The Beginning of Our Honeymoon | Donovan House + Bluefields Bay Jamaica

“i love you to pieces, and to distraction, and to etcetera.” 
j.d. salinger
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Over the whole wedding-planning process I found my long-toed, tough-bottomed foot in my mouth regularly.  Nearly everything I swore I'd "never do," I did.  

"I'm never having a big wedding party.  Five girls or less is the perfect size.  More than that is just too chaotic.  That's one thing I've learned after all the weddings I've shot."  I had eight bridesmaids (and I sometimes wish I had more), escorted by Caleb's eight groomsmen, and rounded off with thirteen flower girls and ring bearers.  
"I'm NOT having a cake at my wedding."  I married a guy who asked for two things at his wedding:  a snow cone and chocolate cake.  How can you say no to such an odd and sweet request? I sure couldn't.
"I'm NEVER living in my parent's basement when I get married.  If you aren't ready to support yourself without mom and dad's help, you aren't ready to get married!"  Big sheepish grin on this one.  And for more happy, good and lovely reasons than I could even list right now, Caleb and I have the BEST (and biggest) basement apartment, with rad crew of related tenants upstairs.  I wouldn't trade it for a private jet or thick hair ;)
"I'm never honeymooning in Jamaica!" It seems like 90% of the couples I know honeymoon in Jamaica.  That figure is probably off (I was never very good at math), but for whatever reason I very, very early on swore that I would be going somewhere much more exotic and unique than Jamaica.  I wasn't going to do "what everyone else as doing."
"I'm absolutely, under NO circumstances, EVER posting honeymoon pictures.  It gives me the eebie-jeebies.  Keep your honeymoon to yourself."  Haaaaa-Hiiii :D  Well.  Here's the thing.  Um.  I'm sorry? To every honeymooner who has made a Facebook album or blogpost and I judged you with brimstone: I get it now, and I apologize.  Whenever I travel anywhere I take pictures, and like to post them.  It's the big-time version of gathering all your friends and family together to go through slides on a projector like they did in the old days.  Caleb and I really traveled to remarkable places on our trip.  And I just can't help but share.  It was too good.  We had a refreshing mix of everything: city and swanky, normal and "like date night," nerve-wracking and thrilling, tropical and blue, luxurious and Victorian, rural and sweaty, relaxing and busy.  
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I was curious how the word "honeymoon" began so I did some reading and, like, most things in life, there are many opinions and stories ;)  But I'll go with my favorite version from the 16th century!  The word is clearly two words put together "honey" and "moon."  The honey refers to "sweet" goodness.  And moon references the olden day calendars where time was measured by the moon and stars.  "Honeymoon" is simply the period of time after marriage where love is quite sweet!  Honeymoons, or sweet periods of time, could last for months, or years!, depending on the couples love for each other.   I just read this today and loved it.  Without being too silly, it reminded me of what Caleb told me on our flight home at the end of our trip: "The honeymoon isn't over!  It's just starting."  Sure, our vacation was over but our sweet time together has really just begun.  So, think of it this way:  you'll likely be seeing many, many posts and pictures of our "sweet times" over the next days, months and years.   Our hope is that our marriage will be one big, long, happy honeymoon.
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Our first day of sweetness as husband and wife!  Yipppee!  We spent a lot of time choosing our hotel (maybe too much time.  And we even booked a hotel once and canceled it. I'm so glad we did!)   I love Kimpton Hotels, a company known for their boutique hotels.  There are probably close to 15 Kimpton establishments in our general area.  The experience of a hotel really matters to us (well, if we are going to be spending good money on it! And you only get to start your marriage once!) We studied each and every website (almost booked Hotel Monaco, DID book Morrison House and changed our minds) and finally chose the urban, chic, downtown Donovan House.  Actually, Caleb chose it.  I told him that I honestly wanted him to pick and he nailed it.
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Donovan House has a killer rooftop pool and adjacent bar.   We must have spent 30 minutes walking around and looking at everything before we even picked some chairs and "settled in."
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Oh you know, just us in our turtlenecks at the pool! ;)
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I really did not feel like I was in my "own" town.  I felt like we had been whisked away to a Californian hideaway.
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Something I Did Not Expect Number 1:  How obsessed I'd be with our wedding bands.  What the wow. I really love seeing Caleb's handsome ring on his very taken hand.  I catch myself staring at it while butterflies mingle.  I love every time I catch a glance at it there.  I also think I've looked at my own hand more as a married woman than I did when I was engaged (and I looked at my new ring so often while we were engaged!)  I assumed that I would get a matching diamond-lined band for my wedding band.  But when I tried those on I though it really took away from the scale and beauty of my engagement ring.  I'm ALL for bling, but I'm so glad we went with a tiny, tiny, simple rose gold band.  It adds just the perfect touch.
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Some after-sun, chlorine-sleepy, kind-of-burned "portraits."  The light in the hall was just too good to pass up ;)
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Agh, I'm so happy we did this.  Though the hotel has a highly-reviewed restaurant, and well-known joints within a block of Donovan House, but we made reservations at our long-time favorite, Founding Farmers which is a mile away.  We decided to enjoy the weather and walk.   I mostly just took pictures of Caleb doing things with his ring on.
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We didn't know we'd be passing Mr. President's house!  Fun little surprise view :)
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If you go to Founding Farmer's, you MUST get their homemade soda.  We chose orange and hibiscus :)
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I wasn't going to take pictures of the food (you know, I was going to put my camera down and just be with my boy) but when our soup came Caleb didn't touch it.  I was surprised because he loves their clam chowder and usually digs right in.  I asked him if he wanted any: "Yeah! I do!  But aren't you going to take a picture of it first?"  I should marry that guy ;)
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After dinner we enjoyed free drinks at the hotel bar!  (Another reason Kimptons are wonderful!) Caleb wore his ring!  Which was wonderful!
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Mr. Husband of the Year made (yes, made.  I married Craft Angel, remember?) a special shirt for me to travel in.  And boy was I proud to wear it!
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Something I Did Not Expect Number 2: To "make" money on our honeymoon.  Here's the story.  Part of why we chose Jamaica is because of it's very convenient location: we could get on an airplane at 8:30 and be in Jamaica at lunch time.  Some good friends highly encouraged us to get the direct flight, not the flight that stops in Orlando.  "They only leave an hour of time to get change planes, and Florida has bad weather often, so the planes are usually late.  And there are only two or three flights to Jamaica a day, so if you miss yours, you're done.  And we almost missed our flight when we went!  Just take the non-stop flight and you won't have to worry about anything."  We really agreed with them, but when it came down to it, the non-stop flight was more than double the lay-over-in-Orlando-flight (we're talking $900 vs. almost $3000).  So we went ahead with the layover in Orlando, but gave ourselves a little pep talk.  "Something will probably go wrong during our travel.  That happens in life and that's perfectly fine.  If we miss our connecting flight, we'll just go to Disney for the day.  Heck, if we miss our flight out of DC we'll chill there for another day.  We're together and that's the point.  So we're not going to stress out if something 'happens.'"  You ready for this?  Our wedding was on Thursday and the plan was to fly out of Washington DC at 8:30 am on Saturday to Orlando, catch our next plane an hour later and arrive in Jamaica at 12:30.   We left our hotel at 6:00 am and arrived at National Airport around 6:20.   I can't tell you how many times I checked our itinerary and passports that morning.  "Right airport?  Right times?  Right day?   Right ID's? Yes? Yes." The couple ahead of us in line were flying to Orlando and Montego Bay, also.  I was eavesdropping.  They checked in.  They received their boarding passes.  They checked their luggage.  They went on their merry way.  Caleb and I came up right behind them.  The Airport Lady took our passports.  Her face looked seriously at her computer screen.  She asked me a few questions.  I answered them.  Caleb swallowed his tongue.  To quote Miss Clavel, "Something is not right, something is quite wrong!" After a few more painful seconds, the AirTran employee, nonchalantly and boredly said "This flight was overbooked and there are no more seats available."  She paused while she ripped some papers.  Caleb and I didn't say a word.  We just stood there.  Cool as a cucumber and without making eye concact, she continued, "There is a flight that leaves from Baltimore you can take.  You'll each receive vouchers for round-trip flights.  Do you accept the vouchers?" 

We both instantly started asking questions.  How do we GET to Baltimore?  Baltimore is at least 45 minutes away, with no traffic... and that flight leaves 15 minutes after this one?  We're not going to make that flight!  What time will we get to Jamaica?  Where is our layover?  If it's in Orlando that cuts our connecting time to 45 minutes! "Here is a voucher for an airport taxi.  They'll get you there on time.  The flight is a nonstop flight and you'll land in Jamaica a little after eleven o'clock.  Do you accept the vouchers?"  "Um, yes?"  "Great, then sign here, please."   Caleb was panicking on the inside that we were signing our lives away.  He was preparing himself for no Jamaica at all.

We took our taxi voucher, new boarding passes, luggage, and $1000 worth of flight vouchers to the curb.   A leather-seated Expedition pulled up.  We cuddled into the clean, warm seats and started doing math.  "It's 6:40 now... we'll get there by 7:30 hopefully, boarding starts at 8:10.  Yeah, we'll be fine. It'll be fine.  Be we can't hit traffic."  Long story made short:  we made it in enough time to stop at Starbucks and get some breakfast and we discovered that we had been upgraded to first class!  A first-classs, non-stop flight to Jamaica plus four free flights to use in the future!  We were so excited.  We kept yapping about how this is the BEST way to start a honeymoon!  And I've never flown first class!  And it only take two and half hours to get there, now?! This is the BEST!  The rest of the first class passengers loved us ;)
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If I had a dollar for everytime my name was spelled right on a Starbucks drink, I'd have a buck or two.
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"Don't our feet look so different now that we're married?!"
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Baltimore > Sky > Montego Bat
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Honeymooning Tip:  Buy a big and pretty square scarf.  I bought this one at Charming Charlie's for $15 and used it for everything.  A blanket on the plane, a cover-up at the beach, a skirt with a tank-top, a pillow (Caleb has boney shoulders), a regular scarf... it was so useful!
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I went overboard with the travel-day pictures.  But he's just suuuch a stud muffin!  Look at the cute boy :D :D
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The first time ever.
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Without any further ado, I present to you:  Montego Bay.
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(This is Caleb's "patient" face.)
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I love landing in this airport.  As soon as we exited a crew of friendly strangers started asking us where we were going.  "Bluefields Bay Villas...?"  "AH!  BlewFeelds, mon? Oh-kay, oh-kay mon!  Percy is your driver, mon!"  They all knew our driver by name, and since he wasn't there yet they called him on their cellphones.  "Whatcha doing Percy?  They here mon!"  While we waited for Percy they picked up our luggage and sat us down for some drinks and snacks.  We definitely were not planning to eat yet, but they insisted ;)  Rum punch and a papaya daiquiri turned out to be just what we needed.  They were right after all!
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Percy did come (very quickly!) and took us on the grand tour, with a pit stop for jerk chicken and eventually taking us "home" to Bluefields.
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They know how to do chicken right.   Absolutely unreal.
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When we pulled up to Bluefields, we were speechless.  See those two cement stairs?  We were standing on those...
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...looking at this.
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If we walked forward a little bit, our private cottage was on the right...
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... and this view was on our left.
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Of course the friendly staff had drinks ready for us the moment we stepped out of the van!  Caleb could not have been more pleased ;)
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Since we arrived about an hour earlier than expected, the staff was still running around getting our place ready... but I couldn't help but peek in and see all the beauty!
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View from the bedroom to the left...
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... and to the right.
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We headed down to our outdoor dining room called "The Treehouse."  I was instantly in love with the views and rich table settings.  It was all so expensive and luxurious.
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Pearly silverware! Yes! Yes!
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{Super Random} Something I Did Not Expect Number 3:  No salt shakers!  They only put pepper in a shaker, and the salt comes in this cute little bowls with a pearly "spoon."
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More drinks!  Why not!  They're already paid for ;)
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I'm not *exactly* sure what the highlight of the honeymoon was for Caleb: the endless sweet drinks, spending time with me, or the pool.  Okay, okay... It was obviously the drinks.  But the pool and I are close seconds! ;)
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Besides the heavenly surroundings, one fun part of travel for a photographer is the different lighting.  My east coast friends love to talk about how California photographers don't get how different "their" light is.  Some places are more heavy and blue, others are "fuzzy" and yellow, some places have strong and "deep" light.  Jamaica was very, very bright and clear.  I loved it!  And went, again, a little crazy on the pictures on our first beach day ;)
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Our own private beach!
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A different beach day!  A day when I felt brave enough to take my camera into the ocean with me to get some new angles
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You haven't lived until you've snorkeled with a cowboy.  Let's just say... there aren't many oceans in the way out in the country ;)
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We spent some serious time lounging and eating... so had to do some sort of exercise one day!  Our humble and kind of mischievous beach-boy Christopher took us on the hike of a lifetime.
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I loved all the different paths we took!
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Christopher insisted that we try a real, fresh coconut.  "It's good for the heart!" So we met up with his family in the middle of their work day.  Isn't his nephew a heart-melter?
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His 50 year old father came running out of the bushes and greeted us.  And then he, barefooted, walked right up the tree and started throwing down coconuts!  It was epic.
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After sliding down the tree like it was a pole on a playground, he whipped out his machete and opened those suckers up.
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Like I said before, I loved our honeymoon for endless reasons... but we could go from fine dining in the lap of luxury to a sweaty hike where we ate coconut for lunch!  ("Yeah, look at that body.  He works out!")
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The views from up top did not disappoint.
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Bluefields has six villas spread out over two miles of shore.  August is hurricane (and therefore "slow") season, so not all the villas were occupied.  Just for fun, we spent an afternoon at a different home.   You know, being all snobby and in charge.  "Take us to our other villa!" 
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My battery died a few days before the honeymoon was over, and I purposely did not bring my charger or card-reader.  The point of this trip was quality time and relaxing! We journeyed to Black River and went on a water safari (think Disney's Jungle Cruise... but in real life.)  The tour guide would actually hold meat in his hand and call crocodiles over to the boat, and then pull the croc up by his legs or snout.  It was wild.  We also went to the serene and stunning Ys Falls and spent the day rope-swinging, sliding down rocks, walking underneath the waterfall and swimming.  Quite a dreamy day!  But no "real" pictures of those trips ;)
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One of the most common phrases I had heard before our wedding was "Getting married is the best, you don't have to say good-bye!"  Caleb and I did not live together (or stay the night together) until we were married.  I assumed that the "not saying good-bye" part of marriage would be my "favorite."

And don't get me wrong, I love it ;)  But here's the thing about us:  we can both fall asleep anywhere.  And we HATE to leave each other.  While we were dating, so long as we were in the same state, we saw each other every single day.  No exceptions.  We didn't make a "rule" about that... it kind of just happened.  Even if it was for 10 minutes or very late at night or was out of our way, one of us (usually Caleb) came to the other and we were together for a little bit.  Also, for most of our relationship we lived not even two minutes away from each other.   I can't tell you how many times we made a plan for Caleb to leave my house at 10:00 (or 10:30, or 11:00, or 11:30) so he could get to bed at a decent hour and wake up with a full night of sleep.  It happened *maybe* five times.   We were together as much as possible as long as possible

We pretty much always pushed it until one or both of us was asleep or at least couldn't hold our happy eyes open any longer.  Caleb usually tucked me into "bed" (on the couch) and I'd be sound asleep when he left.  Other times he'd finish dinner and just crash on the couch (even though he'd insist he was going to watch the movie with Dre!).  I would let him sleep until I was ready for bed, then I'd wake him up and send him home.  That, um, system? wouldn't work for everyone, but it worked for us!  And our housemates and friends (Dre and Becca, and Janet and Seth) were very patient with us and our ridiculous hours ;)

All that to say, there were many nights I didn't "say good-bye!"  I'd be sound asleep and wake up in the morning, all alone, with a text (every single time) from Caleb.  So my actual favorite was not "not saying good-bye" but not waking up alone.  I didn't have to wait for him to get home from work to see him, or wait for him to wake up on weekends (the boy never sleeps, so when he gets to sleep until noon on Saturdays, it's the best.  Except that I didn't get to be with him.)  Now when he sleeps in?  I'm already with him.  Now before he heads off to work?  I'm the first and only person he's with.  No more waiting all day long.   We now, more than ever, get to spend sweet periods of time together, and that really is my favorite part of marriage.


“I now know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest - blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine.

No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. 

To be together is for us to be at once free as in solitude, as gay as in company."

- c. bronte

Comments

  1. this is an amazingly wonderful post. the pictures are gorgeous. i might go read it all over again. so so so happy for you. :) <3

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  2. Congrats!! Now I want to go to Jamaica!

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  3. Love this. Congratulations!!!

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  4. GOLLYGOODNESS.

    So so so so cute. I love seeing you married :).

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  5. I should have know goats would play some part in your honeymoon. Thanks for letting us relive your wonderful first few days together. Good job picking a gorgeous place, Caleb!

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  6. awww, now i feel a little choked up. yes, honeymoons are sweet sweet times. and yes, the honeymoon continues. my favorite premarital advice was: never stop being newlyweds. Married one year and 16 days, and still learning & loving: http://www.naomielle.com/2012/08/12-things-i-learned-in-our-first-12-months-of-marriage/
    ;) thank you for the beautiful and still restrained peek into your honeymoon. :D

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  7. this is so sweet :) you and caleb rock. i know where i want my honeymoon to be!

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  8. this made my heart sing :) I am so incredibly happy for both of you!

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  9. This is so sweet! I love, love, LOVE that cottage. The outdoor dinning room?! Swooning here... :)

    eve @ essence of eve

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  10. I've never seen you happier friend. Almost makes me cry. ;-)
    And the cake's very presence at your wedding was Dre's very favorite part I think.

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  11. Kristen, THANK YOU for sharing these pictures and your words!! I loved it all :D.

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  12. Where did you find your Jamaican villa?? it's so gorgeous.

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  13. Thank you thank you thank you for not following your silly "rules" and posting this. My heart I bursting with happiness for you, and as someone who has read along with you for years, it brings me so much joy to read about your love story. This made my day:)

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  14. amazing. thanks for sharingggggg!

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  15. ooooh snap. i can't think of anyway to put into words how much this is the greatest. i just can't...ain't even gonna try.

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  16. This was an awesome post :) I'll be celebrating 15 yrs of marriage to my high school sweet heart and still feel the same way.

    Congratulations to your both and may your honeymoon never end :)

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  17. aaaaaah. kristen. so much happiness. :) :) :) I can't even describe how much I loved this. and you two are some of my favorites. I love your smiling faces. :)

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  18. Ciiku23.8.12

    Best part of this post: ("Yeah, look at that body. He works out!")
    I actually snorted!

    Congratulations and best wishes for the future!

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  19. Ah, so many pictures I just adored, and your words were lovely as usual. Happy marriage! :)

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  20. oh! I loved this post! :) I feel like going on a honeymoon now. ;)

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  21. Oh wow... I dont know even think I could write words to express my feelings right now.
    I've been following you and reading your story for quite a while and it feels like I almost know you (creepy I know)
    Y'all look so happy and your smiles are incredibly contagious!
    I've loved reading ya'lls story and I hope you continue you writing it :)
    Your pictures are gorgeous! I'm incredibly jealous of your talent

    Much love.
    Natalia

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  22. love love love this. and love that you got to enjoy both such a wonderful time away together. and hey! the direct flight worked itself out all on its own.

    such a happy post. probably one of my favorites from k snyd of all time.

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  23. Anonymous24.8.12

    Love this post! :) Now hurry up and finish the "oh my my my" Series!!!!! ;)

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  24. Anonymous24.8.12

    Oh, so sweet! I was having a pretty bad day, until I read this. It was a highlight of my week! God bless!

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  25. That. Is. A. Gorgeous. Post.
    I. Want. To. Go. To. Jamaica.
    You to are such a cute couple. Looks like you had a wonderful time. :-)

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  26. Dead. Please and thank you for sharing your life with us :)

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  27. i have been reading your blog a while but this was the most fun and sweet post!

    Love all the first part on the "thigns i said i'd never do", so honest and sweet

    And the honeymoon pictures! =D thank you for sharing!!

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  28. Amazing photos. Looks like you guys had a great time.

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  29. You two are possibly the cutest couple in the world. I love how you describe everything. It makes me feel like I am one of your close friends ;) Yes I have never met you but I just want to say that I love to see other Godly photographers and read about them. So thank you for sharing!

    When I think of my honeymoon I too want to take a camera but like you did so you really enjoy it and not get caught up on the photos. So do you mind me asking what lens you took? It seemed to do amazing at getting wide shots but yet close up too....

    Congrats again!

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  30. Anonymous19.3.13

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    Have a look at my site - quick loans today

    ReplyDelete

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