Hi, I’m Linda and last year I got married to my wonderful partner, Richard, on the beautiful island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. My experience with Co-op Travel has allowed me to help couples plan the most magical few days of their lives, and it’s meant I’ve always known I wanted a destination wedding too. So, with our anniversary fast approaching on November 4th, what better time to share with you how stress-free wedding planning can actually be!
Deciding on St. Lucia
We’d both travelled quite a lot in our previous lives and wanted somewhere new to both of us. Somewhere that jumped out to us and we used as a starting point was the Caribbean.
We did ‘uhm’ and ‘ah’ a little, going to the Caribbean can be expensive. Not everyone in the immediate family would have been able to afford to join us, and we couldn’t cover their costs. So we opted to get hitched just the two of us and throw a big knees up when we got home. My half of the family had expected it, and after we’d explained the plan to Rich’s 2 grown-up daughters, they were on board too.
For a wedding in the Caribbean, Sandals are on obvious choice. They are experts in weddings and honeymoons and I knew from experience they would take all the stress away from planning the first part of our wedding. After comparing the resorts we opted for Halcyon Beach, it’s smaller than the other two Sandals Resorts on the island and appeared to have a more intimate feel.
When staying with Sandals for more than 3 nights you become eligible to receive the ‘Beautiful Beginnings’ wedding package for free. We could upgrade any part we wanted and it was a great starting point. It had almost everything we could need, our only extras were a photographer and my hair and make-up.
The Final Countdown
We landed in St. Lucia on the Monday and our ceremony was booked for Friday afternoon. Before we got there I worried that a few days wouldn’t be enough to check final details, but I clearly hadn’t given enough credit to the wedding team. On the Tuesday we meet our coordinator for the first time. Tracy had everything ready for us, including an itinerary for the next few days. Tracy took us on a tour of the different venues we could choose from and we also tried some cake samples. Rich had insisted on chocolate back in the UK, but after the tastings we swapped to tropical.
Wednesday was for trial hair and make-up, and both Richard and I had spa treatments. I was meant to have a hand massage and manicure but I’d had my nails done back in the UK. The lovely Tracy changed it to a full massage for me without any trouble.
On Thursday we ran through the order of the day, I also handed over decorations for our wedding cake, they had been my mum’s from her wedding day. Thursday took no time at all and before we knew it, it was Friday. The ceremony wasn’t until 3pm, that way the temperature would have cooled a little and I’d have ample time to get ready. My soon-to-be husband had been told to be out of our room 45 minutes before the ceremony, this would give me chance to get back and change. The coordinators are so experienced, they know how to make sure you don’t see each other before the ceremony; I didn’t feel like I was sneaking around trying not to be spotted!
My dress had been made by a dressmaker friend. She helped me to pick the right sort of fabric for the heat that also wouldn’t crease loads on the flight. We flew with BA and they allow up to 7kg hand luggage each, it meant I could keep my dress with me at all times and not have to sacrifice my normal hand luggage for the dress box. After a few days hanging in the wardrobe (Rich promised not to peek), the dress was perfect.
Saying ‘I do’
Whilst I was getting ready, Tracy came to help me do up the dress and balance as I put my shoes on. She walked me to our venue which was a beautiful bandstand gazebo on the edge of the beach. We could have chosen to deck it out with flowers but the surroundings were so gorgeous it wasn’t necessary. We had taken our own music on a USB which they played at key moments; one or two hotel guests nearby shouted out in approval, we must have made good choices.
It wasn’t until I reached Richard at the end of the aisle that the whole thing felt real. We both cried. The ceremony was beautiful and felt so unique to us. At one point a little bird came and perched in a tree next to us, it looked a little like a robin with its redbreast. Our minister commented that we had loved ones coming to say ‘hello’, this nearly set me off again as both of us had parents who we’d have loved to have had with us.
We had requested a ‘Sand Ceremony’ to be included in our wedding, which involves symbolically mixing two differently coloured sands together. The jar was then sealed with wax and now sits proudly over our fireplace. I loved having that sentimental element and a beautiful keepsake.
After, we had the Hors d’oeuvre and Champagne reception, then cut our 12 person cake and requested it be shared with some of the guests we had met during the week. We could have had a white-gloved butler service for our wedding breakfast that evening, but chose to have this on our final night so we could end on a high. Throughout the whole thing our photographer, Nigel, was there taking pictures. Our package only included 25 but he must have taken more than 600! Choosing came later in the week and was very difficult.
That evening, we found our room had been decorated. A personalised congratulations banner, some of our cake and chocolates were waiting for us. We felt so spoilt! The rest our time in St. Lucia was spent enjoying being newlyweds. We did start to spot other weddings around the resort but we never felt like we were part of a conveyor belt of couples, which it could easily have. At every stage the team made us feel like we were the most important people at the resort.
Celebrating in Style
We left St. Lucia on Thursday, landing back Friday morning and making sure not to see anyone until our UK ‘do’ on the Saturday afternoon. Our UK wedding included a hand tying ceremony (I cried again) and a party for nearly 100 guests; the photos from St. Lucia played on a screen. I had emailed the digital copies to my sister and she was the only person allowed to see them before Saturday.
I really enjoyed walking in as husband and wife, it felt like the two events were part of one celebration, especially as nobody had been able to congratulate us beforehand. We didn’t get 5 minutes to ourselves but I didn’t mind, we’d just spent several days enjoying being married before the chaos started, and let’s face it, I was pretty lucky to be able to get to marry my husband twice!!
A Tale of Two Weddings
Almost as soon as we’d booked, our Jamaican based personal wedding coordinator made contact and arranged a few phone calls so discuss what we wanted. We were able to review our options online as all the choices are listed on the website. At no point during the 18 month wait did I feel panicked about our Caribbean plans, Tracy did everything. All our personal touches she took in her stride, nothing was too much trouble, she and the team made our whole WeddingMoon perfect.
For our UK ‘do’, the idea was to have everything sorted before we left for St. Lucia. We achieved this, but not without some stress. With 2 months to go I was chasing RSVPs and suppliers. It did all come together and we had an amazing time celebrating with friends and family, but the difference between planning the two weddings was huge!!
Getting married just the two of us was completely right for us, but don’t be put off if you’d love to have people there. Most of the weddings we saw being prepared looked to have plenty of guests. The best part about the wedding and the Halcyon team was they were determined to make sure we had the day we wanted.
Mr & Mrs Brant