Around this time last year my husband and I worked with our amazing travel agent/friend Abby to start planning our dream family vacation to Italy! We selected dates, flights, and even paid for them to lock in the awesome price. Also around this time last year we caught wind of my cousin’s destination wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
We talked about how much fun it would be to get our whole family together for a tropical island vacation! -and then remembered our big, giant, dream vacation to Italy.- The dates were only three weeks apart so I set my eyes on Italy, sent my cousin good thoughts/love, and didn’t think too much about Punta Cana again.
It was a typical Tuesday. My mom was on her way over to my house. (Tuesday’s are our day-shopping, lunch, whatever.) She called and said she had facetimed with my aunt that morning. My aunt (mother of the groom) was all settled in to the resort. She showed mom the gorgeous views but would get choked up because no one from our side of the family was there for the wedding. She understood, but it didn’t make her any less bummed. Then, my mom felt bummed. Half joking (I think?) she said “call your travel agent friend and see how much it would be for me to get down there and stay a few days.” I told her she was nuts. It was Tuesday. The wedding was on Friday. It would be $$$$$ for a last minute flight and accommodations at Now Larimar. Being the good daughter that I am- I called Abby. 
We were shocked to hear the pricing for one person. It was a great last minute deal. Just out of curiosity my mom told me to ask Abby for pricing that included two… IT WAS ONLY A COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR AN ADDITIONAL PERSON! Abby screamed “OMG! You HAVE to go!” while mom screamed “we’re f^%}ing going!” 😂
After chatting with our husbands, we decided to go! We paid a whopping $18 for my son to come too! (Lolol a few people said “oh is he staying home with daddy while you go?” Ummm no. My barnacle baby and I don’t separate for more than an hour or so. I would not leave the country without him!)
SPOILER ALERT🚨 Flying with a toddler is not a nightmare! My mom and I had more to carry in the airport, of course, but we had a great experience! (ebag on my back, toddler on my front, car seat in my hands!) Everette actually slept most of the time on the flights! My tips for flying are: snacks, iPad, new toys, babywearing, and nursing! -and for anyone who knows me you know that snacks and iPad are a huge deal! We don’t do snacks or screen time but I bent the rules for the flights and I’ll definitely be bending them again when we fly to Italy!- speaking of our flight to Italy – I’m starting to get really freaking nervous! 

Okay so anyways – flash forward to arriving in the Dominican Republic. The airport was so unique! I’d never been somewhere like this! The airport was all open with a lot of plants and greenery. The roof looked like a straw hut! Customs wasn’t scary like I thought it would be. Everyone was actually really kind. (This would be true for our entire stay on the island!)
I always tease my mom because she literally knows everyone. I say she’s her towns unofficial mayor. She literally knows someone everywhere we go, but this time it was me. Two people ahead of us was a childhood friend/high school graduating classmate. Talk about weird! I hadn’t seen him in 11 years and he was 2 people ahead of me in line!
The bus ride to the resort was wild! Our bus driver bobbed and weaved through traffic before safely delivering us to the resort. 
We were greeted with cool towels that smelled like fresh citrus and cool sweet juice in champagne flutes. Check in seemed to take foreverrrrrr but the front desk graciously located us right next door to my aunt/uncle AND gave us a free upgrade to “preferred” level! The front desk clerk called Chris and Lenora’s room but they weren’t in there. Mom tried to FaceTime them over and over. We didn’t know how to find them or reach them. We were sooo excited to surprise them! We walked all around the resort but couldn’t find them. We grabbed a quick lunch and kept strategizing. Finally, my mom messaged my other cousin’s wife and told her that we sent a gift to the front lobby and to sent my aunt and uncle to pick it up asap. They came – they saw us – the feels! 

Our family was happy that we were there. They quickly made us feel welcome by showing us around, introducing us to everyone, and getting us involved in the prewedding gatherings. The island was beautiful! I was so proud of mom and I for taking a wild leap! We’d never done anything like this before! Everette was his same silly yet shy self (#nonewpeople!) lol! 

He was nursing NONSTOP! To be completely honest it was driving me a bit insane. It seemed almost excessive. I tried to offer drinks, food, toys, etc but he insisted on “MILNT” approximately 1093372736362 times a day. He was nursing like a mad man. I didn’t know if it was because of the new place/people or maybe because he was feeling ill, but I kept on boobing. He nursed in the room, in his carrier, at the pool, on the beach, in restaurants, and anywhere else you could imagine. One person in the party was vocal about how uncomfortable nursing made him and made a few comments. I was mostly unaffected, but slightly annoyed. I’m glad our nursing relationship is so established and that I’m comfortable and confident with it. People who deter nursing mothers because of their own discomfort have a lot of growing to do, in my opinion. Not your boobs, not your body, not your baby. (In hindsight I discovered that Everette popped a two year molar! I am so glad he can find comfort and relief in nursing.)

The wedding was INCREDIBLE. I mean… INCREDIBLE. The venue (The Jellyfish Restaurant) was a two story open building on a seemingly private beach. We were greeted with fruity tropical drinks before the beach wedding began. Every detail was perfectly planned. I can’t even describe the beauty of this place! I cried the ENTIRE wedding because 1. Weddings are beautiful 2. I was reminded of my own beautiful wedding and the real kicker 3. Someday my son will get married. This one got me HARD! Yes, I know he’s not even 2 yet but time really does fly! Watching my aunt watch her son take his vows almost put me over the edge! The bride was absolutely stunning and my cousin, the groom, was choked up while saying his vows… omg you guys! Soooo many beautiful moments!
They had an incredible photography team. There were AT LEAST 4 people shooting the wedding (probably more like 6- I swear they were everywhere!) I can’t wait to see the moments they captured! They even flew drones! Definitely the real deal! 
The reception was gorgeous and the food was incredible. The best man and maid of honor speeches had me in tears again and then the mother/son dance. I seriously COULDN’T EVEN! I held my son so close and imagined dancing with him at his wedding someday. 😭😭😭 hello tears! The reception was full of fun drinks, tasty food, fire dancers, dancers on stilts… it was an epic party.
I admired the way the photography team worked. They were not in the way, but they were everywhere! I can’t imagine the images they captured! One of the photographers snapped a few pictures as I breastfed my toddler. She was so kind to me. She said it was so nice to see a breastfeeding mother/child. I want to say she thanked me too but you know how conversations and memories blur after a while. She also said that she breastfed her first child and she was pregnant with her second. I was shocked and saddened when she said that breastfeeding wasn’t common in the Dominican Republic and that only around 5% of women there breastfed. She and I chatted later in the evening as well. I was at ease when talking to her. She was a calm and gentle spirit. I would’ve loved talking to her about her birth story, her son, breastfeeding… but she had a job to do!
When I spoke with my husband that night I told him all about the beautiful wedding, but I kept coming back to the photographer and her words. He was just as excited as I was. So many times breastfeeding mamas are harassed and talked down to, but I was encouraged! 
When we got back to the states and settled in I was able to find the name of the photography team! Katya Nova and her husband Rob were the talented people who shot the wedding and shared encouraging words with me. Peep their amazing IG accounts and her blog
I know this one was long, but the morals of this story are: take spur of the moment trips and make memories & most importantly – let’s lift each other up and encourage one another!