Forever Starts in Paradise: Brides are Ditching Tradition for Destination

In Angela Vinet, Brittany Strickland by Lola Magazine

Being whisked away to a breathtaking destination to say “I do” is a dream for most couples. Brides are flocking to destination weddings for a more intimate experience marrying their best friend. Less stress, no over planning, no giant guest list, just a simpler special day seems to have many brides saying “yes” to a destination wedding.

From the moment that ring is gingerly placed on her finger, the wedding is being planned. A lifetime of waiting, a lifetime of dreaming, a lifetime of collecting ideas  this wedding is life.

Our two featured brides both chose a destination wedding over a large, lavish affair.  The brides simply wanted to enjoy their day with little fuss. They wanted to eat the food, dance with their handsome husbands, and have quality conversations with the limited guest list.  Both brides were able to have their perfect wedding day, marry their best friends, and still have time to eat their cake.

Meghan and Mario Chavez

Like all good stories, these two love birds were good friends who also conducted business together. Over time their relationship grew and bloomed into something so much more…true love. After dating for roughly two years, the dynamic duo developed a passion for international travel, falling in love with Belize.

Little did Meghan know that Mario had been through nine diamonds before finding the perfect one to place on her finger, though she had told him she would be happy with a rubber band.  Proposing to her on the top of the Altun Ha Mayan Temple just before an entire cruise ship of tourists climbed the steps, Meghan was shocked as the tourists all cheered thanks to the skilled ancient Mayan builders, conversations at the top can be heard down below.

Both Meghan and Mario fell in love with a small island just off Belize, Caye Caulker.  They decided to invite their close friends and family with over 35 people traveling to Belize for their special day.  Bringing the children and parents that could attend, the happy couple had much to celebrate.

From 8 months engaged to Mario’s rib forever, the two were united on the beach with flowers in her hair that her bridesmaids found on the island true to islander style.  So inspired with their own wedding, the Chavezes are opening a wedding planning business on their special island.

Our Belize Bride Recommends:

  • Scout the location, plan a pre-wedding trip there to find everything you will want or need on the days leading up to and prior to the wedding. Be familiar with your area.  If you don’t feel comfortable, then hire someone who does.
  • Meghan chose to bring her photographer, our very own Brittany Strickland, to capture her special moments.
  • Know that things happen, and plans change. Meghan learned ukulele for the wedding, but the day before realized the aisle was too long to play for her groom, so the islanders pulled a gorgeous bouquet together for her to carry the night before the wedding.
  • Use local when you can. Meghan used a local lady to craft her wedding day jewelry.
  • Have an itinerary for your guests that does NOT include the bride and groom.  Brides need their spouses for support and this pre-honeymoon time together helps for things to run smoothly.
  • Make a checklist of everything needed for the trip and use it.
  • Quadruple the amount of time you think you need to get dressed  island time is real, and most islanders do not have watches. It’s because they have no schedule.
  • Carry the dress, groom’s wedding clothes and jewelry on to the plane. Check the rest but keep those on you just in case.

Kelsey Kiper and Aaron Henley

Kelsey and Aaron’s story begins with a casual meeting and a crush, which led to a deep friendship-turned-loving relationship. Their engagement story of an exotic destination with thoughtful tender moments of pampering and romantic dinners culminated with a proposal after every girl’s dreams.

Aaron left no detail out from asking her widowed mother for permission to marry to the private beach, fullcourse dinner lit by lanterns and a ring carefully placed in the dessert  complete with a mariachi band to serenade his future bride. To Kelsey, who dreamed of her big day since she was a little girl, the thought and pressure of a large wedding at home was not as appealing as spending more time with her family and intimate friends on her special day.  She decided upon the exquisite Santa Rosa Beach on 30a. Her day was everything she dreamed it would be, and the newlyweds were stress free to enjoy their celebration, eat the food, and dance the night away with their friends.

Advice from our 30a bride:

  • Keep the guest list simple to enjoy your day.
  • Choose a familiar destination  this helped guests feel comfortable attending.
  • We brought our photographer  Brittany Strickland, who is a dear friend of the family.
  • Join the area’s social media group to ask for recommendations such as wedding planners, hair, makeup, facials, nails, and venue.
  • Visit the destination before the wedding to line up the professionals and bring someone you trust. Taste the menu and find a wedding planner that matches your personality.
  • Use the rehearsal dinner as the true rehearsal  for instance, get your hair done as it will be for the wedding day. This way, there is time to make changes before the big day.
  • Go to the wedding a few days before to unpack and make sure all items are there and accounted for.
  • Create “Welcome Boxes” for every guest. Kelsey had a box of goodies such as water, snacks, Tony’s, sunscreen, mints, do NOT disturb door hangers, map of Watercolor Beach area, and coveted 30a stickers.
  • Don’t feel like you have to get married on a Saturday.  Friday weddings are easier booking wise the next day we could relax with our guests.
  • Trust the vendors  do the homework and have faith in them.
  • Don’t let anyone sway you from something you don’t want  it is your day. Kelsey politely said no several times to the idea of a seated dinner.
  • Get there early to relax.