Not long ago, one of my wedding couples entrusted part of their luggage to their wedding party instead of bringing it to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, themselves. Believe it or not, I get it -- although it's not something I would ever personally do (I'm wayyy too much of a control freak) -- because as it was, they were traveling with most of their luggage, their wedding attire AND a very cute handful of a three-year-old daughter. I think the little girl had to be their first priority between the planes, taxis and boats they took to get themselves to Vieques Island for their wedding all the way from California. At the end of the day, the bride and groom made the decision that made the most sense at the time.
Unfortunately (yeah, you saw that coming), things didn't go as smoothly as planned. The bride and groom and their luggage and their daughter arrived safe and sound and we got them all set up at their beautiful villa, but a couple of hours later the panicked phone calls began. Somebody (everybody blamed the best man but I'm pretty sure it was a group error) had left a couple of bags somewhere along the way between the big island of Puerto Rico and Vieques Island, and when they finally arrived at the wedding villa. Once the absence of the bag was noted, the bride and groom flipped -- justifiably.
The suitcase that was lost contained not only a lot of specific things she'd brought along for her wedding décor (things I couldn't replace like family photos and charms for bouquets with pics of the bride's deceased father), but more importantly, somewhere in that suitcase were the bride and groom's wedding rings. Oh yeah, and the bride's extremely lovely engagement ring too!!!
Weddings aside, let's have a little life lesson here on how to pack and what to pack in luggage you're going to be checking or letting out of your control at any point. NEVER EVER pack jewelry or any sort of valuables in your checked luggage. Between California and Vieques Island, there were about a gazillion opportunities for a dishonest security person to help themselves to thousands and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that was not only valuable, but possibly the most important element of the wedding weekend.
I actually learned this lesson many, many years ago when my own godmother had her luggage pilfered on a trip from Florida to Washington, DC, and she lost a LOT of irreplaceable family heirloom jewelry. I couldn't have even been out of high school back when this happened, but I still vividly remember the tears and the horror at the entire disaster, and I remember my mother giving me a very important lecture about never letting your valuables out of your sight when you travel, and NEVER carrying your jewelry anywhere but on your person or in your purse (which should never actually leave your body).
Obviously, everything that brides and grooms pack for their wedding trip is MISSION CRITICAL. If you didn't have to carry it, you would have mailed it ahead. Let's face it, between TSA and airline fees for luggage nowadays, all my clients struggle to get everything they need into their suitcases. The bride has tons of stuff she needs -- from clothing options to makeup selections and accessories galore -- anything that can be shipped ahead to me is usually sent. But sometimes couples run out of time and have to bring some things with them that require special handling. That said, when you travel for your destination wedding, your engagement ring belongs on the bride's finger and the wedding rings belong in her purse or the groom's pocket. End of story.
I can help you replace almost anything you lose -- I think we could have even had those family pictures sent via email so we could print and display them as intended -- but not the wedding rings. If you, God forbid, decide to check your wedding gown and lose that, I even know where we can get another wedding gown in a pinch (might not be the one you wanted to wear, but you'd have options and you wouldn't go down the aisle naked). But losing the wedding rings in your luggage is a situation that only the bride and groom, their insurance agent and God can fix once it happens and you know for sure the jewelry is gone for good.
There was a happy ending to this story (again, the adventure of recovering the jewelry is another blog for another day) because the bride and groom's suitcase was recovered thanks to the help of fast-thinking and quick work by the Policía de Puerto Rico's Agente Andy Ramos (I'm also the community liaison to the police department here on Vieques Island so we have excellent relationships with law enforcement), who also works with us on wedding setups and teardowns, so he was emotionally invested in helping us solve this mystery too. The wedding was beautiful, and everything from the lost suitcase was present at the wedding. Thank goodness because I'm sure the bride and groom's destination wedding would have been destroyed for them regardless of how lovely everything else was if they'd lost the very expensive symbols of the eternal commitment they were about to make to each other. It would have been an unlucky way to start a marriage.
The moral of the story: NEVER PACK YOUR VALUABLE ITEMS IN CHECKED LUGGAGE no matter where you're traveling and for what purpose. If you can't fit it on you or in your carry-on items, you don't need to bring it with you. My bride and groom lucked out big time in getting everything back in one piece and before their wedding -- but you might not be so lucky if you make the same mistake. The clients who lost their wedding rings were getting married on 12/12/12, the last luckiest day of our lifetimes according to most numerology experts. I can only believe the 12/12/12 luck was what saved the day for all of us. I look forward to hearing how their date selection plays into their marriage for years down the road, but I can tell you for darned certain one thing -- they are the LUCKIEST clients I've ever had on Vieques Island to get that engagement ring and their wedding rings back after they were left unattended on another island.
If you missed this crazy episode of "Wedding Island" on TLC last night, set your DVR for next Thursday at 9 pm so you see what really happened. We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried. I kept wondering if I was being punked!