It took a year to plan the perfect wedding …and the adventure of a lifetime
It’s only fitting that Dallas couple Scott Cessac and Craig Parsons tied the knot in California. It’s where Parsons proposed to Cessac while cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, culminating in an elaborate “welcome to your new life” video featuring cameos from filmmaker Del Shores, Sordid Lives actress Ann Walker (who would later officiate their wedding) and Chelsea Lately’s Sarah Colonna. More importantly, it was a geographically desirable stopping point before jetting off to their dream honeymoon in New Zealand and Fiji. But this “perfect storm” of wedded bliss didn’t just come together organically. It was the product of lots and lots of research and planning — almost a full year’s worth to be exact.
Building backwards from a post-honeymoon reception for family and friends at the Old Bedford School in Bedford, the duo established a timeline for exactly what had to be accomplished — not just to get married, but to maximize their two-week honeymoon, much of which they planned to explore via campervan. They also thought through elements that represented their personality and inside jokes that they wanted to incorporate into all the festivities. Scott even took to the Internet to research Texas locations where they could get deep-dive scuba certified in preparation for their time in Fiji.
“Since the [post-honeymoon] party was in December — prime holiday party time — we decided to send out ‘save-the-date’ info earlier than normal,” Parsons says. “We also decided to do a video in the spirit of the proposal video in conjunction with the save the date cards. With a few friends, we filmed a lip-sync video to Laverne Baker’s ‘That’s All I Need’ on the stage of the venue we had rented for the party. We planned for the third video to be filmed the night of the party to make it a trilogy.”
In addition to allowing for plenty of lead-time for planning, the couple divided up to-do items based on their own strengths. Parsons, a creative director and graphic designer, handled the website, save the date, invitations, etc. Meanwhile Cesaac, who works as a commercial real estate property manager, handled contracts, travel arrangements and payments. “We were a lean, mean honeymoon-planning machine,” Cessac says with a laugh.
With a plan and timeline firmly in place, the guys then began filling in the details with ideas found online, recommendations from friends on Facebook and some feedback from the New Zealand Tourism website.
“To be completely honest, we really just went with our gut most of the time. We just scoured the Internet-at-large for ideas, but mostly owe all our ideas to Pinterest,” says Parsons. “We would just collect images and nuggets of ideas for the invite design, ceremony and reception. It was very fluid and seat-of-our-pants. We mostly did what we wanted to do.”
After getting Walker to contribute to the proposal video, the guys then took her up on an offer to visit her during her radio show. At that time, they also learned that she was licensed to officiate weddings. It was the perfect fit. A small group of friends attended the wedding in Los Angeles with Walker as the surprise officiant.
Once officially hitched, the couple set off to the other side of the world for a fortnight of eye-opening adventures.
“We did some pretty adventurous things on our honeymoon. We went hiking, black water rafting on an inner tube through a glow worm cave 20 stories below the surface in ice-cold water, and braved a free fall across a 300-meter gorge on the world’s biggest swing, “ says Cessac. “We also explored the Hobbiton set [from the Lord of the Rings movies], kayaked at the edge of the Tasman Sea, went scuba diving in the ocean for the first time, spent 12 days in a campervan together and crossed a couple of scary-looking swing bridges.”
Suffice to say, the planning paid off, with only one missed flight (cutting their Fiji stay by one day — but travel insurance saved them nearly $2,000). For another cost-saving tip, the couple set up a site on Honeyfund.com, which allows friends and family to pitch in on honeymoon experiences.
“We absolutely didn’t need presents, and I had heard of others using a funding site specifically for honeymoons before, so we opted to try it. Our theory was that anything friends and family contributed would expand our options in New Zealand and Fiji, but people could decide to contribute or be creative,” says Parsons. “In the end, not as many contributed to the site, but it resulted in a very unexpected pattern — many of the gifts we received had a very sweet element of customization or personalization to them. More than one person took our save the date cards and invitations and got crafty with the design elements and our face illustrations.”
To bring the journey full circle, they got tickets to San Francisco while in New Zealand so they can return to the scenic spot called Land’s End where Parsons first presented Cessac with an engagement ring. They’re bringing a collection of small stones gathered throughout New Zealand and Fiji, which they will leave as a reminder of their journey … and probably inspiration for another couple checking out Pinterest.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 10, 2015.