Last August, Roxie and Russ Wray’s son Andy announced news every parent dreams of hearing – he and his fiancé Kailea were planning a destination wedding in 2020. At the time, COVID-19 wasn’t a concern. In fact, the happy couple’s biggest challenge was figuring out where to get married.
Finding Help Planning a Destination Wedding
“Blue water. White sand beaches. That’s all Andy and Kailea had in mind when they walked into the Travel Design Lounge in Omaha, Nebraska,” says Roxie. “Travel advisor Abby Bebout was the first to greet them and ended up being the one to help them plan their destination wedding.”
From Roxie’s perspective, her son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law couldn’t have been in better hands, especially once the coronavirus pandemic threatened to force them to reconsider a destination wedding.
“Abby showed them all kinds of different destination wedding ideas and then helped them narrow their choices down to four,” says Roxie. “They took a few months to research before landing on getting married in Tulum, Mexico. Once they selected a destination for their wedding, Abby connected them with a wedding planner at Dreams Tulum so they could get the help they needed customizing their wedding package to be exactly as they desired.”
Getting Guests to Mexico for the Wedding
With a destination selected, wedding plans in place and friends invited, the Wrays were ready to jet set to Mexico when COVID-19 hit. Resorts closed. Flights were grounded. The dream of a destination wedding seemed it would be delayed, particularly when passport offices shut down.
“The planning was super simple with Abby’s help. She was on top of it,” says Roxie. “The minute you told her what you wanted and gave her your dates, she was very good at responding and giving you different price ranges and arrival and departure options. In fact, the only hazard of the whole thing was the trouble we had with our passports.”
The government had ceased processing passport applications for a time because of COVID-19 shut downs. Many of the guests attending Andy and Kailea’s wedding didn’t have passports, and although they applied with what under normal circumstances would’ve allowed plenty of time, a massive backlog of applications threatened to keep some guests at home.
“We reached out to Senator Joni Ernst’s office for help and she did a lot of pushing to get our passports processed in time. A week out, six or seven people still didn’t have them,” says Roxie. “Thankfully all but one bridesmaid’s passports came in time, but it was a good lesson about the reality of planning a trip during COVID; passports are just one of the things you have to allow extra time for.”
Another snag the Wrays encountered was rebooking their flights after United cancelled them in June, about a month before the wedding.
“About nine of us had booked an all-inclusive air and lodging package through United Airlines. A month out, they cancelled the flight. Thankfully, Abby found us a different package on another airline on our same travel dates. She rebooked us on the new package and got our refunds processed for the first trip. She was very attentive and on top of things. It really couldn’t have been any easier to schedule.”
A Destination Wedding to Remember
Arriving at the resort in Tulum was a beautiful, unforgettable, surreal experience. After being closed for three months, the Wray wedding party was one of the first groups to stay at the resort. That didn’t dim the experience one bit, even during COVID.
“Mexico felt more prepared and safe than Iowa did at that point,” says Roxie. “We didn’t go anywhere without a mask. Our shoes were sprayed with sanitizer before every vehicle we entered. Temperature checks and COVID-19 screening questions were everywhere.”
At the resort, Roxie says their rooms were sanitized, sealed and immaculate.
“We were treated like kings and queens. They disinfected our luggage, vacuum sealed the remotes and sealed the door to indicate the room had been cleaned and only we could break the seal when entering the room. Virtual menus with QR codes and lots of hand sanitizer were set out at every bar and restaurant on the resort grounds.”
With their safety ensured, the Wrays were able to see their son and daughter in law get married and make time for excursions in the surrounding area that included watching sea turtles nesting on the beach outside the resort, exploring Mayan caves, snorkeling by coral reefs and the most unforgettable experience of all – a private catamaran party with lunch in a quiet cove.
“Andy and Kailea arranged for everyone to join them on a catamaran voyage that included bottomless drinks and lunch in a quiet cove. That was so much fun,” says Roxie. “It was a real highlight of the trip.”
Planning a Vacation for 2021?
Now that Roxie and her husband Russ are back in their hometown of Mapleton, Iowa, they’re longing for the day they’ll be able to take another trip.
“We’d love to take a European Viking trip next summer, but don’t want to book anything until the coronavirus pandemic has passed,” says Roxie. “One thing I know is that I wouldn’t take a trip without using a travel advisor. It’s well worth the money to have a professional plan it for you.”
Are you ready to make travel plans? Explore your options with a Travel and Transport travel advisor today. We’re confident we can help you plan an amazing adventure.