Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crate & Barrel Hosts Wedding Party

Crate & Barrel is hosting two wedding parties in September for brides- and grooms-to-be to learn about registering with Crate & Barrel. They are plying brides and grooms with food, drink and entertainment.

The wedding party is being held on September 7 and 21, from 9:00-11:00am. The event is not held at every Crate & Barrel, but maybe there is a location near you. Found out more on the Crate & Barrel website.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Review: Our Lucaya in The Bahamas

In previous postings (see Our Destination Wedding), we discussed the specifics our destination wedding experience, but never really reviewed the venue – the Westin/Sheraton Our Lucaya resort on Grand Bahama Island.

Our destination wedding decision was driven by several factors. We knew we wanted a tropical island. We knew we wanted a place that had fantastic scuba diving. And we knew it needed to be economical for our guests. It took us months of going through various venues in The Bahamas, Mexico, Cayman Islands and Aruba. After much discussion, we settled on Our Lucaya Resort in The Bahamas. (See Making Our Ultimate Destination Wedding Decision)

Early on, we contacted the Our Lucaya Resort directly and found out they had wedding planners onsite called Seashells Weddings Our Lucaya [Note: The company appears to no longer be in business or affiliated with Our Lucaya Resort…which means our information is very dated. So take our comments as a historical perspective.] Unfortunately, we found the folks at Our Lucaya/Seashells to be terribly unresponsive. By coincidence, we found that there was an independent wedding planner through someone on The Knot message boards. We reached out to Janet at And The Two Become One, an independent wedding planner on Grand Bahama Island. Good thing we did, she was fantastic. Because of this experience, we’re big fans of hiring local wedding planners to help you in the process (see Covering The Basics – Hiring a Local Wedding Planner).

Despite this rather rocky beginning, we absolutely LOVED the Our Lucaya resort. We stayed on the Westin side because it was a little nicer. A few guests stayed at the Westin, but most of our guests stayed at the Sheraton. No matter where you stay, you’ll have the run of the property…and the quaint little Lucaya village across the street (which is more like a golf cart crossing that an “street”). There are about 5 or 6 restaurants on-property (which can be expensive) and quite a few across the street, which are more reasonable.

Recently, we found a video on YouTube from the Our Lucaya Resort. Believe it or not, we actually think this video does a pretty bad job selling the property. The resort is extremely beautiful and has many, many wonderful wedding sites, including the gazebos, the Great Lawn and the beach. The inside locations are nice, but if you’re in The Bahamas, don’t you want to get married outside?

Again, while we found the Sheshells wedding contractors at Our Lucaya to be unresponsive, it seems like things have changed at the resort.

Here’s a little more on the Our Lucaya Resort on Grand Bahama Island where we got married:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sandals Honeymoon Contest

We don’t often post or promote specific vendors, but we occasionally make exceptions where there is a clear benefit to our readers.

Sandals Resorts is offering some lucky couple the chance to win a Dream Honeymoom. Good luck with the contest!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not All Destinations Are Equal

In our recent article Domestic Destination Weddings, we responded to a comment from destination wedding photographer Mary Basnight that our coverage has been almost exclusively focused on destination weddings outside the United States. She’s right.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been doing some research on destination weddings in the U.S. and really thinking about this. Unfortunately, our research isn’t as clear cut as we hoped it would be. And as we mentioned in What is a Destination Wedding?, we have a very clear definition on it takes to be a destination wedding: the location and venue itself need to be an integral part of the wedding experience.

We have found some locations in the U.S. that qualify. But we’ve also found a significant number of places passing themselves off as “destination wedding venues” that really aren’t (at least in our book).

As an example of what we are talking about, we would like to discuss Foothills Wedding Chapel in Golden, Colorado. Foothills Wedding Chapel promotes itself as a destination wedding venue. With all respect to this establishment, it really isn’t. One wedding chapel is like another, be it in Golden, Las Vegas or Gatlinburg. To be sure, Foothills Wedding Chapel is probably far nicer than anything Gatlinburg has ever seen, but it doesn’t qualify as a destination wedding venue for us.

To be a destination wedding venue, the venue itself has to be a part of the allure. Golden, Colorado is at the foothills of the mountains, is home to Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines, and has a truly charming main street with numerous excellent restaurants. The town is nestled beautifully at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and sits in a valley created by North and South Table Mountains. Beyond this, the town is unremarkable. We should know, my husband was born and raised there.

Our goal in writing this is not to downgrade Foothills Wedding Chapel in Golden. It seems to be a truly fine establishment and if this is the kind of wedding you want, I’m sure it would be nice. But it really is not a destination wedding venue in our book. It is an elopement venue. The venue of the chapel in downtown Golden is not the destination and can be recreated elsewhere. It’s proximity to the mountains would make it an attractive choice for couples looking to elope, but you wouldn’t necessarily feel the town of Golden is essential to the wedding ambiance in the way that other venues might be.

In thinking about our own wedding, had we wanted to do a very economical elopement from our east coast home, Foothills Wedding Chapel would have made an excellent choice (my husband still knows a few folks in the area and Colorado is lovely). But we wanted a true destination wedding experience – a beautiful place where we could gather with our friends and family from all over the world. We wanted an experience that would be another church wedding someplace, we wanted an event that friends and family members will talk about for years to come. That is the essence of a destination wedding.

We use the Foothills Wedding Chapel as an example, but there are thousands of places like it across the U.S. They offer “destination wedding” services, but the location and the facility don’t offer a true “destination.”

This is the difference between “weddings away” or eloping and a TRUE destination wedding. One is not necessarily better than the other, but couples need to truly understand what they are getting – a wedding away or a destination experience.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What is a Destination Wedding?

When we began this blog, we thought we know. After all, we had a destination wedding.

Destination weddings are getting married “away.” Right? But the more we’ve been writing about it over the last year and half, the more it isn’t that clear cut.

For us, a true destination wedding is a wedding in which the destination itself becomes an integral part of the wedding experience. The destination itself ties into the overall theme of the wedding. And the experience of the wedding could not be repeated in a different location.

For example, a couple getting married in Jamaica with a reggae themed cocktail reception couldn’t have that same wedding in Mexico and have it make sense. Having a “Top of the Town” wedding in New York City couldn’t be repeated in Dallas and make sense. The destination is critical to the overall aesthetic of the wedding experience.

For us destination weddings differ from eloping because the venue itself is important. When eloping, the venue becomes secondary (or is not important at all). Historically, eloping meant getting married in secret. We don’t subscribe to that definition. For us eloping is just getting “someplace else,” but the someplace doesn’t really matter. It could be Las Vegas or some other city because it is convenient. It could be a neighboring town.

Is this just semantics or does it really matter? A bit of both.

The reason why we are clarifying this now is because we have several articles coming up in the next few weeks that depend on the clarity of this definition.

More on destination weddings to come…