Hello all and Congrats!
When I knew I was going to have a destination wedding, I decided I would create a blog to capture my feelings, share ideas, and have documentation of my 1 year planning process. It's an exciting time and I'm really sentimental so I figured it was a good idea. I really did have good intentions. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much time this process would consume and much of that time I was not just sitting twiddling my thumbs. I was researching, running around like a chicken with her head cut off, trying to keep the million and one fabulous ideas that popped into my head separate and retained. All of this was done while taking caring for others, taking graduate classes, and maintaining a household. Needless to say, the blog idea fell wayside, not intentionally.
I find myself now less than two months from the big day- June 21, 2014. I'm anxious but regretful about not noting things like I wish I had. So I'll start but work my way from the beginning (June 2013, one year before our wedding) up to the present.
First things first! Choose a location. We decided to have our ceremony in Punta Cana, one of our favorite places, I started researching places online and reading reviews, LOTS of research and reviews. I would suggest anyone doing a dw do the same. Believe it or not, some people don't! They choose a place purely based on price, the name, or pictures on the internet. I wouldn't recommend this, particularly if you have expectations. You need to get a composition book or spiral notebook and make this your wedding book for planning purposes. Grab a two-pocket folder and designate that your wedding folder to store things. This helps you keep all of your info and ideas together. You will have a lot, trust! These have become my best friends through this entire process. Jot down all ideas you have, whether you plan to execute or not. You may change your mind later and it's a pain if you don't have the website, info, number, idea or whatever. (You can thank me later about this ) Just remember to stay calm and don't get overwhelmed. It all works out in the end.
Next, choose a wedding date. Now sometimes the date is chosen before the location which is fine. Whatever works for you, (not judging.) WE actually knew our date first because it has meaning for us. Luckily the resort we selected had that date available. But have a backup date just in case the date you want is booked already.
In June 2013: Now as for me, I emailed & called (yes, I'm anal too), the resort and booked my own date with the wedding coordinator. You can also go to a travel agent and they will handle that for you. I discovered this after the fact. The travel agent will help you with group rates, booking rooms, and arranging travel with your guests.
Oh yeah! ...Somewhere in there, we decided upon our wedding colors. I wanted turquoise. He didn't have a preference. So we are doing turquoise and royal blue, ocean and beach colors. This leaves us open to incorporate a pop of color if we choose. I'm happy and have found plenty of inspiration.
At this point in the journey, I was so excited and hyped up that I decided to send out our save the dates (std's. I wish that abbreviation didn't remind me of diseases everytime I say or write it. EWWWW!). My fiance is really sweet and laid back so he let me have most of the say & he just co-signs unless he thinks it's a dumb idea or I'm going overboard. Then he'll speak up. We knew we wanted most of our guests to have enough notice to save money, make plans, take vacation days from work, or whatever they needed to do in order to be able to attend. We figured a year's notice was perfect (for us).
I fell in love with so many invitation ideas. I narrowed it down to incorporating 4 things- some kind of invite/std in a bottle, a passport, a boarding pass, and a luggage tag. Basically I wanted to do everything except a traditional invitation. lol. I priced out invitations and such online and was blown away by the prices of these things. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Martha Stewart or master crafter but I am an elementary teacher! I'm creative and have been known to imagine and produce some pretty good stuff. So I figured, how hard could it be? I was a girl scout growing up and I spent my summers doing arts and crafts...I'll give it a shot and save some cash for other things. (Not tooting my own horn. I'm way more ambitious than I should be in many aspects of my life.)
Okay, so once I made the trip to the craft stores buying materials, I ended up scratching the message in bottle idea due to mailing headaches. Cute but not ideal to send to guests & I wasn't spending a fortune for boxes and shipping. Remember, I was trying to save a buck or two. So I was left with the other three ideas. And we decided this would be it. The std was created with the help of my teen son who is a technology genius. We made magnet luggage tags for guests to stick on the fridge. They were in cute cards & envelopes with beach colors. We also made beach themed address labels and used post office stamps that said Celebrate. We had guests calling, texting, and telling us how cool they were as soon as they received them. YAAAYYYYYY! We wanted everyone to be as excited as we were so mission accomplished!
After that, I created our website. I can't share it because it has our very personal info but there are some great websites out there that you can use. Many are free. Don't think you have to spend money for this. Our website is destination wedding beach themed and shares a welcome to the page note, info about us, our story, ceremony, reception, wedding party, info for guests about the resort, travel info including travel agent, pics of us, and a page for guests to sign in and leave messages. You make your page what you want! This is very helpful to your guests and saves you from numerous questions if you use it effectively and put most of your info on the site.
Next was the passport invites which I actually designed online and purchased for a decent price. Our website url was included on the invite. They came quickly & we LOVED how they turned out. They look so much like a real passport! We mailed them out in September (9 months before) while rates were incredibly cheap. Used the same beach themed address labels but with a love stamp from the post office. I also created a boarding pass which was our rsvp. It was perforated so guests would tear part off, and return in the mail the same way a post card works. Well, the feedback was crazy about these! People were commenting about how we had the most unique wedding invitations they had ever seen, they were so original, did I buy or make them, if this is the invite they can't wait for the wedding... It felt really good to know my hours of hard working making them had paid off. Our level of excitement was transferred through the std & invites. I hope this for every couple. That your guests will get a feel of what is to come on your big day from your std or invites. In my opinion, it should be a little preview to create excitement.
Well it's a lot I gave (4 months) at once but I'm playing catch up (with a little bit of time). Hopefully this helps somebody get started.
Stay posted for more real soon!