Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Kara & Carissa in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Couple: Kara & Carissa

Resort Name & Destination: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Number of Guests: 32

Photography by:  Ocean Studios


The brief story of how you met/fell in love:

We met for the first time when Kara came into Carissa’s salon for a haircut. We became friends a few years later and eventually started playing volleyball together, and hanging out.  We knew our friendship was something special, not only were we best friends but we had fallen in love and knew we wanted to be with each other.


The destination wedding decision: something you’ve always wanted or came to love?

We decided on a destination wedding before we even got engaged. We knew we wanted a smaller wedding with just the special people in our lives to attend.  We took our first vacation together in Mexico and loved it so much that we took the kids there 6 months later.  We ended up going 3 times that year!  We love the beach and we knew that Riviera Maya was a special place for us and couldn’t think of anywhere else to begin the rest of our lives together as a married couple.


What made you choose your resort/destination?

We wanted a gay friendly resort and while we were doing research we found and decided to ask some questions and see how they could help. Best decision we ever made!  Our Specialist through, Cookie, was so wonderful and helped us choose the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.  She knew what we were looking for in the ceremony and location, and what type of accommodations we needed for all our guests (which included children).  We had been to Mexico 5 times and had never been to a Hard Rock Hotel, so her insight and knowledge about the location was exactly what we needed in planning our trip and ceremony.


How did you personalize your wedding and ceremony?

We wanted someone who knew us and was special in our lives to marry us, so we asked Kara’s sister if she would be willing to do so. She took the time to become an ordained minister so that she could perform the vows. She worked with us closely making sure the details of the ceremony (including poems read and the vows) reflected our lives and love for one another.   We also asked Kara’s Uncle to play the music for the ceremony.  He is a musician and not only played songs of our choosing for the ceremony, but recorded all the music for the ceremony including his backup.  A family member also surprised us by making T shirts for all of our guests.  When we went to greet our guests as they arrived to the resort they all had T shirts on that had our wedding date and names along with the saying  “Love Laughter & Happily ever after!”


The funniest or most memorable moment was when…

Our most memorable moment was when we saw each other  for the first time (best friend and love of my life) one of us standing at the top of the stairs, and the other down at the alter with both of us smiling.

Kara: I was so nervous and just her smiling at me made me melt, everything else went away.  She looked so amazing ( I had never seen her dress before that moment) and my nerves were replaced with utter happiness and excitement.


Three words that sum up your destination wedding experience are:

Unforgettable, Beautiful, Special

Besides the wedding itself, what was your favorite part of your trip? Did you do any activities with your guests?

We frequented the resort night club and also took a trip to Playa Del Carmen. Our resort had a great credit opportunity that all of our guests took advantage of.  We all used resort credits to not only go to the spa but a lot of us also went on excursions and swam with the dolphins.  It was amazing being able to have those experiences with our friends and family.  By far our favorite part outside of the ceremony was being able to play volleyball and sit around the beach/pool with everyone.


If you could travel anywhere for your one year anniversary, it would be to:

Cancun Mexico!


Your biggest piece of advice to couples planning a destination wedding would be:

Remember a lot of things are out of your control. Do your research and be prepared, but know that a lot of details will not be ironed out until you arrive to the resort and meet with your coordinator to go over the details.  The coordinators and travel agents are great at their job so trust them, be patient, and everything will go smoothly!


For more stunning inspiration from Kara & Carissa’s big day, browse our latest issue of Voyage!

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