Getting married at an exotic location isn’t just for the rich and famous. Here’s how we had our dream destination wedding without breaking the bank.
Sarah and I got engaged on the summit of Mt. Pilchuck in Washington State. It was an awesome day with my best friend and perfect weather. Sarah had no idea what I had planned at the top of the mountain, but from what I’m told it was worth the climb. On our way down we started talking about the wedding and in about 10 minutes we had all the details figured out.
We decided to have a destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. On the beach at sunset. No shoes, no worries and a mimosa waiting by the pool.
I had been to Puerto Vallarta a few times prior but this was going to be Sarah’s first time. Our plan was to invite a few close friends, do things at our own pace and have a reception back home for those who couldn’t come.
We’d read about destination weddings in the past and knew that some people weren’t fans. It can be expensive for others to go or hard to arrange the time to get away. Some people view them as selfish but for us, it was more about memories than making everyone else happy. After all, we’re getting married for us right?
WORKING OUT THE DETAILS
Before we ran off into the sunset there were a few details we had to work out. As it turns out, you can’t actually get married in Mexico without a bunch of paperwork and a drug test. So instead of a legal wedding we had a spiritual ceremony and just got legally married by a friend of ours at home when we got back.
Arranging the wedding was as easy as just booking a vacation. We found the hotel we wanted, the Riu Palace Pacifico and let them know what our plans were. We had private transportation from the airport to the hotel (we felt like VIP’s) and at the hotel, we already felt like honeymooners. The staff at Riu welcomed us like family and upgraded our room to a suite overlooking the beautiful Banderas Bay.
The wedding itself went without a hitch (haha). The hotel appointed us a wedding coordinator to us who took care of all the details. We didn’t have to worry about much besides when to be ready and where to go when it was time. They arranged the time, music, decorations, location you name it.
SAVING SOME MONEY
We had family and friends take photos for us to save money and were able to dial back on the wedding wardrobe. To keep everyone in the loop, we did a little Skype call back home and then partied until the Tequila ran out. We had picked an all-inclusive hotel so we could save money on food and more importantly on all the drinks. The hotel also gave us a break on our accommodations for booking multiple rooms did the ceremony for free and even upgraded us to a suite for free.
A HONEYMOON TOO
We relaxed at the hotel with our close family for a few days after the wedding before moving on to our honeymoon hotel Dreams (now the Hyatt Ziva) a little further south in Puerto Vallarta. By having out wedding and honeymoon on the same trip, we were able to save a lot and only needed to pay for the taxi to the next hotel. We took advantage of the second hotel’s honeymoon rates and got a bunch of fun perks in the process.
When we got back home we rented a local hall and invited all of our friends and family who didn’t go to help us celebrate. Our family helped us decorate, my mother made the cake and I rented a fancy suit for the night. Granted some people we’re a little jealous and grumbly they couldn’t enjoy the beach with us but as it turns out, everyone still loves us.
BOOK YOUR WEDDING
We’d recommend following your heart and having the destination wedding of your dreams. It can be easy, cheap and a lot of fun. Even if that means not everyone can be there, you might be surprised but who actually goes!
Here are a couple things we learned about booking a group.
- Call the hotel and let them know what your plans are. They might offer a discounted rate and be sure they know you’re shopping around for the best deal. Weddings are great PR for a hotel.
- Have a booking party. Send out your wedding invites (some people may want to simply be invited even if you know they can’t go). When the time comes invite everyone who’s serious over and make reservations all at once.
- Don’t worry too much about getting on the same flight. Find what works and what’s cheap. You never get up and mingle on the flight like you think you would anyway.
- At the airport carry your wedding dress or suit with you. The flight staff will usually put it in the closet on the plane. It’s hard to say no to a bride right?
Find a destination, connect with the hotel and start your adventure! If you have questions we’re happy to tell you more about our experience and help you with yours!