A Look at Love in ArubaWords by Courtney Cox
Photos courtesy of Love & Light Photographs
Dayna and Tom both come from large families and wanted to do something different for their wedding. Ultimately, the two decided on a destination wedding in Eagle Beach, Aruba. We asked the bride about her thought process behind opting for a wedding away. “[We wanted] to have an intimate vacation with our closest family and friends and to celebrate for more than one day! Both Tom and I come from big, Italian families and have older sisters who had traditional weddings. We decided we wanted a smaller wedding to spend more time enjoying our friends and family. We didn’t want a year of planning to ‘fly by’ in one day.” After all the planning was said and done, these two didn’t regret their decision for a second. “We had a full week in Aruba filled with activities and non-stop fun!”
When the couple broached the subject of a destination wedding to their friends and family there were mixed responses. However, the overall feeling was positive. “Mostly everyone was excited to have an excuse to get away and all be together, especially a beach vacation right after a horrible, long winter,” explains the bride. “Some of the guests complained about the cost to travel to Aruba, but we made sure no one felt obligated to come. In the end we had a lot more guests than expected – 65 total. I think everyone had FOMO (fear of missing out) and the complaints definitely dissolved once they got to Aruba.
“One problem we did run into was not inviting our extended families. As I mentioned, we have big Italian families and opted to only invite immediate family. This was a very difficult decision and it was tough not having all of our family with us. But, Tom’s parents have a beach house at the Jersey Shore and threw us a party that was only for family to celebrate our marriage when we returned from Aruba.” Once the couple decided on a destination wedding, the choice to say “I do” in Aruba came pretty easily.
“We chose Aruba for many reasons,” says the couple. “The weather is guaranteed to be sunny and beautiful. There is a very small chance of it ever raining and there is a constant breeze, so it never feels too hot. Also, Aruba is very safe, not a far flight from New York where we live, has many activities and attractions and the people are so nice!” The next step in the wedding planning process was for Dayna and Tom to choose a venue.
“Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa has the most romantic ambiance. The beach is picture perfect, their food and beachfront spa is the best on the island, they have daily yoga classes on the beach and the wedding planner, Nyoka, was beyond accommodating. Choosing Manchebo Beach Resort in Aruba was a no brainer and anyone that has ever visited would understand why! It’s a perfect destination wedding location.”
In fact, the couple relied heavily on their wedding planner and definitely feel that she made the overall process very smooth. “Planning a wedding is never a stress free experience but planning a destination wedding definitely omits at least 50% of the stress and time that would be spent planning a traditional wedding. We found pictures of what we wanted and emailed them to our wedding planner. Once we got to Aruba it was so beautiful, nothing could have possibly gone wrong. We were completely relaxed the whole time.”
Selecting a group of vendors whom you trust and can communicate with is a key part of having a smooth wedding planning process. Luckily, Dayna and Tom struck gold twice with their wedding planner and photographer. “Nyoka, our wedding planner at Manchebo, provided all of the information that we needed for most of the wedding. My photographer, Jessa from Love & Light Photographs was extremely helpful with organizing the flow of the day and so much more! I don’t know what I would have done without her! I highly recommend both Nyoka and Jessa, they were my top go-to people that helped make it happen!”
At the beginning of the planning process, the couple sat down and decided what their main priorities would be. “Tom and I decided that the two most important vendors for us was a photographer and a DJ and decided to fly them both out to Aruba from home. Jessa, our photographer from Love & Light Photographs not only takes the most beautiful photos, she is one of my dearest childhood friends and bridesmaids! She was beyond amazing and her photos are unlike any I have ever seen. Our DJ, DJ Don Juan, is a close friend and also happens to be the best in the business. He is popular among many exclusive NYC venues and kept us partying all night long. Jessa and DJ Don Juan made our wedding very special and the best decision we made was flying them out to Aruba and providing their accommodation.”
While the couple went over their initial budget for their destination wedding, they feel it was money well spent. “We did a lot more than we planned for our destination wedding…to repay our family and friends for traveling to Aruba for us we wanted to do more for them. We provided a party bus with Banana Bus Aruba one night and a sunset booze cruise with Jolly Pirates for all our guests. Looking back we have no regrets…” The couple also put a lot of effort into their guests’ welcome bags and the gifts for their bridesmaids and groomsmen.
When asked how an at-home wedding would have been different than a wedding away, the couple had some interesting things to say. “Weddings are supposed to be about the bride and groom and if we had our wedding at home, it would have been more about pleasing everyone else. The beauty of a destination wedding is we hung out all day and night with our closest friends and family without a worry in the world. All the time we spent planning was actually worth it, and if we did it at home, we may not feel the same. Remember – this is your wedding, do it the way you want it! There will be naysayers no matter what…”
Vendors: Photographer: Love & Light Photographs, Wedding Coordinator: Nyoka Edwards, Ceremony/Reception Site: Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa in Eagle Beach, Aruba, Florist: Elsa’s Flowers & Art, Stationery: Events to Remember, Cake: Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Hair & Makeup: Jennifer Croes-Veeris, Gown Designer: Romona Keveza, Groom’s Clothing Designer: J.Crew, Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Two Birds/J.Crew, Decorative Signs and Sand Dollar Details: Parris Chic Boutique, DJ: DJ Don Juan
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