It’s no secret that things here on the blog have slowed down a bit during the month of July, and I’m glad they did. Sometimes it’s very easy to get completely wrapped up in this points and miles
obsession hobby, that you forget to take time to take in and celebrate life’s happy moments with close friends and family. Granted I love blogging, I also love the summer and spending quality time with my loved ones. So as a simple solution, I gave myself a few guilt-free weeks to enjoy myself.
After traveling internationally for almost a month straight in June, I came home, moved into a new apartment, and realized that I missed the comforts of “home”. While talking about my trips with Mr. Points Traveler, we decided that since we already had plans to get married, why not make it “fun” and use the resources we had right in front of us all along.
Some people spend years planning their dream wedding, and that’s fine – it sure is an exciting time. For us though, we’ve always envisioned ourselves getting married on a beach, just the two of us in an intimate setting, and then returning home to celebrate with family over dinner. How much planning would a perfect no-frills beach wedding really require? Challenge accepted.
Remember my post about getting to the Caribbean using Avios? Yup – plane tickets squared away using that method. By then it was June 30. We were set to get married July 9. We had a total of 10 days to pull it together and it was exhilarating to say the least.
Now that we had a “destination” (Grand Cayman) for our destination wedding, it was time to take care of the rest of the logistics – getting a dress, tux, flowers, minister, photographer, hotel, etc. I was determined to plan everything as quickly as possible at bargainista prices.
Here’s how we did it:
Hotels: With 3 nights in Grand Cayman, we decided to spend the night at the brand-new Holiday Inn Grand Cayman because there was a great introductory rate. I also registered for about 379753985 Priority Club bonus-points promotions. That sub-$100 stay netted me over 15,000 points – enough for 3 free future “point break” nights. Win. For our next 2 nights, we redeemed 12,000 SPG Starpoints per night to stay at the Westin Grand Cayman.
Dress Shopping/Tux Fitting: Now with travel plans only a week away, it was time to go dress shopping and tux fitting. Unlike most females, I despise shopping in stores and trying on a billion outfits, so I gave myself one option – I was going to David’s Bridal and finding a dress there. After trying on about 4 dresses in my “budget” (under $400), I was not exactly pleased with my selections, and I was getting pretty frustrated and cranky.
Finally, the sales lady takes me to the clearance rack and shows me a dress in my size that looks absolutely atrocious on the hanger. “No way”, I told her. She told me that I should trust her and try it on.
I did, and wow – it was perfect. That dress was going to be mine for the grand price of $449, but the only problem was – could alterations get this dress done in um… 72 hours? The good news was yes – the alterations department thought it was awesome that I was planning an entire destination wedding in such a short time frame, that they promised to expedite my dress at no additional cost. Fantastic!
Next was getting the tuxedo. Of course that took a grand total of 4 and a half minutes. Guys have it so easy.
Finding a Photographer: The first thought that popped into my head was, “Oh jeeze, a beach wedding photographer = huge mark-up”. I knew that finding a photographer on any “wedding forum” would cost me a grand – at least. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I logged into ModelMayhem.com, a modeling social media community I used to be active in, and ran a search for photographers in Grand Cayman. I came across an excellent candidate, and we immediately started talking from there. He seemed pretty enthusiastic about being able to photograph the wedding. Total cost? $250 for everything, and the photos awesome.
Everything Else: For everything else, I decided to have fun with one of the benefits of my American Express Business Platinum card (related post) – the Platinum Concierge. During my initial call to American Express, I told them I was looking for help with the finishing touches of a beach wedding set to happen next week. The last thing we needed were flowers and most importantly, an officiant to lead the ceremony. They were confident that they would be able to point me in the right direction and told me I would hear back within 48 hours.
A day later, I received an email from my concierge person telling me that they had found a florist and a wedding planner that could help me book an officiant. I promptly ordered the roses, but I waited before contacting the wedding planner because I wanted to see if it was at all possible for me to bypass a middleman and find an officiant on my own. I reached out to the photographer to see if he had any recommendations, and he sure did. He gave me the name and phone number of an officiant that he works with all the time. After speaking to the officiant, he said he would perform the ceremony for $200 on our desired date. Out of curiosity, I contacted the wedding planner to see what her price would be for the same service – a whopping $400. I’m glad I took a moment to ask on my own as it saved us an additional $200.
With all of the planning behind us, it was time for us to start getting excited about our big day. When our day arrived, it was a perfect ceremony, complete with gorgeous weather, a private beach, and everything running smoothly without any hiccups. We wouldn’t change a thing!
Now our one-month anniversary is tomorrow, and that only means one thing – I really have to catch up on a month’s worth of points and miles! Stay tuned for a mega round-up!