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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


people found Carrie's experience helpful.

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I wanted a destination wedding for the simple reason that I love the ocean. It calls to me: the smells, the warm sand, the thundering waves. Being from the Midwest, right in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the closest thing we had to a beach was a sandbar in the middle of the river.

Palm Springs

We chose Palm Springs, California, because it's only two hours from the beach or the mountains, it's gorgeous and upscale, and my soon-to-be husband and I both had some family in California. We mistakenly thought it would be less of a financial burden if half of the guests were already close to our destination. The plan was to get married on the beach and to honeymoon in Palm Springs.

The Booking Nightmare

Thankfully, my fiancé and I were booked at a chic hotel in Palm Springs for our pre-wedding week. Some of our guests made their own reservations at one of the many four-star hotels in town, but not everyone had the financial means to stay in a swank hotel or resort.

Of course, we paid for everyone who needed accommodations. The problem was, you can't have some guests in a four-star hotel and other guests at a family budget inn. Some of our guests arrived earlier than expected, mainly my family. They wanted to be involved in every aspect of the wedding. We ended up finding lodging for everyone. Our hotel bill for one week equaled a little over $15,000. If you plan a destination wedding, find (affordable) lodging for everyone well in advance, and expect people to arrive early and to show up with surprise guests.

Family Quirks

One of the more arduous issues to manage concerning a destination wedding are the people in your family who you have to invite, but who have some weird quirk that you have to work around. For example, my cousin, who is more like a sister, was and still is terrified of flying. My grandmother had special medical needs, which we had to make arrangements for at a medical center in Loma Linda, which is about an hour away from Palm Springs.

My husband's grandparents weren't speaking to one another; one had remarried and the other hadn't. His mother has a slightly abrasive personality, which is fine if you know her, but she upset my mother and grandmother unknowingly. By the end of the week, I felt like a psychiatrist. I had dealt with phobias, health issues, long-standing grudges, and childish adults. I asked my hubby-to-be if he wanted to just elope to Vegas the night before the wedding.

Wind, Seaweed, and Flies

The plan was to have the wedding ceremony on my favorite beach. It's normally just beautiful, with perfect weather, vibrant flowers, and friendly locals, just a gorgeous upscale, coastal town. The day before our wedding, the weather had its own plans, and it didn't include us. It was unseasonably cold with high winds. The water was gray, with huge waves. Normally a surfing haven, one lonely surfer could be seen every time the ocean swelled. The beach was covered with huge slimy bunches of seaweed, and I mean it was everywhere. All of the drying seaweed attracted zillions of files, which attracted birds, which made the beach a no-go.

I actually cried, until my fiancé picked up some seaweed and started making jokes and chasing me with it. Of course, I ran in horror, screaming, but ended up laughing. When you plan a destination wedding, especially an outdoor ceremony, don't count on the weather, even if the weather is normally ideal.

Pulling It Off Last Minute

At the last minute on the day before our wedding, we had to find a new venue. I needed a new dress, and my fiancé needed a tux. Our beach-wear cotton wedding garb just didn't seem right for anywhere other than the beach. We even had custom sandals made for the sand. Instead, we found a chapel in Palm Springs, a dress and tux at the mall (seriously), and booked a carriage ride for our finale. A friend of the family did my nails, hair and makeup. My fiancé’s mother kept playing the, "Going to the Chapel," song to cheer me up, sweet but very annoying.

So Wrong But So Right

Everything seemed to be going wrong. The ground outside of the chapel was wet, which made my heels sink. The man who married us seemed intoxicated and even hit on me. The chapel looked like a jungle; the only thing missing were animal sounds, which my fiancé’s brother kindly made every so often.

Even with all of the problems we faced, as I was walking down the aisle, I was shaking. All I could think of was my fiancé’s smiling face, the look in his eyes that told me how much he loved me, and the life we would have together. I knew if we could laugh through the week we had just had, we would make it through every challenge that life brought, with a smile.

Advice for Others

If I could go back and change anything about our wedding, I honestly wouldn't change a thing. We look at the photos and crack up. Well, I take that back, I would change the credit card bill for $15,000 we received for lodging for our out-of-town family for a week.

When you plan your destination wedding, things like weather and quirky family members are out of your control. Be ready, or at least entertain the possibility, that something might go wrong. Even those family members you want to hypothetically strangle are important. The things that go wrong make your wedding even more memorable. Realize that you're getting married because you love each other. It doesn't matter where or how you get married. What matters is how you deal with the problems, and that you're marrying the one you love.

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