Real Bride: Destination Wedding Planning

Truth be told, many brides didn’t love planning their wedding. They had always envisioned their day a certain way, but didn’t enjoy the road they had to take to get the end result. It’s not that they didn’t want to do the work or have the big day. It was more that there were maybe too many options or too many outside opinions, and they didn’t want to make the wrong decision. This all gets more complicated when planning a destination wedding. Now there are week long time periods to consider, travel agents and online discount sites to think about, and above all the price matters. Overwhelmed yet? You are not alone. Here is one bride’s first hand experience of what she went through planning her own destination wedding. 

James and I got engaged in Mexico this past year during our stay at a 4.5 star Dreams resort. We’d booked this resort about six weeks prior to the trip and only paid $1250 a person. We were blown away by everything! The food, the room, and especially the service. The day after we got back to Saskatoon, we immediately went to Travel Agent A where we had booked this trip and asked to get a group quote for different resorts for about 45 people. Travel Agent A made everything so exciting, showing us a bunch of fabulous luxury 5 star resorts. They were beautiful. We also had asked to have a quote for the same resort we just stayed at, and we were informed that this property would not go for cheaper than $2000 a person. Once we got quotes back for a few more resorts we were in quite the distress, as the prices were all around $2000. We asked around and were referred to Travel Agent B, where we received the exact same quotes. At this point we had talked to a range of people who had either planned a destination wedding before or who attended one, and were told that they’d paid $2000 or more. James at this point had already accepted that this was going to be the price we were going to have to pay, or we’d have to start contemplating having our wedding here in Saskatoon or not have a wedding at all.

I had spoken to my manager at work who had gotten engaged and married eight months later in Mexico. They ended up paying only $1400 including tax, which is amazing. However, this was in 2013 when the dollar was at par. I decided that we were going to wait until the point where you could go on any travel website, enter the month we wanted to go, and actually be able to compare prices. We’d gotten engaged in October, so this meant having to wait until January. My parents were also thinking that our guests could just book online themselves when and where they wanted. This scared James and I because flight and room might book up and then what? So all in all it was very frustrating initially.

During the two months that I waited for rates to be readily available online, I researched what seemed to be almost every resort in Riviera Maya. I looked at current rates, what the resort looked like, its ratings, the beach, and the wedding packages available. I got caught up in all the details and totally had a couple meltdowns during this time because of the worry that we weren’t going to find something we wanted in our price range. I kept worrying about how we were going to execute it all. On top of all that, everyone kept asking us when the wedding was and how the planning was coming along? We had nothing, but I still emailed our photographer right around that time to book her. I wanted to make sure that I could find a photographer because what if photographers booked up a year in advance too?

Right after Christmas, we went to Travel Agent C and made it very clear that we were looking for something around $1400. She made everything sound so promising! However, one week passed before she emailed to tell me that she just sent out the quote.  It dawned on me that I was planning a wedding less than ten months away and she was taking her time. Another week passed and she told me that she hadn’t heard anything back yet. Furthermore, we had also been in touch with the travel agent from Travel Agent B to see what she had to offer, so that I could at least price compare. The quotes were still as high. I was getting so frustrated because I was not asking for specific resort at all, just anything that was rated a 4.5 star resort in my price range. It was as though these travel agents weren’t hearing what I asked. This is when my friend suggested Travel Agent D, who her sister had used before. I sent her an email in complete distress, telling her about my bad experience with non-responsive travel agents or travel agents that won’t accommodate my budget or timeline.

Travel Agent D has been a dream to work with. She has been so responsive, getting back to me almost instantly. She told me she would see what she could do in my price range, but warned me that with the dollar being so bad, things have increased in price. I appreciated her honesty. She mentioned that this past November, she booked two weddings in the Maya for under $1500. At this point I told her to look for anything as long it wasn’t over $1600. I also asked her what these resorts were. When she mentioned the resort names I knew exactly which ones they were, and based on TripAdvisor and all my research I was not feeling very good about these resorts. That night I started up my research again. I came across the Barcelo Maya because it was just a few resorts down from the one we stayed at in October. The beach looked beautiful with the turquoise water. I’d already reviewed and contacted the wedding planner here two months ago, but for some reason I hadn’t paid much attention to this resort at that time. I looked at the wedding package and the current prices and they were reasonable. That same night I messaged Travel Agent D again and told her to also include this resort in her quote. Within a few days she told me that she got a good deal on this resort and was just waiting on more details in regards to the payment terms and such. At this point I was soooo excited! Finally! Finally, things were coming together and looking up! Once I started working with her I stopped worrying and I knew that she was going to take care of all the rest.

Do your research, follow your gut, and don’t settle for something you’re not thrilled about – it will all come together for you too!

Happily Signed,
Less Stressed-Out, Soon-To-Be Destination Bride

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Email Danielle at and use the subject: Real Bride
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