An Early “TBT”: Kyrsten & Adam's Puerto Rico Destination Wedding

We’d like to start out by congratulating Kyrsten and Adam on their 4 Year Anniversary today! I (Jenny) have been friends with Kyrsten since age 19 during Freshman year of college (Miami University- what, what?!), we lived in the same dorm Sophomore year, we were in the same club for years, and we both ended up moving to Columbus, Ohio to work after college. My favorite memories from our times together definitely include some costume parties we went to in college, the small competition we won, our mini therapy sessions where we’d vent while sitting on my futon, a little grill out she invited us to in Columbus, and her low key 2012 New Year’s Eve/ Bridal shower get-together. 

I’m so glad that I was able to shoot Kyrsten’s engagement photos, destination wedding photos, and then her hometown wedding reception photos. It was fun spending more time with her that year because life, bills, and work post-college are hectic and you often lose touch with friends for a while.

I remember when Kyrsten called me in 2011 and we talked about pricing, flights, and all of the details that’d go into me shooting the wedding. It wasn’t long before I found cheap flights, I bought myself an extra day in a hotel, and we had everything booked. My favorite part was the end of one phone call talking about how stressful it is planning all of the details of a wedding. Ever since I started in 2010 I’ve been amazed at how a bride (or groom) can juggle all of this while also maintaining some semblance of normalcy in their daily lives. NOW also add on top of that trying to organize everything in another country-!

Here’s how Kyrsten’s wedding and my first destination wedding shoot went:

The first day I was in Puerto Rico I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I’d booked a cheaper hotel in San Juan because I wanted to get there a day early and was willing to pay for my own hotel for that day, but had NO idea that where I was would not be close to OLD San Juan. I thought I had travel under my belt after Honduras, Italy, France, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, but I had made a rookie mistake. After unpacking at my hotel I decided to try to hop the bus to get to the area near where the wedding would be to scope out locations. That failed. I waited 45 minutes and the bus that was supposed to come every 15 minutes never showed up. I went into the hotel sweating and asked what was up with the bus. The man first went into a lecture about how I should be wearing more sun screen or have an umbrella because I would surely get skin cancer and told me about his cancer scare. After that conversation he explained that the buses aren’t reliable and it could be hours before a bus shows up… if it ever even shows up that day.

At that point I gave up on the bus at least at that station. I decided to hoof it. I got out the GPS my parents had given my ex boyfriend and started trying to follow it for a half hour. Of course the signal was shotty, so I really had no idea if I was on track most of the time or not. I found a Burger King, got a weird pineapple menu item, and finally made it to Old San Juan. I looked around and found some beautiful areas, then trekked all the way back to the hotel to spend some time on the beach and organize my things/ itinerary. That night I found out where NOT to walk (the warning look a couple guys gave me told me to get the hell away from there and fast) and rediscovered non-sugary plantain chips (for the first time in 7 years) at a local CVS.

The next day I’d decided that I should get some type of bus to get to the rehearsal dinner that I’d be shooting. I popped out the GPS and started walking to a different bus station to meet Kyrsten and Adam at the hotel they’d be at. At some point the GPS got left in the vehicle I’d taken, I called the nice man who’d driven me to get it back, he claimed it was not there, and I was distraught because the GPS wasn’t mine. Womppp. (Luckily I was forgiven for losing it in such a weird situation.) 

When I got to the hotel there was a minor mishap and the hotel wasn’t going to give Kyrsten what she’d booked. After a nice conversation, everything was fixed and we were on our way to a local pub. At some point after that I was able to meet her friends that were guests and we sat atop a building to sun. That evening we headed off to the rehearsal dinner which I photographed and it was amazing. Never in my life had I been at such a beautiful venue for a rehearsal dinner or been able to shoot a friend’s wedding, so the entire thing was amazing. Not only that, but the food was also outstanding! I’d never had payaya and to this day have never had a better one. After I was done shooting I grabbed a drink which I can only describe as some type of cinnamon wine mixed drink deliciousness. Again… I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better drink. (It tasted sort of like Chicha Morada for those who’ve ever had the Peruvian purple corn non-alcoholic drink.)

That night the hotel was very enjoyable. It had a beautiful netting hanging down over the bed and the furniture and lighting was dark, but warm. The next morning we were up early and I was off to photograph the women prepping for the wedding in a Honey Moon Suite. The professional hair and makeup artist set off to work and I moved around the suite shooting photos of the dress, clothes, and everyone getting ready.

After the prep, we were all off in a limo to El Convento where the reception was set up. There and at various places nearby I shot photos of the bride and groom, then the groomsmen and bridesmaids. As night was beginning to fall everyone showed up and we found out last second that the ceremony venue had been double-booked. There was a little bit of panic, but apparently the staff was moving quickly and there was only a little delay before we headed over to the castle for the ceremony. 

The ceremony went off without a hitch. The wedding was beautiful and unforgettable. The venue was ancient, huge, and beautiful. Everything definitely felt surreal. 

After the ceremony we headed back to El Convento for the reception. The speeches were heartfelt and funny, everyone was so welcoming, and it was wonderful. There honestly couldn’t have been a better destination wedding or better people to celebrate it with! The servers even claimed that because everyone was dancing (including me when I’d finished shooting) and having so much fun, that it was the “best wedding party” they’d ever hosted!

It was definitely fun to look back at the at least 1,500 photos I shot of the wedding. I haven't seen them in years and it was nice to relive such a great wedding and an amazing couple. At that time right in the beginning of 2012 I was living in my own 1-bedroom apartment in the Victorian Village/ Arts district in the Capital of Ohio: Columbus. My rabbit had just passed away in early fall and I was applying for my master’s program. Little did I know that about 3.5 months after shooting Kyrsten's hometown wedding reception (April) that I’d be moving out of Ohio for the first time in 7 years to pursue my Master’s in Fine Art Photography in California! I’m so glad that I was in Ohio for the first 2/3 of 2012, to have been in Ohio for all those years, and to have had so many great Ohio memories including this one! Much love to all of my Ohio Peoples, especially Kyrsten & Adam today! <3