In my twenties, I wanted a lavish, David Tutera-esq wedding: 20 bridesmaids in matching bright dresses, a serenade from Eric Benet, tons of flowers in vibrant colors and 300+ guests to witness the event. Now, on the other side of 35, with a steady creep to 40, I do not want any parts of the aforementioned. Lavish? Meh. Eric Benet? Nope, I’ve booked my best friend’s brother, an up and coming singer in LA. 20 bridesmaids? Absolutely not. No way.
For the better part of my thirties, I was single. During that time, I did think about the type of wedding I wanted – what girl doesn’t? Many of my close friends were married in their twenties. A few more in their early thirties. I had attended more weddings than I could count. I was the perpetual bridesmaid. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the wedding I wanted, now that I was a “mature bride”.
So, after he put a ring on it and my 90 day-no-wedding-planning moratorium had expired, my fiancé and I tackled our first wedding task – selecting a wedding location. Financially, we had a maximum amount of money that we were willing to spend on our wedding, reception, etc. and staying within our budget was very important. My fiancé’s first wedding was performed in court, by a justice of the peace. Another courthouse wedding was not on his list of dream locations. I thought about my church home or even my parents’ church, but I really wanted to be near water, which is something that I wasn’t going to get in the Midwest.
Although my fiancé wanted to have a traditional church wedding, once we started plugging in the numbers, we decided that a destination wedding would be the best option for us. We knew that some guests would not want to travel to attend our wedding, but ultimately took comfort in knowing that those who want to be there, will be there. Destination wedding it is, but where?
I suggested Puerto Rico as an option since a passport isn’t required, it is fairly easy to get to from anywhere in the U.S., the weather is beautiful, the beaches are great and it fell nicely within our price point – or so I thought.
What I found was that a destination wedding is much more economical if you have a relatively small number of guests – typically under 50 people. My guest list doubled that. We definitely want an intimate wedding, but with family and close friends, our guest list exceeds 50. For the number of guests that we anticipate and for the same amount of money, we could have a wedding in St. Louis, but still, no water! I also started stressing out over the emergence of the Zika virus and how that may affect guests who were planning to attend.
My fiancé and I tossed around several other locations before deciding on an outdoor wedding in Santa Monica, CA. California had much more significance than Puerto Rico – we both lived there as children/young adults, our first trip as a couple was to Santa Monica, and the Zika virus is not an issue!
Check out more of Keisa’s wedding planning musings here.