Today I am going to deviate a bit from my regular blog, which aims to give helpful advice to those of you out there planning a destination wedding, and instead turn the focus on us, the owner/operators of Fun In The Sun Weddings. My talented wedding photographer husband Marc and I are seriously excited about something really cool that is happening in our lives and we want to share it with you!
Are you familiar with the show House Hunters International on HGTV? If you are fans of the show like we are, you might have seen hundreds of episodes over the years! If you don’t know the show, in a nutshell, viewers follow an individual or family as they move to another country and search for a new place to call home.
So, when Marc and I made the crazy decision to uproot our lives in Vancouver, Canada, and relocate to the Riviera Maya of Mexico, in a quest to provide a better life for our son, Easton, of course I submitted our story to the show we have watched obsessively for years! And on February 16th, You will get to share in my little family’s hunt for our new home. We are so excited!
I figured, ‘What better time to give you the history of the power team behind Fun In The Sun Weddings’, and just how and why we ended up in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, with a small human in tow, starting a grassroots destination wedding photography business within the extremely competitive market of a country who’s language we do not even speak?
This move to the Riviera Maya was a dream Marc and I both shared….but a long term one. We had already lived in Mexico together a decade ago (in a completely different lifetime!) and in other countries before that, so living abroad was not a foreign concept to us. We had both traveled extensively before we met, and fourteen years ago when our paths crossed we continued to explore the world together. For both of us, travel is less of a bug and more of a virus! I logged thirty countries before I turned thirty, and have lived in two 1973 VW vans on different continents. Marc and I fell in love on a 14 month backpacking adventure through Southeast Asia and Australia, and our honeymoon was three months spent exploring Central America. We love the sun and the beach, and ‘Our Plan’ was always to retire somewhere tropical like Tulum, Mexico, and maybe open a guesthouse, yoga retreat or small business.
Our home base was Vancouver. We had a wonderful life in a vibrant beach community, surrounded by a huge network of fabulous friends, and we both had family nearby. We both also had good jobs! I had been working in pharmaceutical sales, and Marc had built a freelance photography business over the course of a decade.
Still, even with such a blessed life, these globetrotters always felt restless…
Now obviously there is a huge difference between having itchy feet, and packing up your whole life, selling all your possessions, and taking a leap of faith into the great unknown—With a baby! So, why did we end up moving to the Riviera Maya where we had no network of friends and family, no jobs, and did not even speak the language?
One word: Easton.
When our son Easton joined our lives two years ago, everything changed. It was as though we suddenly woke up. Our priorities shifted, and with that our future became unclear. We found ourselves in a city that had become prohibitively expensive to live in, and with the addition of a child this made our options very limited. How could we afford to give this precious little guy the life he so deserves? How were we going to show him the world if we were to be mortgage poor and drowning in daycare expenses?
We were presented with choices that felt suffocating: Should we move to the sleepy suburbs, for affordability and space, in pursuit of the typical ‘Family Life’, or do we stay in the city and raise our son in a tiny, overpriced apartment? Should we scrape through life on one salary while one of us stays home with Easton, or do we both work and hand over one of our salaries to pay for child care? This fork in the road left us feeling trapped! For two footloose travellers at heart, the idea of being tied to a life that didn’t inspire us, simply going through the motions of raising our child, because it’s ‘What You Do’…well it didn’t feel like a healthy move for any of us! There was something better and more exciting out there in this big old world for the Andrew family. We decided instead to take the road less traveled, and live a life we want, rather than one we just kinda fell into.
Inevitably, that path brought us to consider Mexico as a potential home. The coast from Cancun to Tulum is a place that has always felt accessible to us and had been on our long term retirement radar. We saw it as a place we could afford to build a life. A place where we didn’t have to pay someone else to raise Easton. He could grow up fully bilingual among locals and expats from around the world, in a country where things move slowly and where time spent with friends and family takes priority above all else. A new adventure full of possibility and opportunity.
Were there doubts? Was there anxiety?
Oh yeah! I don’t think we would have been taking this move seriously if we were not worried!
But we hardly had a chance to dwell on it. Once the decision was made, we were living in our new home inside six months. We shared the attitude of “If we don’t do it now, we may never do it!” And I believe there is nothing worse than living with the regret of ‘Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’!
So we deconstructed our life in Vancouver piece by piece. What an incredibly cathartic experience it was to sell off all of our ‘Stuff’. It was really eye opening to realize how much I had come to define myself by the material things in my life. The first items we sold were our patio chairs, and I remember feeling just sick about it! Our comfy patio chairs that had seen so many laughs, and countless of bottles of wine! However, once we were days away from boarding our flight to Cancun, we were ruthlessly piling up things to be donated, or simply tossing our possessions into the garbage! It was wild!
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And just like that, we found ourselves in Mexico. Just the three of us. With nothing more than a ton of suitcases filled with what we deemed to be important to us.
So began the process of building a life here in the Riviera Maya!
Finding a place to call home with House Hunters International was just a piece of this puzzle. Let me tell you, we grossly underestimated just how challenging it would be to begin a new life in Mexico, with a baby!
A huge element has been building our wedding photography business. Destination wedding photography in the Riviera Maya, a location that beckons brides from around the world, was an obvious career choice for Marc, who is such a talented and creative photographer. It’s who he is and he loves it! Fun In The Sun Weddings has since evolved from his business to our business. Now we work together, a team each bringing our own strengths to the mix: Marc is The Creative. He is the lead photographer and editor. I am The Business! (Behind every great man, they say…)
Was this crazy leap of faith worth it? Ab-So-Lute-Ly.
Now our ‘Daily Grind’ involves sharing in celebrations of love! Our clients are people who are excited and joyful, on the vacation of a lifetime! We get the amazing privilege of helping them, guiding them, and capturing all the special moments of a most incredible moment in their lives. It’s pretty darn cool, actually!
We also get to share in the hands on raising of our son, which is the very best thing of all.
Our little monster is thriving in the Riviera Maya. He is confident, friendly, bilingual, swims like a fish, gets to play outside for hours every single day, and has words in his vocabulary like ‘Jetski’ and ‘Parasail’, which simply would never have happened in Canada! Although some days can be extremely challenging, just watching how strong, smart and worldly he is becoming makes it all worth it. That and the daily ritual of getting my toes in the sand at the end of the day!
I am incredibly grateful to have had the experience of being featured on House Hunters International. What a rare opportunity to make such a bold move in life, and have a glimpse of that captured on film. This is something I will revisit on days when I feel beat down by the difficulty of integrating to this life in Mexico. It is something precious Marc and I can hold onto as a reminder of a crazy time in our lives, and to serve as a gauge of how far we have come in creating this dream life for our son. My hope is that we can show Easton this episode years from now to give him a small taste of what it took to build this dream, and that it inspires him to never settle for second best in his own life.
Enjoy the show! I know we will!
For details on when our episode will air near you, please visit the House Hunters International program lineup here.
***And of course, if you or somebody you know are looking for a fabulously talented wedding photographer in the Riviera Maya of Mexico, then contact us today for a free consultation!