Saturday, November 30, 2013

Destination Weddings-What You Need To Know About Legal Requirements

Ah, the romantic notion of a destination wedding in a villa in Italy. Or standing barefoot on a beautiful beach in Mexico, Jamaica or any other Caribbean Island. Maybe you've dreamt of being married while on a cruise.

All these scenarios are possible and can save quite a bit if money versus a wedding in your hometown. With all the planning that goes into a destination wedding, one thing the bride and groom need to keep in mind are the legal requirements for a marriage by non-citizens in foreign countries.

In every location outside the United States or a U.S. territory, a passport is required (and some require a tourist card which you usually get on the airplane), certified birth certificates may be needed, and if the bride or groom have been married before,certified copies of a divorce decree which may need to be translated into the native language of the country you are marrying in or a certified death certificate is one party has a deceased spouse. Other documents can be required as well. And these requirements will add to the cost of your wedding. You will also need witnesses with the number

Mexico's legal requirements are some of the most stringent. In addition to the above, the wedding couple must arrive in Mexico three to four days before their wedding ceremony as there is a waiting period depending in the state you are marrying in. You also may be asked for a certified copy of birth certificates that have also been translated into Spanish. The legal ceremony also must be performed in  a local registrars office in Mexico to be recognized as legal in the U.S.  You will receive a Marriage Certificate that you must paybto have translated into English to bring to your City Hall to have your marriage registered. Mexico also requires a Health Certificate with blood tests that are generally done at your resort with results usually in 24 hours. Again, additional costs for these.

As if this isn't enough, the United States Department of State requires that all weddings performed in Mexico have what is called an Apostille Seal. Most wedding Coordinators on site in these countries can arrange this for you but there are additional costs.

Other Caribbean countries do not have these requirements. In St. Lucia, for instance you must arrive four days before your wedding with passports, birth certificates and divorce decrees or death certificates if married before.

European Countries have their own requirements. In Italy, for instance, the United States website states these needs:

1. U.S. passport or, if a member of the Armed Forces, identification card;
2. Birth certificate (certified copy), which shows the names of both parents;
3. Evidence of termination of any previous marriage (final divorce or annulment decree or death certificate);
4. Sworn statement of consent to the marriage by the parents or legal guardian if the American citizen is under 18;
5. A declaration (atto notorio) , sworn to by four (4) witnesses before either an Italian consular officer in the United States or, in Italy, at a Pretura or before a mayor or town clerk, stating that according to the laws to which the citizen is subject in the United States there is no obstacle to his or her marriage. Any American going to Italy to be married is urged to obtain this declaration before leaving the United States as it may be much easier to find four witnesses who know him or her sufficiently well to make such a declaration in the United States rather than in Italy.
6. A declaration, sworn to by the U.S. citizen before a U.S. Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in Italy, stating that according to the laws to which the citizen is subject in the United States there is no obstacle to his or her marriage. Evidence of U.S. citizenship (passport, naturalization certificate, birth certificate showing birth in the United States) must be shown to the U.S. Consular Officer at the time of making this declaration. U.S. military personnel must also present final approval of his/her commanding officer for the marriage. Presentation of this declaration allows Italian authorities to reduce from three weeks to approximately four days the time you must wait before being granted a marriage license.

Confused? This is why a travel agent an be your friend when booking a destination wedding. We can help sort through all the requirements so you understand exactly what you need to get married out of the U.S. We specialize in destination weddings and honeymoons. Call us at 516-608-0568 to book the destination wedding or honeymoon of your dreams.
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Hotel Review - Radisson Aruba Hotel and Spa

Set on beautiful Palm Beach, the Radisson Aruba is a good choice for a stay on the beautiful island of Aruba. A 20 minute ride from the airport, the hotel is located smack in the middle of the high rise hotel zone on Palm Beach.

My check in was quick and I was lucky enough to find a bellman who took my bags to my room, since I was in the Curacao tower, the furthest away from the lobby and down a flight of steps. Some others that were part of my group complained that check in took 25 minutes and that they were merely directed to the general area of the tower and there was no one to assist with luggage.

My room, 3609, was on the 6th floor (highest floor). There were two double beds, a good sized desk, a cabinets with a t.v. and a refrigerator (empty) and an upholstered chair. The bathroom had an ample counter but only one sink, with a tub/shower combination. There were plenty of vanity supplies - shampoo,conditioner, soap, body wash, a vanity kit, shower cap. and shoe buff. The tub was difficult to get in - it was one of those surrounds with a high side to step over.  Thankfully there were grab bars.

There were two bottles of water which were replenished daily at no charge.  There are two pools - both zero entry, one closer to the Barbados Tower and one close to Gilligans restaurant and was the activity pool.  There is a beautiful beach with plenty of lounge chairs but most are directly in the sun - there are very few that have any shade. Bring sunscreen!

There are cabanas by the pool and beach that can be rented by the day. The price range from $15 per day to $25 depending on where the cabana is located, beachside or poolside.  Those who rent get a fruit basket. To rent a cabin, guests must line up daily at 4 PM at the pool cabana where beach towels are handed out.  We saw lines begin about 3:30.  Cabins can be rented for multiple days - the renters names are written on a sign on the front of the cabana each day.

There are several restaurants on property. Gilligan serves lunch and dinner. Sandwich and salads start at about $14, entrees a bit more. The Sunset Grill, rated the best international restaurant on the island, is located here.  Prices are higher than you would find back home (my lunch consisting of a grilled chicken salad and iced tea cost $21 with tax and mandatory gratuity). The next day I realized I could have simply walked across the street and eaten for less than half the price.

There is a nice walkway at the back of the hotel where you can walk all the way down the beach either way with. The hotel is also ideally located right across the street from many shops and restaurants, making it unnecessary to eat at the hotel if you don't want to. There is also lots of shopping across the street as well.

Our room was clean and the beds were comfortable. You cannot turn the air conditioning down less than 65 degrees, and the air goes on and off constantly to maintain the temperature so if you are a light sleep you may hear it at night.

There is a casino on site which opens at 12 noon for slots -table games begin  later in the day.

There is free wi-fi but it is spotty. We had low reception in our room and I often had to go to the front desk area to get a good signal to use the phone. There is a very nice spa on site for a relaxing massage or skin treatment.

There are planned activities during the day and things going on at night. On Tuesdays there is a fire show, which we missed because we were away from the hotel that night.  (Free to those on property, tickets for sale for those not staying on property.)

One of the best features of the hotel is it's location. Right across the street are restaurants, shops and a night time market. There is a shopping mall with a movie theater within walking distance. If you walk along the beachfront, there are a myriad of restaurants, shops  and activities. The best find is a little coffee place called The Bread Basket, located between the Radisson and the Occidental Resort next door.  They serve gourmet coffee, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches on a beachside setting.

Check out in the early morning was a snap.  There were no lines, I just had to stop and pay the taxes (which average 24% for the various island taxes).

The Radisson is a good choice for a moderately priced  hotel in a fabulous location.
There are very few all inclusive hotels in Aruba and honestly - an all inclusive is not a must. There are many well priced restaurants and if you want to have liquor in your room, you can pick up duty free liquor in the airport and keep it in your room. We loved Aruba and wouldn't hesitate to stay at the Radisson again.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Let Me Tell You About....Aruba

When travelers ask us  where they can travel to that is tropical and safe, my usual answer is Aruba and with good reason.  In our opinion, Aruba is as American as you can get in a tropical island – in fact it is sometimes called “Arizona in the Caribbean”.  English is spoken, driving is on the same side of the road as in the States, the U.S. dollar is freely  accepted, there is very little crime and most of all - the people are lovely. Did you know their unemployment rate is less than 1%?

Outside the hurricane belt, the weather in Aruba is hot with very little rain but can be humid. It makes an ideal location for Destination Weddings.  The beaches are plentiful with soft white sand and azure blue water.  Temperatures average   84  degrees   year round with trade winds all day and night.  (Don't spend too much time getting your hair done!)  Make sure you bring a hat and use sunblock – the sun is very hot and you can easily burn.

But it is an island of beauty. From the most beautiful beaches  on the South and Western sides of the islands to the harshest and rockiest on the north east side, there are plenty of activities for everyone.  Swim in the bluest water with the most amazing sunsets. Snorkel, scuba dive, snuba dive, hike, walk, run a marathon, see the old goldmine and caves, go 4 wheel driving  or hike to the lighthouse (and a wonderful restaurant.)

The island measures approximately 19 miles long by 6 miles wide with, as our bus driver explained , “12 traffic lights with only six working”.  The island is located below the hurricane belt and has a dry climate with very little rain. The south and west part of the island houses the capital, Oranjestad and miles of beautiful beaches.

On the northeast coast, along the windward shore, you’ll see the island’s fofoti trees. The constant trade winds have permanently bent them.

There is little need for an all inclusive resort stay in Aruba. There are more than 200  restaurants in all price ranges and you can purchase duty free liquor in the airport and leave it in your room. From 4 star restaurants to Wendy’s, there is something for everyone.

There are two main hotel zones – besides downtown Orangestad where you can stay near the airport, most hotels are located at either Eagle Beach (low rises) or Palm Beach (high rises). There are more restaurants within walking distance of hotels in the Palm Beach area than in the Eagle Beach area.

Some hotels in the low rise area are Bucuti and Tara Suites, Amsterdam Manor,   several Divi Resorts, and MVC Eagle Beach. In the high rise Palm Beach area, you’ll find Hyatt, Marriott, Radisson, Occidental, Riu and the newest hotel, the Ritz Carlton.

While you may never get tired of swimming at the amazing beaches  there are plenty of activities on the island. Arikok  National Park is a great place to spend a day. In the interior of the island, Arikok is similar to areas in Arizona, a desert like area full of neat rock formations and lots of cacti.  You’ll also find some of Aruba’s most amazing views, as the ocean crashes against the rugged shoreline below and natural bridges and caves can be found.  It is easy to get around by car, has amazing formations  made of lava, quartz diorite and limestone and many animals that are indigenous to the island. There are three caves and while the beaches are too rough to swim, there is a natural pool to take a dip in. You can go horseback riding, ride ATV’s  or motorcycles here as well.

Did you know that gold was once mined in Aruba? You can explore the ruins of two mines and go to Wishing Rock Beach to make your own wishes and rock formations.

For a destination wedding, nothing beats Aruba and you don’t have to do a cookie cutter wedding at a resort. We have several independent wedding planners who can make your dream wedding come true. Imagine a wedding on Eagle Beach and then watching a brilliant sunset with your new spouse and your guests.  Or have a beautiful wedding at one of the popular resorts, where you’ll be able to enjoy fabulous food and drink on the beach. How about a reception on a catamaran at sundown? We can make that happen for you too.  One thing you likely will not have to worry about is getting rained on.  Aruba averages only about 16” of rain per year, mostly in November and December.  If it rains it is usually a very short shower that washes over the island in a few minutes.

Are you ready to go? We are ready to plan the perfect trip for you. Call us and check our Pinterest pictures to see actual hotel pictures.
Call us at 516-608-0568.

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