Hard Rock Punta Cana wedding. Dena and Derek.

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This is what Dena told us about how they meet and how their Hard Rock Punta Cana wedding day went:

“The special part about the relationship we have is that we are truly each other’s best friend. We can have fun in any situation and always find the silver lining. Even when one of us is having a bad day, we always find a way to have a good laugh.

The highlight of our wedding day was the fact that we were finally in paradise and it was really happening! We had a two-year engagement with many roadblocks along the way. Our original wedding date had to be changed 9 months prior due to a scheduling error with the and we almost didn’t make it out of Omaha to come to our wedding! Our original flight was grounded and we ended up traveling for 24 hours and then had our luggage lost on arrival to Punta Cana. The silver lining to a series of unfortunate events was that we were finally getting married on a beach in the most beautiful place with our close family and friends.“

Dena and Derek Hard Rock Punta Cana wedding day story:

Q: Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?

A: The inspiration behind our wedding day was the beautiful scenery we were surrounding ourselves with. We wanted colors that complimented the beautiful blue of the ocean and the white sand of the beach we would be getting married on. From there we decided on varying shades of coral, peach, and navy.

Q: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

A: We kept the ceremony space simple and only highlighted the natural beauty of our surroundings. White drapery was placed around the arch and was accented with white roses and greenery along with a simple aisle runner.

The reception was also kept simple, we wanted our guests to remember the view overlooking the resort and out to the ocean! We had white table cloths with gold sequin table runners, gold vases which we placed the bridesmaid bouquets in, and votive candles. We also rented marquee letters that spelled out ‘Love” and had bistro lighting over the terrace.

Q: What were the florals like in your Hard Rock Punta Cana wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

A: Florals were kept simple with white lily’s, white roses, and coral/peach roses. Those were incorporated in the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres. The bridesmaid bouquets were also used as the center pieces for the reception.

Q: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

A: We personalized the day by greeting our guests with signature shots at the ceremony and then having them take their seat. After the ceremony we also took the time to take a photo with each guest on the beach so we could send them a personalized ‘thank you’ after the wedding.

One of our favorite parts of the Hard Rock Punta Cana wedding was definitely the reception! Our DJ played a great mix of music that got everyone dancing and we played some great Midwest drinking games such as ‘Thunderstruck’.

Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

A: My wedding day look was inspired by the beach. I wanted something that was light and flowy but still had some traditional notes. My wedding dress had a high neck with a lace bodice but the back was open with crystal details on the straps, the skirt was tulle and was light enough for the hot weather. I opted for a simple crystal and pearl bracelet, pearl earrings, and crystal and pearl hair pins with white flowers.

Q: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

A: Derek and I met when we were both commuting to Lincoln, Nebraska for work. Derek was working as a structural engineer at a firm that builds and designs boilers and I was working nights as a respiratory therapist at a local hospital. We met on a Friday morning when I was stopping to get a cup of coffee at a gas station after work and he was in line waiting to buy donuts to bring to work. Derek noticed I was wearing scrubs and worked in a hospital so he asked me “If I choke on these donuts will you save my life?”. My lack of sleep and having a cute guy talk to me so early in the morning caught me off guard and immediately said “No.” before I could think of something clever, but that didn’t deter Derek’s advances. He kept talking and we realized we only lived a few miles away from each other in Omaha. We exchanged phone numbers and had our first date a few weeks later.

Derek proposed while we were on vacation in Ireland. We were at the Cliffs of Moher and the weather was the worst it had been during our time in Ireland. There was 30 mile an hour winds and was raining sideways, there was mud everywhere. We were walking down the path and decided to take a picture. Our friend was taking the photo for us and said “Oh, this is a great picture!”, Derek responded by saying “I know what would make it better…” and dropped to one knee and proposed. Derek also brought along a stone that he engraved with “Here Derek proposed to Dena” and the other side said “She said YES!”. We placed the stone in the wall lining the Cliffs and took down the coordinates, someday we will go back to the Cliffs of Moher and find our rock, then we can relive one of the best days of our life.

Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

A: The most anticipated moment of our wedding day was saying “I do”. We had a two-year engagement that was met with many roadblocks. We had to reschedule our date 9 months prior to our wedding because of a scheduling error with the venue. Many of our guests cancelled due to the bad media regarding the deaths that occurred in the Dominican Republic. Once we were finally on our way to the DR our original flight was grounded and we had to take four different flights, traveled 24 hours, and then our luggage was lost upon arriving to the DR. After all the planning and roadblocks, we were just excited to finally be married! The thing we said the most to one another leading up to the wedding was “It doesn’t matter what happens, all I want to do is marry you”.

Q: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

A: Don’t stress! At the end of the day you get to marry the love of your life and that’s the only thing that matters!


Venue: Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana,

Travel Agent: Your Travel Center,

Photography: Punta Cana Wedding Photographer – Photo Cine Art

Ceremony Officiant: Jamie Meyer,

Hair and Makeup Artist: Giselle with POSH Salon HRPC,

Florist: Flowers by Ruth,

Bride Dress: Morilee,

Bridesmaids Dresses: For Her and For Him,

Groom Suit: Kohls,

Groomsman suits: Kohls,

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