Being the photographers for Olga and Michael’s elopement in Puerto Rico this year was an experience we’ll never forget! When they first approached us about photographing their elopement we were thrilled, and had no idea what an adventure there was in store for us. The snow in Connecticut this weekend has us dreaming of sunny days in Puerto Rico, so we’re excited to get back to blogging with this incredible elopement!
Shortly before we flew out for their elopement, we were glued to our computer screens as Hurricane Irma blasted towards Puerto Rico. We were all nervous about the destruction the hurricane could cause to the tiny island, and that it would prevent Olga and Michael from having their dream elopement. We all breathed a big sigh of relief when the hurricane barely hit the island, leaving some power outages and small amounts of damage, but nothing unusual.
We always like to travel early for destination weddings and elopements, just in case of inclement weather and other travel issues that tend to crop up. Luckily, we planned to fly in a few days before Olga and Michael’s elopement, so when they texted us on Sunday morning asking to move their wedding day from Wednesday to Monday, we agreed. There was rain forecasted for Wednesday, so better safe than sorry! We spent our Sunday scouting some awesome locations, and enjoying Old San Juan.
On Monday morning, we woke up for a sunrise first look and portraits with Olga and Michael. During the night, both of our phones had begun to blow up with news about incoming Hurricane Maria, hurricane warnings, and texts from friends seeing if we were still on the island. For the time being, we put our phones aside and focused on staying positive – today was an exciting day after all! Olga and Michael had their first look at the historical Hotel el Convento in Old San Juan, where they had chosen to stay for their trip.
The sunrise was absolutely gorgeous, and the cotton candy colored homes of Old San Juan didn’t disappoint with how beautiful they were. I was excited to get some photos that included the many cats that walk Old San Juan’s streets, who seemed to be very interested in what we were up to!
After sunrise portraits, we had a break before their ceremony, during which all of us frantically called different airlines to try to get flights off the island. The hurricane had quickly escalated to a Cat 4, and although Chris and I are used to destination weddings and the many crazy things that can arise, we were beginning to get a little nervous. Olga and Michael told us “our parents and friends were texting and calling frantically – telling us to get out. Our response was calm and consistent – ‘we tried’. We called the Canadian Embassy and registered ourselves as travelers in Puerto Rico with details of our location and contacts.”
At this point, Chris and I had a few different flights to get off of the island, but none before the hurricane would hit. We spent the afternoon grabbing supplies and stocking up our Airbnb, and then jumped in a car with Olga and Michael for the second part of their day.
It was easy to put the looming hurricane out of our minds during this ceremony. When we first arrived, their officiant had to bribe the unofficial parking attendants with a cold six pack, and then we were all on our way through the twisting trees and vines of the jungle. The location was reason enough to take our breath away when we found the completely private beach in a little cove, and Olga and Michael’s vows were so personal and profound, we all found ourselves emotional following the ceremony.
Olga and Michael said it better than we ever could – “It was a dream come true. We exchanged our vows barefoot in the sand, wind blowing in our hair, laughing and crying. It was one of the most intimate, meaningful and absolutely beautiful moments of both of our lives. We popped a bottle of champagne (a gift from Mike’s best man Elias) and climbed on top of very sharp rocks on a cliff, watched thousands of bats come out of the cave at sunset, and got lost in the jungle getting back to our car when the sun went down.”
We spent the evening getting gorgeous sunset portraits on the beach, and, spoiler alert, we did ALL make it home safe and sound eventually.
The next morning was the day before Hurricane Maria was set to hit Puerto Rico, and we had all but resigned ourselves to staying on the island. At the last moment, Olga sent an email letting us know a few more last minute flights had been added, and Chris and I both called different airlines to make sure we could get tickets out. After speaking to a harried Jet Blue agent, we got the last flight off the island to Boston.
We have to give major props to Jet Blue, who added as many flights off the island as they could, and kept the prices as low as possible. Other airlines were raising their prices as high as they could because people were desperate, and Jet Blue kept their costs extremely low. We’ll be forever thankful to them for helping us get off the island!
Congratulations, Olga and Michael!
Although the hurricane has passed, the island is still in desperate need of aid. If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can help, please visit http://www.unidosporpuertorico.com/en/.
And if you haven’t done your holiday shopping yet, there’s an awesome new site that can connect you with makers in Puerto Rico! Shopping like this will help rebuild so much of their infrastructure that’s collapsed since Maria: https://shopandhirepr.com/
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Olga and Michael’s story was featured on Huffpost, which you can check out here.