After D.J. Taylor spoke with his bride-to-be about an experience attending a destination wedding in Cancun in 2007, he was determined to pull off a similar experience for their own wedding in May 2010.
“What struck me at that wedding in Cancun was how much interaction there was between friends and family of the bride and groom,” says D.J. “Unlike the typical wedding where people come together for a few hours to attend the service and the reception, the destination wedding enables the people who are dearest in your lives to share more than a few hours together.”
Danielle (Dani) and D.J. chose a four-night, five-day package to Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa in Tulum, Mexico. Since most of the guests would be coming from the East Coast, they wanted to make sure all could book relatively easy flights from such major airports as Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga. The couple strategically settled on the weekend of Memorial Day so that guests would have an opportunity to take more time off before and after the weekend.
Betsi Jordan of Prestige Travel in Columbia negotiated travel rates and logistics, and many of the couple’s guests arranged travel through Prestige as well. Fifty guests made the trip, and not one guest experienced a single travel-related mishap to and from Mexico.
“Dani spent hours, weeks and months reading blogs and websites, eventually building some connections through a group online at bestdestinationwedding.com. Through this group, she learned about everything from locations to where to buy wedding favors at the destination, instead of paying huge shipping and duty fees,” says D.J.
One idea Dani gleaned from the website was providing guests with out of town bags when they arrived. She found 30 tote bags in the wedding colors of green and light blue and filled them with such items as aspirin, Alka Seltzer, sanitizer wipes, water bottles, Chapstick and sunscreen. The water bottles featured a wedding logo that Dani designed. She also made sure there were beach toys for two couples bringing children.
Dani and D.J. met their wedding photographer at a Fall Bridal Showcase at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Photographer Gregg Martin overheard them talking to his assistant about how they were interested in a “trash the dress” photo shoot. (This actually involved Dani purchasing a second-hand wedding dress on eBay and wearing it for photographs in a number of exotic locations the day before the wedding, including an underground fresh water river in a cave.) Gregg became intrigued, and, after speaking with the couple, negotiated with them to shoot the wedding.
After arriving in Mexico, Dani met with an on-site wedding director and worked out the details for the flowers and cake. She chose orange calla lilies and white roses and a tres leche (three milk) cake with strawberry filling. Other food included bruschetta with prosciutto, tomato and fresh basil, a mixed Italian green salad and citrus vinaigrette and filet mignon with shrimp and malted butter.
The couple was married on the beach at 5:30 p.m., followed by a reception at Dolphin Pool, which overlooks the ocean and the resort’s gardens and was just a short walk from the beach. Guests enjoyed cocktail hour with a four-piece mariachi band, as well as a slide show by Gregg, featuring photos of the prior day’s trash the dress shoot.
The groomsmen all wore Caribbean linen pants and shirts, and D.J. wore a tan suit. Dani’s dresses came from Bella Vista. Her wedding dress was formal with a sweetheart neckline, and she chose to change into a short, off-white cocktail dress for the reception.
“The cocktail dress turned out to be a perfect idea, since we ended up dancing a modified tango for our first dance. We had lessons beforehand with Vista Ballroom’s director, Erin Bolshakov,” says D.J.
“What Dani and I are still enjoying about our wedding is seeing our friends and family continuing to build friendships they made that weekend in Mexico,” says D.J. “We believe that bringing these circles together gives us a support system that helps strengthen our own marriage, which is what every couple needs.”