What It’s Really Like Planning A Destination Wedding

In celebration of our two-year anniversary I’ve decided this week will be wedding week! First up all the things I’ve learned planning our destination wedding in St.Lucia. Planning a destination wedding is very different from planning a wedding here in the states. Things that I was not prepared for.

How we decided on a location:

I always knew my husband wanted a destination wedding and for a while he threw out places like Hawaii and Mexico. Then one day he saw a beautiful picture of the Piton mountains and decided right then and there that it had to be St. Lucia. If you’ve ever met my husband you know that once he’s put his mind to something he is unstoppable.

How we decided on a resort:

Once we knew for sure we wanted to do it in St. Lucia we had to find a resort to host our guest and have the wedding. If you ever google top wedding locations in St. Lucia you’ll see that all the locations there are beyond beautiful. So, you’re good no matter what you pick. You can literally throw darts at a list and be guaranteed an unforgettable wedding. We had to narrow down our search to the following:

1. All inclusive resort – we knew that some of our guest would be saving up and spending the last of their paychecks to come to our wedding. Which we were so grateful to have such supportive family and friends. We didn’t want the trip to have the extra added stress of having to worry about who would pick up the bar tab or pay for dinner. We knew right away that the best chance we had of having a worry free wedding and vacation was to find an all-inclusive resort.

2. Close to the airport – if you’ve ever been to St. Lucia there are two sides of the island. One is very close to the airports and the other is closer to the mountains but can be up to an hour ride through the mountains. We wanted our family and friends to get off the plane and be greeted almost immediately by the vacation of our dreams.

3. Accommodating all of our guests – the tricky thing about all-inclusive resorts are that some of them, Sandal’s for example, are 18 and older. My sisters are under 18. It was a non-starter if they could not come to the wedding. And while Sandal’s did offer to accommodate them for the day, they would have had to leave the resort by a certain time after the wedding. Who wants to be kicked out of their big sisters wedding?! The resort we ended up booking our wedding had an adults only side which was a great compromised. We could still spend time with my sisters and the older guests could get their peace and quiet away from any children.

Once we had these thing in mind we selected the Coconut Bay resort. Another added bonus is that they let us come for a weekend to see the hotel and the venue. If we booked the wedding there that trip was free (minus flights of course). Which we did end up doing.

How we picked the date:

A lot of picking the date is usually what is available. The resort had three time slots each day. An early afternoon, a 4 pm and an 8 pm slot. Each with the choice of the beach or the gazebo. We were hell-bent on the beach so that was simple, it was just a matter of when it was available. We didn’t really have a month or day in mind for getting married so when we found out that there was a 4 pm on Memorial day weekend we jumped at it. It worked out in a way that anyone who couldn’t get days off from work could still come for an extended weekend without losing their jobs. Also, its super easy to remember!

Trickiest part of planning the wedding:

Unlike a regular wedding, you have very little options when it comes to a destination wedding. You pick the colors you want and the resort will use whatever they have to decorate. You pick the type of flowers from a list they can offer and it’s not usually a long list. If you want a flower, like sunflowers, that don’t grown on the island you’re out of luck. You do get the choice of the color of the flower though. Centerpieces are the same. If you want anything special or unique you’re out of luck. The trickiest part of all of this is that you don’t see any of it ahead of time. Normal weddings you go to a trail with the florist and the hairdresser. You have a tasting for your menu. You scout the DJ ahead of time. A lot of planning a destination wedding is putting your hands up and saying I hope this works.

The invitations will have to go out right away, until normal weddings where you would send them 3 months ahead of time. You will have some people who do not book their rooms through the appropriate channels and might messed up the deal you have with the hotel. A lot of people will not be able to come. Which kind of sucks. We ended up with about 41 guest and we were so thrilled to have each and every one of them in attendance.

A little tip for anyone who gets very anal about everything matching. Ask for all white. Our colors were white, gold, and navy. I ask for all white flowers and table linens with gold and navy accents. This allowed me to not obsess too much about how things looked and still be confident that all my pictures would be just how I wanted them. Anything you absolutely can’t compromise on; bring it yourself. I bought wooden table numbers and lanterns for my bridesmaids to carry down the isle, which later doubled as centerpieces. I did my own hair and makeup so that I wouldn’t be upset if someone else messed up.

The Wedding Planner:

Here’s where things are kind of sticky. We went and saw Coconut Bay for a walk through in September. Once we gave our deposit, selected our date, and were popping champagne the resort assigned us a wedding planner. This person acted as a middle man (or in this case woman) to help us select our package, flowers, ceremony, and so on. This way the wonderful people on the resort could do their jobs day-to-day with each wedding and we had someone to answer all of our questions. Even better we eventually found out that the woman helping us plan our wedding was the wife of my baby cousins softball coach! I know that’s a lot to take it; just read it one more time for clarity. The tricky part, we learned, is that you form a relationship with one person and then show up for your wedding and deal with someone you’ve never spoken to before. Another tricky part was that our wedding planner was located in Florida, had no pictures for reference, and had only visited the resort once or twice. Any information she could give us came from other couples she had help and not many chose to have a wedding as large as ours.

The Wedding:

The bonus to having a wedding out of a package is that everything is all set up. You don’t have to spend months going over different colors and textures to figure out which works best. It’s all part of the package. There were a couple of things we did get to decide on our own. 1. the cake. I found an image of the cake on Pinterest, sent it to our wedding planner who then sent it to our chef and once he confirmed he could do it we were in business. 2. Our signature drink. It was as easy as sending our wedding planner the recipe for watermelon margaritas and Boom! we were in business.

Our wedding went off with few hitches (it was a wedding after all). My husband got his beach wedding and I got my fire dancers! You can check out our wedding video here and our wedding week vlog here.

Comment below if you’ve had or been to a destination wedding, what was your favorite part? Or comment below and let me know if there are any questions you have about our destination wedding.

Besos! xoxo

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