Mauricio and I met in Cancun, so when we were looking for a location for our wedding, going back to Cancun was an obvious choice. A great way to revisit the place that brought us together and gather our loved ones from both coasts, and overseas. Now, three years later I still think a destination wedding was the best choice for us. But of course looking back there are things that I would do different, so I thought it would be fun to share my top ten tips for an unforgettable destination wedding.
1. Impress With Your Save the Dates and Invitations
Save the dates followed by the invitations are the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. Because you are asking your guests to travel and often use their allotted vacation time from work, this first impression is incredibly important and sets the tone for your wedding. No pressure, but I really believe having a beautiful and informative invite helps guest picture what kind of event you are planning. For a destination wedding the more details the better.
I included information about the resort we chose as well as an itinerary of not only the wedding day but also other activities we planned for our guests. I also included a dress code and other fun insights about the hotel. Here is a closer look at our invites. By the time these passports were designed I already chose our wedding color so everything about these were cohesive with our wedding. It was a lot of work, and planning ahead of time but I really believe it set an exciting tone for the wedding.
2. Use a Destination Wedding Specialist
I used Destination Weddings, and it was incredibly helpful and free to have a designated wedding coordinator who had insights knowledge of properties and how they perform weddings. My coordinator was also irreplaceable in making all travel arrangements for guests. A lot of our wedding perks were also given to us through the affiliates Destination Weddings has through their relationships with various properties. I couldn’t imagine planning our destination wedding without a coordinator!
3. Choose the Right Venue
My coordinator also helped me choose our hotel. Not only had our coordinator previously visited this property and loved the food (high on important scale for me), but this was the venue that hit every mark that I wanted for my destination wedding.
When people picture a destination wedding, linen pants, flowy dresses and toes in the sand come to mind. But, I really wanted a formal ceremony, and at 5’2 I was not going to be barefoot to stand next to 6 foot tall Mauricio ! So when looking at resorts, I wanted a deck overlooking the ocean. Check. An open air reception. Check. Small, boutique hotel that would feel intimate and special and like I was the only bride all weekend long. Check.
We chose Azul Beach. It was a boutique resort, with a beautiful sky deck for the ceremony. We asked our guests to dress formally, and to help beat the heat on the deck our wedding programs served as fans. The resort also provided cool towels and cocktails to help keep the guests happy.
4.Photography & Video
Typically, the resorts have photographers that they want you to work with for your wedding, but I didn’t love the photographers that our hotel recommended. Instead we went with Vincent Guihard, a local photographer I found online. I loved his aesthetic and style and wanted him to shoot our wedding. I initially only hired him to be there for the ceremony and reception, but he showed up earlier and those before shots are the ones I love looking at the most now. Looking back, I would definitely encourage a friend to pay extra to get shots of those before moments.
A major regret I have of our wedding is not getting a videographer. I friend recommended it to me, but I didn’t think it was important at the time. Now, I would love to see a video of us. Twenty years from now I would love to show our son how young and hot we were, what we sounded like and what we acted like—something a photo can’t quite convey.
5. Think About the Small Details for the Ceremony & Reception
Unlike for a local wedding, you typically don’t have the luxury to speak to the musicians or a person performing your ceremony before the big day, so preparing little details to make your wedding feel personalized and more like you goes a long way. I created a playlist of songs to play before the ceremony as well as a playlist for after. We also wrote our own vows. Well, I wrote mine, Mauricio spoke from the heart, which of course made me panic, but his words were beautiful.
6.Weather & Your Attire
I absolutely loved my dress, and I am also so glad that for the reception I changed into a cute mini white dress—otherwise I think I would have passed out. My up-do was also pretty messy by the time we hit the reception. I did my own make-up, and my sister helped me touch up throughout the night. Mauricio wore a light suit, which helped with the heat. Looking back, I would have went with a simpler dress that was more destination wedding appropriate. It’s important to think about the weather and what is the best for you in tropical temperatures. I definitely wouldn’t recommend spending on makeup and hair—none of it lasts in the tropical heat!
Personalize Your Wedding
I filled an entire suitcase with personalized, DIY things for the wedding, and I really believe they helped set our destination wedding a part from others. Each personalized touch I added helped set the scene and worked with our theme. It was always in the purple family and it always connected back to us and our story. For example, for seating place cards we used mini bottles of tequila and mini bottles of vodka as a nod to our respective heritage.
For the flowers, I wanted a combination of purple and white flowers, with orchids peppered throughout. We chose orchids, because they are the national flower of Venezuela.
Don’t Stress the Small Stuff
If the universe could return my time, stress and email furry regarding our cake, I would greatly appreciate it. I spent wayyyyy too much time stressing out about little details that were not important at the end of the day. Minimal flowers, a few DIY accents and cool as a cucumber planner are all you need for the big day, away. It’s not going to be perfect and a year after you will still care that your cake had the worst looking orchids—not that they even resembled orchids at all—but three years after you won’t even look at the cake or flowers. Perspective shifts to your feelings of that day, and not all those small details. Do your best to convey what you want, and then let it be!
Enjoy Your Guests
Because folks traveled from near and far I wanted to spend as much time as possible with everyone. We had about 60 guests, and I can truly say that I got a chance to chat and spend time with every single person. Some days I had three breakfasts! We organized a few dinners, a reception cocktail and activities for guests.We spent zero time in our room. If you’re having a destination wedding, you are the host and I loved it! Be prepared to entertain and enjoy your guests for the entire stay, not just your wedding day. This makes for such a beautiful capsule.
10. Thank you
My mom and sister helped make thank you bags for each guest. It included a few things someone might forget to bring with them on a tropical vacation. It was simple and cute, and I was really happy to have delegated that DIY!