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How to Handle Invitations to your Same-Sex Wedding for Unsupportive Family Members – Sandy Malone’s Blog in BRIDES

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Do you have to invite people who don’t support your gay or lesbian marriage to the biggest day of your life so far? We’re in murky waters here for some brides and grooms planning their weddings.

Click here to check out my blog in BRIDES with tips on how to handle the gay wediquette on this one!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and Weddings in Vieques!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional home and destination wedding planning company, and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms. Sandy is the star of TLC’s reality show “Wedding Island,” about her destination wedding planning company Weddings in Vieques. She is an internationally syndicated wedding blogger for The Huffington Post and BRIDES, as well as a reality-TV blogger for Monsters and Critics.

Sandy’s book “How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional,” will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.

Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 500 weddings in the United States and the Caribbean. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. She is considered the “Queen of Gay Wediquette” and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

The “Wedding Bully” – 5 Real Examples and an Expert’s Opinion on Why They Exist

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I’d like to coin a new phrase with this blog – “The Wedding Bully.” What or who is a “wedding bully?” Anyone other than the brides and grooms who comes to a wedding weekend – at home or at a destination – and tries to take over, push people around, threaten consequences, or make the brides and grooms feel badly about the events they’ve planned surrounding their big day.

Any rational person is thinking, “Who would do such a thing?” Let me tell you, having seen it happen time and time again, “wedding bullies” come in all shapes, sizes and genders. And it makes me wonder whether it’s because once you’re a bully, you’re always a bully. Are these people the same ones who tortured their classmates in high school?

Some “wedding bullies” reveal themselves during the planning process – a friend or member of the wedding party who inflicts his or her opinion repeatedly on the brides and grooms trying to make sure they get what they want on the couples’ special day. Sounds weird, but it’s not uncommon. I had one Mother of the Bride who really did call me to enlist my aid in forcing the bride to name a specific girl as “Maid of Honor.” And in that case, the mom had signed my contract and I was in the very awkward position of having to help facilitate her wishes. But that was bullying in my opinion and I didn’t feel good about it at all.

Bridesmaids have been known to gang up on brides about their dresses, the bachelorette party location and who she should be allowing to bring a “plus one” and who should not get that extra invite. Really, it’s all just unsolicited (usually) opinions. But the manner in which the opinion is delivered is what qualifies it (or not) as bullying rather than helping.

I decided to ask an expert on bullying why it seems like such a problem with adults – even maybe as big a problem as with children, and he told me bullying is more commonplace at every age than we’d like to admit. My friends don’t behave that way and seeing it in the wedding business has been educational to say the least.

Tim Hutchinson, the founder and head of The Bully Doctor, says “those who experienced bullying continue to treat others in the manner they’ve been taught, which is oftentimes marked by rude and aggressive behavior.”

Just to give you a clear picture of what I’m trying to explain, let me give you five real-life examples of some “wedding bullies” I’ve met during my career:

1) It’s always hard to shut down a wedding reception when the time has come, but most clients know what they’ve paid for and are ready to move onto the next part of the evening. Unfortunately, there are some inebriated guests who know better and think the party should continue to rage. I’ve had both a mother of the groom and a wedding guest actually throw fistfuls of cash at me when the answer to the question of whether the reception could be extended was “No.” Of course, they didn’t start out asking nicely (the answer would have been the same), they told us that we HAD TO extend the event longer. Mind you, this wasn’t the bride or groom asking in either case (it never is because they know the cost per additional hour and they can’t afford it). These are people who have no authority to tell us to do anything who think they can bully us with words, cash and sometimes threats to get what they want. In one case, the angry guest actually threw a burning three-foot sparkler at me and a staff members during the sparkler tunnel finale to show his displeasure with not getting his way. I bet he was a nightmare child.

2) There are always some bar rules based on the bar package the clients have purchased. In some cases, the bar doesn’t include fancy signature drinks, even if most of the ingredients appear to be there. Many bars do not include shots because there are, sadly, wedding guests who will belly up to the bar and slam down tequila, one shot after another, for literally hours on end. If the brides and grooms want their guests to be able to get THAT drunk, they have to choose a package that permits that. You wouldn’t believe how belligerent drunks can get – the bartender who has been his buddy all night suddenly becomes a target when he won’t sell him a bottle of liquor under the table for later (violates policies and some laws). On more than one occasion, guests have stolen full bottles of booze when the bartender’s back was turned. And once, a liquor thief actually dropped a whole bottle that smashed on the pool deck (amongst hundreds of bare dancing feet) when he was sneaking it away inside his pants.

3) Some guests think it’s fun to harass the staff, sexually or otherwise. We had an incident this winter where some groomsmen wanted me to do shots with them. It started out with the interns, but I got a radio call for help and went to intervene. We have a “no drinking” policy for all of our wedding staff – for obvious reasons. Usually, just telling them it’s the policy will get normal people who just wanted to “buy a drink” for you to back off. But not always. I found myself surrounded by a few very, very big boys – all members of our esteemed U.S. military I might add – who wanted to force me to do shots. It went from a polite refusal on my end, to a firm “no” and policy explanation. But that wasn’t enough for them. The name calling started. I hadn’t done anything except refuse to personally take a shot. Next thing you know, they had me backed up against the DJ booth, threatening me. Security intervened and removed them from the venue. Sometimes, that has to be done.

4) We had to shut down the wedding where the bottles were getting smashed for safety reasons. I didn’t want anyone cut, and they were too drunk already for us to control. The liability issues were escalating. In fact, the bride’s father was a police officer and he tried to help – but left before their antics got him into trouble with his own department. He knew those boys were out of control and, inevitably, police would end up being called. The same group of men who had been harassing the bar staff, stealing alcohol and berating me tried to surround our staff and prevent us from leaving the venue. It was frightening. There were 16 of us and it was still scary because we don’t engage in physical altercations with any wedding guests. That’s what police are for in those situations.

5) Jerks aside, the most upsetting “wedding bullies” to me are the bridesmaids who gang up on the brides about wedding details. I’ve heard girls tell a bride – just as she was about to walk down the aisle – that her flowers were too “yellow” and “not ivory enough.” For real? At her biggest moment, you’ve got to get that dig in? I even had a bridesmaid at my own wedding who refused to follow my request that all the girls wear strappy pink sandals (pick the shade of pink you like). My request was that they not resemble “hooker heels” – and I had to be specific because a few of my girlfriends liked to wear really ridiculous shoes (remember this was 10 years ago and styles have drastically changed). One bridesmaid not only chose the most inappropriate shoes she could find, but she rubbed them in my face on my wedding day (too late to do anything about it at that point) and then made a point to have the photographer take a bunch of pictures of her holding up her dress showing off her shoes. Seriously. While that might be slightly passive-aggressive bullying compared to men screaming and throwing things, it’s just as detrimental to the bride’s state of mind on her wedding day. Mothers of the Bride can be the meanest in the passive/aggressive bully zone – they just drop little snarky remarks about how the bride’s hair would have looked better down (after she spent two hours having an elaborate updo constructed) or that it’s a shame she couldn’t lose those last ten pounds for the dress and she should remember to hold her tummy in. Yep, I’ve heard it over and over again in the bridal suite. And in my mind, that’s bullying.

I’m somewhat fascinated – and completely horrified – by “wedding bullies.” Are they people who haven’t been married or are jealous? I don’t think they’re any worse at gay weddings than at straight ones – I’ve seen them at both in equal proportion. Perhaps I’m a little more protective of my gay clients because, although I’m not gay, I can imagine they’ve all been through bullying in live regarding their sexual preference. It’s just not acceptable for a “wedding bully” to take the slightest bit of happiness away from their special day.

Are “wedding bullies” just regular assholes in everyday life but their friends all tolerate it? It’s one thing to hear that Johnny took some boy’s hat on the bus and wouldn’t give it back – you can address those incidents as teaching opportunities with children. But what happened to these adults who push, threaten and bully other adults, especially at a wedding? Where the hell do they come from? And why haven’t they been smacked down already by somebody bigger and meaner?

Tim Hutchinson of the The Bully Doctor, known for his "Project Bully Proof" Program, is a regular contributor on all the major networks.

Tim Hutchinson of the The Bully Doctor, known for his “Project Bully Proof” Program, is a regular contributor on all the major networks.

Again, I asked the expert, from The Bully Doctor, to explain it to me. He’s credited with creating a “bully proof” system that changes lives. While he can’t help fix arriving wedding guests, he can help me understand what makes them tick.

“I find this behavior can often be traced back to middle or high school where bullied students believe all they have to do is ‘survive’ a place they commonly refer to as ‘hell’ until graduation. While graduating means getting away from those bullies, far too often the effects of bullying continue to impact their lives,” Hutchinson says. “They’re usually the people we encounter who are pushy, aggressive, and at times seem to lack any social skills.”

“Research shows that those who are bullied in school often become the bullies, and the cycle continues. There are solutions, however many organizations and websites are still in the ‘awareness’ phase of bullying – and while it’s helpful to continue to spread the message that bullying hurts, that alone simply does not stop it. We need to move into the ‘correction’ phase (that’s where we fix it) and quickly!” Hutchinson says.

I couldn’t agree more – and the fix can’t come soon enough. Which is exactly why, as a wedding planner, I’m continuously on the lookout for “wedding bullies.” When we see the parent tormenting the bride or groom, we suddenly need the MoB or MoG someplace else to give her approval. No, we don’t care what she thinks, but if she’s picking on us, she’s not bullying the brides or grooms. I’d rather have them bully me.

This is also why we don’t tolerate “wedding bully” guests. Oh sure, we swallow a lot of rude and drunk behavior because we’re party planners. Dealing with wasted wedding guests is, unfortunately, a big part of our job. But our staff – the bartenders, waitresses, interns and musicians, DO NOT have to take that and it’s our job to put a stop to it. You can’t heckle the DJ, threaten the bartender or intimidate an intern into doing shots with you at a wedding I’ve planned. My weddings are a NO BULLYING ZONE.

I don’t mean we interrupt when we hear friends exchanging mean words – that would be outside the scope of my responsibility – but when it comes to the wedding couple or the staff, that IS my domain. And I don’t tolerate any “wedding bullies” in it. You shouldn’t either.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone!

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Sandy Malone is the star of TLC's "Wedding Island" and "Bodas Increibles" on FOX International. She's an expert on taking on "wedding bullies."

Sandy Malone is the star of TLC’s “Wedding Island” and “Bodas Increibles” on FOX International. She’s an expert on taking on “wedding bullies.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Fire a Bad Wedding Planner, But Get Your Ducks in a Row First!

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

It’s never too late to fire your wedding planner. Technically speaking, that is. If you haven’t been involved at all in the planning, if you don’t know who your vendors are, or if you’ve given the planner carte blanche with all your major decisions and truly are clueless about your details, you might be screwed.

BUT, if you haven’t foolishly waited til the last minute to admit you have a problem and you’re certain the planner can’t execute your events to your satisfaction, you should fire the incompetent person and either bring in somebody new, or do the work yourself. Trust your gut. If it’s telling you that you shouldn’t be trusting this planner with the most important day of your life, make the break. Cut the cord. Fire her.

Tell the planner (very professionally, of course) to hit the road ONLY AFTER you make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Find your new planner before you fire your old one. But never go into your wedding weekend thinking that you’ve hired a complete moron and everything is going to go wrong but hoping for the best. That’s pretty much a guarantee that you are not going to enjoy your wedding, wherever it may be and no matter how it turns out.

I recently stepped in to rescue a wedding at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort on the big island of Puerto Rico for a bride whose mother was based in Australia. The bride was graduating exactly seven days prior to the wedding and she absolutely, positively put the entire thing into her mom’s hands. They’re best friends, and MoB Andrea Jones planned an exquisite wedding for her daughter despite some really intense challenges.  Check out this awesome video from behind-the-scenes of us unfucking this whole wedding disaster!

This was going to be THE Titanic of destination weddings in Puerto Rico when I jumped on board to help save the sinking ship about eight weeks prior to the big day. Not only were the wedding details and vendors unconfirmed and big hot mess, but the planner and her idiot travel agent friend had actually put the wedding guests at a hotel more than an hour away from the actual wedding venue – by bus!

Sound like a fun way to spend your time in the Caribbean? Since that was where some of the wedding party was staying, it was going to make it logistically impossible to even have any kind of welcome dinner or rehearsal. The first thing we did after I took over was move the guests to the Gran Melia, fifteen minutes from the St. Regis. Good call.

Fortunately, the MoB is a seriously sharp cookie and she had recognized the disaster that was her wedding planner for what she was early enough on that she’d been doing her own vendor research, requesting information left and right, and had already begun the décor selection process when she called me for help. She had worked on the catering directly with the event staff at the St. Regis, but for a destination wedding with so many moving parts and pieces, you really need an INDEPENDENT wedding planner to make it all come together. There are too many different vendors involved and coordinating them is not the venue’s responsibility.

We pulled it off, but we had to work our butts off to meet deadlines and have it all ready before the guests arrived, every single step of the way. But if this very special video of the bride dancing with her father (coordinated via Skype and YouTube because he was in Australia and she was in Louisiana) doesn’t convince you that the night was perfect, nothing will!

I’d name and shame her wedding planner from Louisiana but she had one of those fine print clauses in her contract that said clients COULD NOT REVIEW her services online. Just fyi, that’s totally unacceptable from any vendor. Clients have a right to review a vendor’s wedding services and potential clients need resources that have real reviews. Any vendor who has that clause in their contract should go straight into your trash can. Never work with somebody who isn’t proud enough to stand by their work. But I digress…

If you’ve read any of the links to the stories I wrote about the whole unf*cking process we went through for this wedding, then you’ve got the backstory and you don’t need me to tell you again about every incompetently planned detail. What you need to know is how to get your ducks in a row before you do or say anything to even make your planner THINK she’s about to get the ax. You should make sure you have the following information:

  1. Find a new planner before you fire the old one. Yes, you are going to have to spend some money to fix things, but it’s probably going to be the best money you spend for your whole wedding weekend. If you absolutely cannot afford a planner, ask your most organized and bossiest friend to help you and to take the reins on the big day. You can’t do it yourself. I know. I tried. I had to fire my planner and there wasn’t anyone like me who could come to the rescue so I had to do all the work. And I didn’t have fun at my own wedding. Learn from my mistakes.
  2. Know who your vendors are and have their contact information. Do you have copies of the contracts? If not, you should email your planner a list of contracts that you need her to send you “for your file.” A good planner will be sending you executed contracts as they’re completed. If she doesn’t have these, chances are you don’t have a contract anyway. Those contracts should contain any contact information you’re currently missing.
  3. Know the planner’s cancellation policies in their contract. Sometimes it’s got a deadline for cancellation or you still have to pay the balances due after a certain date. However, if you have plenty of documentation to prove a dismissal “for cause” should the planner try to take legal action against you, this should not be something that stops you from firing her. If you haven’t documented things well but you still have no faith in the planner, sometimes you’re better off paying a penalty and STILL FIRE THE PLANNER. But know exactly what the contract says before you start firing off vitriolic emails. End of day, you want to keep the relationship as nice as possible so that you can get all the information out of the planner before or when you fire her. If she has half a brain, she’s going to cooperate with you just to avoid a well-deserved, bad review. If she’s cooperative, you’ll be less furious when you’re writing it. But if she’s THAT unprofessional, she could try to screw you and leave you hanging when you tell her she’s fired. Get your ducks in a row first. Then fire her nicely, via email.

Once you’ve fired your planner, you’re going to have to move at 100 mph with your new planner to fix things quickly, especially if you’re working with a wedding that’s just a few weeks away. Plan to pay a premium fee for the unf*cking of your wedding if you’re calling desperate for help within 90 days of the big event. A new planner will have to drop everything and jump in headfirst, pulling a lot of extra hours to save your wedding in the midst of what she’s already committed to with other clients.

Frankly, fixing a wedding that somebody planned badly takes twice as long as starting from scratch. But for the brides and grooms who pay me to do it, it’s well worth the extra money spent.

A tip for when you fire your bad planner: It isn’t necessary to eviscerate her and tell her what you think of her just to blow off steam. It might make you feel better for a few minutes but if you find that you have to contact her to find out some missing detail, you will have burned the bridge completely. Try to avoid that. A very straight-forward, short termination letter that has a list of bullet-pointed problems is sufficient. Be direct and give her a specific (but reasonable) number of days to provide you with a final status report and copies of everything. You should have gotten those in advance but a lousy, incomplete report from her will bolster your file should you need to defend yourself as to why you are not paying for any more of her services.

Sad reality check – you’re probably not going to get back any money for her wedding planning services that you paid as a deposit when you hired her. Unless she’s done literally nothing, she’ll be able to justify at least some of her time. And most initial deposits are nonrefundable – that’s standard in the business. Expect to lose that money when you fire her, but just keep in mind that a BETTER planner will probably save you money in the end with the stupid things you don’t end up having to pay for. Imagine how much all those luxury buses to and from the venue would have been for Bianca and Bryan’s wedding if all the guests had to travel 90 minutes each way? Ay Dios Mio! That alone probably replaced their deposit to the planner they fired.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra! Trust your gut instincts, they’re usually right. And check out some of these amazing pictures from Bianca and Bryan’s wedding and see what having a GOOD wedding planner can do for you!

Bianca and Bryan's romantic first dance at their perfect reception. Check out the lighting, the flowers and the overall atmosphere!

Bianca and Bryan’s romantic first dance at their perfect reception. Check out the lighting, the flowers and the overall atmosphere!

Bianca and Bryan groomsmen holdinig the bride

The new Mrs. Bianca Adams being “supported” by her groomsmen and new husband, Bryan!

Bianca being escorted down the aisle by her father, Creighton Jones, at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort!

Bianca being escorted down the aisle by her father, Creighton Jones, at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort!

Photographed by Rance Elgin

Biance and Bryan did a “Trash the Dress” shoot with famous photo Rance Elgin the day after the wedding!

Bianca and Bryan's cake tables decorated with bouquets

Amazing cake covered in exquisite sugar flowers!

The Weddings in Vieques crew with a ton of gear headed over to "unfuck" this wedding! Would you believe more people and more gear arrived the next day?

The Weddings in Vieques crew with a ton of gear headed over to “unfuck” this wedding! Would you believe more people and more gear arrived the next day?

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

 

Are Dramatic Media Stereotypes Like Johnny Weir Undermining the Legitimacy of Gay Marriage?

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Hey there!

I wrote this blog for Pridezillas but felt it was an important one to share with my gay marriage watch audience too. Click here to find out what married gay men think about the battle for Birkins and Balencia playing out in the media.

Married gay man Terrel Fraser worries that stupidity in the media will add fuel to the fire of those who oppose same-sex marriage.

Married gay man Terrel Fraser worries that stupidity in the media will add fuel to the fire of those who oppose same-sex marriage (pictured with husband Joe Flowers on left).

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

How Do You Go About Choosing a Gay-Friendly Wedding Planner to Make Your Big Day Special?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Hi Everybody!

My Pridezillas blog today has some very good tips for figuring out who is, and who is not, a legitimately good choice to plan your wedding festivities. Tips on questions to ask, how to check references (for real), and warning signs that you’re not really getting the consultant that you thought you were. Please check it out and share it with friends who are starting their own wedding planning.  Seriously good information!

Happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!  And check out my new site www.SandyMalone.com to take advantage of “Ask Sandy” and lots of other cool wedding and e

Sandy

Sandy Malone, "Queen of Gay Wediquette," explains how to find a legit gay wedding planning professional.

Sandy Malone, “Queen of Gay Wediquette,” explains how to find a legit gay wedding planning professional.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

The Brides Get What the Brides Want because It’s the Rules

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Hi everybody!

Today I have a Huffington Post blog here to share with you about how so many guests don’t seem to realize that the brides and grooms make the decisions at weddings, not the wedding planners.  We don’t decide whether to have the tent at the beach party or whether to serve alcohol there.  The clients make the decisions and pay for them.

So why would people so frequently think it’s okay to express opinions about silly things like this to the wedding planner — or God forbid, the bride???  It’s a sad day in wediquette land.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Twitter War Using NOH8 Message as a Weapon Is Not Acceptable

Monday, December 9th, 2013

I’m straight, and I want to talk about NOH8.  And how it affects me.

When I first moved to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, and opened Weddings in Vieques, people cautioned me that I should not plan gay weddings.  Let me be clear – this is a gay-friendly island (lots of gay-owned businesses, gay residents, etc.) – so I was baffled.  At the time, gay marriage wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States yet (legislation was flying but nothing was settled), so I felt no reason to not offer gay wedding planning services in addition to everything else we do.  Fine, call them commitment ceremonies if you prefer.  Whatever.

There was a minister-in-a-can working the island at the time who cautioned me that IF anyone on this predominantly Catholic island found out we were performing commitment ceremonies, we would be harassed, threatened, and even – swear to God she said this – somebody would poison our dog. What???  Fortunately, she’s no longer a part of the wedding industry here because she obviously was clueless and biased about performing gay weddings.  We don’t need anybody like that on Vieques.

Now Weddings in Vieques has been executing flawless gay and straight weddings for almost seven years.  Our staff is mostly straight and we love our gay clients because, usually, they’re a lot of fun.  The Catholics on the island aren’t protesting and if anybody has a problem with it, I supposed they should have spoken up by now.  We featured a gay wedding on TLC’s “Wedding Island” performed here on Vieques and all I got from that was great feedback about the open attitudes on the island.  I did a wedding for gay active duty military police in uniform on one of our beaches.  The municipality of the island supports our business and television show, we pay our taxes, and I have never had an unkind word said to me by any Puerto Rican about whether or not we do gay weddings.

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on 12-12-12 on TLC's  "Wedding Island" by Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on 12-12-12 on TLC’s
“Wedding Island” by Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques

I’ve had a blog here on Purple Unions for several years, and while I try to blog about mostly “gay” topics, I share anything that will be useful to brides and grooms regardless of sexual preference.  We’ve maintained excellent relationships with the vast majority of our gay clients and they give me half of my blog ideas.  I claimed the self-appointed title of “Queen of Gay Wediquette” a long time ago because no other reputable wedding planner was willing to step up to the plate and advise these lesbian brides and gay grooms about how to navigate the sometimes tricky waters of a gay wedding festivities.  So I volunteered because I have to do it on a regular basis.  That makes me an authority if there’s nobody else who has done it more and wants to weigh in.  I’m all up for learning something new.

End of day – gay couples often need more advice about how to handle the finer points of getting the ceremony to flow smoothly, etc. so that it doesn’t look like the hokey pokey up on the altar.  I’m happy to provide it – especially to my clients.  They have other questions about how to handle “traditions” in a way where they won’t offend anyone but don’t feel cheated.  I help navigate those waters too.  My job is to plan the perfect wedding for every client, and if that means helping you figure out what to do about being gay and still having all the bells and whistles the way you want them, I’m up for it.

So I’ve gotta admit I was blown away this week by a Twitter attack from a website the purports to be a LGBT wedding directory.  I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say we randomly tweeted my Pridezillas blog to them thinking their followers might be interested, and the owner responded with a long-winded, many message discourse that would have been far more appropriate sent by direct message, or hey, wait – maybe via email if you’re interested in doing business with us.  Somebody tweeting you a gay-relevant blog doesn’t mean we WANT anything from you.  We just thought you might be interested.  If you’re not, skip it.  That’s what I do with junk I don’t want.  But this person took the receipt of blog tweets as an indicator that I wanted to build a relationship.  Okay, no problemo.  But wouldn’t you send me a private message or an email? It’s not like my contact info is hard to find – I’m everywhere.

I had the misfortune of downloading the new iPhone update (against my will) the same day and instead of “replying” to this person’s tweets, I hit retweet instead on the first two messages.  I felt stupid, but I realized the conversation wouldn’t make sense to anybody unless I RTd the other three messages she sent – so I did.  Wow.  Huge mistake.  I received a public nasty-gram from her asking me why I was retweeting.  Rather than explain the error had been hers initially (who talks biz via Tweet – we’re not Real Housewives), I simply apologized – via tweet – and that started a huge nasty Twitter war where this woman who claims to be a NOH8 advocate spent literally hours attacking me, totally unprovoked.  She accused me of not doing my own tweeting. She attacked my weight, my professionalism, and my commitment to gay marriage equality.  Apparently my company isn’t gay enough and my views aren’t gay enough to satisfy her. Really?  REALLY?

Now we all know I won that argument the minute she attacked my weight – if you have to talk about appearance, you don’t have anything else bad to say about me.  But it didn’t save me trauma of reading through tons of horrifically mean tweets that I can only assume some of her followers were reading too.  Then to add icing to the cake, she proceeded to email websites on our island about me, mistakenly assuming that I own all the websites on Vieques Island.  I don’t – I own mine.  The webmasters kindly forwarded her messages to me. Thanks guys!

This person accused me of not supporting gay rights and marriage equality, she said I’m not a real writer (cited Huffington Post as example of something that isn’t considered “published” – I refrained from replying I’m a former Wall Street Journal columnist too because I was done with the war by then) and repeatedly bragged she has five degrees.  Felicidades.

The nastygrams really angered some of my dedicated former clients (the Weddings in Vieques gay mafia… not limited to alumni, just fyi if you want to join) and some very REAL wedding clients of mine started tweeting her back correcting her false statements and citing #NOH8. Her response was to literally start threatening me, repeatedly. I wasn’t participating, just sitting back and watching the war unfold… but she continued to threaten me in response to other people defending me as a NOH8 advocate… and I quote here:

@SandyMalone_ and if you FUCK with me I will CRUSH you. Maybe not tonight. Maybe not this year. But I don’t forget. So? Best to you. BYE!

When a long-time gay friend and client who I actually performed the marriage of on “Wedding Island” (see pic above – Twitter @Dwayne420) fought back and pointed out that I have a long history (well before wedding planning) of supporting gay rights, she got gross and accused him of having a “creepy” relationship with me.  Wow.  Somebody is off her rocker.  But the really sad thing is that she has a NOH8 picture up as her profile photo on Twitter.  She’s gotta be one of the biggest, nastiest, haters I’ve ever met.  I woke up to more crazy-ass tweets from her than you can even imagine… oh, and the emails she’d sent to all our local websites.  Sigh.

So who is this person?  I’ve never heard of her, and she doesn’t know me or she wouldn’t have said the untrue things she said (she made herself look stupid – my bios are available in a number of places).  The gay mafia started digging since I was in the middle of a bride’s arrival on the island.  Turns out, little Miss Nasty is a straight married woman who runs a mostly paid-advertising, gay wedding directory and her husband appears to be a wedding DJ.  No, seriously.  But because she’s got this website up that says she’s gay friendly, she’s got about 20,000 followers who read the stuff she writes.  And she doesn’t write much – she mostly reposts news. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But she decided to trash me because we tweeted a blog to her that we thought her followers (assuming they’re real) might have an interest in.  She took that to be an invitation to do business and build a relationship and because I didn’t respond quickly, she freaked. Big time.  Reality check, I’m in the middle of a stretch of three weddings… even if she’d emailed me, I’d have had to get back to her next week unless her hair is on fire and she’s standing on my front porch.  Priorities.  Clients first.  But I digress.

I love the NOH8 message.  I love the whole NOH8 campaign.  But I’m pretty sure that the architects of NOH8 meant for it to go both ways.  And they certainly didn’t mean for vendors who serve the gay community to start bashing each other and using NOH8 as a weapon.  I’m disgusted.  If you are somebody who plans gay and straight weddings, or purports to be a directory of those vendors, you should practice what you preach with the NOH8 message.  That means don’t be a mean, hateful person towards any sexual preference – gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans or whatever.  It would be hateful to tell a gay man who watches football he wasn’t “gay enough” or to call a straight man who wears pink he dresses like a “fag,” right?  So how can anybody who says she is a LGBT supporter and vendor directory decide to start publicly attacking somebody else for being… I don’t even know how to characterize what she called me – not gay friendly enough? Poorly gay educated? Fat and on TV – comments about my weight are true and yes, I have a television show.  But it was rude and completely irrelevant to her insane attack anyway.  There’s that NOH8 logo staring at me from these totally malicious, hateful tweets.  So nice to wake up to.

A word to the wise: Don’t believe that every vendor out there claiming to be LGBT is really a staunch supporter of gay rights, or even a real business directory or vendor.  Do your homework.  It didn’t take us long to figure out that “Sybil”, as one of my alum clients following the tweets nicknamed her when she was psycho-tweeting all night long, is nobody but a hater with a fake profile pic of NOH8. She’s not the only one out there.  I always warn clients to avoid anybody to claims to be all things to all people – do your homework, check with references and don’t believe everything (or most of) what you read on social media or even company websites til you verify the source.  I let my feelings get hurt, or my “knickers in a bunch,” for my British fans, for literally no reason at all.  Lesson learned.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone, wedding planner (gay and straight) and serious marriage equality supporter.

Sandy Malone, wedding planner (gay and straight) and serious marriage equality supporter.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Why Are Gay Men Still Marrying Straight Women? It’s Time to Stop!

Friday, November 15th, 2013

It’s okay to be gay.  No really, in the 21st century, as we move forward, it’s more okay to be gay every day… and more and more men and women are coming out of the closet, announcing their sexual orientation, and now getting LEGALLY married to members of the same sex.  Even the US military is finally starting to do the right thing (yeah, it’s still messed up – but it’s improving every day compared to what soldiers of even five years ago had to put up with on a daily basis).  I firmly believe that we will see marriage equality in my lifetime and I’m 40.  That’s saying something.

Definitely both gay! Garrett and David Egland-Rock tied the knot on Vieques on October 11, 2013!

Definitely both gay! Garrett and David Egland-Rock tied the knot on Vieques on October 11, 2013!

So now, as a professional wedding planner, I have to ask a very difficult and controversial question – and I really want to know the answer – why are so many gay men continuing to marry straight women in big white weddings with the promise of a lifetime together when half the guests at the wedding know that the groom would rather be marrying his best man?

Let me back up a little to put things in context – I had a rainbow collection as a child before rainbows meant anything other than leprechauns and pots of gold.  I grew up in Washington, DC, in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was first becoming okay to be gay in public.  I took the Metro home from my prep school through Dupont Circle most days, and I assure you gay was EVERYWHERE back then (though more men than women seemed to be representing). Homosexuality has always been there – this is nothing new.  Throughout history, there have been famous leaders worldwide whose sexuality is extensively questioned in our history books even though almost all of them were married to women and had families (who knew what the gossip was about them when they were alive).  But only in the past 30 years (and really more in the last 10) have gay men and women been able to be open about their orientation and still hold their rank in business and society without being ostracized completely.  For the military, things are still in the process of changing.  But they are changing.  Big time.

With a whole world of opportunity opening up for people of all sexual orientations, with so many states legalizing gay marriage and benefits FINALLY being extended to those partners the way they should have been all along, why are so many gay men continuing the ruse and marrying straight women?  Maybe some of them are bisexual and their wives are okay with it – and if that’s the case, more power to that couple – but I’m here to tell you that I have planned quite a few weddings over the past few years that seriously made me wonder what the heck was going on.  I am absolutely positively certain that not all of these beautiful girls with hopeful smiles, tripping down the aisle in bridal white, clearly understand that they aren’t really their groom’s first choice for a life partner.  They might be his favorite girl, but she isn’t who he wishes he was marrying forever.  And most of those marriage don’t last.  It’s a fact.

How dare I ask this question?  How can I call out some of my own clients like this?  Maybe it’s because nowadays about a third of my client roster are gay weddings, and although I’ve been accused of having terrible “gaydar,” now I do recognize when a straight couple getting married is mismatched in the most horrible way.  And if I don’t pick up on it before they arrive, or even when they do, don’t worry – either my vendors (some of whom are gay) or their wedding guests will make sure that our staff knows the whole skinny before the wedding weekend is over.  And then, after months of planning and executing the perfect wedding, I feel a little sick and sad when it’s all over because I’m afraid of what’s going to happen within the next five years when he finally gets up the nerve to come out.  Generally speaking, I just pray that it happens sooner rather than later because when they hang in there long enough to build a life and have children, the damage is cataclysmically worse when the truth finally comes to light.

This happened to a few of my friends in high school – I graduated in 1991.  And even though my friends were almost technically adults, they were destroyed because their families were obliterated.  They hadn’t grown up in unhappy households.  The shock was palpable, and humiliating for some (think back 20 years). It wasn’t your normal spend time with mom and spend time with dad separately kinda divorce.  It was dad leaving mom for somebody else’s dad.  I don’t care who you are or how accepting of the gay lifestyle you are… it messes with kids’ heads pretty badly.  And in some cases has impacted all their future relationships because trust is a huge issue for them.  How can you grow up for 18 years believing your parent is one thing when he or she is another?  I’m not trying to lay blame on those parents now, they didn’t have the same options back then.  I am saying STOP THIS SILLY SHIT now!  It isn’t necessary anymore.

I could have made this a funny blog.  I could tell you some of my fave stories about my straight (so gay) grooms who threw fits at their own weddings and behaved like brides.  I could tell you about the groom who cried because the napkins were the wrong shade of orange (in his opinion) – true story!  Or the one who sang show tunes all weekend and had a temper tantrum when it rained on his beach party while the bride kept a stiff upper lip and tried to convince their guests all was well.  Or the groom I caught kissing his best man in the staff rest room while the bride was out line dancing with the rest of the group two hours after they said “I do.”

At the time, it was funny.  Not LOL funny – more like sad, pathetic and depressingly funny because the only person at the whole damned wedding who didn’t know the groom was gay was the bride.  Every time, I felt sick afterwards, like I’d masterminded the end of her happiness instead of helping kick off a mind-blowing happy future.  But I never said a word.  That’s not my job, not my business, and not the way to get a good review and referrals.  But I don’t feel good about those weddings.  I couldn’t have known ahead of time, and yet, I blame myself to some degree for not blowing the whistle when I became aware.  But my job is to execute a flawless wedding, not destroy clients’ lives.  Or is that what I did by facilitating the marriage licenses?

Gay people should marry gay people, and straight people should marry straight people, unless there’s some private understanding that’s none of my business anyway.  But if you doubt your sexuality in any way – if you’re still figuring out which team you play for or if you play for both – do not make a lifetime commitment to somebody who doesn’t know where your heart truly lies.  All is spells is heartbreak for everyone eventually.  Every man and woman deserves a lifetime of happiness… but be sure you’ve chosen the right gender of spouse to spend the rest of your life with creating that bliss.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

 

 

How You Can Make the Wedding Special Even if Your Partner Did All the Planning

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Hey there!

I wrote this blog for TheGroomslist.com and it was directed at straight couples in the way it’s written — but it’s such a good tips list for any bride or groom who hasn’t had time to help his or her partner with all the difficult parts of the planning that I decided to share it here too!  So check it out and maybe it will give you some inspiration on how to make your fiancé’s wedding week even more special!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

Gay Wedding Photo Blog from Vieques Island – Garrett Egland and David Rock Tie the Knot with Black & White Theme

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Hi Everybody!

Not every wedding is “photo blog” worthy – sometimes just because we’re so busy that we don’t get the right pictures to really show off what our clients did for their amazing weddings.  By the time the professional photographer get the pictures to us, we’re five weddings down the road and just trying to keep up.  Blogging is a luxury and sometimes I just don’t have time.  But new account exec Kelsi Welch has been on my ass to put a photo blog together for my readers so you get a full view of a fabulous wedding weekend on Vieques Island.  And this weekend, our clients — the new Mr. and Mr. Garrett and David Egland-Rock — gave us a fun event with lots of pictures that my readers will really enjoy.  So here goes… no judging my first attempt!

David Rock (left) and Garrett Egland became Mr. and Mr. on Friday, October 11, 2013, on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

First, I think it’s important to tell you about the grooms this weekend.  Yes, I said “grooms” – it was a gay wedding.  We do a lot of gay and lesbian weddings, just like we do a lot of straight couple weddings.  They’re not all that different, although as I’ve expressed before, I often think gay couples take the wedding a little more seriously because they spent most of their lives wondering if they’d ever get to take this colossal step with the man or woman they love.  Now it’s all possible – and every week more states and jurisdictions are realizing how stupid it is to discriminate against married couples (or couples who’d like to be married) for any reason.  But I digress.

Garrett Egland and David Rock contacted me from Illinois in August of 2012.  They were planning ahead.  They knew what they wanted, and they wanted to make sure they had time to do it right and have the people who they love most present to witness the big moment.  They had some very specific ideas – and their black and white color theme was non-negotiable from the very beginning, but some things changed.

For example, I spent a whole year getting excited that their females in the wedding party (7 bridesmaids) were going to be dressed as the Robert Palmer girls.  That plan changed, but as you’re about to see (I know, a picture blog isn’t supposed to be me babbling, it’s about the pictures of the wedding) these grooms figured out a way to make a statement using black and white throughout everything!

The MoH, Bridesmaids, and BM were asked to choose their own fun interpretation of black & white for the actual ceremony.

But I’m jumping too far ahead too fast… let me back up and start at the beginning… before the boys even arrives, the staff of Weddings in Vieques was busily preparing for their arrival, including preparing a welcome bag for each and every guest.  Each welcome bag contained a welcome letter, local publications, maps, coupons, bottled water and fabulous “Groom and Groom” heart-shaped sugar cookies in blue and black to match the groom’s personal color choices for their wedding garb.

 

Homemade yummies can be a great way to welcome your guests who arrive hot and tired and usually hungry. Treats can be personalized -- like this groom/groom version of the heart shaped bride/groom cookies. Play with your color here - this is the place to do it!

You should have seen the look on Garrett and David’s faces when they saw their wedding villa for the first time.  My clients choose their wedding venues through pictures and my advice, but I honestly hold my breath til I see this sort of look on the faces of the the clients!

The grooms posing in front of what will become their dream wedding spot in two days at Playa Martineau, a waterfront villa on the island.

Then they posed in front of the villa’s porch, and showed off their super amazing diamond engagement rings to me.  I’ve never had gay clients (male or female) who exchanged diamond engagement rings with each other before.

Wait and see how different this beautiful villa looks all dressed up for their wedding!

 

LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM! The grooms exchanged engagement rings and then added wedding bands when they did the deed!

 Wednesday night, the guests gathered for informal cocktails at the wedding villa, and then Thursday morning we had  wedding rehearsal at the villa before everybody headed to Sun Bay Beach for a fabulous beach party that included paella cooked over a fire, local flan, icy rum punches, volleyball and lots of colorful beach umbrellas.

Grooms posing with account executive Kelsi Welch at their beach party. All of our beach parties are staffed with Weddings in Vieques crew to oversee the caterers and answer your guests' questions.  Matching uniforms makes us easily identifiable to your guests.

After the beach party, most of the guests took a nap before they headed out for tours of the very famous bioluminescent bay, both on kayaks and our big pontoon boat.  Everybody marveled at the sparkling water, even those who’d seen biobays in other places.  Vieques is known to have the best in the world.

The wedding morning dawned early for the Weddings in Vieques crew and we started setup under a clear blue sky.  It’s our job to take the yard you saw in their arrival picture and turn it into our clients’ vision of wedding wonderland.

Wasn't the weather gorgeous the morning of Garrett and  David's wedding? The first thing to disappear during wedding setup is everything in the yard. Clear all the pool lounges and tables and start fresh. Tip - it also discourages guests staying at the villa from getting in the way and slowing things down.

 

Every member of our wedding planning crew is cross-trained to help in every aspect of a wedding.  Somehow account exec Kelsi had never been on light crew before, so we tossed her in on Friday morning.  While it's important to have experts make most things on your wedding day, it's good to know your planners know how to light a villa or make a bouquet when the chips are down and you have a problem.

Wedding setup entails not only clearing the yard and setting up thousands of “fairy” lights, tiki torches, and ceremony chairs, but we also clear out the inside of the villa of anything that clashes with the clients’ décor and make sure everything is clean and ready for the other vendors to arrive and setup.  Then we run home, shower and change and come back to the villa so we’re there to supervise when the caterers, service staff, DJ and minister all begin to do their jobs.  In this case, we all came back dressed in the grooms’ theme attire for the night — black and white.  Start paying attention to color here — this is where it’s going to get interesting.

Weddings in Vieques crew dressed for Garrett and  David's "white party" - talk about counter-intuitive for wedding planners! (left to right, Kendra-the-Intern, Kelsi, Andy, Sandy and Erika-the-Intern)

Garrett and David asked their guests to help with their color theme by wearing whatever they liked to the wedding ceremony (their wedding party would be decked in black and white).  But they asked that EVERYBODY change into all white for a “white party” reception during cocktails.  It actually went more smoothly than I would have guessed because they were all staying within walking distance of the wedding venue.

It's time to go down the aisle when the wedding party starts getting silly.  The bridesmaids carried one lone calla lily each, and the grooms and BM and FoG wore white mini calla lily bouquets.

 

When there's no flower girl, somebody has to put down the petals. And it has to be at the last minute so that they don't blow away at a waterfront venue with a breeze.  This is Sandy's least favorite job but the pictures are always funny.

 

Garrett's cousins interpretation of a black and white bridesmaid dress.

The grooms went down the aisle in black and blue, but Garrett lost the jacket and was looking hot in a vest before the end of the ceremony.

Rev. Nancy Elias performed a beautiful wedding ceremony for Garrett and David -- hard to take pics from back where we were standing as most of the guests were taking pics too!

 

Newly married couple makes there way back down the aisle after the ceremony.

 

 

Wedding party fooling around in the surf as they took pictures.  Everybody was already having fun!

 

 

Suddenly the guests cleared out to change clothes and we had just a few minutes to turn the wedding ceremony into a fabulous reception venue.

 

 

Garrett and David kept the dinner table décor simple, with white linens, black table runners, napkins tied with black satin ribbon, and hurricane vases with black pillar candles on mirrors.  Sophisticated, elegant, and IN THEME.

 

garrett and david's reception setup during cocktails

 

 

The grooms came back downstairs in their "white party" attire -- looking hot and looking happy!

 

 

As the sun disappeared on the horizon, the wedding guests began reappearing is their "white party" outfits too... and then the party actually got started!

 

 

Dinner was fabuous -- guests had either Dorado (Mahi Mahi) or chicken, after a scrumptious salad with roasted fresh tomatoes, carmelized onions and friend Puerto Rican farmer's cheese.  The lighting was just right.

 

The grooms toasted and thanked their guests, after being toasted themselves. Check out that background view - wow.

 

Garrett and David's first dance as a married couple.

 

After the groom's first dance, and the mother/son dance, the party started going and everyone was dancing!

And before we knew it - EVERYBODY WAS IN THE POOL.  Including the grooms and at least one MoG.

Gay grooms don't play any nicer than straight ones -- and Garrett and David were no exception. Except that David asked me in advance if they were allowed to make a mess.  Heck yes!

Yummm buttercream!

There’s no farewell picture to show from teardown the next day because one of the grooms was still snug as a bug upstairs in bed.  But I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing Garrett and David back on Vieques for many years of anniversaries yet to come!  We’ll see how you folks like seeing Weddings in Vieques photo blogs and if they’re popular, we’ll try to do every wedding — maybe even back up and do a few of the older, crazier ones!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!