Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Late For A Very Important Date?

So I wondered if finding a date would be as tough as finding a location. Turns out it was more difficult. Here's the skinny on planning a DW:

January - Super expensive due to those getting away for the New Year.
February - Still pricey because of the snow birds.
March - Spring breakers.
April - The party continues.
May - The most popular wedding month.
June - Hurricane/rainy season.
July - More rain + heat = misery.
August - Hotter than Hades... and still raining.
September - Monsoons.
October - Risk of rain = 100%.
November - Still rainy, but tapering off.
December - Expensive enough for the holidays that you'll have to sell a kidney. Maybe two.

So note that May was our only option if we wanted to keep our guests with kidneys intact and soggy-free. The problem with May is that the first weekend was all booked up at every resort we looked at. The next weekend, we had a high school prom to avoid, (RH has a senior step-brother whom we wanted to be able to attend.) We also had college graduations to avoid, (several guests graduating the weekend after the prom.) We also had high school graduations to avoid, (the last weekend of the month.) The Indy 500 is always a factor the last weekend in May too, making travel limited and pricey. So now out of five weekends, we had one to choose from. ONE out of the entire year to really consider, if we wanted everyone to have maximum availability.

I held my breath as I clicked on the availability of Vallarta Palace for the weekend of May 16, 2009. Actually, I was sweating bullets, and I felt a little like throwing up. As the date popped up as "Time Available" at sunset on May 16th, I almost oozed out of my chair onto the floor. I immediately filled out the reservation request form, and crossed my fingers. I got an email a day or two later confirming that they'd blocked out the date for the Lloyd/Hubler wedding. You'd have thought Ed McMahon had shown up at my door with a giant Publisher's Clearinghouse check. Score!

Now, what would be the overall reaction from our potential guests? Were we ready for the fallout? Till next time...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Location, Location, Location

So after deciding we wanted to do a destination wedding, "we" decided it would be a smart idea to start looking at possible locations. This really meant "I" would become obsessed with finding the perfect spot for the ceremony. But first things first - we had to break the news to family and friends that we wouldn't be having a huge ceremony in Indiana.

I'd been easing my mom into the idea of a destination wedding for over a year. I knew I had to get her past the idea of a fairytale wedding the size of Princess Di's nuptials to Prince Charles. She was keen on the idea of inviting every person I'd ever stumbled across, from my preschool teacher on forward. So I had no idea it would be my dad who would flip his lid! My dad is a laid back type of guy who usually rolls with the punches, but when I brought up taking the ceremony to a beach, he crossed his arms, narrowed his eyes and totally shut down on me. He thought that taking the ceremony to a remote location was the most bizarre-o deal he'd ever heard in his life. Once my mom and I brought him into the new millennium and explained that DWs are all the rage, he started to come around. When we further talked about how much more cost effective it can be to have a small ceremony in a faraway land versus a massive wedding at home, he hopped right on board. RH's parents seemed okay with a DW, as they'd helped to throw his brother a huge wedding less than two years ago. I think they heard the word "small" and smiled inside. Little did we know that the list would grow. And grow. And grow... but that's for a whole separate post.

Of course, the hardest part of a DW is convincing people to cough up the green to join you on your special day. You feel like greedy little trolls asking them to book airfare, hotel rooms and to revolve their vacation time around watching you exchange vows. Yet, the only thing my future hubby really requested was a beach wedding. He'd actually told me during our first year of dating that for a long time, he'd dreamt of a beach wedding. [Note: If I were a psycho, I could have taken this little nugget of information as "a sign" early on in our relationship that he saw me as his one-and-only destiny. But I'm not a psycho, and I knew this was just chatter-in-passing... something guys do without any motive, intent, or foreshadowing. So it wasn't until RH started talking about it again and again during our second year of dating that I really started to sit up and listen. I started believing that he was thinking about getting married. To me. This was actually a good thing... and not in fact a worry at all. I did worry that he was very serious about getting hitched on a beach. Seeing as how Indianapolis has NO beach, this was an interesting worry. And then I started thinking about what my mother and my "second-mom," also known as my aunt, had likely envisioned about my wedding day. This was a bad worry.] But I digress. The main point I was making is that asking people to travel to another country to share in your 20-minute vows is quite the undertaking.

I started by doing some basic Internet research and having conversations with the world travelers I know. This includes RH, who has been practically everywhere with a beach. We quickly narrowed it down to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Mexico and Florida. Based on our limited budget, we thought Florida might be the best idea. Turns out, no. The hotels on the Florida Coast nickel and dime you to death, and offer very few package deals that are competitive against resorts in other countries. Finding a location that could accommodate more than 20 people was also a challenge. I slowly picked my way through chat rooms, wedding websites, travel sites and resort websites.

So how did I narrow it down? Anything limiting us to 20 people - No. Anything without a beach made of sand (there are a lot of "beach resorts" that have only rocks) - No. Anything with a poor Trip Advisor rating - No. Anything that costs $700+ to fly to - No. Anything with reports of bad food - No. Anything that requires travel by mule or a 2-hour dirt-road ride from the airport to the resort (I'm serious) - No. Anything that looked like a dump in their "best" promotional online photos - No. Anything that may be wiped out by a hurricane - No.

The last stipulation really did the trick. And after Gustav, Hannah and Ike, I'm glad I made the anti-hurricane decision. My criteria led us to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. On the Pacific side, PV rarely gets affected by hurricanes. No mules are required for travel and there are actually beaches where if you stumble, you won't plunge to your death off the edge of a rocky bluff. Bonus! So a friend who is a VIP Member of Palace Resorts, along with rave reviews on Trip Advisor, Yahoo Travel and Expedia led us to Vallarta Palace in neighboring Nuevo Vallarta. We finally had it! A place to beg people to come to! The next task would be to select the oh-so-special date. Simple enough, right? Wrong! Till next time...