'I do' with an edge: Destination weddings taking over traditional, overpopulated feasts

If you could get married in the most extreme way possible, how would you do it?

That’s the concept behind TLC’s upcoming “Extreme I Do’s” wedding special, airing this Thursday, July 30th. Founders and owners of the uber successful New York City wedding planning business AaB Creates, Mayra Castillo and Xochitl Gonzalez, will appear on the show, and boy oh boy, do they have a doozy of a wedding to pull off.

Besties Gonzalez and Castillo met at Brown University. Xochitl, a Brooklyn native of Mexican, Puerto Rican and Italian descent, navigated the New York City public school system, while Mayra, who is Mexican-American, made the journey from California’s Central Valley to Brown — perhaps because they were both used to forging their own paths, starting a business together didn’t seem completely insane.

After working together at The Clio Awards for a few years, the women saw a niche offering luxury wedding planning services to the creative professionals of New York City seeking out-of-the-box weddings.

Undeterred by student loans and with just $3,000 in start-up funds, they hung up their proverbial shingle in 2003, and for the past 12 years have produced luxury weddings across the U.S. and Mexico, and have been featured in over 200 publications ranging from The New York Times to GQ to Brides to The Knot and Latina Magazine.

In 2008, the economy and their wedding business took a profound nose dive, at which point they began to steer the ship in a completely different direction.

When Fox News Latino spoke with the two in 2012, following their re-branding and upswing back, they said, “Couples went from spending $100K to $50 in 2008. We found our niche with unique smaller weddings. Our average client is comfortable spending between $1,000 to $2,500 per guest,” Gonzalez said.

“They’re the artsy-fartsy types and we’re known as more hipster-lavish planners – where cooler costs more – but not too much,” she added.

Fast-forward to the last two months, and a wedding that matched the ladies of AaB Creates, who now own three wedding planning businesses, with Michael and Nicole who wanted a “drop the mic” wedding to remember, and where else would that be, but on a volcano in Hawaii.

Starting with a helicopter over Maui, getting to the volcanic beach through a private ranch via off-road vehicles (complete with actual cowboys), and finally ending with a reception at a retired sugar mill. “One guest was pregnant, and sadly there was no bathroom. It was going behind a lava rock or nada,” Gonzalez said.

Despite the extremes of this particular wedding, according to Gonzalez, I do trends are veering away from tradition – particularly for Latinos. “Destination weddings, with cutting-edge style are outnumbering the traditional large attendees of the past," Gonzalez said.

"They’re less about the signature regal and super-religious wedding and more about small scale and less people. Destination weddings self-select your closest circle. Couples enjoy a large engagement party or shower and a small wedding in a cool place, where they can stay for their honeymoon.”

AaB Creates has made its mark planning some pretty out-of-the-box weddings. “One of my favorites was a wedding for 300 people at a sleep away camp in Maine — the couple asked that we turn the venue into a luxe hotel,” Gonzalez said.  But also, she noted, she will hardly ever forget the“Extreme I Do’s" bride throwing her bouquet from a helicopter circling a volcano.