I’m interrupting your regularly scheduled programming today to talk about my trip to Puerto Rico that I arrived home from last night.
A few years ago, Christmastime 2014 I think, my cousin and his (now) husband announced their engagement. At that time they were looking at venues central to where we all basically are (NJ/PA area). Then my cousin’s company moved to Puerto Rico, where they also eventually moved. Once they were settled there, they began planning their wedding again.
I have been so excited about this wedding because 1) it’s my cousin Kenny and we grew up more like siblings, 2) I’ve never been to an island before, and 3) it meant my entire family was going to basically go on vacation together which was sure to be a fun time!
We have a pretty large family, but Kenny is the oldest and only two years older than I am so we haven’t had a lot of weddings in our family, especially of our cousins. My mom’s youngest sister got married when we were little, my mom’s other sister got remarried when I was a freshman in college, and my mom’s brother got remarried between my sophomore and junior years of college so we have had the chance to all get together and enjoy each other’s company this way in the past but it’s different now that we are all grown and starting to get married. My wedding was the first, less than seven months ago, then my cousin Steven in October, and now Kenny. It’s been a whirlwind of weddings the past few months and it will probably be a while before there is another.
This wedding in particular was extremely exciting though since it was a destination wedding for all of us who didn’t reside in Puerto Rico and it was at a beautiful resort that we all got to enjoy thoroughly!
The wedding was at La Concha Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I flew in Thursday night with my mom and my sister and my dad and Dom flew in Friday night. When we arrived on Thursday, some of my family were at what we were told was a salsa bar – it was actually a sandwich shop that had salsa music but it was over by the time we got there. We had a drink before it closed and we made our way back to the hotel.
Friday morning my sister was going to an exercise class with one of our cousins and after she left my mom and I got up to go to the beach. It was early and quiet and we decided to take a walk.
It was so peaceful to stroll along the shore with the whole weekend ahead of us. We made it back to the resort and grabbed a few chairs by the pool looking out at the beach. Little by little our family started to arrive and we soon claimed pretty much that entire pool area. It was so wonderful to look around and just be able to enjoy the fact that we were all together, basically on vacation. We spent the entire morning in the pool before the bridal party needed to go to the rehearsal. My mom was doing a reading so she needed to be there so my aunt invited me to go into Old San Juan with her family for a late lunch and shopping before the big welcome dinner.
We were dropped off by the Fort which was so cool but since we didn’t have time to tour it, we read a little about it’s history and kept walking (I intend to go back again to check it out). We were looking for a place where we could sit down and have some tapas and try local dishes.
As we were walking we asked a passing couple if they had a recommendation and they told us to go to La Mallorquina, which we learned was the first restaurant in Puerto Rico! They also told us to visit the church we were standing in front of which was amazing. We walked through and then continued down the street to find food.
The restaurant was really cool with such history – it was opened in 1848! The tapas was also great. We decided on a bunch of small plates since there were seven of us and tried a variety of dishes, it was a great time.
We then kept walking, peaking into shops and stopping to browse. My cousin decided to buy a dress and change into it for the welcome dinner. I was looking for a hat and maybe a necklace but I ended up finding a shirt I really liked and my cousin and I got matching shirts!
It was an overall enjoyable afternoon and then we went down to the port to see if there were any ships coming in. We ran into my other aunt and uncle on the way and then spent a little time there before heading to Polo Norte which was only open for the private event.
The welcome party was such a blast. We took lots of pictures, though I only have a few, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Afterwards we headed back to the resort to change and meet back at the pool for a night swim! It was chilly, swimming at night, so I mostly stayed out of the pool. We bought some more food and drinks and continued the party until pretty late. There may have been something with a ring toss, there may have been some people who did not get the chance to change into swimwear, and since it was St. Patrick’s day, there may have been some people who went to an Irish bar and came back a bit crazy. I’m just saying, these things may have happened 😉
Everything was going well until one of my cousins couldn’t find his wallet. The party was breaking up, it was about 11ish and they were going to go to the casino but his wallet was nowhere to be found. We searched everywhere and eventually they had to file a police report. After that happened, we watched each other’s belongings like hawks the rest of the trip. By the time I got up to my room, my dad and Dom’s plane had landed and they were on their way so I stayed up for Dom to fill him in on the night.
The next morning we went to the pool to spend as much time as possible before the wedding. We hung out, the ocean was rough so we stayed at the upper pool where we were the night before but at one point a bunch of the guys went body surfing. We had another awesome pool day and then got ready for the wedding!
The weather was gorgeous, the ceremony took place outside overlooking the water and it was so perfect. We sat towards the front and it was such a beautiful wedding.
We then had some pictures taken and also enjoyed cocktail hour in the same space. the different foods were so great and I loved trying new things! The signature drink was a passion-fruit mojito which was also amazing.
Pretty soon it was time to go up for the reception which was such a blast. My family knows how to party and all of Kenny and Aaron’s friends and neighbors were a ton of fun as well. The music was a mix of standard party songs and what were most likely Puerto Rican standards and we had so much fun dancing the night away.
Towards the end of the night we had a big surprise – a tradition in Puerto Rico – a band came in closely followed by two women dancing on stilts! It was such a blast getting to experience it and a huge surprise!
After the wedding we changed and went to the pool again where similar shenanigans happened but the night ended on a happier note.
We made Sunday into one-piece Sunday and enjoyed the pool and beach again! I could sit by the water every day and not get bored. It was much more relaxing since we had nowhere to be all day. In the evening all the 20-30 somethings decided to go into Old San Juan together for shopping, dinner, and drinks.
We started at the hat store where they make custom hats. The store was really neat and we learned about the different types of weaves. One hat was $5,000 because it took 8 months to make! It was so cool. Only Mercedes ended up buying a hat but it was really great to just check out the store. We then roamed the streets taking pictures and just taking in the beauty of Old San Juan.
We eventually stopped at this cool bar (El Batey) where everyone who came in could literally make their mark.
Afterwards we met the newlyweds and some of their friends at this rooftop wine bar (Al Fresco) and got tapas and sangria. We talked and reminisced and just had a wonderful time all being together.
We then went to this speak easy type bar (La Factoria) which was so cool with different rooms and really interesting drinks. At that point we decided to get cabs to Tacos and Tequila at the Vanderbilt Hotel (next door to La Concha). We ran into our parents, also ending their night there, and had a nice time before walking back to the resort and (most of us) going to bed.
Since yesterday was our last day, it was a little bittersweet, but we started the day, again, at the pool! We had been wanting to try the breakfast sandwiches at Pinky’s across from the resort so Dom and I ordered take-out for us and my parents and Jenn. The sandwiches were delicious! They make an awesome ham, egg, and cheese on a french baguette with a pesto sauce that we all had to try (no egg for me, and Dom actually got the breakfast burrito special since he can’t have pesto) and I cannot say enough amazing things about it. SO GOOD. Most of the family visited the rainforest, but because we just wanted a relaxing day before we had to leave for our flight we opted not to go. It was us, my grandma, and two of my other cousins who stayed behind and we really did have a relaxing day. Dom and I went for a walk and took some pictures and then spent the rest of the time laying by the pool.
At about 1:30 everyone was getting back and we were headed upstairs to change before leaving for the airport. It was difficult to pull ourselves away from the beauty of the island, our family that was still there, and just a vacation in general. We said our goodbyes and caught a cab, ready to enjoy one last piece of vacation at the airport Margaritaville!
Once we had eaten and gotten to our gate, it wasn’t long before we boarded and were on our way home.
Our Favorites: My favorite part of the trip has to be the wedding because I was so happy to get to see two of my favorite people finally get married after being together for 11 years! My second favorite was relaxing by the pool and beach with my family. I loved being able to be surrounded by people I love and just enjoy being away together.
Food: The food was awesome everywhere we were. Pork is a big thing there and we loved that but I really don’t think I tried anything I disliked. I loved being able to have tapas and trying all different dishes.
Haul: I really only bought one souvenir for myself which was the shirt I got in Old San Juan. I love it though and I wore it basically every night we were there. We also stopped at the duty free in the airport and bought rum and a shot glass to add to my collection 🙂