Source: Melissa McClure Photography
You'd be forgiven for wondering why someone who doesn't tan, craves the shade, and has blood that's crack for mosquitoes would choose to get married in the Caribbean. But of all the decisions my fiancé and I have had to make when it comes to this wedding, I think the decision to have the ceremony in Antigua was the easiest one to make.
My other half doesn't like being the center of attention, so we always knew our wedding would be small. Having it abroad makes that easy, especially given our venue only allows 20 people at a wedding.
We'll also have been together for seven years by the time we tie the knot. This wedding is not a big public display of commitment (buying a home together two years ago did that). We're marrying for various reasons, some sentimental and some practical, but the most important thing for both of us is that the day itself is about us and it's as relaxed, simple, and fuss-free as possible. I have a tendency to stress and worry if things aren't perfect, so anything that can be done to inject a bit of calm into proceedings is a good thing. I'm putting a lot of faith in that "don't worry, be happy" attitude of island life.
But the big thing for us was cost. Weddings are expensive. Honeymoons are expensive. But amazingly, if you put the two together, you can actually save a lot of money. A destination wedding cuts out the need to suddenly pay more than it's worth to feed and water the hundred or so people you will inevitably have on your list. We are having a party in our hometown of London upon our return, and even keeping the numbers down as much as we could, we're looking at over 100 guests — once your cousins and friends start having kids, the numbers spiral out of control very quickly! Even though we both have good jobs, neither of us has been saving for years for a dream wedding. There is genuinely no way we would be able to have a more traditional wedding in London with all the people we want to invite. As it is, our party (which includes a BBQ meal and drinks) is looking like it'll cost almost the same as the entire Antigua trip. But even so, by marrying abroad, we've managed to keep our budget significantly below the average cost of a UK wedding, and we still get an amazing honeymoon and the chance to celebrate with all our friends in the more informal, relaxed way we want.
Of course, there are some things you have to consider when you make this decision. People will be disappointed. We are very lucky that our immediate families are able to afford to fly out and join us in the Caribbean — something we did take into consideration when booking. But we also had to be selfish and risk letting people down. We have grandparents who can't travel. We picked a hotel that doesn't allow children, and some of our closest friends have young kids. I think if we weren't having a celebration at home too, we'd be disappointing some of the most important people in our lives. But I also know that true friends and true loved ones understand that a marriage is not about a wedding, it's about what comes after.
I'm also pretty sure after shelling out for dozens of big weddings over the years, many of our friends are just happy all they have to do is show up at 4 p.m. for party food and Prosecco. No gifts, no long religious ceremonies, no staged photos. Just all our favorite people and a big excuse to party!
Finally, if you really want to know why we chose to marry in Antigua, you just have to look at it. The 365 virtually empty beaches, the tropical blue waters, the lush foliage, the brilliant people, the amazing food, the bottomless pit of rum cocktails . . . it's a slice of heaven, and I can't wait to get married with my toes in the sand!
This post was originally published on gemmacartwright.com.