What led you to choose a destination wedding?
Our families and most of our friends are split between LA and Chicago, so at least half of the group was already going to have to travel for the wedding regardless. So, we thought it would be fun to have a vacation together with all of our favorite people! Having a destination wedding was helpful in limiting our guest list, since both Mark and I have big families and lots of friends.
How did you select the resort? What were the deciding factors?
We weren’t able to visit any of the resorts before deciding, so I did a lot of research on a variety of sites. Using the list of proposed resorts from RTG, I read resort reviews on The Knot, Wedding Wire, Trip Advisor, Yelp and Google. I also watched walk-through videos on YouTube and looked at hashtags and geotagged pictures on Instagram! I was very nervous about making sure it was going to be a good choice for all our guests, so I even did keyword searches on the reviews to make sure there were no reports of bed bugs, food or alcohol poisoning, etc. I went to great lengths! But this all made me feel comfortable and confident in my selection of Now Sapphire!
Were there any objections from your wedding guests about your decision to have a destination wedding? If so, how did you handle overcome those?
So many, from the unlikeliest people! Our immediate families were our top priority, so we asked them almost a year in advance if they would be ok with a destination wedding. They all agreed, but then did complain a bit about costs and not being in our hometown where our extended families could attend. To overcome this, we explained that it was very important to us to share this day with the people that we are closest to, and who truly care for us. Also, since we knew that attending our wedding required some planning and saving on everyone’s part, we sent save the dates with location 10 months in advance, so that everyone had time to coordinate. We were thrilled at how many people were able to make it happen!
What were some of your biggest fears about having a destination wedding?
I was nervous about all sorts of things! In the beginning, my biggest fears were 1.) not filling the room block we agreed to because I had no idea how many people would actually travel for us; and 2.) not being able to see all the details in person, like picking the menu and decor. I was extremely pleasantly surprised that we surpassed our room block! It helped to start with a conservative amount of rooms, and then RTG was amazing at helping book the remaining rooms without having to increase the room block! Regarding my second fear, all the research put me at ease, and everything turned out beautiful and delicious!
Describe what it was like working with the wedding coordinator at the resort? What went well? Any challenges?
It was amazing, our coordinator Denisse was so proactive at sharing information and was extremely timely and responsive to all my emails. We exchanged emails a few times when the planning began, and as we approached the 4 month mark before the wedding, we were communicating more frequently as details were being sorted out. The last month, I felt like I was emailing her questions and last minute changes almost 3 times a week, and she always had a quick response and solution. We really didn’t have any challenges, she was spectacular!
Tell us about your wedding dress – How did you find it? Who went shopping with you? How do you feel wearing your dress?
My dress was so special to me, my mom made it! I am fortunate to have a very talented mother who is a dressmaker, she has made every dress I’ve worn for every special occasion of my life! We had general ideas of what the dress would look like but wanted to narrow it down, so my mom, sister and I did visit some dress shops to have a more typical dress shopping experience, which was a lot of fun! This helped confirm the silhouette I was looking for and to get a feel for how light/heavy I could handle wearing on the beach! Then I set off to go fabric shopping in the LA fashion district, where I had my “say yes to the fabric!” moment! I picked a beaded lace, and since we love sparkles, we cut additional beaded lace flowers to hand sew throughout the skirt! It was such a fun experience to have together. The result was a dress made especially and perfectly for me, and I was so happy wearing my mom’s creation. I felt great and so proud of what we created together!
Describe the booking process for your guests. Did they find that to be easy to navigate?
The guests were so pleased with the booking experience, the site was easy to use and had clear information and instructions. The payment process was easy, and the RTG team was so helpful and responsive whenever anyone had any additional questions. The follow up emails with information and tips were greatly appreciated, and the goodie boxes with travel mugs and luggage tags were such a hit!
Tell us about how you chose your bridal party and asked them to stand up with you.
This was really fun for me! I wanted to keep it small since I have so many close friends, so I kept it mainly family, and my 2 best girlfriends. I had 6 bridesmaids total. I chose my sister and best friend to both be maids of honor, because I could never pick between the two! I also had my two new sisters (sisters of my husband), my sister-in-law and another of my best friends who in the end was unable to attend due to her family growing by 1!
When I asked the girls, I sent them cute boxes filled with some beach themed goodies - a waterproof bag for either bathing suit or to use as a makeup bag, a waterproof phone case, a fun inflatable drink floaty for the pool, and of course some face masks! Each came with a small bottle of champagne and a card popping the question!
Describe the meeting you had with the onsite wedding team when you arrived at the resort.
When we arrived, the coordinator met us at check-in which was really nice. She showed us where we would meet her for our walk through of the site the next morning. For the meeting on Thursday morning, we sat with her to re-confirm every detail of our wedding questionnaire (which had everything from chair styles to flower colors to menu and schedule). This was reassuring because then everything was top of mind as we went to do our walk through of the ceremony and reception space. She showed us where we would start our walk down the aisle, where the cocktail hour would be organized, and then we were able to show her exactly how we wanted the tables set up when we were finally on the beach terrace (reception space) for the first time. She took note of everything and then everything was all set!
How easy/difficult was it to travel with your wedding dress? Did you carry-it on, where did you store it? Did you get a lot of comments at the airport?
It was only difficult because I had to travel with my honeymoon clothes since we left from Mexico to Europe. The dress took up a whole carry on! I didn’t want to check it, so I checked my bag with honeymoon and wedding week clothes and carried on my dress. I figured if my luggage got lost I could buy new clothes while they found it, but my dress could not be replaced! I folded it neatly and with a little bit of cushion from the tulle skirt, so it didn’t get wrinkled. It helped that the lace was all beaded, you couldn’t see any wrinkles when I took it out! Once I arrived at the hotel, my mom laid the dress out in her room and hung the tulle skirt so that it would be ready for wedding day.
Tell us about your wedding – did you have a traditional wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner reception and dance? What was different about a destination wedding compared to a wedding at home?
It was pretty traditional in terms of the events - we had a cocktail hour with small bites, dinner during which we had a few speeches and toasts, and then dancing for hours! I’d say the difference was that everything felt more fun and light, since we were by the beach and everyone was in vacation mode. Our vows were actually pretty funny, and the guests interacted with laughs and reactions. It was actually really special! There were parts of it where we focused only on each other, but it was really special to feel the energy of the guests during our ceremony. It was not how I envisioned it from being a spectator at other weddings, but it was beautiful!
What was the best part of having a destination wedding?
The best part of a destination wedding was the ability to make so many special memories over the course of the weekend. Due to the travel, we had a wedding weekend rather than a wedding day, and all of the guests were staying in the same place, so we were able to enjoy everyone’s company and spend time with family and friends leading up to the wedding and the day after. This helped us enjoy the wedding itself even more! Since we had been greeting and hanging out with guests the days before the wedding (including a group excursion to Tulum!), Mark and I were able to enjoy the dinner and dance all night! Since our guests had become friends already, everyone was on the dance floor the whole night and it was amazing seeing all of our different groups of friends come together.
In what ways did Romance Travel Group make the planning less stressful for you?
RTG took care of so many things from beginning to end. From the time we began looking for resorts, Shelli was helpful and honest in making suggestions, which made me feel at ease that we would make a good decision together. During the booking process, our room block was filled at the last minute and Shelli made sure to book additional rooms for everyone, patiently working with people emailing for quotes and booking requests - all at the booking deadline! Everyone was able to successfully book and it was a painless process for Mark and I, which we really appreciated!
Leading up to the wedding week, RTG sent emails with information and reminders, and a travel package that had all of the details of each traveler’s booking and transfers to/from the airport to the resort. Our guests felt so special and taken care of!
What would you do differently? What advice would you give to couples just starting the planning process?
It was really a pleasant process! I highly recommend destination weddings to everyone, especially if you want to take a more relaxed and stress-free route. I still made all the big decisions and was able to customize things exactly how I wanted them, but didn’t have to deal with various appointments or vendors.
The only thing that I wish I would have done differently is very standard to most brides - a hair and makeup trial! Typically, when your stylist is local to you, you have this trial well in advance. Since I didn’t visit the resort prior to the wedding and had a very tight travel week leading up to the big day, I decided I could just trust the professionals and instead enjoy more time with our guests. On wedding day, I wasn’t 100% pleased with my makeup, and my hair came undone pretty much as soon as I went outside. This was also due to the humidity and wind, and I wasn’t entirely prepared for all that. So, if I could do anything differently, I would have arrived at the resort a couple days earlier to feel out the effects of the humidity on my hair, and have a full trial. In the end, I felt so beautiful in my dress and was so filled with joy and gratitude for everyone, that the hair and makeup didn’t bother me. Other than that, every other detail of the wedding exceeded my expectations!