Destination I Do
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Dream Destination Wedding

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Stephanie A. Smith Photography

Stephanie and Rafael love to travel and have been to several of their friends’ destination weddings. So, when the time came to plan their own wedding, they knew a destination wedding was the only way to go for them. In fact, the bride was researching destinations the day after she got engaged! These lovebirds had a hard time narrowing down their destination options, so they came up with an elimination process.

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“We found so many beautiful resorts in all different countries, so it wasn’t easy [to choose],” says Stephanie, “We had a few specifics we knew the perfect location would have to have. 1. All-inclusive. It was so important to us to find a beautiful resort which would ‘wow’ our guests, but at the same time be as affordable as possible so our loved ones could actually make the trip.

“2. The ‘Wow’ Factor. We wanted a location which would blow away our guests! A place where the service was amazing, food was amazing (not just buffets like most all-inclusives) and with an amazing beach as well! 3. An affordable and convenient location.”

After considering all of the above factors and doing a handful of property visits, the couple ultimately decided on Paradisus Resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The couple doesn’t regret their decision for a second, but there was some hesitation from guests in the beginning. “The only setback we had were negative stories associated with Mexico at the time and its safety,” says the bride. “But after researching the actual issues going on in Mexico and choosing an extremely safe and secure resort, our family and friends felt much better.”

The overall planning process went pretty smoothly for these newlyweds, but they were forced to work quickly since their resort only made the wedding planner available to them three months before the wedding day. “It was a very busy three months prior to the wedding, but in the end everything was absolutely perfect and exactly what we had envisioned,” says the couple.

The only downside to a destination wedding was that some of the couple’s more treasured family, their grandparents, couldn’t make the trip. To try and compensate, they made sure to make special time for these family members outside of the big day. “I arranged to have my very special grandfather come to one of my final dress fittings,” says the bride. “Obviously this wasn’t the same as our actual wedding day, but it was as close as we could get and was a very special moment for both of us!”

This couple has some final words of advice for other couples considering hosting a destination wedding: “There will always be something which goes wrong on the big day, whether it’s something minor or something you think is so huge your wedding is totally ruined…in the words of my amazing husband when I was crying and freaking out: ‘Look around, what matters the most is our family and friends who are here for us, who have traveled to share in our special day – and nothing can ruin that!’ In the end, your day will be perfect, magical and the most amazing day of your life! No one will even notice what went wrong except you (and maybe your mom)!”

Vendors: Photographer: Stephanie A. Smith Photography, Ceremony/Reception Site: Gabi Beach Club at Paradisus Resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, Florist: Alquima Events, Stationery: Morgan Wainer with Sunset Printing & Engraving, Cake, Hair & Makeup: Paradisus Resort, Gown Designer: Legends by Romona Keveza, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Tommy Bahama and Cubavera, Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Tommy Bahama and Cubavera, Videography: Blue Lens Videography, Audio Visual Services: J&S Audio Visual

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