The Mister Project and I said “I do” on a beach in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico back in December 2013 and it was F$&%*@# awesome. Here’s the deal, we have friends from all over the place and a super fun family. We absolutely knew that one night was definitely not going to be enough for us to get all the dancing, laughing and partying we were looking to get done (seeing as though we don’t like to mess around in those departments). After much debate and a few field trips scouting the perfect location, we decided that a small, all-inclusive resort was the perfect plan for us and our guests. The entire weekend and wedding day was perfection. Granted there were a few hiccups along the way and a Bridezilla moment here and there, but all in all, it was the most extraordinary weekend of my life. It wasn’t the easiest party to plan, but with the help of an amazing wedding planner and a lot of deep breaths, we pulled it off. I’d like to share with you my planning tips, regrets, must do’s, don’t bothers and everything in between while planning your destination wedding.
(Destination) Wedding Tips:
Location. Whether you go online or on a plane…snoop around. Check out a few places and options and read the reviews on TripAdvisor. We debated between Charleston, S.C., and Mexico. Then we narrowed down the debate between Tulum or Playa Del Carmen. Visualize the amount of people you are inviting, what the needs may be from your guests, the amount of time traveled and how you want everyone situated. We were eager to have everyone in one place. We defintely weren’t going for the massive resort approach and our party was a touch too big for the more rustic, yet incredible, elements of Tulum. Playacar Palace in Playa Del Carmen was literally the perfect fit. It’s a 200 room boutique all-inclusive resort and had everything we needed. You didn’t need a golf cart to get around the grounds and downtown Playa was just a two minute walk from the hotel. TONS for guests to do and so much fun!
To hire a wedding planner or not to hire a wedding planner. I’m going to give it to you straight. It’s not cheap, but it’s not a bank breaker either. It is, however, something to seriously consider. Had we not hired to most AMAZING wedding planner in all the land, we would have been way too busy to spend extra time with family and friends. There is absolutely no doubt about that. Most places have an on-site planner for the day of, but with a three day event, it helps beyond belief to have the extra support of a planner. We had to allocate funds for this and it did take away from the little things we wanted here and there, but with Cindy Shanholtz from Effortless Events as our planner, we were able to spend all three days with our guests and really enjoy our time with everyone. She took care of every single detail from the welcome bags, organizing all details, tips, contracts, timelines, place cards…literally every single detail of the wedding. It was glorious and we were extremely grateful she brought her super powers south of the border with us.
Be prepared for anything. It was definitely calling for rain the day of our wedding. We were able to get through the ceremony, dinner, speeches…all the technicalities. However, when it came time to really party, the weather took a turn. We took a coffee and cake break in the super chic lobby (which had the most beautiful Christmas tree) and with the cooperation of the hotel, DJ and our planner, we took the dance party to their cocktail lounge and tore.it.up. Best dance party of my life. And there was a silver lining. The dance floor we had set up on the beach was not in any way safe for dancing. It was super slippery even before the rain and my interpretative dance moves never would have survived that floor. Remember, anything can happen. Take some deep breaths, swear it out a little bit and you’ll be good to go. Everything always get sorted out. And if it doesn’t, most likely it won’t be the end of the world. #everythinghappensforareason
Have patience. Whether you’re getting married in a different state or country, culturally, people work and go about things differently and at various paces. It could be hard not to, but one must try to go with the flow.
– Write and print a pamphlet of details for the weekend to keep your guests informed. Don’t forget to include your mobile phone number and room number so they can get in touch with you if need be.
– Have welcome bags upon guests arrival with said pamphlet and perhaps a couple local snacks, bottled water and a small souvenir.
– Take a yoga class, meditate or go for a walk by yourself before the day begins and try to let go of any jitters and anxiety.
– Let your girls pick out their own dress. Good Lord! The first dress I chose was dreadful. It looked gorgeous online, but was definitely not going to work. For sure someone’s boob was going to fall out. So I gave them a color pallet and told them to get after it. I love the mix and match look in a bridal party and having everyone feeling sexy and comfortable in their own dress. That’s very important.
– I LOVE photo booths, but that may not be in the budget if you hire a planner or if you go out of the country. Buy one or two Fuji Polaroid cameras and have them next to the guest book for guests to snap pics and leave behind for you. They are so fun and hilarious to look at the day after!
– Take a moment to stop, look around and capture a moment of the evening in your memory. One of our friends told me to do that and I am glad I did. I remember exactly what I saw. Lots of love and tons of beautiful energy. All my loves in one place and on the beach.
– Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen their thank you gifts before you leave. Less for you to pack.
– Speaking of gifts, I love giving gifts for all occasions. I think it’s super important to gift your bridal party with something they can keep for ever and use often. I bought these for my ladies and one for myself. We all wear them all the time! PS. I am currently obsessing over this cuff!
– Check in with your guests and the front desk. Make sure if there are any issues with anyone’s accommodations, it is resolved as soon as possible.
– Have a rain plan…no matter what.
– Remind guests to check their passport expiration date as soon as you decide on a destination wedding.
– Get your guests involved. We picked out four quotes and then chose guests to read each one during our vows. One dear friend even came up with her own thoughts and shared them on the sand. It was an extremely special moment for us.
– In lieu of having wedding favors, donate to an organization of your choice. Seeing as though we had welcome bags with small souvenirs, we decided to donate to Toys for Tots since our wedding was during the holiday season.
-Get legally married in the states and have one of your ordained friends marry you on the beach. This was possibly one of the best decisions we made. Our dear friend, JMann, was basically our wedding Godfather and he’ll always hold a very special place in our hearts.
– One word: Iceberg. Two words: Cerveza (and) margarita. This was the drink of the weekend and it is clear by all those that drank it that they had an amazing time. I would love one right this second!
– Expect everyone to make the wedding. There are a boat load of reasons even your closest friends and family may not be able to make it. That’s probably the biggest downside to a destination wedding because it’s a tougher one to get to. You can always have a little dinner party or drinks at a bar with those who couldn’t make it to the beach.
– Sweat the small stuff. As they say, S%&@ happens.
– Expect your bridesmaids and groomsmen to be at your every beck and call. It’s their vacation too and they paid to lay in the sun, drink Pina Coladas and relax. Do what you gotta do and then go hang out with them.
– Dwell on anything that doesn’t serve you. Not everything is going to go your way and somethings really won’t go your way, so deal with it, move on and enjoy!
My Mexican Wedding Recommendations
Susanna Antichi Photographer: She is brilliant, excited, extremely talented and beautiful inside and out! Susanna lives in Playa del Carmen by way of Siena, Italy and has the ability to capture the entire day and evening so perfectly and gets shots you would never even dream of. She takes a journalistic approach to her photography and each photo is STUNNING. She’s a photog rockstar. PS. We are literally hopping on a plane later today to meet her in Siena for the Palio…that’s how awesome she is.
Playfilmsme Mexico (Videographer): We hired this amazing crew at the last hour and I cannot tell you how happy I am that we did. They are not your typical wedding videographers. They are artistic, creative and awesome! The video is so not your boring, typical wedding DVD either. Anthony gave them some music ideas and they ran with it. About a month after our wedding, I was drinking vino and watched our 45 minute video four times in a row. Yup. I sure did. And it was easy to do so. Here’s a little teaser to our wedding video…these guys are a must!!!
DISCOMOVIL (DJ) – I have no words except for…hire DJ YOGI. As I mentioned before, he is so easy to work with and beyond compromising. He totally moved his equipment around to accommodate the weather and his music……un-frigging-believable. He put on such an epic dance party and absolutely killed it. He was a dream come true for a group that was looking to dance their asses off. I would hire him again ten times over.
Cindy Shanholtz at Effortless Events (Wedding Planner) – What would I have done without this woman? Cindy also spearheaded my best friend Kim’s wedding and when I saw what a stellar performance she put on there, I knew she was the woman for the job. In all honesty, yes, I had a few zilla moments, but had Cindy not been my main lady of support, there may have been bloodshed. Not only does she plan a wedding without a hiccup, she also gives comic relief and friendship. I love this woman. She’s an all-in-one package and whether you’re getting married in town or out of town, I suggest you look into her and then hire her. This…you will thank me for later. #promise
BHLDN and Free People (Dresses) – I LOVED my dresses. One was beachy and the other one was party. Did I have to have two dresses? Noooo. Did I allocate a little room in the budget for two? Yessss. Why not?! However, don’t mind my third outfit of my tank and leggings. LOL. I could not dance in either of those gorgeous dresses. In any case, I picked out my sparkly Anna Sui from BHLDN the moment I saw it! It’s absolutely stunning. The Free People was a last minute decision. I saw it online and knew it was the dress I was meant to wear on the beach. It flowed and swayed perfectly in the beachy wind.
My One Regret
I don’t have many regrets when it comes to our wedding. However, I do have one massive one. Invites. What a lame issue that was. We were debating over whether we should or shouldn’t send an invite to a very, very small number of people, and for no other reason than room and capacity at the hotel. Looking back, I wish I would have said “F$%* it!” and invited those people. It truly is my one and only regret. With that being said, don’t do what I did and teeter back and forth, just send the damn invite. You’ll be glad you did. It’ll all figure itself out.
All in all…December 13, 2013 was the best day of my life! As my dad was walking me down the sandy aisle he looked at me and said, “I thought you two were nuts for asking all of these people to come down here. Boy, was I wrong.” And wrong he was, because when we throw a party…we throw a damn good party, especially on the beach! XO
Love it. Live it. Share it.