Our Varadero Wedding: Ceremony + Photos

Once again I have a million photos, and once again they are all from AV Smile unless I specify otherwise (and I’m pretty sure you should get married in Cuba just so they can take photos of you).

I left you yesterday at the start of the ceremony. We had the bridal party walk down in pairs and I’m really glad we did that because it was a bit of a long walk. We had to walk the path above the beach first (but I liked that!), and we figured no one wanted to walk by themselves. The bridal party walked down to Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, but the Piano Guys version (I will do a separate post about wedding music at some point).

Eric was walking me down the aisle so Jeff and Joanna took Hannah along with them.

Mark and Dawn, because obviously. And I love that they held hands the whole way down the path to the beach.

Sherrie and Ian.

The lovers Emily and Corey.

And Lisa and Sean, who sort of took over the role o best man in Brotherman’s absence.

And he took it very seriously.

My dad unfortunately couldn’t make it to Cuba (he walked me down the aisle during our Toronto ceremony), but Eric and I are very close so it felt fitting to have him by my side. Once the bridal party made it to the beach and I heard the first chords of Jack Johnson’s Better Together (because OF COURSE!)  it was time to get down there. (we used this instrumental version of Better Together.)

I was excited.

Because we had to walk along the top of the beach, everyone on the beach all stood and clapped and cheered for us as we walked by them. I felt like a celebrity!

Trying to catch a glimpse of my groom…

I loved how they had the ceremony area set up, I didn’t even know it was going to look like that.

To the left of the ceremony area is the public beach so a lot of locals were hanging out there and they had all crowded around to watch. As soon as we stepped onto the beach they started cheering for us, so I started cheering back at them and that is what’s happening in this picture:

I also saw Randy, Mikey (Sexy Position), a few others who worked at the resort, and also a few other people we had met during the week and it made me so happy that they all wanted to come see the wedding. I felt like Rose on the Titanic at the very end when she goes back to the ship and sees everyone who had an impact on her, and then Jack is waiting at the staircase. I saw everyone who made our stay such a great time and then my groom was there waiting for me!

Eric asked me what he was supposed to do when he handed me over to Evan and I said to shake his hand and then maybe stroke his cheek. I was half joking about the cheek stroke but he totally did it and Evan didn’t really know what was happening which was hilarious.

Kenya was taking pictures with my phone and she got a shot of it in action.

Made me laugh pretty hard.

I liked that they set it up so Evan and I could walk down the rest of the aisle together.

Hiiiii.

Our officiant was the resort’s PR coordinator, Elimay, who we had been working with us that week to plan out the details.

She did a great job, although no one except for Evan and I could hear her speaking.

But it was super short (which was also a good thing since everyone was in the sun and no one had seats) and not overly personal, but that was fine because our Toronto officiant Heather totally knocked that ceremony out of the park and I felt like nothing would ever be able to top it. The Cuba ceremony was still sweet and funny and I couldn’t stop smiling.

When Elimay asked us to say our I Dos she had us yell them so our guests could hear which made everyone cheer and it makes me cry every time I watch the video of it. I really, really loved that we got to do this again with our friends.

I didn’t realize that the photographers mic’d Elimay and were recording her words (possibly with an iPhone or something) so that in the video of the ceremony you can hear everything she says clearly. I’m so glad we have that because otherwise I wouldn’t remember.

And then she pronounced us husband and wife. Yay married!

And then we realized we forgot to exchange rings. So, we took care of that.

What’s so crazy is there were so many people behind us on the beach and in the water watching the ceremony in their bathing suits, some of them were even taking photos and videos! The photographers edited them all out and you can’t  even tell anyone was behind us in any of our pictures (they are still there in the video). That is some serious photoshopping skills.

I want to know who Evan is smiling so cheekily at in that photo.

Although it was a symbolic ceremony we still signed a certificate, which was really funny because it had these hilarious drawings of a bride and groom on it.

And then we got to toast.

I didn’t know this was going to happen, but I liked it.

And that was that! Married! We took our wedding bands off after the Toronto wedding and didn’t put them on again until after the Varadero ceremony, so now it felt official official.

I love that heart of flowers. It stayed there indefinitely after the ceremony and for the rest of the week we saw people on the beach taking pictures in it.

The picture below might be my favourite from the whole day, and Kenya took it on my phone! One thing we did remember to bring was bubbles for our guests to blow during the ceremony — I love that she got the bubbles in this pic!

And she also captured the beach-goers behind us, which adds to the ambience. Doesn’t everyone want to see a handful of shirtless men on their wedding day?

Aw, Dawn and her mom.

When the ceremony ended we immediately took a group photo with everyone.

What a fun bunch of people. Seriously, we could not have asked for a better group with us. Everyone got along so well and I feel like EVERYONE is just friends now, even if they didn’t know each other before. And I love that Lisa and Dennis and Phil and Allison could make it to the wedding, even though they were staying at different resorts. It makes me a little teary when I think of all the people who travelled so far to spend our wedding with us.

After the group photo we got a couple family shots. The moms!

Family pic!

Evan and his mommers.

And more of the bridal party.

And the groomsmen and bridesmaids together.

I wasn’t surprised when they picked Evan up like this because it’s sort of our signature move…

I was surprised when they attempted this though.

It didn’t last long. MAN DOWN!

Immediately after the ceremony we had a cocktail hour with canapés.

It was some of the best food we had all week. Alex, the photographer, told us later that it was a really big deal that the resort put out nuts and dried fruit for this, since both are really hard to get in Cuba and especially rare to find on a resort.

I did not want to ever leave those snacks. We chatted with our guests for a few minutes, I shoved about five little toasts in my mouth, and then we headed out onto the streets of Varadero with our bridal party to get some photos.

This man wanted a knuckle sandwich.

We started at the Beatles Bar, and we got a very fitting photo of Evan scolding me for touching the do-not-touch Beatles statue.

That is a very accurate representation of our relationship.

Right beside the Beatles Bar is Josone Park, so we frolicked around in there for a bit. It’s a really beautiful park and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in Varadero.

Corey’s floating head kills me in this one…

We have some creepers…

We told the guys that they needed to do sexy positions to make Mikey proud.

They did not disappoint.

Do not ask me what Mark and Corey are up to.

Tres romantique!

More canoodling.

I love love love any photos with the old cars!

After the picture fest we walked back to the resort to have dinner and party with our friends! I’ll talk about the reception later but at sunset the photographers brought us down to the water for MORE PICS. It was especially meaningful to Evan and I since it was right where we got engaged almost exactly one year before, and at the same time of day. I love all of the pictures and I’m sure you’re done with them by now but I have no shame. I have about 400, what else am I gonna do with them?

You know we had to do the cheesy sunset heart. Had to.

And we had to get an engagement reenactment.

We were in the water for the actual engagement though.

And we got a couple with our friends!

White people can’t jump.

Except Joanna. She needs to teach everyone her ways.

It was such a wonderful day.

Reception to come.

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Our Varadero Wedding: Details + Getting Ready

Sunday was wedding day!

I’m going to start with getting ready and the stuff before the actual wedding. I have a million pictures and it seems like the best way to split it up. So, get ready for a ton of pictures. But who doesn’t love wedding pictures?

All photos unless I specify otherwise are by AV Smile, Cuban Wedding Photography and Videography. Alex, Vianca (hence the AV) and their team were AMAZING. Hiring them was the best decision of our lives (aside from getting married). We had a team of five at our resort for the wedding — Alex and his wife Vianca, two videographers, and a lighting guy. Not only did they take beautiful pictures but we had all the edited photos, from both the wedding day and a shoot we did with them a couple days later in Havana, an edited video DVD of the entire day, as well as all the raw footage in case we want to make our own video (we both have video editing experience), and a personalized photo album (with our names on it) including 24 8.5×11 prints in THREE. DAYS. They had editors working overnight to make sure we got everything before we left Cuba. AND they were so nice and wonderful to work with. We were blown away. I feel so, so lucky.

THE DETAILS

First of all, my dress!

I wore a different dress in Cuba than I did for the Toronto wedding. My dress is this one by Morilee Madeline Gardner, in champagne. I loved it so much. I felt really comfortable (and beautiful) in it and it was breezy and light, perfect for the beach.

I also added this belt, to both dresses.

My shoes were like $10 from Ardene and they were super comfy with a little bit of bling.

For the ceremony on the beach the bridesmaids and I all wore these barefoot sandals that I got on Etsy.

On my head I wore a starfish/seashell crown that I also got on Etsy.

Since Evan proposed in a clam shell, in the ocean right where the ceremony was taking place, we put the rings in a clasped clam shell that belonged to Evan’s nana.

I’m not usually a fan of wedding detail shots, and maybe I’m biased because these are mine, but I thought the photographers got exceptionally beautiful shots of everything.

My mom gave me the pearl earrings I wore a couple years ago, and the Starfish necklace was also an Etsy find.

My wifey clutch was from Aldo accessories.

Lisa got me a beautiful bracelet for the Toronto wedding that I wore again in Cuba — it’s a spoon (a big inside joke with us because the neighbourhood’s bully was nicknamed Spoon when we were growing up), and they made the spoon part into a mermaid tail!

I love it.

And the flowers!

They are fake, almost like a rubber material so they’re not only realistic looking but realistic feeling. My bouquet, the bridesmaid bouquets, my toss bouquet (that I threw to everyone for luck, not just the single ladies), the moms’ corsages and the groomsmen boutonnières were all from my friend Ashley at From The Stem Up. She did such a great job! I used my bouquet for the Toronto wedding also, and then I just packed everything up in my suitcase and brought them to Cuba. It was perfect.

And I can keep my bouquet forever!

Emily’s mom got us a frame that people can sign and write well-wishes on, so we brought that along with us.

Except we forgot to change the photo in it to one of us. Whoops. Everyone was like “wow, you guys look really different!”

The other big thing I forgot was part of the sign for the front of the restaurant where the reception was taking place. For my bridal shower Lisa made this amazing sign that said “The Adventure Continues” and each letter was on a triangle cutout of a map. I loved it and I wanted to have it in Cuba, except when I was packing I somehow forgot to include the word “Adventure”. We just had “The” and “Continues”. Will, Kim and Dylan were putting that up while we were getting ready and couldn’t figure out what “The Continues” was supposed to mean. So, they put up what made the most sense which was just “Continues”. That makes me laugh when I think about it now.

THE GIRLS

In my bridal party I had Joanna and Dawn, who I met on the first day of Grade 9 and have been my pals since; Lisa, my MOH, who I grew up with and who has been my bestie for like 25 years; Emily, who has been my good friend since elementary school; Sherrie, who I hit it off with in my first year of journalism in college; and Hannah, who I became close with when I worked at OFSAA.

Joanna, Dawn, Lisa, Me, Emily, Sherrie, Hannah

The seven of us got ready in my room and it was definitely a bit cramped but it was so much fun and I’m so glad we had that time together. We blasted music and just laughed for most of the day. Will and Dylan brought us up fruit and sandwiches that they made for us in the buffet, so that was much appreciated!!!

I didn’t have a picture of this so I took a screenshot from the video

And Brent brought us up a tray of drinks!

We were excited about that.

I did my own makeup…

And Sherrie did my hair. She has such a gift for it. She gave us all the ‘Sherrie pouf.”

I think my hair turned out even better than when she did the trial on me.

I was feeling the love that day.

After our hair and makeup was done we headed down to the moms’ room so I could get into my wedding dress with them.

I should mention that the bridesmaid dresses were from RW&Co and their necklaces were from Etsy.

My mom looked so beautiful and happy!

And so did Cookie, Evan’s mom and my new mom!

I could not ask for a better mother-in-law, and I’m so glad our two moms get along so well.

Once we were ready we galavanted around the resort with our photography team.

The boys were also taking photos around the resort so the photographers all had walkie-talkies to make sure we didn’t see each other.

Randy, our favourite entertainer, came over to see us!

His extreme V needed to be more extreme. He was also wearing a ring on a chain around his neck that he pretended to put on my finger.

Mikey, the pool guy (aka Sexy Position) also dropped by to say hi. He got picked up.

My first love!

Gah, I love the beach shots. It was really sunny which I know is a photographer’s nightmare, but I think they still turned out great.

My favourite part of the video is all of us getting ready and then just walking around getting photos.

The guys

In Evan’s party he had: my brother Eric; his good friends from high school Ian (who lived with us for a while a couple years ago), Jeff, and Sean; and Mark and Corey, who he became close with after hanging out with them all the time because they’re married to Dawn and Emily.

Eric, Ian, Evan, Sean, Mark, Jeff, Corey

Unfortunately Brotherman couldn’t make it to the Cuba wedding, but he stood up there with us in Toronto!

The boys all got ready in Sean’s room.

What a handsome groom I have.

His tie is from Le Chateau (and the bowtie he wore for the Toronto wedding is from there as well).

And then they also traipsed around the resort with their photography team, looking super suave.

What a friggin’ handsome bunch of groomsmen!!

After we were all ready it was time for the ceremony, and I was ready to walk down the aisle!

Again!

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Havana Club Bachelor and Bachelorette Night

I mentioned in my last post that we had quite the combined bachelor and bachelorette party planned for Friday night, BUT FIRST, Eric arrived from BC!!!

Yeahhhhh. That is my brother with his best friend Dixon. And this is me with his girlfriend Kenya.

I was so excited to see them! The three of them were just visiting us this summer, you may remember me blogging about their trip, and then I saw them all in September also when the ladies and I went on our western road trip and they took us on the Kelowna Trestle Trail.

Before our big night out Evan and I went to the buffet and had a family dinner with our moms, Eric, Kenya, Dixon…and Joel.

It was cute. It was Kenya’s first live Cuban music experience. I think she liked.

My mom was so happy to have her kids together!!

Just call Eric Blondebeard.

After dinner we went to the lobby bar to meet up with everyone for the shenanigans.

We all hung out there with the moms for an hour or so. We were also meeting four of our friends who were staying at different resorts further up the peninsula — my friend from high school Lisa and her fiance Dennis (our resort was sold out when they booked their trip), and our friends Allison and Phil who just happened to be in Cuba at the same time as us so we were like “come to the wedding!!! and the other things!”

I’m glad we could wear the bachelorette shirts again. Heather, Sherrie, Emily, Dawn, Kim and Lisa were at my bachelorette in Banff, so they had their shirts with them, and then we had a few extra for Kenya, Hannah and Joanna, who unfortunately couldn’t make it originally. Joanna also arrived on Friday morning! I was super excited to see her, too.

I think the boys were excited to hang out with us. Evan was at least.

Evan and his pal Jeff, who totally looks like a Property Brother.

Even the lobby pre-party was a good time.

Eventually we all went to Havana Club for the night, an actual night club that is once again right near our resort, just up the street on Calle 62 (you have to walk through the street party bar Calle 62 to get to it).

It’s a mix of locals and tourists, and it’s probably the best club I’ve ever been to because it has the most chill. It’s a 10CUC cover but drinks are like 2CUC and you can bring your own in (I don’t know if that’s standard but I had my bride cup filled with rum and coke when I went in there and they even filled it back up for me!). I’m not sure if there’s a dress code but people with us were definitely wearing flip flops and shorts, they played good music, it’s beautifully air conditioned, and no one (besides my friends) touched me. It was great.

It wasn’t very busy yet when we arrived, so we could stake out our spot.

And we pretty much had the dance floor to ourselves at first. Eric got down.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed that before.

Dawn told us the next day that Eric was patting the shoulder of the bathroom attendant lady who gives out toilet paper saying “I just love you and I want the best things in life for you.” That killed me. Poor lady just wanted a tip.

Aww, Eric. So nice.

Lisa and Dennis make an appearance!!

I was so, so excited that they could make it, to both this and the wedding.

And the bloggers and lagers! Sometimes known as the bloggers and joggers, but on this night, lagers.

I love that they are just friends with all of our friends now.

Brennie and Brad, our parental supervisors for the night!

It was great that we did a combined thing with the guys and girls because everybody got to party with everybody, and that is just the best.

I don’t know what to say about these pictures, so just good times.

Is it just me or does this doll sort of look like Evan?

I can see a resemblance.

The bouncer did not seem to change his facial expression all night UNTIL I let him borrow my accessories, and then his mouth turned into a slight smile.

Slight. I can see it.

I guess Evan told his wingmen to be in cahoots with him and to make sure his drink was a virgin if anyone got one for him, but then when it came to getting the drink he was like “Oh well this one can be real.” and then the next drink was the same thing, and the next drink, too. Evan had a time. He does not let loose like this very often, the stars aligned.

Emily gifted me with one of those medicine syringes that you fill with cough syrup or whatever, so that was a fun prop. I sucked up rum and coke from my bride cup and then squirted it to our friends, which is what had just happened in the above picture. And you can blame Dawn for Evan’s shirt.

Eventually it started to get really busy in there so it was time to go. Ain’t nobody got time to dance in this.

How do you even manage that. We were out. I couldn’t believe the lineup as we were leaving. It was after midnight and I would say a good 100 people were waiting to get in. I liked that we got to the club early when it was dead, and left before it got too crazy. And, needless to say, I’m glad the wedding wasn’t the next day because I don’t think anyone would have been up for it.

The next morning we all regaled each other with tales from the night before. So many people came up to me like “I have such a funny story about Evan from last night!” He was just in his prime sassface. Here are a few of my faves.

Evan was ready to go home to bed a bit earlier than I was so some of the guys were going to take him back to the hotel, but he refused to leave without me. They would be like “Okay Evan, we’re going back to the hotel now!” and Evan would be all “Okay! But first, we’re gonna get Lindsey,” and they would be like “Yeah, we’re taking you back and Lindsey’s going to meet us there with the girls!” and Evan would be all “That’s great! But first we’re getting Lindsey.” That was cute. Finally, Sherrie came over to Evan and was like “Evan, it’s okay, I’ve got Lindsey!” and Evan leaned in and whispered, panicked “…but who’s got me?”

Then they were leaving and somehow Evan’s shoe fell off his foot. Will, who has a saucy British accent and who is a proper gentleman, was kneeling down and putting Evan’s shoe on for him while Evan was yelling “Will, you’re my hero!” Will got Evan’s shoe on and Evan stuck his foot out in front of him and said “It fits!!!” (like Cinderella), and Will said “Yeah, it’s your shoe, mate.” Haha.

Also, apparently Evan locked eyes with Sherrie several times during the night when someone handed him a drink and mouthed the words “help me” dramatically.

In the end I’m glad Evan wouldn’t go to bed without me, because a bunch of people ended up at Calle 62 and I would have gone, and I would have been feeling rough on Saturday. But I felt great!

This is my favourite story from the night, though. There was a little dog hanging around our resort that we all fell in love with. She had been sleeping under our beach chairs that morning…

And we all had a little snuggle time with her.

Just a little muffin.

On the way back from the bar, Emily found the dog, picked her up and without Corey (her husband) knowing, brought the little lady back to their room. In the morning when they woke up Emily was like “Corey, I brought someone home from the bar last night…” and then she pointed to the dog, who was sleeping on their bed. Corey had NO IDEA that the dog had been sleeping with them all night. So good. That made me laugh all day.

Saturday was pretty chill but I want to tell you about a few things before we get to the actual wedding on Sunday.

We slept in and then met a bunch of our friends and the moms at the pool.

And Malibu Barbie (aka Mark) showed up.

This is not the first time Mark has dressed ridiculously, you may remember prom, and camping in particular. And if you think he looks good from the front you should check him out from the back.

I can’t unsee that and now neither can you! I think my favourite thing about the Barbie bathing suit is that Dawn, his wife, bought it for him.

Heather and Brent brought Jenga so we had several games of it that night in the lobby bar.

They customized it so that each block had a task written on it.

We ran into Randy dancing in the lobby bar, who was looking just fab that evening.

Joanna liked.

He took a break from his dancing to play some Jenga with us.

Heather and Brent looking beautiful…

Lisa snuggled one of the resort cats…

And the moms fed it roasted chicken from the buffet.

And then we had a big game of Kings Cup.

I wanted to introduce Eric, Kenya, Dixon and Joanna to the Beatles Bar, so some of us headed over there for a bit.

The guitarist was in fine form.

And we touched the do not touch statue, whoops.

I was in bed by midnight and ready for the wedding! But more on that next week.

Have a great weekend!

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Pool Living

Friday was probably my favourite day of our trip, aside from the wedding of course. After lunch most of us headed to the pool and spent the next five hours or so there.

It was amazing. I just remember looking around all day, seeing all our friends having so much fun and feeling so happy. It almost made me teary. And this is about the time I started to lose my voice, from laughing too hard, and yelling.

We got a big game of volleyball going for a while.

So that was really fun. Our moms watched all the action from their beach chairs. After that there was pool pong that Sean, one of the groomsmen, brought with him. He started a game with Brent.

And then they played against Heather and Lisa.

And Sherrie and I played with Scott and Cheryl. I actually can’t remember if we won or lost.

But I tell you I for sure did not lose as bad as the time I lost playing rum punch pong on the beach in Jamaica back in 2013. I learned my lesson that day and will never lose that badly again.

And then our favourite entertainer Randy came over and roped us into a game of ring toss to win a bottle of rum. Hey girrrrrrrrllll.

Evan missed all of this and I assumed at the time that he was napping but he told me later he was up in our room watching The Hurt Locker. Exciting. Just doing his own thing. When I told him later about the fun pool times he was all “Why didn’t you come and get me?!” Because I couldn’t get out of the pool! What if the party ended and I missed it? Anyway. without Evan there the ring toss was anyone’s game (I was suspecting it would be Mark’s, as he also likes to win things).

The pool guy Mikey, another one of our favourites around the resort, came over to watch our shenanigans. Let me tell you a bit about Mikey — that pool is his baby. It is his pride and joy. He took great care in it and closed the pool every day at 6pm to clean it and put all the chemicals in and stuff. We actually didn’t think Mikey liked us very much because we didn’t always pay attention to the 6pm closing time… We may have put up a fight the first few days, and I’m pretty sure Dawn jumped in there fully clothed after 6 one day, right in front of him. Anyway, turns out he liked it, so he came over told us we all had to throw the rings doing the “sexy position!” (picture that being said with a heavy Spanish accent) and then he stuck his butt out to demonstrate, which just made us die laughing. We yelled “sexy position!” at him whenever we saw him around the resort the rest of the week. It’s one of the big inside jokes that came out of the trip and I think we’ll be yelling that at each other for the rest of our lives.

Back to the ring toss, I was awful at it and got a big zero. I did not represent my lover well at all. Emily and Corey were a force to be reckoned with though.

They both ended up winning!

I love that they got certificates with their names on them. Emily says she never wins anything so she was so excited. They need to frame those babies.

After the ring toss there were salsa dancing lessons happening on the entertainment stage beside the pool… Emily, Corey, Brennie and Brad got in on that.

Sexy position!

And for the rest of the day it was just good pool times with our pals.

Me, Lisa, Sherrie, Emily, Heather

Heather and I

Lisa and Joel

Lisa and I

Brent and Heather, lovers!

Mark, Lisa and Emily

Sean, the bringer of the beer pong

Annnnnd Ian (our former roommate!) and Brent

I never wanted to get out of that pool. When 6pm came I told Mikey no, sorry, I live in this pool now.

Evan eventually showed up showered and ready for dinner, looking fresh and quite suave compared to the rest of us.

I still wanted to live in the pool but I figured I should probably get it together as well. Eric, Kenya and Dixon were arriving shortly and we had a big night of bachelor/bachelorette activities ahead of us!

But this is going to get super long if I get into all that now, so I’ll be back tomorrow with that story.

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CHAN CHAN!

I last left you on Thursday afternoon just before my bestie Lisa and friends were arriving from Calgary. I felt like I was on pins and needles all day waiting for them, and finally I heard Lisa and Heather’s (not quiet) voices drift over from the lobby so I ran over there and practically tackled them. They made it!

Now we were just missing my pal Joanna, my brother Eric, his girlfriend Kenya and their best friend Dixon, who were all arriving on Friday.

To celebrate the Calgarians arrival and also Hannah’s birthday, 20 of us had dinner reservations on the patio of the restaurant next door to our resort, Barbacoa.

I wanted to make sure I got a good group photo of everyone, so I took several. That dinner was so much fun and probably one of my very favourite memories from the entire trip.

It was my first time seeing Lisa and Scott since their big engagement!!!

Lovers! I’m so excited for them. Scott is a thoughtful cat like Evan. When we came back to Lisa’s place after our great western road trip in September, Scott had cleaned her entire apartment (we had tornado’d through there and totally trashed it) and left her a vase of flowers on her kitchen counter. He had also packed the car for us before we left and let us borrow all his camping gear. Smooth moves all over the place. I already can’t wait for their wedding.

We are definitely each other’s first loves, however.

Sherrie and Will were looking quite lovery as well.

And so were Corey and Emily…and Sherrie…

I was loving Emily’s green number.

Lovers all around.

I ordered the chicken supreme and it was pretty delicious. I also hear the steak there is very good. But the biggest treat is the live band that plays there!

Cheryl got her hands on some maracas…

And then we passed them around so we could all pretend to be in the band.

I really, really wanted them to play my favourite Cuban song, Chan Chan. I love it so much and I hear it every time I’m in Cuba so it just reminds me of fun Cuba times. So I requested it (probably obnoxiously) a million times and they finally played it. And they even let me come up there and play it with them!

I think that is my mom’s “I am so proud of my wonderful daughter” face.

I was trying to sing Chan Chan along with them but I don’t know Spanish so I was mostly just making the sounds. I’m sure it was awful, and when I looked over at our table most of our friends were crying with laughter.

This is Evan’s favourite picture:

And this is mine, mostly because of the guy’s face beside me.

He likes. CHAN CHAN!!!!

They even played it a second time…possibly a third? It was amazing. Scott said I looked like I was enjoying it so much he bought me their CD! Now I can listen to Chan Chan all the time! I’m gonna listen to it right now!

It was Hannah’s birthday and we told our servers in advance that we wanted to have a surprise celebration for her. All of a sudden the lights started flickering in the entire restaurant and we were all like “OMG the power’s going out!” but no no, our servers were just creating some birthday drama.

I thought it was so sweet that they brought her a dessert. We all sang happy birthday, our servers in Spanish, which none of us knew, so we all yelled it in French. I bet the rest of the people on the patio really enjoyed us.

Notice Hannah’s Blue Jay hat, Cuba edition! Evan and I picked it up at the market that morning when we were there with our mom’s. She loves the Jays so it was a perfect find.

After dinner we headed back to our home base, the lobby bar, for a few drinks.

And piano playing.

That green dress, I tell ya.

And then we walked over to our favourite spot, the Beatles Bar! I think we went there almost every night. But when you can walk for two minutes and see this happening, how can you say no?

Again about 20 of us made it so we got a big section at the back. The new guy was redeeming himself.

I still don’t think he’s quite as big of a character as the guy last year, but the leather pants were definitely stepping up his act.

We had a special surprise for the very last song of the night. Cheryl made an appearance on stage.

Girl SLAYED that song!

Just so into it. Evan calls me The Jambon (The Ham) but I think I may have some competition in Cheryl. I was dying laughing when I saw her up there.

Since the outdoor bar Calle 62 is right across from our resort we dropped by there on our way home. This picture is from last year but it looks like this every single night, so just to give you an idea of what it’s like over there.

Just a total street party.

They have a charcoal grill where you can buy half a grilled chicken for 2CUC. It is DELICIOUS and the most wonderful thing at midnight.

My first picture of Heather, and some bearded man who we did not particularly enjoy. Though Dawn enjoyed his glasses.

And Sarah makes an appearance!

I feel like a broken record saying “it was a good time, it was such a good time” about everything, but seriously, it was a good time.

The next morning after breakfast we headed back to, where else? The beach.

Friday was our only overcast day, but that didn’t stop us from beaching around. It was the day to bust out my mermaid suit, one of the best buys of my life, from Cupshe. That site does not have great reviews but Lisa ordered a bunch of bathing suits from there and they were all amazing so I gave it a try and was also impressed. When I was reading the reviews for that suit they were mostly like “the bottom half is great but the cups in the top are as big as my head!” so I knew it was the one for me. I have such a hard time finding bathing suits that the nungas don’t want to escape from. It’s a real problem.

Lisa and I used to play this game in the lake when we were younger where one of us is Forrest Gump and the other one is Bubba and whoever is Bubba has to be carried. You may remember…

Since we were there for my wedding I got to be Bubba.

Heather and Brent were doing life right with their floaties.

I had to get in on that leisure life.

Every Friday on the resort is Fiesta Cubana and it’s a Cuban themed day with flags and everywhere and live music all afternoon.

And a special lunch by the beach.

They have these grilled pork sandwiches which are THE BEST. The bread is so soft and fresh and the pork just melts in your mouth. So good.

Also coconuts filled with coconut water and rum.

I didn’t even try one. I don’t know what I was thinking.

And you know there’s dancing. Evan was down.

Actually I witnessed him literally get down.

There was also quite the party by the pool. You’ll notice our pal Randy on the right.

And that’s where we spent the rest of the day, by the pool. And that is a story for another post.

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Beachy Keen

On Wednesday morning Evan and I met with our wedding coordinator on the resort, Elimay, to go over all our wedding details. That was interesting, mainly because she told us to forget everything that our Canadian wedding coordinator from Starfish resorts told us before we left and that now we’re going to start from scratch. Alright then. She said that because they were such a small resort, and weren’t a popular wedding spot, they couldn’t accommodate some of the things the Starfish chain had originally included in our package. This alarmed me at first, but the changes weren’t anything too crazy. The biggest was we had to change the wedding ceremony time to 4pm instead of 5pm, and because they only had one large speaker that they needed for the nightly entertainment, we had to end our reception at 9pm. I was hoping for 10 but I knew we were all going to go off the resort for an after-party anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. However, any idea I had of a day-of timeline went completely out the window. I will probably do a post on what to expect (or how not to have any expectations) when planning a destination wedding, because it is very different.

Elimay also told us that the other wedding that was originally planned for Saturday, the one that bumped our date to Sunday, was cancelled and we could move our wedding back to Saturday if we wanted. Gah. After all that! We decided to keep it on Sunday to minimize confusion. We felt it was too late to go back at that point, and I’m actually glad that everything worked out the way it did. But more about the actual wedding later.

We felt a lot better about wedding stuff after meeting with her. They really did seem excited to be hosting us, and I was just glad to FINALLY be able to talk to someone about our Cuba wedding IN PERSON and get some details sorted.

After that it was back to that glorious beach. I took about four pictures all day so I don’t remember what went down, except I do know our favourite pineapple pina colada guy came by with his wares.

Yassssss.

I was hoping he would make an appearance. I have been craving that pineapple all year!

You don’t know what pineapple is until you’ve had fresh Cuban pineapple. We got one for our friends Kim and Dylan and as soon as Dylan tasted it he was like “what kind of pineapple have I been eating all my life?” It’s so good. I was excited to introduce my mom to it.

She liked.

We mentioned to Elimay that we got engaged at this resort on the beach last year and when we went back up to our room we found a bottle of wine and a little note from the staff welcoming us back, so that was nice. Our maid also left us this:

I did like her services and I love a good towel swan. It was cute that they incorporated our wedding flowers!

We made dinner reservations that night for a bunch of us at the Italian restaurant (also where our wedding reception was being held).

We tried to get more people in with us but the resort isn’t big on hosting large groups so 10 was all we could do. And then Joel didn’t show up so 9 it was. Our dinner was actually really good and my favourite thing about that restaurant is the view!

You can watch the sunset right from your table!

I don’t remember what we talked about aside from our celebrity crushes (I told them all that Evan’s celebrity crush is Judge Judy) but I do remember that we laughed pretty much the entire way through dinner.

Afterwards we headed back to the lobby bar to meet up with everyone, our nightly ritual.

We watched the nightly entertainment in there and Mark once again made friends.

I was still a bit tired from the day before and plus my bestie and friends were arriving on Thursday so I wanted to be fresh for them! So, I went to bed around 9:30. No regrets.

The next morning I met Casey at 6:30am in the lobby for a run along the streets of Varadero. I ran there last year as well and it’s a super fun place to run, but best in the early morning ’cause it is HAWT. Everyone is out going to work and school and sweeping the sidewalks in front of their businesses with palm leaves. It’s a cool place. Casey is a running superstar (I mentioned she ran a 50k trail run on Saturday) but I was glad she slowed her pace down for me. I was initially planning on only running for 5k but Casey distracted me and we didn’t turn around until after 3.5k so I ended up doing almost 7.5k. Whoops. The last few kilometres were a bit rough, the sun was in our face and I thought my clothes were just going to melt off my body, but we made it and I was feeling pret-ty good about myself.

After showering and breakfast Evan and I took our moms to the market for a little shopping. It’s about 3k from our resort (Casey and I actually ran by it that morning) so we took a horse and carriage on the way there and this sweet ride on the way back.

That gem is from 1927!

My mom talks to everyone, and you know that includes the cab drivers.

She likes to ask everyone about their lives. And they always tell her.

And then it was back to the beach.

Dawn got me a bride cup for the trip and I busted it out for the occasion!

We told Evan that his hat looked like a “Make America Great Again” hat, just missing the words.

I like that we could send the boys in to refill our drinks at the bar.

They liked.

Once again, a good ocean time.

And now I’m going to introduce Randy to you because he was a vacation staple.

Strategically placed sun glare.

Randy was one of the entertainment guys at the resort, and he was always coercing us into playing games and calling us ‘babies’. He was on the resort for about 12 hours a day so we would see him around the beach and pool all day, and then at night dancing it up in the lobby. He and quickly became one of our favourites!

And then my bestie Lisa, her fiance Scott, her sister Heather and Heather’s partner Brent arrived and things REALLY got fun!

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