Posts filed under: ‘Destination weddings/outside USA‘




Anguilla Destination wedding

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I just had my second trip to Anguilla in the Caribbean.  This really is one of the most quiet/beautiful water/sand islands, everything you imagine an island paradise to be in the Caribbean or world, so if you like what you see in the photos above, then the beautiful island of Anguilla could be the place for your destination wedding.

If you  have been looking at islands in the Caribbean for your weddings, and Anguilla crossed your mind but you read about the different resorts and seemingly exclusive weddings done there for only high end couples so crossed it off the list, I have news for you, on this trip I came across a lovely boutique property located on Meads Bay that is just lovely, intimate, friendly and relaxed feeling.  I think it may have been built to be a timeshare originally but stayed as a ‘hotel’ nightly/weekly accommodation option.  Only about 30 units, and the great thing is for your guests, groups of friends and family that can’t afford $500 a night per room for two, at one of the three top properties on Anguilla, here you can get two bedroom units with living rooms so two couples or four friends or a couple with 2 kids can have their own space and only steps from the water.  They have one bedroom units also that have the living rooms, and all the units have complete kitchens so you can even cook dinner or have lunch or breakfast foods on hand to keep costs down.  If you had a group of 40 coming in for a wedding you would pretty much have the resort to yourself and it would be fabulous.

The beach where you would have your ceremony is right infront of the resort, beautiful backdrop of gorgeous ocean on white sand, so quiet at this end of the beach, you could feel like you are on your own island.  Next door is a beach bar that has nice furniture where you could do a relaxed outdoor cocktails/dinner right after (or a pre-celebration beach party the night before), or if wanting a bit more formal feel you could buy out the restaurant behind the beach bar, and do a dinner/dance inside, or shuttle everyone over to the Viceroy or either of the two top other resorts that are close by.

On another note, I have come to the conclusion after three trips to St Maarten, the Westin on Dawn Beach is the only place to stay/be.  Easy access by rental car (you have to have one no matter where you stay) to downtown in one direction and to Orient Beach or Grand Case in the other.  As a lot of the resorts on St Maarten are not ‘known’ brands to us here in the US, you go by the photos/descriptions and reviews, but even then on some of the islands what we consider ok here is not the same standard there.  The minute you walk into the Westin, you do the aaaah, meaning this is familiar/feels good, and when you get to your room it has the normal amenities/look/feel we expect to see.  Now if you are wanting the more island feel there are lots of options, but you just have to be prepared for service that is quite relaxed and cleanliness or the presence of mosquitos not being what you expected!!!

Let me help you with your destination wedding to either of these locations or anywhere else in the Caribbean, Hawaii,  or the Pacific Islands, or Europe or anywhere else for that matter!! Love to help and go through the process with you.

Till next time

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com
http://www.pinterest.com/lisasimpsonwdgs
714 305 7112

Add a comment April 11, 2013

Nearly all-inclusive 82 person wedding in Riviera Maya

Well, if you have up to 82 guests and want to host a destination wedding for them, this may be the perfect op for you.
The Viceroy at Riviera Maya (so you know the quality is there) has created a package for $125,000 that starts on a Thursday and ends on the Sunday which is nice, included are: airport transfers, 41 villas, all meals, pool and beach daily snacks, unlimited domestic drinks, transport to Playa del Carmen (which is a neat town to walk around), and some other neat things that will make everyone feel special. For the actual wedding that will happen on the Saturday at a beach gazebo, they include some florals and the wedding cake (again all food/beverages are included). The bride & groom also get a moonlit couples massage which sounds lovely.
Now you may look at that dollar amount and go whoa, but think about it, for a wedding that size at a 5 star location in S CA you are going to be looking at $50k or so plus vendors, so if you put it out to 41 couples or some singles that would be happy to share and offer them an all-inclusive 3 night trip to come and celebrate your wedding/vacay at the same time, they all pay their own air and then you come up with a reasonable sum to offset the total (if you don’t wish to host the event and just have them pay for their air from the US or elsewhere) and that will bring that dollar amount down.
Destination weddings are great (and 50% of the weddings I do here in S CA are destination weddings to here) not only does the couple relax more because they are separated from the home/work environment and once they arrive they can let all that go, the guests get to experience more than a 6 hour wedding event, they have a vacation with a great wedding celebration thrown in, so it really becomes a wedding to remember and talk to others about.

For this package, you would need to add photographer, video if doing, music for both ceremony and dinner/dance, lighting/special linens/chairs if not wanting to go with what the hotel is providing, and me. I would be involved on this side to be your communicator between here and there (we could certainly take a 2 night trip down so you see/feel confident with what you are booking, and that would not be expensive), keep you on track with the normal tasks that need to be done in the planning months (or handle those for you), help you secure the other vendors/vision you are wanting (I would suggest taking photographer and possibly the dj also from here). By having me involved you will have less frustration with communication and any possible mis-understandings.

Contact me and let’s get your Mexican destination wedding planned.
Till next time
Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com
http://www.pinterest.com/lisasimpsonwdgs
714 305 7112

Add a comment April 9, 2013

European Wedding River Cruise

I was fortunate to take a river cruise on the Rhine from Vienna/Austrai to Nuremburg/Germany this past December.  The cruise was focused on the Christmas markets and was the last one of the season.  As always I travel thinking I know what areas could be of interest for couples for future weddings, and while I was in Vienna and then Budapest I saw locations that could work, but nothing was really gripping me which was disappointing.  We left on our cruise and spent the next 6 nights stopping at neat villages along the way.  One stop included a monastry which had a beautiful chapel and I thought what a shame it is in the middle of nowhere, how/who would want to make this their destination for their European wedding.  It struck me on the plane coming home, I was actually doing what would be the perfect European destination wedding……………..

Our river boat cruise was operated by a charter company, so you could charter a boat also.  We had 107 people on board, that would mean if you had 40-50 couples or some singles that would come on the trip, perfect.  People could fly into Vienna at their own leisure (we had a few days there prior to departure, but some people did fly in on day of departure) and see or do whatever they want in the preceding days.  Then the cruise begins, it is a great way to relax and enjoy lovely scenery as the boat winds its way along the Rhine.  We had snow and ice on our cruise, so if you were a couple who loved the cold and wanted to do some skiing along the way then Dec is a good month, I hear during the summer it’s also great, as the top of the boat is the sun deck and people relax and enjoy drinks while enjoying the same scenery I saw it just looks totally different.  Vineyards were bare when I cruised by and wine bars were closed, but I can just imagine in the summer stopping at a village and walking up to a wine bar and enjoying some local wine while looking out to the boat and the Rhine.  Then a couple of days into the cruise you come to the destination where you will have your wedding.  Melk is the name of the town, and the chapel (picture below) can be the location for your truly European ceremony for 250 euro, can you believe that!!  Then everyone walks down the steps to the Charles Dicken looking village below, maybe have drinks and hors d’oeuvres at one of the bars/restaurants there, then everyone walks back to the boat where you have dinner and then dancing the night away in the lounge/bar area.  The next few days are you honeymooning with your nearest and dearest, visiting some more villages, and maybe some side trips to Salzberg or skiing or whatever is of interest to the guests.  Then when you get to the end of the trip, you can head off to Paris or Portofino/Amalfi, or Spain and continue your honeymoon, and your guests can head home or head to destinations in Europe that appeal to them.

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photo2  photo1I

If this sounds like your dream wedding experience, let me know and I will help you make it a reality.

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

www.pinterest.com/lisasimpsonweddings

Add a comment February 18, 2013

Romantic Europe

I was lucky enough earlier in 2011 to pop over to Europe and see some parts that are a bit more unique, ie not on the normal tourist trail, as well as the more known.  When it comes to weddings/honeymoons and romance, Europe jumps right in and says ‘ here I am’, and as I travelled along there were just so many great places I could see intimate weddings happening, or larger groups, all being able to inhale the experience and come away with memories for all to cherish.  With everyone seeming to be spread out over great distances, thinking about a wedding in Europe doesn’t mean more expense/travel anymore, especially with airfare wars, hotel cost and if the guests are making it a long weekend or extending their time if the wedding was in say Florida or the Caribbean, why not make it Europe.

Here is where I went, and if any of these locations are appealing to you for a wedding, let me know and we can chat and see where we go from there …..

I started in Lisbon, Portugal, fabulous old city, and drove up the coast to a golf  resort on the coast which has something for everyone especially when it comes to a wedding or vacation following a wedding.

Then to Cartagena, Spain, on the coast, a lovely town where they are still finding ruins under the ground, and they are keeping the facades from the old buildings as the building crumbles behind, and will build new buildings behind, very clever, and it ensures the town keeps the ‘old’ feel.  Lots of lovely backdrops for a ceremony here and then off to a courtyard/piazza for that fun celebration.

Malta, wow, like being in a different world, going back in time.  Doesn’t that sound exotic, wouldn’t your guests make that a must go to celebration, giving them a jump off place for a longer trip around Europe if they wanted.

Split, Croatia – not quite as I imagined it to be, ended up at a small island village that was definately the ‘old world’ feel I was looking for, but I hear Dubrovnik and other parts of Croatia are worth the visit or thought anyway.

Venice, well who doesn’t think romance when they think of Venice.  The great thing about Venice is that you don’t have to stay in the expensive accommodation along the canals, you can stay a short bus ride away and pay much less, yet go in and out of Venice itself enjoying it very easily (so any guest with any budget is taken care of).  Great food, places to sit and people watch, and atmosphere. From a small ceremony followed by an intimate meal somewhere, to the larger celebration this is an easy option to pull together.

Can’t you imagine a small destination wedding having had a ceremony somewhere else in Venice now having a lovely Italian meal at a restaurant like the one above.  Aaaaah.

Then off to Rome, via Sienna and a night in a Tuscany hilltop village.  These are the memories you or your guests will savor forever.  It’s all about time, enjoying it, enjoying the people sitting around with you, eating, drinking, just taking time.  Of course a location like Tuscany is easy for anyone to get to and then they can go wherever they want to after and visit other places before heading home.  Can you imagine your wedding backdrop being hills and hills of wineries in Tuscany, and everyone staying on a piazza at the top of a hilltop village for two nights, fantastic.

Rome of course, fabulous, all the major hotels, so if what is known is what you prefer, as well as the nightlife, and options all close at hand, this is the place for you.  Trevi Fountain where you and your guests toss a coin, ensuring a return trip at some point.  Whether by day or at night, the photo ops this city will give you in your album after, fab u lous.

Let me know where you want to go/what your dream is, and we can make it a reality.

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

714 305 7112

Add a comment January 13, 2012

US Virgin Islands – Weddings

Have you thought about a tropical location for a wedding, but are worried that exotic may not work for your guests.  They like hotels they know the name of and what to expect inside, they like being able to order food in English and know what they are going to be getting and eating, and they like feeling safe.  Well …. the US Virgin Islands may be the place for your intimate or large wedding celebration.

Easy to get to from anywhere and easy to travel inbetween if needed.  I happen to have visited each of the three islands several times, with the last trip to all three at once this past summer.  St Thomas, St John and St Croix.  All different which means there is something for everyone.  Take the Marriott complex in St Thomas, not far from town and there are three properties that have a shuttle service inbetween them, a vacation club (so you can have up to 8 in a unit with full kitchen facilities for those that want to save money or just be together), to the Reef on the hill with great views looking down the harbor to the town, to the Morningstar Resort that has a more quiet/tropical feel for those that want to be out of the hub bub but visit the hub bub when they want, then retreat easily.  You could get married at any one of the three, have your after celebration at a different one of the three, and then people go back to wherever they are staying of the three, or even elsewhere.  Perfect for all.

For a destination like this, you could have St Thomas as the key place, but charter a yacht and do a day trip for just your group over to St John, or even a jeep convoy trip around the island with a stop in Megan’s Bay, one of the top beaches in the world. 

St Croix may be where you go after leaving everyone else behind.  It’s a seaplane/plane flight to get there, so that may hinder some folks and keep them from following you, but here you have a nice mix of smaller town feel from  St Thomas, and then head to a resort where you have rainforest all the way down to the buildings you are staying in, with beach and ocean infront, very unique.  Some really nice accommodation options in St Croix depending on what you are wanting to do, where you want to be, and whether it is just the two of you or a whole group.

As I know these islands and area well (you can even take a boat over to the British Virgin islands which I love also and can help you with planning a wedding at any of those islands), this can be a nice easy process for you and you will never be wondering what it is like, is it what the pictures on the internet show etc.

Let’s do it

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

714 305 7112

Add a comment January 12, 2012

Weddings in Greece

I had a great two weeks in Sept hanging out on three Greek Islands and had about 30 hours in Athens.

I have been to Greece before, did Athens thing for a few days and on that same trip took  a ferry boat journey in one day that gave me the chance to get off and enjoy three different islands for a few hours.  All I really remember was the small fishing village feel and no beaches,  rocky ledges were the sunbathing venues available.  And on a Med cruise two years ago stopped at Santorini which is just gorgeous, and the epitomy of what you believe a Greek Island should be.

This trip had me in Crete (largest Greek Island) for 4 days, then Rhodes for 2 days and then Mykonos for  2 days.  I love looking at everything I am seeing/experiencing with a future destination wedding for a lovely couple/group in mind.   On this trip  I found some gems, so if you are considering a Greek Island wedding, let me know and I can work with you to have that dream become a reality.

Here’s what I saw/experienced:

Crete – Stayed at the Panorama Hotel just outside of the town of Chania, about 10 mins by cab and 20 mins by local bus.  It sits up high on a hill thus the name and the views of the Cretan Sea were just awesome.  The property is all about the pool areas and the view.  It’s not 5 star, but certainly not a low 3 star either, and you can pay for executive or executive with your own entry to a pool infront of those rooms etc so if you want more than their basic it is available, plus I find that  when you are in other countries and not staying at name brand hotels where you know the hotel room/amenities are consistent world wide, you really need to be open and enjoy what you have and where you are.  Our room was aok/had everything we needed in it and was very unique as it was in a different section than the big hotel block/tower, it was under the Executive Suite section of which they are floors 2-4 I believe of this curved/hugs the cliff section, and we were on floor 1, our balcony opened to a lawn area where I could pull the chaise out onto the grass and have a different experience sunbathing on the lawn than a balcony or by the pool, quite enjoyable.  They have a great american breakfast buffetwhere you sit under trees and umbrellas with that same beautiful ocean and island in the background,  a beautiful way to start the day.  Nice bar/lounge and outdoor seating areas, and we had no probs getting loungers around the pool and the temperature was good,  Sept is the  start of their off season and after hearing the temps they get in Greece in July/Aug, then May/June or Sept would be the months I would look at.

Chania Harbor:

An alley in the harbor area:

How would I use this hotel and destination for a wedding.  Well, everyone could stay here, especially in Sept when the rates were excellent, think Motel 6 pricing.  For the first night everyone in house reception/dinner  I would book an area/or book it out in a restaurant in the village a 5 min walk down the road (or you could rent a few taxis/or shuttle but the walk was easy)where the ocean is coming right up to the restaurant, very casual, gets everyone in the mood.  Then if the next day is rehearsal day, do the rehearsal where the cere would be, which in my mind would be in the lower side pool area where the ocean and island looking towards Chania are the backdrop, then have buses pick everyone up and take you into Chania town, do the walk down the cobblestone street to the harbor, have dinner booked at one of the harbor cafes where it’s all about the people watching, then give everyone the chance to do what they want after, shop, sit and drink more, go home and sleep etc.

Wedding day: ceremony in the location I mentioned above, cocktails around the pool area, and then dinner/dance under the stars on the big pool  deck.  At midnight you move inside to a room where it’s set up with loungy furniture for those that want to keep partying (yes there are noise time limitations even in Greece and especially at hotels, but midnight outside to me is great).  We actually saw a wedding reception for 200 in the area I mention and watched them from 11pm-midnight and boy were they having a great time, no plate smashing tho!!  Note: the ocean was warmer than the pools, they don’t seem to have an heating equipment for the pools and I am guessing that is due to how hot it gets in their summer and the pools probably heat up with the sun and outside of those times people just aren’t swimming.

The view below would be the backdrop I would use for the ceremony, and then the dining/dancing are on the main pool deck has an incredible panorama ocean view:

Wedding party c

Now onto Rhodes – loved it, a very european feeling locale with all the europeans vacationing along with you.  We stayed about 10 mins by cab/bus out of the main town in a great hotel that was very W feeling, they have a tower block again, and also bungalows that are at the back of the property where there is a separate pool area, if you had a big enough group you could probably take this area over.  The bungalows are fantastic, and again think 4 star but Motel 6 pricing, it can’t be beat.  American buffet breakfast included again and several pool areas and a nice path that goes from this hotel around infront of several other hotels along the bay, one of them quite large and obviously the party/keep the guests entertained night and day place.  Lots of local restaurant options within 5 mins walking from the hotel. 

The town is made up of the newer (old to us) part and then the wall enclosed old town, this is the place to be and enjoy.  You are just walking around on cobblestone streets/paths that are surrounded by buildings of history, then areas of souvenir/shopping  stores and of course, tons of cafes where you stop for a beer and face the walkers and people watch.  A couple of roof gardens where you are looking down on them too and they have no idea.  This seemed to me to be the kind of place that probably gets going at night after 11pm.   We got  a car and it took us about 45 mins to drive along the coast to a beach/cove area called Lindos where their acropolis/pathenon is there for you to walk around.  The beach/cove areas are lovely in that area and there are restaurants right on the beach you can just shower and walk up to and eat and drink and then go back to your umbrella and chaise lounger.

Now weddings in Rhodes, at our hotel I could definately see areas to do the cere with an oean backdrop or they have a wee amphitheatre area, and then cocktails with an ocean backdrop  and then the dinner dancing inside or outside.  And for the pre event dinners etc the places I talked about above would all work and be fabulous.

This is the fabulous bay/cove in Lindos:

Mykonos – well as you fly in or go in by boat, you immediately realise that the architecture is what you think Greek is going to be.  The white washed buildings with blue trim, light or dark or greeny.  The owner of our boutique hotel picked us up at the airport and drove us by town so we could see how close it will be to walk there.  As we turned a curve I saw white buildings on a beach and thought, wow what a great location, well it turned out, that was were we were spending the next 2 nights.  Fabulous doesn’t even describe this hotel.  31 rooms, so if you are a destination wedding with 40 guests or so you can probably have the whole place to yourselves.  There is a central courtyard great for a cocktail party or just hanging with everyone, a great breakfast included daily, a cool pool/restaurant area and a lawn looking right to the beach/Aegean Sea.  The Mykonos  Bay Hotel is my pick of picks if you come to me  and say where should we go in Greece for our destination wedding.  It is a very greek accommodation style, if you have someone who wants the plush/spa accommodation then right across the street up on a hill is the accommodation for those guests and they can wander up and down and not feel out of anything and be paying more for the experience they are more comfortable with.

Ok,  I would do the arrival night cocktails and food in the courtyard:

Rehearsal dinner would be in the town at one of the cool cafes (and probably do this two nights before)  and then after the guests can hang and party in town if they want or walk back.  This town is known for the all night partying and you can see that nothing starts there until around midnight and people from  all around the world are there to party!!  Thus, two nights before the big day.

Cere would be held through this arch on the lawn with the coean/sand backdrop.  So the guests and the bride would all enter to the lawn through this arch from the main courtyard, lovely eh:

And this is the lawn with the backdrop behind the couple and the view of the guests:

Now I pick the lawn for the cere,  most of the beaches in Greece are pebbly, and this is no exception,  but you can do it on the beach if you want, but you would need to provide flip flops for the guests as a fun but useful gift/favor.

Cocktails would be held around the pool area:

Then cocktails

Then the dinner/dance would be held in the restaurant area at the end of the pool area, looking back to the buildings of the hotel:

The food served here is not Greek which to be honest was a nice change, fabulous mushroom risotto, caesar salad, great sandwiches etc, so I know they will have no problem doing a full on gourmet meal for the guests to enjoy and eat all of it!!!  Use the town for the traditional greek food experience.  I love this area as you keep the view, but in  case of wind or the elements are enclosed. 

Obviously in all areas you see, the right chairs/tables/linens will be brought in to create whatever feel/atmosphere you want.

I just fell in love with this hotel and hope the pictures give you the feel I want you to have.  Now it can be windy in Mykonos, it’s known as the island of the winds, the owner  tells me April/May/June are going to be before the heat and less wind.  Sept is excellent pricing tho, but can be windy, and the town and most hotels close from Oct-April, so not a huge windown to choose from and of course nature will do what it will do, but I would not do July/Aug when all the tourists are there and the island is fulll and prices for everything are premium.

As far as Athens is concerned, I would use this more as a arrival hub if you wanted to, have the next day planned with using the Happy Train to see all the key sights and get on and off at the nooks and crannies it can go to (that buses cannot), people can do the acropolis and any historical places of interest to them, then do dinner that night with everyone in the Plaka, lots of cool restaurants to choose from/and areas, then the next day bus everyone to the airport for the flight to the island of choice for the wedding or catch the ferry to the island.

If this all sounds like fun and you are interested, let me know and we can get started planning your destination wedding to Greece.

Oh this was funny, we came back from our walk into town to find these two Japanese couples posing around the hotel grounds, the guys had been dressed and then got casual but the girls stayed in their ‘American’ gowns for more pics.  They were on their honeymoon and had brought these gowns with them just for these shots!!

Till next time

While I was waiting at the base of the Acropolis in Athens for my husband (been there done that before and decided people watching was more my style that day), about 20 cars came honking up the road and a whole bridal party/couple/family got out and climbed a rock close by with their photographer behind, I went over and followed and they got the couple positioned on this rock with the acropolis//pathenon behind, what an awesome picture that is going to make for their album or wall.  Fabulous.

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment November 18, 2010

Bahamas weddings

I was lucky enough to be back in the Bahamas in August for a week. 

Back in 1986 it was a dream for a girl from New Zealand (me) when I was in Florida to even think about taking the short flight over and exploring for a few hours, but I made it happen, and since then I have been back about 7 times.  Most of the trips staying in the Paradise Island/Nassau area, one on one of the outer islands, and came in a couple of times on a cruise ship.

This trip we were back on Paradise Island and when you look at that ocean and white sand all you can think about is, what a backdrop for a destination wedding.  There are hotels/locations for both big and small weddings.  You can do both ceremony and reception/dinner/dance at resorts like Atlantis either inside or outside, and Sandals, the Wyndham etc, or you could mix it up a bit.  If you have everyone staying on Atlantis Island (but they can stay where they want, there is everything there from timeshare to Comfort Suites to Best Western, to of course the One and Only, and Atlantis) you can all meet at a certain time  (normally sunset) at a designated spot on the beach (further down towards the golf course area is better, quieter), have pictures done on the beach with everyone after or go to the Cloisters which is fabulous and very european looking for photos,  then go to one of the great restaurants on the island and get a private room or portion of the dining area, and then go party at a nightclub/bar in the area or at Atlantis, or do the large wedding event with a ballroom at the Atlantis.

Enjoy the pics of these weddings I saw right next to where I was staying.

If you are considering a Bahamas wedding, let me help you pull it together.

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment October 18, 2010

Sandals Antigua

Thought I would report on a great location to honeymoon at, or even take yourselves only, or a small group to, for a destination wedding.

I was last in Antigua about 20 years ago, so it was time to go back, and I have just come back from a few nights down/over there.

If you are looking for a resort that has 2 sides to it where you can utilise/get the benefits of both, then this resort fits the bill.  A boutique/island side that is older and quaint and romantic, and the new side (only 3 years old) that has the new modern rooms, high rise with views over the gardens to the ocean, and  the big pool.   When I would look back up at the new building it reminded me of Bellagio a bit in Las Vegas.  Great bathroom with tons of room and a lovely shower as well as a big oval bathtub with jets, four poster bed, sitting area, and a cute balcony you could sit on and watch the sunset, if you weren’t down at the beach doing that.  The part that makes a Sandals stay so great is, all the food (choice of quite a few restaurants and areas that offer/serve food) and the beverages are included.  So from the well stocked fridge/bar in your room, champagne/beer/hard liquor, to no matter where you went being able to get what you want when you want, there is no stress about what the bill is going to be at the end.

The items that will be on the bill will be the extra items you chose to spend money on, ie, items from the boutiques/shops on property, internet (could do wireless but there was a fee by the day or week), excursions, and of course the spa which I had to sample and it was lovely and well worth the $$.

They also have some neat small villa accommodations around the property that are very private and have your own jacuzzi and plunge pool outside with chaise loungers and small table and chairs, very romantic and secluded feeling.  These and some of the other level accommodations come with a butler, and the couples who had one were loving it, no thinking involved.  Their meals were booked/pre planned for them at the different restaurants etc, and anything they could be thinking they may want to do, they make it happen.  We even saw some go down to the beach and save seats for them in the shade and then take the couples lunch/drinks etc, while we had to go and get ours!!  Believe me we needed to do the walking with all the food and drinks we were enjoying, and never once did I think to find a gym!!

Think I have been/seen all the Sandals now or the islands they are on, and if you are considering the Caribbean and going with Sandals, whether I am your planner or not, let me know.  I have my couples work with a special department there, the price is the same as if you book on line or randomly call the 800 #.  With the dept I use you get personalized service from your first call through until you make the last before you head out the door for the plane.  So again, if you want personalized service, email me and I will put you in touch with the department and that’s it, you don’t hear from me again, you just work directly with them.

For couples only, or small groups, you can have a wonderful destination wedding at any of the Sandals.  We saw quite a few while we were there, in various areas around the resort, some with djs and sit down meals, and some just the couple.  You can either do the planning here in the US yourself and then let the resort co-ordinators handle everything for you down there, or you could work with me helping you put everything together on this end and then be there to ensure all goes well once you are down there, and can even be the liaison between you and Sandals so you can only work with me if you want.

Vacation or honeymoon, you won’t be disappointed.

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment May 23, 2010

Australia & New Zealand

Well hello

In case you were wondering why I hadn’t blogged.  I was just in NZ for a couple of major birthday celebrations in the family & friend group, and then stopped off at Sydney on the way back.

Maybe because I wasn’t so rush rush as always when home (I was born in New Zealand and every one of my family members still live there),  I had my eyes open with weddings in mind for future couples of mine.

New Zealand, fabulous place for a honeymoon or destination wedding.  Now not tropical like some people think, it really has a climate similar to San Francisco/Seattle areas, it is a beautifully green country, lots of land still, when in the bush areas you can hear the native Tui birds and others,  so very peaceful and idyllic in so many ways.  For honeymoon travel, easy to drive yourself around and stay in nice hotels along the way, or you can ‘rough’ it and hire a campervan/rv vehicle-very popular.  There are some great upscale lodges if you have a small group coming where you can do both the wedding celebration and have everyone staying under one roof or in separate villas on the grounds.

Then Sydney, this really is a fabulous looking city, and I am lucky enough to have been many times.  There is nothing like flying in or out and looking down over the harbour and seeing the bridge and the Opera House.  I have been out on the harbour many times, but this time noticed that there is a small island bang in the middle, and apparently you can rent it and have your ceremony and luncheon/dinner on it.  It’s quite small and could be windy and no shelter if it rains and you didn’t plan on it, but a cool idea I think.  There are  restaurants all around this harbor/Circular Quay area where you can have banquet space or rent the restaurant and be looking out to the Opera House while you celebrate.  They even have a cool ice bar where you have to get rugged up like an eskimo and go in for a drink, then decide that was long enough and leave, it’s about the experience not really the drinking!!!  Fabulous five star hotels all close to the water in that you would be familiar with in Sydney, so no need to worry about hotel quality or standards, in fact some of these hotels claim a six star service/experience!!!  A very easy area to walk around and get a feel for and experience city.  Can you imagine a wedding celebration in this city on NY Eve daytime and then you charter a boat and do a group dinner/dance and watch the fabulous NY fireworks show they do (one of the best in the world I say), or make that your wedding celebration, very memorable.

Well, if anyone is considering either of these desintations for their wedding ceremony/celebration, I am your girl.  And if you are planning on a honeymoon to either location, I can give you loads of good info and even put you in touch with Mr Australia who handles fabulous trips for couples/groups to both countries.

I was happy to see that my group of pals are still supporting the champagne industry,  so a lot of bubbles were enjoyed and celebrated with.

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment February 5, 2010

Destination Weddings

I am in a fortunate position indeed.  I am based in a wonderful location where I have lots of local couples or couples that live close by, but 50% of the weddings I do here in S.CA are actually destination, meaning they are coming here from other cities/states or countries, and they is meaning the couple and many of their guests.  They have many great reasons to choose S.CA for their special wedding celebration, we can pretty much count on their outdoor ceremony being outdoors no matter what time of year, it may be cooler at times but never as cool as where they may be coming from.  S.CA is a great draw for the friends and family to meet and not only enjoy the wedding event/family reunion, but also combine it with a family vacation and take advantage of being close to all that we are famous for, Hollywood,  Disneyland etc, and be close enough to go to San Diego and enjoy the attractions and city only an hour away.  For some couples this is where one or both of them come from, or they have parents or family here, and for some it is really about the Pacific Ocean and the climate.  Being based here and with the huge range of vendors and options available here, it is a great idea to get a co-ordinator from here to help narrow down those options and ensure your event goes as planned.  Most couples do have one or more trips into the area to either select vendors or after selecting vendors finalise everything and know going in that everything is going to be wonderful.  I have couples from all over the country, seem to always have a few from NY NY, Miami, and Chicago, and some from out of the country – all these weddings have gone off flawlessly whether they came into town prior to the big day or not, so if you are looking for someone who is based here to help you from Santa Barbara to San Diego to Palm Springs, feel rest assured that I can make the process smooth and calm for you and have done so for many couples.  Some I have not even met until the day of  the celebration, as they didn’t need or want to do a rehearsal of the ceremony.  How’s that for confidence!!

Ok, Destination Weddings out of S.CA – if you are an OC or LA bride and looking to go elsewhere for your celebration, then I can assist you there also.  I can see where if going to another location in the States including tropical destinations like Hawaii etc, you may feel that as couples coming here find me and that works for them, well why wouldn’t you do the same thing in the reverse.  You can, the difference would be, if  we were involved in the planning process from the beginning together, finding the location, invitation sourcing, vendors etc, then you feel like you have someone on your side that knows what they are doing fully, where otherwise you may not be 100% sure you are covering all bases.  I always suggest at least one trip together to the destination to scout locations and vendors, or if that is done without a trip, a trip to finalise arrangements with vendors/see samples and ensure all is to be as planned.  By having me there with you during that/those trips and the final trip then you are going to be able to feel that you can fully relax and enjoy your destination as I will be ensuring all the details are covered/happening/as planned.  I am there working while you are enjoying.

Destination Weddings to Mexico, Carribean, Europe, Downunder, South Pacific and anywhere else you may have in mind – well this is when having someone with you on your side through the process here and then there I think is very beneficial.  With these kind of weddings it’s not just the 6 hours of the wedding celebration you need to be concerned with, you become responsible for giving accommodation options, transfers, activities, meals, before and after parties, all things that with a wedding in the US do not seem to be as essential to have to plan for the guests.  This involves using a Destination Management Company, which is going to be totally different to the person at your location who is assisting with the ceremony and celebration that will follow.  Most of the time there could be a language barrier/challenge, even if they speak english.  Where you may hear a yes answer, someone like me knows what questions to ask a variety of ways to ensure the yes answer is indeed correct.  I definately believe one trip should be done, either in the preliminary planning stages to scout locations and vendors, or if those are chosen without a trip, then a trip pre wedding to ensure everything will be as expected.  This way you will never have suprises or disappointment when you arrive a day before and don’t have time to make things right if something becomes obvious it’s not what you expect, or you end up stressed and frustrated because you now do not have time to deal with fixing things as family are coming in and you also had planned to chill for a day or so prior, so your whole experience starts to become tainted.  The pre trips and having someone like me I believe are a great investment when working with a destination where the culture and language can be foreign to you.

A good example of this is, I was at a resort in Mexico a while back and there was a couple in the pool that we started chatting to.  They were having their wedding at this resort in two months time.  They were from San Francisco.  We asked how everything had gone and they looked at each other, with THAT look.  Un oh, what has been happening we asked.  This was their 2nd trip down, their person at the resort had changed 2 times, they were never really given all their options, and were very stressed.  This trip down was to ensure all was going to be well and they could hopefully now relax and look forward to the big day.  The bride said, I wish I had of booked a co-ordinator from home to help me with this process, it would have been less expensive and stressful/frustrating to have had that hand to guide me through the process.  Even though her contacts at the hotel spoke english, she never really felt the confidence in what they were saying.  I felt very sad that where she should have been looking forward to such a great trip for all to share, she was now more in the frame of mind to have it happen so it could be done with and look back knowing it ended up as it should be, but she had had to spend her planning months worrying.

Now on the other hand, you can choose locations such as The One & Only Pamilla, which I had a chance to visit and tour of.  What a beautiful location, and not only from the visual standpoint, from the way you feel from the moment you are greeted, to how the accommodations are, to how the staff treat you and each other.  There is such a serene, calm feel at this lovely resort, you can see why Oprah chose this spot to host John Travolta’s 50th birthday party.  Top notch everything.  They have a team to assist you from arrival on, but even at a location like this, how nice it would be for you to have your local consultant helping you with everything from invites through vendor options (maybe taking some from here is best for you) and then being the person on site down there to handle everything while you laze by the pool, and go to the pre and post parties you have planned.  That’s how it shyould be.

I will say from a few years ago when doing a Destination wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean meant having to bring everything in such as linens, specialty chairs etc, all that has changed.  There are great companies in all these locations now to handle every aspect and option you would expect to have here in the US, there as well, and to be honest, with some of the vendors I have met with and seen, they can be a bit more creative/unique than what some of our local vendors can be, maybe it is that vacation tropical/feeling air.  so that is fabulous news.

Is doing a Destination Wedding out of country going to save you money? Probably not (unless you were looking at 200 here and now are cutting it down to 50 there), what it does is mean the friends and family that are the most important to you will be there, it is a more intimate event where you can really all enjoy not only being together, but be together, you aren’t so streteches as you are even trying to get around 120 people in a 5 hour wedding reception.  You can give those guests who travelled pre and post events to attend, the best food & beverage experience, and make use of linens/chairs/dancefloors/lighting and unique elements that maybe you would not have done at home, all create a fabulous memory for you all to remember forever.

The great thing about a planner such as I, is I have the contacts in the various countries to give us the support system we need, to know that all will be well.  This comes from having travelled to so much of the world, spending this year really looking at other locations for those couples based here who are looking to go elsewhere, my constantly updated list of professionals world wide who have contacted me wanting me to know where they are based and how they can help me and my couples wanting to go to their desintation, and my membership in Assn of Bridal Consulatants which has members world wide, meaning I can always lean on someone in an area I may not be familiar with, to give us the guidance we need to get things started,a nd know who/what we are dealing with going in.

Destination weddings are a celebration that you should be looking forward to with great anticipation, not trepidation, so use a co-ordinator such as me, on this end, to help you be in that place.

Until next time

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 15, 2009

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