My Destination Wedding
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Avoid a Destination Wedding Meltdown – Make These Back Up Plans


Broken powder, foundation and brushes on the white background

Planning a destination wedding sight unseen is tough. I had never been to the Caribbean, (let alone Cuba), never been to an all-inclusive, never attended a destination and never been married before. That’s a lot of firsts!

With so many moving pieces and only so much you can plan from arm’s length, planning your back up plan is imperative. Here are some strategies to avoid wedding day melt downs.

Back up: Beauty

Is there a salon at the resort? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  1. Learn how to do your own make up – just in case. A bridal look may differ wider between countries. Drop by Sephora or MAC before leaving Canada and have them teach you and a bridesmaid how to do your eyeshadow and fill your brows. (Video tape it if needed.) If you’re getting married in a hot destination enquire about primer, long wear foundation and setting powder. Skip matte lipstick in lieu of sheer or do what I did for an unfussy look: use a light coloured lip liner and shade inward. Top with a coloured lip gloss.
  2. Bring your hair products from home with you – in the context of Cuba, my Aveda hair products far exceeded the quality of products found in the salon. Bringing your hair tools and plenty of bobby pins too.
  3. Test run your hair at the resort salon – bring pictures of the look you want to achieve. I then asked the stylist what he was the best at and gave him some liberty to play to his strengths.

Back up: Music

  1. Bring music (with playlists) on a laptop and/or mobile device – we booked a deejay who didn’t show up! Could you imagine not having any music during the reception? Luckily two of our guests were happy to step up and handle it for us.
  2. Pick your first dance, ceremony and first reveal songs in advance of leaving Canada and make sure they’re loaded on a laptop/mobile device.

Back up: Decor

  1. Write your wedding coordinator in advance to see if they have decor in your wedding colours. (Things like chair sashes, chair covers and table linens.) In my case they did not, so I ordered champagne-gold sashes and lace table runners for a more boho look. I was worried about the reception looking less Jenn-and-Greg and more resort-hosted. Bringing these items with me gave me a sense of control.
  2. Bring lightweight accent items – customized napkins, laser cut gold foil coasters, lanterns, votives and paper fans are all easy ways to add personal touches.

Pack these specialty items

  • Toiletry bag scissors – for cutting garment tags and hanger ribbons off your wedding dress. (I gnawed mine off with nail clippers!)
  • Pencil sharpener – for brow and lip liners
  • Baby wipes
  • Q-tips
  • Portable speakers – crank the tunes to ease nerves while getting ready
  • Lingerie wash powder – I used it to hand-wash the train of my wedding dress (check the fabric before attempting)
  • Floss – repair broken jewelry
  • Vow notebooks – no one expects you to memorize them


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