Beach Destination Wedding Recap

I'm baaaaaack!!!

So, here we are… at the end of the wedding marathon. Well, almost, anyway. I am good and married; we had our destination wedding and our at-home reception. So now to wrap it all up! I have included it ALL here, but I will try to specify what was the at-home reception (which was a smaller, but otherwise typical, version of a regular wedding reception in my hometown) and what was the destination wedding.

The Wedding:


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From the Alberta Reception
(fewer pictures of this one, and not professional; a friend took some decor pictures I have not gotten from her yet):

Hanna Reception 034 Hanna Reception 048 Hanna Reception 102 Hanna Reception 179

I'm baaaaaack!!!

What was your budget?

Apparel: $425 (this includes our wedding rings, and my dress alterations, but not my dress itself, which was a gift and cost about $900)
Gifts: $832 (we went a little overboard here; we kind of spoiled our guests who came to the Dominican)
Music: free (the band for our at-home reception was $2000 I believe; it was also a gift)
Resort wedding package: $850
Officiants: $450 (we had two, one for the legal and one for our Dominican wedding)
Decor: $78
Flowers and Parasols: $145
Photography & Videography: $1729 (we went over on this one – we also paid a travel expense and their room for two nights)

At-Home Reception (including hall fees, drinks, food, etc.): $3532 (we went over on this one; this includes alcohol, which is actually a gift from my dad)

Stationery, Invitations, Postage: $262

Transportation: $300

Destination Travel, Room, etc: $2592 (we only paid the $150 deposit – when we went in to pay the rest, we found out Brandon's parents had already paid it!)

Other (including fuel, etc. to shower, stagette, salon appointments at resort and at-home reception): $2045

TOTAL: $9950

We were very fortunate to have some things gifted to us. My parents bought my wedding dress, and his parents bought our plane tickets to our destination. For our at-home reception, my parents also paid for a band (since they wanted one most; but it turned out well!), which they got a good deal on, really, since one of my brothers plays in the band. Also, my sister works for a local flower shop, so we got a pretty good deal on the few flowers we did get for our at home reception.

If I were to include the items that were gifts, the total cost of the wedding would have been: $14,632. Some items were gifted because someone insisted on something specific; we would have gone for cheaper items on our own.

How many guests did you have?

For our destination wedding, us plus 12. It was a really good size. For our at home reception, we had about 70 to supper, then maybe 40 more came for the open house in addition to that.

Freebies for your wedding

What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?

Everything!!!!  If I COULD make it, I did. I made ALL of the invitations, save the dates, programs, welcome booklets, many of the gifts, all of the decorations, boutonniers (except the one that was included for the groom at the resort), corsages, table numbers, music playlists, etc.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We tried to do as much ourselves as humanly and practically possible. We also did not stick to regular stores for what we did buy. My shoes and the bridesmaid dresses at a clothing store in the mall, and our rings came from ebay. And finally, we had a long engagement, so we were able to search out and find deals and coupons and sales. And we lucked out by using vendors connected to my family or small town for our at-home reception. (A local hair dresser came in on her day off, did my hair, my two bridesmaid's, and only charged us $40… total!)

What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?

Take a deep breath. Take your time and look around. Enjoy the process. And look at your spouse-to-be and remember the reason why you are doing all of this.

What was your biggest splurge?

Well, the most expensive thing was definitely our location, but that was our first priority. After that, our photography package, which was our second priority. And we both agreed that we were completely okay spending the most on these two aspects. Definitely worth it.

What was your favorite detail?

Hmmm…. this is a good question. Of course I loved my dress, and I loved seeing all those personal touches I had worked on for two years coming together.

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

There were a whole lot! I woke up in the morning (my sister stayed with me the night before) and went to breakfast by myself, where I saw my soon-to-be hubby and his best man. I got to eat breakfast with them, and then we jumped in a pool and his best man brought me a mimosa before I went to get ready. I liked having that time.

My fiance and I had agreed to exchange notes before the wedding. I loved reading his to me, all alone in the room.

When my little golf-cart-esque shuttle dropped me off and I saw Brandon at the end of the aisle.

Dancing in the sand with our guests at the wedding.

Seeing how happy it made our extended family to have our at-home reception when we got back (especially the grandparents and close friends).

The day after the wedding, Brandon and I got breakfast in bed, and then we went to take our trash the dress pictures with our photographer and videographer. That was so much fun! We really enjoyed it and I am sure it was a top highlight!

The speeches. My sister's made me cry. And at the resort people had to sing Disney songs to get us to kiss. To see our family members get up and sing and dance was so awesome. Brandon's best man sang “Under The Sea” with an accent while one table got up and danced behind him. And my dad did the robot while singing “It's a Small World”.

Spending a whole week with both of our families and some family friends. Everyone getting along, making memories, and having a really good time.

Getting to marry my best friend, of course!!!


Travel Agent: Flair Travel Planners  //  Resort: Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado  //   Photography/Videography: Caribbean Emotions  //  Flowers: Included at the resort, but for the at home reception, Country Charms Flowers and Gifts  At Home Reception Location: Hanna, Alberta Community Centre  //  Food: Included at the resort; for the at-home reception, Trina Hernden (a local caterer) Desserts were done by myself, moms and grandmas  //   Decor: DIY, largely with help from Michaels supplies!  //  Music: iPod and resort included for the wedding. For the at-home reception: Chris LeBlanc and fellow musicians 

Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here

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