Destination wedding planning? I spent four days soaking in all things matrimonial at the 102-acre Terranea Resort, watching processions of magazine-ready brides and bridesmaids in the most exquisite landscape imaginable, surrounded by water as far as the eye can see. It would be hard to do better than the sun-kissed California resort on the Palo Verdes Peninsula: An easy 40 minute drive from LAX, Terranea offers an appealing blend of luxury and natural beauty, plus countless ways for guests to engage with its unique location hugging a Pacific hillside where whales, dolphins and sea lions are your neighbors.
The resort is a celebrity hub, featuring a number of discrete bungalows, casitas and villas for maximum privacy. Mariah Carey once holed up here for months on a babymoon getaway, and stars like ER’s Goran Visnjic dined at resort hot spot Catalina Kitchen during my visit. Movies from Pirates of the Caribbean to This Is 40 have used Terranea as a stand-in for paradise. Terranea stages more than 100 weddings a year, from intimate sunset affairs to 600+ blowouts coming in at a million dollars (or more!). The superhumanly-flexible staff know how to go with the flow and acknowledge few arrangements are beyond their abilities, including accommodating an elephant (one way Indian grooms choose to make an entrance at traditional weddings) — a virtual requirement at high-end L.A. wedding destinations. While at Terranea I picked up a host of great tips for outdoor and destination weddings from the resort’s wedding experts, as well as the lovely wedding journalists at The Honeymoonist, 100 Layer Cake and Mooshinindy.
The Honeymoon Locale Has Become the Wedding
The beauty of a destination wedding is, of course, a gorgeous location. But it’s also a great way to entice guests to fly in for a mini vacation and allows for plenty of magical bonding opportunities with your guests and a way to extend your special day into a weekend or more. L.A. is an easy-to-reach destination, but more exotic destinations are also on the rise, say the wedding insiders I spoke with, including Bora Bora, Croatia and Vietnam. These spots are moving beyond honeymoon to destination wedding locales.
Be the Hostess With the Mostest
If you’ve planned a destination wedding, you’re the travel agent who’s going to ensure your guests have a good time. Sure, your wedding will be the high point, but think about the comfort and entertainment factor beyond your big day. How will they stay busy? What will they eat? You can have a variety of activity options lined up to keep adventurous guests busy, but also factor in plenty of down time if friends and family want to just enjoy the resort or catch up on work. Also, think about how your guests will get to the resort; consider a destination that’s relatively close to a major airport and won’t require guests to rent a car once they arrive. Remember, they’re going to a lot of trouble and expense to come to your wedding, so celebrate that gesture and make it easy for them.
Add Succulents + Terrariums
In the lush, low-water California landscape of Terranea, succulents grow like weeds. But you can add them to your event in lots of inventive, inexpensive ways even if your wedding is not taking place in California. Incorporate them into boutonnieres, place them in small terra-cotta pots on tables or create terrariums filled with succulents as a centerpiece. Better still, succulents are incredibly durable and do well with potting up well in advance. I loved these fabulously simple, easy-to-create succulents in a rainbow of shades that decorated the Terranea spa.
Go With Graphics + Bright Hues
It’s out with the old white and tasteful neutrals and in with the punchy hues. Brides are not settling for catering standards of generic plates and ho-hum glassware; they’re pulling in their own collections or migrating toward wedding planners who can rope in bright, graphic tablecloths, eclectic plates and flatware and lots of colors to make their big day unique. Think of your wedding as an extension of your home’s decor: if midcentury modern and retro combos of tangerine and gray are your jam, then bring that sense of taste to your special day.