St. Simons Wedding Planner :: Island Destination Weddings | destination wedding
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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”?

The Little Blue Wedding Book for Saint Simons & Jekyll Island Weddings!

st simons wedding venue jekyll island beach wedding planner wedding photographer

 

 

We are so very excited to announce our newest baby at Cocktails and Details!

 

Being a Saint Simons wedding planner, we  have planned all types of weddings, worked with some of the best wedding photographers and designed with talented wedding florists in the area. We also know how hard it is to plan a destination wedding in Saint Simons Island or Jekyll Island being far away. You are struck with so many questions:

  • Who is the best wedding photographer in Saint Simons Island?
  • How do you have a Jekyll Island Beach Wedding?
  • What should you look for in a wedding caterer?
  • What Saint Simons Island wedding venue is perfect for me?

We’ve taken a lot of the guesswork and stress out of planning a wedding in the Golden Isles, with The Little Blue Wedding Book.  This sweet little book outdoes any preferred vendor list you will receive from wedding venues that tend to be outdated and sparse.  It also goes beyond what any online directory can give you.   It tells you which vendor would be perfect for you, which hotels are in close proximity to create your room blocks and so much more.

 

Saint Simons Island wedding planning Jekyll Island wedding coordinator

Jekyll island Wedding Ceremony

 

Saint Simons Wedding Venue Jekyll Island Wedding Venue King and Prince Jekyll Island Club

 

Saint Simons Island wedding planning Jekyll Island Little Blue Wedding Book
The book is filled with our go-to wedding vendors and professional services that are in our “little blue book”, put together in a easy to understand listing that gives you everything you need to know to narrow down your decisions. It is also filled with design ideas, planning tips and other resources that are crucial to your wedding planning.  In the iPad version, you can highlight, make notes, share notes and have access to the vast in-book glossary of wedding lingo that you have to know while planning your wedding.  The alternate digital version allows you to view on your computer,  phone, tablet, mobile reading device or app, as well as print out necessary pages.

 

The iPad version is available in iTunes and the digital version is online at www.littleblueweddingbook.com.

 

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!

Party with Me: The Tybee Wedding Chapel Grand Opening

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Last week, I had the great opportunity to visit Tybee Island, Georgia and participate in the Tybee Wedding Chapel Grand Opening. It was a wonderful experience to visit this seaside town, especially to see the opening of this gorgeous little chapel! Originally built by prized artisans to reflect the look of a turn-of-the-century Baptist chapel for the Miley Cyrus movie, “The Last Song”, it was slated for demolition after filming wrapped. At the last minute, the new owner Stayce Jarrell, saved the Chapel and lovingly repurposed it as a unique, beautiful wedding venue. The renewed Chapel has elevated Tybee Island to a premiere wedding destination where brides and grooms from across the country come to take their vows.

Tybee Wedding Chapel for weddings and events

The Tybee Chapel is absolutely STUNNING! Stayce has taken every care into all the details, creating a unique space filled with romance, history and timeless beauty. As part of the Grand Opening, she invited us to join her and Party Planner David Tutera as they “Cut the Ribbon and Cut the Cake” to celebrate the opening of the Chapel. What made the event extraordinary is that it was something that could appeal to all of the senses– David conceptualized different vignette motifs, which the members of the special event trade translated into flowers, food, and decor. It was completely amazing to see how their creativity interpreted his vision.

Paris Market

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Antique Garden

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Tuscan Bounty

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Posh Picnic

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Other vignettes:

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But it wasn’t all work and no play– there was great food, music and laughter as at any event industry event! It was great to meet with so many talented vendors, some of my twitter followers and great innovators in the industry. I had a chance to hug and chat with Matt and Ginny— the AWESOME couple who raised the bar with Matt’s wedding proposal which was a movie trailer. They are SO much fun and I cannot wait for their wedding!

Youtube wedding proposal sensation matt and ginni

The food was absolutely DIVINE! Everyone knows my adoration of cakes and cocktails, so I made it a point to try the “Chapeltini”, which was a melange of Peach Schnapps, rum, strawberries, and peach nectar. It took everything in me not to just scoot out with the punch bowl! Not to mention, Gigi’s Cupcakes were there with adorable mini smoothie shaped cupcakes and other confections! I loved this peacock cake as well as some of the passed hors d’oeuvres like bacon wrapped dates, seared ahi tuna, duck confi and SO much more. I was in foodie heaven!

peacock wedding cake, chapeltini signature drink, cupcakes

I also had a chance to meet Carlie of TravelPod an her mom, Chris who were my housemates (Top left). They were absolutely hysterical! I loved hearing all about Carlie’s travels, so be sure to check out her blog! The Tybee Chapel owner Stayce Jarrell (Top right) is an absolute visionary with everything she has done to transform the chapel and create a blank canvas of a space that can welcome any event and be a beautiful backdrop. Additionally, she is beautiful, dresses divinely and is a gracious host! I look forward to working with her in the future. It was so very nice also to chat with Diann Valentine, the celebrity event planner and host of the new wedding show “I Do Over” (Bottom left) as well as FINALLY meet the man simply known as “Big George” on Tybee Island of North Beach Grill (Bottom right). Not only is George a ridiculously terrific cook, but he is an artistic genius! I loved his low country vignette above that was laced with antique mason jars, hydrangeas and candles!

celebrity event planner behind the scenes party
And I must give a shout out to my date, Nicole who helped me capture some awesome images to bring back and was the perfect company! We had so much fun and I cannot wait to do it again!
wedding planner terrica skaggs cocktails and details
The next day after the VIP cocktail party, we arrived back to the gorgeous chapel for the ribbon cutting with David Tutera:
Tybee wedding chapel opening with David Tutera
Diann Valentine with Terrica Skaggs Wedding Planner
Tybee Wedding Chapel Grand Opening with David Tutera and Stayce Jarrell
The Tybee Wedding Chapel is a beautiful venue– if you are ever in the area, be sure to check it out.  It would be the perfect backdrop to your destination wedding in Coastal Georgia while keeping the beach town feel and ambience.  You’ll fall in love with the flooring, architecture and spacious grounds!

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.

Questions You Should Ask Your Destination Wedding Planner

Outdoor destination wedding reception by the water Outdoor Destination wedding ceremony on the beach Tented Destinatiom Wedding Reception with palm tree centerpieces

 

Planning a destination wedding is fun…but sometimes stressful.  There are many things to consider, including enlisting the help of a wedding planner for your destination wedding.  The planner of your choice or pool that you choose to interview could be one local to the area, local to you and has knowledge of the area or in another location with a familiarity of the area.  Take some time to configure a description of what you want for your wedding and wedding weekend.  Recognizing both US and international destination weddings can benefit greatly from a wedding planner, we’ll provide questions to help you choose your planner that suits your needs:

US Destination Weddings:

  1. Are you familiar with my venue/area that I would like to have my wedding?
  2. If the area has more than one location (in our instance—Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Brunswick and Sea Island), could you tell me which would be better suited for my wedding?
  3. Based on the information about my wedding, do you have any suggestions about other venues?
  4. Are you able to assist me in finding vendors in my budget and event vision?
  5. Are you also able to assist in securing room blocks for my guests?
  6. Would you be able to help research and plan weekend activities, parties, etc. around the wedding?
  7. What is your communications/work method?  (This is important for when you are out of the area where you intend to marry.  Having an open communication plan helps the process go smoothly)

International Destination Weddings

  1. Are you familiar with my venue/area that I would like to have my wedding? Can you help us with the marriage requirements?
  2. Can you suggest any specials that would suit us at other properties in the area?
  3. Do you speak the language for where we intend to have our wedding? (This, albeit not mandatory, can be a huge help to you.  In some locations, English is the second language and some things get lost in translation.  Even having a planner that is familiar with colloquial languages and phrases can be of great assistance)
  4. Are you able to help us secure negotiated room blocks with our resort?
  5. Are you or someone in your firm able to assist our guests with travel reservations and requirements? (There is a double bonus for planners that have travel agent credentials, as you get to handle everything with one person.  If not, see if there is an agent in the company that can assist you so that your event can stay with one company with fluid communications)
  6. Would you be able to help research and plan weekend activities, parties, etc. around the wedding?
  7. If we want to ship items with us for the wedding (such as linens, décor, favors, etc.), are you able to assist with the international customs requirements?
  8. Are you able to travel with us for site visits/tours or production of the actual event?  (Again, this is a huge help for you—as your wedding planner will act as the liaison and advocate for your wedding.  While the coordinator at the resort will follow instructions in your file, keep in mind that most properties have about 10-20 weddings per day so your coordinator may be stretched thin.  Your wedding planner, however, is solely dedicated to your event and is able to fine tune the details to ensure that it goes off as you have planned, while you enjoy your vacation with family and friends)

Having these questions will help you flesh out details that are important to creating your event.  More likely than not, these answers will become apparent in conversation with the wedding planners you choose to interview.  Be an avid and detailed note taker, to ensure that you are comparing “apples-to-apples” in terms of experience, resources, services and pricing.  Of course, you should also feel secure and excited when working with your planner, so be sure to count the personal dynamic between the two of you as well. 

Check out this great post on Wedding Bee: Wedding Planners Are Your Friends or do research on great websites like Best Destination Wedding.

Village Inn + Pub | St. Simons Hotel + Wedding Venue

courtyard at the village inn and pub st simons hotel for destination wedding

The Village Inn and Pub is an award winning inn, featured in Southern Living Magazine, Coastal Living Magazine and more! Nestled under the ancient live oak trees and between the parks and the historic oceanfront Village, you will find the unique Inn on Saint Simons Island.  What makes the inn so unique and charming is that the owners restored the 1930 beach cottage and designed the Inn around it to integrate the architecture of the neighborhood and the facade of the cottage. The Inn was built around the existing giant live oaks that inhabit the Island and not one limb was removed or destroyed!

courtyard at the village inn and pub st simons hotel for destination wedding courtyard at the village inn and pub st simons hotel for destination wedding

You will step back in time when you enter the beach cottage reception area. It is there that you will start your adventure into the Island’s historic past. The Village Inn & Pub is reminiscent of the charming 1930’s style and grace.  No two guest rooms share the same floor plan, making each beautifully unique. Each room has its unique style that adds to the character of the Inn. The Beach Cottage serves as the main gatehouse and features an antique English Pub made of solid mahogany. You will also find the original stone fireplace and various antiques and treasures within. The small and intimate guesthouse and Inn is the perfect setting for your wedding, reunion, business meeting or any private function. A continental breakfast is served daily on the sun porch located in The Pub.  Rooms at the Inn can be obtained for as low as $99  and up during off-season and about $125 and up during the peak season.

Additionally, right across the street from the Village Inn and Pub is the Village Retreat: a quaint property with six rooms and pool.  You can also check into the Beach House located on nearby Beachview Drive boasting a jacuzzi tub, quick proximity to the beach and space for 10.

These accommodations are perfect if you are looking for an alternative to the traditional hotel block for your guests who travel for your St. Simons wedding.  It is nearby to the beach, shopping at the Village as well as the A.W. Jones Heritage Center and lighthouse for your wedding ceremony and reception.

Take Me Away Tuesday: St. Croix’s Buccaneer Resort

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Tying the knot is a piece of cake at St. Croix’s Buccaneer resort, where wedding packages feature elaborate family affairs, romantic couples-only elopements, and – new for 2011 — festive "jump the broom" rites of passage, a modern interpretation of an ancient African tradition.

The resort’s four wedding packages for 2011 share the following features: Wedding location at the resort’s restored 17th century sugar mill or its palm-lined beach; the services of a personal wedding planner and non-denominational minister (if required); services of a photographer and selection of 40 images plus CD; his and hers Buccaneer bathrobes; his and her massages; bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere; his and hers sterling "hook" bracelets, and welcome basket of champagne, fruit, cheese, and chocolate.

New for 2011, couples at The Buccaneer can enhance their ceremonies with a "Jump the Broom" ritual, based on a centuries-old African tradition of jumping over a gaily-decorated broom as a symbol of entering a new life together with a clean sweep. "Jump the Broom" includes a traditional invocation and a one-of-a-kind wedding broom designed by an artist exclusively for the couple, and is priced at $500 as an add-on to the wedding package of choice.

 

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The Buccaneer, family-owned and operated for 64 years, is the Caribbean’s longest-running resort and the only hotel in the Virgin Islands to be selected for membership in the exclusive roster of Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The resort has the distinction of being owned and managed by the Armstrong family since 1947. It was founded in the 17th Century as a Knights of Malta manor, and in subsequent decades the property served as the childhood home of Alexander Hamilton, a French Great House, sugar plantation, cotton farm, and cattle operation. The resort has been named one of the world’s top 50 tropical resorts by Conde Nast Traveler, one of the top 500 hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure, and one of the best family resorts by Forbes. Located on the eastern end of St. Croix, less than a five-minute drive from the historic town of Christiansted, The Buccaneer’s 340 tropical acres feature an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, three beaches, a water sports center, a two-mile nature and fitness trail, fitness center, spa, three restaurants, a shopping arcade, and other amenities. The 138 elegant and spacious guest rooms are located throughout the property, from the hilltop main building to the ocean’s edge, all offering wide terraces or balconies with sea and island views.

 

If you are interested in this beautiful St. Croix location for your destination wedding, contact our travel division. Our experienced destination wedding planners would love to help you and your guests discover somewhere new for your nuptials!