As CEO of Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events I have had the opportunity to cater and help plan thousands of weddings over the past 25 years. All of these weddings were in the Lower Mainland, but this spring I was in for a new challenge, planning a destination wedding in Koh Samui, Thailand. When I took on this project I thought, “how hard can it be?” It was going to be a small group, just 30 people, I’ve planned much larger weddings. Well, was I in for a surprise! Planning a destination wedding on the other side of the world is not easy so here are some of my top tips:
Rule # 1 – If you are not familiar with the destination you need to go and see it or find someone you trust (wedding or event planning professional) that is familiar with the destination and understands your vision.
I knew Billy and Flora wanted a beach setting but Flora did not want to have the ceremony or dinner on the beach because she wanted to be able to wear her fabulous Jimmy Choo stilettos. To complicate matters even more the location also had to have exquisite, delicious food or Billy (who is a chef) wouldn’t be happy.
I really didn’t want to do the ceremony and the dinner in the same location because I thought it could get boring, but I also didn’t want to have to put everyone in a bus to take them to a second location. After three days of searching I found a gorgeous tropical garden at the Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa with a lily pond for the ceremony and champagne reception. Right next door I found a chic little restaurant at the Hansar Samui Resort overlooking the beach for the sit-down dinner. It gets even better – I did a tasting and both locations had amazing food!
Rule # 2 – If you are doing any part of the wedding outside have a plan for keeping your guests cool – if it’s hot, and dry – if it’s wet!
The day of the wedding it was sunny but very hot and humid. When I was looking for the ceremony location I knew we wanted it to be outside but we also wanted it to be as cool as possible. The lush garden offered shade for the guests. Just as the bride started her walk down the aisle a wind came up, clouds rolled in and it started to rain. Fortunately, we had oriental umbrellas set up around the ceremony site and there was a bridal canopy over the bride and groom!
Rule #3 – If you are going to all the trouble of organizing a destination wedding make sure you add in entertainment or fun surprises that reflect the destination’s culture. I do not want to see you in a boring banquet room eating food you would eat at home!
We wanted the wedding guests to have a Thai inspired experience. To escort the guests from the tropical garden to the dinner reception we had a procession with Thai dancers and drummers. Billy and Flora made a grand entrance to the dinner reception riding an elephant. The dining table was positioned so the guests could see the ocean and it was designed using all local white tropical flowers. The hors d’oeuvre and the five-course dinner menu featured a number of Thai influenced dishes. After dinner, there was a Thai dance show on the beach that finished with an incredible fire show.
White asparagus salad with deep sea prawns, mussels and mint
Pan seared foie gras with crispy raspberry yogurt
Scallops with black crab ravioli and rocket leaves
Lobster Thermidor with spinach and porcini mushrooms
Snowfish with spinach, lemon grass, coriander, lime and chili
Slow-cooked Wagyu short ribs with califlower, garlic and pink pepper