Whenever I talk about our wedding, I tell people that I don’t think I was too young to get married, but I was too young to plan a wedding. At twenty-two, I had no concept of party logistics, budgeting, guest list politics, or the subtle art of saying no to people without getting up in your feelings. I forgot basic planning components like setup and breakdown. (No joke: I hadn’t asked anyone to set up our decorations until the night before our wedding. Sorry Aunt Helene.) And I handled parental requests with the emotional maturity of someone fresh out of college (read: poorly). In hindsight, I didn’t—and probably still don’t—have the skill-set to pull off a big party. And I wish someone had pulled me aside and told me as much, and I wish even more that I would have listened.
The world acts like weddings are a one-size-fits-all deal. Of course you want to get married in an industrial loft! With 150 people! Plus a seated meal and open bar! Surely you would love to DIY a thousand small details? And you definitely want a strapless lace dress, no? It’s not that this particular wedding isn’t awesome—I mean, I’d love to get an invite. But that wedding isn’t for everyone. And perhaps the cruelest generalization of them all is that wedding planning is a one-size-fits-all deal. (Do you identify as female? Then you’re gonna LOVE it.) Because spoiler alert: it’s not, and that’s totally okay.
As for me, all I actually ever wanted to was to get married on the beach in a fabulous dress, and spend a weekend celebrating with my best people. I could have easily done away with the rest, including the accompanying stress. And what I know now, after spending almost a decade studying the ins and outs of weddings, is that if I had a time machine and could do it all over again, I would plan an all-inclusive resort wedding in a heartbeat. I could have gotten all the beach time and quality family bonding, without stressing over who was going to put together centerpieces and tip the DJ. And I could have done all that for about half of our $20,000 budget. Unfortunately my DeLorean is in the shop. So instead, we’ve partnered with Sandals Resorts today to talk about why a destination wedding might be the perfect alternative for you if you want a kick-ass wedding but hate the idea of planning. If you’re at the stage of the planning process where you’re starting to feel like you don’t want to plan the wedding people are pushing on you, here are four signs (slash excuses if you need them) that an all-inclusive destination resort wedding might be the right fit for you.
You’re already traveling for your wedding. We often think of a destination wedding as somewhere warm and tropical. But hot tip: if you’re thinking of planning a Pennsylvania wedding from your apartment in San Francisco, you’re planning a destination wedding. And trying to coordinate logistics across the country is hard, especially if you don’t have a local planner or coordinator on the ground. (Are you shipping decor? Are you going to have to take a week off work just to set up the venue? These are the questions I should have asked and didn’t. Oops.) The same goes for your guests. If the majority of them are going to have to travel to get to the wedding, and will need to book a hotel and rent a car anyway, then an all-inclusive resort wedding, in a place with a beach, might actually be more pleasant for everyone concerned (most of us would rather fly to a beach in the Bahamas than the middle of Maine, is all I’m saying). Sandals has resorts in pretty much all of the dreamy locations featured in the song “Kokomo” (Jamaica, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, and Saint Lucia), and when I compared flight costs from San Francisco to Maine, where I attended the majority of weddings last year, and San Francisco to Jamaica, the prices were close enough that now I’m trying to figure out if I can get my family to a Sandals resort this winter instead of coming home for Christmas.
You can’t afford a honeymoon. When Michael and I got married, we couldn’t afford to take a week off for a wedding and a honeymoon, so we returned to work the Tuesday after our wedding, grumpy as hell about it. If I were to do it all over again with the same budget, I’d plan a destination wedding and turn it into a wedding/honeymoon combo trip. Most Sandals resorts start at about $250 per person per night, which means that for what we spent on our wedding (hell, for half of what we spent on our wedding), we could have had a week-long vacation, plus a wedding, and still been able to subsidize the cost of our some of our guests too. (Because no, I’m not suggesting that your guests should be forced to pay for or go on your honeymoon.) But even with that subsidizing, I’m talking under $10,000 for the whole shebang. I know.
And if your secret dream is to have a killer honeymoon, and you’re only doing the wedding thing so your family doesn’t kill you, may I just direct you to Sandals’ brand-new private overwater villas at their Montego Bay resort? It’s like a design magazine had a baby with the ocean, and I want to go to there.
You’ve got family drama. One of the potential drawbacks of a destination wedding is that inevitably some people aren’t going to be able to come, and that number is probably going to be a little higher than the average wedding. But in certain cases, that can actually be a check box in the win column. So if you’re hoping to up your chances of a more intimate celebration, while still inviting every single cousin you’ve never met, then a destination wedding can be a good backdoor solution to your problems. Plus, once everyone is on site, your guests will have so much to do they won’t have time to be all up in your grill about wedding details or to complain about what your uncle’s wife is wearing to the reception. They can do water sports, scuba dive, go golfing, take a catamaran tour, or do whatever their heart desires and whatever will keep them out of your hair. And bonus: the more guests you have at a Sandals wedding, the more perks you and your partner get (like a free room upgrade, heyo). Which is a nice departure from normal wedding planning where mo’ people never means mo’ honeymoon.
You’ve suddenly discovered you hate wedding planning. This may be the most important piece of advice I have for any engaged folks: wedding planning is not for everyone, and that is okay. You are not broken. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this scenario play out (including to… myself): You get engaged. You start your Pinterest board. Everything is fun! Then you have a call with a caterer. And start searching for venues. And suddenly what you thought was going to be eight months of dress shopping and crafting has turned into eight months of logistics (and whoops, you hate logistics). If you’re like me, you ignore everything your Meyer’s Briggs test ever taught you, and instead put your head down and keep on trucking through two years of Type A torture.
But if you’re smarter than me, you can spare yourself the trouble and let someone else plan your wedding for you. The beauty of all-inclusive destination wedding resorts is that they’re possibly the one part of the wedding industry that doesn’t care how much you spend on your wedding. In fact, when you book three or more nights at a Sandals resort, your wedding comes free. They cover your ceremony, a cocktail reception, decor, and flowers. Heck, you even get a free manicure. And you get just enough options to feel like you’re still driving the ship. Though I was actually delightfully surprised with how modern and stylish each of their pre-designed wedding inspirations are. (I would choose this the palm archway everyday. Though this “Signature Statement” look is doing a hip minimalism thing I could get on board with too.) I mean, this is basically all I ever wanted out of our wedding:
Followed by this:
And then a week of this:
And it turns out I could have had it, with way fewer headaches. With Sandals, all you have to do is choose the fun parts of wedding planning (like picking your venue location, music, and a signature cocktail) and their team of planners will handle all the annoying stuff (like coordinating logistics, figuring out documents, and communicating with their vendors). Basically, it’s dream wedding planning for #lazygirls.
So if you secretly wish you could quit wedding planning, but still, you know, have a wedding, then head over to Sandals and check out their all-inclusive destination resort wedding inspirations. And OMG please go look at the overwater villas and then come back here so we can talk about how to pool our resources for some kind of group APW trip to stay in one of them. I will sleep on the floor. I have no shame—just give me the ocean.
This post was in partnership with Sandals Resorts: Sandals will make your wedding and honeymoon more fun and stress-free by taking the work on for you. Plus, when you book three or more nights at a Sandals resort, your wedding comes free, and the the more guests you have at a Sandals wedding, the more fun perks you get. Click here to find out about test driving a wedding at Sandals today!