Learning to Let Go and Move On: Our Destination Wedding in Vieques

Have you ever had something happen to you that made you so upset that you just had to sit back and let it all settle before you could address it? We did, and sadly, it was our own wedding. We were able to talk about it with our family and friends after it happened, but now I am finally ready, after a full year, to blog about our wedding that had a few bumps in the road.

Andy proposed on May 5th, 2012 and we celebrated our engagement on the wonderful tropical island of Puerto Rico and their sister island of Vieques. After coming back home we excitedly jumped into the wedding planning process. We took some time to visit some locations around the state of Wisconsin, but were quickly finding that no wedding comes cheap. From  $5,000 for renting a barn plus the costs of providing food, entertainment, booze, and just about everything under the sun, to a $12,000 catering fee at a garden in Milwaukee with an additional park fee of $500 and again, everything under the sun, we just couldn’t justify spending that much for ONE day.

Our 'Save the Date' cards

Our ‘Save the Date’ cards

We tossed aside the idea of getting married in Wisconsin and quickly switched gears to start planning a destination wedding in Las Vegas. After reading about a company who does weddings in different Vegas hot spots, we found a winery that looked like it had potential. We put a down payment on the restaurant and began working with a hotel on the strip for a block of rooms, when we started receiving many emails from family and friends about the costs of getting and staying in the ‘Land of Elvis.’

Wanting to make everyone happy, we began to second guess ourselves that maybe we had jumped into planning the wedding too soon. We pulled the plug on Las Vegas, even after losing $800+ and sent out cards to our loved ones that we were postponing on getting married. It was a hard thing to come to terms with, but we were completely lost on what to do.

Back to Isla Vieques

After taking about a month to let things settle and to take our mind off of planning a wedding, curiosity got the better of me, and I started looking at destination beach weddings in the Caribbean. Vieques held a soft spot in my heart because we spent our engagement there. I saw that Weddings in Vieques, owned by Sandy Malone, was doing a special for couples to get married on 12/12/12. I ran the idea by Andy and we began to get excited about the thought of getting married on a beautiful tropical island.

She did make our wedding ‘special’ but I think we have different definitions of special.

We contacted Sandy in early November and told her we were in for getting married on 12/12/12 and told her that it was just going to be a small ceremony on a beach with our family. Sandy had told us that she was in the process of getting contracts signed for filming to begin for her TV show (Wedding Islandand asked if we had wanted to be on it. After learning that the network was TLC and numerous amounts of pesky emails/ phone calls from producers, we pulled out of wanting our wedding to be filmed. Sandy respected our wish, and did everything in her power to keep our privacy in tact. We are grateful for that, but it didn’t help with our special day.

Once we arrived on the island, we thought all the hard stuff was behind us, because we had paid money for a wedding planner to take care of it all, or at least we thought that is what we were paying her for. After a rough two hour boat ride from Fajardo to Vieques, we met another couple and her family that was going to be filmed for Sandy’s show. Think Jersey Shore meets Bridezilla’s – the exact reason why we didn’t want our day to be shared with the world.

Sandy picked us up at the pier and I was excited to meet her because she reassured many times that our wedding was going to be perfect, and when you are in the moment, you believe it. After Sandy dropped us off and made sure we received our wonderful gift basket, she took off because the Jerseyzillas mentioned beforehand had already started the drama. We did not see Sandy again until moments, and I really mean, moments before our ceremony began.

Our Wedding Day Has Arrived!

AndyBecki1

We arrived on Vieques on Monday and our family was not due until Tuesday night, the wedding wasn’t until Wednesday, so we spent our time with our favorite couple, Joe and Maria, and also took a trip to Sun Bay where our wedding was going to be at. Tuesday night came, our family was exhausted after a full day of traveling and a rough boat ride to Vieques. We took them to their designated hotels and called it a night, well for the most part. We *may* of had some beers at Lazy Jack’s to take the edge off of pre wedding jitters and a non responsive wedding planner. Wednesday morning came fast because what bride isn’t excited for her wedding day? I did wake up with a slight worry in the back of my mind because we hadn’t heard from Sandy at all since she dropped us off.

Andy had to call first to see what was even going on for the day, as we had no itinerary until we checked in to our other hotel, in the early afternoon. We knew the wedding was going to be at 4:30pm, but up until then we had no idea when I was supposed to have hair and makeup done, where our flowers were, when the cab was to arrive for everyone, and when we were supposed to meet at the beach.

Things started to go downhill fast after we checked into our other hotel. My appointment for hair and makeup was set up at 2pm and I had to pick a time because Sandy did not know how long it would take me, but how was I to know, I was never married before! We had rented one Jeep while on the island, and my step dad suggested driving the Jeep to the beach so Andy wouldn’t see me before the ceremony to keep to some tradition. Sandy had never mentioned that we would need transportation to the ceremony site, and a mere half hour before Andy and our family left, he had to call to arrange a taxi to come!

A quick photo shoot with my flowers

A quick photo shoot with my flowers

After 2 hours I was ready to head to the beach with my mom &  step dad, we get the area where I believe the ceremony is to be held, because I was not told by Sandy beforehand where the ceremony was going to be. My step dad gets out of the car to scope out the beach to see if everyone is there only to come back to report that no one was at the beach yet. We were already late, so I was confused as to why the beach was empty, when Andy and everyone else had left 15 minutes before us.

We all get out of the car and go up to the building where someone from the park lets me sit and wait. The attendant begins to tell us that we would have to have a permit to get married on the beach, and this is the point where my blood begins to boil, because Sandy was supposed to be here to straighten this mess out! Little did I know that Andy was one mile down the beach with Sandy having his own problems…

When Andy arrived at the beach, way past where the buildings were, he began to get worried that I wouldn’t be able to find where they were. We had only been to the buildings, and thought for sure that’s where the ceremony would be. He explained this situation to Sandy, but she interrupted him mid sentence with an even bigger problem. Sandy came to our wedding completely unprepared, saying that Andy never sent her the email with our ceremony layout to print out for our officiant!!! The thing is, we sent them to her numerous time before we even got to the island. We even sent them to her the night before just to make sure she had them. This is where Andy had walked off to make sure he did not give Sandy a piece of his mind, and let him figure out what to do.

While Andy was trying to get our ceremony layout together, the park ranger sent an attendant down the beach to see if Sandy was there. Learning that Sandy has her own section of the beach for her weddings, which I was never told of this, the worker comes back to let us know, that yes, she is there. Furious that we were late, confused, and disorganized after spending thousands on a wedding planner to prevent all those problems, we return to the Jeep to drive a mile down to get to the ceremony. Sandy greets me saying that I am ‘glowing’ which was actually red with rage, and wishes me well as for she had to leave because she does not attend private ceremonies, which actually meant she had another wedding to go to.

Meanwhile, Andy borrowed his Mom’s cell phone (he didn’t bring his own to the wedding cause he had no where to carry it), logged into his Gmail and went to the sent items to show Sandy how completely wrong she was, and as he was showing her he suddenly realized they could just use it off the phone for the ceremony! Thankfully the ceremony goes off without a hitch, and I am unaware of our officiant reading from two different cell phones, because I did not know of this earlier problem until Andy said something later that night. The ceremony, the photographs and the dinner went very well. We thought the hardest part was left behind at the beach, and we could finally begin to relax after all those bumps in the road.

… and the BS continues…

Thursday morning Andy tells me that we have to meet with Sandy at some point to sign our marriage paperwork and get it off to the courthouse in San Juan. After finally getting ahold of Sandy she tells us that we have to meet her at the hospital at 11am because that’s were the office is to get this paperwork done. Sandy arrived 20 minutes late, then proceeds to walk right past and doesn’t see us at all, since she is busy with the other couple, Jerseyzilla, and we have to wait our turn, again.

The lady (working on her day off, thanks to Sandy) going through our paperwork is getting upset because Sandy never had our officiant sign the marriage license. After the ceremony he had to rush off, because he was in fact, on his own honeymoon! And in the rush forgot our paperwork. Sandy had to get ahold of him, which it turned out he was already on the boat getting ready to head back to Fajardo with his wife, and we had to meet him at Sandy’s office. Also, going through our paperwork we did not have an affidavit stated that we live where we live, because apparently, our driver’s licenses wasn’t enough, and Sandy never double checked our paperwork before we got the island.

After the hospital Sandy had us follow her to her office where we could meet our officiant, who was royally pissed off at her, and signed our license and left ASAP. One of Sandy’s worker’s, Stephanie, who was from Milwaukee (so we could relate with her) started typing up a note that we needed notarized by the lawyer for our documents. Seeing how Vieques is a small island off of Puerto Rico, island time is something everyone there follows. There is only few places where you can get paperwork notarized, one happened to be a hardware store, and that was closed. Another lawyer’s office was closed, and finally Stephanie got ahold of the last lawyer on the island, and she was running behind because she had a flat tire.

At this point it is going on 1pm, and we just wanted to get back to our family because it was their last full day on the island and we hadn’t seen them the whole day! We told Stephanie that we would wait at the lawyer’s office, because it wasn’t going to be much longer, and said goodbye. Another 45 minutes later, the girl finally showed up and begin typing our affidavit for the lawyer to sign off on. It had to be retyped a few times before it was finally good enough, we had to pay $35 and we were on our way back to Sandy’s office. We handed the paperwork to Sandy’s husband, thinking we were finally finished and could actually relax a little, when he handed us a sheet of paper that our witnesses needed to sign, because neither our officiant nor Sandy took care of this the day before!

Went back a couple days later to take a picture of the place where we waited oh so patiently for our affidavit.

Went back a couple days later to take a picture of the place where we waited oh so patiently for our affidavit.

We thought that was the last of Sandy and began to enjoy our last couple of days on the island. After we got back home, we received an email from Sandy saying that we had some ‘outstanding’ payments due, for my hair and makeup, and for the taxi that Andy had called about for getting everyone to the beach for our ceremony. We wrote back to Sandy and explained to her that we would not be paying that outstanding bill because of the awful job she did at being a wedding planner. To this day she has never apologized for the way she took care of things, and the stress that was brought upon us while on the island. She has also never sent us our marriage license, holding the legal docs hostage until we paid up. Andy had to get ahold of the Puerto Rico courthouse, which is no easy task if you do not speak Spanish, and talked to someone so we could have our marriage license mailed to us.

Looking back on all that had happened, I came to terms with realizing that I cannot change the mistakes that took place, and learned to laugh at the moments that made me irate, and not hold in the anger of what was supposed to be the most magical day of my life.

Comments

  1. Ugh, I remember this oh-so-well… and I’m still mad! But I am so happy for ya’ll and that Ethan and I were able to make it for your day :) And of course, how could I forget the island? I have a map of the island on our bathroom wall. Also, Ethan kept a barf bag in remembrance of claw hands… :)

    • I couldn’t believe after writing and rereading and even more rereading that it could still make us roll our eyes and click our tongues! What a crazy day – but in the end everything worked out. We are still grateful that you and Ethan made it down there, and I hope that barf bag is not a used one! ;-)

  2. Hi.
    I am from Wisconsin also and was looking at getting married in PR also. Small wedding, only about 10/12 people including my bf and I. If you don’t mind me asking, about how much did you guys spend with airfare, hotel, food, planner etc. Just trying to get an idea; I am totally clueless at this point :-/

    • Hi Lauren, sorry to hear at how lost you feel at the moment, I remember that feeling all too well. I would say for airfare, lodging, food (including our wedding dinner for 8 people), our planner, week long rental car and misc. items we probably spent around $5,000. Since we got married on Vieques, which is a small island off of PR, I’m not sure if weddings (planners) are cheaper on the mainland. You can always send me an email if you have more questions, and I’d love to help out! :) beckio@gmail.com

  3. My fiance and I are getting married on Vieques this June. We went to PR and Culebra last April and fell in love with it. We decided to get married on Vieques as we heard there is more night life/things to do on Vieques and there are also more vacation properties to rent. I initially contacted Sandy with just a few questions and she replied with a generic form letter which kinda turned me off. Then I watched the Wedding Island show and was just utterly amazed at how unprofessional she appeared to be. Your story only confirms that! I don’t understand the incompetency. I’m glad everything worked out for you two and that you were able the make the best of it!

    • Thanks Megan, it did all work out in the end. Some of the problems we had still boggle our minds!

    • Thanks Megan! A huge part of me wishes that we would have waited until after ‘Wedding Island’ came out so I could have seen how crazy Sandy was (is) so maybe we would have went a different route! But, it is what it is and looking back it sure makes one helluva story, lol.

  4. Lily R. says:

    Thank you for this! I too am planning a small wedding in Vieques for May 2014, and somehow, I didn’t like Sandy too well either. After speaking to another wedding planner, (whom I loved, by the way) we came to the conclusion that planning my own wedding was probably the best idea. We’ll see how well this goes, but at least I’ll never wonder in the back of my mind ‘what if’ I would have hired Sandy. As a veteran, would you have any tips for our future trip and special event this upcoming month?

    • Hi Lily – first off, congratulations! Vieques (no matter what had happened during my wedding is still a wonderful spot to get married!) I’m glad to hear that you are taking the wedding planning in your own hands and not choosing Sandy. I go through the ‘what ifs’ more than I would like to admit.

      As for tips, the best one I can give is make sure you have all the paper work you need before arriving to the island. We spent way too much time running around and waiting because we missed one piece of paperwork. With that, you will be on island time – which for a vacation is great because who doesn’t love to kick back and just relax? But when you are preparing for your big day – plan in advance. Book your hair appointment with plenty of time to get dressed, so you are not running behind.

      I feel like I could go on and on but I don’t want you to fret before your wedding – but if you do have any other questions, please feel free to email me and I can try my best to help you out! (Restaurants, places to stay, things to do, more on the wedding paperwork etc.) ( beckio@gmail.com)

      But the best tip I can give is – don’t worry if not everything works out smoothly (every girl wants their wedding to be perfect, but perfect is sometimes impossible to achieve) so just relax, be happy and be in the moment because that makes the best memories :)

  5. Hey! Congrats on your marriage. Crazy yet insightful. I was contemplating on getting married in Vieques. There is a lot of information online, but then there kind of isn’t. The only planner I even see is Sandy. Do you have any advice or tips? I was also wondering about the cost of getting from the airport to the ferry. Seems like a lot for guests and it worries me.

    • Hi Holly! Thank you so much, it is hard to believe that we made it through all of that chaos! It’s true, there is a lot of information on the internet, but it always seems to be not what you are truly looking for. Sandy is also the only wedding planner I have seen that is actually located on Vieques. I think many other couples hire wedding planners from San Juan and then work together to plan a wedding on Vieques, which in the end it probably equals out to same amount of money.

      Once you get into San Juan you can hire a car/ driver to take you to Fajardo, which comes out to $80/ each way. If you have a bigger party you may be able to talk down the price, like a group discount.

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me – beckio@gmail.com Hope this has helped a bit! :-)

    • Just got married in Vieques says:

      I just got married there in October see my post I have some info that may be helpful sandy is rude! I went to her shop because it was closing because she said she had too many weddings I don’t see how!

  6. Just got married in Vieques says:

    Hello I just got married 10/25/14 on Vieques what an amazing spot! So sorry to hear your story and hope it doesn’t make anyone second guess such an amazing place. I heard about Sandy when planning my wedding all the locals hate her and say she is a B. I was able to use the same people on the island that rent all the tables and chairs to do my entire wedding set up food bar everything for a very good price and they were all so NICE! Last minute I had to move the location because of the seaweed and they made it happen needed extra chairs and tent charged me for nothing! It was amazing of course there was the regular stress and running around but at the end of the day all worth it! She even told me of a local place to go for hair and makeup! The only thing they didn’t do was decorate but I am sure they probably would of but I had family that all pitched it and made it amazing more then I could imagine! I know you are your husband were able to smile after everything. There is also an amazing officiant on the island of Vieques took care of all paperwork and walked me through the process of what paperwork we needed and ensured we had to right. And was able to hand deliver our license.

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to hear that your wedding a lot smoother than ours!

      My post was never intended for anyone to second guess Vieques – not one bit! I love it there so much – besides for Sandy – and I truly encourage everyone to visit there at least in their lifetime. It is a breathtaking little island that I love with all of my heart.

      I wish I had done more research before our wedding on Vieques, because I would have loved to do things myself so they would have gone over a bit better. Glad to hear that you were able to have a great wedding and were able to use great vendors that are on the island.

    • Hi i read your post because i was googling weddings in vieques and i was hoping for tips?

      • Hi Iris,

        What kind of tips were you looking for? I can try and help out with the best knowledge that I can.

        Please feel free to email me at beckio@gmail.com for more help :)

        • How interesting to find this sweet blog and all this info buried so deep when I searched weddings vieques. It’s crazy to see almost everything on the web points to the one company that you are writing about, or the w — a corporate hotel with a faux sense of luxury by my standards. Anyway — were happy to help, although we don’t do wedding planning specifically, but we do help our guests and host their beautiful, amazing, naturally elegant ( but still somehow down to earth and reasonable) weddings, receptions, up to 80, and stays up to 35 — throughout the year at our rustic inn, la finca caribe. Check us out Online if you’re interested.we have quite a few pics, or on our fb page. We’re in the hills of Vieques, three miles to beach, quiet, private and natural. If you know anyone interested, have them look at our wedding pages on our site…it’s a small island, but we are in a whole other world than that craziness. Thanks all. Corky, owner

          • Hi, Corky!

            I’m so sorry for such a VERY late reply, life just becomes too crazy, you know? Thank you for your wonderful comment, and I hope the readers out there planning their Vieques wedding can see it and experience a more calmer wedding than what I had. I wish we knew then that you were around and I’m sure we would of had a much better time! Thanks again! :-)

  7. Talking about coincidences….I’m at home, just channel surfing, and got ‘stuck’ on TLC’s Wedding Island. I was thinking ‘this is so unprofessional, how much would she charge? ‘, so I searched a bit and that’s how I came here. And guess which episode they’re showing? the 12-12-12 one ;) Now I can’t help but think ‘oh dear, that’s Jerseyzilla’ and ‘at this moment in the day, Andy & Becki were…..(filling in with parts of your story)’. I can’t believe people choose such an unprofessional person to plan their wedding after seeing this show. (of course, you didn’t know at the time, just as you wrote in your story)

    I just wanted you to know I’ve really enjoyed reading this, maybe not the best wedding ever, but it’s a wonderful story to laugh about with friends and family later ;)

    Sorry if my grammar/spelling is a bit off, I’m not a native speaker (Dutch).

    Kind regards, Fleur

    • I so meant to reply to this comment a long time ago, but life has been so busy, but let me just say, this comment makes me happy every time I read it! And seriously, what are the chances that you would be reading my post and watching Wedding Island at the same time. At least the show of that date (12-12-12) clearly shows how busy that crazy woman was to give us not so great wedding. Oh well, we are happy, we have a funny story to tell now, and we get to tell others about it too.

      Take care, Fleur!

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