The Secrets to Enjoying Your Own Destination Wedding

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…and not once, ever, have that I-wish-I-did-that-at-my-wedding moment.

Just before my alarm went off at six in the morning, on this exact same day last year, I woke up to the sound of roaring thunder, strong winds and torrential rain relentlessly beating against the glass sliding door. My eyes began to well up with tears to the realization that it’s actually going to be my first day of war…with fate. Hence, the term “D day”, right? I couldn’t believe that my wedding day was starting out to be a total nightmare. I locked myself in the bathroom and wept.

Let go of perfectionism and everything else beyond your control

That’s what I told myself. I’ve decided that the sooner I accept that some things will go wrong and some things will not be as I imagine, the happier and more relaxed I’d be. So I stepped out, determined not to be defeated when the warmth of the sun greeted me with the sweetest “Good morning, sunshine!” Oh, how I love these jokes life throw at me. I could almost hear the chuckles angels make. But it taught me the first and most important thing – ACCEPTANCE.

But don’t worry; I was in control at least I until my phone battery ran out. From that moment on, my family, friends and wedding coordinators take charge and simply hoped everyone knew more or less what they were supposed to do according to my instructions and follow timings. Nope, it got all messed up for God knows what reason. Again, I apologize to everyone, especially to my brother and Mom who played my damage control team and got the burden off of me.

Let everyone know what to expect

Provide your guests with all the necessary information or details about the event – program timeline and event flow. In this way, if they do not show up at the time they’re scheduled to be picked up, for example, they will have to arrange their own transport or simply wait for the next trip at the risk of getting to the venue later. It’s just a simple guide for your guests so that they can anticipate what’s coming and not wonder what’s going to happen next. Having been a guest in so many weddings, I always, always, wonder when I can finally head to the buffet, grab a drink or show off my nonexistent dancing moves.

E-A-T, eat, EAT!

I can’t stress this enough. A full tummy kept me from turning into a Bridezilla, I’m positive! I ran out to the resort restaurant to have a “quick” buffet lunch with my then-fiance in the middle of my hair and makeup session with my half-done face paint and hair up in Velcro rollers. I felt eyes on me, but I couldn’t care less. Before leaving for the church, I gobbled up something from the mini bar and downed a glass of wine, uhm, just ‘cause. However, if you had to go on a diet for months for your wedding day to achieve your current figure, do NOT charge the buffet just yet and drink soda before you slip into your gown. Eat the right food – just make sure your tummy don’t grumble loudly and don’t go famished to the point of collapsing! Remember, after the ceremony, you STILL won’t get to have a bite right away. So what I’m saying is, fuel up with something at least.

Break some rules and make your own

Two things that make weddings complicated: 1) Being a Filipino 2) Having a huuuuge family. Although we typically do not do age-old traditional wedding rituals anymore and weddings don’t last for two days or so, Filipinos often expect you to have a grand affair with hundreds of guests. And we just couldn’t have that. It was hard to choose and say no, but we really wanted it to be as intimate as possible; carefully picking representatives for our groups of friends and relatives to have enough time to interact with all of them. Would you believe that even at under a hundred, we still failed to catch up with everyone?

Then to the style and color of the gown. Yeah, what about it? Does it really have to be white? I thought my parents would scold me when I picked an off-white “gown” (it’s a long dress, to be honest) with sand colored lining. I dreaded the thought of fitting into a heavily sequined, all-white wedding gown, clamoring for help each time I’d have to go peepee. Wear whatever you want and what you’re most comfortable in!

We didn’t impose any strict rules on the attire either since it was a destination beach wedding and everyone should just be wearing flipflops. No formalities followed our wedding ceremony; everyone could just let loose and be themselves. At the weddings I’ve attended in the past, I never actually paid attention to the program and activities, so I thought maybe we could just all go straight to dancing to live music and hangout by the beach after the speeches. Don’t be afraid to do things differently. You’re only planning your own wedding once. Well,hopefully!

Set the vibe

It always seem that when the bride and groom are chill, the rest just follows suit. Setting a calm, relaxing scene allows people to just lay back and enjoy. You’re doing fine. Forget about the mishaps of the day, nobody noticed anything. You’re celebrating with your family and friends, people that you know almost all your life. Imagine yourself being with them in a normal setting, at a bar or even at a party you host at home. Put up a good show by being the craziest! Point is, let yourselves and loved ones around you relax and just have fun. They came to see you and party with you, so don’t be the most boring person in the room no matter how tired you are. Don’t leave for the “honeymoon” right after the reception – pleaaase, stay a while longer. You still have to put your drunken friends in a van, keep them from driving a buggy up a hill or not. Try not to miss out too much.

And although the number one secret is a no-brainer, it still has to be mentioned because it’s the ONLY thing you really need to know:

MARRY THE PERSON YOU WILL SAY YES TO A MILLION TIMES OVER.

Enough said.

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