Mother of the Groom at a Destination Wedding

My son was recently married in Puerto Vallarta at the RIU. As the Mother of the Groom, it was the most relaxing job that I have had as a Travel Advisor. My son and his bride worked very closely with the onsite wedding coordinator that I was able to put him in touch with through my connections.

As an MOG, here is my advice:

  • Find the right dress — make sure that it fits with the weather conditions
  • Be supportive — offer assistance when requested
  • Start planning the Grooms Dinner early:
    • Schedule it upon arrival of guests
    • Reserve a special area in one of the restaurants for the event
    • Have a speciality beverage in honor of the couple
    • Decorate with wedding colors in mind

It’s also your job to socialize with the guests and make sure they are in the right place at the right time. You want to make sure they are aware of the scheduled events. You can also assist with planning an excursion for the group to get to know one another.

Is your son planning a destination wedding? Let me help with the arrangements and guide you to be the #1 MOG!!

         

What to Wear to a Tropical Destination Wedding?

It’s time to pack for a destination wedding that you are attending. One of the biggest questions you ask yourself is … what should I wear?

Here are a few tips for you …

Shoes
Most tropical weddings are going to be on the beach so please keep that in mind when picking shoes. I would bring a sandal with no heel for the wedding and then if there is a dance floor, then put on the heels and dance the night away. Men can get away with a nice pair of leather sandals as well. No need for the fancy dress shoes. Also, many brides may even say NO SHOES. There aren’t many things that feel better than dipping your toes in the sand, plus then there are no worries about getting sand in your shoes.

Wedding Attire
It will be warm so I would recommend a sun dress for the ladies and then linen pants and shirt for the men.
For the men check with the bride and groom, but most do not require you to wear a jacket. A nice linen shirt along with  linen pants is usually just right, but shorts are a NO-NO.  Ladies remember there are those ocean breezes … so think longer dresses so there are no Marilyn moments during the ceremony. Be sure that your dress fabric is light and not clingy, preferably breathable. You want to be comfortable and tropical while dressed for a wedding. There are weddings that are done at sunset so you will want to bring along a scarf or a pashmina to keep you warm with those ocean breezes.

Don’t Forget
You need SUNSCREEN as there is usually little to no shade during the ceremony. Yes, it tends to be a shorter ceremony, but there is still plenty of time to get burnt!

Each destination wedding is different it could be  beach-formal, semi-formal or casual weddings. Please make sure you understand what kind of wedding it will be before picking out your outfits.

Choosing a Date for a Destination Wedding

There are so many things to think about when planning a destination wedding. One important thing is selecting the date of your BIG day.

Here are a few things to consider when selecting your date:

  • What days of the week can guests fly to the destination easiest?
  • The day of the week for you wedding day. There may only be a non stop flight option on Saturday so that may not be the best day so consider Monday so your guests have a sometime to settle in, relax and get to know the resort.
  • Family birthdates and anniversaries
  • The proximately to holidays
  • High travel times to the destination you have selected
  • If you are inviting children think about school breaks
  • Consider your anniversary date – Are numbers important to you? I personally choose 11/11 so my husband wouldn’t forget. My parents got married on dad’s b-day … my mom always says it’s so he will never forget, LOL

Let’s find the perfect date and start planning your Destination Wedding!

Start a Private Facebook Group for Your Destination Wedding.

Planning a Destination Wedding? A great way to communicate with all your guests is to create a private Facebook Group. Be sure to include your travel agent in the group as well. This will allow them to share information on the trip and details on the wedding. A group like this offers a very personal touch with all your guests. 

A few reasons why a private Facebook group is a great tool for a Destination Wedding Group:

  • Facebook has become a primary communication tool so your guests will receive details faster.
  • Allows your travel agent to field questions about the trip
  • Gets your guests excited about the trip and most importantly … YOUR BIG DAY!
  • Post things about the trip & destination
    • Videos & photos about the resort
    • Destination facts & weather
    • Things to do
  • This is a great place to note all guest arrivals and departures
  • A good way for the group to connect prior to the trip
  • You can start planning a group excursion or dinner. Plus, you can poll your guests to see what they are interested in doing.
  • This is a great way for your guests to build a relationship with your travel agent and they will be more comfortable booking with the group

Now you can see the many reasons why this is a great tool. Let’s start planning your wedding and create that Facebook group.

Romantic Vacation Planning Beyond the Honeymoon 

You never need a reason to take a vacation, but if you’re looking for one how about rekindling the romance. 

Celebrating an anniversary is a great reason to plan a romantic escape. You could runaway to a beach or escape for an adventure in Europe. You can find accommodations that will provide the perfect ambience for you and your sweetie to enjoy.  My husband and I personally jetted off to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate 20-years of marriage. We scheduled a spa day that was full of relaxation and it was well worth it!

Pregnant? … Why not plan a Babymoon? Children are fantastic, but we all know once they arrive they take up a lot of your time. Enjoy a final getaway before children takeover. But don’t worry there will be plenty of family vacations to look forward to with the little ones once you are ready to bring them along.

A couple’s retreat is a great way to rekindle the romance and getaway with a group of friends. Invite friends that shared your big day with you years ago. Be sure to plan adventures as a group … catamaran cruise, ATVs in the jungle or horseback riding on the beach. You must carve out some special time for you and your spouse … a candlelight dinner on the beach, a sunset cruise or maybe a spa day.

Whether it’s an anniversary trip, babymoon or couple’s retreat, I’d be happy to help plan your next romantic getaway!

I’m planning a destination wedding in 2+ years. What should I be doing now to plan?

The hardest part for most wedding couples is finding the perfect destination. When you have 2+ years to plan this allows you to take your time, and with the help of their knowledgeable travel specialist, find the perfect destination for your special day. Will it be a beach in Mexico? A chateaux in France? Or a wine estate in South Africa? The possibilities are endless!

Here are a few other things to start thinking about:

  • Destination Options. Consider where you and your fiancé have traveled in the past and what you liked or disliked about those experiences.
  • Wedding Party. Who do you want as your attendants? You want to give them plenty of advance notice to save for the trip.
  • Guest List. You want to send out save the dates early to give your guests plenty of time to save and plan for the trip. Will you be inviting children?
  • Ceremony. Consider if you want a religious ceremony and if so, which denomination. Do you want to get married on the beach? In a sheltered area? On the ship or in port?
  • Location of Guests. Consider the airports that your guests will be flying from. Does it make sense to choose a destination with nonstop flight options for most of your guests?
  • Cruise or Resort. When considering resorts or cruise ships for your wedding, you’ll need to consider the demographics of your guests.  Are they couples, families with children, singles (young or old), elderly grandparents, disabled guests with special needs and any divorced couples. Any of these things could affect some of your choices.
  • Vendors. Your wedding will have endless picture perfect moments so you should book a photographer early.  The music really sets the mood so look at DJ, band or playlist options. Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal … review meal options for your guests and consider tastes and allergies of your guest list. Decorations are also important if you have a theme in mind and you can work with your agent and wedding coordinator to set the tone.

A knowledgable travel advisor can be your guide through many of these questions and help match you to the right kind of destination wedding experience.

What to consider when planning a destination wedding?

There are so many details that go into planning a destination wedding. This is one of the BIGGEST days of your life. There are many things to consider and your travel agent can help with that.

 Here are a few things to consider adding to your planning list:

  • Flights and Transfers. Are there direct flights where all my guests are departing from? Will the flight times accommodate the day and time of my wedding? Can I offer group transfers?
  • What’s Plan B? If it rains and you have an outdoor wedding where will it be moved to? 
  • What will the weather be like? Will it be humid? For the ladies, that could make your hair go CRAZY, don’t forget the right hair products. Will there be shaded options for those that don’t do well in the heat … we don’t want any one fainting during the vows.   
  • Family Friendly. If you are inviting guests of all ages from small children to Grandpa and Grandpa will the resort accommodate all your guests. Are the kids clubs? Relaxing shaded areas? Excursions for active adults?
  • Food Options. Are there plenty of food options because we know people can be picky and some even have allergies.

There is plenty to think about … and that’s where your agent comes in.  It is sure to be a fun wedding and will go off without a hitch with a little help from your agent.

Advice From Couples Who Tied the Knot in Mexico.

While planning a wedding is always stressful, throwing one in Mexico comes with its own sets of challenges. Before you decide to jet off to tie the knot here’s some advice from real-life brides that will guarantee a successful out-of-town celebration.

See the venue in person. 
Many resorts are now offering a “Test Drive” package where the bride and groom can visit the resort prior to the wedding. 
This will give the wedding couple a chance to see the resort, meet with the wedding coordinator, and check out possible wedding locations. It’s great to put faces with names and discuss details in person as sometimes there are delays in email responses.

Arrive early.
The wedding couple should arrive at the resort a few days before their guests do. In Mexico there is a residency requirement that must be met and it varies by hotel so make sure you know what yours is.

Add an extra day.
Once your guests leave stay an extra day or two so you can relax and unwind. You will be busy with pre-wedding activities and visiting with guests that you will want a day to relax before you head home to the daily grind.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You and your guests are going to remember the beautiful sunset during the wedding ceremony, not the centerpieces, bouquets and place cards. So if you can, cut out these details and keep it simple!

You won’t necessarily save money.
There’s a big misconception that hosting a wedding in a location like Mexico will save money. 
The truth is, even if you have fewer attendees, you’ll probably end up shelling out more on an entire weekend’s worth of events. But it will be a wedding full of memories for everyone.

 

Trends in Destinations Wedding Customization

You want your destination wedding to be something that you and your guests remember for years to come. There are so many ways to customize your wedding, YOUR way! 

Here are just a few ways you can begin customizing your BIG day:

  • Technology: a few ideas that are flourishing include custom Snapchat filters, social media hashtags and 3D printing.
  • Decorations: a very popular trend is to blend luxury accents while still maintaining a down to earth vibe.
  • Adventure: couples are choosing destinations that provide unique opportunities for themselves and their guests such as: catamaran cruises, swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, ATV Tours and so much more.
  • Family Affair: couples are allowing children which creates a more family friendly event and pushes their guests to take that family vacation they have been talking about for years.
  • Unique Destinations: instead of choosing a beach head to the Canadian Rockies, Iceland or rent out a castle in Europe.
  • Bring Home with You: incorporate your home town into the ceremony or reception.
  • Travel Tips: provide customized maps for guests. Include your favorite spots so guests know where to go when they are not attending wedding related festivities.
  • Gifts: bring along gifts that represent you and spouse for all your guests (Ex: You play games – bring a personalized deck of cards for everyone).
  • Menus: customize your menu for your guests to include some of your favorite foods.
  • Local Culture: hire local vendors to bring a taste of the local culture to your celebration.

Let’s start customizing your destination wedding so it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of and MORE!

Decisions, Decisions. Should I All-Inclusive on my trip and why?

There are so many components to consider for your trip and two of the major ones to think about is food and beverages when you are there. How do you decide?

The first thing to consider is what destination are you going to? If you are thinking of Mexico, or the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, the all-inclusive inclusions at each property are designed to wow the client and be a memorable representation of what each resort is about. The level of food quality and beverage quality is designed to be so amazing that if you choose to not leave your resort on your vacation will leave a smile on your face. Karisma resorts has Gourmet Inclusive offerings that you won’t want to miss. I have stayed at these resorts and the food is immaculate. The HardRock (Riviera Maya) is also known for it’s generous resort credit’s that is standard for every room. Resort credits are exclusive to every property and they do have rules for how to use them, but different amenities may include couples massage on the beach, romantic dinners on the beach, or even equipment rentals.

For Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica there is true VALUE in having the all-inclusive option added. Aside from value, there is convenience meaning your do not have to bring your purse or wallet to the beach and usually you can eat and drink what you like, as much as you like and it is all taken care of already. The value still remains even if you day trip or leave your property.

However… There are always exceptions to the rule. Puerto Rico and Aruba are the top 3 places where experiencing the culture of the area is experienced by getting out and dining at the actual restaurants of the destination. Food is the soul of many of these destinations and experiencing the true flavors will always be a pleasant memory and make you want to come back. Aruba and Puerto Rico are especially wonderful destinations for that.

The attributes for not doing all-inclusive is that everything is close in the city. It is inexpensive and easy to get around via taxis and public transportation. What is really fun about Puerto Rico is the amazing local foods that you find in food trucks on the street!

Deciding to do all-inclusive or European plan starts with the destination you are at and deciding what is going to provide you with the most memorable experience with the most ease of accessibility.

Having a Destination Wedding? Should you pick up the tab for the wedding party?

When it comes to destination weddings, the tricky part is convincing your friends and family to spend a bunch of their OWN money to come to YOUR wedding. It’s unusual for the bride and groom to pick up the tab for their wedding party’s travel arrangements, but you may want to consider spending some extra dough to enhance the wedding party, and the other guest’s experience.

A great way to do this is to host a welcome reception, pay for a group activity (such as a group sailing excursion or city tour), pay for a bachelor/bachelorette party outing while in destination, or even have a nice post-wedding brunch the morning after the big event.

One thing to note, if the cost of your destination wedding makes it impossible for your best friend/maid of honor to attend, you may want to consider paying for or at least supplementing her travel costs.

The wedding couple should also consider putting together gift bags for their guests with destination themed goodies and keepsakes. Beach bags, beach towels, picture frames, sun block, sun visors etc. There are many companies that will personalize a large variety of goodies to hand out.

In conclusion, there is typically not an expectation to pay for your guests travel expenses, however I don’t know your guests or your finances (Hahaha). Ultimately, do what’s best for you and your wedding party!

Family Friendly All-inclusive Hotel Options

Planning a destination wedding is a great way to have a fun, multi-generational family getaway. There are a lot of really great options out there, but there are definitely some options that will be better than others.

Now Resorts are part of the AM Resorts family. This is a great option for families of all ages.  There are quite a few resorts out there that offer a children’s program, but not every resort has a teen program. Now Resorts have the Explorer’s Club area for children 3 – 12, and they offer supervised children’s programs including a playground, game room, rock wall, arts and crafts and a weekly camp out adventure and a theater. The Core Zone is for teens between the ages of 13 and 17. They can enjoy pool tables, ping pong, and video games. They also have different activities on the beach and evening entertainment that is geared specifically for teens.

       

Hard Rock all-inclusive resorts are another great option, but I’m going to concentrate on Hard Rock Riviera Maya. The nice thing about this resort is that it’s two resorts in one, offering an adults only section and a family friendly section. If there are adults in your group who would prefer to be in an adult friendly environment, they can stay on the adults side of the resort. The family friendly side has a kids club, as well as a teen lounge. Also new to this resort is Camp Woodward, where kids can find endless activities, including skate-ramps, trampolines and foam pits. This resort also offers Resort Credits up to $1800, which you can use towards select tours, spa treatments and upgraded amenities!

   

Another resort brand that I enjoy to work with is the Royalton Resorts, which is part of the Blue Diamond Resort chain. Not only does this brand make planning a destination wedding extremely easy, they also are a great option for families of all ages. The Royalton Punta Cana offers access to an awesome water park, and they have a kids club and teens lounge. This resort also has guaranteed connecting rooms that can hold up to 8 guests!

    

There are quite a few other options you can go with, but these are a few of the resorts that I would highly recommend. Let’s start planning today!

Wedding Destination Test Drive

Picking the perfect destination for your wedding can be very stressful and with all of the options on the internet, very confusing. Not only does it need to be the perfect destination to start your happily ever after, it needs to be the perfect destination for your guests. Have you ever thought of taking a wedding preview trip? I can help you weed through all of the destinations and resorts out there and when we find one that just might fit the bill you can take a short trip to the resort and check it out!! How perfect would that be?

While in destination you can look at the different wedding venues, meet the wedding coordinator and if you are in Mexico or the Caribbean, take in the tropical beauty that surrounds you. Some resort chains offer special package prices that allow you to get a sneak peek of what’s in store for your destination wedding. And you can sample wedding linens and cake options., yummy!

Let’s schedule your wedding test drive and getting the planning underway!

 

Travel Agents Save the Day

One of the main questions I get is as a travel agent is, “Why should I book with a travel agent instead of booking online myself”? My question for them is, “Why not”? Many people have the misconception that booking with a travel agent is going to cost them more money. In most cases we can beat or at least match the pricing you are finding online. When you book with a travel agent you also receive a lot of added value and personalized service. I have been in the travel industry for 12 years, and I wanted to share with you the many ways that using a travel agent can save the day.

In September 2017 I had a group of 109 people traveling to Punta Cana from worldwide destinations. This group just happened to be traveling right after Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Irma came close to making a visit during their stay. They had a wonderful time, but the real work came when it was time for them to travel home. About half of the group’s flights got canceled on the return portion of their trip, because Hurricane Irma was disrupting flights in the US. I was able to help get all of these misplaced travelers re-booked for the following day. This group was extremely thankful since they would not have known where to start had they booked their travel arrangements on their own.

As a travel agent, I also highly recommend getting travel insurance. A lot of people will say, “I am going on this trip no matter what, so I do not need travel insurance.” What they don’t realize is that travel insurance is for unforeseen circumstances. I actually just traveled with my husband to Ireland in March, and I was so thankful that I had travel insurance. A lot of people don’t realize that travel insurance goes so much further than just cancellation, most policies also have coverage for trip delay and trip interruption. Who would have thought that our flight from Amsterdam to Ireland would encounter a major delay due to snow in Ireland? Our luggage did not make it with us to Dublin, and we did not see our luggage for 7 days! Our particular insurance policy would cover up to $300pp for baggage delay so we were able to buy clothes, hygiene items and luggage to get us by while we awaited our luggage. It was a life saver! 

I have also had clients who were traveling to Brazil who were waiting to get their Visa until the new e-Visas became available for US Citizens. I found out that the new e-Visas were not coming out until a couple days before they left the US, and that they could take 72 hours be be approved. I worked with a wonderful company called VIP Journeys, and they were able to use one of their contacts at the Brazilian Embassy in Atlanta to help expedite their Visas through before their trip. I do not think this would have happened if we weren’t working with one of our wonderful travel partners.

There is a lot more to planning a vacation than looking for the best price. Working with a travel professional can really help save the day when you encounter a crisis. Book your next vacation with a travel agent, and we’ll show you how stress-free your vacation can really be.

Top Resorts for a Jamaican Destination Wedding

Jamaica is a great destination to get married in. I do get brides who come into my office and ask, “What is the best resort to get married at in Jamaica”? That is a very broad question, because what you’re looking for might be different from what I like. That is why working with a travel agent can only benefit you. I will ask you questions that you may not have even thought of when considering when planning a destination wedding, and how you answer the questions will better help me qualify you for the best property.

One of the main things you have to decide is if you’re only inviting adults, or are you planning on having families with children attending. If you are only looking to invite adults, there are many great adult only properties for you to consider, in fact, Jamaica has claimed the first destination to offer an adults only luxury inclusive experience. If you will have families with children or multi-generational families, obviously an adult’s only property will not work, but there are a lot of other great properties you can consider.

Jamaica has four main tourist areas, Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Kingston. In my experience, most people tend to fly into Montego Bay and stay there, or travel to Negril or Ocho Rios when it comes to a destination wedding.

For people who are planning a short getaway or they don’t want to travel too far, Montego Bay is a great option. It’s close to the airport, and they there are quite a few great resort options to choose from. Montego Bay has some nice shopping spots and if you want nightlife, Montego Bay is home to the hip strip where there are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from.

Negril is an amazing choice as well. It is about 1.5 hours from the Montego Airport, and it’s where the world famous Seven Mile Beach is, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In this destination you have amazing sunsets, which is a beautiful backdrop to any wedding ceremony. Negril will have more of a nice laid back, relaxed vibe.

If you are a person who likes to stay active, Ocho Rios is the place to be. It is within easy reach to quite a few different tourist sites in Jamaica. Ocho Rios is home to the famous Dunn’s River Fall, Dolphin Cove and Mystic Mountain. Ocho Rios is along the north coast of Jamaica, about 2 hours from the Montego Bay airport or 2 hours from the Kingston airport. Ocho Rios is very lush and mountainous, so this is another great spot to have a destination wedding.

Most areas of Mexico and the Caribbean have strict requirements when looking at booking a legal ceremony. Most US Citizens decide to have their legal wedding in the US, then do a symbolic ceremony at the resort. If you are not interested in doing a symbolic ceremony, and really want a legal ceremony, Jamaica has some of the most relaxed requirements in the Caribbean. Visitors to Jamaica can be married in just 24 hours after arriving, provided prior application has been made for a marriage license. Unlike many countries, Jamaica also does not require a blood test prior to getting married, but you will need to prove citizenship. The below documents will be required, and must be translated in English:

  • Proof of citizenship – certified copy of birth certificate, which includes father’s name.
  • Parent’s written consent if under 18 years of age.
  • Proof of divorce if applicable (original certificate of divorce).
  • Certified copy of death certificate for widow or widower.

Jamaica does make things really easy for a bride and groom, so it’s a great place to have a destination wedding. As you can see the question of “What is the best resort to get married at in Jamaica”, does not an easy answer. It totally depends on the bride and groom. Contact me today, and I can help you plan your perfect destination wedding getaway, customized specifically with you in mind!