With the soft sand under my feet, the sunset in the horizon, the ocean breeze blowing through my hair, and the waves crashing in the distance as we said, “I DO”. I knew we had made the right decision on having a destination wedding.
Destination weddings come in all various sizes. From eloping with just the bride and groom, to an intimate setting with close family, or a huge upscale event with everyone you know there to witness your nuptials. When it came time to plan my wedding I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted our wedding to be unique, adventurous, while being romantic and beautiful at the same time. This is exactly what I got when I wed my husband on September 1st in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
We took the ordinary destination wedding and turned it into the ultimate weekend experience for not only our memories, but for our guests as well. We made sure that we paid attention to every single detail; from the welcome bags, wedding favors, location, hotel accommodations, guest transportation, and most importantly the average cost per guest. It sounds like a lot of planning but it all paid off in the end.
Before you start trying on wedding dresses, you must take care of the logistics such as selecting a travel advisor, the budget, the location, and how to inform your guests of the far away locale.
VIVA Mexico!!! After evaluating a number of locations for the perfect wedding setting, we selected Mexico for the following reasons:
- Convenient destination from any gateway in the United States.
- Cancun has had a glut of brand new luxury hotels built in the last three years.
- Prices can be fairly inexpensive if you plan in advance.
- The beaches are absolutely stunning…..perfect setting for a beach wedding.
These are things to keep in mind when selecting any destination wedding location for a large group of people. You want to make sure your guests can afford to attend with easy travel arrangements.
Once the destination was selected it was on to choosing the hotel. Before you start, it’s wise to talk to your travel advisor to get information on the best hotel choices for destination weddings. Majority of the time your travel advisor will have the contact information of the resort wedding coordinator, which will come in handy when it’s time to get the wedding contract information from the hotel. Once you are in touch with the wedding resort coordinator, ASK QUESTIONS. Here are a few of the questions that I had for my wedding coordinator prior to committing to the contract.
- Will you allow me to bring in additional decoration items?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- What are the locations you offer to have weddings on your resort? (Beach Gazebo, Chapel, etc)
- Will you have pictures of the flowers, cake, and other items I have to choose from?
- Can I view your photographer’s website to see his/her pictures?
- Do you allow outside vendors for pictures?
- Can I have a private dinner reception?
- What are the legal requirements to get married in the country?
This list of questions can go on and on, but that’s ok as there are never too many questions to ask….this is going to be your wedding day. After getting all the right answers to my questions, we selected the Excellence Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa.
Be Our Guest
With all the major wedding logistics set, the next items on the list are to mail save-the-dates and build a wedding website.
- Save-the-Date – These should be mailed to your invited guests at least 6 to 7 months in advance. That way people can know the dates, request time off from work, and most importantly start to budget for the trip.
- Wedding Website – A wedding website is a must if you are planning a destination wedding. It gives your invited guests detailed information on everything from travel information, lodging, group activities, and dress codes for specific events.
Be a Great Host
We didn’t want our guests to be bored and we wanted to be great hosts; as our guests did travel a great distance just for us. We planned enough activities to feel like a group trip, but also enough leisure time for our guests to enjoy by themselves. Prior to their departure everyone received a wedding chronicle that listed the different events we had planned for the wedding weekend.
We started off with a meet & greet happy hour where all of our guests received a welcome bag that consisted of vacation necessities and wedding favors. This also gave our guests a chance to meet each other and swap stories on how they know the bride and groom.
On the night before the wedding we treated our guests to a night out in Playa del Carmen to the Coco Bongo Show & Disco. The shuttles arrived at our hotel at 10:00 pm and we took a 30 minute ride to Playa del Carmen. The city is very lively with a mix of tourists and local party goers.
Being that we purchased all our tickets as a special group (ask your travel advisor) we were given special wrist bands, shuffled passed the long line, and taken to our reserved section. Once inside we danced the night away with live impersonations of Beyonce, Elvis, Usher, Lady Gaga, movie choruses of Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Grease, and Bettlejuice. As the drinks kept flowing with the non-stop open bar, we didn’t notice it was 3:00 am and it was time to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. What an exciting confetti filled night!
The Big Day
After having a couple of fun filled days leading up to the wedding day, I hardly had time for any jitters. Thanks to all our pre-planning, everything seemed to fall into place exactly as I had imagined it to be. The groomsmen looked handsome in their bow ties, the bridesmaids looked elegant as they held their pink parasols, and the couple of the hour looked stunning.
A destination wedding is the way to go when you are trying to showcase the greatest detail of all…..LOVE. Because that’s when the real details have room to shine.