Your Wedding Party Will Really “Party” at Your Island Wedding

It’s been so busy at Weddings in Vieques this week. Several new clients came on board with really big guest lists so I’ve been a busy girl finding venues, accommodations and rental cars to haul all their guests around the island. September is a dead month on Vieques, so it’s hard to reach people. Lots of folks close shop and head off the island for the whole month. That’s why it’s so easy to get really great deals on destination weddings during the off season, especially if you’re booking in advance. But that’s a topic for another blog entry — the Top Ten Reasons to Get Married During Hurricane Season.

Today we’re talking about dealing with your wedding party at your destination wedding.

I only learned one useful thing from the wedding planner I fired when I was getting married — she warned me that the members of the wedding party have a tendency to turn into complete idiots at destination weddings. Unfortunately, she was right. I have seen some ugly things happen at weddings when the members of the wedding party forget why they’re there (to honor and support you) and instead get really, really drunk. I have seen some doozies — and I’m dying to share a few of them with you as we discuss this subject — but I must leave out all names to protect the guilty. You never know who might be reading this, right?

Your friends who are otherwise nice, considerate, sensible and mature people may lose their minds when they get to the island. It’s something about the sun and the beer and the heat and the rum and the bikinis… the combination of everything makes people lose their minds.

I’ve seen a maid of honor arrive on Vieques as an elegant and sophisticated woman and turn into a drunken banshee who had to be escorted out of the rehearsal dinner 24 hours after she arrived on the island. Not to worry, she made it up the next day by being the only sober member of the wedding party at the ceremony.

There once was a groomsman who got up on a table at the reception and did a strip tease, swinging his thing at a crowd of old ladies (who weren’t helping matters when they started giving him dollar bills).

One MOH was MIA for most of the pictures and reception while she angrily and repeatedly drunk-dialed her boyfriend who had decided at the last minute not to attend the wedding.

I could go on and on and on, but I’ll spare you the horror stories. You can use your imagination. But the lesson here is clear, you take a risk when you bring all of your friends to a Caribbean island and give the unlimited free booze on the most special day of your life.

So how do you prevent this? What’s the best way to avoid stress and drama and pictures of things you don’t want to remember that really happened on your wedding day? You hire a babysitter. Not literally. But you designate somebody to be a responsible party.

If you have a wedding planner, be completely honest with her about anybody (wedding party or guest) that could potentially be a problem. She’ll know what to do. If you’ve planned your own wedding, then you want to find an older person who is willing to take on the job. I say older person, but what I really mean is somebody that your bridesmaids and groomsmen will listen to and take seriously.

As a wedding planner, I try to strike up a good rapport with the members of the wedding party as I meet them. And I have a little talk with them — without the bride and groom present — before the ceremony rehearsal just to let them know what’s expected of them as bridesmaids and groomsmen. For most of my weddings, we do the actual rehearsal on the morning before the wedding because the couples have beach parties and other activities planned for their guests during the day that involve alcohol. There’s no point in having a rehearsal with a bunch of drunks who’ve just come back from five booze-soaked hours in the sun. It’s a waste of time and it will seriously irritate your minister.

Anyway, I like to meet with the wedding party for just a few minutes before the rehearsal to remind them that even though we’re all at a big party on a Caribbean island, they’re here represent, support and honor the bride and groom. The sun makes the alcohol hit you a lot harder and faster, the sun is hotter in the Caribbean, drink one bottle of water for every beer, don’t get sunburned before the pictures, yada yada yada. I treat them respectfully. They’re all adults after all. But I quickly run through basic rules and etiquette that needs to be adhered to in order for the weekend to be perfect for the bride and groom. I remind them, for example, that’s it’s considered in bad form to vomit in any public area of the hotel or villa in which they are staying. And that getting sick in rental cars that will be sitting in the sun all day the next day is strictly forbidden. And that even though peeing in the garden may seem like a quick and convenient solution to the problem, it’s a better idea to walk the 30 feet to the bathroom instead.

I explain to the girls that they have to avoid strap marks that will look terrible with their dresses, and that everybody needs to wear sunblock because sunburned faces and peeling noses really do muck up formal wedding photos. Last but not least, I remind them that they have a duty to get through the ceremony and the pictures and the toasts without doing anything to mortify themselves, the bride and groom, the bride’s mother, and anybody else in the wedding party. Eat, drink and be merry! Do not get drunk, puke and act like an asshole. Do not get naked. Do not jump in the pool (at least until after the toasts). Once you are married and you’ve cut the cake, my job ends. Hopefully I’ve kept them semi-sober enough that most of the older guests will have left before things get too outrageous.

Let me back up and say you shouldn’t have anything to worry about if you’re each only having one attendant. You’re probably okay if you each have two. But once you get up into the six plus numbers, it really is a wedding “party.” And they will party.

All of this probably makes me sound like a tremendous party pooper. I’m not. My whole little speech lasts about two and a half minutes and is delivered in a manner that usually makes them all laugh. But it’s stuff that needs to be said. And it’s much better coming from the wedding planner than the wedding couple. If they don’t take it well, let them be mad at me, not you.

If you’re having an older friend or family member act as your wedding party’s babysitter, have them read this blog entry.

Good luck!

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