For some reason, fun isn’t necessarily the first word associated with wedding planning or weddings for that matter. But it was front and center once Greta Nunnally and John Benjamin Pittenger (“Ben”) became engaged. “We started dating in the summer before high school when we were both fourteen—but I was never the type of person to start planning my wedding before it happened,” says Greta. “And, once we got engaged, I was studying for the bar and I couldn’t even think about planning.”
Ben, who had just recently opened his own law firm, didn’t exactly have a lot of free time either. “We were both just incredibly busy during that period of our lives,” she says. “I didn’t even get started on wedding plans until four months into our engagement and, by then, all the local venues were booked.” The pair talked a bit about having the wedding in her parents’ backyard, but their sights soon shifted.
“We wanted it to be fun and that was our first priority,” she says. “I’m not someone who was going to enjoy spending months talking about the details and planning every little thing. I really just wanted to make a few decisions and show up and have a great time with our guests.” It didn’t take the two long to realize that they’d been visiting the perfect wedding location for the duration of their relationship.
“We’d been going to Playa Del Carmen with my family since we were fifteen and it’s beautiful and it’s our favorite place and it also happens to be meaningful,” she says.
“We just thought, ‘What could be more fun than having all of the people we love together in our favorite vacation place? At a lot of venues, you’re out in five hours. We wanted to be able to spend more time with people and this would be the perfect way to do it.”
The couple planned a trip to Playa del Carmen after Greta took the bar. “We toured a couple of resorts, but as soon as we walked onto the grounds at The Royal and saw the gazebo where we would have the ceremony, we just knew it was it,” she says. With that big decision out of the way, Greta’s planning duties were dramatically reduced. “The great thing about a resort wedding is that they do it all for you. I wasn’t a high-maintenance bride. I didn’t care about the flowers or the colors or the décor. I made a few choices and mentioned the things that mattered to me and it was so easy.”
A few requests she did make? “I wanted gold pineapples at the center of every table and when we talked down the aisle,” she says. “I also really cared about the food being very good and making sure there were vegetarian options because we got married on Friday during Lent.” She also cared about her dress. “But I found it online and tracked it to a store in Indianapolis and tried it on and fell in love with it instantly,” she says. “It was the first dress I tried on. My mother and bridesmaids made me try on other dresses just because they wanted the experience. I did, but, really, I tried on one dress and I was done.”
The ease of planning a wedding at an all-inclusive resort and finding a dress in one outing let the couple put some effort into planning other experiences for their guests. “We had a welcome party on Wednesday night on the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel,” says Greta. “It’s really swanky and cool—almost like a 21C gone tropical—and it was just a great way to greet everyone.” Greta also put together an eight-page PDF for guests detailing activities, meals and maps. “I don’t know if everyone even read it, but it made me feel better that they had all the information they needed when they got here.”
She would encourage anyone planning a destination wedding to do something similar. “You’re asking people to travel. You’re asking a lot,” she says. “You want to do everything you can to remove any stress for them.” Other advice? “It can help to have someone act as interpreter if there’s a language barrier,” she says. “I have a friend who is bilingual and she helped make sure that they (the staff at the resort) understood the points that were really important to me.”
Her favorite highlights from the actual day? “Our DJ was incredible. The food was incredible. Overall, the entire experience was exactly what we had hoped it would be,” says Greta. “But the most memorable part in all of it was probably the speeches. Being in this beautiful place and hearing our families and friends stand up and share thoughts about our relationship was something I’ll never forget.”
Wedding Destination: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Wedding Venue: The Royal Playa del Carmen
Photography: Adam Snyder
Rings: Jordan Clines Fine Jewelry
Gown: Hayley Paige
Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire: Men’s Warehouse