in continuation from the story printed in Perfect Wedding’s The Vintage Vine Issue for Spring/Summer 2014…
Erich decided on a promise ring for the proposal that was an elegant pearl ring, one of Erica’s favourite stones. This way, it was more secure for travel and they could design an engagement ring together that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. Erich carried this ring everywhere in Paris in the case that the perfect opportunity came up, although the PoV seemed to be worth the wait. On the first two days, we visit the Antique markets, Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower at night, Louvre, took walks along the Seine River and had romantic Parisian meals. You couldn’t ask for more romantic settings, but the Palace seemed to still outweigh all of these places, especially after visiting the Sacre-Coeur, for it was stunning to sit there on the steps at night with a bottle of wine and watch over the city of Paris from the highest point, however, between the street hustlers who insisted we purchase a fake purse, a fight that broke out and the hordes of drunk people around, it just didn’t set the mood.
Day Three: ‘The Palace of Versailles’
Erich woke up thrilled this morning for today was the day! We checked into our new hotel before 10 AM, not expecting the room to be ready until the afternoon. The plan was to store the luggage and then check into the room later on after visiting the PoV but the hotel reception insisted that we go to our room toute de suite and played it up with a wink. Thinking that the hotel had things under control, we went to put our luggage in the room and proceeded to open the door – Quelle Surprise! What were all these rose pedals doing in the room? Ummm…think quick… “I love you Baby and am so happy to be here with you in Paris!” The hotel was supposed to have that done in the evening after the proposal actually happened… so much for that.
The Palace of Versailles is about an hour outside Paris and on the way they happened to make some friends on the train. They met a Russian couple that rode from up from Switzerland on their motorbike for the weekend. Nice people but the Russians ended up following Erica and Erich EVERYWHERE in the Palace. They even snuck into an area where we had tickets and they didn’t. Arghh, how was Erich supposed to find some alone time! Finally, the couple had to leave to catch a train, thank god.
The property at the PoV was like a country village. It seemed to go on forever with many impressive buildings and gardens. Erich had a plan to whisk Erica off to the Temple of Love but it seemed impossible to find. We literally walked around in circles amongst the maze of gardens before finding out that the temple was in a different garden altogether. At this point, Erica was also complaining about her feet hurting. Arghh #2! When they finally found the temple, it was cloudy and starting to rain. Arghh #3! At this point, the dark history of the Palace also started to have an effect on Erich for he learned more and more about the French Revolution and how the King & Queen were actually beheaded on the grounds and that the PoV is now a symbol of absolute monarchy. This just didn’t sit well and Erich was in no rush to come back. The rose pedal celebration already misfired so it was probably best to delay the proposal for another day.
Day Four: ‘Champagne Tour’
With promise ring once again hidden out of sight, they set out on a tour of the Champagne region. After a 90-minute bus ride to the region, the tour started at the G.H. Mumm House, cruised around the Champagne region and then ended up with a walking tour through the cellars of Moet & Chandon. We also visit the historic village of Reims where they had lunch. The day was both enlightening and long. Erich felt the pressure as he was running out of days in Paris and no real opportunity present itself during the tour. There’s always Oktoberfest in Germany, haha!
Day Five: ‘Last day in Paris’
By this time, Erica had given up all hope. We had visited every tourist spot where one would propose. The bulk of this day was spent strolling down the Champs-Elysees, of course they had to go into the Louis Vuitton Flagship store. We made our way over to the Latin Quarter for a late dinner at which point Erich realized that he HAD to propose tonight for he came all the way over to Paris for this reason.
Erich knew exactly where he would make the proposal, so right after dinner they walked towards the Louvre Museum. After such a long day, Erica just wanted to go to the hotel and questioned why they were walking right past the closest subway station. Fumbling, Erich said “Because the station across the Seine is the subway line that will get us to our hotel, trust me!” and he pulled her along.
It was a perfect Paris evening with the city glowing in the night sky. We crossed the Pont des Arts, which is a very romantic pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine River. With its wooden walkway, it connects the Institute de France to the Louvre museum. Erich slowed his pace down while they crossed and prepared himself. About half way across the bridge, holding hands, we both looked up and the Eiffel tower as it started to sparkle. This was it! With the Seine flowing beneath, the Notre Dame Cathedral lit up behind us and the animated Eiffel tower in front, Erich pulled out the ring, got down on one knee and proposed. She did say “YES!” but Erich was so caught up that he didn’t hear and had to confirm her answer. Both of us share the same desire to spend a long and happy life together. It was an amazingly romantic setting and a perfect moment.
Our defining moment as a couple had to be our trip to San Diego. We were only dating for two months and I was skeptical about going away with him for a few days this early to our relationship. I took the risk and the rest is history. On that trip we remember most our ride on the Giant Dipper rollercoaster at Mission Beach’s Belmont Park. One particular night on the beach is where Erich professed his love for Erica.
Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
Erich has always dreamed of getting married somewhere tropical with palm trees and the ocean but the main reason we chose a destination wedding is to get our friends and family outside of their day-to-day comfort zone, so they could leave their worries and stresses behind. No one had to worry about how they were getting home on the wedding night, no one was tired from a long day of work and no one had to plan their day for an entire week. Both families had not been on a trip together in many years and this may just have been one of the last times that could happen. Words can’t explain how incredible it was to bring everyone together to just be themselves for the week.
Q: Why did you choose Los Cabos?
Mexico actually wasn’t our first choice as Erica’s father was against it so we first entertained Hawaii and the Caribbean. It turned out that those places were too tough on the pocketbook and after doing our homework, everything just started pointing to Los Cabos. Erica worked on convincing her father until he finally warmed up to it. The service we got from dealing with vendors in Mexico just through email was incredible and just strengthened our decision more and more, especially the staff at the Esperanza. We chose it sight unseen and it took our breath away when we first stepped onto the property.
Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision?
In a nutshell, many people stressed over the costs when it was first announced 8 months prior and the trip had to be paid for but as we envisioned, everyone was so excited months before their trip to Mexico and to be a part of our wedding.
Q: Describe where you got married (destination and name of the location or resort). Please explain why you chose that locale.
We were married at the Esperanza Resort in Los Cabos. This was one of our top three resorts because of the luxurious feel and mesmerizing landscape. It made the final cut because of terraces hanging over the ocean and the poolside location for the ceremony itself. One other major factor was that we were able to book the resort without the requirement of all our guests staying there. It felt like we owned the resort during that time as you couldn’t turn a corner without running into someone you knew.
Q: What was your vision for your wedding?
Our vision was blown away when we actually set foot on the Esperanza grounds before our wedding day. We got chills just imagining that this is where we were going to walk down the aisle in front of our most beloved friends & family and couldn’t wait for them to get as emotional. Being an Interior Designer and into fashion, Erica designated the tone of the wedding as Tropical Chic and our wedding day filled that role perfectly
Q: Describe the activities you and your guests enjoyed at your wedding destination.
Our guests all stayed at an all-inclusive ‘Dreams Resort Los Cabos’. Obviously, there was a lot of alcohol consumption, food and good times. In terms of planned activities during the week, some of the guests went Deep Sea fishing, most of the guests went on a planned Sail and Snorkel Adventure on a Catamaran and then there was a post wedding after party that got a little crazy at Nikki Beach. One of the most popular and unforeseen activities turned out to be the $20 massages that were right on the beach by the resort. That place may as well have a revolving door installed for our guests!
Q: Where did you hold your wedding (gazebo, beach, historic fort, etc.)?
The wedding was held above the infinity pool with a backdrop of the Sky & Ocean at the Esperanza Resort. Mighty palm trees also lined the terrace in which we exchanged our vows. It was perfect.
Q: What time was your wedding (either a specific time or general time of day like sunset)?
The wedding took place at 5:30pm, intentionally planned to escape the mid day heat and prelude to a dinner on the terraces during sunset.
Q: Describe what happened at your ceremony.
It was the perfect day as the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze, just enough to keep everyone from getting too hot. The wedding party all walked down the aisle to the elegant guitar music while Erica, in all her glory, and her father, walked down to the vocals of her friend Samantha singing ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’. The backdrop of the sea & the sky was breathtaking.
We had the most amazing Reverend who really set the tone with love and laughter. He proclaimed a romantic speech and then, at the right moment, Erica & Erich exchanged their own vows. The personal vows left a lot of guests with tears of joy. We placed our rings on each other’s fingers and were announced husband & wife. The traditional procedure was pretty standard in our wedding but what made it stand out was the tropical serene location and thoughtful personal vows.
Q: What flowers did you carry?
A bouquet of white & blush pink roses
Q: Tell us about your rings
We had our wedding rings custom made from Geengee www.geengee.com. The owner Gill did an amazing job. We picked them out and designed them together with Gill. My ring twists and has “amour de vie” written on the inside and the date we got engaged. There is also a red ruby inside symbolizing a heart. Erich has one inside his ring as well. Erich’s ring is hammered by hand. He is quite the handyman and doesn’t like anything too flashy.
Q: Tell us about any ethnic traditions or customs from your destination that you included in your event.
We really didn’t follow any traditions or customs. Standard essentials that we planned were speeches, a picture slideshow, first dance and garter toss. The MC, Paul Lambert, is a good friend of Erica’s (and now Erich) and he really brought the reception to the next level. Paul made sure there was never a dull moment and even went as far as singing one of our wedding songs playfully. He was a true professional and put so much effort into getting to know all of our guests and finding out stories about us so he could recollect those and entertain everyone. He played the mimic game where another couple had to kiss in an extravagant manner and we had to imitate that kiss.
Q: Describe the location and decor of your reception.
The location was breathtaking! Cliffs, sand, surf, sky, sunset, palm trees, twilight, stars, it had it all! One can’t even begin to explain the feeling you get when you first overlook the view at the Esperanza, its something that has to be experienced. The décor was quite simple as the natural beauty of the location really stole the show. Elegant centerpieces of candles and driftwood were used and all the dinnerware was from the resort. Erica did design her own tablecloths, menu cards and wedding programs. The theme was to be the colours of magic hour, that time when the sun sets. Colours include hues of red, pink and blue.
Q: What food was served at the reception?
The food was plated. Guests were offered a choice of Sea Bass or Steak as a main. Here are the courses:
First Course: Caprese traditional Italian salad with buffalo mozzarella cheese, romaine tomatoes & basil
Second Course: Tiger prawns & scallops celeriac purée, coconut & ginger sauce
Third Course: Pan-seared sea bass with Mexican guajillo sauce OR
Black angus tenderloin bacon, mushroom crust & cabernet reduction
Sides: Grilled Mediterranean vegetables & Wild Mushroom Risotto
Fourth Course: Delicious White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
Q: Describe the look and flavor of your cake, plus any other desserts that were served.
We chose to have a multi-coloured macaroon tower instead of a wedding cake, plus we served desert to everyone. The macaroon tower was made up of 150 macaroons that represented the colours of our wedding.
Q: What else happened at your reception? Toasts? Dancing? Any funny or meaningful stories you can share with us?
Our MC, Paul, kept everyone entertained as mentioned above. There were four speeches – Best Man (Jens), Maid of Honour (Brittany), father of the Bride (Chris) and father of the Groom (Erich Sr). Erich’s sister Monika put together a perfect slideshow showing the typical baby to growing up to relationship pictures of Erica & Erich.
When the party moved up to the dance reception, it was in full tilt. We had a photo taken where we fed each other macaroons. Our first dance was to Ellie Goulding, a cover of ‘Your Song’ by Elton John. Despite all the practice, we didn’t consider how immobile Erica would be in her dress so the dance was a bit more difficult than usual, but we managed and Erich only stepped on her dress five times! We gave a thank you speech to everyone and then the dancing commenced. The open-bar party went on until just after midnight, at which point all the guests were shuttled back to their resort while we stayed over at the Esperanza.
Q: Describe any wedding-related events that followed the wedding and reception.
There was a day long after party at Nikki Beach Los Cabos on the Friday but other than that, our group simply enjoyed their remaining time in paradise together.
Q: What did you love about your destination that was specific only to that place?
The seaside terraces – where we had dinner. These terraces were on cliffs that were literally perched over the ocean. Every so often a wave would crash high up on the cliffs and you would see spray of water right in front of your eyes. We just loved seeing the jaw dropping expression on our guest’s faces when they first laid eyes on the venue.
Q: What was the best idea you had in planning your destination wedding?
In terms of the actual wedding events, one of our best ideas was to have one of our animated friends as MC. Originally, we were going to rely on the DJ or someone who didn’t know the group to make announcements but having a true friend who got to know everyone during the week and relay memorable and funny stories throughout the night with both enthusiasm and passion brought a whole new element and flow to the wedding.
In terms of cost savings, we never underestimated the power of negotiation, especially in a group setting. I’d say we pride ourselves on the value that we got working with each vendor.
Q: Best advice to future brides and grooms of destination weddings:
Don’t drink the water! haha! If you plan on taking on a lot of the planning yourself, this goes for any wedding, make a checklist of items to be completed each day, week and month, and email this to each other daily so that you don’t forget anything. When you perform a task, keep it on the ‘completed’ list as this really gives you a boost when you look back at all the items you have accomplished versus what you still have to do.
Q: Best memory of the wedding:
Our personal vows to each other, especially since we didn’t share them before the wedding.
Q: Where did you and your guests stay? Did you find a lot of resorts and hotels offered good group rates?
Our guests stayed at the Dreams Los Cabos. We also stayed here to be close to our friends and family. We stayed at the Esperanza on our wedding night and for two nights after everyone left for a short honeymoon. We were extremely happy with the service at the Dreams resort, the group coordinators tended to our every need in choosing room configurations and some requested upgrades.
Q: Did you use a wedding planner? If yes, how did he or she contribute to the event? If no, how did you organize a wedding that was so far from your hometown?
We did most of the planning ourselves, however, we did get some advice from Erica’s friend Carissa, who is a wedding planner herself plus the on-site Wedding Event Specialist at the Esperanza, Claudia Morales, performed all the ‘day of’ duties to ensure that the wedding day ran smoothly. Claudia gave us a couple vendor recommendations for each category “music, photographers, décor, hair & make-up, flowers and we pretty much communicated via email & skype to negotiate and finalize plans with each vendor. We created our own invitations and other wedding paperwork as well as other items that we packed with us “tablecloths, candles, wedding day attire etc”. Claudia did go above and beyond and kept an updated timeline for us as we defined more and more of our wedding. Clear communication and confirmation was key.
Q: What obstacles did you face in planning a destination wedding? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle was the cost of travel for our guests. It’s a tough decision to ask anyone to spend a large sum of money to come to your wedding. We made sure the agent we used was able to come up with a payment plan to spread out the cost. We just kept positive knowing that everyone will be amazed once in Mexico and will forget about all their reservations when they feel that warm tropical air hit them.
Q: Describe three of your favorite moments from the wedding day
- Exchanging of our personal wedding Vows
- Erica’s walk down the aisle with her father and most people seeing her dress for the first time (including Erich as he made it a point not to see it anytime before the wedding day)
- The speeches on the terrace by the Maid of Honour, Best Man and both fathers
- The MC playfully singing one of our favourite songs ‘Marry me’ by Train
Q: In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently in the planning?
The only thing we underestimated is the amount of time allocated for dinner on the wedding day. We could have used another hour on the terraces and a bit more time before dinner as we felt a little rushed for all the photos we wanted taken and the dinner went by so quick with the speeches, slide show, four courses and break to take twilight photos. It wasn’t a big issue, as the guests probably didn’t even notice anyway.
Q: Do you have any special advice or tip you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
Make it a point to take a moment at your own wedding and just sit back and absorb everything for a good minute. The day goes by so quick and you find yourself running around to make sure that everyone is happy and everything is going smooth that sometimes you don’t really get take it all in and realize that this is the best day of your life until it’s over.
Thank you again! We are excited to share our wedding – we know its beauty & love will inspire many other couples!
- Photographer(s): Chris + Lynn
- Bride’s Attire: Vera Wang Dress: Holly, custom veil and flowers in hair, Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti
- Groom’s Attire: Etro Suit, shirt and bowtie, Shoes: Prada
- Bridesmaid’s Attire: BCBG dress and shoes
- Groomsmen’s attire: Hugo Boss tie, Zara pants, shirts from H&M
- Rings: Geengee www.geengee.com
- Wedding Planner: Claudia Morales (Esperanza, Mexico) and Carisa Didoshak (Friend, Vancouver)
- Flowers: Elena Damy
- Cake: We had Macaroons – Pastry chef at the Esperanza
- Entertainment: Dj Adam Mijares (guitar and music) and Samantha Chan (friend, Vancouver, vocals for Erica’s walk down the aisle ‘Elvis Presley’s – I can’t help falling in Love with you’
- Videographer: Hayley Dryhurst (Erica’s friend)
- Invitations: Designed by Erica James at Medina Design Group in collaboration with Blackstone Press in Granville Island, Vancouver
- MC Extrodinaire: Paul Lambert, Erica’s family friend
- Reverend: Marco Arechiga
- Décor: Oxten, Los Cabos
Honeymoon Destination: We stayed in Los Cabos after all the guests left for a mini-honeymoon at the Esperanza. Highlight was a romantic dinner for two on the beach of the Esperanza with our own bonfire, felt like something out of ‘The Bachelorette’! Our ultimate honeymoon would be a two-week trip to Bora Bora or the Maldives, which will happen soon.