Destination Weddings- 5 reasons I love them (and why you should too!)

My first experience of a destination wedding was my aunt’s in 2006 located in the stunningly beautiful Hawaii. I remember thinking how low stress and gorgeous it was. Now, having just attended an incredibly beautiful wedding in Mexico (and after our destination wedding in the Dominican Republic a  year and a half ago)  I am convinced that destination weddings are absolutely worth researching and looking into!  By now, you probably know if you’ve been reading along that I love weddings. I love seeing the bride, the groom taking in his stunning bride for the first time, taking vows, and celebrating together. It’s one of life’s greatest joy the day where man & woman become one.

We all know (or maybe you’re like me and didn’t know) that weddings are incredibly expensive! WOW. When I started researching and trying to plan I was quickly overwhelmed. Our original plan was to have a rustic barn wedding with mason jars and twinkle lights. When we started adding up the costs it blew my mind into a million little pieces. I mean we are talking $15,000+ for hiring a catering company off-site (since we wanted it all at the barn/outdoors), a photographer, a D.J, a wedding planner, flowers, decorations. etc etc etc. The list goes on. With weddings the sky is the limit. Having Pinterest made my head spin! It’s an entire industry in itself that I didn’t even know existed before I was engaged. When Tom & I made a list of guests the list quickly exceeded 300+. Where do you draw the line in guests? How do you know when to stop? Where does the money come from?

Tom and I needed to take a step back and think about what we really wanted in our wedding. With my lists of venues, caterers, and photographers my head was spinning. Not to mention all the DIY stuff I wanted to include. Tom sat me down and asked me “Elicia, what do you really want?” and I thought for a minute and answered: ” I want God to be the center. I want to be barefoot on a beach with a few close family and friends. I want to have no stress. I want the beach, the warmth of the sun, and the ocean.”

It was simple as that. The search for a destination wedding venue had begun.

We ended up selecting Dominican Republic as our location. A place we had never been to before. We chose a resort that had wedding packages included in our stay. After breaking the news to our parents  and our pastor from Wisconsin agreeing to come with us to marry us- something that was really important to us…we begun the planning process of a destination wedding. Which can I just tell you was 0% stress and pretty much minimal planning. Our wedding ceremony was free and also came with a wedding planner. We stayed at an all inclusive resort so all food n drink were already paid for. So, here are a few reasons why I absolutely love destination weddings:

1.Low stress– We corresponded with our wedding planner in the Dominican (she works for the resort we stayed at) via email leading up to the wedding day. When we arrived at the resort for the wedding we met with our wedding planner for a couple of hours casually discussing some details- ceremony decorations, music (we brought), dinner selection, wine to be served, my flowers (I wanted lots of tropical color-they came from the local market in the Dominican), and she showed us the gazebo where we would be married. We picked the restaurant (had 6 choices) of where we wanted the wedding dinner after the ceremony. Our ceremony was planned back in WI with our pastor who traveled with us.

 

 

2. Cost effective!!! – Our entire wedding, trip, and honeymoon was about $6,000. We spent 6 days at the resort for the wedding and then we rented a car, traveled across the country, and volunteered for about a week. Hello, 1/3 of the cost of what it would have been in the states.

3.Intimate setting- We had 25 people at our wedding. Were we really sad that our grandparents couldn’t make the journey? Yes. Some of our good friends & family couldn’t make it either. We understand that life happens and not everyone could make it. For us having an intimate setting was important. I feel overwhelmed in big groups & knew that smaller was better for us.

4. The trip of a lifetime- I won’t say much here besides that our friends & family had a complete blast! A lot of joy was brought to Tom and I while watching them in this beautiful tropical place having the time of their life.

Cigar smoke and dances!

Water aerobics 🙂

5. Perfect for wanderlusts (or those at heart)– Getting to see a new location with a beautiful backdrop. What more can you want?! We loved the wedding, but we loved being able to get off the resort and hang with the locals too. We also hired a local photographer for the wedding who we absolutely LOVED & I can’t tell you enough about how cool he is. Discovering a new piece of this big world made the trip exciting not to mention adding in our wedding. Double the excitement. Double the fun.

Having said all of this I am well aware that destination weddings aren’t for everyone! What makes your wedding special if it was perfect to you. That’s it. So I have a few questions for you now:

Tell me, what’s it like in 2014 planning a wedding (or for those who are recently married) Do you save for the wedding? Do parents help? Do you split the cost 3 ways?  Did you find ways to save money when it came to planning or did you go all out?! If you had to pick what is/was something special that stood out to you about a wedding you’ve attended?

I’m so curious and slightly terrified. Do I need to start saving for my unborn child’s weddings?

“When are you having a baby?” – A question I answer every single day.

A question I get almost daily “When are you having babies!?” and if you are guilty of asking me this question: I don’t blame you. It makes sequential sense, right? How could I forget the ever annoying chant I learned as a kid “First comes love-then comes marriage- then comes baby in the baby carriage.”

Do I want kids? YES. Absolutely. I want lots. If I had it my way we would have more then 4. I love big families and I love kids. I grew up with a mom who did in home daycare, I went to school for elementary education (with a minor in early childhood), I’ve worked in a daycare, I was a nanny throughout college, I’ve coached, been a camp counselor, and my parents had 2 precious baby girls when I was 15 and 17. To say I love kids is an understatement. I can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE them. Now, I spend my days as an English Teacher. I read articles about birth, being a mom, and pregnancy. I find it all so incredibly fascinating. When my mom was pregnant and I was in high school I read the entire “What to Expect When You are Expecting” book because I found the miracle & growth of life so astounding.

You get the picture. I love kids.

But why does everyone keep asking when we are having our own? What if I had been trying to have kids and just couldn’t? What if I just didn’t like kids? Maybe people are just curious…and before we were married I am sure I was to blame when asking others!  I talk about kids a LOT because I am with kids a LOT. Those that are close to me know that my dream is to be a mom. Not simply and plainly put, because if you have been with a child from dawn to dusk/woken up multiple times a night to care for an infant (not to mention the 1 billion other things moms do) then you know that being a mom is the hardest job that is out there.

My answer is this: I don’t know. I don’t know when I am having a baby because God likes to laugh when we make plans. Every time it seems like I have it all figured out God mixes things up. Right now Tom and I are loving it just being the two of us. I love the freedom to sleep, eat, shower, teach, and hike as we please. I love that I can love on the kiddos I teach and go home to peace & quiet. I love that we can travel all over this side of the world together- just Tom and I. I am loving the time getting to know my husband and build our marriage.For those whose journey looks different then mine- I am loving all your posts/pictures of your kiddos that flood my news feed. Your babes are precious & I scan Facebook for pictures of your little darlings as often as possible. Trust me- you can ask my husband how often I show him pictures of all your cute babies. I was chatting with my sister in law and I came to realize how thankful I am for my husband. A guy who is so fiercely devoted to me, who loves God, and who would do anything for others in need. I am thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life with this man. I am thankful for this immense gift I’ve been blessed with that I know I am so undeserving of. A gift that 5 years ago I was terrified would never come…and then it did.

So.  Right here. Right now, I am so incredibly happy. With Tom.

I don’t know when I will have a baby (and you should know it kills me to give you a quick answer) because what if it happens in 5 years, in 3, or tomorrow? What if it never happens? I know that things always work out exactly as they are supposed to and this is one of those big life things that I’m choosing to trust God’s plan for Tom & I.

but please. Those of you with the babies or soon having babies: Keep the pictures coming. Seriously, I love them. #can’tstopstaring #lovethemall

With lots of love & baby thoughts,

One year of marriage.

So about a week ago I accidentally hit the “publish” button for this post. In an instant panic I hit the delete button. Cause I am just plain awkward like that. I was working on this post and it was NOT finished. What happened ( I am sure) is that the computer I was working on was slow and I started just clicking buttons out of frustration. I do this a lot (just ask my husband!) I deleted it in hopes that the email hadn’t been sent out to my blog followers that I had updated. Welllllll, it had. AND Tom saw the post which wasn’t supposed to be seen until August 3rd. Our one year anniversary. I am well aware that people don’t “publish” a post to make it public and then delete it, but I did. So there you have it folks. It’s finished now. ANDDDDD I’ll just continue to be that awkward girl over here with her awkward moments. 😉

SO it’s been a year. One year of marriage to my absolute best friend in this entire world.

Tom likes to always tell people “It’s been just COMPLETE BLISS!”

and while many days it really has been. There are days when it isn’t.

I’ve always been real with ya. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you.

Marriage is awesome. It is God’s greatest gift (besides the gift of life) that I have been blessed with, but it takes time, it takes work, and it takes a whole lotta compromise.

Taking a break from a 10 hour day spent exploring/hiking the coast of Jeju Island, South Korea.

Taking a break from a 10 hour day spent exploring/hiking the coast of Jeju Island, South Korea.

I don’t know much about marriage other then what we have experienced the first year of it…but unfortunately I have had people tell me “just wait until you have been married 10-20 years and then I will see what you think.” or things like “Are you sure you want to get married so young?” What I really want to tell them is that marriage can be awesome. I have hope/faith in a marriage built to grow closer to God.

In the past year I have learned that:
We must work together.
I’ve learned that it isn’t “I have to do this” it’s more of “I get to do this.”
I have learned that my husband would much rather feel respect than to feel loved.
I have learned that moving to South Korea has made our marriage stronger.
That when we spend time in the word we are more intentional with how we treat each other.
That I like to talk out my problems (who knew?) and Tom needs space/time.
That I am always right. (Just kidding hunny!)
That every single day I wake up and I must make an intentional choice to be the best wife that I can possibly be for Tom.

…and that when I married Tom I gained a wonderful family, and they are just simply awesome!

nuzzling in for a cuddle.

In a world surrounded by media expectations of marriage I’d like to say there is almost nothing I knew about marriage (that was actually realistically portrayed in the media) before we got married. I did however know that we both wanted to grow closer to God. I knew that it wouldn’t always be easy, but it is definitely worth it.

We dated a year, got engaged, and married 7 months later. There is no other way I would have wanted it. When you know…you know. We also knew that we wanted to spend our life together, taking the same path together, and figuring out life together. In both of our minds we didn’t feel as “one” until we took our vows for a marriage under God. People have asked Tom how he knew I was the “one” and he replies ” A better question to ask is how didn’t I know?” Being together is what made us happy. So one year ago we took the biggest leap of faith together, and said “I do.”

I look forward to the many seasons to come getting to know this incredible man on an even deeper level. I am his biggest fan. I love being his wife.

Gooseberry Falls, MN.

Enjoying a hike near Belleville, WI.

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First fall as a married couple raking the yard at our duplex. November 2012.

Dominican honeymoon 🙂

I am so excited to look back in 10 years, and then in 20 years to see how much we have grown as a couple. Do I think it will be easy all of the time? Absolutely not.

Oktoberfest in New Glarus, WI

…but you better believe it that I am beyond thankful and grateful for the gift of marriage. Marriage can truly be a beautiful thing. We are just two people who love God… doing the best they can each day… to be the best that we can be for each other.

Winter date nights!

Goodbye America…Hello South Korea!

Enjoying the rain at the cliffs in Jeju!

Enjoying the rain at the cliffs in Jeju!

We will keep riding through life together!

I’ll never forget this note from Tom, and I still carry it with me where ever I go. I believe it was from Christmas 2010 (our first holiday spent together) I remember finding it in my backpack after getting back to college…

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So today, I am brought back to one year ago when we held hands, and our pastor read the verse we picked for our marriage from Mark 10:9

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Tom, you are an incredible man. Thank you for believing in me. God has blessed me with the most incredible gift of marriage. Here’s to the many many years to come. Together.