Traveling is a luxury many of us have spent the last year(s) missing. I love to travel and I love to hear about others’ stories. For me, it’s about the journey to get there just as much as the vacation itself. The same is true with weddings. I love hearing about a couple’s wedding plans just as much as the wedding day itself. And for this adventurous couple, there was quite the journey.

Lauren and Brian have such a classic love story. They were high school sweethearts matched up by their sister-in-law, Amanda and Brian’s brother, Matthew. They were the couple at Moorestown that everyone knew was end-game. Countless double dates with the ones who set them up later, they got engaged just before their tenth dating anniversary. 

It seemed that Lauren really did meet her match in someone who had her spirit for adventure and rivaled her love for travel.

“Traveling has so much to teach you and reminds you to try your best to remain humble. The world is so much bigger than you. Getting to explore together and make once in a lifetime memories with one another means the world to us,” said Lauren.

The day of their engagement they really did make a once-in-a-lifetime memory exploring together. During their trip to Barbados with friends, Brian had a beautiful proposal waiting to happen. Of course, rain always threatens plans. Their trip kicked off with rain, but Brian had waited 10 years to pop the question; he wasn’t going to let rain ruin his vision. 

“Brian proposed back in August of 2019 on a beautiful cliff that served as a gorgeous lookout over the sandy beaches of Barbados,” said Lauren. “Little did I know it was more than the breathtaking view that day that would truly take my breath away! After he popped the question, locals came out from around the bend with their special on-the-go cocktail kart and offered us delicious coconut cocktails to celebrate and enjoy the special moment. Having the locals’ support made the celebration even that much more sweet!”

Lauren and Brian were so ready to plan their big day, and it’ll come as no surprise they chose a sunny destination for their dream wedding day. They settled on Playa Mujeres, Mexico, which reflected their love for tropical climates, breathtaking beaches and Brian’s passion for surfing.

Finding a destination wedding dress for a venue in Mexico can be a challenge. You need a dress that travels well and also fits your dream vision. For Lauren, it was surprisingly easy because the right gown seemed to just be waiting for her.

“Ever since I was a little girl I was always obsessed with Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Princess Ariel,” Lauren said. “I always loved the beach and wanted to be reincarnated as a mermaid in another life! Needless to say, with planning a destination wedding on a beach, I wanted to be a real live mermaid bride. The team at Laura and Leigh Bridal really helped to make my dream a reality. It was a day I’ll never forget. Lots of happy tears!”

This real-life mermaid unsurprisingly fell in love with a mermaid wedding dress by Allure Couture that was perfect for a destination wedding with beachy-vibe details, and was still lightweight for a tropical venue. It felt like it was meant to be.

No wedding planning is total kismet and completely free of stress. And planning a wedding in a global pandemic wasn’t for the faint of heart. Lauren’s wedding saw its fair share of ups and downs.

“Some months felt more uncertain than others,” Lauren said. “However, what we enjoyed the most was the unconditional love and support from our friends and family. We knew they were truly rooting for us the whole time. Not to mention, they were looking forward to getting back into traveling and making the great escape to Mexico to celebrate our marriage at our destination wedding.”

The pandemic forced Lauren to bypass a site tour of her venue until the day of their wedding, but the hardest part was the toll it took on their hearts to see their loved ones weigh their comfortability with travel, dropping their guest count from 120 to 80.

“Sadly, a lot of our guests did not feel comfortable with leaving the country during a pandemic, which we totally understood! However, at the same time, it would really crush our spirits from time to time,” Lauren said. “It was exceptionally difficult to see RSVPs from our loved ones and closest friends change from attending, to declining…. Each individual was truly missed, and while it was our greatest adventure yet, the trip wasn’t the same without those special loved ones. Nonetheless, we know they were there with us in spirit!”

The uncertainty that comes with planning a destination wedding during the pandemic wasn’t the only struggle they faced. Their tropical sunny wedding they had anticipated was interrupted when the clouds rolled in on their wedding day.

“The storms nearly broke our hearts, as we were forced to make many difficult decisions as to how we would go about moving our dream beach ceremony and open-air reception indoors,” she said. “Let’s just say most people don’t plan a destination wedding in paradise to be held indoors!”

The staff at her venue was all prepped and ready for a picturesque wedding outside when Lauren had to make the call to move indoors.

“The poor staff at our resort spent an hour or so sprinting back and forth, in and out of the rain to move everything that was outside, inside after drying it off,” she said. “You could tell they so selflessly put their blood, sweat and tears into quite literally saving our wedding day. For that, we are forever grateful! They are living proof that as the saying goes, ‘Not all heroes wear capes!’”

But it wasn’t all about the excitement in chaos that made their wedding memorable. For this sweet couple, it’s more about the loving moments and personal touches than anything else.

Nowhere is that more true than for their first dance, which is probably what the couple was most excited about. They looked and curated so many songs trying to find something that would be perfect. Finally they found it one day scrolling on YouTube. Brian found a couple who covered the song “Happy Anywhere” by Blake Shelton and they asked the couple to record them a special version, adding personal touches to make the song uniquely theirs.

The couple knew their first dance was the moment they weren’t just looking forward to, but had been waiting for. They took dance classes to come up with special choreography to go with their song.

“We had the best time at the dance classes, as they served as a de-stressor and a way for us to slow down, while also reminding us to not take life (or wedding planning) so seriously! We truly looked forward to these dance classes every week,” Lauren said. “We would leave with our cheeks hurting from smiling so much, and our sides would hurt from all the laughing! We were really excited to show off our one of a kind song, and new moves to our guests on our wedding day! The cold fireworks during our first dance were also a special touch that we had been looking forward to.”

Lauren also had a surprise for her guests…and her dress. This bride is unafraid of adventure and took the plunge, not just in life but in water! She chose to trash the dress with her photographers the next day, which was perfect because the day before they couldn’t get outside for beach photos.

“While most of our guests thought we had officially lost our minds and couldn’t believe we were going to go into the ocean in our wedding garments, we had the best time,” Lauren said. “Ironically, a rainbow showed its face during our special photoshoot. This moment of serendipity really meant a lot to us, as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ was also our sand ceremony song.”

Trashing the dress also gave her more time with their amazing photographers, Thamara and Nick, who made them feel like long lost friends.

“We were grateful for their offer to host dinner and drinks as a way of reuniting, next time we come back to Mexico,” Lauren said.

All of these moments made even the hardest parts of wedding planning feel special. If you knew Lauren and Brian at all, you know that the most important part of their day was the people around them. Their unconditional love and support put a silver liner on every storm cloud that day.

“In this life it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with,” said Lauren. “Traveling together allows us to work hard, and chase the dream together. Now we get to do that as a husband and wife, as a married couple. Maybe one day all of our previous travels will be a great investment and serve as great training into entering The Amazing Race together!”

Lauren’s advice for future brides:

Our advice for future brides and grooms would be to try your best to enjoy the wedding planning process as much as possible. We understand that it is much easier said than done. Always remember, it’s not a sprint-it’s a marathon. As cliché as it sounds, it’s the little things in life that are the big things. That being said, don’t look to undermine the small details and have them feel like a chore. Enjoy planning the tiny touches of you two and how they help to present your unique love story to your guests. I know I for one as a wedding guest enjoy the small details the most because the details really share a great reading of the bride and groom, and the beautiful couple that they are. 🙂 

Lauren’s Look:
Dress: Allure Couture
Veil: Sara Gabriel

The Vendors Who Made The Day:
Photographers: Novski Photography
Venue: Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort
Coordination: Paola Prado

Phone: 856.779.0384
Email: info@lauraandleighbridal.com
Address: 937 Church Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
(near Philadelphia, right outside the Cherry Hill Mall)

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