Sparkling blue sea, sandy white beaches, and postcard worthy palm trees every way you turn. Today’s sweet couple immediately knew the Bahamas was the perfect location for their dream destination wedding—and on a budget!
“We decided to have a destination wedding for several reasons. We live in Los Angeles and most of our family and friends live throughout the southeastern United States so we thought that it would be more fun for us and our guests to celebrate our union in—or near—the Caribbean. Traditional weddings don’t give guests an opportunity to really spend time with the couple; destination weddings give you the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.”
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Would you be willing to share a full budget breakdown? I honestly think that we had our dream wedding for less than $11,500. It was a lot of work; I had to be very hands-on with the budget, especially the decor. I did splurge on flowers and I paid for my bridal party’s make-up— all of my 9 bridesmaids, my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and aunt. That was my only gift to them, so I wanted to make it count.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? For “something old”, I used a friend’s wedding dress as my reception gown. “Something new” was my amazing Lazarro wedding dress. “Something borrowed” was our traditional wedding vows. “Something blue” was the blue waters of the ocean as we stood on a pier and exchanged our vows.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We hired an amazing local wedding planner, Annamae Fox, but we were extremely hands-on in the planning process. Unlike most destination weddings, we did not use a pre-designed/impersonal wedding package, we selected almost every single detail down to the layout of our tables. We drew inspiration from social media, in particular celebrity weddings.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? We were advised on the importance of “first look” photos. We took our first look photos at the World Renowned French Cloisters—next to the One & Only Ocean Club. We considered having our wedding at the Cloisters but decided that Compass Point was our favorite venue. We were also told to be true to our budget and to not get bogged down in the minutia and to just enjoy our wedding and ceremony because the time really does go by quickly.
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? I fell in love with the Bahamas the moment I laid eyes on her baby blue water in 2005 during a college sorority trip, so when we decided to have an intimate destination wedding, it was the first destination on our list. Besides, the Bahamas is so close to the US and it was very easy for our guests to fly into Nassau.
“Our ceremony was amazing—from walking down the pier in my wedding gown with both of my parents, to exchanging our vows under an intimate gazebo, it was one of the most beautiful experiences we have ever had and after we sealed our vows with a kiss we were greeted with a few matrimonial raindrops! Destination weddings are great; all of our guests were invested in our love journey.”
Your ceremony in three words. Sophisticated, luxurious and breathtaking
What was your ceremony music? A violinist played John legend’s “All of me” during the bridal party processional and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for the bride’s processional.
What were your ceremony readings? 1 Corinthians 13:11 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
What were your vows like? The Bahamas was under British rule for 325 years and our wedding vows reflected the more traditional British vows or Episcopal Wedding Vows—which has its origins in the Church of England.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? When the ceremony ended, we did a “jumping of the broom,”—an African wedding tradition that represents the joining of two families and the couples new home together.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We enjoyed the magical experience of exchanging our vows under a gazebo at the end of an exclusive pier. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? We spent a lot of money on wedding invitations and we sent out a lot of invitations to guests that we knew were not going to attend our destination wedding. Instead, for those faraway friends, relatives, and colleagues, I wish that we would have mailed wedding announcements after our wedding. Our wedding announcements were gorgeous—and cheaper; they included several photos from our wedding along with our wedding date however, we only sent out a few announcements because we sent out so many wedding invitations.
“Our ceremony was at Compass Point Beach Resort on the pier, and our reception was at the same resort on the sundeck. The bright colors and ocean views encompass all of the things that you expect in a Bahamas wedding.”
How would you describe your reception? Our outdoor reception was fun, intimate and breathtakingly gorgeous.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I thought everything was amazing. I’m glad that we had an intimate wedding. However if I had to do it all over again, I would have changed into my second gown much earlier in the evening. That’s it! Be flexible—our original host hotel was under construction and did not open on time and we had to scramble to find another hotel for us and our guests 4 weeks before our wedding. Thank goodness for the Comfort Suites Paradise Island!
What was your wedding menu? We had a plated dinner and we offered four options: buttered grouper, filet mignon, lamb chops, or spicy salmon.
Did you have a signature cocktail? No, we had a full service open bar during our cocktail hour and throughout our reception.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We were inspired by celebrity weddings, high-end luxurious and sophisticated weddings. We did not want a cheesy, run-of-the-mill destination wedding. We wanted our wedding to be just as beautiful if not more beautiful than traditional non-destination weddings.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Leon and I are not a traditional couple; we met, fell in love, had a baby and then got married. We are so happy that our beautiful daughter Chloe was able to be our flower girl. We are the first in our group of friends to have a destination wedding. We march to the beat of our own drum!
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
First dance song: “I want you” by Luke James
Father/daughter dance: “The way you look tonight” by Michael Buble
Mother/Son: “How sweet it is” by James Taylor
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Our wedding cake was a white cake with white marshmallow icing and a fresh strawberry filling. Because we were budget conscious but still wanted an over the top wedding cake experience, we ordered a 5 tier faux wedding cake and used a sheet cake to serve I guests. We also had a New Orleans Saints designed groom’s cake—chocolate cake with a fresh strawberry filling.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Our first dance, as the sun set with our amazing ocean view and our surprise Bahamian “Junkanoo Rushout.” Many of our guests are from Louisiana where traditional second line brass bands are commonplace at the close of wedding receptions—second lines are part of the New Orleans wedding tradition. The wedding second line celebrates the newlyweds as they embark on a new life together. The main line leading the parade for a wedding is made up of the married couple and the brass band. Our Junkanoo Brass Band and performers were our way to pay homage to our Louisiana roots and to incorporate Bahamian carnival traditions. We even provided vintage handkerchiefs for our guests to waive to the beat of the brass band.