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Archive for February, 2011

17 Honeymoons Under $2500 Including Airfare-Summer 2011

Romance, pampering, luxury with a pinch of adventure is the woven silk of a honeymoon tapestry. Come, dream along with me as we explore some options where our honeymoon tapestry still glows with golden threads, while the green stuff flying out of our pocket doesn’t devastate us.

When researching these resorts, I did not look for the very cheapest, because after all this is your honeymoon.  The Super 8 lodgings can wait for future budget trips.  My criteria required an element of luxury, beautiful surroundings, pampering and activities to enjoy.  The resorts are all at least 3 star and known by me to be reputable, reliable properties.  Prices are estimates based on mid-summer rates and usually include airfare.  Deals come along every day which may give you an even better rate.

After you dream shop, call or email me if you want information about specific dates and places.  I would love to book any of these honeymoons/vacations for you.  Though you could go online now that I have done all the work for you, why bother when I guarantee the best price, provide payment plans, a fee honeymoon registry and wedding website and a free photo card account.  Doesn’t it just make sense to get more service for the same or better price?   www.honeymoonsbyannemarie.com anne@dreamalongtravel.com (208) 964-3578)

A special note – Every trip can be more economical if you are willing to do the following:

a)      Book the lowest price room in the resort or ship, forgoing the view.  Most of your time will be spent outside the room.  As a honeymooners, you may qualify for an upgrade when you arrive if space is available, but if not, this is a big area to save money.

b)      Take a carry-on suitcase and a day pack only.  Tips on packing will be in a future blog.

c)       Pack a special picnic for airplane travel.  Take an empty water bottle and fill it up after you go through inspections.  Shop for breakfast and lunch foods you can make in your room.  Pick up an insulated bag or Styrofoam ice chest at a local store.  Share a dinner with an add-on of an extra soup or salad at the restaurants.

d)      Look for activities which are free or inexpensive when you arrive at the resort.  Expensive tours are not required for a good time.  Choose one that appeals to you most.

e)      Adults Only resorts are often more expensive so consider how important this is to you.

f)       A few days less to be at a wonderful resort can be a good trade-off.

g)      Plan your flights so you arrive early in the day and leave to go home late in the day.  You will gain a whole extra day that way.

Let’s go dreaming…  All prices are quoted from Spokane, WA airport (cause that’s my airport now).  Prices are always subject to change.

Hawaii – Aloha

Waikiki, Oahu is your very best bet for an economical Hawaiian vacation.  Deals abound every day of the year.  If you enjoy city life, lots of activity and people, and cooking for yourself in a condo, this is a great choice for you.  My husband and I have had a fabulous time in Waikiki without a car (the bus system is great).  Special to Waikiki is the Kehoe Marine Reserve for snorkeling, and the Arizona Memorial. The Polynesian Culture Center is worth the extra time and expense for a tour, or you can rent a car for the day or do it the hard way on the bus for less than $3.00 per person plus the entrance fee.   My Picks:

1) WAIKIKI SUNSET Four Nights for $1900 Includes Airfare and 2 for 1 luau.
The Aston Waikiki Sunset offers relaxed island-style living in large 1 and 2 Bedroom suites, all with full kitchenette, in a quiet residential neighborhood only 2 blocks from Waikiki Beach. Most rooms offer views of the ocean, the mountains, or Diamond Head.   (We stayed here for a family vacation.  It is a bit of a hike to the beach – the blocks are long- but was very nice.)

2) CASTLE WAIKIKI SHORE Four Nights for $2011 Includes airfare.
Waikiki Shore is the only beachfront condominium in Waikiki. This exquisite condominium is located on Waikiki Beach just next door to Fort DeRussy Park and one block from bustling Kalakaua Avenue. Most spacious condominiums feature incredible panoramic ocean views. Each studio, one- and two- bedroom suite features kitchenette or full kitchen and in-room washer/ dryer. This resort has a two-night minimum stay requirement, and all rooms are non-smoking.   (Can’t beat this price for beachfront.)

Maui is the island of choice for honeymooners in Hawaii.  Sun, beaches, relaxing is the draw.  You will need to rent a car to get around. I recommend a condo because restaurants are expensive. However, I did include a favorite beach hotel.   A drive to Hana is a beautiful  day long outing.

3) KA’ANAPALI BEACH HOTEL 3 nights for $2300 Includes airfare and car. Located in the heart of Maui’s premier resort fronting a flawless stretch of world-famous Kaanapali Beach. With 432 rooms, two restaurants and a poolside bar and grill, this is the ideal setting to turn your Hawaiian dreams into lifelong memories. Serenades by singing employees, Hawaii regional cuisine, complimentary nightly hula show, signature interactive Hawaiian cultural activities, free year ’round children’s program, weekly arts and crafts fair, welcome breakfast and farewell lei ceremony add to the value. Enjoy Hawaiian ho’okipa (hospitality), aloha at its best!

4) CASTLE KAMAOLE SANDS 4 Nights $2349 Includes airfare and car.  3 Nights $2143.
At Kamaole Sands, the three ‘Rs’ are ‘relax’, ‘refresh’ and ‘rejuvenate’. You choose how, starting with a choice of Maui condo rentals ranging from a 1 to 3 bedroom suite. Each condo rental comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, private lanai, high-speed internet, color cable TV and air conditioning. Will it be a garden view or partial ocean view condo? Either way, you’ll get your fill of both with 15 acres of mesmerizing tropical gardens and a magical white sand beach outside your door. (This is the absolute favorite of my cousins who go to Maui every year.)

Mexico

Mexico is still an option!  If there is trouble in Los Angeles, CA you would still be safe to visit North Idaho.  They are hundreds and hundreds of miles apart.  So with Mexico.  Feel free to visit Cancun and Los Cabos, even Puerto Vallarta if you stay at the resorts.  At this point, these locations are still fine.  And Mexico has the best bargain all-inclusive resorts to be found for those of us on the west coast.  Here’s my picks…

5)  Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort        4 Nights $2024 including airfare.All-Inclusive Meals and Activities. (This is one of my all-time favorite properties.  You do not need to spend a penny extra if you do not want to.) In a lush tropical paradise, Dreams Peurto Vallarta Resort and Spa offers Unlimited Luxury in a secluded, private beach cove.  Luxurious accommodations include spacious ocean-view rooms and suites overlooking the hypnotic blue-green water and large private beach.  To unwind there are three pools, four gourmet restaurants and friendly bars plus lounges.  Dreams Puerto Vallarta has also received special recognition by the prestigious readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.  All guest rooms have 24-hour room service, a satellite TV, mini-bar refreshed daily and superior amenities.  Activities abound – you’ll find unique daytime activities and entertainment, water sports and fitness center, as well as a number of excellent a la carte restaurants and lounges with live entertainment.

6) MELIA CABO REAL, Los Cabos   4 Nights $1943 Includes airfareAll-Inclusive: Meals and activities Melia Cabo Real is ideally located between the desert and the Sea of Cortes with the only swimable beach of the Tourist Corridor, 10 minutes from San Jose del Cabo, 25 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from Cabo San Lucas. The hotel features 305 rooms and suites completely redecorated with modern-day touches and a warmer palette, four culinary experiences and three energetic bars. The all-inclusive service provides the freedom of a worry free vacation and lets guests enjoy gourmet, a la carte dining, buffet option, unlimited snacks, select premium brand beverages and cocktails, professional entertainment for all ages, a daily program of activities and one of a kind leisure fun. Guests may partake in non-motorized water sports, snorkeling, tennis and such adrenaline rush adventures as climbing wall and zip line. The resort is surrounded by the 18 hole world-class signature championship golf course Cabo Real, designed by golf architect Robert Trent Jones II.

Tucson, Arizona

Still want sun, fun and pampering but Mexico is too far?  Take a trip to Arizona.  Tuscon is in the mountains so the heat is not as intense in the summer.  Tucson is a place worth considering for the budget wise, especially if your time is limited.  I have loved Tucson since first visiting it as a nine year old.

7) HILTON TUCSON EL CONQUISTADOR Three Nights $1275 Including airfare.The Hilton Tuscon El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort is located on 500 acres of serene, colorful high Sonoran Desert terrain in the foothills of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The magnificent granite cliffs of Pusch Ridge rise directly behind the resort. This AAA 4-Diamond resort offers 45 holes of championship golf on 3 courses, 31 lighted tennis courts, wellness center, 4 outdoor swimming pools and 5 whirlpools. It includes indoor racquetball, volleyball and basketball courts at.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is the capital of hot deals.  If you enjoy gambling, city life, glitz, or want a tour of the grand canyon this is a great place for you.  I have also included locations if you want to relax in the sun away from the gambling scene.  Take a look…

8) Trump Hotel Las Vegas                 3 nights $953 Includes airfare.
(What a deal – relax in a quiet atmosphere but quick access to the sizzling stuff.  No car needed.)  Soaring high above the Strip the new Trump International Hotel and Tower Las Vegas rises 64 stories to offer captivating views of the city against a majestic backdrop of surrounding mountains.  The building houses extensive spa and fitness center, exceptional dining and well-appointed amenities.  The resort is adjacent to some of the city’s best shopping, shows, and resort casinos and mere steps to the exhilaration of the strip.  This is a non-gaming and non-smoking luxury property.

9) Hard Rock Hotel and Casino       3 Nights $846 includes airfare.(We have stayed here numerous times.  It is a fun place.)  Premier resort offering a unique entertainment and gaming experience.  Our 30,000 square foot casino includes the infamous Center Bar, Race and Sportsbook, High Limit gaming, slots, table games, Rockstar Club and a new Poker Lounge.  The Tahitian-style beach swimming pool includes the Beach Club, swim-up gaming, cabanas, Friday Night Live summer concerts and REHAB Sunday Summer Pool Parties.  Nightlife includes, celebrity packed Bod English nightclub, The Joint concert venue and the new Wasted Space rock club.  Five restaurants, including world-famous Nobu Sushi, Robert De Niro’s AGO Northern Italian, Pink Taco Mexican, AJ’s Steakhouse; Mr. Lucky’s 24/7 Diner, Starbucks and plus and 8,000 square foot spa, salon and fitness center.

10) Aston Montelago Village Resort                               3 Nights $731 Includes airfare.The Aston MonteLago Village Resort offers the perfect mix of deluxe accommodations on a spectacular lakefront setting near the action of Las Vegas, yet a relaxed departure from the hustle and bustle of the Strip.  This uniquely themed resort offers a total vacation experience with its Mediterranean-style setting and diverse activities.  Each suite offers a private patio and a kitchen.  Amenities include three pools, two spas, two fitness rooms, a game room and business services.  Located in Henderson on the south shore of Lake Las Vegas, approximately 17 miles east of the Strip.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle vistas on a sunny day is picture perfect.  Give me a stroll through Pikes Market followed by a cup of tea at the Crumpet shop and I’m content.  Take a ferry ride to Bainbridge island and walk into town for a pastry, then hop on back for dinner.  Seattle is a wonderful place for a honeymoon. Keep the trip short so you will have plenty of money for eating out. Skip the rental car because once you are downtown the bus is free.  Catch a cab or the local bus to the hotel.  T

11) THE EDGEWATER               3 Nights $1025 Includes airfare.Nestled on Seattle’s waterfront at Pier 67, The Edgewater is Seattle’s original and only waterfront hotel. We’re surrounded by beauty: the majestic Olympic Mountains; the sparkling waters of Elliott Bay and the Velvety-pink sunsets of the Northwest sky. Relax in an overstuffed chair in our lobby, admiring the Olympic Mountains beside a river rock fireplace. Dine on the outdoor patio at Six Seven, watching sailboats drift by and keeping an eye out for jumping salmon. Or enjoy indoor pleasures-browsing our boutique and using our fitness center. We’re in the heart of downtown, so you’ll be within walking distance to the city’s favorite sites. But you just might decide to relax right here, soaking up the view beside a river-rock fireplace. If you are looking for unbeatable views, the scenic views you’ll get from Seattle’s only waterfront hotel are just outside your window.

San Francisco, California

My home city for all of my life until 2 years ago when I moved to North Idaho.  I left my heart in San Francisco.  You may leave yours as well.  It is a wonderful place to visit.  We would stay at a hotel in the city for anniversaries even though we only lived an hour away, just to enjoy.  No need to have a car once you are there if you are willing to walk a bit.  The buses go everywhere and of course there is the cable car.  Take the hop on-hop off bus option to make all the famous stops.

12)  PLACE $1978             4 Nights Includes airfare & transport to hotel Campton Place is in the premiere central location in San Francisco at Union Square and in the heart of the business district, the City’s best shopping, dining, art galleries, theatre and nightlife; it is very easy to get to/from the hotel from anywhere in the City or Greater San Francisco Bay Area by foot or via public transportation at reasonable cost. The hotel offers superior services and amenities with state-of-the-art electronics throughout, fine dining restaurant, bistro/bar & 24 hours full menu room service, complimentary fitness centre and complimentary hotel town car service. The hotel has been named the number one San Francisco hotel for the last 3 years by Travel + Leisure and for the same period on Conde Nast’s Gold list of Best Places in the World to Stay, both as a result of the Hotel’s exemplary service and attention to detail.

13) OMNI SAN FRANCISCO 4 Nights $1713 Includes airfare & transport to hotel The Omni San Francisco Hotel provides luxury accommodations in the heart of downtown San Francisco – the jewel of California. This beautiful Nob Hill hotel is close to everything and is located right on the cable car line. The hotel is only a short walk to Union Square, the San Francisco neighborhood that has become a mecca for high-end shopping and art galleries. Ideal for a romantic getaway, the Omni San Francisco Hotel offers modern amenities in a boutique ambiance due to its Florentine Renaissance architecture. Built as a bank in 1926, the lobby is adorned with Italian marble, rich fabrics and Austrian crystal chandeliers. This classic elegance makes the hotel the perfect location for a memorable wedding reception. Our on site restaurant, Bob’s Steak and Chop House, has carved out a reputation as one of America’s great steak houses. From great food to the attentive and seasoned wait staff, Bob’s offers an unmatched dining experience in the heart of San Francisco. The Omni San Francisco Hotel is elegant, comfortable and close to everything.

14) KENSINGTON PARK HOTEL 4 Nights $1436  Includes airfare & transport to hotel Kensington Park Hotel is the best address in Union Square for both business and leisure travel. In 2008, all rooms were renovated to reflect a sophisticated, stylish, yet comfortable decor. The hotel is centrally located in Union Square, just half a block away from the famous Cable Car line. Shopping, restaurants, art galleries and the Theatre District are all within an easy walk from the front door. Walk to the Moscone Convention Centre and Chinatown. Complimentary tea and sherry served each evening in the grand lobby. Spectacular Nob Hill and Union Square views from many guest rooms.

Cruises My husband likes nothing better than to sit on the stern of a ship with a coffee watching the water, helping the captain navigate.  Cruises are all about being aboard the ship with sumptuous food, scintillating nightly shows, and pool side lounging.  Of course, on shore you can explore or take an excursion or just relax at a café.  A few things to know about cruising – the food is included as are the shows and activities aboard ship, the drinks including soda are not and can cost quite a bit.  The shore excursions (trips sightseeing or activities) are extra, costing from $35 to $300.  At the end of the cruise, you will be automatically charged about $10 per day per person for tips.  Airfare is not included in these quotes so plan that extra cost into your figuring. You will also need a hotel the night before the cruise.  Carnival is the fun ship, primary colors and young focus.  Norwegian is one step up with more subdued colors and quieter focus.  These prices were for prime summer cruise time.  Off season prices are less expensive.

**NOTE:  If you book a cruise with me, I can make payments once a month for up to a year including your gratuities, so it isn’t a big financial burden all at once.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Alaska is sensational beauty.  Cruising Alaska, my mom and I saw two whales jump out of the water in gracious arcs early one dawn.  We took not one excursion but wandered each town enjoying the ambience.

15)  7-Day Sawyer Glacier Roundtrip Seattle

Ship: Norwegian Star

Embarkation port: Seattle

Embarkation: Sep 3, 2011

Disembarkation: Sep 10, 2011

Ports of call: Seattle; Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway; Prince Rupert

Total Price: $1,781.60 Not including airfare or tips.  Plan about $400 for Southwest flights plus $100 for overnight in a hotel.  $140 for gratuities.  This doesn’t leave you much from our $2500 budget for drinks and excursions but you can have fun just looking and walking.  There are lots to see and you are getting a 7 day trip.

CARNIVAL Cruise Line (We go to Catalina Island almost every summer. It feels as if you are on a Caribbean island even though it is right off the California coast.  The town is quaint and small.  The dancing casino is worth a visit.  The glass bottom boat is fun.  Take a ride up to the park and you may see some buffalo.  Or just take your swim suit and lay on the beach.  If you walk past the casino you will find a wonderful beach resort where you can rent a cabana for the day or sit and sip a marquerita.)

16)      3 Day to Baja Mexico – Los Angeles, Catalina Island, Ensenada Mexico, Los Angeles.  Total Price $1036 Not including airfare. Plan about $600 additional for air and hotel the night before the cruise.  $60 for gratuities.  Plan about $300 for drinks and excursions.  This brings you in under $2000.

17)      5 Day Western Caribbean – Tampa, Florida, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico.  $1333 not including airfare.  Plan about $1100 for air and hotel.  $100 for gratuities leaving you about $100 for drinks and excursions.   Again, this doesn’t leave you much for drinks or excursions but you can window shop on shore and sip a Corona in a café.

THERE IT IS…17 TRIPS UNDER $2500!  One of these should work for you.  Of course there are a lot more options if you have a bit more money in your budget.  Would love to work with you.   Have fun planning,   Anne

www.honeymoonsbyannemarie.com anne@dreamalongtravel.com (208) 964-3578

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Sample of US Wedding Destinations

Come journey with me to a few gorgeous places for a Destination Wedding in our home land.  No need for a passport and frequent flyer miles will apply.  Of course, a plenitude of venues are available of which I have chosen only five dramatically different possibilities.  Shall we begin our trek…

   The California Wine Country was my home for 20 years.  In my mind there are few places more beautiful year around than this corner of the world.  Vineyards, valleys, hills, the ocean not too far away, and mild weather make it a fantastic destination.  If your idea of perfection would be a wedding at an elegant manor house, with beautifully sculptured gardens, and restaurant given Zagats highest overall rating for dining in Sonoma County, The Madrona Manor would be the ideal location.

Built in 1881, this Victorian estate stands on eight acres of landscaped gardens in the hills above the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. Madrona Manor offers the opportunity to experience the wine country from a stylish and gracious setting. Your guests will be able to relax in one of the Manors marvelously comfortable rooms, stroll through the lovely gardens, have a swim in the pool, and go off to explore the pleasures of nearby Healdsburg and the local wineries.

  Traveling to the Inland Northwest to my new home, a setting of mountain grandeur and spectacular lakes, the Panhandle of Northern Idaho.  Here we shall visit a mountain top and a forest glade. 

Celebrate your “Happily Ever After” on top of Schweitzer! Yes, the bride and groom and all the guests ride a ski lift to the very top of the mountain at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort for a wedding with an unbeatable panorama view. The wedding couple join hands upon a deck overlooking 3 mountain ranges, Canada, Montana, Washington.  Turn around and feast your eyes on the incredible grand lake of Ponderey.  Summers, July and August are the best months for weddings at this splendid resort.  The winter ski lodge becomes your reception area with stunning views as well and the condos and resort hotel your accommodations.  Recently, I attending a wedding show at Schweitzer, savoring culinary delights produced by the Schweitzer chefs which were amazing.  The transformations of a ski lodge into a gracious reception area was lovely.  The rooms were northwest moose (which are still common up here) and deer decor with simple elegance and comfort.  Your guests will be able to relax a short walk from the wedding plus enjoy many outdoor adventures while in northern Idaho.

Forest wood nymphs dancing about a rustic cabin where the pretty maid marries a handsome woodsman can be a fantasy come true at Heartland Ranch  in Northern Idaho.  Heartland Ranch has an old west, country charm in the middle of the woods.  For couples looking for an economic wedding in beautiful lake mountain country, you could search far and wide without finding a better option.  Their “Just A Few” packages start at $245 for the Bride and Groom plus up to 15 guests with $50 off Monday and Fridays.  Heartland accommodates up to 80 guests. Your hostess and owner of the ranch, Becky Applegate, will create memorable occasion for you.  Psst… She also designs and sews affordable wedding dresses.     Visit www.weddingsbybecky.com to learn more.  accommodations for guests, tours and activities are located at nearby Sandpoint or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Come a day ahead or stay a day over to visit the lake beaches, silver mines, melodrama, quaint towns, or Hiawatha Trail.

Board the airplane now to check out some United States beaches for blissful barefoot weddings.  Who said you had to leave the states for sand between your toes as you say “I Do”?  

 First we fly to Hawaii to the Honeymooners favorite island, Maui.  Though Maui has some economical options, my top choice here is exclusive luxury at The Waldorf Astoria Collection of Hotels, the Grand Wailea.  Grand Wailea is a truly stunning Maui hotel. Whether it is just the two of you, a small group of family and friends, this exquisite resort is an unforgettable Maui wedding location. Choose from the romantic and intimate Seaside Chapel, a ceremony on the beach, or in a picturesque gazebo.  Listen to a comment from trip advisor to see why I chose the Grand Wailea, ” Our main reason for going was to renew our vows. The hotel is absolutely stunning. Very exotic location and when compared to the others it stands out like a sore thumb. The hotel is like paradise. It fulfills the Hawaii experience 100%.”   The ultimate in modern elegance combined with Polynesian tradition will create for you a blissful Hawaiian Wedding. 

To end our journey, we fly across the continent to Florida for another beach wedding catering to the familymoon.   If you are getting married with children alongside, consider the all-inclusive Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida.  This is the only all-inclusive resort in the United States, which means you know your cost before you go.  All food and most all activities are included so all you need is money for extras!  My Club Med families always come back with raves and often will never try another resort.  One couple met at a Club Med, married and honeymoon at a Club Med, and return every year with their children. 

Club Med Sandpiper Bay is the perfect romantic setting for a large family vacation-wedding or a vow renewal ceremony. Breathtaking ocean views provide the perfect backdrop for your special day.  The resort offers modern elegance with a cheerful array of color to delight children of all ages.  A wedding at Club Med Sandpiper Bay is especially great for the couple who just wants to kick back, relax, spend time with their friends and family and enjoy the scenery. Your kids will have the time of their life at Club Med’s children’s clubs with dedicated activities and sports for babies, children and teenagers from morning to evening, and all coordinated by qualified and enthusiastic professionals. This would be perfect for a family wedding on the beach under the warm Floridian sunshine. 

Hope you enjoyed our travels.  There are so many possibilities so do some exploring yourself or call your travel agent for help.  See you next time with a focus on beach weddings in exotic destinations.

Anne

United States Destination Weddings

         

 Ride a ski lift to the top of a mountain for a spectacular vista view for your wedding, wander through a meadow carrying a bouquet of wild flowers, ride in on a horse to a red barn country wedding, take a cinderella carriage to your Victorian mansion, say “I Do” before a picturesque alpine lake or in a glamorous winery…all these possibilities and many, many more are open to you in my own communities… North Idaho Mountain Lake Country and the Sonoma County Wine Country of California.  Other regions around the US including national parks and vacation resorts are wonderful places for destination weddings.  The options are as varied as your imagination. 

     So let’s get started.   If you already have an area you would like to explore, skip to the next step, if not you can google, talk to friends, and talk with a travel agent. Gradually, you will be able to narrow down a general location to focus on and specific resorts you want to consider.  We will visit a good number of possibilities in the future.  For this blog, however, we will concentrate on what to do when you have a venue (resort/location) to consider.

After reviewing the resort/location website, call them.  Ask for the wedding coordinator or event manager for the resort.  Have her send you brochures.  Then ask the following questions:

  1. What makes this particular resort unique or special for a wedding?
  2. Number of guests accommodated for an indoor wedding/outdoor wedding?
  3. Number of hours allotted for wedding/reception?
  4. Cost of facility for wedding/reception?
  5. Is reception catering offered through the venue or is an outside caterer needed?
  6. Would you please send menus and prices for your catering options?
  7. Layout of the wedding area/reception area.
  8. Is there a gazebos for outdoor weddings or other accoutrements?
  9. Does the resort offer any embellishments for a wedding or reception?
  10. Dressing areas for the bride and groom?
  11. What happens to an outdoor wedding if it rains?
  12. Parking facilities.
  13. Is alcohol permitted?  What restrictions or permits are needed to serve alcohol?
  14. Are there any other permits or reservations needed?
  15. What facilities are available for the music?  Is there an extra charge for microphones, etc.?
  16. What accommodations are available for the bride and groom before the wedding?
  17. What accommodations are available for guests?
  18. Does the resort have a wedding planner?  Or who would be my primary contact person should I book this resort for my wedding?
  19. What tasks does the resort wedding planner take care of?
  20. Does the resort offer a list of resources for a wedding such as local florists, minister, etc?
  21. What are the state requirements for a wedding license?  Is there a waiting period after the license before the wedding?

Gather your information.  Plan to visit your favorites if possible.  Then before you make your reservation at the resort of your choice, consider hiring two possible support people.

1) Hire a wedding planner local to the resort (if one is not provided by the resort or if the resort wedding planner does minimal).  Since you live far away, the local wedding planner becomes your eyes and hands to be sure all the details come together for a sensational day.    She is worth the cost.  Ask the resort if they have a list of wedding planners.  Then call and interview each one to see if you have a good rapport. 

2)  Contract with a travel agent to set up the resort booking, block rooms for the wedding guests and plan your honeymoon for you.  Why use a travel agent for this when you can do it yourself?  Because an agent can a) take this burden off of you b) negotiate a group rate, c) be sure your guests are in the same proximity of each other at the resort, d) find a lessor expensive hotel near the resort for budget minded guests, e) find a nearby vacation rental house if a large family group want to stay together in a house, f) provide a contact person for your guests and g) arrange tours (sightseeing, wine tasting, river rafting, etc) for your guests who want to come early or stay late to enjoy the area.  She can also make a smooth transition to your honeymoon. 

A note about travel agents:  Some charge a fee to assist you, some do not.  Some, like myself,  require a deposit which is applied toward your reservation when you book, thus the services cost you nothing.  The travel agent services are paid for by the commission on the booking from the resort.

Fee based travel agents charge from $50 to $350 to arrange guest travel plans.  They can be well worth their fee if you need a great deal of assistance in your travel plans or if you are going to a far off exotic location.  Check your local agent to determine if their services are  of value to you.

For your education, after 911 the airlines canceled travel agent commission on airfares.  Also, the budget hotels such as Motel 8 do not pay commissions.  So if your agent books these for you she is doing so as a courtesy or may need to charge a fee to cover her time. 

Just a few actual incredible places to have a Destination Wedding in the good old USA coming up next, so check back soon.

 Anne

CONSIDER A DESTINATION WEDDING

                  Congratulations on your engagement!  Full steam ahead on planning the wedding.  Ready, set, go!  …..Hold it, hold it…have you considered a destination wedding?  This may or may not be for you but it is worth thinking about.  Here is a little survey for you to answer.  If you say “yes” to several of these questions, then a destination wedding is a good choice for you.

  1. Do you dream of sun, sand and simplicity?  Consider a beach wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean.
  2. Do you dream of a mountain top, lake side, or meadow, cave?  Consider a national park, ski lodge, or summer resort.
  3. Do you picture getting married aboard a house boat or cruise ship? Or cruising to a port and getting married on the beach?  Consider renting a house boat on a lake or working with a cruise ship wedding planner.
  4. Would you be happy with your immediate family and a few good friends at your wedding rather than everyone you know?  Your guest list will be drastically reduced the father away and the more expensive your destination.  Be sure this is fine with both the bride and the groom.
  5. Do the important people in your life support traveling far to your wedding?  Or are you just fine if they do not?  Having the enthusiastic participation of the people you care about most will go along way towards making your destination wedding wonderful.  Ask their opinions before you decide.  If you only want the two of you and a couple of best friends, then, no problem, an intimate destination wedding is a cinch.
  6. Would you enjoy an extended celebration over the weekend with your guests?  Guests traveling far away will most likely being staying the whole weekend; some may even stay the whole week.  This can be fantastic fun or too much. Discuss what each of you feel about both these scenarios.  What works for you?  That said, there are resorts where you get married at one resort then are whisked off to a sister resort for your honeymoon leaving your guests behind.    Or you can let guests who stay past the weekend know you will join them for dinner but during the day you want to be alone.  It’s up to you.  Just talk about it with one another.
  7. Would you like to sail away after a few hours leaving your guests behind?  On some cruise ships, you can get married at the departure port where your guests come aboard for the wedding only, then you sail away on your honeymoon alone.  Or you can cruise to a port, meet your guests who flew in for the wedding and get married ashore.
  8. Are you OK with surrendering some of the details of your wedding to a onsite wedding planner?  Since your wedding is far away, you will not have as much control of some aspects.  You will see pictures, talk with the wedding planner and be given choices but putting it all together will be out of your hands.  If this simplicity sounds great to you, go for it.
  9. Do you desire a very special wedding plus a romantic beach honeymoon but do not have funds for both?  At many of the beach resorts, the basic wedding package is free if you book your honeymoon with them.  So you can have your cake and eat it too. Yum!
  10. Do you have a generous budget but crave something exotic and fabulous?  There are luxury resorts that offer designer weddings, butlers, everything you ever dreamed about.  Another option if you have the budget is to offer to pay a portion of the cost of the resort for each wedding party member as your gift to them.

Sounds good?  Read on…

The two most popular destination wedding locations are to a) Beautiful resorts in the United States, b) Beaches in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.  Costa Rica is an up and coming place and Puerto Rico is great because a passport isn’t needed for US citizens.  My next blog will address choosing an US destination, questions to ask the resort and choosing support people who will make your destination wedding successful and stress free.  Then we will discuss exotic beach weddings, so stay in touch.

Anne

 

Welcome

         Welcome to the Honeymoons by Anne Marie/Dream Along Travel blog. I am thrilled that you are taking a peak. Please come back often. My focus it to answer many questions travelers may have, explore destination and feature trips my clients have taken.
Since I am starting this blog in February when the Bridal Fairs are going hot and heavy, my first focus will be for honeymooners and destination weddings. However, that is just the beginning. The world is waiting for us to see. Travel is for everyone-couples, families, renunions, friends. Adventures come in many packages-luxury, budget, lazy, active, exploring, sightseeing, eco-touring, volunteer vacations, peer group. In time, we will discuss them all. 

           Check out my website for brides at http://www.honeymoonsbyannemarie.com by clicking on the honeymoon picture to your right. Check out some great deals from one of my suppliers by clicking on the picture of me in my red hat. Thanks for stopping by. 

 Come Again,  Anne