While we had been talking of getting married for a while, things became "official" on Saturday, November 30th. While in my mismatched pj's with my hair tied up in a scarf and no one around, my fiance shocked me by (FINALLY) popping the question and presenting a ring that had been a post-it note doodle (instead of one of the 2 settings I'd picked as "options"). He's pretty conservative and always wants to "see-it" especially when it comes to big purchases. So the fact that he went with my doodle was HUGE! I'm glad he did .
Finally feeling "super official" I set out on a planning rampage. Since my fiance is so easy-going and a "pleaser", I felt it only fair to consider a destination wedding since this was something he felt strongly about. Against his feedback, I made a beeline for Barnes & Noble to buy The Knot's Destination Wedding guide and a planner - which I now realize, I really didn't/don't need.
Armed with my fancy new planning guide and planner, I sat down and followed the advice of a good happily-married friend: "Pick 3-5 MUST-Haves and forget the rest." My top 3 were "no-brainers" (and thankfully aligned with my fiance's):
- Location - get pricing for "home" (here in the states) vs. a Destination. For the Destination, I used my own travel experience to help us choose a location that would give us (and our guests) the biggest "bang for buck" while being fairly easy & affordable to get to. All roads led to MEXICO!
- Food - a resort that had not just decent but GREAT food. We love a great meal and have a family full of "foodies" so this was an absolute MUST! My fiance pointed out that everyone still raves about the food from my sister's weddding 10 years ago & we should strive for the same!
- FUN - a resort that had activities for guests to do should they not want to book excursions etc...
When hashing out the "MUSTs we differ on such as videography, she suggested that I remember to be flexible as well as realistic - which I recently had to apply after getting a pretty pricey videography quote (more on that later).
After spending COUNTLESS exhausting hours combing Google and Tripadvisor for reviews of various resorts, I created a spreadsheet (yes a spreadsheet ) to compare the "Top 5" I felt matched the above "Musts." I found myself getting utterly confused and feeling greatly overwhelmed before creating the spreadsheet. Also, an "A-type" by nature, I was afraid I had somehow overlooked a property to consider. So I naturally bugged my fiance with non-stop "hey, what do you think about this place?" questions. Tired of having his sports watching interrupted, he suggested we consider consulting a Travel Agent/Advisor. I tend to be of the "I got THIS" mindset and figured I could calm my fears/concerns with a post on sites like this. I'm proud to admit I was wrong!
If you are in the early stages of planning and are unsure where to start, I cannot recommend enlisting the help of a Travel Agent/Advisor (TA) enough!
Leave it to the Pros: After checking with DW friends and reading various reviews, I selected 3 pros to conduct a phone interview with. The Knot's DW guide suggested interviewing TAs to assess knowledge, expertise, and fit (among other things). Instead of calling, I emailed each professional as an initial assessment. The TA we selected was the most responsive and addressed every question/point of interest/concern I listed in my inquiry. Upon speaking with her, she confirmed our 1st impression and lived up to the reviews we'd seen on-line. She also provided unsolicited candid feedback re the best time of year for our budget etc... I shared my spreadsheet with her and she did not hesitate to provided candid insight on the properties listed, as well as provide others that we should consider based on what we are looking for.
Finding the right TA will really take what I felt was the biggest "weight" off of you - especially if you can't do a scouting trip! The TA will also take care of your guests travel arrangements, help negotiate best rates etc... Some also can advise you on the location contract - helping to avoid room minimum penalties etc...
To Scout or Not To Scout: We are opting to scout because a) I'm "A-type" (remember?) and b)the front-runner resort offers a deeply discounted weekend where you can taste the food, see the location etc... Initially, DF (dear fiance) was adamant about NOT doing a scouting trip. After pointing out his practice of not making big purchases/investments without doing thorough research and "seeing-it", he relented. I further pointed out that due to the size, our wedding is a "big ticket" item so why should this be treated differently?!
Thanks to our TA, we have 3 locations of interest that we'll be visiting at the end of the month.
In the meantime, I've set my sights on my remaining "Musts": Photographer & videographer, which I hope to narrow down to 2-3 before our trip so we can meet them. After getting a quote ( )from my "dream" videographer here in the states, I had to revisit the "Musts" and rank them in order of true priority & practicality. While a video is something I really want, it is something that will realistically be watched once in a blue after the wedding. With that said, I've moved this to a very strong "Nice to Have."
I think this post has gone on long enough so I will end here....until next time....
p.s. please excuse my niece's toes. she wanted to help take a pic of my ring.