The Comprehensive Guide to the Perfect Puerto Rico Destination Wedding
Planning a destination wedding in the exotic island of Puerto Rico? You’ve made the right choice! This island is truly magical with some of the most stunning beaches and waterfall-filled forests on the planet. Maybe even better than its natural beauty is the Puerto Ricans themselves. Many creative, generous people call this island home. The streets of every city are covered in bold street art and at night they are filled with live music and dancing locals. Almost everyone you will meet in PR speaks both Spanish and English.
If you are traveling from the USA, neither you or your guests will need a passport for your trip.
Still, there are a few things you should know before packing your bags. Destination Event Videography is a female owned and operated company based just off the beach on Puerto Rico’s southern cost. It’s hard to know what to expect from this charming island on your first visit here, especially if you are planning a wedding. We asked past tropical brides what they wish they had known, added our own experience as ladies living the island life, and here it is: the comprehensive guide to the perfect destination wedding in Puerto Rico!
Read on for real talk about tan lines, veil mishaps, and misguided shoe choices.
Let’s start with a very important part of the day, your look, and well being. Of course you want to look effortless throughout your entire day of videos, pictures, and perfect moments to remember. Here are a few tips to stay flawless among the elements:
Say Yes To The Right Dress
Remember that bridal shops are almost all air conditioned - the beach won’t be. When choosing a dress for tropical weather make sure it is not too tight, too many layers, and above all that it is breathable. There is a reason lace dresses are so popular for island weddings! Take into account that everybody’s bodies swell in the heat. You don’t want your spouse to have to spend hours trying to peel you out of a sweaty dress at the end of the night, as was one brides experience.
Rings In The Heat
Your fingers will swell in the heat. If the ring fits at home - it might not fit in Puerto Rico. Here is a simple trick to avoid issue during the ring exchange. Hold a frozen water bottle for a few minutes before the The Big Moment and then slide that sucker on FOREVER!
Let’s Talk Veils
This one is really left up to the wedding gods. Wearing a veil could be the perfect choice or a disaster. The wind on the beach (and other parts of the island too) is very unpredictable from one day to the next. Humidity can also affect the how the veil drapes and feels. One bride we spoke with said her veil got stuck to the sunscreen on her back. You can bring a veil with you but have a backup plan in case of strong winds or muggy air.
Don’t Eat Your Hair
As mentioned before, the wind on this island can be strong. Many brides have said they regret leaving hair loose around their face. If you wear an updo, put it all up. Small face-framing pieces will look great in the salon but will not stay curled or out of your mouth during the rest of the day. Also be sure to have plenty of extra strength hairspray on hand throughout the day - especially during pictures!
Airbrush For A Perfect Face All Day Long
In the sun and humidity, it’s important to make sure your beautiful face stays immaculate all day. Be sure to discuss a sweat plan with your make-up artist ahead of time. There are some good setting sprays out there but airbrush is best for stress-free flawless.
Make sure that you are wearing enough SPF to protect you for the whole day.
Tan Lines or Sunscreen! Sunscreen! Sunscreen!
Save the sunbathing for the honeymoon. At a mere 1,200 miles from the equator, the sun in Puerto Rico is very hot. The best way not to get tan lines before your big day is to stay out of the sun. Many brides said they had been burned in the days leading up to their wedding, so be sure to protect your skin at all costs. Even the evening sun will burn light skin. Luckily most of the beaches in Puerto Rico have some sort of shade to sit in. Still, it is essential to bring a sun shirt to wear over your bikini. Even with these precautions that 50 SPF in the morning is always a good idea.
Here is an environmentally friendly, natural sunscreen we recommend that is also made in PR. Protecting the oceans, beaches, and your skin is a triple win!
If The Shoe Fits
In the heat your feet will swell. In the sand your spike heels will sink. Consider bringing your second choice for shoes as well as that really cute first pick - just in case. Keep in mind they should also be elastic or half a size too big. Even a cute pair of flip-flops would be very sweet for an island wedding and avoid both problems entirely. If you are getting married in Old San Juan- most of the streets are beautiful old cobblestone.
Great for pictures, not so great for heels. Another consideration should be your comfort. Your aching feet should be the last thing on your mind on such an important day.
Many brides choose to go barefoot on the sand.
Bring On The Bug Spray
As idyllic as Puerto Rico is, it is not without its small annoyances. While most indoor spaces are mosquito-free, the outdoors are not. There are natural bug sprays available but the only thing we’ve found that works 100% is deet.
For up to date information about the current risks of mosquito borne viruses check this website.
No-See-Ums come out for around an hour and a half during dawn and dusk - especially near the beach. They are tiny gnats that come in small clouds. While their bites are much smaller than mosquitoes, if you get 25 in 15 minutes they start to look (and feel!) something like mild poison ivy.
In general to avoid all bug bites, wear neutral-coloured (beige, light grey) clothing. Wear long-sleeved, breathable garments. Always apply sunscreen first, followed by the repellent (preferably 20 minutes later). Even if you do all of this you will likely get a few bites - and it will be ok. Promise.
Aloe Vera is a soothing natural remedy to ease the itch of bug bites or sunburn, and luckily it grows wild all over the island!
How To Prepare Your Guests
Heat, Wind, Sun, Rain - you’re in the tropics now baby!
Puerto Rico temperatures range from 70 to 90 °F depending on the time of year. You need to provide shade for your guests or to have an evening wedding. It’s also best to remind them not to wear heels to a beach wedding. They may need a light jacket or sweater of some kind - the evening breezes can be chilly. Because Puerto Rico is a small island there are sometimes short bursts of heavy rain in the middle of beautiful sunny days. Umbrellas will protect you from these 20 minute tropical downpours.
Return The Favor
Here are some of the things you may want to provide your guests as favors to prepare them for their island adventure:
Sunscreen - One of my favorite local vendors makes a completely natural sunscreen that is coral reef friendly, and my skin loves it. It makes a very cute wedding favor, and you can feel good about supporting a Puerto Rican business. You can find it here.
Hand Fans - printing your wedding program onto the fans is always a very cool idea.
Bug spray - It’s not glamorous but it’s far less glamorous to have distracted and bugbitten guests.
A reusable water bottle - the tap water on the island is safe to drink. Do the ocean a solid and encourage your guests to stay hydrated sustainably.
It’s All About The Lighting
No matter which of the many gorgeous venues in Puerto Rico you choose, there are a few things you should double check. Consider adding extra lighting if you have a reception by the beach. Hotel lights are far away, and the DJ will not always provide enough lighting for a nice dinner or for your video and pictures to turn out.
There are some beautiful and creative beach lighting solutions that can really make your wedding shine.
Photo Bombing Strangers
Most beaches are public and free to use. Consider a more secluded beach spot, hotel, or house with a private beach to avoid having strangers in your videos and photos. If a few make it in- don’t worry- the Puerto Ricans are very beautiful people and will only add value to your videos and photos.
Get The Measurements
If you have one, be sure to find out how tall your wedding arch will be to make sure you and your fiancé fit under it. It’s also a good idea to make sure the chairs on either side of the center aisle are set far enough apart to allow easy movement as you walk. Especially if you are planning on having family members walk you down on either side.
The Final Tip
Be sure to remember cash to tip the wedding coordinator, DJ, bartenders, and anyone else working at your wedding. These professionals work hard to make your day effortless and perfect. They deserve some love.
Puerto Rico uses the US dollar so no need to worry about exchange rates!
And remember, something will go wrong. It will be ok. The best memories are made by the unexpected.
Still have questions about getting married in Puerto Rico?
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