After a long-planned trip to Paris with two dear college friends, I was finally ready to get down to it: planning the wedding. Jonathan and I are so blessed—with health, great families, ample resources, lots of friends—that there really weren’t any significant limits. Neither of us had an overwhelming vision of exactly how we wanted it to be. We could make this celebration just about anything we wanted, anywhere we wanted. That kind of freedom is exhilarating—for about thirty seconds. Then it's paralyzing.
What we needed was a peg to hang things on, a macro decision from which all the micro decisions would naturally flow. We quickly realized that there were four main interlocking elements: the date, the place (with the venue as a subset of that), the number of guests, and the budget. Date and place are interdependent for reasons of weather and availability. Size of guest list can dictate place, and vice versa; to some extent, date can impact how many people will show. Budget rules all.
Like solving a Sudoku puzzle, we began filling in the obvious.
Most any date would do. Our only criterion—and this is arbitrary—was to marry before either of us turned 30, so before June 17, 2006, Jonathan's birthday. Easy enough.
Place was less arbitrary, and much more complicated. We didn't have history, geography, or religion to help us narrow the field: no childhood house of worship in common, nor country club, not even a shared alma mater. I grew up in Nebraska, went to college in Chicago, and have lived in San Francisco. He grew up in Ohio, and went to college in Indiana. We both have friends and family all over the country; we both have elderly grandparents who don't travel well. The one constant in our lives is New York, but few things in life are more expensive or complicated than a New York wedding, so we ruled that out almost immediately.
At first, we thought that an exotic destination wedding would be the way to go: Convenient for no one seemed better than appearing to play favorites. I got a wild hair about Puerto Rico; specifically the island of Vieques, a lush green splotch off the coast of the big island. It sounded untouched and exotic and a little rough around the edges, a place of natural beauty and quirky culture where everyone could have a really good, affordable time.