49 – A Childfree Destination Wedding: Worth the Drama with Andrea Watt

Another childfree wedding success story—this time, it’s a childfree destination wedding!

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Bride Andrea Watt shares her experience in throwing the childfree wedding she always wanted: at sunset on the beach with only a small group of adults as guests. It doesn’t sound very demanding for a bride.

But of course, wedding planning is never without drama. With a huge family (45 cousins on her mom’s side alone!) in 2 different states, and people without passports, how did Andrea and her husband pull off a childfree destination wedding in Cozumel?

Listen in to find out how this childfree destination wedding came together, the compromises that led to it being celebrated in 3 separate settings, what really caused the drama, and the fun tidbit about Andrea’s wedding dress arriving in Mexico days AFTER she did. 

For additional fun, check out the YouTube video for a glimpse of Andrea’s gorgeous and unconventional wedding dress.

Your takeaway from this episode: a childfree wedding is absolutely worth it.

***Want to send in your childfree wedding story? Submit your story at pauletteerato.com/childfreewedding ***

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[00:00] Paulette: Buen día, mi gente, and welcome to La Vida Más Chévere, the place where Spanglish speaking, childfree Latinas y Latinas are learning to dismantle the toxic cultural bullshit we all grew up with. I’m your host, Paulette Erato.

[00:18] Can you imagine a stress free, childfree wedding? Is it even possible. Welcome to the second in the series on childfree weddings.

[00:29] I’ll leave a link down in the description for the first one. If you would like to share your story to fit into this series, whether you had a childfree wedding, attended a childfree wedding, or just have drama to share about a childfree wedding, instructions for doing that are down below or in the show notes.

[00:46] Also, don’t forget to check out extra content over on Substack and get some shopping done at the merch store. Links for all of that are in the show notes. Thank you for doing your part to keep this listener supported show ad free. Our guest today is Andrea, who successfully designed her childfree wedding to be as stress free as possible.

[01:05] What did she and her husband end up doing? A destination wedding. Was there drama? Of course there was. But how did she deal with it? Like a boss. I related to Andrea’s story a lot because we also had a semi destination wedding and of course it caused drama for different reasons. But you’ll hear how she managed it.

[01:25] Since Andrea is a project manager, she’s no stranger to managing people. That’s not to say it was easy. You’ll hear all the compromises they had to make, with similarities to Jamie’s story from the last episode, plus the last minute wedding dress drama. It’s always wedding season here on La Vida Más Chévere, so let’s go meet Andrea.

[01:46] And today I’m chatting with Andrea. We’re going to talk childfree weddings because why wouldn’t we? So Andrea, tell us a little bit about who you are and then we can get into the story of your childfree wedding.

[01:58] Andrea: Other than a neurotic mess, I am an engineer and project manager in medical devices. I’ve been in medical my whole life.

[02:05] My dad was a doctor for the army. I always sort of knew I was going into that field and I was really good at math, didn’t want to teach math. So I sort of ended up being an engineer. It’s funny because my grandfather was an engineer, so I think he was very excited that I went into engineering. My dad, I think, was a little disappointed I wasn’t a doctor.

[02:22] Right up until, like, being a doctor started making a little less money, and he’s like, you’re so smart, you are an engineer, you can just leave and go into a different field when medicine obviously fails, and I was like, okay, whoa, but, okay.

[02:32] Paulette: Oh dads.

[02:33] Andrea: Oh dads.

[02:34] Paulette: Okay, so you’re an engineer, you’ve been married at this point when we’re recording almost four years.

[02:39] Andrea: Yep.

[02:39] Paulette: Congratulations on that. You clearly had a childfree wedding.

[02:43] Andrea: Yes. Yes, I did. Very, very childfree.

[02:47] Paulette: Are there children in your family?

[02:49] Andrea: So, not any immediate family, which I will admit probably made things much easier because I wasn’t leaving out a niece or a nephew or crushing anyone’s grandparents dreams or any of that nonsense.

[02:59] But my extended family has a lot of children because they’re big. My mom is one of 45 first cousins.

[03:07] Paulette: Oh my god, I thought you were going to say 45 siblings. I’m like, how?

[03:10] Andrea: I would hope that’s not possible, but someone probably would did it. But no, 45 first cousins, some of which I am older than. So the generational overlap is, is a thing in my family.

[03:20] Six months on, on, on that, on that generation overlap. And that means like any family reunion has a crop of new babies.

[03:27] Paulette: Fun.

[03:28] Andrea: Yeah. And my husband is from California, I am not, but my mom’s family is very close knit and it’s from Missouri.

[03:35] Paulette: Mmm.

[03:36] Andrea: So, you know, when we, when we agreed to get married, I was very excited and my immediate instinct was to elope.

[03:42] Paulette: Yeah!

[03:43] Andrea: My parents had a non amicable divorce, and I was like, you know what sounds great? Not dealing with any of that. And my husband, who I love to death and is a big softie and a great person, was like, won’t your mom be sad? I feel like our moms would be sad if we got married and they didn’t see us. And I was like, damn it, right in the feels.

[04:02] So I was like, fine, very small wedding, but no, no people, just as small as I can make. And there, there was some back and forth, but what I really wanted was to get married on the beach at sunset. And a very peaceful, very relaxing, very low stress ceremony because, as a project manager, everything that goes wrong is my responsibility, but I can’t actually tell anyone what to do.

[04:23] I have to persuade them to do the thing that’s obviously right for them.

[04:27] Paulette: Ah!

[04:27] Andrea: So, I spend all of my time fixing people’s problems, and it’s like, you know what I want on my wedding day? It’s not problems. That’s what I want. Not problems.

[04:35] Paulette: Agreed. Agreed.

[04:37] Andrea: So, I decided destination wedding was the ticket.

[04:40] Paulette: Ah.

[04:42] Andrea: And it was rough because even though I didn’t have any nieces or nephews, every single one of my closest friends except for one had an under four child.

[04:50] Paulette: That’s rough.

[04:51] Andrea: I was getting married right at the time that they’d all been married for like that three to four year mark and we’re having the kids. And it was, it was hard. Like I thought about it a lot and I was like, you know what? I want the day to be relaxing. And even though I would love to have my friends there, it’s not worth the stress.

[05:08] I find loud noises stressful, I find messes stressful, I was spending more money on this dress than I had ever spent on an article of clothing in my entire life, and I just, I wanted it to all go smoothly. So I picked a childfree resort in Mexico, and we got married on the beach, in Cozumel at sunset.

[05:32] Paulette: Exactly what you wanted.

[05:33] Andrea: Exactly what I wanted. And you know what? There was technically a family friend really resort next door that was like a sister resort. I was like, if you really want, you can show up with your kids and you can hire a nanny and you can march across the beach to my wedding and march back.

[05:45] A couple of them were actually under ones, not even like under fours. So they were like, maybe no. And we came to like some really great compromises. On the way back from the wedding, we stopped in Missouri and we had a potluck reception, which cost me all of the plane ticket to Missouri, which since I was stopping on the way back was like one plane ticket instead of two.

[06:03] Paulette: Right.

[06:04] Andrea: And my huge, enormous extended family just brought all their casseroles and we all ate together and they got to meet my husband, who was definitely ill with what we’re pretty sure is alpha COVID from one of the first cases.

[06:14] Paulette: Oh no!

[06:16] Andrea: And he showed up anyway, which is like, nowadays, you’d be like, Oh, I can’t believe you did that, you went out sick.

[06:21] But it’s like, you know, pre COVID, that was like, you didn’t do that, because he was sick already, right? He was past the contagious. So his, his response was just, I’m going to suffer and prove that I love you, because I’m never going to meet these people.

[06:32] Paulette: Oh, wow. So he hadn’t met your extended family prior to the nuptials?

[06:36] Andrea: No, he’d met, like, so, so, and I say extended, I feel like a lot of people, that means they’re aunts and uncles. It does not. He had met my aunts and uncles. He’d even met my grandparents. I am talking about my mom’s aunts and uncles. I am talking about second, third cousins.

[06:49] Paulette: The, the forty five plus other.

[06:52] Andrea: Oh, yeah, yeah. We’re talking three figures worth of people in like a big reception hall in Missouri because you can rent out a rec center that’ll fit like five hundred people for a hundred dollars.

[07:02] Paulette: No way.

[07:03] Andrea: I think it was maybe 200, but it was for like four hours on a Saturday. Because it was November at that point and they’re like, nothing else is going on this season. We don’t know. No one’s coming to the park.

[07:13] Paulette: That sounds like the best combination. So what was the drama? Was it your friends who couldn’t come?

[07:19] Andrea: No, they were also very chill. We had a friend’s reception a few months later. Once the babies were a little older, a little more travelable, we all went to Temecula, which is like a small wine region. You’re probably familiar.

[07:30] Paulette: Yes.

[07:30] Andrea: We rented an Airbnb, we played a wedding themed murder mystery game where my husband got to cradle my corpse and, and dramatically yell for his wife.

[07:38] Paulette: This sounds like fun, I need to know what game this is because now we need to play this.

[07:42] Andrea: I can look up the name. My friend selected it because it was murder themed.

[07:46] It was so great because it’s like we dressed up for it, we had costumes, we were all being like pretty into it. But it’s like, we all went super ham on the props, but then my friend who was running it, for the part where you’re supposed to have a sound effect, she literally turned out the lights and went, bang.

[07:59] Paulette: Hey, low budget. It worked.

[08:01] Andrea: Naw, it was, it was very, very fun. And again, I’m not in my once in a lifetime dress, I’m not trying to get these perfect pictures. I’m not worried about something happening. We’re just eating pizza in this house, going wine tasting, hanging out with friends, playing Cards Against Humanity. It was all very chill, cause it’s like, I didn’t mind being around small children in my jeans, like, who cares?

[08:24] We played the murder mystery game after they’d all gone to bed. Easy enough, they’re upstairs, parents can hear them if they need to. And it was really, it was really the best of both worlds.

[08:33] The drama was because I wanted a destination wedding and his family had no passports.

[08:39] Paulette: Oh, you did say before we started recording that he was from one area and had never left this one metropolitan area. So no one had.

[08:50] Andrea: His father had technically had one when he was younger, but it was long expired.

[08:54] Paulette: Right.

[08:55] Andrea: And mostly though, it was that his mom wasn’t interested in traveling.

[08:59] Paulette: Oh, oh. I don’t know what that means.

[09:01] Andrea: I don’t either, right? That’s so weird.

[09:04] Paulette: I mean, it’s one of the tropes about childfree people that we spend all of our money and free time traveling, right? And I mean, for me, that’s true.

[09:10] Andrea: A hundred percent. No, we’re going to Egypt in November. Like, I’m super excited. It’s a bucket list for me to see the pyramids and it’s, and we’re going.

[09:17] Paulette: Nice!

[09:18] Andrea: But they didn’t want to, and there was a lot of back and forth. At one point, we were going to have a local wedding and I was just upset and everything was, it was all kind of going downhill.

[09:28] Paulette: Yeah.

[09:29] Andrea: And then my husband asked me, he’s like, is this really what we’re going to do? And we changed our minds. And we made a compromise there too. We had a civil ceremony. And that also made it a little easier because if you get married in Mexico, you have to pay and get things translated and blah, blah, blah.

[09:43] So, we just, like, had the civil ceremony, his family came to that. It’s actually what my father ended up coming to, too, because it was more convenient for his call schedule. Which ended up also making the day of very relaxing, because I didn’t have to worry so much about my mom and my dad putting things in place.

[09:59] And here’s the thing, I shouldn’t have worried so much, because my mom also came to the civil ceremony, and my dad was actually charming. He was wonderful. But it had been a decade since they’d seen each other and he had not been charming and wonderful the last time they’d seen each other. So it was, it was like a nice little present to myself,

[10:14] But, but no, the, the day of my wedding, I woke up. My husband to be took his suit and went to my brother’s room where my brother let him hang out in the air conditioning.

[10:23] I went and got my hair and nails done and they golf carted me back to my room. And I did my own makeup because I’m not really a makeup artist person. I’m a little minimalistic. And then my mom helped me get dressed. My other brother, he came and helped as well because it was his friend who had made my dress, so he and my mom got to have the fun of like fighting the zipper because the, the fabric had like, it was a little more bunched than they’d expected.

[10:45] She’s actually fixing it for me, but like the dress got finished very last minute.

[10:48] There was a whole drama about that too. My friend actually bought the dress to the wedding.

[10:51] Paulette: Oh, wow.

[10:53] Andrea: Because the dress wasn’t quite done and we were like going to the airport in four hours and she’s like, I am like eight hours from done on this.

[10:58] And I was like, Sam and Angela, can you bring my dress to me? You’re leaving the day after. And they’re like, yes, yes, we can.

[11:04] Paulette: Wow. You really trusted them.

[11:06] Andrea: Oh, oh yeah. No, I trusted them to bring me my wedding dress. The dressmaker, she was great. I highly recommend her custom made dresses. She did have a very short timeframe to make my dress, but she brought it to the airport.

[11:17] They picked it up. And they flew it out, and then it’s like, they came into the resort with my dress bag in hand. So I technically flew to Cozumel with no wedding dress!

[11:25] Paulette: How relieved were you to see them in that moment?

[11:27] Andrea: I’m gonna be real honest. We had planned it out very well, because we came in before the wedding, and everybody else came in, and we were all there for like three days.

[11:36] And then we got married and everyone else left and we stayed for the honeymoon. So it’s like, I was worried, but I also was like, they had texted me and said they had the dress and I was like, if the flight got delayed, they’ve got X number of other flights they could make it on before there are no more planes. So it was stressful, but it was not terrible.

[11:52] But we got the dress on. That brother and my mom walked me down and then they went and sat down and then I walked down the sand and I had a very custom wedding. My, my littlest brother actually knows me and my husband probably better than anyone else in my family because he’s in our Dungeons and Dragons group.

[12:08] So he had known my husband very nearly as long as I had known my husband. Not quite, but like within, within like a year or two ’cause he’d been playing with the group for so long. So he actually did our wedding ceremony since we both knew him.

[12:20] Paulette: Oh, nice.

[12:21] Andrea: And he humored me as I incorporated some very pagan Irish hand fasting traditions into a very otherwise Christian ceremony.

[12:28] Paulette: No D&D elements?

[12:29] Andrea: You know, it’s funny. I had considered having like a custom D20 made as our favor, but only eight people came to the destination wedding. Which was wonderful because it was so small and like, much closer to an elopement, which was what I originally wanted anyway.

[12:43] Paulette: Right, right.

[12:44] Andrea: But I just, I don’t know, it was like, I didn’t have a good contact for it, and it was like, the prices were weird on it, and I was like, ah, forget it.

[12:50] But now I have a friend who makes dice, so I’m considering maybe getting one made and sending it out kind of post fact, I guess. We got married on a short time frame, which I know sounds weird, but we’d known each other for years. And then it’s like, we didn’t date very long, but we were like, okay, this last element of our relationship adds up, let’s get married.

[13:08] Paulette: As one does.

[13:09] Andrea: And he was like, my lease is up in this month, we should get married then. And I was like, okay!

[13:13] Paulette: It sounds like despite all of the headaches and all of the things that could have gone wrong, yours just kept succeeding all along the way.

[13:22] Andrea: It did not feel like that, though. Like, during the planning stage where we were trying and it was going back and forth, I was traveling a bunch for work. So I kept coming back and he kept saying, so my mom, this.

[13:33] Paulette: I remember those days!

[13:34] Andrea: You know, it was a lot. But at the same time, it all did work out once we kind of got all of the pieces sorted. Everybody got something. And I’m not saying everyone was really happy with what they got. But everyone got something they could be happy with, right?

[13:46] Like my husband got pictures with his family and with his grandparents. And I got pictures with my grandparents. I mean, they’re sitting in chairs in a rec center, but who cares? They were there, and my grandfather’s mobility was very bad at this point, so getting him to go, even if we’d had it in California, which I tried to explain, it’s not really a local wedding if I’m not from California, and none of my family’s there, anywhere he had to fly was going to be rough for him.

[14:11] So being able to go to him for the reception was great. Being able to have the friends when it was just a casual thing, hanging out, playing games, enjoying, was great. And having the wedding be what I wanted, which was very small, very peaceful, very relaxing. I wasn’t stressed on my wedding day. And I don’t feel like a lot of women can say that.

[14:29] Like, I really wasn’t stressed.

[14:31] Paulette: That’s amazing.

[14:32] Andrea: I’m stressed a lot of the time. Like, I’m stressed on a lot of normal days. Wedding day? Wasn’t stressed. And that was really special.

[14:39] Paulette: So let me ask you a question. As someone who also eloped in a civil ceremony and then had the large ceremony due to drama, do you celebrate both anniversaries or just the one from Mexico?

[14:51] Andrea: No. It is very specifically only the Mexico Day.

[14:54] Paulette: Gotcha. Are they close in time?

[14:57] Andrea: They are. They are close in time. The thing is, usually I’d be so down for an extra party, but I was so mad at the end of all of it.

[15:04] Paulette: Yeah.

[15:04] Andrea: But it’s better now. It really is. No, it, it got there. It took time. But it all worked out. But no, to me, it’s, it’s only the Mexico day, that’s the date. That’s the one that we celebrate.

[15:16] And what we are trying to do, obviously it didn’t work out with COVID, like we got married just in time to be locked in together. So I’m really glad that I was right about who I married. Cause let me tell you, you find out fast if you get locked up with them, which I guess everyone knows now.

[15:30] Strangely enough.

[15:31] Paulette: One way or another, they know.

[15:32] Andrea: One way or another, they know. But we, every year for our anniversary, I told my husband, I know that I’m difficult to shop for. And he cares about me. Like he, he puts forth the effort. He’s very thoughtful in his gifts. And he got me slippers for our first Christmas because my feet were always cold at his place.

[15:47] But I told him instead of trying to find an anniversary gift, I would rather that every year we take an anniversary trip. So it’s not always on our anniversary because we go kind of when it’s convenient, but that’s our thing is we plan a trip, for our anniversary. So, I mean, technically other people come sometimes, like to Egypt, my mom is coming. One of my friends, the friend who came to the wedding in Cozumel is coming. Spouses are coming, obviously, but we do something that we want to see.

[16:11] We went to Venice last year.

[16:13] Paulette: Well, thank you for sharing all of that with me, with the audience. Is there any advice you would give for brides to be dealing with the whole childfree wedding experience?

[16:23] Andrea: It’s worth it. And I don’t remember liking weddings as a kid. Even as a kid who really liked dressing up, I loved dresses.

[16:30] I threw a tantrum the first time my mom tried to put me in a pair of pants to go play at the park because I wanted to wear my dress to the park. I was that ridiculous. Still didn’t like the weddings.

[16:39] There’s great footage of me being very, very bored at one of my aunt and uncle’s weddings because they made the mistake of trying to have the flower girl stand in front.

[16:47] Which went exactly as well as you think. So you see me standing, and then I’m getting bored. And then I’m sitting and kind of rolling on the aisle. And then eventually my grandmother coaxes me and I cross in front of the camera to go sit with her. And it’s like, wow, that’s very distracting.

[17:01] Now, I’ll, I’ll grant you my aunt and uncle’s wedding was very boring because it was Lutheran, so it was Catholic-light as far as the ceremony went. But I am definitely, the camera’s not zoomed in on me, but I am the thing you pay attention to if you watch the first ten minutes of that video.

[17:15] And yeah, just do them a favor, like, let them do something else. Let them, let them have pizza and movies or, or video games or something that they actually, you know, want.

[17:25] Paulette: Yeah. Or just don’t bring them. I hated weddings as a kid. Like, honestly, if I was going to do it again, we did incorporate our youngest nephew as a flower, not a flower.

[17:36] We did not have a flower girl! As the ring bearer. I would have asked one of my, my fabulous friends to be the flower girl or flower person. But, you know, whatever. We just went without instead.

[17:49] Andrea: It’s funny, not the friend that came, but that friend is also childfree, but one of the friends who came to our friend’s reception, very good friends, my husband met their child before them.

[17:58] Paulette: Oh!

[17:58] Andrea: Because they asked me to be the relief babysitter for grandma and grandpa because they were in a wedding that was childfree. And I was like, well, my boyfriend who you haven’t met yet is visiting me this weekend. Do you mind if I bring a stranger to your house to see your kid?

[18:13] Paulette: They were cool with it?

[18:14] Andrea: They were like, eh, you’re so picky, if you trust them, they must be fine.

[18:18] Paulette: And now, that boyfriend has been her husband for four years. He must be a cool dude, agreeing to babysit on one of your date weekends? Wow, dude, good on ya. See, not all childfree people hate kids. Some of us are actually, really good with the, we just don’t want to raise them, too.

[18:37] Anyway, if you want to share your childfree story, whether it’s your wedding or one that you went to, check out the link in the description for the show notes. And that’s a burrito.

[18:47] You got something to say about this week’s episode? DM me on Instagram @PauletteErato. And if you’d like to be a guest on La Vida Más Chévere, check out the guest form on my website at pauletteerato. com.

[18:59] All of these links are in the show notes. While you’re at it, can I ask you a favor? I’d really appreciate your helping spread awareness about the podcast. So could you please share it on your socials or even send it to a friend? New episodes come out every other Tuesday. You can enjoy them with tacos or burritos.[19:17] Muchísimas gracias for your support y hasta la próxima vez. Cuídate bien.

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