Friday, December 14, 2007

Preview: Cruise Ship Weddings

Nearly all of the major cruise ship lines offer weddings these days. We briefly looked into this for our destination wedding, but had trouble with the logistics (too many family members coming from too many different places) to make it work.

But Ultimate Destination Weddings will be taking a much-deserved multi-week holiday cruise in December! We’re going to be scoping out cruise ship weddings, ports of call and reporting back in early January! Watch for more details.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bachelorette Parties – Cooking School

It’s another bachelorette party – dressing up, wearing the mock veil, getting drunk, going bar hopping and feeling bad the next day. But that’s not what you want for your bachelorette party. You want different. You want fun. Sure you want to drink, but don’t want to get out of control. You want the kind of bachelorette party where you can take your mom and your 16-year-old niece. And did we say you want to have fun?

Try this on for size: Cooking School. It’s not some stodgy cooking school, we’re talking fun, wine and fantastic food you’ve cooked yourself. You bring the girlfriends, they provide the chef to teach you and the food to prepare. It’s a blast (and you even get to keep the apron).

We’re in love with the Viking Cooking School. For a bachelorette or bridal party, contact them directly for a Special Events Program.

We’ve done it several times and absolutely love it. We’ve taken the Basic Knife Skills class and the Date Night – Lobster Bisque and Steak. We’re already booked into the Indian Dinner for the spring.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Destination Weddings for Dummies

I found another video on YouTube (originally from Brideorama). This one features Susan Breslow, author of Destination Weddings for Dummies.

She offers three tips for people planning destination weddings:
  • Find out the local marriage laws – residency requirements vary by country (for example, France is 40 days)
  • Prepare for the weather – Breslow says, hope for sun, but be prepared with a backup venue inside
  • Have a fun party at home – We agree on this front. See our previous entry Advanced Topics – The Welcome Back Reception.
The Susan Breslow video is here:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tourism Websites

When it comes to destination weddings, many local tourism or convention & visitor’s bureaus offer good websites that can help you with the planning process (some even special destination weddings sections).

In the Caribbean, nearly every country has a site. Here is a comprehensive list of Caribbean tourism and convention and visitor’s bureau websites:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wedding Wine Choices

Wedding wine and cocktail selections are not something you usually have control over. However, cocktail and spirit selections are a reflection of your personality. This is a point that you should try to negotiate with your venue.

For wedding wines, try to find something unusual and memorable (both for you and your guests). Many venues will give you one white and one red. Your will be a chardonnay (maybe a pinot grigio if you're really lucky). Your red will be a merlot or possibly a Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines are the same ones that are served at nearly every event known to man - from boring work receptions to the woman down the street's wedding. Not very fun, creative or inviting. Why not spice things up a bit? Or at least dare to be different!

We’re white wine drinkers, but are on an ABC kick (“anything but chardonnay”). Consider a Riesling (Chateau Ste Michelle from the U.S. or just about any riesling wine from the Mosel-Saar region in Germany) or a Gewurztraminer.

Instead of champagne, find a different sparkling white wine. We’re big fans of Prosecco and Franciacorta from Italy. (see Wedding Toast, Part I).

On the red wine front, why not a nice Côtes du Rhône or Chianti?

Finally, if you’re having a tropical destination wedding, consider doing cocktails instead of wines (your venue will definitely accommodate this, and frankly will love you for it…they make more money). We did this for our wedding and opted for Pina Coladas and Bahama Mamas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sandals Honeymoon Test Drive

A recent comment on our blog by Amanda W. asked about Sandals Weddingmoon and the “Test Drive your honeymoon.” She’s reluctant to sign up and asks if we know anything about the “Test Drive” because it seems like a timeshare sales pitch.

The answer to the question is an honest one – we don’t know. We vaguely remember hearing something about the “test drive” some time ago, but we didn’t do it (although we did consider Sandals). The trips are one day (out in the morning, back in the evening) and are only offered from a limited number of east coast cities. Sandals adds the normal conditions (space is limited space, subject to availability, etc., etc.). Cost for the day trip is $99 and includes airfare.

So Amanda, for $99 and one day off of work, you can have a one-day trip to Jamaica, see the resort and know exactly what you’re getting into. (We did this with the Westin Our Lucaya in the Bahamas, but had to pay the full amount and made a long three-day weekend of it). If you do the test drive and then book a honeymoon, Sandals will apply your $99 to the honeymoon package. Presumably they would do the same thing for a Weddingmoon, but the website doesn’t actually say it (best to call and ask some specific questions. Actually, you should definitely call since there aren't many specifics on the website).

It’s a brilliant piece of marketing for Sandals – give your target audience a sample your resort. The cost of $99 essentially covers the airfare, so the company isn’t out anything except for lunch and a few fruity drinks. Now, if the Sandals resorts really wanted to sell their packages, they would charge couples $200 and let them stay overnight for free. Now that’s a test drive!

Fair disclosure: Despite all of our travels, we’ve never actually been to a Sandals resort (although we’ve been thinking about one of their places in St. Lucia-see picture)…so, we can’t actually recommend them (we can’t dissuade you either). So Amanda W., you’re on your own with Sandals. If you decide to do it, I hope you’ll e-mail us and tell us about your experience.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Destination Weddings in Barbados

Barbados has got its act together!

One of the most difficult things about planning a destination wedding in another country is getting quality information (including reliable information about license requirements, etc.).

The Barbados tourism office has launched I Do Barbados, a website resource to learn everything about this island nation and having your destination wedding there. And we mean everything. This website is a one-stop-shop for everything you need.

Barbados is one of the few Carribean destinations that we haven't been to yet. So we may need to move this up on our list.