Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Our Destination Wedding

Well before we got engaged, we knew we wanted to have a destination wedding. But after the proposal and the ring, there were many questions to be answered—Where did we want to go? What did we want to do? What could we afford?

After months of research and decision-making (to be chronicled in this blog), we arrived on Grand Bahama the Wednesday before our wedding to do all the weddingy things—meet with our wedding planner, get the marriage license, have photos taken, etc. We handled the logistics, greeted our guests and snuck in time on the beach and scuba diving. After 1.5 years of planning (to the day!), the actual day came on June 10, 2006, on Grand Bahama Island.

With about 20 guests in attendance, we got married on a humid Saturday evening at the gazebo of the Our Lucaya Resort. The ceremony was followed by a cocktail hour and a three-hour dinner reception. We ended the night with our attendants and friends in the horizon pool overlooking the beach.

For the next two days, we spent time with friends and family who had traveled to the Bahamas to be with us. We went snorkeling and attended a bonfire and partook of lots of fruity drinks. By Monday night, it was time to say goodbye as our guests set off for home and we headed to Nassau to continue our honeymoon.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Mini-Vacation for your Guests

If you don’t elope, your destination wedding could be a mini-vacation for your guests. This can present several challenges to you in wedding planning since you’ll want to plan more events for your guests. About half the guests at our wedding turned the trip into a mini-vacation.

At our wedding, we had some set activities including the welcome cocktail hour the night before, the ceremony and dinner. We also planned events that our guests were able to participate in if they wanted, but didn’t feel forced into:

  • Visit to a local Bahamian market
  • Scuba diving trip the morning of the wedding for certified divers
  • Wave runner rentals the day after the wedding
  • Snorkeling trip
  • An informal breakfast the next morning

If you’re doing a destination wedding at a non-beach destination (like a city in Europe or New York City), you could have:

  • Welcome dinner
  • Theater/opera excursion
  • Museum trip
  • Walking/bus/bicycle tour

The possibilities are as vast as your imagination.

Friday, February 23, 2007

First things First – Is it legal?

As we planned our destination wedding, our first question was whether a foreign marriage was recognized in the U.S. Is it legal? Are we really going to be married?

The U.S. State Department actually has a website for U.S. citizens interested in getting married in a foreign country.

You need to follow the legal procedures of the country where you will be married. Most countries have residency requirements (the length of time before the wedding you need to be in the country). In the Bahamas, the residency requirement was one day.

You will need to show legal documentation (usually your passports), but could also include birth certificates, death certificates (widow/widower) and/or divorce decrees. Since this was the first marriage for both us, we only needed our passports and copies of our birth certificates. In the Bahamas, we also needed to go through a brief interview with a local official (about 10 minutes). We did not need to do a blood test, which can be a major issue for some people getting married in some countries.

The other major issue that people encounter is getting their marriage certificates/licenses translated into English (which is required for your marriage to be legal in the U.S.). The official language of the Bahamas was English, so we did not have any troubles.

We wisely obtained multiple notarized copies of our license, which has come in handy since we got home. We needed extra copies of the license for Laura to change her name with various companies, with the government on her passport, etc.

In the Bahamas, we received our official government marriage license, but we also received two copies of the ceremonial Bahamian wedding registry. The signing of the Bahamian registry is actually part of the wedding ceremony (see photo at right).

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we did not need to register our marriage with the state. We have had no problems buying a house, changing Laura’s name or changing our health insurance/401ks with our employers.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fairy-Tale Wedding Dress? Disney Does Weddings

Strange but true, the Walt Disney Company is now offering wedding dresses, as reported by the Wall Street Journal (2/22/2007). For between $1,100 and $3,000 you can have a Kirstie Kelly-designed Disney dress for your destination wedding. No word on what they actually look like or if the Little Mermaid dress will have flippers.

Fairy-Tale Wedding? Disney Can Supply the Gown
By Merissa Marr

Walt Disney Co. has made a fortune out of turning little girls into princesses. Now it plans to turn big girls into princesses, too.

In a move to expand the reach of one of its most popular franchises, Cinderella and her regal friends are moving into the bridal business with a line of wedding dresses and accessories. Disney has teamed up with couture bridal designer Kirstie Kelly to transform blushing brides into their favorite princesses, complete with billowing gowns and crystal tiaras. At a cost of $1,100 to $3,000 for each gown, brides will be able to walk down the...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Big Decision – How large of an event do you want?

The first big decision you’ll face is how large of an event you want. Will your destination wedding be just you and your fiancĂ©e or will it include your friends and family? The big caveat to this discussion is that if you have unlimited monetary resources, it doesn’t matter because you can go anywhere. But if you take a group, you’ll want to have the infrastructure to support the group at a price your guests can afford.

As we began our planning process, we started by looking at various islands in the Caribbean—U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Jamaica, St. Lucia, etc. We knew we wanted to take a small group (less than 30 people), but the resorts had varying degrees of receptivity to us and they level to which they would accommodate us (private dining vs. the buffet line). Early on, we wanted an all-inclusive resort, but then quickly realized that most of the guests would not be staying a full week, so that option was abandoned.

Fairly quickly, airfare became a factor in our decision making process. It was very expensive to reach many of the islands and this would become prohibitive for most of our guests. With a smaller group, we would have more options.

In the end, we settled on a fairly small group:

  • Mother of the bride
  • Father and stepmother of the bride
  • Grandmother of the bride
  • Aunt and Uncle of the bride
  • Sister of the bride (bridesmaid)
  • Friends of the bride (2)
  • Parents of the groom
  • Brother and sister-in-law of the groom
  • Groom’s best friend (best man)
  • Friends of the groom (2)
  • Co-workers of the groom (2)
  • Photographer

This was a total of 21 (including us) and we found it to be the perfect size. We were able to spend ample time with each of our guests and made for a nice intimate affair.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Boudoir Photos – Reality Check

This is for anyone looking for a little entertainment and diversion from the wedding planning process.

First, it needs to be said that we did not get engagement photos. And Laura’s style is more Ann Taylor than Forever 21. We found this photographer and cracked up in hysterical laughter:

Of particular interest is the wedding boudoir photographs which was about too much for us:

A question, what’s with the models?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

About Us

We're not wedding planners. We're not in the business of selling destination weddings.

We are an ordinary couple who decided that a destination was the right thing for us (and a tremendous amount of fun). But when we were planning our big day, we were disappointed in the lack of quality information about destination weddings. The good information we found was scattered across the Internet.

This blog is everything we wished we had known before planning our destination wedding.

About us—
Laura and Lance live in suburban Philadelphia and work in healthcare. We had our destination wedding in June 2006 on Grand Bahama Island.