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Do’s and Don’ts For Your Honeymoon!

First comes the wedding and then it’s time for the honeymoon. Even if you are having a destination wedding, there is still a good probability that you will honeymoon too!  Here are my do’s and don’ts for honeymooners:

VIP Vacations, Destination Wedding Blog, Do's and Dont's of Honeymoons

5 Do’s-

1. Formulate a budget.

2. Plan early.

3. Use a travel agent that can work with your budget and time-line.

4.  Create a honeymoon registry for those splurge items you hope for but haven’t budgeted for.

5.  Communicate with your fiancé about what you both envision for your honeymoon (it is your first experience as husband/wife where memories can be created that only the two of you will share).

VIP Vacations, Destination Wedding Blog, Do's and Dont's of Honeymoons

5 Don’ts-

1.  Do not wait until the last minute in hope of finding a deal. Normally you will not find one and then you will end up with something that is far less than the dream honeymoon that you had hoped for.

2.  Do not just pick a destination because you heard from friends that it was a good spot.  Every person has a different style and taste so only when you work with a travel professional can you examine what location fits your wants/needs.

3.  Don’t surprise your fiancé.  (This should be a joint decision and if there is any surprise, it should based on what the other had always hoped for)

4.  Don’t hope for HONEYMOON perks and upgrades.  Gone are the days when honeymooners are automatically upgraded to first class or oceanview.  It is best to reserve what you would be happy with rather than being disappointed in unfulfilled expectations.

5.  Don’t buy insurance to protect you from bad weather.  Often times, insurance doesn’t cover “acts of nature” and cancel for any reason insurance relies on you canceling up to 3 days prior —we all know that weather is unpredictable and a 3 day notice for a pricey insurance rarely makes the costs worthwhile.

VIP Vacations, Destination Wedding Blog, Do's and Dont's of Honeymoons

 

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It Makes Cents!

You have your resort selected, you’ve blocked out rooms at group rates and everyone has purchased their airfare; so now how do you construct a budget for your actual wedding?  Hopefully, you have looked at the wedding packages offered at the resort that you have selected.

Many of the basic or free packages do not include a reception, or photography, or even a cocktail party.  There are some resorts that offer larger packages with many inclusions, however many wedding couples find that they want only some of the features in the larger packages but not all of them.  They often ask the wedding coordinator at the resort if they can substitute a few of the included items that they don’t want with items/services that they do.  Sadly, the fine print often says that there are no substitutions.  So are you to go with a larger package or should you do a basic package and add in “a la carte” items?

If you decide to do the a la carte option adding in items can require math skills and patience.  Patience is needed because many times the resorts do not publish their rates on individual items and going back and forth with a wedding planner can be a hassle and take a lot of time.  Here are some tips to make this process easier:

First, write down what you envision for your day.  Make sure you itemize key features that you will need to make your wedding dream a reality. So ask yourself these questions:  Do you require hair/make up?  Do you have a bridal party that would like this service too?

Do you want lots of flowers?  Do you want a photographer and/or videographer?   Are you going to have a party afterwards? Would you like some sort of music (a DJ, live band, or just a sound system)?  Are you doing a sit down reception?  Do you want an open bar?  Are you looking for any special outdoor items such as a tent, dance floor, or bonfire?   Do you know how many guests will be attending?  Does your resort charge for ceremony items like an arch, chairs, or fees for using a specific location?

Next, look at the basic package and the more complex packages and see which of your wish list items are included.  If they are not included, write down the cost of this wish list item.  Add up the costs of the items you require and compare the pricing of the packages.  If you are not sure how much specific items might cost, you should send your “wish list” to your wedding planner or destination wedding specialist and have them review things.  I usually advise my wedding couples to create their “wish list” from the very beginning of their planning and we can add/subtract items per their budget throughout the months leading up to the wedding.  Some resorts require you to prepay for the wedding extra’s at least 30 days prior to your wedding.  Prepaying can save you some money due to not having to pay a currency conversion fee when you are at your destination.  If you are not sure if you can prepay for your packages and items, simply request this from your destination wedding agent or coordinator.  In the Dominican Republic and Mexico, prepaying can save you hundreds of dollars in conversion fees!  It makes sense to utilize this savings so make sure to prepay at least 30 days prior.  If you are not able to prepay, find out if your credit card charges conversion fees and keep those fees in mind as you prepare your budget.

VIP doesn’t want you drowning in debt due to not keeping on top of the expenses; so if you are in the beginning stages of budgeting or just trying to keep track of costs, I’ve found this neat wedding calculator to be a huge help in staying on top of expenses!

Size Matters!

As you begin to plan your destination wedding, you will be repeatedly asked, “how many guests do you have traveling”.  You are asked this when you block rooms at your resort.  You are asked this when you start budgeting for the ceremony and reception.  You are asked this when you are calculating if you qualify for any perks from the resort too.

As a previous destination wedding bride, I can certainly feel your frustration because in the beginning stages of the planning, you can only “guesstimate” how many people will attend.   This makes budgeting very difficult.  What I often find is the result of this “estimation” of attendees, is that the wedding couple tend to not really consider the type of “room” they are staying in until practically a few short months prior to departure.  By this time, the nicer suites are either sold out, or cost far more than what they did when the couple was first holding group rooms.  Trust me when I say this, “Size does matter”.   In an effort to economize, couples forget that for many, this is their “honeymoon” as well as their destination wedding.  They also neglect to realize that many times the bridal party will be in and out of your room and/or getting ready for the wedding in the very room you are staying in.

At many of VIP “tried and true” ** resorts, some of the top suites also come with a butler.  A destination wedding couple has no idea how much of a “genie” a butler can be.  For a wedding, a butler is like your personal assistant.  They prepare you for where you need to be, bring refreshments to your suite on the day of the wedding, contact guests –should you require this, and for the grooms, the butler is there to ensure everything is as romantic as can be.  On the night of the wedding, the butler will make your room up with candles, soft music, sweet treats by the bed and even create a bubble bath.  Most butler level rooms are also large suites with mini kitchens and living areas that provide the entire bridal party with an area where they can celebrate while getting ready for the wedding.  Some resorts also give the butler a golf cart which provides you with the ability to get where you need to be with ease!

For many brides, they envision what the day of the wedding will be like, they spend weeks debating where they should get married, and do vast research on their resort, yet they often neglect to consider the several days they are at the resort and the type of room they will be in.   Arriving at your resort for your destination wedding and walking into a gorgeous suite really enhances your memories.  An average size room, is just average; but a suite is truly “sweet”.

** Tried and True resorts are listed on http://www.travelbyvip.com/vip_triedandtruedestination_wedding_resorts.html for resorts that VIP recommends for destination weddings!

Show Me the Money!

Cost of the flights: Check
Cost of the resort stay:  Check
Prices for the wedding:  ?????

The question I seem to be asked continually by most perspective wedding couples is, “how much does the wedding cost and how much should I budget for?”

Many resorts offer “free weddings”.  But the “free” usually means, a very basic bouquet, a small cake, a location (with no decorations), 1 photo, and an officiant.  Oh, and the legal fees are often additional.   Usually, that is not exactly what most destination wedding couples envision for their amazing wedding.  So, how much should you budget for if you are choosing a destination wedding?

There are typically several wedding packages offered at most resorts.  Some start at $750 while others can cost up to $5000.00.  The packages can be totally comprehensive, including photography, full reception, entertainment, floral options, and a cocktail party.  Some packages can include slightly more enhanced options, but then allow you to add additional items too.   Before you choose your resort, you actually should consider the different wedding packages that are offered.   There are resorts that list all items a la carte as well.  The number one factor to the overall cost is going to be based on the number of guests you have attending and if you intend on having a reception at the resort following your vows.  On average, most couples spend about $5000 on the wedding features based on approximately 20 guests.  This would account for flowers, a cocktail party, a sit down reception, a decent photo package, and entertainment (DJ).

There are some destinations that are a little pricier than others.  Hawaii tends to be much more expensive for adding options and Mexico seems to be on the low end for extra’s.    For my wedding, photography was very important.  We knew we wanted to get a really large photo package and so we budgeted for that.  Some wedding couples want a dance floor placed on the beach, or a cigar roller, some want fireworks and some brides spend a great deal on hair/make up and spa features too.
The best thing to do when budgeting for your wedding extra’s is to list in order what you prioritize to be the most important.  Then, estimate the head count and review the many packages that are offered at the resorts you are considering.  VIP goes step by step through the packages with our clients.  We realize that destination weddings are not just about pricing the airfare and the hotels.   Once you have an idea of what you need to budget for, it makes planning your destination wedding a lot less stressful.  Nothing is worse than opening up the bill for all the extra’s and it taking you by surprise.   If you need to sort through all of the packages and really get an idea of a budget, give me a call and just ask me to help “show you the money”!