Our Wedding Adventure: Planning a Destination Wedding
“How come you aren’t married yet?” Coordinating weddings and events is what I love to do but never did it occur to me by starting a wedding company would I have to succumb to these personal questions. One would only expect these questions from family and friends but as the years go by with planning weddings, this question was now an expectation from strangers, guests, vendors, and of course, clients. Now that it was our turn to get married, I worried about what we would go through in regards to the planning, stress, and overall process of what we’ve witnessed many of our couples go through. Looking back with having only 6 months of planning, we believe that doing a destination wedding was possibly the best idea we could have ever done for ourselves. This post is not only to talk about our experience and our point of view on planning a destination wedding, but to help others trying to decide whether or not they would choose a destination versus keeping a wedding in their local area.
Pricing: What is it worth to you? Is it reasonable for your guests? Where are your guests coming from? For my husband and I, experience and making memories was worth more than decor, having the best DJ, a 4-tier cake, what candy should go in our candy bar, etc. Traveling is a costly expense no matter how you look at it. Although, if your guests are those that would have had to travel anyway… “Why not make a vacation out of it?!” Since most of our family are from other states (AZ/NY/FL/LA) and countries (Philippines and Canada) it would have been a field trip for most of them either way. Cost wise for us after crunching over 10+ different locations, financial spreadsheets, and countless phone calls later, we saw that booking a cruise & wedding package would be the most reasonable, cost effective way for my husband and I to pay for the wedding ourselves with little to no help financially from others. Eloping also came to our minds, but being alone would not have been nearly as fun! <<<This also comes from almost a decade of having “alone” time with each other. Another financial aid that may come to rescue for your wedding day are vendors that are friends! Do you have a friend that does photography, or a gal pal who’s an expert with hair & make-up?! All those help with the overall budget of your wedding day!
Venue: What setting fits best for you and your fiance? Beach, romantic, rustic, glamour, glitz, etc. Finding the venue is absolutely key to your vision. So read reviews, reviews, reviews! Reading many reviews, sifting through wedding sites, and outweighing what you have control over is truly key to finding your right setting. We went from booking a venue at a desert, beach, park, to thinking about having it in our backyard! Ultimately as much as what others will try to influence you on their choice, it is up to you and your fiance! For us since we loved tropical weather and have had enjoyed many trips in such climates (i.e. Philippines, Hawaii, Mexico, Bahamas, etc), the Caribbeans was a true contender in setting the right venue for our nuptials.
Expectations: What are your expectations for a wedding? This may seem like a very loaded question but throughout the years, our vision and expectations have shifted. To planning the most perfectly orchestrated party to having an experience of a lifetime. It is truly mind over matter. To many of our friends, they have known me to be very meticulous and wanting control over any situation (Type A personality.) Planning our wedding was a completely different experience! We had little-to-no control over the food, music, flowers, mother nature, travel delays, officiant, and decor. I guess we could have but it is too expensive fly to the Cayman Islands to finalize these decisions. For my fiancé at the time, it was a breeze since there were no site visits, vendor meetings, nor food tastings to go to throughout the course of planning. He only had to worry about what he was going to wear and of course, his vows! Given the experience of planning a wedding, knowing what was expected in regards to what a wedding entailed and answering questions as to what they would need from us was a piece of cake… everything else was, MIND OVER MATTER. We found ourselves 1-2 months before the wedding looking at each other feeling like we should be doing something wedding related and people asking us if we needed help… Finding out at that point, things are out of our hands! As much as this was a challenge for me more so than the groom, letting go was the ultimate sacrifice I had to make. The pressure of making the best candy bar, centerpiece, guestbook table, etc. also was thrown out the window because of the sheer fact of carrying extra luggage or paying extra for a decorator or coordinator was sheer nonsense for a 5 hour reception!
The Downfall: Travel plans will never go as you would like! Ultimately, you have to plan buffers to account for all of what can go wrong when planning a destination wedding. For example, our cruise left for Monday and we left the Friday before to leave room for any delays. A 14-hour flight delayed us from getting to our departing port of call at the expected time frame but we did not need to board for another 2 days! Not only should you plan for these delays and cancellations but to plan for Option A, B, and C should flight times change, lost luggage, forgotten wedding item, etc. come to fruition. For example, we were on a plane with a couple whom was also getting married on a cruise but had their cruise departure the following day. They therefore only had one option… catch the next flight to their following port (because the cruise will not wait for you!)
The Upside: Everyone will make it a vacation in any shape or form! Making an itinerary can become obsolete at times so you and your fiance must learn to be flexible! Our recommendation is making one event per day (if that) when traveling with your guests. We have been to a couple destination weddings where there is 1-2 events per day. Traveling on it’s own can be taxing on others and planning one event is more than enough on you and your guests! The upside of having a destination wedding is being able to share moments and memories of not just one night but throughout the travel experience! My husband and I also accounted for our own vacation due to our personal plans to start a family soon after getting married and therefore thought, why not?! Again ultimately, it goes back to the question… “What are you trying to accomplish?”
Ultimately, if we can suggest doing a destination wedding and it is financially feasible for you, your fiancé, and your guests. DO IT! We loved the experience and our guests loved it too, so much so that they want anniversary trips! We created so many memories with each other and our guests from our wedding adventure, that we truly have no regrets. Also, one of my biggest suggestions not only as a wedding coordinator, a wife, and a mental health therapist. Enjoy every moment and try to refrain from worrying about the small stuff. This is your wedding day, a wedding is about your love and commitment to one another, not about what went wrong or wishing you had rented the right color charger plate! So if you and your fiancé find yourselves mulling over what to do for your upcoming wedding, feel free to give us a call or email us your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, are a few snapshots of our wedding in the Grand Old House, Grand Cayman Island.