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.
Courtney and Nick
- The couple: Courtney and Nick
- The location: InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa Moorea, French Polynesia
- The wedding date: December 18, 2018
- Size of the wedding group: 4
- The agent: Tammy Prost, Tropical Escapes Destination Weddings & Travel Inc. www.tropicalescapes.ca
- The photographer: Eyes Of Moorea www.eyesofmoorea.com
- Tell us about the booking: It was an absolute pleasure planning with Courtney and Nick, and while their original destination wedding plans did not pan out the way they had hoped, their choice to elope was the right decision as they truly deserved to have their once-in-a-lifetime dream wedding come true. Since they were my very first South Pacific wedding couple, I was a little out of my element but super excited and up for this new challenge. We booked with Goway Travel, which was a dream to work with. Our very experienced reservation agents’ recommendations and guidance made the planning process easy and stress-free for all of us. Thank you, Courtney and Nick, for your kind words and your trust in me. It was a privilege and provides such gratification knowing I had a small part in planning this epic journey and your special day was truly magical and an unforgettable experience.
- From the bride: Picking your wedding planner is as big of a deal as picking your wedding dress, but when you’ve found the one you just know it’s the one. Tammy was that for us. From our first phone call to the day we left, while we were away and, in the months to follow, Tammy became more than our planner, she became a friend. Every single one of my questions worries or concerns was always answered and solved in record time. She became my voice of reason when the wedding jitters started to become overwhelming. Planning a destination wedding halfway across the world is no easy feat but somehow Tammy managed to make the whole thing a flawless execution and ensured every wish we had was granted. We are honoured to have been Tropical Escapes Destination Weddings first French Polynesian wedding and will always be grateful to Tammy for helping us with our bucket list weddingmoon.
Ameet and Karandeep
- The couple: Ameet & Karandeep
- The location: Barcelo Maya Grand, Riviera Maya, Mexico
- The wedding date: Feb 22, 2019
- Size of the wedding group: 150 guests
- The agent: Raj Pahwa, Absolute Wedsite / Destination Ishq www.absolutewedsite.com / www.destinationishq.com / Canada’s Largest One-Stop South Asian Destination Wedding Solution
- The photographer + Cinematographer: XO Stories, www.xostories.ca
- Tell us about the booking: This was a Sikh destination wedding
Tasha and Kent
- The couple: Tasha and Kent
- The location: TRS Yucatan Hotel, Riviera Maya, Mexico
- The wedding date: July 29, 2018
- Size of the wedding group: 135 guests
- The agent: Sharon Boissonneault, Maison de Voyages
- The photographer: Stanley Babb, Stanlo Photography, www.stanlophotography.com
- From the bride: From start to finish Sharon was simply amazing. With a wedding party my size, you can imagine how difficult it is to get everyone in order and make sure everything is arranged. Sharon exceeded my expectations in every way. We encountered so many obstacles; one of the biggest ones was having to change countries because of natural disasters. I could not ask for a more patient and understanding travel agent. Her hard work and dedication to her job definitely did not go unnoticed.
Roslyn and Ryan
- The couple: Roslyn and Ryan
- The location: St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua
- The wedding date: March 13, 2019
- Size of the wedding group: 50 guests, aged 10 months to 80 years old
- The agent: Brian Bobroff, Independent by Flight Centre, www.flightcentreindependent.ca/BrianBobroff
- The photographer: Donald Watkins, www.watkinsmultimedia.com
- Tell us about the booking: Working with Roslyn and Ryan was really wonderful, especially compared to some recent wedding groups that caused me to question if I ever wanted to book a wedding again. This wedding also opened my eyes to Antigua. Thanks in large part to this wedding, I was one of the top sellers of Antigua and Barbuda which qualified me for a fam at the end of last year where I was able to experience the laid back beauty of the island and many stunning resorts including the St. James Club & Villas where Roslyn and Ryan tied the knot.
- From the bride: We were thrilled all of our guests booked our wedding to Antigua seamlessly through Brian. He was very professional and thorough. We would recommend him to anyone planning a destination wedding.
Ally and Andrew
- The couple: Ally and Andrew
- The location: Ocean Riviera Paradise, Cancun, Mexico
- The wedding date: April 2, 2019
- Size of the wedding group: 47
- The agent: Cindy Almond, Romance and Foodie Travel, www.romanceandfoodietravel.ca
- The photographer: Michael W. Popovich
- Tell us about the booking: As a foodie, I knew from the first meeting that this couple and I were meant to work together when they welcomed me to their home with homemade guacamole and chips to discuss their destination wedding dreams. They are the sweetest couple and such a pleasure to work for and with. I wish them much success in their journey together as husband and wife.
- From the bride and groom: Initially, we were nervous about planning a destination wedding long-distance but knew it was our dream and Cindy helped to put our minds at ease. We met with Cindy a few times when we were deciding on a location and she was very knowledgeable and patient. She was always available to answer any questions or concerns we had. Organizing 47 people for a destination was not easy, but Cindy pulled it off. We enjoyed spending an entire week with our family and friends, versus one night. The resort exceeded our expectations – the rooms, staff and food were all incredible. Our room was even upgraded upon arrival, which was a nice perk. The wedding day itself was an absolute dream – we did not have to worry about a thing. It’s hard to sum up in just a couple of short paragraphs, but everything was so worth it. We cannot thank Cindy enough for being such a huge part of our dream wedding and making it a reality.
Marisa and Winston
- The couple: Marisa and Winston
- The location: Azul Fives Resort, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- The wedding date: June 27, 2018
- Size of the wedding group: 62
- The agent: Sharon Boissonneault, Maison de Voyages
- The photographer: Azul Fives trusted vendor Caribe Photo
- The engagement story: What Marisa thought was a surprise Disney trip for their son Elijah, who had often shared his dream of visiting the “happiest place on earth” quickly turned into a surprise for her as well when Winston planned a fairy tale proposal at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom on February 29, 2016.
- From the bride: Sharon provided several resort options while respecting our guests’ budgets as well as the overall wedding budget. She was extremely attentive, knowledgeable and efficient in all aspects of her role. Once we laid eyes on Azul Fives we knew we found the one. The gourmet inclusive resort is immaculately kept and the comfort of guests is their top priority. Live entertainment, amazing food and modern rooms set the mood for a relaxing time ahead. Our guests were blown away on the wedding day, as we had both the ceremony and reception on the private sky deck overlooking the ocean. The wedding coordinators onsite are extremely professional and ensure that your vision becomes a reality. Our guests raved about the week and wedding the whole time stating that Azul Fives exceeded their expectations and we could not agree more.