The Bridal Blog ~ wedding day jewelry planning

Real Destination Wedding Advice From Someone Who Actually Did It

Does your perfect day at the beach involve a wedding, a flowy dress and barefoot sandals? Here are 6 great tips to pull it off with no stress.

The benefits of a destination wedding far outweigh the small amount of up front legal planning. If you are a busy professional, it is almost impossible to find the time to plan every little detail. So, I didn’t. We had our beach wedding on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. We were able to incorporate our wedding and honeymoon into a cruise. It was amazing and most of all, stress free. At that time, I was a salon owner and starting my jewelry business. I was working 12 hour days and just didn’t have time to plan a big elaborate wedding. We wanted something very intimate for the ceremony, as in just the two of us. Also, we were trying to have a combined wedding and honeymoon.
#1. I know I said a no stress wedding but technically, at this point in the story, we haven’t even left the state. This is the most stressful part. Order 2 original copies of your birth certificates. It can take a few weeks to receive them so you will want to order them as soon as you have decided. They will not take a copy from your printer, you have to order a copy from your state with the embossed state seal. Don’t wait, do it right now. You will need one to send to the courthouse of the island you want to marry on with your wedding license application and you will need one to get your passport. You do not technically need a passport to go to the US virgin islands but if you take a boat trip to other islands near by to dive or snorkel they might be part of the British Virgin Islands (BVI.) We had to get off the boat and get our passports stamped because we wanted to snorkel off their island. You don’t want to miss The Baths at Virgin Gorda or the snorkeling. By the way, check the expiration date on your passport if you already have one, just to be sure.
#2. Hire an experienced wedding planner. I found the master of wedding planning Cheryl Toner, who just happened to be able to officiate as well. She can answer all your questions. Her company is Wedding Set Go and her website is here.  Everything turned out perfect and she even had a plan B in case of weather (remember I said no stress?) It was so easy and far less expensive than a traditional wedding. Basically, we got to pick which elements we wanted and she put together a package. We needed transportation from the cruise ship to the courthouse (you have to sign your documents and pick up  your license on the way to your wedding site so bring your ID) then to the wedding location. I needed my hair done, an officiant, flowers and a photographer who did “fun” photos, not the stiff posed kind.
#3. Skip the big fluffy dress. I bought a simple, strapless, flowy, dress that I took onto the plane in a garment bag. I called the airlines and told them that I was not going to take a chance of them losing my luggage and check my wedding dress. I asked if I could bring it on the plane as a carry on. They were extremely accommodating and let me hang it in a little closet in the cabin. My dress got to go on the plane before any people! Call first and ask to reserve it for you. Also, lace will pick up every bit of sand, dirt and pieces of beach grass and driftwood. Keep any lace at the top of your dress and wear a length that is above your ankles.
#4. Wear your hair in an up-do or at least a ½ up-do. Those ocean breezes can be a little more like gale force winds in the summer. I wanted my naturally curly hair to be mostly down but not blowing in my face. The hairdresser on the ship told me to wash it the night before then come in the next morning. She curled it with a small barreled iron, sized to match my own curl and before she curled each section, she used a setting gel. She said the humidity would turn me into a fuzzy poodle in 5 minutes if we didn’t do it this way. Then she put about 50 pins in my hair and set the style with 1/2 gallon of hairspray. Perfection. This woman knew her stuff! I was very happy it didn’t get fuzzy but it was very windy the day of our wedding so if I had it to do over, I would have done an up do.

#5. So you want to look like a goddess? Barefoot Sandals are the MUST HAVE beach wedding accessory. The accessory I didn’t have because I started making them 6 months after my wedding. Just look how naked my feet look! They really needed jewels. The beach is not the place to wear shoes. Heels will sink into the sand. Flip flops are a little tacky for the occasion. You will kick sand up the back of your dress walking in them and they will squeak. You really don’t want to hear that in your video! Barefoot sandals from Two Be Wed Jewelry are beautiful, high quality foot jewelry made with Swarovski crystals and pearls. The crystals will catch the sunlight in the most captivating way and you will look amazing from head to toe.

#6. Try and get married on a weekday at the start of your vacation. It is FAR less expensive. We left port from Florida on a Sunday (most cruise ships do) and got married in St. Thomas on Monday. Then we just relaxed for the next two weeks! If you are incorporating a cruise/honeymoon research the itineraries first to make sure that you are going to be on a US owned island sometime during your cruise. There are also adult, all inclusive resorts that have wedding packages.
#7. If you are US citizens, I highly recommend choosing the US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. Johns and St.Croix for the easiest legal preparation in the Caribbean. You should also consider Hawaii, Florida and California. They have some gorgeous beaches if you want to stay stateside.

A Side Note Bonus Tip:  We planned our night time, pool side reception / weekend at a resort hotel in Phoenix in October, 3 months after the wedding. This enabled us to have a stress free wedding and spread out all the payments so we didn’t have any debt. We had some time to plan a really fun weekend with our friends and family who all flew in from all over the country. We showed a video of the wedding to our guests on a screen under all the twinkly lights that were wrapped around the trees surrounding the pool. It was stunning!