Puerto Vallarta Destination Wedding from Michelle Turner Photography

I am over the moon excited to share this destination wedding with you from Michelle Turner Photography today! Over. the moon. excited. Not only are we HUGE fans of Michelle’s work, but today’s bride is also the absolute sweetest! It was such a pleasure emailing back and forth with Rachel to find out more about her and Scott’s love and proposal story – both of which are AMAZING by the way! Speaking of…

Note: This post is a little on the long side, but you’ll be daydreaming so soon, you won’t even notice. I promise.

bride and groom walking hand-in-hand on a rocky beach in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Scott and Rachel met on a Saturday night in October 2007 at a bar in St. Louis. It’s funny, because before that night, Rachel did not believe she could meet anyone worthwhile in a bar. But that night, she met Scott and everything changed.

groom dip kisses his bride beneath an orange parasol on a rocky beach in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Two days later, Scott took Rachel on their first real date to a local wine bar. They spent the night sampling great wines and talking about everything you’re not “supposed” to talk about (religion and politics), and closed the place down together. A few days after that, in the parking garage outside of Rachel’s apartment, after a fantastic date over ice cream, Rachel and Scott shared their first kiss. She calls that late night ice cream date the sweet beginnings of their sweet journey. (Awwwww!)

blue and orange placecard, silver car placecard holder, white and blue and orange ribbon wedding cake, zombie bridal cake topper, Michelle Turner Photography

Some of Rachel and Scott’s best memories are from their travels around the world together. One such time when Scott surprised Rachel by obtaining his SCUBA license and whisked her away to the Caribbean on a private sailboat to dive for 10 days. (Uhm… best surprise vacation ever? I think so.) They both swear that adventures like this one helped strengthen their relationship, their communication skills, and the ability to really make the most of every moment they spend together. These skills were especially helpful in keeping their bond strong and moving in the right direction when Scott took a job in Houston, TX, hundreds of miles from where Rachel was interning in St. Louis. Even with the miles separating them, Rachel and Scott never lost sight of their love for each other.

bride and groom walk hand-in-hand on the beach at sunset, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Editor’s Note: Scott’s proposal to Rachel is honestly the best thing I have ever read. It’s hugely detailed and incredibly romantic – he put a TON of thought into this, let me tell you. I’m going to do my absolute best to to give you the shortened version – cramming as many details into it as I possibly can. I’d say bear with me, but you’ll be swooning on the edge of your seat soon enough…

When it came time to pop the question, Scott spent seven solid months shopping for and creating the perfect ring, planning out every single detail of his elaborate proposal plan, booking flights, and waiting. Finally, the weekend of December 18, 2010 arrived. Scott had promised Rachel a “relaxing” weekend of pampering after sitting a seven-hour long exam she’d spent months studying for and stressing over. On the morning of, Scott directed Rachel to the kitchen where a bowl filled with ornaments and a white envelope waited for her on the counter. Upon opening the envelope, she discovered he’d booked her a mani/pedi at the Chase Park Hotel Spa. As she hurried to get out the door, Scott reminded her that the whole day was planned out for her and she had to be back at the house by 11. His secret smile and ability to always surprise her left her wondering the entire morning.

happy bride and groom, day-after session, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

The minute Rachel was out the door, Scott sprang the next steps of his plan into action. He grabbed his already packed suitcase from its hiding place, laid out her own, set aside even more envelopes for Rachel to open, and was out the door to catch his flight to NYC. Before stepping on the plane, he sent a quick text to Rachel instructing her to open envelope number 2 the moment she got home.

orange stappy sandals, brown leather men's flip flops, day-after session, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Rachel was more than happy to oblige, and had to restrain herself from tearing into the other half-dozen envelopes waiting for her. Inside was a piece of paper with a few lines of love, directions, and a short poem. “Dust off the luggage, out with the trunk; it’s packing time!!! Makeup and junk!” Rachel hurried to follow Scott’s directions and got dressed, packed her suitcase (including just one red shoe, she doesn’t know why), and eating the lunch he’d set aside for her in the fridge. Within thirty minutes she was out the door and on to envelope number 3 and a second poem. “Varoom, varoom off, to lands well known, where silver birds soar, to distances soon shown.”

Are you on the edge of your seat yet?

bride and groom perspective kiss, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

She made it to the airport in record time, parked the car, and caught a shuttle to the main terminal. When the driver asked for her flight information, she told him she had no idea. When everyone, including the driver, gave her funny looks, she explained the story of what was happening. Every woman on the shuttle swooned. (Wouldn’t you?) It was the most romantic thing they’d ever heard (yep, me too!) and were certain a proposal was in her imminent future. While Rachel secretly hoped this was true, she explained that Scott was well known for his elaborate surprises and didn’t want to get her hopes up. One engaged couple urged her on though as they followed her into the terminal and waited with baited breath for her to open envelope number 4 where she discovered her travel destination. “Shine it off bright, and take a BIG bite. Board your bird for an Apple with lights!”

colorful poolside reception, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

One very long flight to NYC later with only an iPod playlist filled with music Scott had selected specially for her, and half a dozen women hanging on her every word for company. The second the plane touched down, it was all Rachel could do not to tear into the next envelope. “Confusion exists as a crowded sea of yellow. But away you must go, so “hail” a fellow.” Rachel exchanged phone numbers with the women eager to hear how the story played out, retrieved her suitcase in a hurry, and caught the first cab she could find.

romantic Puerto Vallarta day-after session, destination day-after session, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, men's attire, ruffled wedding dress, Michelle Turner Photography

Upon arriving at the hotel Scott had directed her to, Rachel stopped in the middle of the lobby to read the poem in the last and final envelope. “Safe and sound, good times abound. And just your luck, there’s a cute guy around!” And there was Scott, waiting patiently for his love.

But the surprise wasn’t over yet

bride and groom kissing silhouette against an orange sunset, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Hand-in-hand, they made their way down Fifth Avenue to Rockefeller Center, Scott texting mysteriously on his phone the entire time. And as they stood admiring the tree, Rachel told Scott that this was the most amazing Christmas present she’d ever received. He turned to her and said, “Well, there’s something else…” Words of love were exchanged, but it didn’t hit Rachel what he was leading up to until he dropped to one knee, opened the dark blue ring box containing the ring he’d spent months designing for her, and asked her to be his wife. Of course, she said yes! And the best part was a friend of theirs had caught the entire thing on camera!! Just another piece of Scott’s master proposal plan.

Master indeed. My breath is stolen and my heart is thudding around in my chest. And I’m not even the recipient of said master proposal plan, just a lovestruck onlooker. I told you the proposal story wasINCREDIBLE! :) And so was their wedding… Le sigh.

bride and groom embrace on a rocky beach in Mexico, wedding rings, ring shot, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

{From the Bride} We wanted our wedding week to be complete with close family and friends. We were elated when 54 loved ones made the trek to Vallarta for our big day! Vallarta is very important to my family, as both my parents and uncles own property there, and we’ve been visiting for years. It was our goal to make our guests feel right at home in Vallarta, complete with influences of our travels and of Mexican culture and celebration!

bride and groom kiss while being serenaded by a mariachi band, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

orange bridesmaids dresses, blue and beige groomsmen's attire, stylish bridal party, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Scott and I are so glad we decided on Playa Fiesta to host our event! They helped us personalize everything from the blended mango mojitos (our signature drink) to the daily newsletters that Scott designed to be placed in each room nightly, right down to our custom cake topper (a wedding gift from Scott’s brother), and photo booth props (made by a good friend of ours). We wanted our guests to know how much we loved them and how thankful we were that they could be there with us to witness the start of our journey and marriage.

bride and groom kiss in a gated doorway, bride and groom kiss in a flower garden, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Scott was the most amazing groom! He is so thoughtful and sweet and wanted to be a part of every facet of wedding planning! His creative ideas and continual loving praise helped make our vision a reality, along with the help of our dedicated wedding planners. Guests were greeted at the hotel with smiles, fresh guacamole, and margaritas. Our welcome dinner consisted of the most amazing taco bar ever imagined, Mexican fire dancers, and drummers. The day of the rehearsal, Scott set up a “Mexican Adventure Tour” that took us deep into the jungle for a zip line and a stop at a tequila factory on the way home. After our rehearsal, my uncles hosted a dinner at their condo with gorgeous views of Vallarta! The libations and gourmet food was inspired and created by my Cordon Bleu trained Uncle Len! There was even surprise music by Los Bambinos, a wonderfully talented local group. 

bride and groom share a kiss in a flower garden in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Wedding day was relaxing and wonderful! We tried to take every moment in! The bridesmaids and moms met for pedicures and lunch while our guests relaxed by the pool. One of my favorite moments happened before the wedding. Scott and I hadn’t seen each other since breakfast, and we’d been surrounded by family and friends. I had just taken a shower in our suite and was completely alone for the first time all day. I peered out of our window to see the progress below and saw Scott napping on a couch in the next suite. Without telling anyone, I snuck over to see my soon-to-be husband for a private moment before the wedding!

bride and groom each getting ready in their own private suite, bride and groom perspective, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

I really wanted to be able to keep my bouquet so we enlisted the help of Lalo Morales who designed our Mexican corn husk bouquets in his studio that helps to support the indigenous women in the Vallarta area through traditional arts and crafts. They were truly stunning and a total surprise! My mother kept the penny she wore in her shoe when she married my dad 36 years ago, so I would have it for this special day. It was securely taped into my Stuart Waltzman shoes. I even borrowed her beautiful blusher veil from her original cathedral length veil for my hair. My dad and I walked down the aisle to the romantic sounds of the 10 piece mariachi band where he handed me off to Scott before our family and friends at sunset.

orange bridesmaids dress, orange and white mini calla lily bouquet, orange strappy sandals with a penny taped inside, Michelle Turner Photography

It was very important to us that we honored our family and friends during the celebration. We wanted everyone involved in our wedding, so Scott wrote a simple and sweet shell ceremony in which each guest was given a shell and asked to fill it with kind thoughts, blessings, or wishes and cast it back into the ocean. It was beautiful.

Puerto Vallarta destination wedding ceremony, Michelle Turner Photography

Post ceremony, guests were ushered to cocktail hour with our signature blended mango mojitos while we whisked off to take pictures. The reception dinner was wonderful and the speeches were funny and heartfelt. We were so happy to be surrounded by so many loving people. 

bride and groom steal away from the reception for a private moment, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

The maracas with tags that read “Shake at the kiss!” as well as glow sticks were a huge hit on the dance floor and in the photo booth! Since it can get breezy by the ocean at night, my mom and dad collected beautiful shawls from their travels in Central America to place at each ladies’ seat at the reception. Instead of a garter and bouquet toss, Scott and I decided to recognize the couples in our lives with an anniversary dance. We gave bouquets to both sets of grandparents who have been married for 59 and 61 years!! Then, Scott and the guys enjoyed local Mexican cigars on the lawn to the sounds of crashing waves on the shore, while family and friends who weren’t able to attend enjoyed the reception via a live stream that Scott set up as a surprise! We ended the night with fireworks and the party continued until nearly everyone found themselves in the pool! It was truly a night to remember.

fireworks at the poolside reception, fireworks sendoff, Michelle Turner Photography

Oh my gosh. Neither will I. And I wasn’t even there!! The description of each well-thought out and heartfelt detail literally had me jumping out of my seat in joy! What an incredibly, magical day! I don’t even know where to begin on what I loved most! The robust orange color complemented by that pretty blue, the signature mango mojitos, the Shell ceremony, the live stream of the reception back home, the ending in the pool… Everything about this wedding… I’ll seriously remember forever. And Michelle did such a wonderful job capturing every last bit.

bride and groom sitting side-by-side on the beach with sandy toes, beach day-after session, destination day-after session, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

{From the Bride} The day after the wedding, our amazing photographer, ventured out through Vallarta with us! Not only is she über talented, she’s so easy to work with! After traipsing through the Romantic Zone of Vallarta and to the beach, she agreed to take some of the most amazing water pictures in the pools at my parents condo in Conchas Chinas. The time we spent with Michelle was relaxing and allowed me to kiss my new husband hundreds of times before parting ways back to Missouri and Texas. It was a special day we will never forget!

day-after session in a reflection pool, destination day-after session in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

OK, I think every newly married man and wife should do this! It’s über romantic and just so, so sweet! Note to self: You will do a shell ceremony and day after photo shoot when you get married! Oh, and have a destination wedding weekend… and have signature mango mojitos… and… Can you tell how in love I am with this wedding?! Because I totally am! :)

day-after session in a reflection pool, destination day-after session in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta destination wedding, Michelle Turner Photography

Thank you, Rachel, from the bottom of my heart for sharing all the details of yours and Scott’s love story, proposal, and wedding day with all of us today! You truly took me (and I am sure everyone else too) on a journey worthy of many, many dreams! Congratulations to both you and Scott on tying the knot! We wish you so much love, laughter, and heartfelt surprises in the many years to come! And a super special thank you to the amazingly talented Michelle of Michelle Turner Photography for sending us this wondrous wedding day!!

Photography: Michelle Turner PhotographyCeremony and Reception Venue: Playa Fiesta Beach Club

Coordinator: Lindsay Burgess – Officiant: Tamra Bradley – Flowers: Lalo Morales

Wedding Dress: AllureBride’s Shoes: Stuart WeitzmanBridesmaids Dresses: Maggy London

Veil and Jewelry: Vintage from bride’s mother – Rings: Michael Genovese Jewelers

Groom’s Attire: Brooks BrothersGroomsmen’s Attire: Van Heusen

Photo Booth Props: Kelly Phillips (close friend) – Maracas Tags: Susanschrock

Holders for place cards: Gallery360 – Cake Topper: Trevor Huston (groom’s brother)

Embroidered ribbon with “Rachel and Scott” for cake and place settings: Candi Bonn –

Maracas and Fish Scale Hair Rosettes: local vendors in Puerto Vallarta

Le sigh. Perfect way to complete our Launch of Love!

Happy Friday!



  1. Kristin says

    I am Scott and Rachel’s sister-in-law (married to Scott’s brother) and let me just say, this was the most amazing wedding I have ever been to and we all felt so privileged to be part of their big day! Scott and Rachel are a special couple and their wedding really reflected that. It was pure magic!

    • AlexandraAlexandra says

      It looks like pure magic! Wonderful to hear it from someone who experienced their beautiful day first hand! Thank you, Kristin!

  2. Rachel says

    Thank you so much for this beautiful expose of our wedding. I married the man of my dreams and I wish that for every woman in the world. The blessing Scott’s lovely grandmother wished us says it perfectly, “may you love as long as you live and may you live as long as you love.” Great luck with the beautiful website!

    • AlexandraAlexandra says

      Thank you for everything! This post wouldn’t have been the same without all the love you poured into the write up of your love story for me! Yours and Scott’s love is an absolute inspiration to me! Your wedding was just beautiful! The blessing Scott’s grandmother bestowed on you couldn’t be more perfect for the two of you! Congratulations again and best of luck and lots of love in the years to come!
      xoxo – Alexandra


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