College sweethearts, Jennifer and James, met on the campus of Rutgers University, where they attended a dance appreciation class together.
Initially friends, James soon found himself developing feelings for Jennifer. It wasn’t long before Jennifer reciprocated his sentiments, and the more time they spent together the deeper into love their feelings fell. A few dates later and they found themselves on the path towards together forever.
Read all about Jennifer & James’ love story, proposal, and experiences in their chic beach wedding in Punta Cana.
Bride & Groom: Jennifer & James
Occupations: Behavioral Health Specialist & Real Estate Project Manager
Wedding date: March 23, 2019
Wedding location: Huracan Café, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
How did you meet? James and Jenn are college sweethearts, having met at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. During their sophomore year, James and Jenn shared exactly one class together: Dance Appreciation on Douglass (the rural campus). James had grown a fondness in his heart for Jenn, and although she still saw him as a nice friend, he wanted to show her that she was special to him. So, he asked her to save him a seat in a overcrowded lecture hall (7 times). The shift in their friendship came when Jenn asked James if he knew of any Historically Black Greek Letter Organization yard shows coming-up, and James replied that he would be participating in one. Once Jenn saw James as more than just a fun-loving, nice friend, they started spending more time together and they talked about their values and aspirations in life. After a few casual dates, the two decided that they cared deeply enough for each other that they would like to become a couple.
Tell us about the proposal. On a beautiful, warm, and calm day in September (Queue the Earth, Wind, & Fire) James took Jenn on a dinner cruise for a relaxing date night. They watched the sun set, ate a delicious dinner, and cruised up and down the Potomac. At the end of the night, knowing Jenn does not like to be the center of attention among strangers, James lit the candles he had bought weeks before, got on one knee and poured his heart out. Jenn said Yes!
Describe your wedding attire. We decided to do formal on the beach. Since it was March in the Caribbean, the weather is milder. Getting the dress was stressful. I spent some time looking for the perfect shop for me locally. Once I found Cherry Blossom Bridal it took a few times to find the right dress. Went to the first appointment alone to figure out what style I liked. I took my sisters, mother-in-law, mother, and maid of honor to my second appointment. I was torn between two dresses and couldn’t decide which style I wanted. For the third and final appointment, a new dress had come in and I knew it was better than all the rest. I knew there was no better dress and that I had found my sparkling beautiful dress. I bought a beaded mermaid style dress with shoulder necklaces and a sweetheart neckline.
James: “I wanted a simple, but elegant style. I decided on a white dinner jacket as part of a tuxedo. I like the crisp look with the black trim and black pants. I got some shoes that were a little more crafted than standard patent leather round-toes. I had to include a bow-tie and the wooden watch I bought for myself and my groomsmen. The tuxedo studs and cuff-links were pearlescent to match the beach theme and the colors for bride & groom.”
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? Yes, Jennifer’s grandparents are from Guatemala, so we had a bi-lingual ceremony in Spanish and English. This also helps because her paternal grandmother still lives in Honduras, and speaks very little English. So when she visits the US, we can show her the wedding video and she can understand every word.
Wedding party gifts: Bridesmaids were given matching blue floral robes and rose gold earrings. Groomsmen were given matching wooden watches.
Gifts for one another: We give each other gifts all the time, so we decided to focus on the love because there’s always a pressure to outdo each other or get the perfect gift. Our gift to ourselves was the honeymoon and spa time after the wedding.
Ceremony entrance song: H.E.R. ft. Daniel Ceasar: Best Part
First dance song: Ne-Yo: One in a Million
What is your best memory from your wedding? Jennifer: “Spending time with family after the wedding ceremony and taking pictures with loved ones.”
James: “Having a private moment before the ceremony where we could be ourselves and enjoy the beautiful scenery before we fulfilled our hearts’ desire.”
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Make sure you find vendors that truly mesh well with your vision. Our venue coordinator, DJ, photographer, and make-up artist were all local and had worked with each other before. We didn’t have to worry about anything the whole evening and the only questions we got were about our preference for a song or drink that fit our personality.
Wedding dress designer: Maggie Sottero
Wedding dress salon: Cherry Blossom Bridal
Bridesmaids dresses: Anthropologie BHLDN
Hair/makeup: Anna Nuet
Shoes: Blue by Betsey Johnson
Ceremony & Reception location: Huracan Café
Photography & Videography: Punta Cana Photographer
Venue Wedding planner: Huracan Café (Stephanie and Nati)
Florist/Cake/Stationery/Event designer: Huracan Café (Nati)
Groom’s attire: Jacket- Men’s Warehouse, Other attire: The Black Tux
Groomsmen attire: The Black Tux
Officiant: Jehison Cabrera
DJ: GCStar Punta Cana, Germán Cabello