I got married last weekend!
Despite building up to a massive stress flare in the two weeks before the wedding, I had a wonderful and pain-minimal Big Day. After experiencing it, I can safely say that a destination wedding worked out nicely for me as a traveler with pain on a limited but not miniscule budget.
Why have a destination wedding with pain?
Wouldn’t a site near home be easier? Not necessarily. Many destination weddings take place at hotels and resorts or on cruise ships—that is, within walking distance of the room where the bridal couple stays overnight. That means no need to drive from home to salon to pre-ceremony site to ceremony to reception to wedding night hotel to airport from other airport to honeymoon locale. (It also means no need to hire a limo or a horse-and-four or an ambulance.)
We rented out The Flora Vista Inn–a small bed & breakfast inn near the beach for the whole weekend. That meant we arrived early in the afternoon a day before the wedding and went to bed early-ish. With no need to stagger out of bed before sunrise, I marched through the sand to my ceremony site faster than my attendants and I looked downright perky walking up the aisle on my father’s arm. The afternoon reception shut down before dinner-time and my new husband and I got to bed early on our wedding night.
Whatever might have happened then isn’t the subject of this blog. 😉
Bright and late the next morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and helped our slaves…er, friends tear down and pack up as much as they’d let us. Lazy still, my husband and I got into the car just before noon to drive the hour between our wedding site and our honeymoon lodgings. If it had been a traditional destination wedding we wouldn’t have even had to go that far—our honeymoon locale would have been the same as the ceremony and reception site.
Overall, doing a semi-destination wedding made it much, much easier for me and my pain than a traditional wedding would have been. I got to sleep more, run around less, and settle in one place long enough to feel comfortable.
Here are a few tips that go beyond what you’ll find on The Knot and other big wedding planning sites:
- Find the right destination for your wedding
Destinationdoesn’t always mean Hawaii or St. Thomas or Tahiti or the Biggest Ship Ever. I chose a destination about an hour from home. Granted, I live less than an hour from major California beaches. But a nice lakeshore, a lovely forest, even a broad prairie will do the job so long as it’s special to you, affordable for you, manageable given your condition, and accessible to your guests.
Try to find a property that does weddings frequently—that way you’ve got experienced personnel who won’t freak out at you (and send you into an even worse stress flare) because there’s not enough parking for your guests, or the ice sculptures are melting onto their deck or whatever.
- Get there early
Preferably, at least a day before the ceremony. Settle in. Unpack. Give yourself plenty of time—even have a few minutes available to meditate, stretch, do yoga, or do nothing at all. Whatever keeps your pain minimal.
- Stay at your wedding site on your wedding night
You’ve been stressed, you’ve been drinking, you’re probably feeling some pain. Now isn’t the time to take a long drive or a plane trip. A destination wedding means there’s no need to leave at all—you’re on your honeymoon as soon as you close the door to the bridal suite. But even if you’re heading elsewhere to be alone with your beloved for the honeymoon, leave the next day.
- Use the advice and experience of the locals
If you can afford it, hire an on-site or local wedding coordinator. If you can’t, chat up the owner or manager of the property you’re using and get the names of party rental companies, caterers, florists, bakeries, and so forth who’ve worked with your site before.
- Get the busy-work done at home ahead of time
Assemble as much as possible as far ahead of time as you can. That means everything from wedding favors to hair gewgaws to little bags of rice. The less you need to do once you’ve reached your destination, the happier and less pain-wracked you’ll be on The Big Day.
- Remember to get your prescriptions filled in advance
For the obvious reasons. Also see your doctors a week or two before your wedding. Make any follow-up appointments for after your nuptials before you leave. Buy any OTC meds and items while you’re still at home. Look up (and write down!) the locations of emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies at your destination.
- Have fun!
Seriously—a wedding is mainly a big party. And this one’s your big party. Enjoy the living heck out of it!