The number one annoying thing people have been telling me is "it's your wedding, you can do whatever you want." Sure, I could. If I were a jerk.
When IC and I first started talking about getting married, a place I had been to long ago popped into my head. The Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque Resort in Tenerife, Spain, where I had been with my parents when I was sixteen. I just remember being wowed by it. It was so beautiful and majestic. I showed it to IC and he agreed it looked amazing.
And then we priced the flights.
Our plan from the start was to cover the room costs for our guests. I know, I know, insanity, but he is insistent that this is what we must do. But flight? They're on their own. Putting aside that rooms at Bahia are prohibitively expensive (and assuming we'd get a big enough discount on the group rate to make it fit our budget), flight to Tenerife from New York is well over a thousand dollars a person, with a layover.
So, yes, I could certainly say nuts to my guests and have them spend over two grand a couple to fly to Spain for 4 days to see us wed. But, realistically, we couldn't do that.
Same goes for Italy. IC and I spent a truly magical 10 days in Italy last summer, driving around in a convertible, insanely in love, in a country where the landscape, the people and the food suited us perfectly. It was the best trip of our lives. We'd daydream about getting married on the black sand beaches of Forte dei Marmi, with the glorious mountains providing the backdrop, or having our dinner reception at the best restaurant either of us had ever been to, ever, Bottega del 30. Our friends had rented a villa in Lucca, so we knew how spectacular the houses and location were, and we considered renting several villas to house our 80+ guests. It worked out to be well cheaper than any of the hotels we were considering. But the flight, again, was way too expensive and too long for a short trip.
Trying to keep the flight cost low, we started looking at Caribbean islands with direct flights--Aruba, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico. Each didn't work in some way. We were in Aruba over new years, and while we would happily return to one of the few islands with legalized poker (we both love poker and basically paid for our last two vacations--Vegas and Aruba with the IC's mad poker skillz) it just wasn't right for our wedding. For one thing, all the beaches are public so they tend to be very crowded. We were looking for something a little quieter with a more chill atmosphere. St. Thomas had pretty much the same problem. With the cruise ships come the crowds. Puerto Rico was a consideration but San Juan is more like a city on a beach than a resort town. We'd like something more secluded.
Our first trip together was to Grand Cayman, a little under a year ago. We stayed at the Westin Casuarina and had a great time. The island was beautiful, the food was incredible and we loved the soft-sand beach. But. But. We nicknamed GC "lockdown island" because of its never-ending rules. Thinking about having a wedding there only solidified the nickname. For example, all weddings outside must end at 10pm. What?! Say the ceremony is at 6. Cocktail hour, and then we sit down for dinner at 7:30. Two and a half hours and we're done? No, thanks. Also, GC does not allow music outside on Sundays and, as we're Jews who can't get married after sundown on Friday or before sunset on Saturday, this posed a problem. The hotels there tell us they could get us an exception for the ceremony but it's unlikely the government will grant one for the reception and, even if they do, the exception would state that we could create a playlist on an ipod and someone could hit start but no further touching of the ipod would be allowed and no dj could be present. Seriously.
I looked at lesser-known islands. Tortola, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbuda, Bonaire. And then I sort of fell in love with the Four Seasons in Nevis. The flight was more than we'd like our guests to pay, $700 pp, but the hotel was giving us a good group rate and hello, it's the Four Seasons, you just know everything will be perfect. Then hurricane Omar hit it. Initial projections were that the hotel would be back to up and running by late February. Then March. Now late April. It just couldn't work.
And now? Now I'm into Nikki Beach Turks&Caicos. Again, the flight is more than we'd like (we were hoping for 500 bucks or less, direct flight. T&C is in the 650 range, some days there are no direct flights). Nikki Beach looks beautiful and with only 60, or so, rooms, our 80 guests in their 40 rooms would pretty much take over the place (and man oh man do I feel bad for those other 20 rooms when they encounter our Russian-Israeli fiesta). We're pricing everything out right now with fingers crossed. I'm told this is the hardest part, choosing a venue, and without a doubt it's been painfully difficult. But I do see that light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it's not an incoming train.