A Bahamas Destination WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Chelsea Erwin Photography
Natalia and Roberto knew almost immediately after getting engaged that a Bahamas destination wedding was the right option for them. The groom wanted a larger wedding and the bride wanted a small affair, so the couple considered a destination wedding the perfect compromise. “We wanted the easy, laidback lifestyle of having a party right on the sand – like a fancy beach day,” explains the bride. “We also wanted a small wedding and sometimes making it a destination helps reduce the number of guests and helps with the budget, too.”
Living in South Florida, Natalia and Roberto knew a wedding away in the Bahamas would be an easy jaunt, but still feel a world away from the everyday hustle and bustle. The couple decided on the Bahamas so easily, in fact, that they made an impromptu visit. “We knew the Bahamas was just a puddle jumper away, so we were actually at breakfast one day and decided it would be a great day to book a trip to Nassau to start our venue research,” says Natalia. Unfortunately, the couple’s spur-of-the-moment trip happened to be smack-dab in the middle of Spring Break. While the couple ultimately decided that Nassau wasn’t the island for them, they weren’t deterred from the Bahamas as a whole.
“Our wedding planner, Marva, suggested we take a ferry over to Freeport…Banana Bay Restaurant was exactly what we were looking for,” says the bride. “This place on the beach had the Bahamian touch we wanted and a million dollar view. When the owner told me the beach becomes a sand bar at night, I just thought, ‘Wow, this is it!’” When it came to accommodations, this was also an easy decision for the couple. After being extremely welcoming and going above-and-beyond during their impromptu visit, the couple knew the Grand Lucayan was the choice for their and their guests’ stay during the wedding weekend.
Thankfully, after getting all the details dialed in, the couple’s guests were on board for a Bahamas destination wedding. While some of them had their reservations, everything ultimately turned out just as the couple had hoped it would. “Our families were always supportive, but they had their concerns about a destination wedding because we have many international family members and they wanted to make sure they could all afford to make it,” explains Natalia. “They were also afraid of the misconception that destination weddings are more expensive. What ended up happening was our international guests treated it like a vacation and the cliché of a destination wedding being expensive was just that –a cliché and false.”
Once the couple’s loved ones arrived on the island (easily thanks to the couple’s Greenvelope wedding website), everything ran smoothly thanks to Natalia and Roberto’s wedding planner, Marva Monroe with Chic Bahamas Weddings & Events. “Get a wedding planner that has great referrals,” advises the bride. “When looking for a wedding planner, look at their reviews and don’t be afraid to ask their previous brides their opinions. Explain to your planner what you want and let them do what they do best – create your dream wedding. [Also,] you are not a ‘bridezilla’ if you choose what you like or do what you want to do. Say your ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s,’ be nice and grateful, but realize it is your and your soon-to-be spouse’s event.”
When it came to the big day, the couple got exactly the fancy beach party atmosphere they were after. Thanks, in part, to their laidback attitude. “I remember arriving to the Bahamas and seeing some of my wedding decorations got broken in travel,” says the bride. “My first response was, ‘Eh, it’s only a decoration. We are in paradise with beautiful weather about to get married – what more could we want?’” Their instinct in picking a beachfront restaurant for their ceremony and reception also proved to be correct.
“The venue was inexpensive for the spectacular views and I don’t know a place in the U.S. that allows you to eat, drink, dance and do a bonfire right on the shore,” says the bride. “And they didn’t push us out the door when the party was over. I remember asking the owner what my time limit was and he said, ‘When the party is done.’ That answer made me feel so relaxed and welcomed. When it came to the night of our wedding, the owner wasn’t kidding about the sand bar. It went out a couple hundred feet into the ocean and we ended up putting lanterns out there and dancing in the middle of the ocean.”
In addition to stressing the importance of hiring a Bahamas wedding planner, Natalia also has some additional wise words to share with other couples currently planning or considering a destination wedding. “I think keep it simple if you are on a budget – simple and clean never goes out of style. Not many people remember those tiny details you are freaking out about, so don’t sweat the small stuff! Also, if you don’t like something about your hair and makeup, politely ask them to fix it. You want to feel comfortable and beautiful – you will be looking at these pictures forever.”
Vendors: Photographer: Chelsea Erwin Photography, Wedding Planner/Florist/Cake & Makeup: Marva Munroe with Chic Bahamas Weddings & Events, Wedding Location: Freeport, Bahamas, Ceremony/Reception Site: Banana Bay Restaurant, Stationery/Wedding Website: Greenvelope.com, Accommodations/Hair: Grand Lucayan, Gown Designer: BCBG, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Hugo Boss shirt and Volcom pants
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