Michelle & Adric's adventure in ancient ruins wedding

Wedding at Xunantunich
Photos by Olivera Rusu

The offbeat bride: Michelle, Veterinary Technician

Her offbeat partner: Adric, Mechanical Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Xunantunich Mayan Ruins and Ka'ana resort, San Ignacio, Belize — March 15, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our ceremony only had nine guests, but they spent the entire vacation with us zip-lining, cave tubing, and snorkeling. We had to take a ferry to get to the ceremony location.

First Look

Wedding at Xunantunich

Tell us about the ceremony: We had a handfasting and exchanged rings while we were still tied together. Adric actually made the DIY cord for the handfasting. Our wedding bands were made of the same piece of wood that was carved and embedded in metal, so we wrote the ring ceremony to fit with that.

Wedding at Xunantunich

Often people speak of wedding bands as a perfect circle with no beginning and no end, but rings do have a beginning. The material used to make these rings had a previous noble life before its transformation into a new purpose. The wood in the center of these rings reminds us of the single piece of raw lumber carefully whittled into a new existence as two pieces of a whole. The metal surrounding the rings was extracted from the earth, liquefied, molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful was made from these raw elements of nature. Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It's the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all.

Walk down the Aisle

My favorite moment: We arrived at the ruins a little before the guests to set up and take some pictures. I was so excited running around and exploring, but with my corset and the heat of Belize, by the time everyone arrived, I started to feel faint. I had to sit down and get water.

Wedding at Xunantunich

As all of the guests and the minister were waiting, I was struggling to collect myself. Adric knew that I wanted to continue but wasn't quite able to stand yet so he improvised. Without a thought, he got down on one knee, while holding the parasol in one hand, nodded to the minister, and we proceeded with the ceremony like that.

Wedding at Xunantunich

My funniest moment: My grandmother had read several travel books before the trip, so she was prepared with a lot of fun facts about Belize. During the reception when the drinks arrived, she leaned over to one of my friends gesturing to her drink and said "You know what that is don't you?" The girl replied that it was coconut rum and pineapple juice. My grandmother announced to the group very matter-of-factly that it is a "Panty Ripper." That became the official Belizean drink for the group during the rest of the trip.

Wedding at Xunantunich

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? All of the planning for the wedding was done over email based on reviews and websites. I picked a fairly new resort sight unseen, relying on a few pictures and the word of people I had never met. Many of the details of the ceremony and trip activities were being handled by the resort, and I was definitely worried something would be forgotten.

Instead, I was blown away by the Ka'ana resort. It was beautiful and they brought customer service to the next level. All of the staff were so attentive and friendly. They told us local stories, knew our names, and even what we liked to eat. If I needed anything, no matter who I asked, from the pool guy to the gardener, they would drop what they were doing and help.

Ka'ana Hotel

The hotel staff even conspired with our photographer, so that after the wedding we came back to our room to find it filled with hundreds of candles. Thanks to Ka'ana, the whole trip went off with out a hitch. They were knowledgeable while they took us to and from all of the activities, and perfectly coordinated the bus to plane to car ride to the island hotel where we were spending the second half of our trip.

Ka'ana Hotel

My advice for Offbeat Brides: List the things that are most important to you before you start. As the planning goes along, if/when something little goes wrong, the list puts it in perspective.

Wedding at Xunantunich

Wedding at Xunantunich

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Oh my gawd, I love your rings and the reading that went along with the rings! I've got a green engagement ring as well, and we also got wood-inlaid bands. I wish I'd seen your ring reading a month ago; I might have stolen it!

    • It's from Ariel's book…At least that's where I saw it, I know because I'm pinching it too 🙂

  2. MY GOODNESS!! What a beautiful wedding! Everything looks so perfect – the couple, that dress!, her hair, the location, the rings….ahhhhhhh!

    2 agree
  3. I am SO glad this was posted – your wedding is so amazing! My fiance and I really want to plan an adventure-style wedding in Peru. How did you find your minister? Also, did your resort have a wedding planner or someone you corresponded with regularly to help you plan? Sorry for all the questions! I'm so psyched to find someone who has been through the experience 🙂

    • The best advice I can give is choose your hotel/resort carefully. I searched tripadvisor as well as many other sites before finally deciding on a place that wasn't as well known but was a small luxury resort looking to make a name for themselves. There are a lot of well known hotels that advertise wedding expertise and have it down to a science, but as a result they often move weddings through like an assembly line, and don't give you the individualized help and attention you want and deserve.

      Even if a location doesn't advertise wedding experience, email and ask them. I communicated with several locations, before I decided on my hotel. Think up questions ahead of time and use your first communications as an interview. If they are very slow with responses or don't answer questions to your satisfaction you can assume that they will be just as difficult when you are trying to plan your wedding.

      My resort was wonderful about working with me to plan and reserve the location, hairdresser, minister as well as tons of other details through their in house wedding planner. She knew the local laws, weather, food, and people, so it was wonderful having someone who knew all the ins and outs of the area. But don't forget to do your research as well, those assembly line hotels can sometimes be a good source for ideas or vender information. Just because your site suggests one thing don't be afraid to ask about other options or vendors.

      Also make sure you research wedding license requirements for your country. We were "officially" married in Virginia, because we didn't want to a waste an entire day doing paperwork at the marriage bureau while in paradise. The Belize ceremony is our actual wedding, the other is just a piece of paper. It also give you more leeway if you want an unusual ceremony, or want to have a friend act as minister.

      It is a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      2 agree
      • Great advice – thanks so much! I have definitely heard about doing the legal marriage in the states to avoid major headaches, and it really is a great idea. Treating email communications as interviews is something i will absolutely keep in mind when searching for a resort. It will be fun to find a place that is happy to help with the process. It seems like finding the places that communicate well and are eager to help is the place to start. Thanks again for all the tips, and i will most certainly contact you if more questions arise!! Congrats and may you and Adric have many many many blissful years together! <3

  4. "You know what that is don't you?" … "Panty Ripper." – Your Grandmother is Awesome

    Congratulations! This is all so beautiful

    6 agree
  5. This is just so incredibly gorgeous…all of it!!! Also, do you think your grandmother would like to come to my wedding? She is obviously wonderful and hilarious!

  6. That is just the kind of wedding I dreamt of before we started planning. Somewhere historic and beautiful, with only us or our very closest of family. It looks amasing!

  7. :)Beautiful.
    Xunantunich is quite possibly my favorite spot in the entire world…would love to do a vow renewal there in a few years.
    And this makes me miss Belize just that much more than I always do when I'm not there.

  8. Hi Michelle (and Adric!), Congrats! We loved crafting your engagement ring, and are thrilled to see it be part of such a beautiful, romantic, and unique celebration. Best Wishes and Much Love, Carolyn Cutshall, Hunt Country Jewelers

  9. Hi Adric & Michelle, Congrats on your wedding, what a wonderful celebration! We are honored to have the privilege of designing your bands! We wish you a life time of happiness! Gloria, USA Jewelry

  10. I know I'm a little late to the conversation, but OMG, I've been there!!! I was at the Xunantunich ruins in 2002 for an ecology trip around Belize, and it was AMAZING!! I've always dreamed of going back as taking my boyfriend. 🙂

    And yes, I even had a "panty ripper", which was beyond delicious and have never had anything as good since…..

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