Planning In Paradise: Making Your Dream Wedding a Reality

Destination I Do’s

By Naomi Alvarado

Okay ladies and gentlemen: let’s talk weddings! Most of us have probably thought about getting married since we were kids: Who would it be? What would we wear? What song would play when we walked down the aisle? We’ve planned it out to a T and have a very detailed picture in our head of what our dream wedding will be. It’s fun to think about and while it’s good to have an idea of what you like, sometimes our mental picture puts us smack in the middle of our own way. The beautiful Northwest Florida Gulf Coast provides a stunning backdrop for your big day, and from the coordinators to the caterers, you’ll find vendors for every aspect of your wedding that are top notch and well versed in providing the most beautiful day possible. There can be so much pressure to make even the most ordinary moments “Insta-worthy,” that the added expectation of showing off your wedding on social media that can make you nuts! There’s a lot to think about, but I can take a huge weight off your shoulders with my three tips to ensure you have a beautiful wedding day and still maintain your sanity through the process.

Trust your vendors.
This is a big one. My husband (Chris Alvarado) is a musician and I have handled his booking for over eight years, for everything from destination weddings to beach venues to large music festivals. We book a ton of weddings and in our experience, the weddings that go off without a hitch are the ones where the couple is relaxed and ready to enjoy their big day. There is a lot of work that goes into planning a wedding, but your wedding team has your back. It’s important to have a general picture of what you are looking for, but don’t get so bogged down in all the tiny details, that you can’t let us do our jobs. In my opinion, one of the first steps in planning your wedding is finding a coordinator that you love. Sit down with them to make sure you are all on the same page with your vision, and then let them work their magic!

For wedding vendors, this is our reputation on the line, so we want your day to be as amazing as you do and we’re going to work tirelessly to make that happen. Part of working with your vendors is being on the same team and trusting our expertise. Any type of team you can think of has members with differing strengths and experiences and your wedding team is no different. We have seen it all, and can anticipate obstacles that you may not have thought about. Avis Glenister, wedding coordinator and founder of Peach & Pearl Events ( adds, “It’s our job to help manage your expectations, so it does you a disservice if they are only ‘yes men’ or they don’t offer alternatives to your wish list. Hire people who help talk things through with you.” For example, weddings on the beach are beautiful and you may have an idea of soft acoustic music playing while you walk down the aisle, but on your wedding day the wind picks up and the waves are drowning out that perfect song you agonized over. The simplest solution would be to have an outdoor PA system for the musician, but if you haven’t attended a beach wedding before it’s a really common occurrence that you might never even think about. That’s just one example of a situation that we encounter all the time and can help you plan for. Trust your team’s expertise!

Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
When I was planning my wedding, my husband and I both decided that our end goal was to be married and have a really fun celebration with our friends. We didn’t want to look back on our planning process and have memories of being super stressed. For a lot of couples planning a wedding is one of the first major projects they’ve tackled as a team. You’re beginning your life together, so sit back and enjoy the ride… It’s supposed to be fun! If your linens don’t exactly match, or the flowers aren’t quite what you pictured, there is a really good chance that you won’t even notice, much less remember, and neither will your guests. Once the doors open and you start walking down the aisle, it’s a total rush and the time flies by. Everyone is there to celebrate you, not your linen choices. I have even had brides go so far as to send me song choices down to the seconds they want played, which is fine, but the problem comes when the timing for the song they have chosen doesn’t line up with the timing of their aisle walk. The walk is either too short and they miss the part of the song they are really attached to, or it’s too long and they end up standing awkwardly at the end of the aisle while the song is finished. Instead of spending all that time planning the song, they could have gone to another cake tasting and let the musician make that call (you can clearly see what my wedding priorities were). Don’t get so stuck on the minuscule details that you miss the experience, and if you’ve followed my first tip, your wedding vendors have already taken care of those things for you. See where I’m going, here?

Budget, budget, budget.
For me, this is a big one and can make or break your wedding planning experience. Decide what your wedding budget is and stick to it. One of our area’s top photographers Shelly Swanger ( says, “My number one tip for brides planning their wedding would be to ask them and their fiancé to sit down and really talk about what type of day They want to have. Not what Pinterest or Instagram tells them but taking the time to really answer the question: What type of wedding do we want?” It can be so easy to think you need to have all of the things and so much more at your wedding (thanks Pinterest), but the reality is that you only need to have the things that are important to you as a couple. If you want to have a big throw down with your guests, it may be smart to allocate a larger portion of your budget for the bar and entertainment, rather than a pricier ceremony location. However, if that doesn’t appeal to you, you may prefer to focus your budget on an amazing photographer and catering. Weddings can be very expensive and the costs add up more quickly than you realize, so sitting down early in the process and being very realistic about your priorities and expectations can save you a lot of hair pulling later on. This is another reason to find a great coordinator to help you figure out how to get the most out of your wedding budget and pull off the wedding you’ve always dreamed about.

The bottom line is: if at the end of the day you are married, then mission accomplished! You’ve hit the target and now it’s time to party! One of the best parts of a wedding is the chance to catch up and enjoy all your guests that have come to celebrate with you. Spend time with your loved ones as a married couple and forget about the rest. Happy planning!

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