Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Wedding Gift

In this age of couple’s paying for their own weddings, you don’t have a lot of excess money. We had agreed on not buying each other a present for our actual wedding day. One of us lived up to that agreement…

Mr. groom thought a surprise gift would make his bride happy. He brought (and snuck in his luggage) a beautiful pair of black Tahitian pearl earrings from Nordstrom’s for a wedding day surprise.

Doing something nice for each other on your wedding day is important! Even if it is a card, you should do something to start your new lives off on the right foot. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just meaningful.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, St. Thomas

I found an interesting YouTube video that I thought I would share.

The video is essentially a 1 ½ minute infomercial for the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the wedding director there, Norma Kennedy, offers a couple of suggestions that are worth your time in watching the short video.

Namely, she counsels:
  • Get the right person at the hotel
  • Hotel must have a dedicated area for weddings

She also notes that the trend in destination weddings is being driven by economics. According to Kennedy, and depending on the time of year, couples can have their wedding and honeymoon at the resort for under $2,000.

Early on in the process, Marriott Frenchman’s Reef was one of our leading contenders. However, given where a lot of our guests were coming from (Texas and Colorado), the travel became quite expensive to get to the Virgin Islands.

The full Norma Kennedy video is on YouTube:

Our Policy on Vendor Reviews

As we start to review more vendors and companies, we thought it would be worthwhile to briefly discuss our policy.
  • We’re not wedding planners.
  • We don’t sell destination weddings.
  • We don’t have a financial interest in whatever you choose to do for your down destination wedding.
  • We’re just an ordinary couple sharing what we learned planning our destination wedding.
  • We do accept suggestions on vendors and locations to review from readers of this blog.
If we are ever given something in consideration for a review (i.e., free anything – hotel stay, trip, book…anything), we will disclose that. We don’t say nice things about companies just because they give us free stuff or pay us.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Atlantis (a video)

We found this YouTube video on The Atlantis resort. It does a great job of providing an accurate accounting of the resort and showing the pretty scenery. (It’s kind of infomercial for our tastes) Sure sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

It’s from a Canadian outfit called Romantic Planet. To be fair, nowhere in the video do they show a destination wedding at Atlantis in progress (something we had the opportunity to see). We didn’t find much, if anything, about The Atlantis to be romantic with all the young, screaming ultra-entitled children running around. (See previous post Our Honeymoon – The Atlantis) Although, we thought we would post this video here to give you some balance.

At the end of the video, Romantic Planet makes an excellent point – there are many islands in the Bahamas and you can surely find one your speed. For us, we were on our honeymoon and we wanted to enjoy each other (it’s a honeymoon after all). However, if you are the kind of people that need things to do and stuff to buy, go to Atlantis. However, if you can create your own romance by long moonlight walks on the beach, followed by cocktails and then heading back to your suite, you should probably look someplace else.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Engagement Gifts for Men

As the courtship comes to a close, it ends with a proposal of marriage. As a symbol of his love (and honoring tradition), the man presents a diamond engagement ring (thereby keeping the DeBeers cartel happy).

But what does the husband get? What does the future bride offer her future husband?

In our family (and in many others), shortly after engagement, the woman purchases a nice watch for the husband. These are luxury watches, not a mall special.

For us, we fancied luxury, automatic watches. Watches like Patek, IWC and others are super high-end…and out of our budget. We determined that Raymond Weil (Don Giovanni line) offered the nicest watch at a mid-level price.

The watch is a tradition in our family going back generations. You should decide what you will do for your tradition.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

DeBeers Settles Lawsuit

If you bought diamonds in the United States, you may be entitled to money back.

This covers anyone who purchases a diamond in the U.S. from January 1, 1994 to March 31, 2006. It covers engagement rings, wedding bands, pave watches, earrings…anything with diamonds. The deadline to file a claim to be in the class action lawsuit is May 19, 2008. The final hearing for the case is April 14, 2008, so hopefully payments will be made shortly after that.

For more info, visit the class action lawsuit website.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Top 10 Destination Wedding Tips

Destination I Do, one of the destination wedding magazines out there, has a really good article that is a “must read” for anyone planning destination weddings – their Top 20 Do’s and Don’ts of Destination Weddings.

Below is their list of Top 10 Destination Wedding "Dont’s," but the commentary is ours:
  1. Sweat the small stuff – Quoting from Destination I Do, they say, “Things may go wrong with a hometown wedding or a destination wedding. Make sure to keep it all in perspective and enjoy the process every step of the way.”
  2. Wait to the last minute to send your invitations – This is really important. We sent out Save the Dates about 8 or 9 months in advance and then sent out invites out about 3 months in advance.
  3. Assume people know where they are going – OMG. Seriously. This is so true. Laura’s grandmother gave the invite to her travel agent. Instead of getting tickets to Grand Bahama Island, the travel agent booked them into Nausau. Once your guests arrive in the location, they will also need directions (either actual directions or explanations about getting cabs or ground transportation).
  4. Expect too much of others – Quoting again from Destination I Do, “Sure it’s ‘your big day’ but know that your bridesmaids, groomsmen and family members are not your temporary slaves. Sure you can expect them to help out, but keep it realistic, give others duties you know they can handle, yet still allow them the ability to enjoy your event too.”
  5. Let “Aunt Flow” pay you a visit – Proper planning will help you avoid PMS and menstruation during your wedding.
  6. Leave guests hanging – Have some activities for your guests, but don’t dominate their time. (See A Mini-Vacation for your Guests and Our Destination Wedding)
  7. Expect that everyone will come – This is very true. Remember, you are asking a lot of your guests. It’s a major expense and time out of people’s lives. Be understanding if not everyone can make it.
  8. Forget to check the average traffic flow in the area you will be saying “I Do” – Location, Location, Location. It’s really important to try and do a location visit so you can see the layout.
  9. Choose a dress because of what is “IN” – Enough said on this one.
  10. Haul your dress around with you on your honeymoon – This is helpful, but not critical. For us, we did carry the dress on the honeymoon. We live away from our families and guests, so we had nobody to bring it back for us. We carried it with us without incident. (See The Dress)
For the list of Top 10 Destination Wedding "Do" Tips, see Top 10 Destination Wedding Tips.

The full article from Destination I Do is worth the read.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Top 10 Destination Wedding Tips

Destination I Do, one of the destination wedding magazines out there, has a really good article that is a “must read” for anyone planning destination weddings – their Top 20 Do’s and Don’ts of Destination Weddings.

Below is their list of Top 10 Destination Wedding Do’s, but the commentary is ours:

  1. Select a destination that is easy to get to – This is key to making life easy for you and your guests. We covered this in Advanced Topics – Airfare Considerations.
  2. Carry on your dress – This is critical. We found the flight attendents to be very accommodating to our requests. (See The Dress)
  3. Create a wedding web site for your guests – For destination weddings, this is extremely helpful for your guests and can also be a lot of fun! (See Customized Wedding Websites and Wedding Websites, Part 2)
  4. Find local favors and gifts for your guests – We not really a fan of “favors” per se because they just seem very cheap. However, we are big fans of themed out of town gift bags. (See Out-of-Town Bags)
  5. Research the marriage requirements before you select your destination – This should probably be your starting point, even before picking a destination or researching travel. (See First things First – Is it legal?)
  6. Hire a professional wedding planner – And hire a professional local wedding planner. If it makes sense, also investigate the possibility of a wedding planner that is not affiliated with the hotel. This assures you get the best advice possible. (See Covering the basics – Hiring a local wedding planner)
  7. Hire a professional photographer and bring them with you – This is something you should consider, but was one of our most hotly debated topics of our entire wedding planning process. Ultimately, we did decide to be bring our own. (See Covering the basics – Photographer)
  8. Take a scouting trip prior to the big day – We’ve covered this in previous postings. It’s an extra expense, but is well worth it!
  9. Call hotels to see if you can negotiate group discounts – Ultimately, this wasn’t very fruitful for us. We had a small destination wedding (22 guests in about 14 rooms).
  10. Create an event that is unique to you and your fiancĂ© – This is the best advice. It’s your wedding. Do what you want.

The next Top 10 tips are coming soon.

The full article from Destination I Do is worth the read.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bridal Processional Music

In the past, your choice of processional music was Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Wagner’s Bridal Chorus.

These days, tastes have changed. You have many more options than you used to. More contemporary music choices include:
  • Pachelbel’s Canon
  • Delibes’ Flower Duet
  • Verdi’s March (from Aida)
  • Vivaldi Spring (from the Four Seasons)
  • Handel’s Hornpipe (from the Water Music Suite)
  • Beethoven’s Ode to Joy
  • Bach’s Air on the G String
Now, if you have a destination wedding, you may or may not have a procession or music. This is something you need to consider and work trough.

For us, music was very important. We hired a local violinist to play for about a half-hour before the ceremony and about 10 minutes after.