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An exotic 'I do'

July 23, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

The bride wore flip-flops - with sequins on them.

Kelsi Shaun Miller and Bronwyn Free Miller were married Tuesday, May 11, on Pineapple Beach, St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands.

"It's what I've always wanted to do," Kelsi Miller said.

Danielle Renee Moser and Adam McKinley Brooks were married Jan. 10 in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

They had been a couple for six and a half years, and Danielle considered it "sacrilegious" when Adam had suggested "Let's go somewhere," as they began to plan their wedding.

She had wanted to be married close to home at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

But when they started adding up the costs for a "nice" wedding, the wedding of her dreams - invitations, bridal gown and all the accouterments, dresses for attendants, tables and chairs, table settings, glasses, linens, catered food, beverages, a sound system, music - she realized it would cost about $40,000.

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The wedding she chose cost $8,000, and she was on the beach.

"It was breathtaking," she said.

The Millers and the Brookses joined 200,000 American couples - 10 percent of the 2 million - who marry each year in what has come to be called destination weddings, according to Cond Nast's Bridal Group Infobank and Modern Bride Magazine.

Hawaii, Jamaica, Fiji, Bermuda and Las Vegas are the top locations for destination weddings, according to Cond Nast and Modern Bride.

The Millers had no guests at their Caribbean nuptials.

"We basically eloped," said Kelsi Miller, "the baby" of Funkstown residents Leon and Sandra Miller's family of eight children - six of them girls. The couple's families were fine with the destination decision.

Kelsi and Bronwyn considered an Aruba wedding, but there was a seven-day waiting period to have a legal wedding. They were able to do their Virgin Islands wedding paperwork ahead of time.

It was easy to plan, Kelsi Miller said. She knew she wanted to get married on a beach. She wanted purple flowers. The couple wanted a Baptist ceremony. Everything - even photographs - was included in the wedding package the couple chose.

"Very stress-free" is how Kelsi Miller described her wedding.

Danielle Brooks also described her wedding as "low stress."

"It didn't feel real," she said. She has friends who have been so exhausted by their special day they can't remember much of it, she said.

Brooks started making arrangements about six months ahead of time, browsing the Internet. She looked at other tropical options but chose Iberostar Paraiso del Mar. She admitted that choosing to be married at a place she'd never seen was kind of scary, but she felt confident in her choice. She communicated - mostly by e-mail - with the resort's wedding planner. She sent out a "save-the-date" poem informing friends and loved ones about the plan six months ahead of time.

When they arrived at the resort, the couple changed their minds about getting married on the beach. It was windy, and there were several guys running around in skimpy bathing suits.

When invitations went out, 27 people said they would come. Seventeen were there - best friends and family. Had the wedding been in Hagerstown, more than 200 guests would have been invited. Danielle said her mother has 14 sisters and brothers. The couple planned a Hagerstown brunch for sometime after the wedding in Mexico, but they both started new jobs in Ohio as chiropractic physicians the day after the honeymoon, so that hasn't happened yet.

Everything, including airfare and resort accommodations for the couple, Danielle's mother and sister, was in the cost. Cost and convenience were primary considerations for choosing their destination wedding. But for the couple, the benefits went far beyond practical considerations. Adam and Danielle had a chance to relax with family and close friends before the wedding and with each other afterward.

"It's like a dream come true," Danielle Brooks said.

- The Associated Press contributed to this story




Planning a wedding?


Here are some online resources to help you with every imaginable aspect - etiquette, budgeting, invitations, dress, flowers, food and favors:

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