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.

1 comment:

Amanda W. said...

Hey, this is a GREAT blog! What do you think of Sandal's WeddingMoon? They offer a "test drive" weekend. We're just starting the process, but I've been relucatant to sign up for the trip because it seems like a timeshare sales pitch. Any insights?