Friday, November 30, 2007

Our Honeymoon – The Atlantis

We were married on Grand Bahama Island, but decided to go to a different island for the honeymoon. Based on a recommendation from a coworker, we chose to go to The Atlantis resort on New Providence and Paradise Island.

I guess we bought into the hype – the website, the marketing materials, etc. It seemed so adult and romantic. After a week with our families, we thought it was exactly what we wanted.

What we found was a HUGE resort that was wall-to-wall children. Atlantis is Disneyland on the beach. We estimated the average age at the place was somewhere south of 14. Not what we were looking for. We ended up spending a fair amount of time down the beach at the One And Only Ocean Club (where Lionel Ritchie was staying and we bumped into him several times).

We tried to get off the Atlantis property as much as possible. We went into Nassau for a day. And another day, we went to the other side of the island for scuba diving with Stuart Cove’s. This is a big dive outfit, but they do a good job with personal service. The Hollywood Bowl dive site is fantastic and we got to have a close encounter with some live lobsters.

We also spent a fair amount of time in the casino, where Laura played the roulette wheel with our wedding date and it hit. So we made a fair amount of money in the casino. But the other facilities, namely the restaurants, were very over priced and were of disappointing quality. Lance had to send his lobster back to the kitchen at the Bahamian Club because it was overcooked and rubbery (and then we got attitude from the staff for complaining about the inferior quality). We loved the food at Fathoms, but were disappointed in the large numbers of screaming children. The restaurants in the Marina Village were better, both in terms of quality and price. Our favorite was Carmine’s – one of our favorite restaurants back in New York, so we enjoyed it here.

In addition to honeymoons, The Atlantis also does destination weddings. We saw several weddings going on while we were there. The weddings were held out in the common areas, so you’re still dealing with lots of gawkers and people walking very close by, so think carefully about this one. At one wedding, a group of young girls in bathing suits decided to join right in on the wedding. There’s nothing inherently wrong with lots of children, it’s just helpful to know that’s what you’re getting before you show up there. If you want a “family friendly” wedding, this might be your place.

We’re glad we did it once (been there, done that). Had we done more research, we probably would have gone someplace else with a more romantic and sophisticated atmosphere.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Preston Bailey on Destination Weddings

Wedding guru Preston Bailey, who partners on destination weddings with the Sandals Resorts, has an interview up on YouTube (more on destination weddings at Sandals next week). See the Preston Bailey interview:

Preston Bailey’s tips for destination weddings include:
  • Use the natural scenery
  • Use local vendors
  • Flexible activity schedule
We would agree with each of these.

One of the advantages of destination weddings are that the scenery (oftentimes a beach or a castle) forms the backdrop for your wedding. This means you can get away with less decorations, but can also use decorations that are native to the location where you are having your wedding.

Bailey recommends using local vendors. We would agree, but with a caveat. Using local vendors takes the hassle out of shipping lots of stuff. However, the caveat is that you might not always be able to find something you want in your location. For our Caribbean wedding, we took some tulle and ribbons from a local Michael’s craft store, but otherwise used the ocean as our backdrop.

Finally, have a flexible activity schedule. This is key. We found that having both flexible options and lots of options was important for guests. We had a couple of defined events (a welcome reception the night before, the wedding, a post-wedding cocktail party and then reception were all carved in stone). Then we had other events (renting wave runners, bar hopping in town, etc.) that were optional/elective events for those who wanted to participate.

These are great tips from Preston Bailey.

Note: We found this on YouTube and it was posted from something called Brideorama (a bridal video community). We’ve never used Brideorama, so can’t recommend it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Environmentally Responsible Weddings

Weddings in general, but especially destination weddings, can have a significant environmental impact. Sad, but true. It is important to try and minimize your environmental impact, both for your own personal satisfaction and for future generations.

One way to do this is through carbon offsets or carbon credits. According to Wikipedia: “Carbon credits are a key component of national and international emissions trading schemes… There are also many companies that sell carbon credits to commercial and individual customers who are interested in lowering their carbon footprint on a voluntary basis.” Carbon credits have received some criticism lately (and there have been some scams), so it’s important to do business with a reputable firm.

Essentially it works like this – you pay a little money to a company or nonprofit group to offset some aspect of your life (your car, your household energy use, etc.). The company or nonprofit uses the money to fund projects that generate environmentally-friendly power (i.e., wind power, methane, etc.) – these are projects that aren’t likely to be built, except with the support of people like you and us. The carbon credits are relatively inexpensive and range from $2-15 per month, or $25+ per year.

We are fans of two groups offering this service. The first is a non-profit organization called They also offer a special ZeroCarbon Wedding – an 8-ton carbon offset, for $44. This is tax deductible. The second company is Native Energy. They are for-profit company, but specialize in building new projects (and actually offer specifics on the projects they fund).

We fully appreciate that weddings are expensive and this is probably one time in your life that you don’t have extra money laying around to buy carbon credits. Doing this is important. Please consider it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bridesmaid Dresses – Spring 2008 Collections

The Spring 2008 collections are out. After the fall collections (god, they were ugly), spring is a refreshing change.

A good friend of ours has been looking a for a nice navy blue bridesmaid dress at a reasonable price. Well, she’s in luck! Ann Taylor Celebrations collection has added some new colors, including navy blue. The “Cornflower Blue” color is still a favorite of ours…and very popular with people having destination weddings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Honeymoon Strategies

Since a destination wedding, by default, includes some sort of travel, couples are inclined to tack the honeymoon onto the wedding. Sandals Resorts calls them a Weddingmoon. And there is some appeal in doing this since it minimizes time away from work and maximizes your travel budget.

However, if you have guests coming, you don’t really want them around on your honeymoon. You can either tolerate some guests hanging on (as they inevitably will be one or two who will) or you can think of some other options.

There are two strategies to cope with this:
  • Continue with the trip, but go to another location. This is what we did with our destination wedding in the Bahamas. We got married on one island, but then went to another island for the honeymoon. A friend of ours got married in France with a large entourage of family, but then went to Spain for their honeymoon.
  • Come home and take a separate honeymoon a few months later. This way, you get two trips for one occasion! This is definitely more expensive, but is nice to space out the festivities.

The right answer is the one that works for you!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dominican Republic Travel Warning

Two friends returned from the Dominican Republic with a sobering tale.

They were drinking in the resort bar two nights before they left. Several drinks in and that is all that they remember. They awoke the next morning, in their room, their cash was gone. And in the 9 hours of their drug-induced slumber (they were slipped something in their drinks), the robbers had maxed out their credit cards in the hotel casino. They never left the resort and the only people with them were hotel staff. This was an inside job.

Unfortunately, the hotel management and the local police were not very receptive and didn’t even want to take a police report. They seemed more interested in getting rid of my friends, didn’t want to take a police report and really didn’t want them to talk to any other guests. They were able to contest the charges via the credit card company (who reports a substantial increase in credit care fraud in the Dominican Republic).

If you are considering a destination wedding at one of the resorts in the Dominican Republic, we would urge you visit the State Department’s website for Dominican Republic Travel Warnings.