Destination Wedding’s by Featured Expert Amber Gustafson
I’ve asked one our great partners Amber Gustafson, from the West Coast (Los Angeles), to be one of our Featured experts this Fall. She gladly accepted the role and gave me the low down on what’s hot right now!
Amber –Destination weddings are so hot right now. Or…. “Hott” as the infamous Paris Hilton would say. Even just saying the words “Destination Wedding” conjures up images of Maui sunsets, exclusive Mexican resorts,
and Tuscan villas–the top destinations for North American couples that can afford it. ‘That can afford it’ being the key words. However, just because
you may not be able to afford a Maui wedding, don’t think you can’t HAVE
that mini-vacation-activity-laden-only-our-closest-friends-and-family-love-fest feeling that is a destination wedding. My dad always told me as a kid “you can always camp in your own backyard”. It just takes a certain mind set to look at what you have in front of you and make it work.
With the economy in its current state and the dollar as weak as it is, long distance travel is not as easy for everyone as it was a few years ago. But if you want a Destination Wedding, you can have one. It’s a matter of Access, Area, and Activities.
To have an affordable destination wedding, I would suggest choosing a location that is within a four hour drive of where you are. I guarantee that no matter where you live in the US, there is a place within fours that is appealing enough to make your guests want to spend a long weekend there.
When you find the town you want to have your destination wedding in, find
your base camp. Whether it be a historic Bed & Breakfast, boutique Hotel, rental home, or Inn, you want something with personality and ambiance, something that really fits you and your fiancé. Do your best to book the venue for at least three days in order to have that and that Destination Wedding vibe and try to make sure that your venue can accommodate all of your guests to obtain that exclusive and intimate feel.
Choose a few activities throughout the weekend that suit you and your fiancé and the location. If you are on a lake rent a boat and have a party. If you are in the country, have a hayride or a BBQ. Try not to plan more than one activity per day for your guests, as you do not want to over schedule them. This is family time for your guests as well.
And while this should go without saying, I will say it anyway: hire a professional wedding planner for at LEAST the day of the wedding if not the entire weekend. Even though you are not having a traditional wedding or a Destination Wedding in an exotic location, you NEED someone to run the entire show so you and your loved ones can have fun and not worry about all of the little details it takes to pull a wedding together.
While most of my weddings are large, formal 200-300+ people affairs in ballrooms & estates in the Los Angeles area, my favorite wedding was the funky wedding that my sister Dana and her husband Dan had in Twentynine Palms, CA.
Their wedding was held in the courtyard of the 75 year old Irene’s Adobe at the 29 Palms Inn by Joshua Tree State Park. Dan and Dana have been going to the Inn for 4 years for an annual desert getaway and when they got engaged, they knew that they wanted an intimate destination wedding, and so the funky Inn fit them perfectly.
Dana was the ULTIMATE laid back bride and pretty much left it to me and her husband to plan. Her husband designed and printed the invitations, and Dana only specified to me that she wanted candles everywhere. Lots of candles. Since she gave me total free reign of the decor, I filled the courtyard with 50 or more luminaries, twinkle lights, candles, wild flower arrangements in mason jars and floating candles in mason jars. I normally don’t do flowers for my clients, but since this was my sister, I did everything I could for her.
I brought the flowers out in coolers from the Los Angeles Flower Mart!
With only 25 guests in attendance, the weekend was so stress free and such great bonding and team effort with family & friends. Everyone arrived on Friday and all of the setup for the wedding was completed that day. I sent our dad out to the desert with a trash bin to collect the sand for the luminaries. Our mom made her famous pineapple upside down cake for the reception. Saturday morning, wedding day, the 25 guests went out into Joshua Tree State Park and hiked on the boulders. After the hike, the guys played horseshoes and Bocce Ball throughout the afternoon and the girls did a Yoga session by the lagoon. After Yoga, Dana had a relaxing massage before hair and makeup. Hiking, Yoga, Massage, and a Wedding! Now that’s what I call a good day!
At 6:00pm, Dana was escorted into the courtyard by a guitarist playing and singing “Pretty Woman”. The guests could hear the music start from across the property and come closer and closer. The ceremony was beautiful and touching and there were no dry eyes in the group as they spoke the vows that they had written for each other. The reception was wonderful and laid back with a wonderful vegetarian dinner prepared by the 29 Palms Inn restaurant. The organic vegetables are grown right there on the property!
Nadine – Amber, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us along with your sister’s wedding story. I wish I had been there! Wow, I wish I had a sister like you!
Los Angeles based wedding coordinator Amber Gustafson is in love with texture, things that sparkle, and the drama of fabulous parties.
An avid world traveler, she dreams of helping you create your dream wedding on a beach in Fiji, a chateau in France, a villa in Italy, or a castle in Scotland.
If you are thinking of a destination wedding and would like to rent our fine bridal jewelry for your event please contact Laura Marcusse firstname.lastname@example.org