Having a destination wedding, just like any other choice in life — has it’s long list of pros and cons. When Alex and I first began the conversation of where we’d like to tie the knot, we we’re slightly overwhelmed with the possibilities. The world was ours. Would we travel abroad? Stay within the country? East or West Coast? In the end, only three options really made sense for us: Florida – where my parents live, Arizona – where Alex’s parents live, and Washington, DC – where we’ve built our home together.
Two weeks after we got engaged, we flew out to Tucson, Arizona to visit his parents, as they threw us a lovely engagement party. At that point in the planning (only two weeks in), Alex and I barely had a grasp of what we wanted from the big day. Since we were already in Arizona, we figured we might as well take advantage of that, and explore some venues. The week prior to our trip, I contacted 5 different venues for fall / winter 2016 availability and pricing. Collecting a little binder of information prior to landing in Arizona. And good thing I did, since the moment we landed, wedding talk seemed to be the only conversational topic.
Image: Julian Wainwright, taken from Melissa & Ishay’s Jew-ish destination wedding in Thailand
The morning of the engagement party, Alex’s dad drove us around the city to various appointments, narrowed down to 4 at that point. Once we stepped foot on Tubac Golf Resort, we knew we had found something really special. We loved the atmosphere, the ranch-style hotel rooms, the layout of the property, the ballrooms, the heated-covered patios, the gorgeous well kept lawns where we’d potentially hold our ceremony — everything.
For various reasons, Florida and DC were ruled out. So Arizona made the next most sense. And after our tour of Tubac, we felt it was the right place for us. We didn’t give it much more thought than that. I signed the contract that very week we returned home to DC. And then, the rest of the planning, booking, and arranging began!
Planning the wedding from 2,500+ miles away hasn’t been the easiest, I will be the first to say that, and in fact it’s caused a reasonable amount of stress. I wanted to share my pros and cons list with any future brides still deciding, or to any brides that have already settled on a destination wedding for them to relate to.
Image: Susan Stripling, taken from Natasha & Jez’s Jewish destination wedding in Cap Ferrat, South of France
- It weeds down the guest list to ensure quality vs. quantity
- Intimate wedding of less than 90 people
- Truly gorgeous destination spot
- Creates a memorable, magical weekend for us and our guests
- Many of our guests have never been to the Southwest
- Many of our beloved friends are unable to make it due to financial / logistical challenges having a remote location poses
- Every vendor (with the exception of the venue) needed to be chosen based on online reviews, phone calls, and emails
- I haven’t had the opportunity to meet more than half my vendors in person yet
- The 3 hour time difference that makes connecting with vendors over the phone a bit challenging with conflicting work schedules
Now that we’re under 30 days out from the big day, I still have mixed feelings about it. Logistically, it’s complicated for us too. We have a ton of items that need to safely make it to Tubac, that I don’t feel comfortable shipping, such as our ketubah, my dress, and everything in between. I know the day will be amazing, and special, and full of love and joy — but it breaks my heart a bit that a handful of my friends (and even a few family members) are unable to make the big day.
Image: Jeremy Standley, taken from Emily & David’s Jewish destination wedding in Marbella
We only flew back to Arizona once between the decision to marry there and the wedding. In that trip we met with the florist, had a cake tasting, did a walk through of the venue, and had a menu tasting. But other than that brief 5 hour planning stint one random Friday in June, that was it as far as in person time with the vendors. I didn’t get a chance to meet the photographer or DJ. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but the idea of paying each thousands of dollars without so much as a handshake seems odd to me. But hey, it is what it is.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again — we made a decision, and we’re committed to making that the right decision for us.
Did you decide for or against a destination wedding? Tell me in the comments below!