Tropical Dreams Antigua Real WeddingWords by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Sarah Harris Photography
Stephanie and Richard tell us if they are being honest, a destination wedding wasn’t actually their first choice. But, when the college sweethearts sat down to assess the cost of a hometown wedding, the expenses added up quite quickly. Knowing they’d have to choose between purchasing their first home – a six-year-long dream for the apartment dwellers – or having a big, traditional wedding, the decision was easy.
"We chose the home which led to us toying with the idea of a destination wedding. We could still invite all of our friends and family, have a beautiful wedding, and get the rare chance to vacation for a week with the people closest to us,” the couple says.
Once Stephanie and Richard hopped on board with the idea of an intimate destination wedding, they had no trouble picking the ideal location. “We spend most of our summers down the shore in Margate, NJ so we knew we wanted a similar relaxed beach/island vibe,” the bride tells us. After chatting with Richard’s aunt, the couple's travel agent, it became clear... Antigua, with its beautiful beaches, perfect weather, and relatively cost-friendly accommodations, beats the competition.
Unfortunately, COVID meant there were a lot of shifting guidelines, requirements and restrictions to traveling abroad. “Thankfully, the resort we chose (St. James's Club Antigua) was understanding to this and accommodating when guests needed to change dates,” the couple says. Without a planner, Stephanie and Richard would need to lean on family and friends for help, advice, ideas, and sometimes just someone to vent to.
To keep things simple, the couple decided to keep décor and added details to a minimum. “I’m a graphic designer so I designed some cards for our welcome bags and the wedding pamphlet but that’s about as much DIY as it got,” Stephanie says. “I’ve always been a believer that ‘less is more’ anyways so we utilized the beautiful setting we were in and the resort’s florist to be the majority of our décor.”
In the end, the couple wouldn’t have wanted their wedding any other way (aside from the COVID aspect, of course.) In fact, the bride and groom got to hand with the majority of guests for about five days! “And, I still feel like there were people there who I could have spent more time with or things I missed out on because we were doing wedding-related things,” Stephanie admits.
Looking back now on their intimate nuptials, only joyous memories with dear friends and family prevail. The bride’s secret to success?
“I know it’s easier said than done—and trust me there were times that I had to remind myself of this too—but try to keep in mind that a wedding is just one day of your life. It might be the most important day of your life, but what’s important is who you’re marrying and not the flowers or the cake. So don’t drive yourself crazy (or go broke) trying to make it all perfect. And if something doesn’t go according to plan, it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on, and it’s about to get so much better.”
Vendors: Photography: Sarah Harris Photography; Venue: St. James Club & Villas; Videography: Prime Wedding Films; Gown Designer: Made with Love; Gown Shop: Lovely Bride Philadelphia; Groom's Suit: Men's Wearhouse; Bridesmaid Gowns: BHLDN; Hair: Studio by RG; Invitation Suite: Minted; Travel Agent: Tanya Kugel
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