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.
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 Island) and 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!
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!
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!
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.