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Where To Start?! Canadian Bride Looking For Advice.


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#1 jencakes

jencakes
  • Newbie
  • 4 posts

    Posted 02 February 2015 - 09:27 PM

    Hi everyone!

     

    My fiance and I got engaged in Oct and we are slowly starting to plan our wedding! We finally decided on DW Nov 2016. I don't know where to start. I feel so overwhelmed.  I was hoping you can answer some questions I have.

    1. Do I really need a TA? I don't know how travel agencies work. If I go with a TA, do they usually charge more for cost of flight and vacation packages for myself and guest? Would it be cheaper if my guests book with expedia, or other third party booking agencies? My fiance thinks we should just encourage our guests to book with those websites but I feel that would be so stressful and disorganized. 

    2. How do I find myself a reputable TA? I am based in Toronto and I just don't know where to look. I have googled for TA in Toronto who specializes in DW but they have mixed reviews. Can anymore recommend me a travel agent?

     

    Thanks a bunch :) 



    #2 calgarybride2015

    calgarybride2015
    • Sr. Member
    • 4,506 posts
    • Wedding Date:January 21, 2015
    • Wedding Location:Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya
    • LocationCalgary, AB

    Posted 03 February 2015 - 06:25 AM

    Welcome and congrats on your engagement!

     

    I am just going from experience....

     

    1. You need a TA.   Especially one who has done a destination wedding or two.  She will help you narrow down your choices as she is familiar with the properties, locations, countries, etc.   Mine priced out the resorts I wanted her too, but also recommended ones she knew were coming back in our price range.  The one we ultimately chose was from her suggestion and was never on our radar.

     

    2. I don't believe they up the prices due to group bookings and your TA is paid from the tour operator themselves, you never have to pay her anything.

     

    3. For our group price, it was NEVER cheaper anywhere else, ever.  People tried but realized how good of a price we got.  We stayed at the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya which is listed as a 5* for a 7 night all inclusive package (hotel, flight, transfers, taxes) and from Toronto they paid $1465 and Calgary $1565.  The transfers to these locations if the people lived elsewhere were very cheap! 

     

    4. Going for a group booking also has perks depending on your airline.   We booked with Air Canada Vacations.  We got a free upgrade to first class for the bride/groom which has great perks - one being more luggage and at higher weights per bag (perfect for all that wedding stuff!)   We also got every 17th person booked for free (minus taxes), so in the end I got 2 free packages totaling around $2000 back to us. 

     

    5. The TA handled everything - all the bookings, questions, mishaps (flight changes, etc.), connectors for people, hotels if they needed, she sent all our travel documents, reminded people to pay, let people do payment plans, etc. 

     

    6. Finding the TA was hard!  Noone ever called us back. I am in Calgary but ended up using a TA in a small town in BC. We did everything on the phone or thru email. She was fantastic and came recommended from a friend.  If you want her info just let me know.

     

    7. I recommend you start with a country, then area of the country, then start looking at resorts, Make a list of must haves so you can narrow the resorts down. Also request their wedding information because some resorts look great, but their weddings not so much or vice versa.  I had my TA help me initially with some resorts to get info, but when it was time to book the date with the resort I did that all by myself.  This process is very overwhelming and will leave your head spinning, but this is where a good TA can help!

     

    Good luck!


    Edited by calgarybride2015, 03 February 2015 - 06:27 AM.

    -Kim

    Married on 2015/01/21 at the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya with 43 guests in attendance   :)

     

    Planning Thread - http://www.bestdesti...s-riviera-maya/

     

    Wedding Pictures http://www.bestdesti...ra-maya/page-36

     

    Wedding Review http://www.bestdesti...31#entry1885600

     

     


    #3 jencakes

    jencakes
    • Newbie
    • 4 posts

      Posted 03 February 2015 - 10:14 AM

      Thank you so much for your reply! 



      #4 Meandhim

      Meandhim
      • Member
      • 706 posts
      • Wedding Date:November 25, 2015
      • Wedding Location:Grand Palladium in Punta Cana
      • LocationToronto

      Posted 03 February 2015 - 12:42 PM

      @jencakes Welcome!! You have found the Jackpot of Destination Wedding info for sure!!

       

       

      Getting a TA and Group quote is definitely they way to go...it keeps your group together...allows you to stay close together if you are booking a large resort....everyone's information and travel questions are handled by the TA and it was easier to coordinate everyone. You also can just put down a deposit and pay the trip off...which is really helpful for guests who may not be able to just a pay a trip down right away. Most groups quotes are around the same price as the website (sometimes $100 higher or lower) but it ensures that no one in your group will get screwed with a really high price. Most tour operators will also price match or have guarantees.

       

      My DW planning experience has been a bit of a mess so If I were to start again I would:

       

      1. Figure out a budget range for Travel and for the wedding... there will be different prices from different locations if all your guests aren't from TO...so for example...$1500-2000per person travel....$12,000 wedding budget

       

      2. Figure out where I would want to go and when, but be flexible.....either early spring or late fall...1st Choice St. Lucia...2nd Choice Punta Cana...3rd choice Mexico...find out what the marriage requirements are for a legal or symbolic wedding

       

      3. Find a travel agent and get advice... They can tell you everything you need to know give you suggestions and research resorts in your price range...some will even help coordinate the actual wedding with the resort. I personally would choose a TA I can go see in person.

       

      4. Have my guest list ready to go...let most of them know what we are planning so they know it coming soon. This is because as soon as you choose a place you usually have 30-90 days for your guests to put down a deposit...or you can choose to put down all of the deposit yourself. Also most travel packages will require a certain number of people from each place. As well the actual wedding package will be an amount but the extras are per person

       

      5. Compare suggestions for Tour operators and resorts from TA for Price, Perks, baggage allowances, Wedding Packages (watch out for extras with the wedding packages...remember nothing is ever really free! my current wedding package says $730...but with all the extras it will be closer to $7000) and then choose one.

       

      6. Then start the wedding planning part...Get your wedding date... remember most places will require you to be at the resort 1-2 days before your wedding...if you are doing a legal wedding you may need time to fulfil any legal requirement obtain a licence...etc.

       

      7. Once you have a Wedding Date and Travel sorted it's smooth sailing...send out invites...make a website or facebook page...easy way to get info out to your guests...

       

      This is kind of where I am now so after this I have no advice! Just be flexible starting out.. this was my downfall! ...lol

       

       

      I am in Toronto as well and I had a really awful time finding someone to help me. I tried a few different TA's  that were located else where and was having a hard time getting a response...the destination wedding company's in TO got terrible reviews and I was scared to use them.  Finally what I did was walked into a travel agency next to my work and used them... I need face to face...no way to ignore me kind of service.

       

      Unlike @calgarybride2015 I already had a place (our First vacay location) and a date (our first date...which we ended up changing) picked out.. I just need to get everyone there...it was not easy..In fact our TA is fighting with my tour operator as we speak to get a lower price....because it is showing up online at almost $700 per person cheaper!! Let me note here that this is not the norm with group quotes...this is just my luck...ha. 

       

      I also have the majority of my guests are not out of TO but all over canada (mainly east coasters) so my only choice of tour operators were Air Canada and Westjet for that time of year. If the majority of your guests are coming from TO you will have a lot more choice of tour operator and resorts. Going with a group quote you do get benefits...I'm getting every 11th person is free...I'm going to use it to bring my photographer down :) saving me some in my wedding budget. Any free packages after that we will use for us or a family member.

       

      Good luck 


       
      My Planning Thread - MeandHim - Grand Palladium Bavaro - Nov 25 2015
       
      event.png
       

       

       


      #5 HilaryMWren

      HilaryMWren
      • Newbie
      • 20 posts
      • Wedding Date:January 23, 2016
      • Wedding Location:Barcelo Riviera Maya
      • LocationMontreal Canada

      Posted 03 February 2015 - 12:51 PM

      Hi

       

      I am also a newbie bride-to-be from Toronto seeking a Travel Agent. I have been working with one but find the process really overwhelming! Too many emails, prices, deadlines..... head spinning for sur!

       

      My suggestion would be to narrow your resorts down to 1-2 places if possible. I was trying to find the "cheapest" 5 star resort within my time frame and it was not working. I am now going to worry less about the price (sorry guests!) and focus on finding a resort that does an excellent job at weddings.

       

      Still have not booked yet......


      @meandhim  - Thanks for the suggestions!

      Once you have your date booked, did you send out save the dates with the travel agency info? How are you telling guests that they need to pay the deposit asap?

       

      Thank you!



      #6 calgarybride2015

      calgarybride2015
      • Sr. Member
      • 4,506 posts
      • Wedding Date:January 21, 2015
      • Wedding Location:Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya
      • LocationCalgary, AB

      Posted 03 February 2015 - 01:16 PM

      Hi

       

      I am also a newbie bride-to-be from Toronto seeking a Travel Agent. I have been working with one but find the process really overwhelming! Too many emails, prices, deadlines..... head spinning for sur!

       

      My suggestion would be to narrow your resorts down to 1-2 places if possible. I was trying to find the "cheapest" 5 star resort within my time frame and it was not working. I am now going to worry less about the price (sorry guests!) and focus on finding a resort that does an excellent job at weddings.

       

      Still have not booked yet......


      @meandhim  - Thanks for the suggestions!

      Once you have your date booked, did you send out save the dates with the travel agency info? How are you telling guests that they need to pay the deposit asap?

       

      Thank you!

       

       

      Once I had picked my date and had it booked with the resort and travel agent, I sent out my invites. Our invites had the basic info, but then it directed them to our wedding website where I listed all prices, dates, deadlines, deposits, etc.  Then they could contact our travel agent from there.    About 2 weeks before our deadline for deposits (they had 90 days) I sent reminder emails/texts to people who hadn't booked and/or we had no idea if they were coming or not. Most people booked on the last day, so a heads up on that. It can be very stressful.

       

      I didn't do a STD.

       

      If you have any questions let me know!

      I've been married 2 weeks tomorrow!


      -Kim

      Married on 2015/01/21 at the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya with 43 guests in attendance   :)

       

      Planning Thread - http://www.bestdesti...s-riviera-maya/

       

      Wedding Pictures http://www.bestdesti...ra-maya/page-36

       

      Wedding Review http://www.bestdesti...31#entry1885600

       

       


      #7 Msmimi

      Msmimi
      • Jr. Member
      • 150 posts

        Posted 03 February 2015 - 01:24 PM

        Congratulations and welcome!



        #8 Meandhim

        Meandhim
        • Member
        • 706 posts
        • Wedding Date:November 25, 2015
        • Wedding Location:Grand Palladium in Punta Cana
        • LocationToronto

        Posted 03 February 2015 - 01:25 PM

        @HilaryMWren I did a postcard...I don't know if I would call it a Save the Date  or an invitation...but like @calgarybride2015 It had basic info and directed them to the website...I also had 90 days to put down a deposit. My last day for deposits is Feb 18th...so far no one has booked....eeek...it is very stressful! although at least 20 have RSVP'd thank goodness or I would loose my mind!


         
        My Planning Thread - MeandHim - Grand Palladium Bavaro - Nov 25 2015
         
        event.png
         

         

         


        #9 HilaryMWren

        HilaryMWren
        • Newbie
        • 20 posts
        • Wedding Date:January 23, 2016
        • Wedding Location:Barcelo Riviera Maya
        • LocationMontreal Canada

        Posted 03 February 2015 - 07:28 PM

        @Meandhim Thank you and good luck! I will be thinking of you until Feb 18th....good luck with the numbers!


        @calgarybride2015 Thank you too! I am also close to booking in the Mayan so I will have lots of questions soon :)



        #10 Wafflesmom

        Wafflesmom
        • Member
        • 948 posts
        • Wedding Date:January 23, 2016
        • Wedding Location:Moon Palace
        • LocationVancouver, Canada

        Posted 03 February 2015 - 07:49 PM

        Hi fellow Canadian brides!

        @jencakes I sent you a pm of my travel agent's info

        I think @calgarybride2015 and @Meandhim have covered most of the points.

        @Meandhim $700 price difference? Oh I would be so angry. I hope you guys get the operator to price match, that's ridiculous! Our guests all placed their deposits the week of the due date so don't worry.

        Once I had the operator chosen I sent out my save the dates using paperless post. Super easy and it was a great way to track who saw the invite and they can reply back/rsvp rather quickly. We did send another email after with a travel brochure that our TA made which included prices, due dates and hotel info. It was 3 pages long and really handy.
        My planning thread: http://www.bestdesti...anuary-23-2016/

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