This “destination” wedding (well, really a multi-destination wedding) idea was another one we considered during the pre-engagement period where we could dream and theorize in private.
While being “at sea” is usually a bad thing in a relationship—euphemistically speaking—when it means your world is on one ship with just about every whim catered to you, at sea sounds all right to me!
In the early stages of planning—no, make that pre-planning, dreaming and wondering—I thought that it might be interesting to do a destination wedding. Not necessarily to a passport-requiring tropical destination, just somewhere in the middle of our spread-out network of family and friends.
Mr. Trips is from Nebraska and his immediate family is still there. My family is spread out with key figures in Florida, New Jersey, and Louisiana. What centrally located city would provide a major airport, enough hotel space, plenty of venues and vendors, and enough interesting stuff to amuse those not involved in the wedding minutiae?
Hive, I don’t know what time it is where you are, but it’s confession o’clock here in Miss Camera’s house.
I sometimes have regret. About my venue. About my location. About this whole thing in general.
Not about marrying Cam, just wishing we were having a true destination wedding on a tropical island.
I feel like all brides probably have this thought cross their minds at least once during the wedding-planning process. Who wouldn’t want to toss their decision making to a wedding expert at a resort in the Caribbean, show up a few days early to lounge on the beach and drink mango daiquiris, put on a flowy, light chiffon dress and no shoes, and marry the love of their life in front of a turquoise sea?
Case in point:
This girl knows what’s up.
As all you brides- & grooms-to-be know, wedding planning can get extremely overwhelming at times. There are SO many things to consider, so much information to absorb, and so many forms of inspiration that it’s often really easy to lose sight of your vision and what you and your partner really want most out of your big day (besides marrying the love of your life, of course!).
So here are some tips on staying as organized and focused throughout the process as possible.
Think about what you and your partner are most passionate about or have in common and how these things can be incorporated into your big day.
Do you love to travel? Are you big foodies? Obsessed with video games? Music? The color blue? Of course not every wedding needs to be themed, but thinking of things that are meaningful to you guys and figuring out how to incorporate these ideas into the wedding will give you some focus/direction in your vision and will let your personalities shine through.
List making should become a new hobby.
Ah, the great venue hunt—such a time-consuming, stressful, but ultimately rewarding (if you find the place) process. As I mentioned in the previous post, we were really looking for a place that provided everything. There were some beautiful venues in and around Montreal that were in parks, art galleries, rooftops, etc., but since we were planning a destination wedding, we didn’t want the added stress of trying to find a caterer, chair rentals, dinnerware rentals, etc. in addition to a venue.
So figuring out what we did and did not want a venue to provide and having a guest list of about 100 people in mind really helped narrow down the list of potential venues for us. After some research, we decided to see six venues. All were hotels that offered all-inclusive pricing for a flat per-person fee. The per-person fee looked intimidating at first, but considering it included the venue, food, alcohol, waiters, bartenders, dinnerware, flatware, glassware, and basic table linens it was well worth the cost. Of the six venues, four were chain hotels and two were boutique Old Montreal hotels.
We scheduled our first wedding-planning visit in March, with two of those days set aside for venue visits. All the venues were nice and we were even able to do some food tastings the day we toured the places. (Here’s a tip: we ended up getting two of the tastings for free! We told our venues that food was a huge consideration for us and we wouldn’t have been able to accurately judge the hotel unless we tried the food. It really never hurts to ask.) But in the end, only one stood out amongst the rest.
Hotel Nelligan’s indoor atrium / Image via CNTraveler.com
So with the location set, it was time to delve into the nitty-gritty details. Planning a wedding is already no easy feat, so imagine throwing hundreds of miles and a different country into the mix (yikes!).
Clearly I’ve never planned a wedding before, so with no prior knowledge (other than my kick-ass research and organizational skills) here are the first three things I did to get started…
Start with wedding books. If you are like me, you really don’t know anything about weddings and wedding planning, so start by getting your knowledge on. My favorite site in the world is Amazon, and they have a plethora of wedding-related books, from organizational binders to advice for destination and budget weddings. Here are some of the books I ordered that I found invaluable and subsequently recommended to recently engaged friends:
The Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer by Alex A. Lluch / Image: Amazon.com
My fiance (who will now be referred to as Future Husband or FH for short) and I got engaged almost exactly one year ago and knew pretty much right away that we would be planning a far away wedding in order to avoid a guest list of 300-plus. (I’m from New York, but FH and I currently live in Connecticut…and I have an enormous family.) His family mostly lives in Wisconsin, so either way they would have had to travel. So we figured, why not make everyone travel? It has been proven that destination weddings help “trim the fat” off your guest list—which is hands down the number one way to save on wedding costs.
So after contemplating several locations spanning from California’s wine country to somewhere in the Caribbean, FH casually says one day, “What about Canada? We had such an amazing time in Montreal.” At that moment, I felt a light bulb go off in my brain—what a genius!! A year earlier, we had visited Montreal for a long weekend to celebrate our birthday (like I said in my intro post, we have the exact same birthday!) and had an incredible time. It was only a six-hour drive from where we live in Connecticut, so we had a nice mini road trip up north. The people in Montreal are wonderful, the food is divine, and Old Montreal (a charming part of town with cobblestone streets that’s near the Port) is basically North America’s version of Paris; our favorite band Arcade Fire is from there, and the best part…US currency is accepted pretty much everywhere!
Our birthday dinner at a great downtown Montreal restaurant called Europea—it was a 13-course meal! Incredibly delicious but we wanted to cry after dish seven, we were so stuffed!
One thing that we knew when we were looking for a venue in the mountains was that it would be, at minimum, slightly out of the way. Our original location of Julian is about 45 minutes to an hour outside of San Diego, mostly depending on where you’re coming from. Palomar Mountain is closer to an hour and a half—an easy day trip. But for a wedding? With alcohol involved? It quickly transformed into a semi destination wedding. Do our guests HAVE to stay on the mountain? No, they don’t, and most probably won’t. Our venue has strict restrictions on when we must stop serving alcohol and we’re having an early-ish wedding, so guests driving home can get down the mountain when it’s still light out.
But for guests such as the wedding party, staying on the property is definitely a must. Thankfully, we are renting the Bailey House (unbelievably the ORIGINAL building on Palomar Mountain) as part of our venue for the Thursday through Sunday surrounding the wedding, and the Bailey House sleeps—wait for it—19 people! Talk about a magic number! A 19-person occupancy is perfect for our wedding party and their dates. Mr. B and I will have the master bedroom, which is on the ground floor (all the other bedrooms are on the second floor and in the attic), and we are even braving staying with our bridal party the night of the wedding. GASP. What’s that? You can’t believe we’re not being whisked away to a secluded location all to ourselves? To be honest, a lot of factors play into this, mostly being there’s no need for us to go stay somewhere else when we have a perfectly good master suite we are already paying A LOT to stay in. PLUS, we want to spend this time partying with our nearest and dearest—and more than likely after all the stress and work of the days preceding the wedding, all we’re going to want to do is SLEEP. (Trust me…)
As you all know, the Beanstalks are getting married in sunny South Florida, my beautiful and beloved state. I currently am living in New England. Boston, Massachusetts, to be exact. I’m here to tell you, planning a wedding from afar definitely can be hard.
I’ve compiled a short list to illustrate some of the pros and cons I’ve faced.
I hate packing. By packing, I mean jamming-your-life-into-a-small-carry-on-suitcase-for-a-seven-day-trip-but-you’re-a-girl-so-you-need-options kind of packing. It’s hard, yo.
And so, the night before we left for Mexico, I stared down at my massive assortment of clothes that I wanted (needed) to bring, severely doubting my ability to smush it all into a carry-on suitcase.
Now I’m not a terrible packer—I generally take pride in my packing skills passed down to me from my mom and Grampy J (they’ve got it DOWN). However, I tend to over-pack and end up with a big pile of clothes that I never even touch while on vacation. Every. Time.
But I just couldn’t do that for the upcoming trip to Mexico for two reasons:
So, I needed to figure out how to consolidate, be decisive, and pack for a seven-day trip in a bag that I would normally just put tons of shoes and flip-flops in.
Sad but true.
Fortunately, I got some experience with this last year when I went to Mexico with Brideslady Bunny Love. Back then, I turned to my trusty friend Google, literally searched “how to pack a carry on to Mexico,” and came across this little gem called 10 Days in a Carry-On, written by a flight attendant.
You guys, it’s dumb how revolutionary this article was to me. The woman was able to pack shoes, clothes, accessories, etc. for a five- or six-day trip into a little, tiny suitcase. Want to know the secret??
Sorry for the delay on the recaps, y’all. It took my amazing photographer a little longer than expected to get all the pictures back. I hope y’all haven’t forgotten about me yet! Have no fear, though—here we are, back in full recapping force!
So, the morning of the wedding, Mr. PF and I woke up together (yep, we stayed together) and had some breakfast. It was really nice to have that time alone together to sit and reflect upon what our day would be like.
After breakfast we said goodbye, and I didn’t see him again until I was walking down the aisle.
During that time, the gals and I spent some time getting ready.
All photos courtesy of Kate Bahnsen Photography
The lovely and talented Anne-Marie Cote did my hair and makeup. She’s from France, y’all. She knows what she’s doing…
Now, since the title is German I’m sure many people are wondering what this post is about. A Polterabend is a kind of farewell to single life for the couple. Family, friends, and neighbors are invited—just about anyone you might want to invite. Your favorite teacher from high school? Give it a chance, he/she might even come!
It’s kind of the German version of American stag nights/bachelorette parties, though gender-specific parties have become popular here, too. (I had a bachelorette night! Thanks, MOH R.)
The highlight of a Polterabend is the smashing of china. Yes, you heard right. There is a German proverb “Shards bring luck” (Scherben bringen Glück), so breaking china, plates, cups, etc. is considered auspicious. The to-be-married couple then has to sweep up the shards and demonstrate to their guests that they can work well together. Working well together at shard-cleaning is supposed to signal a good start in marriage (“teamwork”).
We set out tables and benches (which can be rented from just about any beverage store in Germany) and covered them with paper tablecloths. We added one garden table to the side to act as the buffet for the night and put beer & wine in a big bucket with ice. We served potatoes, eggs, and boiled beef with green sauce (Grüne Sauce or Grie Soß in local dialect), a specialty of Frankfurt. The sauce gets its name and color from seven herbs that are the traditional flavoring: borage, sorrel, garden cress, chervil, chives, parsley, and salad burnet. (Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of them. Even in German I couldn’t identify most of them.)
The tables we set up earlier that day
Since I’m here to talk about our German wedding, it is only right to start with what happened before the wedding. And I don’t mean to worry you—no, nothing bad happened. But it was a super busy time for all of us.
I finished up an internship in Japan and flew back to Germany about a week before we were to get married. In that same week, Mr. Bracelet and his family flew in from the US and we were busy sightseeing in addition to wedding preparations.
First of all, we had a super-important appointment with our registrar on Monday morning. I’ve talked about all the paperwork that was required, but I haven’t gone into one “minor” detail having to do with German bureaucracy. At the Standesamt (registrar’s office) we contacted, German was the official language. Maybe it’s different in big towns, but for us that meant that either Mr. Bracelet would have to speak (some) German or we would have to hire a government-accredited translator.
Well, Mr. Bracelet deserves a shout-out right here. He’s taken two semesters of German just because of me. (I’m sure there are other reasons, too.) So our registrar asked us to visit her office as soon as Mr. Bracelet was in the country so that she could assess his fluency in German. Mr. B was quite nervous about the interview, but she was very nice to us. Although she had some reservations (because a dishonest person could claim “I didn’t know what I was doing” later on and get the marriage annulled), she OK’ed Mr. Bracelet’s German. Woohoo!
At our appointment, we also got to choose our Stammbuch. It’s a small book in which you keep your marriage license, birth records, christening records, etc. While it is no longer obligatory, it’s an old German tradition. And although you have to pay to get one, I wanted one for us to commemorate our German wedding.
The selection – I don’t know why, but most designs were quite cheesy
My mom and I also had an appointment with our town’s florist in the days before the wedding. We always get our flowers at her shop and she makes our Christmas decorations.
Before and after we got engaged, we were trying to figure out the answer to our biggest question: where to get married. As in which side of the Atlantic Ocean.
First off, you’ll need to know a bit more about our respective backgrounds. I grew up in Germany. I have relatives here and all my friends are here, but I also have many relatives in the South (of the US). Mr. Bracelet hails from Montana and has a large extended family, who own a big ranch. This means that traveling for a long time is not an option for them.
When it was just Mr. Braclet and me talking about getting married, I favored…
Option 1: Having the complete wedding in the US, maybe even Montana.
Hello hive! Mr. Beanstalk and I just got back from a little weekend getaway to Miami! It was a very busy trip filled with tons of wedding-related outings. Mr. Beanstalk and I got a TON of planning done, which makes us both feel extra good because, now that most of the big things have been booked and decided on, we can kind of just sit back and relax for a bit! I still have quite a bit to do, but it’s all of the little DIY details that I feel I can now take my time on and therefore really enjoy the process.
Delray Beach, Florida / Personal image
So what did we do while we were in Miami? Swim and bask in the warm South Florida sun was what I desperately wanted to do, but sadly couldn’t do, due to my little friend on my right foot, Mr. Cast!. My fractured foot (and cast) did make my trip hard. I didn’t realize how swollen my leg would get due to the heat. Every once in a while I would have to stop whatever I was doing so that I could elevate my foot. Another hardship due to my foot: I couldn’t take as many photos as I normally would (crutches and a camera don’t mix well!). Also, using crutches in the heat is so incredibly hard. Walking up the street in Delray Beach was torture! But thankfully I had Mr. Beanstalk to help me when we were out. (He gave me quite a few piggyback rides!) And I had my parents, who helped me a ton while we were at home.