When Ashleigh Richardson and Lance Thraikill first met in October 2013 it's not likely that either thought they would be planning a wedding less than a year later. But while in Cabo for the Ashleigh's brother's wedding in May 2014, Lance popped the question — after securing permission from the bride whose wedding they were attending, that is! "Lance planned the most romantic and meaningful proposal with the help of his good friend and photographer Zach Wathen," the bride remembers. "He had our favorite bible verse written on a rock and rose petals leading up to it. His plan was that my family would all be there after the proposal."
Inspired by the destination wedding that lead to their engagement, Ashleigh and Lance decided they wanted a far flung celebration of their own. After researching tropical locales with the best weather, the pair chose La Romana, Dominican Republic, for their January 18, 2014 nuptials. With the help of Gro Designs, the couple planned a blush-hued bash for their 125 guests, which was expertly captured by Shaun Menary Photography.
The couple knew they wanted a soft and romantic wedding with plenty of flowers, so a blush-and-white invitation suite with pops of gold was the perfect way to invite guests to their big day.
Ashleigh chose a strapless corded lace fit and flare gown from Kenneth Pool. "It was the only dress that I was ready to buy that day," she remembers of the silhouette. "I had gone to so many places and couldn't find a dress that had everything I wanted until I found mine. I loved the unique sheer back and it fit like a glove." She accessorized with gold Christian Louboutin heels and a Monique Lhuillier veil borrowed from her sister-in-law.
She carried a mostly white bouquet of roses with just the faintest hint of pink petals tucked in.
The bride's 14 attendants all stunned in mismatched blush gowns from Dessy. "I gave them the brand, fabric, color, and length and allowed my bridesmaids to pick a style they liked," Ashleigh says. "I wanted them to have the freedom to choose something that is flattering on their own bodies and made them feel good about themselves." As a gift, the bride gave each 'maid a pair of Kendra Scott earrings.
Although the bride certainly stole the show in her gown, the groom made sure to showcase his own stylish side. He chose a blush suit designed by Ross Bennet, which he accented with a green paisley bowtie and succulent boutonniere. His groomsmen chose light gray suits from J.Crew, which were paired with blush bowties and colorful socks.
Choosing the St. Stanislaus Church for their ceremony was a no-brainer for Ashleigh and Lance. "I spent a lot of time searching and came across the church at Altos de Chavon," the bride says of finding a spot to exchange vows. "The second I saw the church I knew that was where I was going to get married."
Ashleigh walked down the open-air aisle with her father before joining Lance to exchange personalized vows that they based off biblical passages. But there was a brief moment before the ceremony where the bride thought she might not have her vows to share. "My planners came over to me right before the ceremony to let me know my sister, and maid-of-honor, had gotten my vows wet and the pen had run," she remembers. "I wrote my own vows and that was all I had to go off of, so that was a bit scary. Nathan, one of our planners, blow dried them and rewrote what I remembered." While some brides-to-be might have been angry, Ashleigh laughed the situation off — literally! "My sister is really bad on herself so I made sure to tell her everything was fixed and I wasn't upset with her. When I whispered everything was okay, she pointed to her dress and hair which was covered in bird droppings. It was hard to concentrate during the first few minutes of the ceremony because I was so focused on not laughing!"
Once the bride and groom got through their vows, they treated guests to a few special musical selections. "We were so fortunate to have nationally-known worship singers Shane and Shane sing some of our favorite songs live," the bride says. These included Phil Wickham's "You're Beautiful" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
The groom physically swept his bride off of her feet as the party moved to The Beach Club by Le Cirque for the reception. There, guests found pink-and-white watercolor escort cards that lead them to their designated table.
The reception space was done up in shades of pink, white, and gold and included towering arrangements of lush blooms. Gold chargers, watercolor table numbers, and mercury glass candles lent a romantic vibe to the tropical space.
Dinner was an island-inspired feast, which included fish wrapped in plantains and beef filet with local steamed veggies.
Rather than ask guests to sign a traditional guestbook, the couple requested friends and family sign their name on their birthday in a photo calendar.
For dessert, the couple served a towering four-tiered vanilla cake with strawberry filling. "My idea for the cake was for it to look like a waterfall of flowers, so we had the cake made very simply and our planners added flowers that matched the rest of the reception décor," the bride says.
Then the party really got started. "We flew in DJ SOULjah from Dallas, and Lance surprised me with a firework showing during our first dance," Ashleigh says. "Immediately following the first dance we had 'Loca Hora' which included six local dancers coming out with confetti guns and shooting everywhere and passing out glow sticks."
The pair also brought in a station where guests could watch a local artisan craft hand-rolled cigars.
Ashleigh and Lance left beautiful Dominican Republic behind for a honeymoon in St. Lucia. "Make sure you don't lose sight of the real reason of the wedding," the bride said.
Ceremony Venue: St. Stanislaus Church || Reception Venue & Catering: The Beach Club by Le Cirque || Wedding Planner & Flowers: Nathan and Krisi of Gro Floral & Event Design || Officiant: Jonathan Pokluda || Bride's Wedding Dress: Kenneth Pool || Veil: Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Makeup: Kristy Johnston || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Dessy || Mother of the Bride Dress: Olvi's || Groom's Attire: Ross Bennett || Bride's Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Lyles Jewelry || Groom's Wedding Band: Cartier || Invitations: Paper Affair || Other Paper Products: Jocelyn Jesus; Printing with Pizazz || Ceremony Music: Shane and Shane || Reception Music: DJ SOULjah || Videographer: Ted Lauck || Photography: Shaun Menary Photography
Looking for more destination wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's far-flung nuptials — this time, in France!