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Featured Location: Puerto Vallarta

Words by Kelli Donley
Photos courtesy of Stuart Thurkill

 

Eric Jamison and Laura Souter were married in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on November 13, 2005 seven years to the day after their first date. The couple, who met in college, chose a destination wedding for several reasons and Puerto Vallarta for one in particular.

We decided on Puerto Vallarta because of the villa, Casa Valerie, Eric says. We knew we wanted to get married at a villa, in Hawaii, Mexico or some tropical place but once we found Casa Valerie online, Laurie knew it was the place. We found many great villas, but all were very expensive. Casa Valerie was priced a bit more reasonably and was just as stunning as any other villa we had seen. We liked the idea of having some of our family and friends stay with us at the villa and also having it serve as kind of a social gathering point for all of our guests.

Laura, who works as a retail division training manager for Wynn Las Vegas, traveled to Puerto Vallarta ten years prior; Eric had never visited the city. The pair booked the villa site unseen. Eric, a photographer, was hesitant to be so trusting considering he knew how photos could be altered, but thankfully the couple was not disappointed in their choice.

honeymoons in MexicoAs it turned out the villa was just as stunning as the pictures seen online if not more, Laura says. We were very happy. It came with a chef, a waiter and a maid staff allowing us to be very lazy during our entire stay. The pair invited 100 guests and had 55 attend.

Of course there were a few good friends that did not make it for various reasons, money, scheduling, etc, Eric says. They were greatly missed. This is definitely a part of the sacrifice you will have to make when planning a destination wedding. Simply put, not everyone will be able to make it. Overall, we think most of our guests really appreciated the vacation; it was a good excuse to get away for many of our family and friends.

The couple did hire a local wedding coordinator to help hire some of the vendors and help with guests' travel plans. However, they brought some imaginative help with them too.
We phoned and interviewed two wedding planners and one grabbed us instantly -- Zac Campbell with Eventful Moments Vallarta. He was incredibly professional, passionate and experienced, Laura says. We brought our own photographer because the portfolios we reviewed from photographers there didn't quite cut it. We also brought our own minister, Father Jesse Vaughan. He has known Eric since he was in pre-school. We didn't plan on having a videographer, but Eric's cousin Diana offered to do some unique 8mm footage of the wedding for a creative effect. Stuart Thurkill with Eyes 2 See Photography, based in Arizona, spent several days with the couple to photograph the event.

destination weddings in Puerto VallartaWith the beautiful villa as a backdrop, complete with a 5,000-plus square foot patio serving as the ceremony and reception site and a view of the ocean, the couple exchanged their vows. The bride wore an ivory Suzanne Ermann wedding dress and the groom and groomsmen sported three button down tuxedos with, Ike Bahr shirts, cuff links and melon colored ties. Bridesmaids wore Laundry dresses from Neiman Marcus in melon, with a fuchsia grosgrain ribbon that tied around their waist.

As guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and an acoustical Spanish guitar group, the couple smiled at their good fortune. We had checked the 10-day forecast online before we left and saw the forecasts predicting warm weather for our entire stay in Puerto Vallarta with a chance for showers only on our wedding day only! Eric says. We pretended we didn't see it, and carried on if it was going to be sunny. As luck would have it, the weather cooperated and thankfully so; we had no solid back up plan.

While their week prior to the ceremony filled with fun golfing and spa outings and their time after the wedding honeymooning at the villa, were perfect, the couple says there are a few things theyd do differently if they'd only known.

We had a travel planner who had encouraged us to try to help all of our guests with their transportation, Eric describes. We hired a van and a driver for four days to pick the guests up from the airport when they arrived and take them to their hotels. The van was supposed to be a much cheaper alternative for our guests. We soon discovered trying to schedule this van and orchestrate all of the pick ups was occupying all of our time, causing us the most stress and was failing right from the start. The van was missing guests at the airport, the delivery of guests was taking too long and flights were landing way early or way late and throwing the pickup schedule off entirely. In the end, all of our guests could have easily taken cabs for just a little more money and much more convenient. It also would have saved us a lot grief and anguish.

Timing in Mexico, the Jamison's discovered, can be a cultural issue in itself. The ceremony was supposed to start at 5 pm but didn't start until 5:45, Laura says. We learned a hard lesson about Mexico -- that everyone there is on Mexico time. We experienced this many times in Puerto Vallarta, whether it was trying to get picked up or setting a meeting with the wedding planner, Mexico time is never on time. On a few occasions we had asked for a cab to be sent to the villa by noon and the staff would ask us, Mexico time or American time?

The newlyweds are now on their time, living happily in Las Vegas.

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