Courtney Soberal is originally from Michigan, but has lived in Los Angeles for five years. She is currently a preschool teacher and college student at CSU Dominguez Hills, working toward a degree in Child Development. Courtney and her husband met on Tinder, bonding over Taco Tuesday nights, and eventually tying the knot in 2018. They hope to expand their family with a puppy very soon.
Call me cliché, but after my now-husband proposed, we almost immediately knew how and where we wanted to exchange our vows: an intimate beach ceremony in Hawaii. Just like many other young couples, we also quickly realized that a dream destination wedding can come with a nightmare price tag, so we wanted to figure out ways to cut other costs, particularly with our bridal fashion.
Did you know that the average cost of a wedding dress is $1,631? If my husband and I wanted to say aloha to our new life together, I knew I couldn’t spend anything near that price for one dress. I also didn’t want my bridesmaids to have to invest in a dress with a staggering retail price when they were already jet-setting across the Pacific.
This is where Poshmark comes in. I had been using the app for nearly two years when my wedding rolled around, and had ample success buying and selling clothes and accessories on the app as a side hustle, so it was really a no-brainer to browse the platform for bridal looks. I started sifting through their millions of new-with-tags (NWT) and pre-loved listings in hopes of finding my bridal party’s looks, and of course, the beachy glam wedding dress of my tropical dreams.
In reality, I had already found the perfect dress, but it had an unfathomable retail price tag (it would have cost the same amount as two round-trip tickets to Hawaii, which was something I couldn’t justify). After about two weeks of searching on the Poshmark app, I found the exact same dress NWT in my size for ONLY $200 (pro-tip: buy one size up if you’re debating because you’ll likely get it altered anyway and will want the fabric). It was delivered to me in a few days, brand new and beautifully wrapped. My only added expense was getting a few alterations done.
Inspired by my wedding dress haul, my bridesmaids and I went on a wine-fueled shopping spree for the rest of the bridal party dresses. We found two flower girl dresses for $40 a piece and three bridesmaids dresses for $75 each in a single evening. Again, all of these finds were new and wrapped better than a department store would wrap your Christmas shopping. And we looked incredible, if I do say so myself.
Thanks to the profits that I made from my Poshmark side hustle and the discounted prices of our apparel (an estimated $4,000 in savings), I was able to set aside about $6,000 for wedding expenses. My hubby and I were able to comfortably pay for the intimate, tropical wedding of our dreams in Hawaii AND a reception back in California (where we live) for our extended family and friends. At our California ceremony, I even wore a second dress that I bought on Poshmark for $200 (NWT, originally $1,600).
But it gets even better: after the wedding shenanigans were over, I sold everything back on Poshmark for the original Poshmark-listed prices, meaning I sold my $200 dress for $200 (disclaimer: Poshmark takes 20% of each sale so my total earnings in this case was ~$160). But still!
Moral of the story: don’t let anyone tell you that BHLDN or Vera Wang are your only options. There are some incredibly beautiful gowns available for less than half the price on resale platforms like Poshmark. Happy shopping!
Images: Courtney Soberal (4)
No one needs a vacation more than a bride-to-be planning a wedding, so if you want to get away, why not do it on your wedding day, by having a destination wedding? Yes, they can be expensive, but if you have the funds and are okay with having a smaller guest list, destination weddings can be great because they’re built-in vacations offering endless memories and photo ops. Whether you take to Europe, or simply switch states, traveling to tie the knot is both romantic and memorable. We’re sharing 10 of our favorite destination wedding resorts where you can wine, dine, relax, and get wifed up (literally).
1. Auberge du Soleil, Napa
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Sylvie Gil Photography | Planner: Cole Drake Events | Floral: Fleurs de France | Venue: Auberge du Soleil
Napa’s Auberge du Soleil resort is inspired by the luxurious South of France, so you basically get two destination weddings in one if you decide to wed in wine country (while living out your wildest Meredith Blake dreams). And with the largest wine cellar in Napa and sprawling vineyards to take pictures in, why wouldn’t you? The Auberge du Soleil is such a dreamy domestic destination, and it’s surrounded by olive trees, which just feels like a metaphor for dealing with your crazy family. Michelin-star restaurants and private cottages cover the grounds and are equipped with the absolute necessities: a deep-soaking tub, wood fireplace, in-room massages, and more. So have a glass of vino (or three) and enjoy your wedding day.
2. Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Elizabeth Medina | Planner: Runaway Bride Destinations | Décor & Floral: Alquimia | Venue: Banyan Tree Mayakoba
We’ve been told brides can enter their wedding ceremony at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba resort in Playa del Carmen by boat—must we go on? The jungle-surrounded resort is an exotic utopia, serving as the ideal location for the adventurous, yet totally tasteful, couple. Enjoy the area’s wildlife filled with turtles, unique birds, and even crocodiles (who can take care of your unruly bridesmaids… kidding). If you prefer to enjoy nature from the indoors, the spa it is. Already planned your wedding? No worries, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba resort is perf for a honeymoon as well.
3. The Breakers, Palm Beach
Source: PartySlate | Photography: LuvRox Photography | Planner: YSD Events | Design, Décor & Floral: The Special Event Resource and Design Group | Venue: The Breakers Palm Beach
Palm Beach, Florida is the ideal destination wedding location for those who are trying to escape city life while staying in the US (so accommodating of you!). The land of upscale shopping, dining, sparkling coastlines, and cute tennis outfits—what could be more perfect for the most lavish of weddings? The answer: The Breakers Palm Beach. The ballroom alone is enough to make your guests’ jaws drop, with sparkling crystal chandeliers. This place is probably where Malibu Barbie would host her wedding. If you want your wedding photos to look like they came straight out of a Lilly Pulitzer catalogue (in the best way possible), this is the place to get married.
4. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Bora Bora
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Marc Gerard | Planner & Design: LLG Events | Venue: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Is Bora Bora not everyone’s dream destination? Since you’re not an influencer with mysteriously unlimited funds who can jet of to exotic locales on a random Tuesday (probably), make it the site of your wedding. At the Four Seasons Resort, Bora Bora, you’ll be greeted with a glass of champagne and a traditional French Polynesian welcome (so you can cross that off your bucket list). Then, transport your guests by boat to a private island for a toes-in-the-sand ceremony, or say “I do” in a private Polynesian chapel. The key word with this resort is private. And don’t worry about cold feet beforehand; just dip them in your (you already guessed it) private plunge pool from your floating bungalow.
5. The Hamilton Princess, Bermuda
Source: PartySlate | Photography: 4 Eyes Photography | Planner: Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli | Floral: Flowers by GiMi | Venue: The Hamilton Princess, Bermuda
Watch out Meghan Markle, there’s a new royal wedding in town—well, out of town. The Hamilton Princess, Bermuda resort was named after Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, and certainly lives up to regal standards. Locally known as The Pink Palace, your wedding color palette is basically already taken care of, which is perfect for every millennial bride. We don’t care what people say—millennial pink isn’t going anywhere.
6. Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort, Aruba
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Charmi Pena | Planner: Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants | Design, Décor & Floral: Design House Decor | Venue: Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort
It’s just another day in paradise at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort. Ugh, must be nice. Hammocks, cabanas, and waterfalls that even TLC would allow you to chase fill the tropical resort, but the clear blue ocean and white sand beach is the idyllic spot to say “I do”. Then, use the lawn spaces for a cocktail hour, followed by a poolside reception as the sun sets on the island. We just did all the planning for you, you’re welcome! Hundreds of palm trees offer the perfect place for shade, but you also have the option of taking your celebration indoors to the Grand Caribbean Ballroom, which can hold up to 550 guests (if you even know that many people, Mazel).
7. J.K. Place, Capri
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Fred Marcus Studio | Planner: Save the Date | Chuppah & Florals: Capri Fiorie Piante | Venue: J.K. Place
You’re not a true Kimye fan unless you, too, host your wedding in Italy. And where better to go than the glittering island of Capri, the favorite vacation of Instagram models everywhere? Capri is accessible by helicopter or boat, making your entrance more memorable than Lady Gaga’s egg at the 2011 Grammys. (If you don’t get that reference, you’re too young to get married.) Capri’s J.K. Place resort is your wanderlust Instagram aesthetic come to life. Postcard views of the Mediterranean and coastline terraces make this resort the ultimate destination location, not to mention the upscale dining and wine galore. The elegant yet homey interiors will make your entire stay feel like an Architectural Digest editorial spread. Ciao, America! We’re never coming home.
8. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Charleston
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Jennings King Photography | Planner: WED Charleston | Floral: Flowershop | Venue: Mingo Point of Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Charleston was recently named the most popular wedding destination in the US, and if this seems completely random to you, then you clearly haven’t been to the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. This 5-star resort offers world-class amenities and some of the most sought-after golf courses, which your dad and grandpa will no doubt be pumped about. You, however, can enjoy yourself across the 10 miles of beaches or from deluxe villas with ocean views. Decide between a glamorous beach wedding or something more rustic chic at the popular Mingo Point restaurant and terrace space. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a luxurious, domestic getaway which will make you feel like the princess you are.
9. The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas
Source: PartySlate | Photography: LuvRox Photography | Planners: Sara Renee Events; Carrie Zack Events; The Absolute Event | Décor: The Wildflowers | Venue: Four Seasons Ocean Club
No Fyre Festivals here! With Four Seasons service on a tropical island, The Ocean Club in the Bahamas is unrivaled when it comes to destination wedding locations. The resort stretches across 35 exquisitely manicured acres, filled with fine dining, lavish lounge spaces, and plenty of engaging activities for wedding guests, including one of the island’s best casinos. Architectural ruins surround The Ocean Club and look absolutely incredible in wedding photos (so you can count on double-digit Instagram likes).
10. The Estate, Napa
Source: PartySlate | Photography: Damion Hamilton | Planner: Barbara Llewellyn Catering and Event Planning | Florals: Nancy Liu Chin Designs | Venue: The Estate Yountville
Napa’s The Estate is home to the sophisticated Hotel Villago and its sister hotel, Vintage House, as well as The Estate Yountville, one of the most stunning wedding venues in the state of California. Two hotels and an event space make this resort a one-of-a-kind destination spot. The activities available to its guests really set this place apart, including hot air balloon tours for your extra guests. And for the ceremony, The Estate Yountville will take your breath away with its striking terrace and garden spaces and a stunning Napa backdrop. I mean, this chandelier-filled tent? We can’t even.
Images: Sylvie Gil Photography, Elizabeth Medina, LuvRox Photography, Marc Gerard, 4 Eyes Photography, Charmi Pena, Fred Marcus Studio, Jennings King Photography, LuvRox Photography, Damion Hamilton
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “destination wedding?” If you didn’t think insanely expensive, well then, I just can’t relate to you. Yes, the idea of jet setting somewhere warm and tropical seems incredible but all I can feel when I think about it is crippling anxiety.
It appears Sandals Resorts has heard my cries and those of people everywhere and as a result created a free wedding package. Yes, you read that correctly: a FREE wedding at a 5-star luxury resort. So how does this seemingly too-good-to-be-true hookup work?
Here’s the deal. When you book three nights or more at the property, Sandals will provide you with a totally customizable wedding for free. This includes a ceremony venue (your choice from multiple locations on site), a bouquet and boutonniere, two-tiered white fondant cake, personal wedding planning team, preparation of marriage documents, pre-recorded music, table setting (including center pieces) with white linens, silverware, and crystal, and the cocktail reception. And you don’t even have to sell your soul to the devil! Sometimes you really can have it all.
For argument’s sake, we’re going to look at prime time wedding season to see what the bare minimum would be to qualify for a free wedding. To stay at Sandals Negril from July 30, 2020 through August 2, 2020, in the standard Caribbean Deluxe room, it will cost a grand total of $1,547 for two adults for three nights. One thousand five hundred and forty seven dollars. FOR TWO PEOPLE!!!! WTF??! Why didn’t someone tell me this as
myself and my fiancé my dad wrote a five-figure check out to our wedding venue?? Moving on…
Even better, the luxuries don’t have to end there. If you want to go above and beyond what is provided for you, you can work with the devoted team at Sandals to bring your dream wedding to life and believe me when I tell you, anything is possible. Think: professional island trained dancers at cocktail hour, a vegan menu for those who need it, synchronized swimmers to perform a customized routine, a live band or DJ, upgrades on linens and centerpieces, and whatever else you could possibly imagine.
If three nights sounds a little short to you (like it does to me), you can get additional benefits if you stay six nights or longer, including: $500 decor credit toward extra sweets, a theme bar, or wedding cake; marriage officiant and marriage license fees waived, or up to $500 room upgrade credit; $200 photography credit; $200 videography or anniversary stay credit; and $100 scuba diving course, beach/pool cabana credit, or candlelight dinner credit.
But you’re not the only one benefiting from this package—your guests will too. If it’s not enough that you have given them a great excuse to take off work and go on vacation, they can enjoy perks like spa treatments, room upgrades, and catamaran cruises. And the more guests you have, the more perks you all will receive—which is RARELY the case when it comes to weddings, especially when it involves traveling to a destination.
Guests won’t think twice before booking their flights since Sandals offers a full service Red Lane spa, sushi (and any other food you’d want) on demand, personal white glove butler service, and even Maldivian inspired over the water bungalows to stay at. Chances are your guests will likely stay at the resort days beyond the wedding and really who could blame them?
But the real icing on the free cake is that since it’s an all-inclusive property, so you don’t have to worry about spending any actual money once you’ve arrived. Basically all of your nearest and dearest will be living it up in the sun, with food and booze constantly flowing. Sounds like a wedding I’d love to attend. Should I get married again?
Your BFF is getting married, which, like, mazel. However, she’s decided that hosting her wedding out of the country/on an island/seven states away is the best option for some f*cking reason. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare: she’s having a destination wedding.
Destination weddings may seem like an amazing choice for her and her S.O., but for you, a betch on a budget, the whole notion of buying plane tickets (or driving 10+ hours to get somewhere), paying for a hotel, potentially buying a bridesmaid’s (or expensive guest) dress, and just generally throwing money into a flaming garbage can for a weekend doesn’t seem like the wisest investment.
If you’re trying to get out of the whole thing, here are a few ways to tactfully do so:
1. Be Honest
Maybe you’re saving up for a house, or an adoption (dog or child, doesn’t matter), or already went to seven weddings this year. Don’t feel obligated to over-explain your reasons, but tell your friend that while you love her and will, of course, send a gift, it just isn’t in your budget to attend a destination wedding. Anyone getting married in a destination that requires travel will (and should) understand that it’s a huge expense for people, so being upfront and honest about budgeting isn’t really something they should argue with you about. And, if they do, f*ck em.
2. Tell Them Right Away
Don’t wait until two weeks before to tell the bride you’re not coming. If you receive an invitation to a destination wedding and you know in your heart that there’s only a 20 percent chance you’ll attend, then tell the bride that. Waiting until the last minute will get her hopes up that she’ll see you AND she’ll need to add you to seating arrangements, head counts for booze, etc. Be polite and send your regards.
3. Send A Gift
This kind of goes without saying, but if you aren’t planning on going to the destination wedding of the century, send a really nice gift, either from the happy couple’s registry OR for their stay at the said destination. A couples’ massage, candlelit dinner, or scuba diving adventure could be amazing for the newlyweds. It won’t necessarily make up for you not being there, but it will communicate that you aren’t being a total jerk.
4. Don’t Make Excuses
If the reason you aren’t coming is money, then say it’s money. Don’t be all, “Oh, we aren’t going to your wedding because we’re saving for an in-ground pool and also we don’t consider Costa Rica safe because Overlord Trump said so.” Stick to your main (and honest) answer. The second you start throwing out other issues, you make it seem like you wouldn’t come regardless of the situation.
5. Offer To Help With Other Festivities
If the bride (or groom) is a close friend and was expecting you to be in the wedding, offer to help with other pieces of the whole affair. For example, if the bride was counting on you being a bridesmaid and your crippling student debt simply won’t allow for a trip to the Amalfi Coast for the wedding, offer to help with the bridal shower or bachelorette party. Sure, it isn’t the big day, but it’s a kind gesture that says “I still care about and love you as my friend even though you’re a dope for getting married overseas.”
Images: Unsplash (1); Giphy (3)
The idea that destination weddings are not the most convenient for your guests isn’t new, but people keep having them, so I guess it’s time I say my piece. It’s not that I’ve never wanted to go to Bermuda. It isn’t that I find The Maldives anything but quaint. It totally isn’t that I’m not looking forward to a 10 hour flight with two layovers on the way for a two-day total trip. It definitely isn’t that I don’t want to spend $1,000 just to get to the wedding of a couple I am v lukewarm about anyway.
Destination weddings are parties meant to alienate your friends and family. No offense, but it’s true. If your wedding involves a location that a) is hard to get a direct flight to; b) is impossible or extremely difficult to drive to; or c) involves really expensive hotels or resorts REGARDLESS of season, you’re planning a fucking destination wedding.
If you demand everyone travel for your special day, let’s get a few things straight about what’s going through your guests’ heads.
1. You Were Clearly Trying To Weed Out
The Unwanted Guests
I FEEL YOU. Really, I do. Destination weddings are the best way to weed out my least favorite thing: KIDS! If you think about it, though, don’t you think it’s, like, kinda sad to ensure Great Aunt Gertrude can’t come because she shits herself at the sight of a plane? Or like, aren’t you kinda telling all the people who can’t afford a $600 flight and $300/night hotel to go fuck themselves? I get it—I love being mean. But stay woke about what you’re doing.
2. I Love You, But Bot THAT Much
Girl, we’ve been friends for years, but fuck you for making me hop three planes, pay $6 in the airport for a Cinnabon so I didn’t pass out, live in a hotel for a few days, and then watch you get drunk and say some things to another person. I love you, but, also, fuck you.
3. I Don’t Want To Get You A Gift, Too
I feel SUPER rude for not getting you a gift, but you aren’t worth a $2,000 trip AND $200 worth of towels for your guest bathroom. Sister is trying to save up for that new pair of Louboutins.
4. It’s Not Even A Real Vacation
Like, don’t get me wrong—if you invite me to your destination wedding on St. Jamaica-Tropez-Bartholomew in the Indian Ocean, it should count as a vacay. But the thing is, it won’t be. If I’m IN the wedding, my day(s) will be taken up with wedding shit. If I’m not, now I’m trapped on an island waiting for wedding stuff to commence. My typical vacays consist of laying around, sunning my pale, round body, and drinking heavily. This will only check one of those boxes.
5. I Don’t have Unlimited Days Off
I wish I did. But, I don’t. And what I REALLY don’t have is two days to spare for travel, two days to spare for your big day, and one day to fucking readjust my body after drinking somewhere with a huge time difference. Life is hard.
6. I Will Literally Be Trapped On An Island For God Knows How Long
I totally love your fam, but not trapped-on-an-island love them. What if my plus one can’t come? What if my flight gets delayed? What if there’s a hurricane? (Why did I just describe the atmosphere of Fyre Festival?) It’s not like I can spend any of my time with you since you, like, had the nerve to get married this weekend. You’re literally so rude.
7. I’ll Get To Spend Five Minutes With You
Yah, I’m going to see you for all of 30 seconds when you and your now-hubby make the rounds to thank everyone for coming. Then I’m going to sit and drink my probs rum-based drink and eat my expensive hamburger alone, sadly.
Bottom line: Go get married somewhere cool, but don’t expect your guests to like it or attend. Shit, we may not even send gifts if we’re, like, mad.
Images: Anne Edgar / Unsplash; Giphy (5)