One would think that 2 marriages are enough for anyone. One would think. I certainly thought so. That is, until about 3 years ago when I suddenly found myself on bended knee with a ring in my hand.
Let me be very clear; I have not regretted a single moment since that day. In fact, in retrospect, having made mistakes twice before, making this decision was so much easier and well-thought-out.
Although this was to be my third wedding, it would be Tina’s first. That being said, it was a forgone conclusion that this day would be all about her. I had one job. After she chose the month, I would get to choose the day. When she immediately put February down as the month for the wedding, I was so flabbergasted, I couldn’t even think about picking a day. Who gets married in February….in Canada? It’s the middle of winter and freaking COLD! I was automatically trying to picture photo sessions outdoors in the freezing temperatures. How good would we all look bundled up in parkas in front of snowbanks? What if the car wouldn’t start? What if there’s a blizzard and no one shows up? Had she really thought this through? Turns out…she HAD thought this through. Very carefully, and very cleverly.
“It will be a destination wedding, silly!” There was that dumb-founded look on my face again. I could already see the $ signs rolling past my eyeballs as I contemplated the cost of getting married in some tropical paradise. I had also immediately assumed that no one else would attend a destination wedding based on those costs.
When I said I haven’t regretted a moment of being married to this amazing woman, it is with very good reason. When I said she had thought things out very carefully, and cleverly, it turned out to be a bit of an understatement. With two traditional weddings under my belt already, I felt I had a pretty firm grasp of the cost and complications of planning a wedding. This is one case of where I was perfectly happy to be proven wrong.
Once the announcement and invitations were out, there was just a little over a year to get to the altar on the beach. Tina immediately went to work on putting the event together. Although we initially looked at other destinations in the Caribbean, we settled on Cuba for one very important reason. The price. It was important to both of us that we have at least a few friends and family attend our day, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for everyone to do so. Once the resort and all-inclusive package were booked, any guests attending would have almost a year to pay for their tickets, and payment plans were available to make the burden easier still. We also made it clear to everyone invited that no gifts were required. We were both mature adults that had been living together and had everything we needed. Attending our day would be their gift to us.
Cuba. What’s so great about Cuba? Ummm….just about everything! You want someplace warm in the winter? Well Cuba has that. You want nice sandy beaches? Some of the best in the world. You want to experience a different, and fun culture? Got it. You want all-inclusive resorts that cater to your every whim? Check! You want to be sure you don’t have to worry about your personal safety? Done. How about nice, friendly people that genuinely care about you? Cuba, again. On a budget? Cuba, Cuba, Cuba…..Cuba. On average, consistently the one destination offering all of those things…and more.
The resort. We had selected Melias Las Dunas on Cayo Santa Maria. It was not the cheapest, nor the most expensive, but it was rated 4.5 stars and had great reviews, especially regarding the beach and weddings. With 900 rooms, 9 restaurants, 11 bars, and 3 pools, there was plenty to see and do.
I discovered that there are actually quite a few great things about a destination wedding. The bride-and-groom-to-be, have very little work to do. These places do dozens of weddings every year; maybe more. They have it down to a fine art. They give you options for all the important things; the meal, the music, the flowers, photographer, the setting, and you just pick what you want. They take it from there. They tell you where and when to walk, stand, sit, and the photographer knows exactly where and how to pose you for amazing wedding day photos. What results is a flawlessly executed wedding ceremony in a beautiful setting, and 7 days to bask in the tropical sun and celebrate.
So, along with the resort itself, and a seemingly endless list of options for excursions, it’s great to enjoy a tropical climate and surroundings while your native home is in the middle of a deep-freeze, under a foot of snow. This benefit is amplified when you get to spend some of that time with the people you like most. How often does that happen?
Maybe the biggest plus for us was also the biggest shock for me. Having personally spent between $25,000 to $50,000 getting married before, this destination wedding cost us roughly $2500 each. The package for the guests came to $1200 per person. From the perspective of the guests, it’s definitely more than the average attendee would spend attending a more traditional wedding on home turf, but from the bride and groom’s standpoint, it’s a phenomenal saving.
In the end, 35 friends and family attended our wedding at Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. Do I regret getting married in February? Nope! My clever wife sold me on the February wedding when she reminded me that it meant we would be going away every February for the rest of our lives to celebrate our anniversary! How awesome is that? Would I recommend a destination wedding? Absolutely! They’re fun, cheap, and way less work than a traditional wedding at home. My thoughts on the resort? Melias Las Dunas definitely delivered a great wedding/vacation at a great price. My wife and I were both very happy with the way our day was handled and our guests all seemed happy with their stay at Melias Las Dunas.
If you’re thinking of popping the question anytime soon, consider getting married in Cuba. Cheers!