Our Wedding in Thailand - Tips, Tricks & How to Save!
To go straight to the good info skip the first 3 paragraphs, otherwise enjoy the intro =)
For those of you that don't know, my husband Joe and I recently got married. Twice! Haha To some people, that may sound silly and unconventional, but it was the best experience of my life. Women, for those of you who think I may have been robbed of a traditional wedding or a fairy tale I've been dreaming of, I wasn't. It was even better than I imagined. We chose to elope alone, not even our parents or best friends knew, only the judge. When I was growing up I never really wanted a big wedding; with a bunch of bridesmaids, and over 100 guests, seating charts and trying to please everyone. I remember going to weddings and thinking how hard it must have been for everything to run smoothly and how much stress the bride and groom must have went through. I really didn't want that. So instead, my husband Joe and I decided to elope, and to be honest we didn't plan much further than that.
The short story is, we went to bed on November 1, 2017 knowing that the next day, we were going to go straight to the court house to get our marriage license, and then, see a judge and get hitched; and that's exactly what we did. We knew we were going to get married and I knew Joe was waiting for the perfect moment. I actually had a feeling he was waiting for our Turkey trip but all American Visa's were denied and we couldn't go. After we eloped, he told me just that, and that my engagement ring was already in the mail! Haha Who knew?! So there we were, already married, and tickets for 4 that we needed to change. So we thought, why not use the money to have a ceremony just for us. We asked our friends if they wanted to go to Thailand, and if they wanted to have a wedding with us lol; we have great friends, and of course, they said yes. After that, we asked family, and they said yes too! So it was set. We picked a date and started from there.
I'm going to tell you how we did it, of course, but you may choose to get married there, and since that's not what we did, I'll give you my recommendation for an officiant and another venue that has beautiful wedding packages when you stay at their hotel. From here on, I will go step by step on what we did to have a beautiful destination wedding for 1/3 of the cost of the average U.S. wedding. I hope you enjoy!
Buy your plane tickets
The first thing we did was set a date but with a destination wedding that can be difficult because of weather in other parts of the world. For our wedding, we chose Thailand. We knew we wanted some place tropical and with tropical locations you have to pick the perfect time because with beautiful, sunny, tropical weather, also comes big fat monsoons. So with Thailand you want to be there during the cool, dry season, which is between November and early April. We decided to go in early March and the weather was beautiful. Every day it was in the low 80's. If you buy the tickets at least 5 - 6 months in advance you can get them for an amazing price. TIP: Tuesdays at 3PM, 6 weeks in advance, tickets are the absolute cheapest!
Here's how it works: If you're flying from the states I recommend flying out of Los Angeles. Tickets from there are about $450 round-trip when flying China Southern. Most of the time you have a 16 hour layover in China where they give you a room, free passes to local museums, train tickets and its quite fun. Check out my A Day in China blog next week for what to do and what not to do there. The airline is incredibly accommodating and very comfortable overall; they serve great food, as well. We live in Atlanta but buying the flight to L.A. was worth it because the alternative was buying a $1500 flight from Atlanta's Hartfield-International airport, and uh, no thank you. Plus this gave us 2 1/2 days in LA with my family. Since my mother was throwing us a reception party, this was perfect for us. In any case, tickets to Thailand from LA is, in my opinion, better if you are looking at cost.
Tickets from Atlanta to Los Angeles $150, tickets from Los Angeles to Thailand $450, total cost $600.
Alternative: Atlanta to Thailand $1500, savings $900!
Who's going and where are we all staying?
The second thing on our list was finding a venue for the actual wedding ceremony. There are so many options and they are all beautiful. We went back and forth between multiple hotels that offer packages starting as low as 35,000 baht, which is about $1120.00, but that was only for the bride and groom and we had a few people that were going to be there. I also wasn't sure how they were going to take the news that we were already legally married and only wanted a ceremony ahah. What I will say is, if you have the money, having the entire legal ceremony there is surprising inexpensive for a destination wedding and we probably would have chosen to do something similar if we decided to go that route. I recommend Zeavola Resort on Phi Phi Island. Take a closer look at our experience of the island and get a feel for what you can expect if you choose to stay here. CLICK HERE for more information on their wedding packages at Zeavola Resort.
My husband and I like to have fun and check out the giant villas on Airbnb, they're beautiful and usually not something we'd splurge on, but this was a special occasion. So there we were, looking at these giant villas in Phuket and we stumble upon this gorgeous 6 bedroom, 6 1/2 bathroom villa; it was 4 stories with a rooftop terrace. I wish I would have taken better photos and video footage but this was the first trip that I wanted to just enjoy the view and not have my face stuck to a camera; very unlike me.
After seeing photos of the location, Joe and I decided to turn the villa into our venue and have everyone stay with us there. We had 10 people coming and 5 extra rooms. It was a perfect match. It ended up being a super villa, meaning it came with a staff of 6 that were there to help with cleaning, food, and driving us around the town. It was by far the best experience we've had with an Airbnb. Mimi was the manager that stood with us most of the time but everyone there was wonderful, very helpful and made the trip and the ceremony beautiful. Since the Airbnb was a super villa they had a lot of the items we needed, such as the bluetooth radio, chairs, tables, dinnerware and outdoor furniture. This alone is a huge saving and the staff started getting everything ready with us after breakfast. The Airbnb was a total of $4900 and we took a bigger chunk of that amount only asking for $50 a night per person. We paid $2400 and if you use the same system, that would be your price as well. Otherwise, it's the whole amount or less depending on how many rooms you decide to have filled.
Total for venue guests $4900
Total with guests and all rooms filled and paid for $2400
Food, flowers, and decorations - Finding the right vendors in Thailand.
Third thing we did was look for vendors. HELPFUL TIP: this particular villa appreciates you having a wedding planner so that the day runs more smoothly and so that communication is better between everyone. I found a vendor for lighting, furniture rentals, wedding cake/cupcakes, and florist. We kinda scored because the villa has a wonderful chef and we ordered dinner with them; they gave a great deal. I personally asked for recommendations by the villa and searched online for a wedding planner. Here is how you can contact the vendors we went with:
Wedding Planner She was free but only because she got us in contact with vendors instead of helping with the ceremony like a traditional planner.
Phone: Nina +660957565122
Furniture rentals $210 Rento Phuket
Email: www.rentophuket.com #RentoPhuket
Lighting $700 Ekgarin (Ekky) Pronphukhiew with BICEVENT
Phone: +6676355781 Mobile: +66831022703 Whatsapp: +66874716668
Florist $390 Love & Flowers Phuket
Baker $120 Ilona Cake Phuket
Reception dinner $264 We used the villa where each plate cost about $22 each, making the total $264. Check out their Menu for your event and stay.
Everyone helped out!
I can't begin to express how grateful my husband and I are for our family and friends. Because our wedding was so small, everyone helped out. My sister-in-law loves to party plan and she took charge of the day. The month before we left I asked her if she was willing to help us set everything up an be the person of contact for the vendors and she was pretty happy to say yes, so huge thank you to her( @_fitdidi_ ).
TIP: After finding all your vendors, assign someone to be your point of contact and someone to keep track of time to make sure you stay on schedule for your day. In order for the photos and ceremony to come out right, you need the right daylight, therefore you need to stick to a timeline so you have the correct outside light.
When breakfast was over the staff made sure to start cleaning and changing the dining area into the reception area. Then vendors all came about 1 PM and at 10 AM I started to get ready while the boys went to pick up their suits. The vendors were able to speak to our point of contact and my maid of honor; they were able to put things where they needed to be while I got ready. HELPFUL TIP: make sure to share inspiration photos and ideas with your point of contact so that when the vendors arrive it's easier to set the decorations where they need to be.
Remember how I mentioned we eloped prior to our trip? Well, that meant we didn't actually need an official officiant. We decided to have one our best friends Lucas be our officiant. He read our ceremony and we wrote our own vows. It was beautiful, intimate and it felt wonderful for not only us but our family as well.
Total price of all vendors & stay in Thailand $6562.58
Total average U.S. price for vendors and locations $27,012
*Price does not include money spent on smaller items like stationary, gifts and personal attire.
Photographers and videographers
We were very fortunate and have 2 of the best friends in the world. Not only are they great friends but very talented. My best friend, Rachel Lamb with Rachel Lamb Photography, was kind enough to shoot our wedding, with my brother Jacob as her second shooter, as a gift to my husband and me. I very much recommend her services but I have to say, she's not cheap! LOL but SO WORTH IT! Our other friend, Lucas Lamb, her husband, used our fancy new Yi Action Cam to shoot our wedding day video. It was definitely not your average wedding video but we loved it and the quality was great. Basically, we were very blessed and did not pay what the average couple pays for their wedding photographer.
Having a destination wedding photographer can be pricey because of the obvious, its a destination wedding. So here is my suggestion if you are looking to save; search for a newer photographer, with work you like, that is looking to build a portfolio and offer to pay for the ticket and stay. This way, they only need to bring spending money and they get a beautiful wedding to start their destination portfolio. Otherwise, do your research and find a photographer through word of mouth of people you trust. My suggestion is Jacob Garza with Jacob Garza Photography. You can find him on Instagram at @jayycup_gee or @jacobgarzaphotography . He holds a special place in my heart because, well, he is my youngest brother. He takes great pride in his work and is always looking for the best equipment while taking notes from different, more experienced mentors.
Planning a wedding, no matter what, is going to be stressful. So remember... YOU'RE IN THAILAND!!! It's absolutely beautiful and have fun! Take in every moment!
I will always remember jumping in the pool at 5AM in perfect 70 degree weather; waking up every morning, with the people I love most, to the smell of breakfast and Jack Johnson playing in the background; watching the sunrise on the rooftop terrace with my husband and family, and dancing in the kitchen while eating cupcakes in my wedding dress. These moments, I will cherish forever and although being on the beach and having drinks in the main city was fun, its the smaller more intimate moments that stick out to me because our time there was so magical and I'm a very lucky woman to have this experience.
Again, the way we did it may not be for everyone but it was definitely for us. I hope that you enjoyed our story and if you are looking to have a destination wedding or even visit Thailand, that you were able to take something away from this. Thank you to all the people who played a part in making this trip epic! Special thank you to all the vendors and huge thank you to my family and friends for being so great, I love you all! Most of all, thank you to my husband; my heart just melts when I think of our love story and I'm so thankful for him in so many ways. I love you sexy man!
OK, mushiness over ahah Remember to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE with your friends and come back to read next weeks blog!
My beautiful cousin Shawnee and Maid of Honor! This girl has been one of my best friends my entire life. We have always been more like sisters; not even distance has put a wedge between us. She also did so much to help the day look so beautiful and I'm so lucky she was able to walk with me down the isle.