On May 3rd, my husband and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary!!! Every day, I’m in awe that it still feels like we just met and that we’re giddy to see each other every day when we come home. It still feels like we’re in our newlywed phase and I’m not complaining about that. I’m constantly thankful that I’m married to someone who is so caring, passionate, thoughtful, and who will go to great lengths to support me and show his love. (Ok, so I may or may not be tearing up as I write this right now. I get emotional during anniversaries, so what!)
Our life together has been a string of decisions: should we go on a first date together; should we book that impromptu vacation to California together; should we move in together; should I say “yes?” The answer to all of those questions was a resounding HELL YEAH!
But the one thing that I am the most confident of to this day is when we chose to forego the traditional wedding in order to have a destination wedding instead. It was one of the best decisions we could’ve made for OURSELVES and I want to share with all of you why we both LOVED our destination wedding!
If you’re on the fringe and weighing the pros and cons, this list should sway you in the direction of a destination wedding. Wink wink, hint hint!
Why We Loved Our Destination Wedding
1. Stress-Free Zone
I always thought that I would be the Ultimate Bridezilla. I’m Type A, OCD, love to plan, and obsess over all the little details. Choosing to have a destination wedding also meant that I chose not to overanalyze everything. In turn, this made my entire time in Aruba such a stress-free experience! There is absolutely zero reason for you to stress out when you are on a beautiful island, the sun is shining, your closest friends and family are with you and the venue takes care of it ALL for you.
Do you know what I did the day of our wedding? I laid out by the beach! I mean, who has time for that on their own wedding day? It felt so peaceful to hear the waves crashing and feel the breeze in your hair, knowing that you’re about to marry the love of your life. It honestly felt like a movie moment where time slows down and you’re left with just you. Just your thoughts. I’m feeling relaxed as I’m reminiscing about this moment right now!
Oh and if you’re curious, the hubby went golfing on the wedding day! He may also have gone gambling in one of the local Aruba casinos…boys will be boys!
2. It Was Easygoing
I’ve heard so many horror stories of brides wanting their wedding to be one way, and then next thing you know, it got blown out of proportion and the wedding day isn’t what she had envisioned at all. Having a destination wedding forces you to scale back and not go overboard.
We had 43 guests at our wedding so we weren’t forced to make a million centerpieces, or buy an endless supply of wedding favors. In addition, because we had to fly to Aruba, we only packed as much as we could fit in our suitcases. If it didn’t fit, it stayed home. I had this idea when we first decided to do a destination wedding that I wanted to make all my centerpieces and ship them to the island. I also wanted to make my own custom wooden sign with our names on it, and arrows, and a flip-flop station, and then I wanted a brush for the flip-flop station…That’s when I realized that I was going overboard.
I also was sad that we didn’t get to do the cake testing that a lot of my friends did. On the wedding day though, no one even realized that we forgot to serve cake! Oops! We secretly cut it just so we could take a few pictures but we didn’t want to interrupt the awesome dance party.
There’s a lot of trust that goes on when you decide to go the destination wedding route. You have to trust that your coordinator will pull it all off and that your hairdresser gets your hair right. However, having a destination wedding really put it into perspective for me that at the end of the day, all that matters is that the people you love are there. Who cares about centerpieces when the ocean is your backdrop? No one notices if your hair doesn’t match the picture of a random model. All they remember is the love that they felt and how much fun they had!
Shout-out to Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa for doing an absolutely amazing job through and through! Woop woop!
3. Family & Friends All Became Close
A marriage joins two souls together. What a marriage also does is join both sides of the bride and groom together. Typically, a wedding reception will last 4-5 hours. That doesn’t leave you with much time to meet new people and make friends. For our wedding though, our guests were there for several days, even a whole week. That’s so much time to get to know everyone! I can’t tell you much it warmed my heart to see the people we love most mingling and making memories with our friends and family. To this day, most of our guests still keep in touch with one another. You can sense the love and the joy and it’s seriously contagious!
4. Emotions Were At An All-Time High
I experienced a roller coaster of emotions when we got married. To know that all of these people care so much about you that they would fly to a different country to witness your marriage…man. That’s real.
It hit me HARD when I walked down the aisle. Although we had spent the entire day doing portraits and bridal party pictures, I realized how significant this all was when I saw him down by the beach. At that moment, I felt so much love…from him, from my mother, from every single person that was looking back at me. And then I ugly cried alllll the wayyyyy to the altar.
Now I know that lots of weddings get emotional. I’m not saying that mine was in any way more emotional than others. But, I do feel that because everyone had spent so much time together as a group that the atmosphere felt so serene. Nothing was forced. I wasn’t worried about something going wrong, or about all the eyes on me. I literally felt nothing but the love.
5. All the laughs! All the tears!
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed nor cried so much in my entire life in front of other people. Destination weddings really bring out the best emotions out of everyone. And the best part? It doesn’t end after just one night. You can laugh and cry all you want over the course of several days or even a whole week. Go ahead, laugh it up!
6. It Was So Us
The hubby and I are such beach bums. I could have nothing, but as long as I have the sun, sand and ocean, I’m at my happiest. Getting married in Aruba seemed like the perfect answer because the weather there is a constant 80 degrees, breezy, and barely any rain. My friends used to make fun of me because of a picture frame that I used to have – on it, there was a saying: “May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.” Joke’s on them because I got what I wished for!
7. Everybody (And I Mean Everybody) Had A Blast!
Again, I’m sure that this happens at lots of weddings but I swear, when you’re on an island and you’re celebrating under the stars, it changes people. Everyone let their guards down and simply had a great time. I serenaded my hubby; my brother-in-law and friend serenaded us back in return. My girlfriends and I group hugged and danced. We formed a conga line around the entire venue. Somehow all the men’s shirts became unbuttoned (I mean, seriously, how did that happen??) The bridal party jumped into the pool together. You can’t ask for more!
This one is a no-brainer. In New Jersey, the average cost of a wedding ranges anywhere between $40,000-$50,000. That’s a WHOLE lot of money! We weren’t ready to spend so much money on a wedding that would literally last only one night.
We spent much less money on our destination wedding and we got EVERYTHING we wanted. We could afford to fly out our amazing wedding photographers from Pennsylvania (seriously, they are the best! Check out M2 Photography’s website and get ready to be blown away); we got married on an actual beach; we had live music during our cocktail hour; we rented out the entire Pincho’s Grill & Bar restaurant that was on the water for our rehearsal dinner. We wanted to make all of our guests feel special for flying all the way out to Aruba with us. After all that, we still didn’t break the bank.
Between our flight, venue, food, rehearsal dinner, photographers, my wedding dress, wedding invitations, wedding favors, bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts…we still didn’t get anywhere near the average wedding cost for New Jersey.
9. Think Of The Wedding Pictures!
Three years later and I STILL go through my wedding pictures on a regular basis! It’s hard to take bad pictures when your backdrop is of the Caribbean sea! This one is pretty straight-forward: if you decide to have a destination wedding, you will absolutely have amazing wedding pictures. Plus, it helps when you have amazing photographers with you!
I honestly could go on and on about why having a destination wedding is great, but I have to end my post at one point or another. I absolutely do not have any regrets into making this decision. Would we have preferred to have more people at our wedding? Maybe. Would we have liked to have more input into decorations or the cake? Possibly. At the end of the day though, your wedding is about YOU. Not about what your guests think. Make it EXACTLY the way you want it because your wedding is the day that should be all about your love for each other. Everyone else that’s there is to support you.
Are you contemplating a destination wedding right now? Or did you also have your own destination wedding? I’d love to hear about what your thoughts were and where you’re thinking of going!
Until next time!