It’s been nearly seven years since Nick and Vanessa Lachey married in an ultra-intimate ceremony on Richard Branson’s property in the British Virgin Islands, but the couple can still recount practically every detail from their destination wedding.
“For us, it was so exciting to just be like, ‘Make sure your passport’s valid and show up at the airport,’” Nick tells The Knot in an exclusive interview at an event for Pampers in New York City. As recalled, the couple managed to whisk away their family and friends for a tropical getaway, where their surprise wedding awaited. “We really just wanted it to be a fun experience and a celebration.”
And that it was. The couple—who just welcomed their third child in December 2016—worked with renowned celebrity wedding planner Sharon Sacks to pull off a lavish and lush wedding weekend for their closest family and friends, managing to work through some serious roadblocks along the way. The first being the surprise itself and the second was a weather-related woe due to the island’s ultra-humid July climate.
Six years ago today, I took this beautiful woman as my wife and the life we’ve built together is more incredible than anything I could have ever imagined!! Through all of the laughter, tears, triumphs, and challenges, you are my unconditional rock. I love you and our family more than you will ever know. Thanks for your patience, support, and love. Thanks for being you. Happy Anniversary!! #soulmate
“The paparazzi was out on the water so we had to close the curtains!” Nick says of their ceremony, which was held in Richard Branson’s living room. “It was so hot, but our rehearsal dinner—which was a luau beach party—was perfect.”
“It was so sunny that the flowers died on the way over. Our cake was so hot that it was literally melting and tilting over sideways,” Vanessa adds. Nevertheless, she says: ”It was such a beautiful night… And it was still delicious.”
Years after the nuptials, the former bride has sound advice for brides planning destination weddings. “You can plan all you want but once the moment happens, you just have to let it go and not have any expectations. Nothing’s going to be perfect,” she muses. “Once I accepted that, I was really able to just enjoy the moment and say, ‘Everyone’s here for us. I’m marrying this guy. I’m barefoot in the sand, dancing in my wedding dress.’ If you were to stress about every little thing, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it.”
In fact, picking out their wedding location was Vanessa’s favorite part of the planning process. “We went on a scouting trip, and the only way to get to Richard Branson’s Island—it’s called Necker—is by boat. So we got off the boat, the music was playing, the sun was setting and as we walked upstairs with champagne in hand, I started crying. I just knew. I was like, this is it.”
Ultimately, though, there is one thing they would’ve changed about their nuptials. “We were only allowed 28 people on the island,” Vanessa explains. “So I told Nick, if we could’ve just had 20 more people from our circle of friends—that’s my only regret. I wouldn’t want a huge wedding, and I think we had a great amount, but a huge chunk of it was family. We would’ve kicked it up just a couple more people, but there literally wasn’t room.”
The couple—who’ve been together since 2006—plan to return to the island for Vanessa’s 40th birthday (just the two of them this time), although the region of Virgin Gorda where Necker’s located was recently affected by Hurricane Irma.
“We’re excited to get back down there once it bounces back. It was magical, and it always will be such a magical, special place for us,” Nick says.