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After getting engaged Z and I began searching far and wide for the ideal location for our destination wedding. The beach is one of our favorite places so we knew right off the bat that we wanted somewhere tropical.

There are a lot of potential destinations that can offer you tropical: Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Virgin Islands just to name a few. But how do you decide?

One thing we considered is that the more remote the location, the more expensive it is to get there AND stay there. Not to mention we would be more likely to be limited in the decorations/food/vendors available.

Belize anyone?

On the other hand the larger, more popular travel destinations may be cheaper to get to but often times require require you to purchase expensive cliche wedding packages. Those I have no interest in. So therein lies the challenges we are facing.

It was all so overwhelming that I contacted a destination wedding travel consultant earlier this year to see if she had any recommendations for countries we should look in to. After emailing back and forth she sent us a list of places. The bad news- they were larger, all-inclusive resorts. We want smaller, more remote, where we can make our wedding uniquely “us” and not use a “Flutter of Love” pre-designed wedding package.

Z ended up coming across Isla Mujeres, a small island right off the coast of Cancun.

It requires a ferry to get to, offers a laid back atmosphere, and uses golf carts as a main form of transportation. After some research we thought it could be a perfect fit for the following reasons:

  • Easy to get to after a flight to Cancun.
  • Offered a variety of accommodations in all price ranges.
  • Had an upscale beach club with reception area and bar under a large thatched palapa
  • Margaritas. Enough said.

Before agreeing to anything though, I wanted to be able to see the location for myself. Seeing as how we had such a good feeling about it, Z made arrangements for us to fly down to Mexico a mere ten days after he returned home from deployment.

We stayed at one of the cheaper accommodations on the island ($60/night!) to get a feel for what exactly you get for that kind of price. We were plesantly surprised! A large room with a full kitchenette (pots, pans, burners, sink) just steps from the beach. Even better, it was right next door to the beach club where we hoped to have the reception.

View from the patio of our room

Right off the bat I was displeased with the quality of the beach. The island itself is so narrow that there is only a sliver of beach, then hotels, then road. In addition the side of the island we were on faced Cancun leaving the high-rise skyline visible in the distance. Not quite the view I was looking for in my tropical get-a-way.

One of our goals was to do some research and explore the island in terms of dining, activities and hotels. Having thrown this trip together last minute we had little time to investigate all of this in advance.

Downtown

Dolphins

Sunsets

Golf Carts

On the third day we had a tasting scheduled at Zama Beach Club.

At this point I knew that this was not the place we were going to be getting married, but I played along with the catering manager, providing my thoughts on each of the dishes presented (it was our first tasting though which was a fun experience and sooooo much food).

It was a nice restaurant but was a bit pricey for what we would actually be getting and was lacking in beach space.

They did make a great margarita though…

After talking it over Z and I felt the same way: while a great little island, it’s not exactly what we’re looking for. That was the point of the whole trip–to find out that I absolutely loved it or to realize that there’s only so much information you can gain from websites.

The first few days were a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me as I attempted to fight back the snap judgements I was making and keep an open mind. Once I allowed acceptance however, knowing that couples look at tons of venues before finding the right one, I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy a spontaneous island adventure with my husband-to-be.

So now the search continues. With all the other distractions in life wedding research has taken a back seat. In order to make it happen I’ve declared this Thursday night wedding planning research night. We’ll see how that turns out!

Question of the day: If married, how many different wedding venues did you look at before deciding on one?

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