Destination Bride

Our engaged staff writer shares her wedding-planning journey from DC to Mexico

Marisa Kashino with her fiance, Nate, and their dog Bexley. Photograph by Emma Schwartz

Hello there. I’m Marisa, and I’m in the middle of planning my wedding in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, a town in the Riviera Maya region, about 20 minutes south of Cancun. For the most part, I hope I can offer some useful insights for other Washington brides and grooms planning to tie the knot beyond the Beltway. But first, introductions are in order.

I usually cover the very unromantic worlds of law and lobbying for Washingtonian. But that’s not the only reason it’s a little strange that we’re meeting here, on a wedding blog.

The thing is, I never thought I wanted to get married. It just never looked that fun to me. My parents have each been divorced twice, including from each other, and growing up, they definitely didn’t seem like they were having a very good time. So when I got engaged last September and began sharing the news with friends, you can understand why these conversations often began with me declaring: “Well, hell has frozen over.”

So, what changed my mind? You’re definitely going to laugh at me when I tell you, but that’s okay.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe Nate, my now-fiance, was the one for me. We had lived together for two years prior to getting engaged, but I just didn’t see the point in signing on a dotted line to make it “official” if we were already co-habitating and happy as can be. “Marriage” scared me, while “roomies for life” did not. It was silly—and it was the dog who snapped me out of it. Yes, the dog.

We brought home our little bundle of joy, Bexley, from the shelter on August 4, 2009. (Bexley was also highlighted in a recent pets column.) The only thing we knew about him was that he’d been abandoned at a gas station. But we quickly learned another thing: He was terrified of Nate. He would hide under the bed and growl if Nate approached. He bit Nate a number of times—and for 12 pounds, that little guy can do a surprising amount of damage. We called in a veterinary behaviorist (yes, we are those people) who told us Bexley had obviously been abused by a man, and gave us some guidance about how to help him relax.

Neither of us had anticipated that adopting a dog would be so stressful, so much work, or, for that matter, so much money—in case you weren’t aware, veterinary behaviorists are not cheap. This wasn’t something either of us could do alone, and I realized it would be a test of our partnership. For the next several months, I watched as Nate committed himself to helping our little guy. And as a result, they’re now best buddies. (Well, at least most of the time!)

My point is we had overcome a pretty big challenge together, and at the end of it, I felt like the three of us had become a real family. My perception of marriage had totally shifted. If marriage was about having a true partner who I could always count on, then I wanted in. But just because I had accepted the institution of marriage did not mean I wanted a traditional wedding. Luckily, neither did Nate.

The decision to get married in Mexico went something like this: Tequila? Check. Awesome food? Check. Beach? Check. Cheaper than throwing a wedding in Washington? Double check. And above all, we wanted to keep it on the small side, with just our best friends and family—in other words, only the people who would be willing to fly to Mexico to watch us get hitched—in attendance.

We’re less than six months away from the big day, and I can hardly believe it. But by now, I’ve got lots of good stuff to tell you about the planning process, and some cautionary tales to share—for example, why, if you’ve never “DIY’d” anything in the past, your wedding is probably not the time to start. Trust me.

So, if my crazy dog story didn’t scare you off, I will see you back here again soon.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.