Logistics are always a big part of the wedding-planning process, but when you’re living abroad and your closest friends and family are spread across three continents, there’s only one thing to do: make it a destination wedding.
That’s what Paris-based Ann Christine Herstad, the co-founder of holistic health and vegan lifestyle site Veggie Magnifique, and Arnold De Souza, a plant-based holistic health coach, decided to do. With Arnold’s family in French Guiana, Ann’s in the Pacific Northwest of the US, and friends scattered throughout France and elsewhere, they settled on a midway point that everyone could enjoy.
“We chose Mexico as our wedding destination because it was fairly central to our international guest list,” says Ann. “We didn't want to have it in France because it seemed unfair to our faraway families, but also because we really wanted to travel, as well. Having the wedding in Mexico seemed the fairest choice as it provided a vacay for everyone, including us!”
Destination weddings continue to be a popular choice for couples, to the tune of 350,000 weddings a year, which accounts for a whopping 25 percent of all weddings in the United States. The reasons for getting married in a faraway place are many, including being less expensive than traditional weddings (because of smaller guest lists), being more intimate, and the top reason: the weather. And Ann and Arnold weren't alone in their destination of choice; balmy Mexico happens to be among the top three locations for Americans choosing destination weddings, along with Hawaii and the Caribbean.
Ann fell in love with Puerto Vallarta while visiting the seaside city for a close friend's destination wedding, and had the dreamy spot in the back of her mind when it came time to plan her own nuptials, so it was an easy choice to make, right down to the venue. She had also fallen in love with her friend’s wedding location, the charming Villa Celeste, perched on a hill overlooking the Pacific and the popular Conchas Chinas beach below.
The luxury villa was an oasis, with a sparkling pool, palm trees and bougainvillea, and huge terra cotta brick patio with plenty of room for outdoor dining, dancing, and socializing. The epic views over the shimmering Bay of Banderas only added to the visual splendor. “Little did I know that we would be marrying in that same magical place several years later,” says Ann.
The pair planned their wedding according to their own values that prioritize personal health and wellness—which translated to delicious vegan food and alcohol-free cocktails—and learned so much about themselves and during the process, especially when it came to managing the details of getting hitched abroad from afar. For couples planning their own destination wedding, Ann and Arnold have some words of wisdom to share.
Ann fell in love with Puerto Vallarta while visiting the seaside city for a close friend’s destination wedding, and had the dreamy spot the back of her mind when it came time to plan her own nuptials. She also fell in love with her friend’s wedding venue perched on a hill overlooking the ocean. “Little did I know that we would be marrying in that same magical place several years later,” says Ann.
The pair planned their wedding according to their own values—vegan, healthy, alcohol-free—and learned so much during the process, especially when it came to managing the details at a distance. For couples planning their own destination wedding, Ann and Arnold have some words of wisdom to share.
Three Tips For A Dream Destination Wedding
Tip #1: Think Small
“Plan a small-ish destination wedding, so that you can really spend quality time with your dearly loved guests who have just traveled the world to be with you.”
Tip #2: Rent a Home Base
“Our rental villa was a one-stop shop: Arnold and I, and our families, were able to stay in the villa, plus we had ALL of our events there! And then during wedding week our friends would pop over for a visit, and to swim in the pool. It was so easy, and saved us a ton of money in the end.”
Tip #3: Remember the Weather!
“Research the weather seasons in the destination where you'd like to get married. We got REALLY lucky in that we didn't have a total downpour on our wedding day because we got married in Mexico in August, which it turns out, is monsoon season!”
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