My Big Belizean Beach Wedding
I guess 80 isn’t exactly big, but it was certainly more people than I’d anticipated when I decided on a destination beach wedding in Belize.
The (now) hubs and I figured we had a lot of friends and family nationwide, and the best way to keep things fair would be to make everyone travel, instead of just one side of the family.
We set our sights on the beautiful island of Ambergris Caye in Belize, where we’d taken our first international vacation together six years before we got engaged, and decided to make a nice long week of it.
We arrived on a Tuesday to get settled in and our guests touched down on Wednesday.
We kicked off the celebration with a cocktail party poolside at our resort, Las Terrazas.
With multiple bars and a large central pool, the venue was perfect for our group, who spent most of their stay lounging and sipping watermelon cocktails.
Since our wedding week landed at the very beginning of hurricane season, we practically had the place to ourselves, which gave the whole thing a very summer camp-like feel.
On Thursday morning, the majority of the group took a snorkeling trip to two popular Belize marine sights.
My man and I had been when we came years ago and thought it was such a fun activity. We actually got scuba certified on that first trip but decided to forgo our tanks for masks so we could hang with our guests.
Everyone had such a good time, and it was pretty hilarious to watch my mom shrieking in terror when she thought a shark had nipped at her foot — it was my uncle!
Friday the gang got a little healthy competition going with a beach volleyball game.
As I’ve mentioned before, my husband loves beach volleyball almost as much as he loves Mr. Chow and I, so he was in heaven to get to play with his closest pals and his soon to be father-in-law (a former pro-vball player) looking on.
That evening we had our rehearsal, then headed down the beach to this funky little yoga retreat, Akbol, for a Belizean Beach BBQ. The food was amazing and authentic and the fried plantains blew my mind.
Which brings us to Saturday, the BIG day.
Bracelet: Gorjana (on sale)
We started the morning with a yoga session back at Akbol to get everyone’s minds cleared and bodies calmed for the day’s festivities.
Despite a chance of showers thanks to the season, we lucked out and had a perfectly sunny day.
Along with the sun came heat and humidity however, but I tried to ignore it and focus on the special moment at hand.
Knowing my hair and makeup would be an issue with the weather, I prepared in advance to do them both myself.
I spent weeks visiting the Bloomingdale’s makeup counter learning tips from the artists and had a special consultation with my longtime stylist Mika Fowler to figure out the perfect do’ to incorporate my hair piece, and keep the ocean breeze from blowing my curls in my face.
Side note: if you’re looking for an LA hair stylist, Mika’s dry cut is unbeatable.
She came up with a very pretty, no-fuss, half-up half-down look that I was able to carry out easily with the help of my best pal Katie.
Katie actually owns an adorable bridal shop in my hometown of Tucson, AZ called J Bridal Boutique, which is where I got my wedding dress.
Fun fact: she also did my hair for senior prom!
When everyone was ready, I gave the girls their bridesmaids gifts.
I also gave my mom and sister/Maid of Honor necklaces specifically designed for a mother and two daughters.
The lovely designer actually engraved them as well with a “T” for Tara, a “W,” and the wedding date on my mom’s charm.
My mom also gave me a special gift for the occasion, a charm with her mother’s picture to attach to my bouquet. My grandmother Beverly promised my mom she would be there for my wedding day, and I know that in a way she was.
Once everyone was glammed up, we popped some bubbly and headed (barefoot) for the beach.
Bridesmaids Dresses: Custom (similar here)
Meanwhile, the men were using their extra time (must be nice to not need makeup) to take all sorts of ridiculous photos.
And to think, he almost escaped.
Fortunately though, he was at the alter when I arrived.
Suit: The Kooples
The entire wedding party walked down the isle to We Belong by R.A.C., which I think describes how you feel when you finally find your soulmate (insert sigh).
We made this sign but you can buy them on Etsy.
Our close friend Arash (who reportedly “baptized” my man in the hotel pool the night before) conducted the ceremony. We’d already been legally wed stateside so the wedding was really just ceremonial and didn’t need an ordained minister.
After a lot of laughs, a few tears, and a couple of uncomfortable snickers, we sealed the deal.
The ceremony was followed by (what I hear was) a lovely cocktail hour.
Note to future brides — you’ll probably be too busy taking photos after the vows, so don’t get too excited about trying any of the passed apps!
Leather luggage tag thank you gifts that doubled as seating assignments
The morning of the wedding my friend Laura gave us the cutest gift — mini message in a bottle notes to write to each other, and throw in the ocean for good luck.
It was the perfect way to memorialize the day.
Dinner was fabulous, with a light gazpacho and healthy (duh) grilled fish, meat and vegetables.
Table numbers: Minted
And then it was time for the dancing.
It started out as a classy affair with our first dance to Ben Fold’s The Luckiest, my father/daughter dance to Daughter by Loudon Wainwright, and the mother/son dance to John Denver’s Sunshine on My Shoulders.
We did the bouquet/garter toss and our dear friends Jon and Taryn — an adorable couple — caught them both.
However, as the guys started sweating right through their white shirts, the girl’s curls began to fall, and my dress became unbearably sticky, things got a little wild.
The cake in the face was the last straw.
I ditched the dress for my Bachelorette party outfit and threw caution to the wind.
Top + Mini Skirt: ASTR (sold out – similar here)
Many of the guests followed suit, with half the groomsmen trading their suspenders for “Un-Belize-Able” tank tops.
Though I ended the evening feeling hot, sweaty, and totally exhausted, it was one of the best nights of my life and I wouldn’t have changed anything (except maybe the decision to wear a sticky bra).
I am a fitness blogger after all — hot, sweaty, and exhausted is pretty much my status quo.
I’d like to give a HUGE thanks to my friends and family who came from all corners of the country to attend the festivities, and a special thank you to my grandmother Paula, my mom, and my sister for their help with the decorations, my bridesmaids for their moral support, and my Dad for his shoulder to lean/cry on (although we both know I can’t actually reach it).
Most of all though, I want to thank my new husband.
You belonged to my heart before you came. Love you always.
Thanks friends for sticking around till the end of this lengthy post. If any of you have plans to travel to Belize/Ambergris Caye — don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always happy to give travel advice!
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[show_shopthepost_widget id=”1016293″]Photo credits: Leonardo Melendez (wedding photos); Leigh Green (rehearsal)