Long before there was a ring, Paul and I knew we wanted to have a destination wedding. While we enjoyed attending traditional 'ceremony and reception' weddings, that just wasn’t us. We wanted something smaller, low-key and intimate but we wanted more than a ceremony and a private room at a nice restaurant. We love to travel and we knew that inviting our closest family and friends on a vacation with us was going to be our ‘perfect’ wedding.
The stress started to settle in... I had never planned a wedding, let alone on an island that I’ve never been to and at a resort I’ve never seen! Then I was put into contact with our wedding coordinator at the resort - she had so much information for me and gave us an abundance of options. She sent over a whole ‘wedding menu’ full of flowers, photographers, decorations, ceremony and reception locations, sample menus, etc. We chose a ceremony late in the day with a cocktail hour with a trio of musicians playing Caribbean music then a buffet dinner with a full bar with a bonfire. Our wedding could have been anything from very simple to extremely extravagant - they can cater to all tastes.
We had our wedding on a Wednesday, which gave us time to be with our guests before and after the wedding as we wanted to vacation with everyone as well. It was also great to have so many things to do at the resort as it catered both to people that wanted to be more active, and those who just wanted to lounge by the pool.
The wedding day came, and my attendants and I had our hair and makeup done at the spa at the resort. They did a fantastic job! This was another facet that I was stressed about, considering most brides have hair and makeup dry runs with their stylist prior to their weddings, and we were going into this without a dry run AND with a language barrier. I gave them picture torn from a bridal magazine and it was duplicated perfectly. Our wedding coordinator kept checking on us throughout the day, and eventually we made it back to our room to dress.
We did find out that it was too windy to do the bonfire after the reception, so we rescheduled it for the night before everyone left. That worked out phenomenally, as we the chance to get together as a group one more time before going back to reality.
Even as Paul and I attend weddings now, either one of us will whisper to the other “I’m so glad we had a destination wedding.”
- Start putting a bug in people’s ear long before your save-the-dates go out that you’re considering a destination wedding. This is a much larger investment for your guests than a set of towels from Pottery Barn. We got engaged in the Spring and wanted to have a Fall wedding, but we decided on a longer engagement so that people wouldn’t feel as pinched to make a decision.
- Don’t be upset if people can’t go. We had quite a few people that couldn’t attend due to homes being purchased and babies being born. This is just part of having a destination wedding.
- Get your save the dates out ASAP. This reminds people to contact your travel agent and start asking off from work. We sent out luggage tags as our save the dates.
- Book the Honeymoon Suite or Master Suite. This is the first of only two aspects I would have changed. We booked a Preferred Club Ocean View room which was more than enough room for the two of us, but adding in my attendants, mom, photographer, and wedding planner. That room got small quickly!
- The second change I would have made is booking private transfers. The shared transfers were not bad, but looking back, I wish it would have just been my soon-to-be husband and me sharing our nervousness in the car.
- Don't forget welcome gifts. We put together beach bags for our guests that included a tour book of the Dominican, sun screen, aloe, and bug spray. Our maid-of-honor made beach towels in our wedding colors with our wedding date. You can get the resort to deliver them to everyone’s rooms, but we opted to deliver them by hand so we could personally thank our guests for coming and this gave us one-on-one time with everyone. Also - it was easy to identify our guests on the beach or by the pool since everyone had the same color bags on their chairs.