A Ritz-Carlton, Cancun ConfectionWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Donna Von Bruening
Tara and Carlos were on the same page even before getting engaged – making the wedding planning process a breeze. “Ever since we began discussing getting married, we knew a destination wedding was for us,” explains the bride. “In life, you rarely have an opportunity to bring together all of the people that you love for an entire weekend. The idea of having our closest friends and family celebrating our marriage in the sun and sand in a relaxed, fun environment sounded terrific – and it was.” While the couple can be in agreement on their decision to get married away, that doesn’t always mean their loved ones will hop on board.
“Fortunately, all of our friends and family enjoy traveling,” says Tara. “They were thrilled that we decided on a destination wedding. We made sure our save-the-dates went out early to give our guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements. Everyone turned our wedding weekend celebration into a vacation. It was amazing!” Tara and Carlos knew early on they didn’t want to marry in New York City, but then had to narrow-in on their dream W-Day setting.
“Carlos and I absolutely love the beach, so we were sold on exchanging vows in front of the ocean. By chance, we happened to vacation at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun a few months after we got engaged. Everything was perfect – the wide sandy beaches, the impeccable service and food. Our stay was truly a fabulous experience. We knew it would be the perfect spot for our wedding weekend celebration. Not to mention it was extremely easy for all our guests to travel to, which was very important to us.”
Tara and Carlos knew themselves well enough to know that they didn’t want to spearhead the planning for their big day away. “Because we weren’t comfortable in taking planning into our own hands, we relied 100% on Luke Wilson and Michelle Rago’s creative direction and planning. Planning is seamless when you have an extraordinary planning team – [they] went above and beyond to design a celebration that exuded our personal style and with a taste that complimented Mexican customs and culture. We were also very fortunate to have a tremendously responsive and accommodating events team at The Ritz-Carlton, which greatly exceeded all of our expectations.”
Come W-Day, Mother Nature tried to pull a fast one on Tara and Carlos, but thankfully they had a team of experts behind them. “It was a gorgeous, sunny beach day – up until two hours before the ceremony was set to begin,” says Tara. “A torrential downpour came out of nowhere. The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club, the site of our wedding ceremony and reception, is completely outdoors. All I kept thinking was, ‘Now what?’ We were trying our best to resign ourselves that our wedding would be inside when Luke knocked on my door and calmly explained that he and Michelle were confident that the storm would blow over and reassured us that we were having our ceremony and reception outside.
“They reversed the cocktail hour and ceremony, so the cocktail hour would be indoors while The Beach Club was reset for the ceremony and reception. They managed to pull off the unimaginable and it was nothing short of perfect. If not for Luke and Michelle’s determination and the exceptional hard work of The Ritz-Carlton staff, we never would have had the beautiful night that we did.”
Despite Mother Nature throwing them a curve ball, Tara and Carlos got the fun, relaxed outdoor wedding they envisioned from the beginning. “Everyone was so happy to be in a warm, sunny place – they were celebrating like they were on vacation and that’s exactly what we wanted as a couple.” Our next question for the couple was about their budget – did they spend more or less on their destination wedding?
“We probably would have ended up spending the same amount if we had our wedding in New York City, as venues tend to be expensive,” says the bride. “Couples need to remember that, although there might be less guests attending, they’re going to be hosting guests for a weekend, which means having more events. They also have to consider the likelihood that they’ll be paying to fly-in vendors from the U.S., particularly if their wedding is in a more remote location.” These are certainly factors you should keep in mind when planning your own destination wedding. However, it’s important to remember that you aren’t obligated to host multiple wedding events for your W-Day weekend – that’s entirely up to you.
We asked Tara if she had any additional advice to share with brides currently planning their wedding away and this is what she had to say: “Consider having your destination wedding on a Friday night. We loved that after our wedding on Friday night, our celebration continued with a pool party on Saturday afternoon. We had so much fun spending time with our guests before they departed on Sunday. Second, I would strongly suggest having a videographer. When we were in the planning stages, we never thought we would want one and no one could have talked us into it. But, after our wedding was over, we wished we had captured every minute of it on video. That’s our only regret.”
Vendors: Photographer: Donna Von Bruening, Wedding Planner: Luke Wilson & Michelle Rago w/ Michelle Rago Destinations, Ceremony/Reception Site: The Ritz Carlton Beach Club at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, Florist/Décor: Canteiro Weddings, Stationery: Studio R Design, Hair & Makeup: Wedding Hair by Charlotte, Gown Designer: For Love & Lemons, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Tom James, DJ: Dante Deiana
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