Destination I Do
Friday, April 13, 2012

Destination Wedding: From the Big Apple to Old San Juan

Words by Courtney Kellar
Words by Lauren Rubino
Photos Courtesy of Liz Maryann Photography

When Darlene was doing a semester abroad at the University of Puerto Rico, she stumbled across her dream-wedding venue. It was love at first sight, and ever since, she had her heart set on getting married in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

When she met her now husband, Francisco, he had other plans in mind, and a destination wedding was not one of them.

“[Francisco] on the other hand was not keen on the idea of a destination wedding," says Darlene. "He is a born and raised New Yorker and a destination wedding meant that many of his family members and friends would not be able to attend the wedding."

With that said, the two decided to have their wedding in New York. That plan didn’t last long, though. A vacation was in order before the wedding. The destination? Puerto Rico.

“We scouted out locations, met with vendors [in New York] and decided to hold off on deposits until after we returned from our vacation in San Juan. It was then he fell in love with Old San Juan," recalls the bride.

The couple are lovers of the Spanish culture and big into history. They traveled around the city, toured sites and feasted their eyes on the beauty of the San Juan Bay.

“After an exhausting day of touring the city we walking into Hotel El Convento to cool off," says Darlene. "As soon as we walked in, Francisco looked at me. I had never shared with him my love for this location, but I could see in his eyes that he felt the same thing I felt the first time I walked into the hotel. We quickly found their wedding coordinator and she gave us a quick tour of the venue."

“Once we returned [to New York], Francisco shared with me that he couldn’t get El Convento and the amazing San Juan Bautista Cathedral, located across the street, out of his mind. That was when we started to explore the option of a destination wedding.”

At first, their families thought the couple was crazy for wanting to get married out of the country. When they saw how excited Darlene and Francisco were, though, they couldn’t help but get behind them 100 percent.

Overall, the entire wedding planning experience went quite smoothly. Like many other destination wedding couples though, the two did run into some issues with vendors. Communication was done by telephone or through delayed emails. Other vendors whom the couple met up with when they were in Puerto Rico, others they just had to trust their instincts on.

“We quickly learned with a destination wedding you have to be flexible and you can’t stress the small stuff," says Darlene. "We had two vendors that disappointed us but that didn’t stop us from having a beautiful wedding and an amazing day. Communication is more relaxed and not as fast as this New Yorker would have desired, so I always made sure to follow-up with my vendors to check on the status of my requests.”

The overall experience taught Darlene to be patient and laid back.

“I don’t think this is the best route for someone that needs to control everything," she says. "I had to trust my vendors and just have faith that everything would turn out for the best. I guess it was a good preparation for being married.”

The wedding itself not only turned out to be gorgeous, but also saved the couple money. Traveling to Puerto Rico forced them to cut down their guest list and, according to Darlene, in Puerto Rico, she felt they were able to do so much more with less.

“I still can’t believe we were able to have such an amazing wedding with our tight budget," recalls the bride. "The added bonus of having had a destination wedding was that we really were able to bond with our guests and our guests with each other.”

When it comes down to it, Darlene said you just need to live in the moment and enjoy every minute of that special day.

“Be true to yourself and your groom, forget what family, friends or vendors think. This is your day, own it.”

Photographer: Liz Maryann Photography
Ceremony: San Juan Bautista Cathedral
Reception Site: El Convento
Gown Designer: Bonny Bridal
Groom's Clothing Designer: Joseph Abboud
Hair/Makeup: Marcello Costa

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