Stephanie & Chris' Honduran tropical wedding

By on Aug. 17th

The offbeat bride: Stephanie, Veterinarian

Her offbeat partner: Chris, Doctor

Date and location of wedding: Paya Bay Resort, Roatan, Honduras — May 21, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Chris and I both really felt that our wedding should be more about us creating a partnership and having a big party with friends and family than all of the tradition which seems to make people more crazy than happy. We both love scuba diving and traveling and wanted to include that into our wedding week, since this was the one big vacation we were going to have together for a long time (as we are both in internship/residency programs).

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We looked at many different locations throughout Central and South America and finally decided on Roatan. The island was easy to get to from the States, reasonably priced, and had the second largest barrier reef in the world. It took a bit of convincing for some, but we ended up with close to 30 people at the wedding which neither of us expected.

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I tried to make the wedding and reception more like a vacation/party for everyone where they could relax and have fun. We also tried to incorporate some of the local foods, music, and culture into the wedding along with lots of color.

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The table setting

Enjoli was one of the ladies from Paya Bay that really helped pull the reception together. I collected votive holders from Cost Plus World Market and St. Vinnie's thrift shop to hold flowers and candles, while she found some awesome fabric to make table cloths. She also found brightly colored, locally-made flowers made out of maize husks, which we incorporated into my bouquet, the centerpieces, and the altar. She also helped me get local trinkets like coconut candies, magnets made from old tin roofs, cigars, and bracelets, which I put into gift bags that I made out of leftover fabric from my dress.

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And we had tres leches cake which the resort owner's sister made. It was so good!

Cutting the cake

Tell us about the ceremony: We had two ceremonies: an official ceremony officiated by a Honduran judge, which was all in Spanish in the restaurant of the resort, and a more personal ceremony for Chris and I that was officiated by my brother on the beach with all of our guests in attendance.

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For the latter, Chris and I wrote our own vows and the ceremony, which we were still working on that morning. I think my brother was a bit nervous, but he did an awesome job. See below for Chris's vows which I thought were so awesome I actually copied from them:

There is no need to promise to love you –- my love for you was with me from my first breath, was found when I first heard your laugh, and will never end until the moment that I cease to breathe.
I promise to recognize that this love is the most important and good thing in my life, and without daily expressing it and living by it, I am wasting that which is most good in my short life.
I promise to spend my life trying to make our own place for us in this world, and make some part of the world better together. We will not leave this world without making it better.
I promise to trust you fully with all my heart, without reservations, and live freely and joyfully knowing this.
I promise to you that every year of our lives, we will travel to new countries, exploring this world until we die. If we have to be rolled into airplanes or ocean steamers to go there on our deathbeds, we will.

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We had an altar made for the beach ceremony and had a toast just after with a traditional Honduran drink called "chi cha," which is fermented pineapple juice. Afterwards, we had a few appetizers and then watched the sunset on the beach before the reception.

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Our biggest challenge: Trying to do too many things in a short time along with designing my wedding dress and planning the wedding from a distance. I was finishing up my last year in school and traveling a lot for clinical externships, so most of the wedding plans were done in the last six months, if not the last two.

Trying to graduate, defend a thesis, pack to move, and plan a wedding all at the same time was super stressful. But having a glass of wine at night, making daily check lists, taking deep breaths, laughing about how ridiculous everything was, and yoga helped get me through.

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My favorite moment: Some of the most memorable moments include having one of my best friends and her daughter dance a reel at the reception, watching the garifuna dancers perform at the reception, and trying to learn how to do the Honduran shuffle later in the night. I also loved having my brother perform the ceremony and my mom walk me down the aisle.

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My funniest moment: Watching our friends' daughter break dance during the reception and having my brother use the restaurant's menu to hold the vows during the wedding.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? At the last minute we had to ask a friend to be our photographer and ended up playing music from my iPod for the ceremony and reception. We had initially tried to get people for this, but in the end they were not available or out of our budget, so we made do.

 

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Food for the reception!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Everything always costs more than you think it will and you should really plan the budget with a cushion. Chris and I were bad about communicating money issues so we ended up having a small amount of debt after the wedding. But luckily, it was easily manageable.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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