This Chicago Couple Escaped the Cold for a Sun-Drenched Wedding in Puerto Rico

Real Weddings

Online dating may seem to be taking over, but every once in a while, a couple meets up for a good, old-fashioned blind date. And for Jen and Andy, who met in Chicago in March of 2008, it worked! Five years later, on their way out to dinner, Andy proposed on their home, and the couple got started planning a destination wedding (and a weekend's worth of activities!) in Vieques, Puerto Rico in November of 2014.

With 43 guests traveling from the U.S., and most from chilly Chicago, the couple knew a Caribbean destination was just the thing. "We wanted something off the beaten path, and Vieques is unspoiled, full of old-world charm," says Jen. Want to see more of their island getaway? Check out these gorgeous photos by Leila Brewster Photography.

Andy and Jen's goal was to plan a wedding weekend where they would look back and say "Wow!", and that's exactly what they did. From poolside lounging to kayaking in the bioluminescent bay, the weekend was filled with love and joy.

Jen's lace gown, with a short silhouette topped with a sheer lace skirt, was custom-made by a Chicago seamstress. She paired the relaxed design with Jimmy Choo sandals and jewelry borrowed from her grandmother, mother, and mother-in-law. She tied her late father's high school ring to her bouquet of white hydrangeas and blue hyacinth. Andy's son served as ring bearer, with the couple's 10-month-old son upping the cute factor in suspenders and a bowtie.

The oceanfront ceremony didn't need any decoration beyond a warm breeze and lots of sunshine. The couple wrote their own vows, and included a quote from Albert Einstein in the proceedings.

After the ceremony, the photographer led Andy and Jen to a nearby meadow full of hundreds of wild horses. "They were so curious about my bouquet. It made for great pictures!" laughs the bride.

At the cocktail hour, guests signed wine bottles that served as the newlyweds' guestbook.

Dinner took place at a single long table decorated with hydrangeas and succulents in antique silver vases. In honor of their Puerto Rican location, the menu included coconut shrimp, beef empanadas, and Caribbean baked salmon with sweet plantains and coconut rice.

After dinner, the bride and groom cut into an almond cake frosted with salted caramel buttercream. Later in the evening, guests got down to a mix of 80s, 90s, and hip hop tunes. "The energy was amazing!" says Jen.

And this destination bride offers advice that any bride can take to heart. "Before you start planning, ask yourself: In 1, 5, or 10 years, when you look back on your wedding, what's the one thing you want to remember? Then focus your efforts to make sure that happens, and let the rest slide."

Venue & Catering: W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island || Bride's Wedding Dress: Julia Needlman || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J. Crew || Groom's Attire: Daniel George || Florist: Stem Events || Invitations & Paper Goods: Paper Truly || Music: DJs of the Islands || Photography: Leila Brewster Photography

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Looking for more destination wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's island nuptials in the video below!

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