Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weddings 101 - Destination Island Weddings: beauty, warm breezes and a cost-saving alternative

Can we talk – Honestly?? The economy is really a bummer and to worry about planning your wedding, the stress of having a job (or even keeping your job) is probably creating havoc on you and your partner. Then again, maybe you’ve decided to take the pressure off and do a destination wedding. Why not? This way all you have to do is pick your bridal party, tell them where, when and then you all arrive.

I have some of my own personal favorites, but each island in the Caribbean, British Virgin Island and the US Virgin Islands all offer beauty, picturesque locations, hotels, villas and best of all, the opportunity to have warm weather and sunshine (something we’ve not seen a lot of here in NY lately).

As quickly as I can write them, you’ll be getting the true 411 on islands like: Aruba, Anguila, Turks & Caicos, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Nassau, Curacao and a few more of some of the most beautiful and in some cases “hidden” islands of the Caribbean.

Grace BayTo help you with your planning you will need to make sure some of the following questions are answered. Remember, you don’t want any (additional) last minute problems. Also when you are booking your wedding with the hotel, find out what is included. If you don’t ask, you may not find out.

1 - Do you need to file a ‘Notice of Intent to Marry’ with the registrar on the island? What is the cost?
2 – Do you want a civil ceremony or religious one? Who will perform the ceremony, and what is needed (ie, if Jewish, you may need a letter from your home synagogue or cantor)?
3 – How do you get there?? This may seem obvious, but remember quite a few of the islands you have to take either a puddle-jumper or ferry to the island after flying to a larger port. For example to get to Jost Van Dyke I had to land in St. Thomas and then a ferry to the island.
4 – Is there another event on the island the same time as your wedding? Remember supply/demand costs. So if there is a Jazz Festival or the Regatta race, you may pay more for your wedding and your guests more for their airfare/hotel.
5 – If you are allowing children to attend, is there something/someone to take care of them while their parents enjoy the ceremony?
6 – Has the island a successful record of having weddings?
7 – What happens if there is an ‘Act of God’ (hurricane, the location burns down, power-outage), or you decide to cancel the ceremony (due to change of date or change your mind about getting married)? Do you need to take out extra insurance to re-coop some of the money spent that you may/may not be able to get back? How does the hotel deal with hurricane season?
8 – If this is a second-marriage do you need your divorce decree or if widowed, the death certificate?
9 – Is there a waiting period? Some islands have everything from 3-day residency to 30 Days. No that is NOT a typo – Make sure you find these things out.
10 – May sound silly but unless you and your guests are conversational, is this an island where English is spoken? Remember to respect the people, language and culture of the islands; after all, you are on THEIR turf.
11 – Do they have an on-site wedding coordinator or do you have to ‘hire’ one?
12 – What comes with their wedding package? Does it include music, photographer, will they take care of all the paper work for you so you don’t have to?
13 – If you choose to bring your own wedding coordinator, photographer, how much will that add to your wedding expense? Do they stay at the same property or is there a ‘less-expensive’ hotel near by?
14 – If you are getting married “off-property” will they provide transportation if you are having your reception there? If not how do you find reliable transportation?
15 – Do they have any package deals that you are not aware of? This may mean additional savings to you and/or your guests.

As I go through all the information, from all the islands, if there are any special “keys” I’ll highlight them. Some are very eco-friendly, some are all-inclusive and even a private island that I absolutely love. I will say that I’ve been very fortunate to travel a great deal and if I had to pick an island, it would be a difficult choice. However, keep in mind that you can always renew your vows, get married on one and honeymoon on another. You can always find a new island each year and re-confirm your love over and over again.


Pamela Archer said...

I'm ready to be swept away to any of these beautiful islands. I'm a wedding and event designer and could use the rest. :0) Nice article!

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