How To Have A Relaxed DIY Beach Wedding
Teri and Jeff had a DIY destination beach wedding in Mexico that was truly relaxing. They picked a secluded beach, Aventuras Akumal, Mexico and invited 20 of their closest friends and relatives. See their how-to tips below to learn how they had a memorable DIY beach wedding in Mexico.
Wedding planning tips from Teri and Jeff
There was so much involved, but more than anything, plan well in advance, and decide on a resort, or a more adventurous house rental wedding location. Go visit first to scout the location, meet the local bakery, find your favorite restaurants, find where you want the wedding, reception, etc. Ask around to see if there are any local wedding planners that can help, the bakery or flower shops usually have some contacts, and if not, if you are staying in a condo or house, ask the property manager or owner. Many of these areas are small towns, and everyone knows everyone. It’s a lot easier at an all inclusive resort, as the take care of everything for you, but it’s usually more expensive, and not nearly as intimate or in my opinion special as doing it the house rental way. In a resort, you are really separated from your friends and family, and there are so many activities that you often don’t get to see people in your party as much. The resort option is much better for groups with children however, as there are plenty of activities for them, and babysitting options as well.
We did a welcome packet for everyone that came, including a special hat that we designed, and a list of a lot of activities, restaurants, snorkeling, diving, tours, etc nearby, so that they could all plan any other things they wanted to do. We didn’t plan any activities at all, outside of the wedding, and 2 welcome dinners, so people were really on their own. We found that with a quiet beach, and our friends and family all staying within 6 houses of each other, we spent a lot of time together, just having fun, and no matter what the activity was, someone wanted to do it with you. People went diving together, snorkeling, jungle tours, etc.
Do things more intimately by renting several houses on the beach
Depending on where you are going, lodging is probably the most complicated part, unless you are staying in 1 hotel/condo property. We rented several houses. Using resources like http://www.locogringo.com/ for the Riviera Maya we found a nice beach with several houses and condos. After we decided on that area, it was a matter of checking availability on several different properties. We found a list of almost 15 places, and as people RSVP’d to the wedding, we tried to place them with people they knew really well, family, etc. This is the most complicated, mainly because it’s the closest to having to do a seating chart. You have Uncle Dave who is no longer married to Aunt Jane, so they need to be in different houses, maybe a few houses down, and other fun issues. Our typical person paid about $40 per night for the house, some who stayed for a shorter time paid more, and some people in the condos paid closer to $65 per night per person. The houses were typically $1,600 to $1,800 per week, and could easily sleet 8 to 10 people. Condos were typically $125 a night, and could sleep 4 people.
We rented cars in Cancun, make sure you rent from a large company, like Avis, Dollar or Budget. Avoid Thrifty, and don’t use the no-name local places, you are asking for trouble. We also had a few people who rode the bus down, if you have adventurous guests, this is a very low cost mode of transportation, and is very safe if you know a little Spanish. Taxis are also an option, but can get a little expensive.
Plan on how many meals you want to serve your guests. We did 2 in addition to the actual reception. There are a lot of options for this. We talked to the property manger where we were staying, and there was a couple that maintains the property that were also great cooks. They catered 2 meals for us, for pennies on the dollar compared to having a restaurant cater it. We got to eat right at the house, and because we pre-ordered so much beer, the company that sells Sol (a light beer similar to Corona) provided us with large coolers, and tables and chairs. You could also easily get a restaurant to cater a dinner as well. This is one good reason to get down and scout the area before you plan the event, to make sure you get some menus and info from various places nearby, so you know a little more about each restaurant as you are emailing and calling later on in the planning stage. We were also able to save a lot of money by stopping off in a large town on the way to our house and buy lots of groceries. This cut down on the amount of money we were spending on food dramatically, because we didn’t go out for meals very often. Many nights, we grilled, and people brought food down to our house, and we just had a large potluck on our patio. This really gave us a chance to spend a lot more time with our friends in a not so formal setting, and just hanging out. It was also completely unplanned, so people could go out to dinner, or hang out, it was completely up to them.
We talked with tons of the locals, and found a tiny little florist in a nearby town market. Looking at the market, we absolutely assumed the flowers would be some carnations tied together with twine, as it was a cinder-block booth in the middle of a totally run down market, but we were completely floored with how beautiful they were! It was white roses and Calla Lillys, in beautiful arrangements, and they were ridiculously cheap. I want to say we paid about a quarter to a third the price we would have paid at the resort for the same flowers.Cake: We found the bakery in town, the only bakery in town, and booked them. It turns out they are ex-pats, and did an amazing job, and the price was great! The cake was gorgeous, had fresh local flowers, and tasted amazing. We got to know the owners well enough just in the correspondence back and forth, and meeting when we got there, that the next trip we hung out, and I even played Golf with the owner at a very expensive resort for the local rate, which was only $50 instead of the resort charged $250 per person.
We did our ceremony right on the beach, and had one of our best friends officiate. If you are getting married in Mexico, make sure you get your license here to make it official. There is no wedding license in Mexico that will translate to the US, so it’s up to you as to when you get the actual license/marriage her in the states. We chose to do it a few weeks before the actual wedding in Mexico, at the local courthouse with a few friends and family that could not make it to Mexico for the the actual wedding. You can also get a local priest to officiate, if you want a really authentic flair, you can find many options on the internet, or by talking to the locals. We even looked at having a Mayan priest do a ceremonial service that looked pretty cool, but I have to say, having one of your best friends marry you is truly meaningful! We had a guitarist at the wedding, who we found from the property manager of the house we stayed at. Many of the people you talk to for the houses/condos are ex-pats, and many times, are here in the states, so it’s not an international call, and there is no language barrier. They often times live split between both Mexico and the US, and have invaluable contacts with the locals.
Make sure you take an amazing photographer, because frankly, it will probably be one of the only times in your life that you get that many close friends and family together in one place, much less one place that beautiful! Having a destination wedding like this really takes a ton of the stress out of the entire experience. We got to basically invite everyone we knew, and everyone in the family, and whoever came, great! If they didn’t come, that was just fine too. It was such a special experience. Our friends still talk about the “Best. Wedding. Ever.” I can’t remember another wedding I have ever been to that I got to hang out with my dear friends and family for as long as we did, with days full of fun, love, music, parties, and laughter. To this day, I can still look at our pictures, and re-live the moments, as if they were yesterday. Whether it’s watching the slideshow, or just browsing the pictures, I’m instantly transported to one of the happiest weeks of my life, and it brightens even the worst days back in the real world.