By Jett Pe Benito
Ahhh, the beach. Images of children frolicking in the sand, beach ball games abound, scantily clad men and women of all ages basking in the warmth of the sun or swimming in the nearby water. There’s more to this picture with sand castles, the sound of the waves, a couple exchanging wedding vows, and shells on the beach side.
Wait. A couple exchanging wedding vows?
Now that brings visions of sand-peppered cake, overturned table settings blown by the sea wind, barely audible voices of the couple and the priest. Generally, it depicts a ceremony that would have majority of the attendees wishing the couple just chose the safe and run-of-the-mill church wedding with customary hotel reception.
But Kim and his wife Leslie would not have had it any other way. Read on and find out why their beach wedding was an occasion that remains to be memorable to them and to all who were there.
Why a beach wedding?
“We wanted our wedding to be memorable, not only for us but also for our guests. We’ve been to lots of weddings held within the metropolis, and quite honestly, we don’t remember whose was held where.”
“The beach offered the perfect backdrop that, in our opinion, couldn’t be replicated. Nothing beats the feel of cool sand beneath your feet, the sweet smelling sea breeze, the sound of lapping waves and the surf fizzling on the beach.”
“The beach doesn’t have the ‘stiffness’ unavoidably felt with the ‘usual’ wedding setups. In line with our Hawaiian luau theme, guests had the option to come in casual attire, contributing to the relaxed feel of the entire event.”
“We wanted the ceremony to be held on the beach itself, near the water, so our guests would have the luxury of enjoying the scenery and not have to ‘endure’ the entire ceremony. More importantly, we wanted our guests to remember our wedding as a pleasantly different experience for years to come.”
What were your initial concerns?
Location. We wanted the location to be semi-exclusive. So that we could do what we wanted with the place and not have to think of ‘unwanted’ guests.”
“We ended up renting the entire BALAI sa LAIYA resort; a semi secluded resort with this rustic / Mediterranean-ish 2-story structure w/ its own deck.”
“Directions. We needed to make a detailed MAP.”
“Transportation. We knew we had to provide transportation for the band, Hula dancers, photographer/ videographer, etc.”
“Accommodations. We assumed that most of the guests would opt to stay overnight.”
“Activities before the wedding. We initially planned on having activities for those who would be coming early.”
What were your problems and the solutions to these problems?
“The biggest issue was contacting our guests a month before the wedding to find out if they needed or wanted accommodations, and whether they were planning to stay the night, etc. Then, having to book each and every one of them. We ended up reserving a lot of the rooms from two nearby resorts.”
“Transportation was also a big issue. We had to provide transportation for the band, Hula dancers, make-up artists, florist, photographer, videographer, etc. We had to procure a bus and several other vehicles. Thankfully, most of these were supplied by friends, free of charge.”
Would you recommend couples planning to get married to have a beach wedding?
“If a couple really wanted a beach wedding then yes, we’d say go for it. It will be a rewarding and memorable experience. Just make sure that both of you agree on it. Setting the whole thing up will obviously take more effort compared to planning a conventional wedding. More effort doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more expensive.”
“More importantly, don’t dwell too much on what others may think, or what you think others will expect from YOUR wedding. Remember that it’s YOUR wedding, not theirs.”
“An added plus to the whole setup is that most of your guests will be coming early, to enjoy the beach. Once they arrive they can do their thing. No hurrying, no tense moments, cramming to get dressed and apply make-up. The whole informal/ festive mood dissipates the hustle and bustle we experience when preparing to attend weddings.”
What were the wedding highlights?
“We tried to personalize some parts of the wedding rites. For example, instead of using candles for the unity ceremony, we used torches, ala ‘Survivor’.”
“The banquet/reception was well received. The roasted calf, the fruits, and the grilled food, together with the music from the Makiling Ensemble completed the luau theme.”
“We scheduled the Hula presentation towards the end as our finale. They did different Hawaiian dances complete with costumes and a fire breather.”
What are your pointers and suggestions?
“The key is to visualize the overall effect of what you want the wedding to FEEL like. Then, deciding from there which details are a MUST to deliver that effect. Sourcing WHO to hire and WHATmaterials to use is easier once a PLAN is laid out. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of sources out there that are not in the ‘wedding’ business, but can be utilized nonetheless. Example: bands don’t have to be wedding bands. The photographer or videographer doesn’t necessarily have to come from a ‘wedding’ outfit. Same goes for the wedding gown, the caterer, the menu, etc.”
What are the problem areas to be expected?
“TRANSPORTATION, confirm and re-confirm your bookings. Supply the drivers with a ‘DETAILED’ MAP, walk them through it even. ACCOMMODATIONS, since your guests would be traveling a considerable distance, make sure they have a place to lounge before the wedding.
Again, confirm and reconfirm bookings. For the SOUND SYSTEM, make sure they are ready to compensate for slight wind issues since it is an open-air event.”
“Also, expect a turnout that is more than your guest list. Yup, better believe it. Our guest list had 200 names listed; we assumed that since it was a far off place, the turnout would be a little less than 200. Lo and behold, 270 people showed up. Some guests that we thought wouldn’t or couldn’t show up did. It was a good thing that the resort was prepared to accommodate the extra guests. Some even brought along their family and friends. Ha-ha, we were actually pleasantly surprised that more people got to experience the whole thing with us.”
Kim and Leslie learned by doing what they wanted with their wedding that it need not be what everyone expects, instead they had a wedding that was truly memorable for them and their guests. They did this on a sunny day with the sea breeze gently rustling the bride’s gown, with the natives giving a part of their culture through dance, while a succulent feast was laid. And as the couple said their vows, the sand served as the ground and the sky the roof of what was truly a wonderful wedding. And one could only sum up the experience with a smile and with the phrase, “Ahhh, the beach.”