Planning a destination wedding is hard. Since you don’t get to see things in person or meet vendors face-to-face, there is a sense of taking a “leap of faith” when choosing them. First impressions come down to how the vendor made me feel on the phone. Were they courteous? Did they seem to care about my concerns and vision for my special day? Did they have experience in dealing with (the undoubtedly crazy) destination bride? I, of course, also looked for reviews but, unfortunately, not everyone shares their experiences.
This was not my first wedding and we have a blended family of 6 kids (teens and young adults). I wanted to have my dream wedding but was putting an emphasis on just having fun; after all, it was our first family vacation and some of the kiddos had never seen the ocean! That is why the Calypso Queen caught my eye.
Its exterior looked like the kind of theme that might work and the idea of a dinner cruise reception intrigued me. As a person who has visited Florida many times, I knew how much fun a boat excursion on the gulf can be and the idea of having both to share with my family just made this an ideal situation. So, I placed a call for more information.
I will admit, I didn’t have high expectations—generally decent customer service would have sufficed. What I got, however, is what started this amazing journey. The lady who answered my call handled all my questions, offered more information to address potential problems as a destination bride and put me in touch with the woman who handles events on their boats. I felt that I was in good hands.
It took several more months of research and scouting before I made my final decision. I was still pretty nervous. Every time I emailed June, my wedding coordinator, I received a quick response, with any answers I needed and additional information to help me out. She was very patient and kind, even though I am sure I drove her a little nuts with all the questions!
Ok--- Leap of faith taken and date set. Our wedding was going to be on the beach and the reception on the Calypso Queen on May 29th. The next several months were a whirlwind of back and forths between all my vendors. June worked with me through it all and, as it turned out, had experience in dealing with the company I was using for my ceremony on the beach. Never once did I have a problem with her returning an email or call and she was always right on top of things. I felt as secure as I could for having not laid eyes on anything personally.
Like I said, this was our first family vacation, so we were in Florida nearly a week before the actual wedding day. June had explained that any non-perishable items could be dropped off a day or 2 prior to the wedding day. This was more than helpful information and allowed me to make the centerpieces that would be pretty AND convenient (having to drop off the day off would have been a serious inconvenience to us). When we dropped off the supplies, they had me give them a diagram as to how we wanted things set up (hmmm…they cared!).
They also let us take a quick peek at the boat to see what we were in for. It was a lot roomier than I thought it would be. Just an FYI, the seat covers are just as festive as the boat’s exterior —this was something I didn’t mind but someone else might have a slightly different vision and might want to consider renting seat covers to match their colors.
I was a bit nervous at this point. Dark clouds were starting to roll our way, I hadn’t seen any of the set up and, since I had never been on this boat for a dinner cruise before, I didn’t know how any of it was going to pan out. I figured that no matter what, I had my closest friends and family there and we would make it fun. Needless to say, it was an unnecessary concern.
From the moment we boarded the Calypso Queen, the staff was helpful, accommodating and well, just awesome! They knew what they were doing and how to do it. They set up everything just the way I asked and, where they had to improve, they did a great job. The food was great and the drinks were pretty darn good too! Everything they promised was there and there was more than enough room to accommodate our reception of 50 people.
Anyone who has ever been to a wedding knows that a DJ can either make or break the wedding. THIS was the part I was most afraid of, but just like every other concern, it was unwarranted. In fact, our DJ, Curtiss, was phenomenal! He was funny, charismatic, and clearly knew what he was doing! Throughout the night, he had everyone laughing, dancing and truly brought my dream reception to life.
So, if you are a destination bride who is looking for a great company to handle your reception needs, I would encourage you to choose StarLite. I can’t say anything about any of their other boats but the Calypso Queen was a total hit in our family. Everyone there said it was the best reception they have ever been to and I will agree whole-heartedly (ok, I am probably biased there but really, they exceeded my expectations)!
Oh, and the looming rain and dark clouds that I mentioned? Yeah, it rained for maybe five minutes and we watched the clouds part and we were given an amazing rainbow!
Thank you to everyone at the Calypso Queen for making my dream a reality! You guys are AWESOME!
- Jennifer E.