Friday, March 30, 2007

Menu Selection – Infusing Local Flavor

One of the most memorable (and important) decisions you can make is your menu selection. It’s your wedding and you should choose the food that you want to enjoy. Be mindful of your guests, but think of yourself first. Having local flavor was very important to us!

After the ceremony, we had a one hour cocktail reception on the terrace overlooking the beach. Our menu was:

  • Cheese plate

  • Seasonal fruit plate

  • Shrimp cocktail

  • And several specialty cocktails including BahamaMamas and Pina Coladas.

From the cocktail reception, we moved to dinner:

  • Wild Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli with lobster nage sauce and fresh herbs

  • Choice of Halibut or Herb Crusted Filet Mignon

  • Warm Pineapple Tart served with pina colada dressing

  • Wedding cake (chocolate)

Depending on the destination wedding you are planning (Caribbean vs. Europe) and the number of guests you bring, you may want to infuse local flavors and ingredients into your wedding. It will make your wedding more memorable.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dippin’ Dots

We found this recently and thought this is about the most amazing thing ever!

You can order your very own childhood favorite—Dippin’ Dots—for your destination wedding in your very own bridal colors. This could be extremely fun if you are having a warm summer destination wedding. These can be served with the cake or as a standalone dessert for the kids.

They come in 30-serving sizes and come packed in dry ice. (More on dry ice fun in another entry). Costs are $125 for 30 servings (a serving is 3.5 oz). http://www.dippindots.comIt is shipped UPS overnight, must remain packed in dry ice, must be eaten with a plastic spoon and a whole slew of fine print that you must agree to in order to purchase. Order yours at

We wish we had discovered this before our wedding! Although I don’t know if they could have shipped to the Bahamas, so it might only work for U.S. destination wedding. [Photo credit to]

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Covering the basics – To DJ or not to DJ

If you’re having a destination wedding with guests, you might have a post-wedding reception. Some resorts cater to this better than others (more on receptions in another topic).

At our destination, we chose to have a seated dinner in a private room. One of the options was a DJ and this led to a spirited discussion “To DJ or not to DJ.” In the end, we decided against the DJ and did it ourselves. Laura brought her iPod and we purchased a Logitech mm50
speaker at Costco. The April 2007 issue of Smart Money magazine reviews five different speakers, with the Apple iPod Hi-Fi receiving top rankings (price is $350).

Depending on where you are going, there might be a reasonable nightlife where your group can go and save on the DJ. At the Westin Our Lucaya, the resort did not have a nightclub, instead they turned one of the restaurants into a rather sedate disco (fine by us since we wanted a laid back wedding). At the Iberostar Paraiso complex on the Mayan Rivera in Mexico, they had a nice little nightclub with a large dance floor where groups were welcome. It's best to check in advance on what the facilities are like at your location.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bridesmaid Dresses

We had a very difficult time finding bridesmaid dresses we liked that were also affordable. Many dresses looked like cheap prom/homecoming dresses rather than a cute yet classy, beach-appropriate bridesmaid dress.

Hands down, the best dresses we found were the from the Ann Taylor Celebrations line. They make it easy by selling coordinated dresses, sashes, bags and accessories in vibrant colors. It’s also important that you don’t have to order them and wait a long time to get it. They also offer bridal gowns and even matching flower girl dresses. Last summer they had a beautiful light blue that was perfect for a beach wedding!

The disadvantage is that they only carry it at 40 select stores nationwide (thankfully the one near us carried it). You can order online, but this is the kind of thing you really want your girls to try on.

The runner-up was Jessica McClintock. While many of her dresses fell into the “prom” category, she did have several that made our bridesmaid Amanda happy and didn’t make her look like she was in high school.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Making our Ultimate Destination Wedding Decision

When we started to think about all the places where we could get married, the list seemed almost endless. There were so many things to consider, that we almost didn’t know where to start. So, while Lance enjoyed a Christmas cruise with his parents, Laura sat down in her mom’s living room and started making a spreadsheet. The categories included: hotel name/brand, location, wedding features (see previous post), hotel features, cost of rooms, activities, ease of reaching the country and various other notes.

We already knew that we wanted our wedding to be on or near the beach, so that pretty much narrowed our focus to areas south of Florida. We also knew we wanted a wedding that we could customize and love but that would be somewhat affordable. So Laura began the tedious process of combing through websites, perusing TripAdvisor, emailing the on-site wedding coordinators and sending away for every brochure she could get her hands on in order to find the perfect balance. A brief list of locations we considered: Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, the Atlantis, British Colonial Inn, Wyndham Sunshine Suites-Grand Cayman, Wyndham Condado Plaza, Westin St. John, Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, and the list went on…

Slowly, some hotels seemed to eliminate themselves. Ones that were located in town and away from the beach were the first to go, followed by ones with horrendous reviews and those over $300/night (not all-inclusive). Laura’s mom vetoed the Dominican Republic, and she focused on finding a place that we and most of our guests had not been before. When we realized that it was $800 to get to Grand Cayman from Denver (where many of our guests were coming from), that fell off the list too. The presence of good diving became a big factor, as did the wedding coordinators who would not respond or confused us with other people— NOT the kind of coordinators to whom we wanted to entrust my wedding.

As some hotels were eliminated, one began to rise to the top. Since we knew we wouldn’t be able to visit the hotel before we signed a contract, we wanted to select one that had a very good chance of being appropriately nice, and the Westin/Sheraton Our Lucaya fit the bill. It was also across the street from a great dive shop and other activities, and it was right on the beach. Though the hotel wedding coordinators were unresponsive, we found an independent planner who was great and offered everything we wanted. Even with a smallish wedding, we would still be able to have a private reception, and there was a salon and spa at the resort. Plus, no one in our group had spent much time in the Bahamas. It also didn’t hurt that it was close (only 50 miles off the Florida coast), reasonable to get there and stay there, and it was BEAUTIFUL.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Review: Macy’s Bridal Registry

As a follow up to the bridal registry overview, we wanted to provide a specific review on the Macy’s Bridal Registry experience.

Macy’s really markets their bridal registry to couples. Macy’s offers the Macy’s Wedding Rewards program where you receive 5% back on every gift purchased off your registry. You also receive 10% back on all your personal purchases (both off the registry and elsewhere), if you open a Macy’s card. And you receive a 10% wedding completion discount. A month or two after the wedding you are supposed to receive a gift card in the mail with your Macy’s Reward.

It sounds like a fantastic deal and we bought it. Unfortunately, there were problems. The biggest was that we didn’t receive the reward gift card after the wedding and we had to call several times to complain. During the course of the wedding, we moved houses and it was very difficult for Macy’s to update the address. Updating the registry from home through the WeddingChannel became a bit of a nightmare. And finally, it seemed like the in-store help had no idea what they were doing (at their NY store as well as several different Macy’s in Pennsylvania near us).

If we had it to do over again, we still probably would have registered with Macy’s for the rewards program, but we wished we would have known what a headache it would be.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bridal Registries

One of the best things about getting married is the bridal registry process. You can go shopping and you don’t have to pay for anything. It can be so much fun to dream!

But choosing the place to register is often one of the first decisions you’ll face. Most people pick one nice department store, one home store and possibly one specialty store. You should pick stores that have both an in-store and online purchasing capabilities.

Select stores that have a presence in areas where most of your family, friends and guests live. For example, there are not many Macy’s stores in places where some of family live. We registered at Macy’s and did not receive many gifts through them. (More on the Macy’s bridal registry in an upcoming blog.)

We registered with Crate and Barrel, Macy’s and Nearly every gift we received came from Crate and Barrel. We registered for flatware, glasses, small appliances, cookware, etc. People loved this store. At Macy’s we registered for our silver, our crystal and china. Finally, was nice for larger and more unusual items (scuba diving gear, furniture, etc.).

Our experience was that the majority of our purchases were made over the Internet, so make sure whatever vendors you use make easy Internet ordering (and returns) possible. Crate and Barrel was fantastic on all counts—even accepting a stoneware bake dish that was completely pulverized during shipping. was great for ordering, but returns proved impossible (time limits, items, etc.). Macy’s was great for in-store ordering, Internet was OK and returns were problematic (particularly if the item isn’t stocked and needs to be shipped).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

America’s Trashiest Weddings

Again, not destination wedding related, but you’ll love it! This show on Fox might better be called Poor White Trash Nation. But just like a car accident, you can’t avert your eyes.

Jesse and Greg in Lawton, Oklahoma featured a man-vs-camel drinking contest. Rich and Lawnie in Idaho got married on New Year’s Eve with a port-o-potty themed wedding. The cake was an outhouse and rested on toilet seats. They featured his and her strip shows and full on food fight at the reception. And then there was Matt and Heather in Illinois with their hunting-themed wedding. The highlight here was the bride and her sister bridesmaid slugging it out.

So, not matter how bad your planning is going, take comfort in knowing your wedding will turn out better than these weddings.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

MTV’s Engaged & Underage

This isn’t destination wedding related, but it is interesting. MTV is about six episodes into their new reality series “Engaged & Underage.”

From MTV’s website: “Who says you’re too young to get married? You think you’re ready. This is going to be the biggest day in your life—right? ‘Engaged and Underage’ is a new weekly series that follows young couples, between the ages of 18 and 22, during the last weeks of their engagement, as they crank it up for the big day. You’ll see all the drama…”

We thought it would be like most reality shows—you watch it to make yourself feel better since there other people with a life worse than yours. You think that you’re going to pity the sad people they profile. Naturally, you question if a marriage at 18 can really last. And being MTV, it is loaded with all the intense drama that you can pack in.

However, it also shows the real life struggles we all go through in planning a wedding – destination or not. The arguments over the wedding details are real (and we’ve all had them) and it is a humanizing process. It’s a nice diversion from the wedding planning process.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Travel Vaccinations

A small dose of destination wedding reality. Some of the places where people have destination weddings are in remote places in the developing world. It is often necessary (and a good idea) to make sure your vaccinations are up to date. The more remote your wedding and honeymoon locations, the more critical this becomes.

There’s good reason to do so, more than half of Americans traveling abroad will become sick. Of these, about 8% will need to see a doctor. The good news is that the most common illnesses are for diarrhea or skin conditions (rash, sunburn, etc.). Most major diseases can be prevented through vaccination.

All travelers (in fact all people), should be up to date on their normal immunizations, which include: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), pneumococcus, H.influenza type B, and the annual flu vaccine. Different countries might require additional vaccines: Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, typhoid fever and possibly rabies. Of this latter group, hepatitis A is the most important since it can be transmitted by impure food or water.

This shouldn’t scare or alarm you. Most resorts, even in the developing world, are very safe and should not concern you. However, it’s your wedding and honeymoon – do you want to take the risk? The vaccinations are good for many years (some for life), so the temporary discomfort and inconvenience is worth the risk to make sure you are protected.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Basics – You Need a Passport

If you are planning your nuptials abroad, let’s face it—you need a passport. The implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative has closed the loopholes for traveling abroad without a passport (including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean). Whereas you used to be able to get by with just a driver’s license and birth certificate in the Caribbean (including Bermuda and the Bahamas), no more. More details on the WHTI and passport requirements can be found on the State Department website.

You need to get passport photos, which you can get about anywhere (we got ours at Walgreens for $7.99, but you can also get them at Costco, photo stores, etc.). New passports are $97 and renewals are $67. State department says to allow 8 weeks. Everything you need to know about a getting a passport can be found here.

Most importantly, if you have guests traveling to your destination wedding, you will need to let them know far enough in advance so they can obtain one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Choosing your Dream Location

Choosing the dream location for your destination wedding is the single most important decision you will make. This decision will be driven by your personality, where you live and how many guests you will take.

Do you want a relaxing island wedding? Or is a Tuscan villa more your style?

Destination weddings usually imply going somewhere abroad. But you can also have a destination wedding here in the U.S. Popular domestic destinations include Las Vegas, New York City, Hawaii, the Florida Keys and the Rocky Mountains (Colorado and Utah).

Perhaps your selection of a destination will be determined by the number of guests. If you choose to elope, Hawaii might be in order. But if you have a large number of guests, the Florida Keys might be more realistic.

If you live on the east coast, Hawaii could be a very long flight. In that case, you might consider the Florida Keys or the Caribbean (Jamaica, Bahamas, Bermuda, etc.). But if you live in the western U.S., Hawaii could be a very good option.

Most importantly, it should be your dream location! So make yourself happy. More on our Bahamian destination wedding here.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Island Wedding Overviews

A destination wedding can be just about anything you want it to be from the two of you and an officiant on the beach to a full-scale church wedding complete with 10 attendants, a gospel choir and an opulent reception, or anything in the middle.

Many hotels and resorts in the Caribbean have wedding packages now, some of which even come free with a seven-night stay, such as Sandals popular Weddingmoon™. If that option isn’t enough, you can choose one of Preston Bailey’s four customized weddings that offer various provisions including specific flowers, table settings and aisle treatments. One hotel we considered, the Wyndham Bermuda Resort & Spa (now under renovation), offered decoration options up to $130 per table for linen overlays and a replica lighthouse. Wyndham has a great website to find out more information about its wedding offerings.

Many hotels offer a modest basic package which can be supplemented based on the couple’s preferences. When you are considering where to have your wedding, it is important to keep your options and preferences in mind. Some hotels require a minimum wedding size to allow you to have a private reception—if you have fewer than 20 guests, your reception may have to be in a restaurant on the property. Certain hotels may require that you use a staff photographer or contracted musicians whose work may not be what you would hope for. In some instances, an all-inclusive may also limit your options for food and location choices. Make sure to know your options and limitations as you explore where you want to get married.

When we were deciding where to go for our wedding, we knew we wanted a decent range of choices that we could customize to be appropriate for our tastes, our guests, the vibe we wanted and our budget. We wanted something that would feel like our wedding. After briefly trying to work with the unresponsive wedding coordinators used by our hotel at the time, we discovered an independent wedding planner who offered everything we needed and had the local resources to help us plan every aspect of our wedding the way we wanted. While some destination wedding couples have had great experiences with wedding coordinators at their hotels, working with an independent contractor (assuming that you have sufficient recommendations) may be easier because their reputation is at stake in the planning of your wedding, so they may be both more responsive and more flexible. Our great wedding planner on Grand Bahama Island is Janet Albury at And The Two Become One.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Pros and Cons of Choosing a Destination Wedding

Choosing a destination wedding is a major step. We like to think you don’t choose a destination wedding as much as it chooses you. Chances are, you know already if it is right for you.

There are several pros and cons you should consider in the process—


  • Cost – Destination weddings usually cost significantly less than traditional weddings. Given the nature of the event, you will have fewer guests and resort locations can cater to this, bringing down your overall cost.
  • Guests – Since you will have fewer guests, you will be able to spend more time with them. This could be a pro or con depending on how you feel about your family, but this was a definite plus for us.
  • Romance – Nothing screams romance like getting married on a beach with the sun beginning to set.
  • Weddingmoon – Since you will be traveling, the wedding itself can become a honeymoon. You can also stretch the wedding festivities out over multiple days. And you can go off on your own afterwards for a traditional honeymoon.


  • Imposition – For the guests who decide to travel with you, it is a major imposition for them. Be sure to remember the sacrifices they are making to be with you on your special day.
  • Sacrifice – There will be some who are unable, either financially or physically, to make the trip with you. It could be an aging grandparent, that friend in grad school or the couple with the new baby. It can be very difficult to not have them with you. We missed several of our closest friends who couldn’t make the trip due to finances.
  • Gifts – This was not a factor for us, but some newlyweds love their gifts. By having a smaller guest list and a distant wedding, our experience (and that of our friends) is that you receive less gifts and they are more modest in nature.

Keeping these in mind will also help you determine how you want to plan the event, including location, distance from your home and number of guests.