cover photo courtesy Eyes Of Moorea
After an eight-year engagement, Courtney Kayter and Nick Erfle decided the time had come to lock in plans for a destination wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica with a guest list of 100 friends and family members.
The venue was booked and the invitations were mailed, but then the couple second-guessed their plans as guests had to make a large financial decision and commitment ahead of the big day.
“Neither of us had ever really wanted a large wedding and we just didn’t feel right putting a financial burden on family members in order to attend,” Kayter tells Travel Courier Digital. “In early 2018 we called the whole thing off and decided to embark on a bucket list trip. Our friends and family were shocked to find out we had cancelled our wedding, but we never hesitated for one second.”
Working alongside Tammy Prost of Tropical Escapes Destination Weddings & Travel Inc., the pair instead came up with a plan for a two-week island hopping weddingmoon in French Polynesia starting off in Papeete, Tahiti.
“The only way to describe the scenery was breathtaking, everything you see in pictures and in movies is absolutely true, it’s a lush fantasy of every shade of blue you can imagine,” she says. “Up until two months before the wedding date, we thought it was just going to be the two of us for the whole trip, however, my parents made a last minute decision to tag along and having them there meant the world to both of us.”
After three days in Papeete, the newlyweds-to-be headed to Moorea for the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa, where they’d exchange vows.
“I was so anxious as I had almost no contact with the resort at all and couldn’t imagine how we were going to plan a whole wedding in just one day,” she recalls. “We met with our coordinator Josie the day after we arrived, and we had everything planned out within an hour. I can’t believe I had ever stressed about a thing – it doesn’t take long for the island vibes to rub off on you.”
Although a minor storm threatened to put a damper on the wedding day, mere minutes before Erfle was set to arrive on the beach via canoe, the sun came out.
“The resort contracted out world-renown stylist Christian Kim as my hair stylist, and our entire bungalow was adorned with fresh picked flowers and petals along with champagne and canapés. Nick arrived by canoe and we were both escorted up the beach by a parade of traditional Polynesian dancers,” she says. “We were wrapped in a sacred robe and baptized with new Polynesian names. Our hands were woven together by coconut leaves as we said our vows, and those vows were sealed with more dancing and clunking of coconuts. It was an absolute blast. We were even able to get pictures of the most beautiful rainbow over top the overwater bungalows.”
The couple spent five more days at the InterContinental Moorea before embarking on the final stretch of their getaway in Bora Bora.
“I never once had a single doubt that we were making the right decision when we chose to elope,” she says. “Very few people will ever be lucky enough to see the beautiful islands of French Polynesia, let alone say they got married there.”
In follow up to last month’s Travel Courier digital cover story, here’s an inside look at some more agent-booked destination weddings, including Courtney and Nick’s elopement.