Thursday, May 24, 2007

European Weddings - An Overview

When some people think romantic destination weddings, they look to European locations like Tuscany, France and other areas. Getting married in a beautiful hillside village can provide a memorable start to your life together.

We are currently in Italy learning about European destination weddings. This type of wedding lends itself to eloping or very small groups (just parents and siblings, etc.). European weddings are very different than a resort in the tropics where your guests are catered to. Logistics and language considerations can present major challenges.

For these reasons, it is also very important to engage a local wedding planner (again, this is a local planner, not a tour operator). The planner can help arrange the details with caterers, cakes, decorations, etc.

We will review specific aspects of European weddings in the future.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wedding Websites, Part 2

Several readers posted comments to my previous entry Customized Wedding Websites that I thought deserved a reply.

Bridezilla noted that if you do make a wedding website, you should include a enclosure card with the invitation so your guests know about it. I wholeheartedly endorse this and we did this for our wedding. We’ve heard of couples actually printing the website on the invitation. In discussions on some wedding boards, this is generally viewed as bad form and a bit tacky (even for a destination wedding), but I’m not convinced. The decision really needs to flow from your personalities.

HamiHarri replied that she made a website for her traditional wedding. These websites lend themselves to destination weddings because of all of the logistics involved (not to mention the beautiful destination photos).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Customized Wedding Websites

One of the most challenging aspects of a destination wedding is keeping your guests informed of the planning of your wedding. To keep everyone up to date, we recommend developing a small wedding website.

Thankfully, there are number of vendors that provide easy-to-use website systems for reasonable prices (less than $75 for a year). If you can write an e-mail, you can do a website with these companies. Some good vendors are:
On your wedding website, you can tell your guests important details of your wedding including:
  • Travel information
  • Hotel booking
  • Photos of venue
  • Ideas of other activities in the area (golf, scuba diving, sightseeing, etc.)
  • Engagement photos
  • Links to registries

Now, many people use blogs for this purpose. However, your guests don’t care about all the details and don’t want to sort through the blog chronologically. These websites make it much easier to present the information topically.

Do your guests a favor and make a website!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Covering the basics – Hiring a local wedding planner

Planning a wedding, especially a destination wedding, can be very difficult. Usually, you are not familiar with the location and local vendors, so having someone to assist can make a world of difference!

By wedding planner, we don’t mean a wedding vendor or tour operators—these folks usually just package hotels, airfare, and ground transit. We mean a true wedding planner who will help with flowers, cakes, logistics, negotiating and securing contracts with hotels, arranging music and handling all your needs.

Some hotels and resorts have their own on-site planners, some don’t. In general, we found these on-site planners to be only moderately helpful. They were responsive to get you to sign a contract, but not helpful to answer your detailed questions. We started to feel like just a number—something we definitely didn’t want for our special day.

We quickly learned that there are a number of independent destination wedding planners in several locations. These folks are local and know the good, the bad and the ugly about local vendors. Since they are not affiliated with the hotel/resort directly, they have more freedom in recommending good vendors, not just the ones that have contracts with the resort.

We also learned that finding these independent wedding planners is a bit of a needle in a haystack. We found our planner, And the Two Become One in the Bahamas, through a review that someone had posted in the Knot Bios. Seeking out reviews or friends who have utilized their services can be very helpful.

To get an idea of all of the things that an independent wedding planner can do for you, check out the website for Ceremonies of St. John. They help with everything from coordinating the marriage license to making sure the color on the cake is right.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Dress

Ah, the dress. For most brides, the dress is the most important part of the wedding. It sets the tone for the festivities, and, let's be honest, the dress gives every woman the opportunity to be a princess for a day. However, dresses for destination weddings can be more complicated than dresses for traditional weddings because of two particular factors—traveling with the dress and dealing with the weather and location at the destination.

The actual act of getting the dress from point to point is not as difficult as one might imagine. Most airlines are very willing to help brides transport their gowns safely, and flight attendants will often do their best to make room in the first class closet. It can help to approach the gate attendant before the flight boards and/or to speak to the flight attendant as soon as you step on the plane. (And it should go without saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.) Our experience - and we ultimately flew with the dress four times - was seamless, even on Bahamas Air, which didn't even have overhead compartments large enough for standard sized carry-ons. Some people find it useful to take a steamer with them or utilize hotel services once they arrive at the destination to take care of any wrinkles. Laura had a somewhat "poufy dress," so we didn't encounter any wrinkle issues.

The weather and physical location of the wedding can also be significant factors in deciding on the dress. If your destination is often very warm or humid, you're probably better off with a gown made of lightweight fabric that doesn't have a lot of underskirts or netting. Brides getting married directly on the beach may want to avoid long trains simply because of the messiness of sand getting caught in the dress. All these considerations are important, but the decision is completely individual. If a bride has had her heart set on a "big dress" with a train for years and that's what makes her feel like a beautiful bride, a little sand getting in the way won't particularly matter.

Popular dress brands include: Amsale, Alfred Angelo, Vera Wang, Jim Hjelm, Maggie Sottero, Watters & Watters, Melissa Sweet, Priscilla of Boston, Reem Acra and Monique Lhullier. Two very popular discount bridal stores with very positive reviews: Pearl's Place and House of Brides.