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Overwhelmed...where do you even begin?

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#31 echo2_62

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    Posted 14 August 2009 - 10:08 AM

    Having finished writing this out, I realized it was kind of long so I apologize but hopefully it helps give some ideas of how to narrow things down!

    I'd started out by grabbing at least half a dozen magazines from the travel agent and just going through them over my lunch break or during commercials. I'd flag the page corners for the places that I liked for one reason or another, with little thought on how they compared to other resorts (because it was the first pass). Lots of brochures will have a wedding symbol indicated next to the resort description if they are available so check for that first thing! One easy way to keep yourself from flagging EVERY page is to have an idea of what you consider reasonable to ask your guests to pay. Would you pay $2400 for a friends/cousins/co-workers wedding? This will weed out some of the higher end resorts that will naturally attract over some of the less-expensive places.

    As I started mentioning some of the features to my FI, I realized very quickly that the next step was finding out some of his likes/dislikes. Big resort, small resort. Near a bigger city (Cancun) vs. a smaller one (Tulum). A great night life or more quiet and intimate. Beach vs. garden wedding. Really, really hot & steamy or just comfortably hot. All the friends you can imagine, or just family and very close friends? Those kind of questions can help direct you to certain locations over others. And of course remember to ask yourself those things too!

    Next, start comparing the resorts you've flagged based on location. Compare all the ones from the Mayan Riviera together. Then the ones from Puerto Vallarta, then Bermuda, then Cuba etc etc. I found that when you look at them in smaller groups based on location, you'll be able to pick out what is common to all of them and focus on what makes that resort stand out from the one right next door. After you've narrowed down the resorts by area, you can start comparing them to each other. I agree that you should make lists as you go! Write down what it is that you like or don't like about each place so that when you compare it to another it's *your* preferences that guide you, not just the pretty pictures :)

    Hopefully this helps narrow down your search list (going through this narrowed my list to 14-16 resorts!) because my next step was to hit the internet. TripAdvisor has reviews for just about every single resort you can find. I found the reviews to be very helpful because some places that were obviously meant to look very attractive on paper did NOT appear to be so fabulous to the people who had visited them! Take it all in with a grain of salt however, because some people are FAR more specific/picky about what they believe is good service or high quality. To me though, it seemed fairly obvious with the more that you read.

    Check out the wedding packages as you go. Some simply will not fit you or your style. Cross those places off your list. Identify which places need to be contacted to get any wedding information and indicate those separate from the others. It will save time flipping back and trying to remember which ones they were! Does the cost of the package matter to you? Are there complimentary packages or package bonuses based on the number of guests booked at the resort? What upgrades/changes can you make to the packages? What are the legal requirements for weddings in the country of choice and can you meet those?

    Have you thought of a date yet? Or even more generally a month? Remember to consider not only your own country's holidays, but also those of the locations that you plan to visit. Dominican Republic I believe is very clear that the week leading up to Easter Sunday is a Holy week for them. This means limited staff onsite, less excursions off the resort will be available and many shops could be closed all week. If these things are important for you or your guests, pick another week! Also remember spring break, university exam periods, summer vacations for schools etc. These are especially critical depending on whether or not you have children attending. Also, many of these periods are quite a bit more expensive and are considered "peak" traveling times. And although no one could possibly expect you to accommodate the schedules of all your guests, it may be important for you to consider the schedules of VIP guests, such as siblings or parents (for example, teachers can find it difficult to get time off during the regular term and may only be available on breaks scheduled for the whole school). Some of these things might eliminate some months at least if you can't quite narrow it down to just one.

    Start looking at prices in the months that work for you. Most travel magazines can tell you what seasons are high and low for each place but google it if you can't find it. The prices of the resorts will vary throughout the year and some will fall off your list as you start to figure out what those costs will be. Talk to a travel agent and find out what group rates or booking bonuses you can receive.

    End story - go with your gut!! If you continue looking back to one place or another then there is probably a reason why! For me, I knew there were some advantages of a couple resorts over the others, but I was always comparing them back to just one place that I finally realized I REALLY wanted. If you only get your choices down to three places that's totally okay too because once you start contacting the resorts to see what availability they have on the dates you prefer, you might have to choose one over the other anyways!

    So sorry again if this was a long read, but it's what got me through my selection process with a minimal amount of grief. Good luck!!!!

    #32 akkelly

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    • 13 posts

      Posted 14 August 2009 - 02:23 PM

      Thanks for all of your advice everyone. I am also feeling very overwhelmed and stressed not knowing where to begin or exactly what I need to do. I thknk I have chosen my resort... think... so I guess that is a decent start.

      #33 ashey063009

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        Posted 14 August 2009 - 02:40 PM

        Just wanted to poke in and see how things are coming?? Updates, Updates! :)

        #34 CnC

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        • 108 posts

          Posted 18 August 2009 - 12:04 AM

          Thanks for asking! I realize I haven't logged on in a while. Well, still no place or date. But FI and I finally sat down and went over our priorities and decided to buckle down and face the planning. FYI: my priority is Chapel ceremony and Family's presence; his? I get what I want but at the same time we minimize the cost - we're (meaning he is) paying for the wedding.

          He spent a couple of hours making an Excel spreadsheet last night, so that we might be able to compare the places easily in one glance - which is actually not very easy to do! The spreadsheet is a working progress and he also took the initiative and called a travel agent off the web to look further into finding that "perfect" place.

          For a while, it was a bit stressful when discussing the plan with the FI. It even got to the point of him saying "hope you still want to marry me at the end of today". Really, it wasn't THAT bad...but I love him even more now for realizing my stress and helping out in ways he knows how. :)

          I thought Mexico was out, but it's back on the list - this makes me feel better since I really do think Mexico is the best option for us. We shall see! For both of us, work has been stressful, so it really had put a pause on our wedding planning. We will forge on though. We both really can't wait to be married, start a family and live happily ever after...so...just need to jump over this hurdle called a 'wedding'. :)

          #35 echo2_62

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            Posted 23 August 2009 - 02:49 PM

            CnC... good to hear that you and your FI were able to work out what priorities each of you has! That is definitely a good place to start and will weed out a lot of resorts along the way I'm sure.

            And I loved your comment of him saying "hope you still want to marry me" because I'm pretty sure that we've said the same thing a few times as well after our 'discussions' :)
            But cheers to him for figuring out what he could do for you and going ahead with it. One hurdle down...

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