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Trend Alert: DIY Ideas For Beach Weddings

Thank you Lindsey from George Street Photo and Video in Chicago, IL for being a guest writer on this blog!

White sand, a warm breeze, the sweet sound of waves crashing on the shore — sound like paradise? The answer is ‘yes’! From the idyllic setting to the laid back atmosphere, there’s truly nothing better than a beach wedding! But, the best part about a beautiful seaside celebration? Armed with DIY-friendly tips and tricks, it’s easy to create an ambiance that’s not only adorable, but affordable, as well!Blog Trend Alert

Here are a few beach-ready wedding ideas that won’t burn a hole in your pocketbook!

Sweet (and Simple) Centerpieces: Who knew that sea shells and starfish could double as stylish centerpiece decor?! Gather a few of these natural elements and head over to your local craft store to pick up clear vases or columns. Consider filling them with colored sand, water or candles, and add starfish and seashell accents to achieve that straight-off-the-beach effect. Add polished driftwood for a more rustic touch, or incorporate floral elements if you’d like to add a dose of elegance to each arrangement.

Destination Wedding Blog Trend Alert: DIY Ideas For Beach Weddings

Cute Cake Adornments: The wedding cake presents a perfect opportunity for you to tie the entire theme of your beach affair together! So, why not get creative with the cake topper and toppings? Graham cracker crumble is a dead ringer for sand, while adirondack chair cake toppers add a unique (and utterly adorable) touch!

Delightful Details: Even the smallest details can often be expensive additions to a wedding budget. But if you’re hosting a beach affair, crafting those details is possible with minimal extra cost! For instance, mini conch shells adorned with table numbers make perfect place cards and also double as cute take-home gifts for guests! And since everyone will likely be outdoors for the majority of the festivities, consider giving them something unique to remember your day — pinwheels or streamers are fun additions to any party and can also be used in your grand exit!

Destination Wedding Blog Trend Alert: DIY Ideas For Beach Weddings

Whimsical Wedding Altar: Let’s be honest — there’s no backdrop quite like the ocean, with the sun shining just over the horizon! Still, no beach wedding is complete without an altar to frame the natural setting, and believe or not, it’s easy to craft one on your own! Long, airy drapes look absolutely stunning when caught by the summer breeze and can be attached to the framework of the altar. Consider adding floral arrangements for a pop of color or paper lanterns if your wedding takes place at dusk.

Creative Signage: To achieve that rustic, beachy look, make hand-painted signs directing your guests to the day’s events! Score an added bonus if you collect beach wood and craft it into signs for a truly authentic effect! You can also have fun with the signage for your reception chairs — wooden placards attached to rope are effortlessly beachy and inexpensive!

Once your sweet beach soirée has come together, you’ll definitely want to reflect on all the hard work you put into making each detail come to life! That’s where your photographer can help plan out shots that showcase the decor and details to help tell the entire story of your day, from the ceremony to the grand exit! Now, mix yourself a tropical cocktail and get planning!

For more information on gorgeous wedding photography, engagement sessions, and wedding videography visit George Street Photo & Video.

If you are interested in being a guest contributor for our blog, please contact Jennifer Doncsecz at VIP Vacations


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:

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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


5 TIPS to Make Planning Your Destination Wedding Easier

1-Give yourself time! 

Nothing is more stressful than doing things last minute.  VIP Vacations suggests that 12-18months in advance is best to begin the process of finding the perfect destination and getting prices.

Save the dates can be sent once everything is set and this also allows your guests to save money.  VIP sends our wedding couples a detailed calendar that has “to do” lists and time frames of what should be taken care of at a specific time prior to the wedding.  Many resorts book up early and the most coveted times/dates are often snatched up a year in advance.  I find that the happiest wedding couples got the date they wanted early, received an early saver group rate on their hotel rooms and gave their guests plenty of notice so many of them could attend.

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2-Enlist the help of a destination wedding travel agent

One of the key reasons VIP has such rave reviews from our wedding clients is because we are truly here to help relieve stress and guide you through the whole process.  Having been a destination wedding bride, I can relate to what my couples are going through and give them REAL expectations so their hopes do not turn into disappointments.  For the past 15 years, I have been planning and assisting couples in planning destination weddings and though some things have changed, the basic questions are still the same.  I also think that finding an agent who is enthusiastic about weddings is key!  I am very passionate about weddings that passion continually drives me to look at the new trends, visit the new resorts and keep up to date on everything wedding related!   If you are currently looking for an experienced destination wedding agent, make sure you look at their qualifications, reviews and testimonials from other wedding couples.

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 3-Prepare a back-up plan for bad weather

Getting married in paradise doesn’t always mean that mother nature will be on your side.  Having a backup plan just in case bad weather strolls in, simply makes the planning easier.  Sudden surprises and rush decisions are never a good thing where weddings are concerned! Before you commit to a specific resort or even destination, check the weather forecasts for the predicted amount of rainfall during the month you are traveling and ask the resort if there is a backup location.  Resorts often photographs of their inside location that they can send you so you can prepare a plan B!   I also love the website which is a techie version of the Father’s Almanac.

4-Know the legalities and deadlines for paperwork

It is easy to get wrapped up in the wedding planning and forget the deadlines for completing the wedding paperwork.  Many destinations have fees if you turn these  papers in late and sadly some destinations do not allow paperwork after a certain time prior to arrival.  If you are planning a legal wedding, it   is best to start getting all of your legal paperwork and documents together so you are not rushing around or spending more money to get documentation expedited.

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5-Remember your guests

The best destination weddings usually result in happy people sharing fabulous memories.  If you keep your guests in mind and plan meeting times, excursions, and group activities, then you not only share memories together but you are also considered a gracious hostess!  Welcome bags, welcome letters and being aware of food allergies is another way you can make your guests feel special.

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It’s a Sign!

I’m extremely fortunate to be able to see fabulous destination wedding photos from my clients when they return from their glorious event.  Since my wedding in June 2009, I have noticed a very popular growing trend as I look through more and more photos.  With the rise of pinterest and tumblr, brides have been able to find rather playful ways of “pointing” their guests in the right direction.  For my wedding, I went to great lengths to get a sign that says “Wedding This Way” packed in my suitcase, along with white-washed “Bride” and “Groom” signs that hung from pretty ribbons in which I had placed at our reception head table.  The “wedding this way” sign I left at Beaches Turks after my wedding, and it is still being used there today!  While I thought my cute signs were unique, I now continually find more and more adorable signs that I only WISHED, I had thought of for my wedding.

Since me and my hubby are not ready to “renew” our vows just yet, I jealously save the “must take” photos in a file on my computer to share with my wedding clientele.

Here are a few that I think are irresistible:


Address the Dress for your Guests

When you travel to a destination wedding chances are you are going to a lovely tropical paradise.  So I’m pretty sure that bringing a suit or formal gown isn’t on your packing list.  Often times, your guests may not be aware of what type of “dress code” you want for your wedding.  If you are the bride, you should ask yourself if you are ok if the men coming to your wedding could wear shorts.   If you are not, then you should state that to your guests prior to arriving at your destination.  If you have a vision of formality or a color scheme, like I did, in which all of my guests were requested to wear white (yes, I was very specific and the photos are gorgeous), which I specified in their invitation.  It said something like, “guests are kindly requested to wear white”.  Everyone followed the guidelines and many of my clients have requested the same thing too.

There are many times during the course of planning a destination wedding that a guest who is planning on attending a destination wedding, will ask one of the VIP team members what they should wear to the wedding.  Though I work with the bride and go over many aspects of the wedding, that detail is something  we don’t always discuss; therefore we encourage the guests to ask the bride.  What I often suspect is that many of my brides feel sheepish in asking guests to do anything else (including wearing something they might not be comfortable in – let’s face it, pants in the tropics may be uncomfortable for a guy). A bride also may feel that guests have spent money and gotten passports and may have to pay for checking in their luggage, and so requesting anything else may seem “pushy” or cost a guest additional money.  However, looking through photos after the wedding, a bride often laments that a particular guest showed up in cut off Jean shorts or a female attendee wore a sarong over her bikini.    Sadly no amount of photo shopping can fix those fashion disasters.

The best advice I can give is for the wedding couple to prepare a “Need To Know” sheet and send it to all your guests about 2 weeks prior.  Include in that sheet any info you may require about a dress code or your expectations for the wedding day (something like “country club casual requested”) as well as a potential itinerary for wedding events.   Don’t list too many things as I have found people don’t read long lists.   If you do have a specific requirement; like guests dressing in white, it may also be a good idea to detail that to the agent you are working with as you are planning the wedding just in case guests ask about attire.  Remember, photos tend to be one of the biggest priorities for wedding couples, so detailing what people look like in those photos is a must!

I never miss the opportunity to show others my wedding photos and talk about how even the resort I got married at (Beaches Turks and Caicos) uses my photos in their photo shops and in their brochures.   Incidentally, after I show guests my photos, they almost instantly understand how what guests wear can effect the overall look of the wedding.