After specializing in honeymoons for the first few years of career as a travel consultant, it was only natural that I turn my attention to destination wedding planning. Over the past couple of months, I have been so thrilled to work with some of the most amazing brides to help plan their big day, along with their honeymoons.
The initial process is almost like a puzzle – what hotel will accommodate everyone, what destination fits that picture in the back of your mind, who’s rooming with who, and are you sure you want your mother in law in the room next door? – but it’s a challenge I love.
Recently, I’ve planned a few weddings in Jamaica since it’s so easy to get to from the States -plus, the hotel choices are fantastic. Not only am I fortunate to work with such wonderful hotels, I’ve been able to work with such amazing couples that I had to share their stories.
It was such a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with one of my recent brides, Lauren, who I knew from years and years ago when we attended the same middle school. She had since moved to Texas, so all of our planning and correspondance was over phone and e-mail – and with Lauren’s crazy schedule, it was evident that she needed someone to help take away the stress of planning a wedding!
Lauren and Trey celebrated their wedding and honeymoon at the same resort, Sandals Royal Plantation, while their sweet family stayed at the nearby Beaches Boscobel. Since the two hotels are under the same ownership, the couple was able to go visit their guests at Beaches, giving them the perfect opportunity to catch up with family members who are usually spread out across the States. The biggest perk of getting married outside of the US is getting to enjoy that vacation time with family and friends – instead of the whirlwind event of a traditional wedding, where the wedding couple feel like they’re being pulled in every direction from tons of adoring guests, a destination wedding gives everyone the opportunity to relax and cherish time with one another, making the union even more memorable for all involved.
Planning weddings across the States for couples who have jetted off across the world (even as far as Bora Bora!) to get married is an absolute blast for me. I’m fortunate enough as a luxury agent to have the expertise and the resources to take all of the stress out of planning a destination wedding. From the get go, I’m able to coordinate all of the travel arrangements and accommodations for the bride and groom, as well as their friends and family, and put them in touch with the right wedding coordinator to make all the little details of their dream day absolutely perfect.
My favorite part of planning the destination weddings, however, isn’t solving that puzzle and figuring out which guest goes where (which I do like). It’s not about coordinating the wedding resort to perfectly compliment the honeymoon resorts (although I do love that). It’s not even about seeing the wedding for the first time with the white dress set against the bright blue sea (and I really enjoy that part, too!). While I adore those aspects, my favorite thing about planning is the friendship that forms with the couples.
When my most recent bride, Ellen, and her wonderful family approached me this past January, they were in shambles after hiring a supposed destination wedding specialist who would not return their emails, ignored their phone calls, and had all but abandoned them in planning their wedding, which was scheduled for a short six months away. After sitting down over a very long cup of coffee and discussing with the family, we decided to turn our sites on Jamaica, since it would be more accessible for the guests (she had been looking at Belize, but the country requires a good bit of traveling after arriving in Belize City, so Jamaica would be more comfortable for bringing in the number of guests from across the globe).
Knowing that time was of the essence, I quickly put together a wedding and honeymoon plan for the couple: their guests big day would be at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall, the only Ritz with an all-inclusive plan, before enjoying their honeymoon at Royal Plantation. Ellen loved it, so I went to work making the flight arrangements for the families, who would be coming from all over the world (as far as Argentina!), booking the hotel accommodations, and setting her up with their on-site wedding coordinator.
After months of lunch meetings with Elle, where we bonded over our own OCD natures when it came to planning this wedding, amongst so many other things in common, it was evident that the planning process had brought so much more than clients into my life, it had brought an entire family of new friends. When the trip time finally came, the family and the Ritz Carlton staff kept me in the loop on how everything was going. The friendly Ritz Carlton staff took perfect care of them – even setting up a surprise, private dinner for the families the night before the wedding. “They even sang us a love song!” Ellen told me when they got back. “When we walked through the lobby, everyone called us by name and they were all so personable.”
Besides an unfortunate run in with a wasp the night before, Greg & Elle’s big day went off exactly as planned.
After saying goodbyes to their wedding guests, they enjoyed four nights in one of the highest level suites at Royal Plantation. “There are no words to describe Royal Plantation,” she told me, “from the service to the quietness, we loved it. We felt like we were the only ones there.”
When the couple came back to Georgia, I attended their reception and was finally able to meet all of the amazing family members (and her groom!) that I’d been working with for months. Every family member I spoke with had such a blast celebrating Ellen and Greg’s big day in Jamaica, as well as the relaxing vacation they experienced at the Ritz Carlton – it just proved that everyone, from the couple to the guests, gets something great out of a destination wedding!
The reception for Mr. & Mrs. Cobb was so bittersweet – the couple left the very next day for their new home in Brentwood, Tennessee. However, I am so proud to have played a part in their lovely marriage. What a wonderful love story these two share and what a blessing this friendship has been to me!