St. Simons Wedding Planner :: Island Destination Weddings | Luxury Destinations
2010
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Sponsored: Atlanta Wedding Venue, The Gwinnett Place Sonesta

I had the pleasure of staying at the Sonesta Gwinnett Place recently and absolutely fell in love! One thing that I always tell our clients to look for when planning their destination wedding is to pick the perfect host hotel.  You want a place that not only serves as the hub for all of your events, but is also welcoming and has something for everyone.


The Sonesta Gwinnett Place has the ability to host all of your events– hospitality suites, welcome party, rehearsal dinner and reception.  An indoor ceremony is even a possibility depending upon your numbers.  One of my (many) favorite places was an event space right off of its ultra mod lobby.  It is an intimate space that immediately puts you in the mind of the Old Hollywood restaurant, The Brown Derby. It’s tiered layout and intimate round seating gave me all sorts of inspiration for vintage dinners and cabaret style cocktail parties!

Atlanta Rehearsal Dinner Venue

The Ballroom has to be one of the most modern yet still objectively pleasing rooms I’ve been in at a hotel. The versatility of the room struck me– everything from the carpet to the lighting fixtures lend themselves to any type of event. Additionally, with the large size of the room, I see so many things there– custom bars, lounge areas, staging, draping, dramatic lighting and so much more.

Gwinnett Place Sonesta

Atlanta Ballroom Wedding Venue
Atlanta Ballroom Wedding Venue
Atlanta Ballroom Wedding Venue
Atlanta Wedding Cake

 

I spent hours talking shop with the catering team and they were phenomenal.  Tracy and I talked for literally hours during our walkthrough and it was evident that she loves what she does and loves her clients. This is so important when working with your venue!

The ballroom isn’t the only great event space. Right outside of ballroom is a spacious lobby that could serve as a lounge or cocktail area.  The outdoor terraces are beautiful and spacious. In fact, I fell in love with the pool area.  While this would have to be special request worked out with the property, there are some  beautiful soirees that could happen around the pool!


I think the ARTBAR made the Sonesta  a truly unique experience.  Not that having large gift shop and radio station inside the hotel isn’t unique enough, but the ARTBAR was a special treat.  Each Sonesta has its own signature restaurant with different themes and specialties.  The Sonesta Gwinnett Place’s ARTBAR was a sleek, modern gastropub that offered high end, gourmet southern delicacies with several other unique one of a kind dishes.  The area is so relaxed, yet fun– with art on the walls from local artists, and croons from live musicians.  The pool table and TVs playing music videos from the 90s was a plus for this girl.

After dinner at the ARTBAR, I journeyed back to my room and fell out.  The bed had to have been made out of Ambien, as I was instantly relaxed.  Granted, I didn’t have my toddler tossing toys at me or the other three kids reenacting scenes from Game of Thrones, but the room was clean and comfortable.  Pretty soon, it was the TV watching me instead of the other way around!

Service was great all the way around– from the front desk to check out.  It was such a relaxing, yet immersive experience, I think it is perfect for weddings and social events!  Looking for a getaway for you and the girls or maybe a staycation, they have covered there too.  I’m definitely going back!

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May 12 2016

Gatsby Inspired Jacksonville Yacht Club Wedding

We had the pleasure of designing and planning Shaen and Kingston’s beautiful Jacksonville wedding at the Florida Yacht Club.  Their touching ceremony was held at the historic First Baptist church that was filled with so much emotion and love. We combined their love of the Jacksonville Jaguars  by incorporating their colors into the Great Gatsby theme the bride had her heart set on.

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jacksonville wedding planner

 

Event Team

WEDDING PLANNER AND DESIGNER //Cocktails & Details®

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER  // Dana Goodson Photography

FLORALS //  A Happily Ever After Floral

WEDDING CEREMONY VENUE  // Riverside Baptist Church , Jacksonville, FL

WEDDING RECEPTION VENUE // Florida Yacht Club, Jacksonville, FL

May 11 2016

Tips and Trends for Destination Weddings

Paradisus Cancun by Sol Meliá destination wedding

While weddings in Saint Simons Island and Jekyll Island are our thing, we always adore the opportunity to plan destination weddings abroad for our clients.  Turning your wedding into a full vacation experience is quite the selling point for couples and their guests.

Paradisus Resorts – a popular destination for destination weddings has provided tips and trends for international destination weddings that will make your trip stress-free and memorable.  With properties in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Paradisus Resorts feature romance offerings that are customizable to meet the needs of the most discerning couple. Paradisus Resort’s qualified Romance team is readily available to help guests create a romantic escape with an unsurpassed level of all-inclusive romantic luxury.

Destination Wedding Paradisus Mexico Planner

 

Top Ten Expert Tips

  1. LocationWhile a destination wedding may be your lifelong dream, remember without your guests there is no event.  Consider travel costs and accessibility from where the majority of your guests will be traveling from when selecting a destination.
  1. Knowledge is Power:  Ask the hard hitting questions before making a commitment when shopping around for a destination wedding.
  1. Peaks and Valleys:  The best time of year to travel to the Caribbean and Mexico is the fall. Room rates are lower and some hotels reduce their wedding package pricing or offer added perks/concessions.
  1. Strength in NumbersMost hotels will offer reduced rates, incentives and concessions for wedding groups who commit to a minimum number of rooms under contract.
  1. Listen to the ExpertsHotels that are committed to destination weddings will have on-site wedding coordinators. Listen to their advice; who else knows the resort better than they do. They are your eyes and ears during the overseas, long distance planning phase. There’s no added cost to utilize the service and expertise of the resort’s coordinator.
  1. Keep it Local:  One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to keep it local. Instead of insisting on midnight blue orchids that have to be imported, use flowers grown locally. Don’t insist on bringing your own vendors. Ask the resort for a list of their trusted vendors and capitalize on the relationships built by the resort with these vendors.
  1. Time is on Your SideBook at least 9-months in advance for best date selection.  Last minute planning can result in unexpected costs. Plus, make sure the save-the-dates are in the mail well in advance to allow family and friends time to budget and plan.
  1. Legal is so “Yesteryear”There is no need to get legally married in the destination you’ve chosen. Take care of the legal paperwork in your home state to save hundreds of dollars on the cost of a legal ceremony in another country. You’ll avoid a variety of other ‘legalities’ such as needing to translate documents and blood tests.
  1. Arrive in StylePlan on arriving at your destination at least three days prior to the wedding day. Use the extra time at your destination and resort to scope out the place, get to know the staff, and meet with the resort coordinator and vendors.
  1. Don’t Go on Price AloneTrust in the hotels that are willing to show you their pricing upfront. Every ‘free wedding’ promotion has restrictions and requirements. Even better, work with a destination wedding planner to help guide you through the process without falling into common pitfalls.

Destination Wedding Paradisus Playa Del Carmen

Top Destination Wedding Trends for 2016

  1. ExperienceCouples are incorporating local culture and traditions into their wedding weekend to create an overall experience. For example, if tying the knot in Mexico, organize an off-site tour or host a tequila tasting happy hour.
  1. Food:Exciting culinary options that pays homage to the location of your destination wedding has become an investment for most couples. Live action Sushi station at the cocktail hour or a food truck at the after-party are unique ways to create a memorable culinary experience.
  1. Multiple EventsCouples are turning their destination wedding into an action-packed getaway. A true destination wedding is a minimum three-day event. A prepared itinerary for weddings guests filled with exciting activities will turn a destination wedding into an experience.

 

Where in the world would you say “I Do”?

5 Ways to Increase Attendance at Your Destination Wedding

We have a special guest blogger today– Nusair Bawla from HotelScouter!  Nusair shares his expertise and knowledge regarding planning successful destination weddings for you and your guests.

Most of us don’t have access to a beach and many of us don’t have a gorgeous mountainside in our backyard where we can get married. In fact, most of us Americans live in the mainland so it’sno wonder that when it comes to planning a wedding, going away is always a popular choice.

In addition to a great location, a destination wedding is also more intimate and in many cases, cheaper than an at home wedding. However, this intimacy comes at a price.

Destination weddings have low attendance

Most destination weddings suffer from a lower attendance percentage than at home weddings. Traditional weddings can have attendance in the 8-90% range (and in some cases, even higher) whereas a destination wedding where the 50% mark is more common.

Most invitees turn down destination wedding invites for two reasons, cost and timing. And if you can figure out how to overcome those two objections, you’ll be able to get more people to attend.

In this article, we are going to go over five things you can do to ensure that your destination wedding is well attended.

Send out save the dates early

That means quick. As soon as you get engaged, start looking at potential wedding dates. Once you have decided on one, send out save the date cards to family and friends.

The earlier you send them out (preferably 8-12 months, if not more), the better. Doing so will give wedding guests enough time to plan their vacations, and holidays while incorporating your wedding into the mix.

To ensure absolute compliance, make personal phone calls (yes, harass if you have to) to guests and get a verbal “yes”.

Plan your destination wedding in a long weekend, not a holiday weekend

Long weekends are perfect for destination wedding because it gives everyone the flexibility they need. Families can stay the entire week if they choose while others can go back to work without having to use up personal or vacation days.

One thing we would not do is plan a destination wedding on a holiday weekend. Many of your guests have commitments for holidays (thanksgiving being a big one) and many families have a tradition of getting together during these times so its best avoid them if you can.

Select a well known large destination

If you want more people to attend, then don’t select a location that is hard to get to or is in a remote region that requires three connecting flights, a 2 hour cab ride followed by a ferry. Select a destination that has lots of direct flights from a lot of cities so wedding guests spend a minimum amount of time traveling.

For example, If you’re getting married in the Caribbean, go with either Puerto Rico or the Bahamas instead of Nevis or Barbuda (need a ferry for this one). The smaller the island, the less optionsyour guests will have when it comes to direct flights. What’s more, costs to get to these remote locations are much higher, leaving your guests with a lighter wallet too.

Finally, when selecting a destination, try picking something that is close to home. For example, ifmost of your family is on the east coast, then select a destination wedding on that side of the country. Florida, the Caribbean or North Carolina would make for some great destination wedding locations. Hawaii would not.

Plan your wedding at a family friendly resort

You will have tons of time to hang out at a super romantic place on your honeymoon so why not plan your wedding at a family friendly resort. Think Beaches resorts or even a Disney wedding and your family will be more than glad you did.

Just because the resort is family friendly does not mean that they are not romantic. Lots of Disney resorts have tons of romantic things that you can do and Beaches has a wedding program specifically for couples with large families.

Get married during the shoulder season

We saved the best for least. Don’t plan your wedding during peak season. Not only will wedding vendor prices be double or triple than normal, airfare and hotel rates will be astronomical as well.

It’s better to book a date that is a month or two before or after the peak season (called a shoulder season). Things are calmer, vendors are less hurried and your wedding will be more enjoyable and better attended.

While there are another half dozen ways to increase your attendance at the destination wedding, the five above will remove most of the objections that your wedding guests may have. And getting rid of their objections is a great way to increase that attendance number.

 

This article was written by Nusair A Bawla, the founder of GroupTravel.org. His website provides an easy way to get group rates for hotels without making a phone call.

 

 

Take Me Away Tuesday: Mirbeau Inn

weddings honeymoons mirbeau inn spa in new york

The Mirbeau Inn, a gorgeous European inspired spa and inn is nestled in upstate New York.  Voted “Best for Couples” and “Best for Romance” by SpaFinder, this beautiful 10 acre spa looks just like something from a Monet painting.  Surrounded by lush forests, rolling hills, clear lakes and wineries, this would make the perfect setting for ethereal weddings for next spring.

weddings at the mirbeau inn new york

Boasting thirty four rooms, French décor and award winning cuisine, this is the perfect getaway without really getting away for you and your guests in the United States.  If you cannot run off to Paris or the French countryside, this country estate is the perfect alternative.  Home to both indoor and outdoor wedding reception venue options deliciously styled with high beamed ceilings and Provencal touches, as well as luscious gardens that make a beautiful backdrop.

weddings at the mirbeau inn new york

The wedding packages are amazing– including complimentary menu tastings with the executive chef, custom cake design, a complimentary stay on your wedding night and special rates for your guests, as well as access to Spa Mirbeau for all overnight guests.

weddings at the mirbeau inn new york wedding planner photo by megan dailor

weddings at the mirbeau inn new york wedding planner photo by megan dailor

Photo by Megan Dailor

weddings at the mirbeau inn new york wedding planner photo by frank dimeo

Photo by Frank Dimeo

This would make a great locale for destination weddings, mini-moons or a quick getaway.  Mirbeau is hosting the first NY Food and Wine Festival in September!

Take Me Away Tuesday: Copamarina

The Copamarinais a beautiful property in Puerto Rico– it’s the perfect retreat for adventurous honeymooners that is off-the-beaten path, budget-friendly destination.  The 20-acre landscaped tropical resort fronting the Caribbean Sea, offers a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere where couples can enjoy a secluded and authentic taste of Puerto Rico.  An hour and half outside of San Juan, situated in the seaside town of Guánica, Copamarina offers affordable rates, and is the first and only property in Puerto Rico to offer an all-inclusive package.

copamarina-beach-resort-guanica-puerto-rico-spa-at-the-beach

The property features the renowned Bodyderm Spa specializing in massages and body treatments, two on-site restaurants (including Alexandra, the internationally-acclaimed seafood restaurant), several swimming pools, a variety of water sports and recreational activities and nearby attractions including the Dry Forest Reserve.

You’ll be close by to visit some of the local favorites such as the Ponce Museum, the lush Gilligan’s Island, the breathtaking Bioluminescent Bay as well as some scenic diving and other watersports. For those who consider themselves foodies, you’ll be enamored with culinary events that the resort holds featuring some of the world’s finest chefs and techniques.

Room rates start $190/night for a Deluxe Garden and $110 per person per night for the all-inclusive package.

Contact our travel concierge to learn more or to book the Copamarina!

Real Mexico Destination Wedding :: Riviera Maya Pt II

Destination wedding in Riviera Maya Cancun Mexico

 

Bienvenidos!  We’re back with more beautiful images from Elise + Ned’s gorgeous destination wedding in Playa Carmen, Riviera Maya Mexico.  After a beautiful ceremony where the bride and groom (married by a close friend) exchanged their own handwritten vows on the beach under an emerald green canopy against a cerulean sea backdrop.  After being pronounced as husband and wife, they were followed down the aisle by an authentic mariachi band.

Destination wedding in Mexico Wedding on the Beach green cymbidum orchid bouquet beach destination wedding
Beach Wedding Destination Wedding in Mexico under Green Canopy
Mariachi Band Mexico Wedding Destination Wedding

 

 

While guests enjoyed the serenade from the mariachi band on the sleek, chic white and Lucite mezzanine terrace, uberfabulous photographer, Daniel Aguilar was off with the couple creating beautiful images like this:
White draping with crystal chandelier wedding Destination Wedding
Destination wedding on beach in Mexico

 

The reception was electric and fun—taking place on the moonlit terrace on the beach festooned with large white lanterns and cymbidium orchids.  Guests danced the night away to an authentic salsa band (I know for several guests, I didn’t see them leave the floor for the entire reception, except for the fire show.  That’s right!  A “surprise” fire show stunned guests as a team of fire dancers manipulated fire to their whim. 

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Special thanks to the wonderful couple, Elise + Ned—it was great working with you and seeing all of our hard work turn out beautifully! Also, again to gracious Daniel Aguilar—whose whose huge talent is only eclipsed by his humility and kindness. I look forward to working with you more soon!

Real Mexico Destination Wedding :: Riviera Maya Pt I

mexico destination wedding

You may remember following our travels last year as we traipsed through Mexico visiting different venues and resorts and again to produce the wedding of Elise + Ned in Riviera Maya—a beautiful area also known as Playa del Carmen outside of Cancun.  When we first met with Elise + Ned, they were considering the option of having their wedding on Jekyll Island.  After not finding the right venue to fit their needs ands personalities, we began working on creating the ultimate destination wedding experience for them and their family at the Palace Playacar, which included beautiful tours at Mayan ruins, Gringo + Moustaches dinners, karaoke parties, an emerald green beachside ceremony against cerulean waters and a mariachi band!

destination wedding in mexico

Palace Playacar Destination wedding Riviera Maya Destination wedding in playa del carmen
single cymbidium orchids with fan programs for destination wedding Cymbidium Orchid wedding bouquet for destination weddingDestination wedding in mexico at Palace resorts Destination Wedding Bride doing Make up in Mexico

Destination Wedding on the Beach in Mexico

Stay tuned for the second part of this post with more great images from the fantastic destination wedding photographer: Daniel Aguilar, who captured so much emotion and art in the couple’s wedding day. Oh yeah, and one word…fire dancers.