Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Destination Weddings - What's Included?

A destination wedding can be a money saver for brides and grooms that live in our NY Metro area. A wedding easily exceeds $20,000 - then add on $3,000 - $5,000 or more for a nice honeymoon and you are talking about the equivalent of a down payment on a house for a one day event.

Having your wedding where you will be honeymooning can save thousands of dollars for a bride and groom. Depending on the resort you choose and the number of people who attend, you could have a win-win situation as well as an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

Many resorts provide a free basic wedding for the bride and groom based on the length of stay or number of guests. Depending on the number of guests attending, the room you choose may be upgraded or even free, saving you money on your own honeymoon. Let's take a look at what several resorts offer for weddings.

Sandals is the most well known all inclusive resort that now features beautiful Martha Stewart weddings. They currently have a free Beautiful Beginnings Wedding Package for those couple staying six nights or more in a Concierge category or higher. Included in the package is your personal wedding consultant, a marriage officiant, certified copy of your marriage license, a picturesque wedding location, one 5" X 7" wedding photo, a wedding gift from the resort, bouquet and boutonniere, a beautiful reception location, hors d'oeuvres and sparkling wine, document preparation, a two tier wedding cake, continental breakfast in bed, and government/administrative fees. This is good for the bride and groom and two guests.

What if you have more people than that who will attend? You would need to add on to the package at additional cost. There are also wedding packages you can upgrade to from the basic package with different themes - for instance, their Flutter of Romance package has decorations with butterfly themes, upgraded floral arrangements and an upgraded cake. This choice is currently an additional $1600 - $1800 depending on the resort. Photo above is of a table set for the Sandals Martha Stewart Seaside Serenade package.

At Almond Morgan Bay's St. Lucia property, they have a free "Wedding For You" for couples staying seven nights or more in a deluxe or higher room category. Included in this package is the clerk/magistrate, government fees, registrar/ceremony charges, taxes and gratuities, a decorated wedding location, bottle of champagne, single tired wedding cake, bouquet of local flowers, boutonniere for the groom, a wedding coordinator and postcards of the property. You can upgrade to a Treasured Wedding package that includes the above plus two toasting flutes, a two tired wedding cake, cascading bouquet of tropical flowers for the bride, recorded music on request, manicure and pedicure for the bride, 25 minute couples massage, decorated bedroom , celebration dinner for two, breakfast in bed the morning after the wedding and 24 photos. As of today, the additional price for this upgraded from the free Wedding for You is $1729.

With just about all resorts, if you stay less than the minimum required nights or do not stay in the minimum room category, you would have to pay for the "free" package.

With most resorts, you can add a reception for guests that includes food for an additional fee. Our experience has been that the costs average between $30 and $60 per person additional. With L.I. weddings charging an average of $100 per person and up for a reception - you would see a substantial savings. Floral table arrangements, music - extra, but the pricing is generally much lower than U.S pricing, depending on where you are being married.

Some resorts add perks for the wedding couple based on the number of guests attending. Some will upgrade the brides' room, some offer a free room for the bride and groom, etc. based on the number of guest rooms booked. Your travel agent can help to ensure you get all the pluses you are entitled to!

A destination wedding is one travel type that a couple should never do themselves. This is where the use of a travel agent who specializes in this type of travel is invaluable. The agent acts as the liaison between the resort and couple to ensure no details are overlooked. An agent can also help get more value for your dollar and may be able to pull strings to get an extra or two for you.

Most agents do not charge for their services. You will receive more value for your dollar using an agent than trying to wing a destination wedding on your own.

Keep an eye out for our next post about Destination Weddings - the paperwork needed for a destination wedding.

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