I have been thinking a lot about destination weddings lately. I'm working with several brides that are planning their destination weddings at various resorts in the Caribbean. As I am working on all of these weddings, I keep thinking about my younger sister, who has been dating a really great guy for the past year and is just waiting for him to propose to her. Heck, we are all waiting for him to propose to her! Anyway, my sister lives in Alaska right now, and the majority of our family lives in New York. The majority of her boyfriend's family lives in Alaska. I'm Julienne's only sister, so I'm going to be the Matron of Honor. (Well, I hope that I'm the MoH. She was my Maid of Honor, after all... And we are very close. But, I digress...)That means that I'm going to be the one that does the majority of the planning if she decides that they are getting married in New York.
On the Sandals WeddingMoons Fan Page on FaceBook, I posted the question, "What was the best part of your destination wedding?" Jennifer Sanchez put it best when she wrote:
"...the VERY best part and the reason why we decided to have one was because prior to our wedding, we had been to 7 weddings in one year. They all seemed cookie-cutter. Church, drive to hall, you were there for 5 hours, danced, ate, talked to people, maybe got a few seconds with the bride and groom and then it was over. All along we thought, wow, these people just spent $35,000 plus on 5 hours and now it's over. We wanted something different. Not only did we not want to spend that kind of money, we didn't want a cookie cutter wedding. At first I wasn't too fond of the idea of a destination wedding, but then it dawned on me, most weddings have 150+ people and do you really even know them all? No, probably not. So with a destination wedding, your closest friends and family will be there. At my wedding there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd? Why? Was my wedding that different, that emotional? The answer is no... the reason why that happened was because everyone there truly loved us and knew our story and felt the emotions. What made the entire experience so great was the fact that for 7 days we spent an AMAZING time with 45 of our closest friends and family. The entire week was a celebration and we got to spend intimate time with every single person. Everyone was so relaxed and on "vacation" mode so it was very relaxing. And of course, what an amazing setting for a wedding!"
That really got me to thinking about my sister. We come from a big, Italian family. My cousin got married last month on Staten Island, and there were close to 200 people in attendance. The wedding was easily over $50,000. Then he and his new wife took a honeymoon for 2 weeks to Sicily. Jennifer's point hits so, so close to home-- And it makes so much sense. The stress that goes into planning a wedding like that is outrageous. My own wedding had 100 people. To tell you the truth, I can't rattle off the guest list.
If I were to have a destination wedding, I would want my family to be there. I would honestly invite three friends to come that I know would attend, and invite a few others that I know wouldn't. I think my husband would have his family, then probably just one friend. It would have been very memorable. That isn't to say that our wedding wasn't memorable-- It was just a blur. Craig and I still agree that, with the exception of the day that our twins made their 7 week early appearance, it was the most hectic day of our lives.
A destination wedding is so much less stress on the bride and groom. If you are working with a good travel agent, specifically someone that specializes in destination weddings, then they will be able to take care of everything for you. If any snags or problems arise, they will be told. They will handle the problems, and only come to you if there is a big problem that you need to address yourself. With a good travel agent, everything will be in place weeks before you leave, and every last minute request will be granted.
Most resorts that cater to destination weddings offer complimentary wedding coordinators for your special day. This person will work with your travel agent to get you everything that you want, need and deserve on your special day. Once you get to the resort, you will sit down with your wedding coordinator and review the details. You will go on a site inspection for the ceremony and the reception, just to make sure that it is exactly what you want. If you aren't happy with it, you can work with the wedding coordinator to make changes. If you were to pay for a wedding coordinator and/or a wedding planner for your wedding, it would run you thousands of dollars. Many travel agents (including myself) do not charge a fee for their services. Look to work with a resort that offers wedding coordinators for free, such as Sandals or Beaches.
Having a destination wedding allows couples to focus on each other and their love, rather than stressing over place settings, seating arrangements and all of the other drama that can come with a traditional wedding. Love trumps drama, in my humble opinion. Happiness trumps stress.
Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding! Special thanks to Jennifer and Lazaro for sharing their wedding photos for the purpose of this article!