Stephen and I have a brilliant idea for a staycation at his parent’s house and thankfully, they’re OK with it. We’ve realized that hanging out with Frank and Joan is our ideal “night out.” They only live 20 minutes away and Joan basically runs their house like a bed and breakfast. I’m not kidding – each bedroom has a guest book, chocolates, and bottles of water on the bedside tables. Whenever I’m drunk (which is most times when I stay over), I write a message in the guest book thinking it’s the funniest thing, and the next morning when I look back at it, I realize that I was clearly just drunk and the writing is sloppy.
The plan is to exercise – me at the local bikram studio and Stephen playing tennis with his Dad – cook delicious meals, drink delicious wine, and do our own respective work. For me, this is writing, but now that we’re engaged, all I can think about is the wedding. First things first, where should we get married??
We know we want a destination. It’s no surprise that the best wedding we’ve ever been to is Matt and Anna Rose’s. Obviously because we met there but truly, the most fun wedding experience ever. We want to emulate it in some ways.
First, lodging. The villa I stay at with about eight other people is the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed. One of those moments where you walk in and your jaw drops to the floor, then you literally run around the whole place to see it in its entirety and get excited about every little thing. The bedrooms are all open and airy – it feels like a playhouse. The pool is right off the beach, and the view of the ocean is right there every morning when I wake up; the sound and smell of the ocean slowly nudging me awake.
Second, the private chefs. I’ve never been a big fan of Mexican food until this trip. Our chefs make the most delicious, authentic Mexican meals. I can’t even get a bite down without saying, ‘Oh my God, this is so good.’
Third, everything is picturesque because of the gorgeous ocean views at every location.
Fourth, cost. A week-long trip isn’t cheap, but for everything we get, it’s incredibly affordable. Kind of mind-blowing, actually.
Fifth, because it’s a 7-day celebration, it really gives so many of us time to get to know each other. It’s because of the extended stay that Stephen and I are really able to foster a connection. Not to mention getting to hang out and meet all of Matt and AR’s family and friends.
So with these things in mind, we begin our search. It’s overwhelming to say the least. Stephen and I have very different approaches to choosing a location. I am searching for large homes/villas that can accommodate at least 100 people. He is first searching for a good location. That doesn’t make sense in my head. Looking at a map and researching an area is boring. Looking at villas and imagining our wedding there or guests staying there is fun!
We consider the Florida Keys, but after speaking with a wedding planner on the phone, quickly rule it out because it is very, very expensive. Same thing goes with San Diego (neither are much of a destination, anyway). We narrow it down to three places – Costa Rica, Belize, and Puerto Rico.
Costa Rica is my first pick. Everything here looks absolutely gorgeous, from the villas to the views. Unfortunately, the places that look amazing cannot accommodate more than 75 people. Stephen and I go back and forth about this. Do we cut our list and keep it small? I realize that if we invite 200 people, the chances of it only being 75 guests is still pretty good, but it’s not a chance we can take. That’s way too stressful to hope that people won’t come. Ultimately, we feel more comfortable inviting all 200 people and finding a location that works. It saddens me, because as we do this searching, I really start to imagine it all in Costa Rica. And when I get something in my head it’s all I can think about.
Belize is pretty cool. I do my thing where I search for villas and homes. Stephen is perplexed by my search tactics. Belize is huge, apparently. He says that if we have it here, he really wants to have it in this particular area, called Ambergris Caye. Guess what – the house I find is on Ambergris Caye. Boom.
We’re pretty close to nailing down Belize as our spot. Even come up with a hashtag: #belizeinstetsandsteve. But besides the beautiful house I found where we would have our wedding, the neighboring houses are just not up to par for our guests. I want them to walk in to where they’re staying and say, “Wow, this is amazing.”
And then there’s Puerto Rico. Again, my search tactics work and I find two beautiful villas in Rincon. Then I find two more. All four are in close proximity to each other and all accommodate at least 125 people. I’m still bummed about Costa Rica, but I’m loving that this is a quaint little beach town that I’ve never heard of and I love how gorgeous these locations are.
We hop on the phone with a wedding planner. What I mostly gather from the conversation is that lots of weddings are held here and all of these villas will work. We think we’re going to use this wedding planner but then she takes over two weeks to get back to us (“island time,” apparently). So now we are searching for wedding planners. My biggest problem with any research I do on anything is that I read every single review. I become obsessed with knowing everything there is to know about this person, this venue, this product.
I’m not sure which of us finds Rincon Events but after a conversation with Allison, we’re excited to have her help us through the process.
So that’s it, we’re getting married in Puerto Rico! I love it more and more every time I think about it. It’s definitely a destination but you don’t need a passport, which is nice for a lot of guests. We love that we can help Puerto Rico’s economy, even a little, after Hurricane Maria. And the more research I do on Rincon, the more I love that it’s a small little surf town on the west side of the island, away from everyone, in its own little magical bubble.
Now we just have to nail down a final guest list, figure out what the events of the week are and where they will be held, make invitations, put together a website, and figure out where everyone can stay. Geez.
I also need to find a wedding dress…