If you recently got engaged and started the very exciting and challenging process of planning your wedding; one of the first things on the “to do” list will be to decide where you will have your wedding and honeymoon. There are couples who know exactly what they want and then there are those who have no idea and are feverishly discussing all their options. Will you get married locally or do you have an exotic destination wedding in mind? You could have your wedding in Italy and honeymoon in France! So many options and if you follow us, I will be posting about some dreamy and exciting destinations for any occasion.
Destination weddings have become increasingly popular, especially for those couples who don’t want to go through the “father of the bride” situation! Seriously though, having a destination wedding could mean that it can involve just the two of you, a select handful of family and friends or enough guests to constitute a bona fide week-long family reunion or vacation. They can be much simpler and depending on what you envision, also faster than planning a traditional wedding and reception for two main reasons; Most resorts and cruise lines have made it really easy to have weddings on site and many have experienced wedding coordinators to help you with all your requirements. They are familiar with the Country’s marriage license requirements and offer wedding packages that take care of all your ceremony essentials. All you do is spend time with your loved ones, while the coordinator takes care of the rest and follows your direction.
If you are considering getting married in another country, it may have crossed your mind to book everything yourself online to “save money” … You know the deal – you type “cheap tickets/accommodation” in a browser and then you have to go through twenty websites all offering some deal or another, only to discover in the end, that you didn’t quite get what you expected or hoped for. When asked whether I recommend booking a wedding or honeymoon online, my answer has always been a resounding NO! Not unless you want to spend your time dealing with one issue after another and trying to find resources, instead of enjoying your time together. I have literally not heard of one successful wedding or honeymoon booking that was done online by the couple on their own.
People, this is your wedding and/or honeymoon! This is a trip where you want to spend as much of your precious time enjoying each other’s company before you start your life together and have a fabulously romantic, relaxing experience. This is the one trip where you let the professionals deal with the details, or the drama if something should not quite go smoothly during your trip. If dressmaking is not your expertise, would you try to make your own wedding dress? Of course not!
If you are going to travel for your wedding and/or honeymoon, I suggest you work with a travel advisor; a professional travel consultant with the resources, connections and expertise to add great value to your travel plans. They are your advocate, they negotiate on your behalf, they have relationships with suppliers and can get you into places that you possibly could not and they curate the noise for you. This is their expertise, let them handle the details.
You will be busy with decisions such as the timing of your wedding and honeymoon, deciding whether you will buy the dress locally and take it with you or buy it where you are getting married, who will be in your bridal party, who will be invited to come along, what food you would like and what you will pack. Depending on your religious observance or lack thereof, you will need to find a Rabbi or officiant of your choice to perform the ceremony. When you have a travel advisor all you have to tell them is your vision for your special day, where you want to go for your honeymoon, what your budget is and they do the research for you. You just plan on having the time of your life. They can suggest what time of year will be best for your preferred destination and give you tips on the area to ensure a memorable (and insta-worthy) experience.
If you are planning to invite a group of family and friends, everyone might not be travelling together to the destination or back home. Some guests may want to remain after the wedding is over, or go earlier to enjoy some leisure time on their own prior to the wedding. Someone needs to keep everyone’s itineraries straight and ensure they all arrive in time for the wedding! All you need to handle once you are at your destination should be the details with the wedding coordinator. Not worry about your loved ones arriving on time. One thing I do recommend, is to have a scouting trip with your significant other to make sure the venue can fulfill your vision. Once you have confirmed your destination, ask your advisor if she can connect you with the wedding coordinator and go for a scouting trip at least a few months out.
We all know that we plan for the perfect wedding or honeymoon, but we also know that the flight or location details sometimes get muddled up, or the weather doesn’t play along. As I was writing this post, I had a discussion with a really helpful lady who is a travel advisor, Sharon Bame from Valerie Wilson Travel, who came highly recommended. She said when you are thinking about a destination wedding and/or honeymoon, she recommends you start planning as far out as you can; preferably a year or more. This is particularly important if you have a specific place in mind that is exclusive and also wildly popular. Other important factors are of course the size of your group and how flexible you are. If you do your bookings last minute, you might have to settle for the group to be spread out over several hotels and you might not find that spot you have been dreaming about. Last minute arrangements, especially if you have your heart set on a specific location, might also mean additional cost, so it is always best to book your destination wedding or honeymoon as far out as possible.
If you have any questions, Sharon is clearly experienced, creative and on top of it. The colleague who referred me to her for destination travel tips, said she has amazing attention to detail, was extremely focused and is passionate about her work and that is the perfect combination. Sharon specializes in Italy and France; particularly, Paris, South of France, Rome, Florence, Venice, Positano, and the Amalfi Coast. She is also into exquisite food and wine experiences, yoga, and hiking which means she can help you with any additional activities you might want to experience whether you are travelling locally, or outside of the US. In addition to her own travel experience she also has resources through their partners throughout the world and the cherry on the top is they are a member of Virtuoso: an organization with access to resources not available to the general public. You literally cannot go wrong when you have experience and almost endless resources at your disposal and while Sharon may specialize in the above areas, she can help you with just about any location. Sharon’s info is below. Do contact her if you have questions.
Sharon Bame Associate Advisor email@example.com | O 650.485.4545 | D 415.215.1079
Last but definitely not least; congratulations on your engagement – we wish you every happiness in the world!
Thank you for spending this time with me! More info on weddings and event planning, wine and food pairings and much more coming on this blog.