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This Downingtown Couple Said “I Do” in the Dominican Republic

A Chester County couple planned their perfect destination wedding with an intimate group of family and friends.

Dominican Republic wedding
Photos by Pegi Kallioras/Wildflower Photographs

When Derrick Arnold and Sofia Montgomery met for their first date at West Chester’s Social Lounge in the summer of 2019, things got off to an interesting start. “I ordered a fruity martini—she got straight whiskey,” Derrick laughs.

beach wedding

Apparently, the rest of the evening went well. Six months later, the pair were living together in Downingtown. After three years, Derrick knew it was time to propose, and the couple considered just about every extreme for the wedding, from a courthouse elopement to an elaborate affair. “We toured a venue in Kutztown and thought it was too expensive,” Sofia says.

Dominican Republic wedding

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So they set their sights on a destination wedding. “If we were going to spend the money, we might as well get a whole vacation out of it,” Derrick says. “Instead of just one day, we got to celebrate over an entire week with our friends and family.”

groom

They opted for the Excellence El Carmen in the Dominican Republic resort town of Punta Cana. “We wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before,” says Sofia, adding that it also had to be affordable for their guests.

bridal shoes

The two made selections from a digital catalog, and communication mostly took place over email, with no more than two phone calls. Also helpful: a Facebook group made up of couples who’d wedded at the resort. “We had a welcome party the day after we got there,” Sofia says.

flower bouquet

Instead of a rehearsal dinner, the couple hosted a party where everyone wore white. Days were spent at the spa or hanging around the pool bar.

wedding cake

Sofia prepared for her oceanside ceremony in the resort’s bridal suite, giving Derrick a few hours alone to reflect. “I actually waited to write my vows until that morning,” he says. “I sat on our balcony for a couple of hours with a coffee, just hanging out in paradise and thinking about why I’m in love with her.”

Dominican Republic wedding

Derrick saw Sofia for the first time that day when she walked down the aisle. After the ceremony, guests moved to a rooftop reception overlooking the beach and pool. Caribbean barbecue fare fueled guests for a night of dancing, and a three-piece band and DJ provided the entertainment.

bride and groom

“I know people say small details don’t really matter on the day of—and they really don’t,” Sofia says. “Things will go wrong, but just being with your loved ones and sharing in that love is so special.”

The Details

Date: Feb. 17, 2024. Guests: 41.

Ceremony and reception: Excellence El Carmen

Bride’s gown: Van Cleve Bridal & Evening Wear

Hair: Rini Montgomery, Ulta

Makeup: Provided by the resort.

Groom’s suit: Indochino

Florist: Provided by the resort.

Catering and cake: Provided by the resort.

Digital invitation: The Knot

Entertainment: Provided by the resort.

First dance: Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.”

Photographer: Wildflower Photographs

Careers: Sofia is a trauma therapist. Derrick is a financial advisor.

Related: The Pump House at Pencoyd Landing Is an Elegant New Event Space

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