The Perfect Party in Puerto VallartaWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Taylor Abeel Photography
Vanessa and Ryan are seasoned international travelers, so it was no surprise their guests needed to pack their passports for the couple’s destination wedding. We asked the couple why they opted for a wedding away and their answer came quick and without reservation. “Por que no?! When we have time off from our busy work lives, we’re off flying somewhere,” says the bride. “Traveling has been an integral part of our lives since we started dating, so it was not even a question to say our ‘I do’s’ in any other way. As a Southern Californian and Canadian, we have friends and family all over; there was going to be traveling no matter what and [our guests] knew that.”
Despite the couple having traveled extensively, they zeroed-in on a wedding location almost immediately. “Mexico holds a dear place in our hearts. We’ve been all over the country, but Puerto Vallarta, in particular, is where we find ourselves returning,” says Vanessa. While the couple was confident in their south of the border choice, some of their loved ones had reservations. “There were definitely concerns from people who weren’t accustomed to traveling to Mexico. With the Zika scare and the media coverage of general violence throughout the country, we dealt with some fearful guests. We made sure to listen to their concerns and, in turn, loaded up our wedding website with a bunch of stats and travel articles that educated them in hopes of assuaging their fears.”
It’s not uncommon for travelers to question a trip to Mexico, but Vanessa and Ryan handled the situation perfectly. If your guests are hesitant about your chosen location, the best thing you can do is to hear them out and provide them with as much helpful info as possible. Beyond that, it’s up to them to ultimately decide if they’re comfortable traveling to your destination wedding. “Only about 25% of our invited guests ended up showing, but that made it intimate and all the more fun,” says the bride. Once the destination was decided and the save the dates sent, it was time for Vanessa and Ryan to decide on a venue.
“[Puerto Vallarta] itself was easy to decide to have a destination wedding; the venue and accommodations were another task,” says Vanessa. “Ryan was interested in having a wedding on the beach at a resort and I wanted something a little more private with an ocean view. It was my mom who suggested we rent a big villa and get married in it. Once we saw the place, we knew we made the best decision.” The couple rented Casa Aventura through Vacation Villas of Mexico and it ended up being the perfect option for them. Best of all, the couple got the privacy the bride was after without sacrificing the helpful team of experts they might have found at Ryan’s resort of choice.
“Vanessa Cole of Vacation Villas of Mexico was outstanding and went above and beyond to ensure we were welcomed to the villa, settled in and taken care of the whole time,” recalls the bride. “She even set up a zip-lining bachelor party for the boys the day before the wedding. They are all still talking about how much fun that was. Vacation Villas of Mexico also helped us provide transportation vans for each of our family members from the airport upon arrival. They had all the flight itineraries, so there were no hiccups.” When it came to accommodations, the couple also had that worked out in advance for their guests. “We also pre-paid for most of our guests to stay at a hotel nearby and then provided a mini-bus to and from the hotel and wedding location. It just made everything so much easier for everyone and it was well worth it.”
After the couple found a local vendor they could trust, they asked them for referrals for their other vendors. “After getting a recommendation from the vacation rental business we went through to book our villa, I got synched up with a wedding planner who lives in the area,” says Vanessa. “I shared a Pinterest board with her and after many, many emails back and forth, I left the details up to her. I essentially showed up and had a blast! [Planning a destination wedding was] easy…with a wedding planner! Kelley Karhoff of Younique Vallarta Weddings was my wedding planner and she did a fabulous job!”
After sharing a Pinterest board, exchanging lots of emails and sharing desired details, Vanessa sat back and let her wedding planner put together the wedding of her and Ryan’s dreams. “We had a lot of ideas (having a donkey, mariachi band, piñata, churros instead of cake, maracas and custom tequila shot glasses/tequila bottles for guests), but it was my planner and her team of vendors who made it all happen.” Speaking of vendors, there was another person Vanessa mentioned who was instrumental in their W-Day success. “Taylor Abeel Photography – amazing. He felt like part of our wedding crew and his pictures speak for themselves. He’s truly a rare talent and was able to capture the wedding beautifully.”
When we asked the bride what advice she would offer other couples currently planning a destination wedding, her answer was one a lot of brides would agree with. “Hire a planner, relax and take a shot of tequila.”
Vendors: Photographer: Taylor Abeel Photography, Wedding Planner: Kelley Karhoff with Younique Vallarta Weddings, Ceremony/Reception Site: Casa Aventura in Conchas Chinas, Villa Rental Company: Vacation Villas of Mexico, Florist: Eder Flores Luxury Flowers, Hair: Alma with Joel Salon, Gown Designer: Essence of Australia, Favors: Maracas Mexico
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