Choosing the Right Destination

When you are planning a destination wedding choosing the right destination is the biggest decision in the whole planning process along with the budget. These two go hand-in-hand but cost should go to the top of the list. Figure out what you can realistically afford and don’t forget to factor in gratuities, dress alternations and the bridal emergency fix-it-kit.

  1. Take out a piece of paper and write down the top three requirements for your wedding experience. Have your partner do this as well and compare your lists. Do you want beach? Or would you prefer a grand ballroom? Is a formal dinner a priority or do you want to experience the local cuisine?
  2. Next outline your ideal destination. When you picture your wedding do you picture barefoot on the beach, an underwater ceremony or in a jungle locale? Much like couples, countries, islands, states and resorts have distinct personalities. Take into account travel time and accessibility for you as well as your guests. Also make sure you know the legal requirements for getting married in another country. Some may mandate waiting periods and on-site medical tests so these should be factored in to your budget.
  3. Choose a resort that speaks to your wedding vision as a couple. Send out e-mails to the wedding coordinators and ask basic questions. Find out if your date and wedding location are available. What is the cost of the wedding? Does the resort offer a free wedding package? What is the weather plan if your beach wedding gets rained out? Some resorts even offer a site inspection trip where you and your partner can visit the resort and see if it is the right fit.

Sandy toes and salty kisses, whatever destination you choose I can help you plan your perfect destination wedding.

Get Your Honeymoon Right

If there’s one trip you *must* get right, it’s your Honeymoon. For fifty percent or so of us, this is the only one we’ll ever get. For the rest of us, well that’s another story. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty darn important trip.

What comes to mind when you envision your perfect honeymoon? Adventuring in New Zealand? Relaxing at a luxurious, couples-only beach resort? Sampling culinary delights throughout Europe? Although we all may picture our once-in-a-lifetime journeys differently, we can all agree that if not planned carefully, things can look very different than that romantic getaway playing in your head. Think lost hotel reservations, hours spent in car, waiting around wondering what to do next, or being confined to your hotel because it’s storming. Every. Day.

Long ago, before I entered the fabulous industry of travel, I was married in October. When selecting a honeymoon destination, my then husband and I both agreed that we wanted something exotic in the Caribbean. The BVIs? St. Lucia? We were both very busy with wedding planning so we contacted a Travel Agent. She informed us right away that we were traveling in the peak of hurricane season and advised that we go instead to Aruba, which is out of the hurricane belt. Her expertise saved us from a humid, wet, rainy honeymoon. Her recommendation was spot-on and we had a great time.

I guess the moral of this story is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Your honeymoon is such a special trip and most of us want every detail considered and an overall seamless experience! Take the stress and guess-work out of planning and contact a Travel Agent. We’re here to make sure every base is covered – from planning through post-trip follow-up.

My kind of honeymoon includes adventure!

Romance in Tahiti

Tahiti is simply one of the most romantic destinations on earth, who wouldn’t want to get married here? It was only a few years ago that laws changed in Tahiti and now weddings on these beautiful islands are now legally binding for Americans and Canadians.

A Tahitian ceremony has a Polynesian influence, which makes for an unforgettable ceremony. You can even have a Tahitian Priest perform your ceremony. Exchange your vows in the sugary white sands with beautiful tropical petals surrounding you amongst the palm trees. If you’d rather wear heals instead of flip flops or bare feet you may consider the over water glass-bottomed chapel, located in front of Mount Otemanu. 

Best yet, if you want to go on your honeymoon immediately following your nuptials French Polynesia has multiple islands you can visit. You can easily escape your guests and experience the beauty and romance of Tahiti. If you’re looking for adventure there are great experiences such as feeding rays & sharks, snorkeling with tropical fish in crystal clear waters unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! There are plenty of hiking trails, jet skiing or 4WD adventures. If you’re looking for romance, adventure and culture … Tahiti has it all!

I would love to help you plan the dream wedding for you!

OverWater Bungalow – Closer than you think!

I had the pleasure of seeing overwater bungalows in person is so much more awe-inspiring than in a picture. We visited Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma, and it was stunning. If this is on your bucket list, I highly recommend saving a little bit on airfare, by flying into Cancun, and staying in one of these amazing overwater bungalows at El Dorado Maroma.

Now is the time!!!


The bathrooms are beautiful, with the Jacuzzi soaking tub indoors and out on the balcony!


With the full seclusion here, you can relax and truly escape the crowds and enjoy each others company!


There is something about being able to see the water from the inside of your room.  Absolutely beautiful.  (yes, you can put the rug over the top to cover it up if you prefer.


Beds face the sliding glass doors so you can see outside at all times.
 

Everything about the bungalows makes you want to just kick your feet back and relax.

Mandy Visits Puerto Vallarta

In June 2016 my husband and I took our first trip to Puerto Vallarta and we had a blast! On our flight down we upgraded ourselves to first class and this is the way to go. If you have never done it I highly suggest you try it. All you can eat and drink, bigger seats and more leg room. We stayed at the RIU Jalisco and were told we had the best view in the hotel- full ocean view! It is such a treat when you come from a cold weather state to open your shades in the morning and see the ocean and hear the waves. The hotel is very large so there could be a lot of walking depending on where your room is located. The food is yummy, the hotel is clean and the staff is friendly.

When I am in a new location I like to take a tour to really get to know the destination so one day during our vacation we did this. Puerto Vallarta is not as Americanized as other Mexican destinations which allows you to have a more cultural experience. We visited a church that was built by the local residents who donated whatever material they had at home to build it. It was gorgeous! We also visited a flea market where we did a little bartering for our souvenirs and then visited a fourth generation home where organic tequila is made. I am not one to drink tequila but this tequila is yummy! Nice and smooth:-)

During one of the evenings we did an excursion called “Rhythms of the Night” and I highly recommend this tour.  I would describe it as Mexico’s version of a luau- you take about an hour long boat ride, where you are served unlimited snacks and drinks,  to the cove of Las Caletas. You dine under the stars at your own private beachside table bathed in the soft glow of candles. After dinner you walk over to the theater and the show begins. The dancers tell the story of ancient civilization through movement and music. Take my word for it, you don’t want to miss this show!

When you are ready to plan your adventure to Puerto Vallarta let me know, I am happy to help!

 

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Laurie goes to Disney

I traveled to Walt Disney World in Florida 2016 and stayed at the Grand Floridian.
The hotel is beautiful and right on the monorail system so transportation to the Magic Kingdom was a quick breeze.  I enjoy the slower moving, classic rides and was fun to see the changes in It’s a Small World, the Little Mermaid ride, Pirates of the Caribbean and so forth.  Pooh is still my favorite character but wasn’t able to see him this trip.  Next time hopefully!

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Mandy Visits Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach

The Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach resort in Cabo San Lucas is gorgeous. It is a very large property and very spread out but there are golf carts running nonstop to take you where you want to go. This hotel has more of a Mexican feel to it, different from the contemporary resorts that are becoming more common. The Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach resort is not within walking distance of town so you would need to take a taxi if you wanted to check out exciting Cabo. There is a sky pool at this resort with absolutely amazing views and it would be perfect for a private party. There is also a chapel where you could have a legal wedding ceremony.

Rooms- very spacious with full kitchens

Beach- located on a private beach but it is not swimmable. However, you can take a courtesy shuttle to nearby Medano beach which is one of the best swimmable beaches in Los Cabos.

Overall impression- beautiful, large property, amazing views

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Mandy Visits Breathless Cabo San Lucas

Breathless is new to Cabo San Lucas and is located on Medano beach which is the safest swimmable beach in Cabo. You are also just steps away from the infamous Cabo San Lucas nightlife, restaurants and shops. All suites have private balconies with ocean or marina views. Breathless is more of a “party” hotel and what I like about it is that it is two separate buildings, one for the active nightlife and the other, quieter one, for sleeping. There is no swim up bar at this hotel but the infinity pool overlooking the ocean is gorgeous.

Rooms- if you have a room with a king bed it is positioned towards the balcony so the first thing you see when you wake up is the water. The rooms also have tablets that allow you to order room service and watch Netflix if you have an account but the tablets must stay in the room. All rooms also offer free Wi-Fi.

I was not able to check out any of the restaurants but there are 8 of them along with 4 bars/loungers.

Overall impression- clean, great location, friendly staff.

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Mandy Visits Secrets Puerto Los Cabos

Cabo San Lucas…the first word that comes to mind is Wow! This destination is amazing and I cannot wait to go back. Where else can you find the desert, the mountains and the ocean? I wasn’t sure what to expect being there was a hurricane not so long ago but I saw no signs of any damage. All of the hotels I toured were up and running as if nothing happened. What did I love most about this destination? The weather for starters- Cabo has 350 days of sunshine and very little humidity. Very little bugs- because it is a desert there are very few bugs. I saw no mosquitos the whole 4 days I was there. The water- it is such a pretty teal color and I wasn’t expecting that so it was a pleasant surprise.

While I was in Cabo I stayed at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos. This resort is amazing! It is adults only so if you are looking to get away for some “grown up” time I would highly recommend this resort. The beach is not swimmable due to the undertow but I loved sitting on my balcony and listening to the waves crash while sipping my morning coffee. Because I had small children at home I loved the unlimited connectivity feature of this hotel. All of my calls home were free of charge as was the Wi-Fi in my hotel room.  The resort is not within walking distance to town so if you wanted to check out Cabo Wabo you would need to take a taxi.

My room was amazing with a spectacular view from my balcony. Full ocean view and I could hear the waves crashing against the shore.

Because I toured many different hotels while in Cabo I wasn’t able to try out all of the restaurants at the resort but I did eat at Himitsu. This is an Asian restaurant with Teppanyaki tables available upon request and the food was great. The chef puts on a nice little show while preparing your dinner, all with a smile on their face.

Overall impression of this resort- clean, comfortable, very friendly staff.

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Jody goes to Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica

I have been to Jamaica several times, and have visited one of my personal favorite hotels, Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
On this trip, we took some ‘local’ advice and ventured over to the Blue Hole.  We hiked and were able to jump off the cliffs, swim under in the caves and jump and play all around this area.  It’s so beautiful in this area, an absolute must see if you’re in the area.  We have been to Dunn’s River Falls, and although pretty also, this place is a more local favorite.  And one of our new favorites too.

Couples Tower Isle is an adult only, couples only retreat in the Ocho Rios area.  The au natural island is one of the highlights of this resort.  It’s an oasis across the water, privacy is key, and full relaxation always happens here.  The food is top notch, never had better.  Top shelf liquor is always flowing.  Many other activities are included with your stay.  We like the catamaran tour, the shopping tour, daily snorkeling tours, resort certified diving, waterskiing, glass bottom boat tours (all included and complimentary by the way) and so much more that this resort offers. (The inclusions are always being enhanced and changing, so we can check what is included for your stay, so we gotta say ‘subject to change’)

Blue Hole
This picture is of us at the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Melissa Recommends: Destination Wedding Guest Gifts

When planning a destination wedding, one thing to think about is what to get the guests as a thank you gift for attending your wedding.  Your family and friends pay a lot of money to come celebrate with you, and there are so many fun things that you can give them to show your appreciation!!!!  Many of which cost very little money.

Here are a few ideas that I have gathered over the years, hope it helps you in your destination wedding planning:

Insulated Mugs – Personalized or not, bright colors or mute, these are a great gift.  If you are staying at an all inclusive resort, it’s easy for your guests to refill their mug with their favorite beverage at one of the bars.  How fun to see a bunch of the same colored cups down in the pool area, or anywhere throughout the resort.

My friend Jill Sears can help you make personalized items for your destination wedding.
Here is her contact info:  http://www.designsbyjill.net/

Sunscreen – You can purchase travel size sunscreen bottles online, or you can even create personalized sunscreen bottles here: http://www.partyandweddingfavors.com/

Postcards – Upon arrival in destination, you can visit the gift shop and purchase a postcard or two for each of your guests.  Some will save it as a keepsake, and some might use it to mail a note back home.  Either way, a great addition to your guest goodie bags.

Luggage Tags – Because you are planning a wedding in a destination where people typically would fly to their destination, it’s fun to make matching luggage tags for the group.  You can order these in many different places, to have them look many different ways.  My favorite is to personalize the tags with photos, and do this on Shutterfly.  The design I like on Shutterfly is called ‘Dream Explore Discover’.  Lots to pick from though!!!  Here is a link to this design that I like:  Dream, Explore, Discover with Shutterfly.

Emergency Kit – This can be a combination of a few things.  Here are the suggestions that I have heard and used:  Toothpaste, hairspray, Advil, Pepto Bismol, Band-Aids, Kleenex, bottle of water.

My suggestion list grows every year with fabulous suggestions from my clients.
What a fun way to thank your guests for attending your special day.

Darla’s Son Has a Destination Wedding!

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August 13, 2015

My son and his new bride, Ashley, had a destination wedding up the North Shore at the Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountain. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the pictures, as you can see, turned out awesome. Shout out to my niece of Alyssum Photography for taking the pictures. Also a shout out to my co-worker Jennifer for making the wonderful cake. And my co-worker Kelly for doing the programs and check-in packets. I work with awesome people!

If you only thought destination weddings happened in tropical destinations (which are awesome too, don’t get me wrong), check out the North Shore here in our own ‘back yard’! Did I mention you had to take a gondola to get up the mountain to the wedding site?

Client Review of Wedding at Riu Palace Peninsula

My wife and I booked our destination wedding through Ali at Travel Leaders. We also had 40-45 guests book travel through her. To summarize, you will be in good hands with Ali. She is professional, knowledgeable, friendly and makes booking travel a fun experience, as it should be! She arranged our flights, rooms, transportation from airport to the resort and back, etc. Several guests commented on how happy they were with Ali and how easy she made everything.The wedding itself was unforgettable. We wouldn’t have done it any other way. Typical weddings last 4-6 hours. This celebration lasted several days. People my wife and I knew from different walks of life became friends and we made memories that will last forever. We’re hoping more friends of ours choose this route in the future.Thanks Ali for helping with our wedding. You truly made a difference and made it easier on us! For anyone looking for help planning their wedding, contact Ali!

The photo’s below were done my a friend of the bride and groom name Jim Woolsey.

CLICK HERE for Engagement Photos

CLICK HERE for Wedding Photos

Majestic Elegance Destination Wedding

The Majestic Elegance was great! Everything went great! The rooms were beautiful (although ours was a bit musty smelling which we didn’t really mind too much…we figured that comes with the hot, humid temperatures). The wedding was absolutely perfect. Short and sweet, which was exactly what we wanted. The majestic elegance has by far the nicest beach gazebo for a wedding. The meal we had that night for the wedding was great and the service that night at the Sea and See was excellent. We had a butler which we never really seen that much during our stay. Others in the elegance club raved about their butlers…we, on the other hand, weren’t overly impressed with ours. The flights went very well. Nobody had any issues at all.

I would also highly recommend the hibachi at the Elegance. It was by far the best place to eat… the steakhouse was good as long as you liked your meat done on the more med-med rare side. Sea and see had a great lunch and breakfast buffet as well as the other buffet on the resort. 10419006_10206568601918162_642615913578293444_n

 

When we arrived in Punta Cana we realized that purchasing those $10 travelers fee cards was a lifesaver. Others in our group waited a while in line before they made it through. The airport transfers went great as long as you were able to find one of the workers to cart your luggage and show you where to go. Otherwise I feel like we may have gotten lost haha! Navigating through the airport on the way home was a breeze. Very easy. Overall the trip was absolutely great. Everyone was very pleased with everything you did to prepare us. We would most definitely travel back to Punta Cana in the future

Thanks again Melissa!