Real Brides, Real Destination Weddings: Kalyn & Andrew January 2014

Kalyn & Andrew Married in a Cuban Paradise!

Iberostar Laguna Azul  Varadero, Cuba

I would like to begin this blog by saying thank you to Kalyn and Andrew for allowing me to start my new "Real Brides, Real Destination Weddings" blog off by sharing their destination wedding story!

I was lucky enough to have connected with Kalyn about a year and a half go on an online destination wedding forum. We were to be married at the same resort only a few months apart from each other. As a new destination bride myself, unfamiliar with the challenges that destination weddings can present, I relied on Kalyn's experience. We shared our wedding plans, ideas, and tips through the entire process. Here we are almost 8 months post-weddings and although a lot has happened to both of us, including the fact that I started I Do! Dream Destination Weddings, we still maintain a connection and share our life adventures and our love of travel.

So thank you Kalyn for not only helping me out with this first blog, but for also helping me maintain my sanity throughout the wedding planning process!

Now without further ado...

Kalyn and Andrew were married at the beautiful 5-star Iberostar Laguna Azul in Varadero, Cuba. For those of you who have been to Cuba, you can understand how easily that country can capture your heart. So it wasn't surprising to me when I asked Kalyn how she and Andrew decided on a destination wedding, that she replied...

"From the very moment Andrew proposed on that beach in Cuba, we said this is where we will be married".
Beach Wedding Iberostar Laguna Azul

Kalyn and Andrew met at a mutual friends party in April of 2005 but nothing came of it until later that year when they both began working at a local clothing store. Kalyn and Andrew instantly hit it off this time. They both knew that there was something about one another that was different from their past relationships. After many years of dating, getting to know each other, and going through the good and bad times together, Andrew finally  proposed on January 24th, 2012 in Cuba on the beach.

Shortly after they returned from their vacation, they knew they would be returning to the beaches of Varadero and the Iberostar Laguna Azul to say their "I Do's"!

Bridesmaid dresses Cuba
Real Brides, Real Destination Weddings

When I asked Kalyn what her favourite memories from their wedding were, she replied...

"when we finally got to see each other at the aisle on the beach. As well as the time we spent alone taking photographs at the Varadero Golf Club... it was a time where we were able to enjoy each other for an hour out of our day.

She also mentioned that their week long celebration was a blast and that family and friends still rave about how much fun they had in Cuba for their wedding week!

Wedding Photos Dupont Mansion Varadero Cuba
Wedding photos Varadero Golf Club

Varadero Beach, Cuba

I asked Kalyn if she could give one piece of advice to couples who are either thinking of a destination wedding or are in the beginning stages of planning, what would it be?

She replied that she would...

"encourage new destination wedding brides to take a deep breathe and let everything fall into place. Don’t stress about not hearing back from the wedding coordinator, they work last minute but they know what they are doing. Everything was perfect and done beautifully for our wedding".

 Lastly Kalyn mentioned that if she were to change one thing if she were to plan the wedding again it would be...

"to not send RSVP’s with stamps with our wedding invitations. You will hear who has put down deposits from your travel agent, which is an RSVP. We only received about two RSVP’s in the mail and we sent out over 100 invitations".

Destination Wedding Iberostar Laguna Azul

Photographer: Alex Quesada  Cuban Wedding Photographer and Videographer

Resort: Iberostar Laguna Azul

Destination: Varadero, Cuba

Colour Scheme: Royal Blue and Purple


How to Choose a Destination Wedding

Congratulations! You have decided on a destination wedding. Your next step is to start thinking about where you'd like to say your “I Do's!”. For some couples this will be an easy decision. You may choose the destination where you met or a destination that has special meaning to you. For others this could be the biggest, most difficult decision you will make throughout the entire wedding planning process.

For those of you who didn't meet somewhere special, have never been anywhere together, or just want to choose a new location altogether, here are some points to consider when making your decision.

1) Length of Travel/ Time to Arrive at Destination

Take into consideration the length of time it takes to arrive at the destination. Are there direct flights or will you be required to transfer flights? Choosing a destination that has short flight times, direct flights and short transfer times (from airport to resort) makes it more appealing for guests to attend. It also means more time at the destination rather then spending your precious vacation time in transit.

2)Time of Year of Travel

You dream of being married on the white sand beach of Mexico on your anniversary in October. This sounds lovely and romantic, but it is important to know that hurricane season in Mexico runs from June to November with the highest incidence of hurricanes occurring in September and October. If you are willing to take a chance on the weather then you will likely be able to take advantage of some great rates. Other couples may decide to rethink their wedding date and/or destination in order to ensure the best possible weather. This is where doing your research and working with a knowledgeable destination wedding specialist will really come in hand.

3) Wedding Venue

Have you always envisioned walking barefoot down the beach or was your dream to walk down an aisle in a large castle? When we think of destination weddings we often picture a beach wedding; however, a destination wedding can be celebrated anywhere in the world and if your dream is to marry in a castle then perhaps somewhere in Europe would be a better fit.

4) Cost/ Budget

I always recommend having a budget in mind before deciding on a destination. If you have an unlimited budget your options are endless and you can choose a destination anywhere in the world! If you are on a budget there are many budget friendly destinations to choose from including the Caribbean, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Your departure gate will depend on which destinations will provide you with the best value for your budget. Again this is when working with a knowledgeable and experienced wedding specialist will come in hand for you.

5) Marriage Requirements

Lastly and most importantly, you may want to take into consideration the legal requirements for a marriage ceremony at the destination. Every country has their own set of rules that you must follow. Many countries will require you to be in the country for a minimum duration before they can legally marry you (i.e. Jamaica requires a minimum of 24 hours while Cuba requires a minimum of 3 days). Most countries will also require copies of your birth certificates and these may or may not have to be translated into the official language of the country. If you or your fiance have been divorced there are also additional requirements that may need to be addressed. As you can see there are many things to consider when it comes to marriage requirements. Please stay tuned for my next blog on the “Specific Marriage Requirements for Canada's Top Destination Wedding Destinations”!