By Carey Gillam
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NEGRIL, Jamaica (Reuters) - The first time Gerri Carr got married, she took a traditional route -- big Catholic church, packed pews, and a near panic attack before she walked down the aisle.
Last month, Carr, 41, marked the milestone of a second marriage under a breezy blue Jamaican sky, surrounded by two dozen friends and family members, soft white sand and the pulse of ocean waves.
"It's a nice way to lay the groundwork and the attitude for the rest of our lives," said Carr, who lives in Philadelphia.
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Honestly, anyone who has been to a destination wedding knows its value. The pluses: 1) Not having to cut the invite list down much. 2) Only people who REALLY want to be there will show up. 3) Saving money, the family really doesn’t have to pay for much outside of the bridal party. 4) Preparation. The staff handles almost all of the prep work. Bride and groom can basically just show up, exchange vows, smooch and live happily thereafter. 5) The party. These trips allow everyone to do what they like. If a bender is what you are after, have at it. If you enjoy deep-sea fishing, get there. You are only really obligated to go to the ceremony and grab a few meals together. The minuses: 1) Preparation. Chances are that your special day will be fairly run-of-the-mill for the resort staff. 2) Gifts. Despite the often many flights required for a destination wedding, some of your guests will insist on bringing gifts with them. Good luck getting a dozen boxes of fine china back into the US in one piece. 3) Other guests. It’s vacation for other people too; a couple of nudists could make your wedding VERY memorable. 4) The honeymoon. Most destination weddings wind down into a honeymoon for the happy couple. Is it really a honeymoon locale if you ate shrimp with your dad in the same restaurant the night before? 5) Booze. Generally weddings are a source of alcohol-fueled hi-jinks. Throw in an all-inclusive resort, add sun and bathing suits and then stretch it out over a three-day weekend. Yeah, yikes.