Sharing this beautiful Wedding with you makes my heart burst with joy. LOVE is the answer, and it will save the world. Seeing Raffi & Rich together makes me sure of this. What a beautiful, crazy, emotional, sweet Big Day!

Rafaela is originally from Ecuador and Richmond’s family is Filipino. They live in Ontario, Canada, surrounded by big loving families, and are working hard to make their dreams come true … starting with this gorgeous beach wedding at Huracan Cafe, which has become one of Punta Cana’s most unique rustic chic wedding venues. I have so many favourite moments from the day. Most of them involve admiring Raffi’s goddess beauty and Rich’s tears of joy at the sight of his new wife. Blessings, blessings, blessings!!!

Nati, Valentina & the Huracan Team did an amazing job bringing Rafaela’s vision to life!

Rafaela: “We have the same friends. I’ve seen him around here and there but never really talked to him. Then we are at a party one night and I see this cute guy with long hair (I have a thing for guys with long hair!), I didn’t recognize him at first, but sure enough, it was Richmond. I made the first move that night by flirting and we went on a few dates shortly after. We quickly realized we just had so much fun together and had so many things in common! As they say, the rest is history” 😉  

Rich: “The first time that I saw Raffi, she was hanging with friends that we both knew. She was wearing a purple dress, her hair was long, straightened and easily went past her butt. I thought she was so sexy. My friend then told me that Raffi was her cousin! As time passed we ended up seeing each other more often, but it wasn’t until she started showing some interest in me that I finally built up the courage to ask her out. Sunday movie nights became our thing. We would meet up every Sunday to watch whatever movie was out and things blossomed from there.”

Our dearest Rafaela & Rich … don’t ever stop being the passionate, silly, heart-centered love-monkeys that you are!!!!! We are waiting here in Punta Cana for you with open arms! xoxoxoxoxo Katya, Rob & baby Zion.

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Top three things Rich loves about Rafaela: “She is very down to earth, very high spirited, and she cares a lot about the well being of the people that are dear to her.” 

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Rafaela on the Proposal:

OMG!!! It was so unexpected. We were in Ecuador, at the park right in front of my dad’s new house. Rich came up with this shocking and elaborate plan for it to look as if he is being arrested! I was sick to my stomach watching this crazy scene unfold. My dad, brother, uncle and cousin were the only ones who knew what was going on. Rich wanted to make it more hardcore actually – to have him put in handcuffs and for the police to be more rough with him, but he was scared my mom might faint!! It took me a while to realize what was happening. It was the best proposal ever in my eyes. He knows how important my country and my family is to me. The added Mariachi at the end… just amazing! Cant wait till I have children and bring them to the park and tell them the story :)”
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Richmond:  “That proposal was one of the most nerve-wracking times of my life. I had decided very last minute that the best time to propose would be in front of her family in her home country of Ecuador. I told her brothers and father of my intentions and they gave me some great ideas on how I should pop the question. They help me set up a staged search by the local police….the video clip will explain it in more detail:

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Top three things Rafaela loves about Richmond: “He’s very Loyal, he is always making me laugh, and he’s such a hard worker. Rich is always working long hours to make sure we have what we need.” 

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Richmond: “she has supported me through right or wrong, thick and thin, smart and dumb choices. She has become my compass in life and she is also the strongest pillar of support that I have.”

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Rafaela’s favourite guilty pleasures: “FRIES!! Ecuadorian Cheese!” 

Rich’s favourite guilty pleasures: “Fatty foods.”

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Most romantic memory together according to Rafaela: “one of our first Valentines Day’s. Rich booked a hotel, secretly decorated it and had games set up … it was so cute!” 

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Most romantic memory together according to Rich: “the vacation that we take together in Cuba, which falls just before her Birthday week. I like the fact that it’s just us there and no other distractions around.”huracan punta cana weddingpunta cana huracan wedding

Ideal day together according to Rafaela: “I just love staying in all day with him, its hard for both of us to have the same days off, and when we do, its because we both took it off for a friend’s birthday or another occasion. So when we do just have a random day off, our fave thing to do is just be in bed, cuddle, watch documentaries or a TV series for hours and hours while we drink some alcohol and then order take out. We have deep conversations, stay up all night and sleep in all day. Laziness at its fullest!”  

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Ideal day together according to Richmond: “Watching our favourite TV series straight through, eating bad food that we know we’ll regret, and having some beers along the way.” 

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Richmond: “I am constantly trying to be a better version of myself because at the end of the day all Raffi deserves is the best of me that I can offer.” 

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Rafaela: “I’ve matured a lot with Rich by my side, he has made me a more stronger and independent person. I never thought I would settle down and want to start a life with someone the way I do with him.” hakuna matata tattoocreative beach wedding ideas

Rafaela: “He is my best friend. I can be 100% myself around him, I love our playful and competitive nature. We are seriously 2 big kids… we randomly start bugging each other and we are always betting on anything. We can laugh all night long about the stupidest things. But aside from that he’s loyal and hardworking and is always trying to better himself to make me happy and I really appreciate that.”

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Rafaela: “When I’m upset or irritated, Rich makes it better by hugging me, letting me vent/cry it out. He reassures me everything will be okay, makes me laugh and then takes me out for drinks and food so I can unwind.”

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Rich: “I’m simple, all she would need to do is feed me a meal of one of my favourite dishes. Food is the way to my heart.”dominican republic wedding huracan

First dance: mix of Ed Sheeran “Thinking out loud,” Romeo Santos, Usher’s “Promise,” and Marc Anthony “Valio la Pena.”

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Rafaela’s favourite things to find in the fridge: BEER! And yummy left overs from mommie’s cooking.” 

Richmond’s favourite things to find in the fridge:  “Left over food from my favourite dishes. Or beer.”

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Rafaela: “If Rich had magical powers, I think he would like to control time and read people’s minds. He’s into conspiracy theories and I think he would take what he knows now, go back in time and see if these things really happened. Also, to go back and save Tupac … or find him in Cuba!!” 

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Rich: “If Rafaela had magical powers, it would be the power to fly, because she always mentions how she wants to see and experience the world.”trash the dress katya novapunta cana rock the dress


Most memorable moments from the Day /  Wedding week?

Rafaela: “The most memorable moments for me were getting ready with my girls. Also, having our beautiful lunch by the beach, enjoying each other while getting pampered. Of course, seeing my vision come together and witnessing everyone working so hard to make our dream wedding come true. 

More moments: when my parents saw me for the first time and walking down the aisle with my dad. I would say the ceremony, but honestly, I was so excited, anxious, nervous and just every emotion you can think of, that it was a blur.

The surprise groomsman dance! I can’t believe they choreographed an 8 minute dance. These are 7 guys who don’t dance; and they pulled it off. Everyone was so surprised. It was amazing. 

From the week: Having our friends and family together for a week with no worries, just relaxing and having a fun time.The party boat with Renny was the best! We did it a day after the wedding. Richmond and I could finally let loose and have no more wedding stress … oh boy everyone definitely let loose!!!”

Richmond: Having my immediate family there was unforgettable. From my brother being one of my groomsmen, to having my sister, aunt and my parents making time for this trip. Having my parents walk me down the aisle was a very significant moment, the dance with my mother was also very special. The thing I’ll always remember about that dance was my mom simply asking if I was happy. Also, all those Saturday mornings that my groomsmen and I sacrificed to practice our dance routine and for us to finally perform it, that great sense of elation and accomplishment!

The ceremony up until the dances were all a blur to me. I felt like I was on auto-pilot because I was so nervous about performing the dances. The party boat by Renny was awesome: it was the first day on our vacation that both of us could finally relax for the first time as a newly married couple. I finally realized all the fun that the people were having!” 

Any regrets? What would you have done differently if you could?

Rafaela: “My regrets are not having alone time with my husband to soak it all in, also stressing way too much over everything and anything. Looking back now, it really wasn’t worth it. You can’t control if it’s going to rain that day. It didn’t matter what songs played or how long the song was when your parents or groomsmen came out or what the cake flavour was or what signs were put up and what wasn’t done. In reality people don’t even remember these things, only you know what was supposed to happen or not. ALL anyone remembers is how much of a great time they had. Another thing I regret is; doing a choreographed dance. It put a lot of stress on us, especially because we decided to do it last minute. We didn’t have a lot of time to practice, so the whole time I was stressing over it, and once I put my dress on I realized I couldn’t move for some of the parts!! The video doesn’t even show our whole dance or our mix of the 3 songs that we also had a hard time figuring out. So, a normal slow dance would’ve done the job and I wouldn’t have been freaking out about it all day.”

Richmond: “One regret that I have was not being able to admire my beautiful bride walking down the aisle because I got filled with so much emotion and could not hold back tears. As the music queued and I caught one glance I just got very overwhelmed. Also, I really couldn’t unwind and enjoy the moment because I was really nervous about the 2 choreographed dances that I had to perform later on during our wedding day. It wasn’t until the dances were over that I could finally relax and enjoy our time.”

What inspired you to have a destination wedding? What inspired your colour palette / decorations / any DIY elements / any unique details or traditions?

“I like to do things differently and I wanted it to be non traditional. In my family and group of friends, nobody had done a destination wedding, I’ve always loved the idea of getting married outside and by the beach. All weddings I’ve been to have always been so huge, with so many people. I knew I wanted to have mine as intimate as possible with people who truly wanted to be there for us. 

My colour palette was red, ivory, white and lots of bling. Anyone who knows me knows I love bling, and anything that sparkles, so that was a given. I also wanted to go with a bold colour; red was perfect, as it represents Love and Passion. It is also said in many cultures that red in weddings is good luck. I didn’t really do much for DIY, but I did have red labeled sunglasses with our wedding date on one side and Mr. & Mrs. Santos on the other side, they were a big hit. Also, we wanted to make sure the loved ones who passed away were remembered; so we had pictures of them with a frame “We know you would be here today if heaven wasn’t so far away” … I think it was a nice way to include our loved ones who weren’t with us.”

Comments about vendors, resort etc

“Nati and the Huracan team: 

Nati is amazing, such a sweet soul. From the moment we exchanged emails I just felt so confident and happy to be working with her. She really did deliver. Everyone at Huracan always had a smile on their faces and were eager to help. The appetizers were to die for, and my vegetarian meal was so good!

Resort: Bahia Principe Esmeralda: Rooms were nice and spacious, food was pretty decent. Very close to the beach. Only things is we didn’t get any special treatment. No decoration on our door, no perks. Nothing. Also, the resort was too big for our liking (5 resorts in one) The good shows and night entertainment was usually at another resort, to which you had to take trolleys to, so it was hard to get everyone to go. Entertainment was lacking, especially at the pool. I’ve been to other resorts where they have games and competitions, pool foam parties with lots of music, this resort did not. It was more on the quieter side. I would’ve chosen another resort for our group.

Katya and Rob, I’ve saved the best for last. My whole wedding is honestly because of Katya. While searching online, her blog came up. I got so much advice from her blog and instantly fell in love with her. I wanted to use her wedding planner, who was working at Huracan, (which then Nati took over). That led me to 3 very helpful groups on Facebook, which then led me to all my vendors and all my ideas and inspirations… which ultimately led me to my beautiful wedding. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without those groups. Everything came together and it was all because of her blog. When I first met her it was like I was meeting a celebrity. She’s so sweet and her aura is out of this world. I was so nervous to do my boudoir photos, but she made me feel so relaxed (maybe the bubbly she brought helped a little also, haha) and she made me feel so beautiful. For our trash the dress we had a a little “situation” in timing as my family was there for a few group photos and everyone was hot and moody. She made us all hold hands and reflect on why we were there and to take the moment in. And in like 15 seconds we all went from being frustrated and upset to being happy and calm. Katya also literally made my dad and I tear up. She’s just that good. I don’t know how she did it. For the wedding, everyone loved them. The guys really liked Rob and felt like he was one of the guys. The pictures are so beautiful!!!! Katya & Rob stayed longer then they were supposed to, which I’m so happy they did or I would’ve missed out on a lot of pictures. I’m so happy I got to meet Katya, and I hope she’ll be around for when I need my pregnancy pictures taken one day. You will not regret your decision in having them as your photographers, you get the most beautiful pictures and you also get to meet and hang out with beautiful souls. its a win win!!!!”

Any advice for future Brides / Grooms?!

Rafaela: “Make sure you have like 5 minutes alone together. You’re getting pulled in each and every direction, that you don’t have time to just breathe and to look around and just soak it all in. It sounds silly but I wish someone would have grabbed both of us, taken us by the beach at night and told us “STAY HERE & REFLECT ON THIS MOMENT, I’ll come get you in 5 minutes!” Also, I thought I was organized but I really wasn’t. I took on way too much responsibility. I had 6 bridesmaids, they did keep asking if I needed anything but I was just all over the place and felt like I needed to do it all. Give each of them 1 responsibility or task, so it takes less off your shoulders. Ex. one of them can have all the payments for the vendors ready, second can have a list of pictures you want taken, and remind you of them. Third can make sure the music is the music that you chose for entrance, walking down the aisle, bouquet toss, etcetera, forth can have a list of all the things you want and brought for decoration and make sure it’s used. These example are actual things I wished I would have done.”

Richmond: “I would advise both the bride and the groom to really just appreciate and absorb as much of the moment as they can. This is one of the biggest milestones of your lives! Find the time to be by yourselves, to be proud of each other for getting this far, but also knowing that this is just a beautiful beginning to something greater in your new lives together as a married couple. Grooms: wear a very comfortable undershirt because it is very hot and humid in Punta Cana.”  

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