn resort. It was a fun night of toasts, great food and great drinks!
It’s wedding day…!! It was fun to coordinate bouncing back and forth between the hair room and the makeup room. I tag teamed with their makeup artist on timing and we had them ready EARLY for their wedding! SCORE!
I scouted out a spot for their first look that was just a little path around one of the buildings, totally private. The one thing: if the sun was out it made this crazy dappled light at the time we needed to do our first look. I prayed to the clouds to cover us when the time came.
Michelle and I had a nice moment alone while Georgie went to get Julie for the first look. This was a moment of CAN YOU FREAKING BELIEVE IT???? Here we were at that moment where Michelle was going to see her bride, on their wedding day on an island that Michelle has loved for a long time. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy for them both.
Julie makes her way to Michelle….
This maaaaay be the most dramatic reaction during a first look I have seen in a long time!
After they had their moment I segued them a few feet over into this little nothing spot- a spot no one even saw because it was inside the bushes against the hotel! Tropical, great light, privacy. All things we wanted!
Check me out rocking my Money Maker by Holdfast. It’s an amazing and important tool for me for weddings since I do use two cameras throughout the day!
Onward to more secret portrait locations!
This gorgeous and crazy tree- that I have no idea what it is- caught my eye during my scouting session and I knew I had to incorporate it into some portraits. How beautiful is this?
PALAPA time! I knew featuring the turquoise waters of Aruba were really important to them. It was super bright and not really the most ideal time to photograph on a beach, but we made it work while also incorporating PALAPAS!
This photo here is of Michelle laughing at me. I started to cry during their portraits, for many reasons. I have not done that before- I have cried during a few first looks (Mandi + Dan’s and Vanessa and Lauren’s weddings yes I have!) But this was a first for me! I was just SO OVERWHELMED from this past year of all of the scary stuff we all had to face. Then here we were, celebrating Michelle and Julie’s wedding, together, safely in Aruba! I knew how hard Michelle had searched for Julie and how absolutely perfect they are for one another. I had not met Julie in person before the wedding (thanks covid) and I just absolutely ADORE her so much. Georgie and I are obsessed with Palapa Muzzy and Tropical Muzz. I can’t wait to get to know CT Muzzy now! And so I wept.
Just outside the lobby was. nice shady spot with a cactus and interesting wood detail. So we stopped! We snuggled!
This one. I literally was screaming at her THERE IS A FOX IN THE HEN HOUSE!!!! every time she raised her eyes to my camera. Holy Hell this woman loves the camera and the camera just loves her!!!!!
I just can’t with these two. Yesterday Julie texted me saying Michelle wants to do MORE PHOTO SHOOTS WITH ME!!!! hahahahahaha remember when you didn’t want an engagement session?? I got you hooked, sis. Let’s do it!
We arrived at Ricardo’s with time to spare. Time for a quick beach sesh, time for a coconut cocktail. Time to take it all in before everyone arrived! *let me be in charge of your timeline with your planner baby I know what’s up!
Part of their ceremony was having puppies who needed to be adopted there. They had someone (a few people maybe? Not sure) agree to bring back FOUR puppies to be placed in loving homes! This little angel stole my heart, and later stole Georgie’s as well! If she didn’t have a home already I just may have snagged her as my little love!
Their ‘flower girl’ Karoline with the most adorable flowers I have ever seen!!
Who’s the boss? She is!
Some people mix sand to show their blended families. Michelle and Julie mixed a drink in a coconut!
Cue the boy band songs! They walked down the aisle straight to the water singing to one another it was so sweet. (puppy chaos continues in the background, also cute!)
I just love these two. They combined energy, their separate energy. Their love. Their coconuts.
What a gorgeous back drop for their reception!
On an island that hardly ever sees rain…. we saw it that day about 4 times! No one cared! We grabbed our cocktails and hid under the rood of Ricardo’s for 5 minutes then marched back down to the reception! It was memorable to say the least!
Their planner Alberto had many surprises in store for them, one of which were some Carnival dancers!!
BALASH!! I am loving the reconnecting with old friends and the making of new ones so so much. These two top the list and so do those lurkers in the back!
Julie didn’t ask for much. She was honestly one of the most laid back brides I have ever had. One of her must haves: a donut cake! And a donut cake she had!!
I leave you all with this gorgeous blue sky and blue water. What an amazing and epic trip this was, on so many levels, for so many reasons. To get away now of all times, was incredible. I did not take this for granted and was pleasantly surprised at how safe I felt. To bear witness to so much love literally all week not just between my two brides, but between my friends. I made so many wonderful friends this week and also SO MANY NEW GOLFING BUDDIES OMG I could literally scream and yell! What a wonderful group of women I was surrounded by, all week long. Here’s to celebrating love of all kinds, to your person, with your friends, your families, with puppies and coconut drinks! Congratulations Michelle and Julie aka Boom and Muuuuuuuzy!!!! We love you both so much XOXO
To see more destination weddings and events photographed by International wedding and event photographer Carla Ten Eyck, click on the links below: