Thursday, July 21, 2011

Destination: Harbour Island, Bahamas

Destination weddings are gaining momentum. And for lots of reasons: the couple that can't trim the invite list, different settings, an all weekend event instead of one night, etc.

During our travels to unique destinations, we're going to give you the high points of why these locations are worth a second look for your wedding weekend.

Harbour Island, Bahamas or as the locals call it, Briland

An outside ceremony here would look much like this:
Tame breeze, 80 degrees, quiet gentle waves, specks of coral pink woven into plushy white sand. No need to dress it up with decor...the sky streaks raspberry and azure as the sun sets.

This destination is for the bride who can leave her watch at home. It's for the groom that appreciates lazy days. These locations are truly on island time.

Breakfast is before 10am and lunch starts at noon. Dinner is a big deal, especially if you've spent the day catching grouper or snapper. Local restaurants, like Acqua Pazza, will cook your catch and serve it up with fluffy mashed potatoes and lemon caper sauce. The best method of travel around the island is via golf cart...and stay on the left side of the road. Easy travel time - only one hour from Miami, Florida.

Nightlife options are limited, but exists in full force after sunset. On the weekends, Valentine's Marina has live bands; all the songs you know with a Bahamian twist. Even more local, check out Gusty's any night. Sand floors, boards of Tequila shots and even a window to the bar to order from the deck.

The recommended resorts are: Dunmore Hotel, Coral Sands, Valentine's, Rock House, Pink Sands, Romora Bay, and Runaway Hill Inn.

Resorts come in all sizes and shapes: some cottages, some hotels, some rooms in mansions. They can accommodate between 25 and 100 guests. If you're invite list is longer, you can always book your guests in two resorts, as many are just a beach walk or golf cart ride away from the next.

Don't overlook this magical destination if you're criteria include unpopulated beaches, tasty dishes, friendly service, relaxation and privacy. The toughest decision you'll make on Harbour Island? Rum Punch or Goombay Smash.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Location, Location, Location...Venue Shopping!

Have you made your list? You know the one I'm talking about.

Must haves: water view, seated capacity of 152 with a dance floor, separate rooms at least 15 feet from each other for cocktails and dinner.

Would like: chairs included in rental fee, high ceilings.

Repulsed by: cheesy hotel decor, restrictions on red wine.

If you haven't written this laundry list of venue preferences, it's probably because you haven't yet made a venue visit. If you are super picky about this part of your wedding and don't know much about the venues in your area, it's wise to hire a planner for just this aspect, if nothing else.

If you have a solid, small outline of the aspects that matter most, move full speed ahead and schedule your visits. You have a big task in front of you! Read on for the criteria to consider first.

SAS it up: Size, Amount, Scenery

WARNING: Before you get down with your SASsy inner bride, do nothing until you establish your guest list. You'll be juggling some heavy clubs if you choose not to heed this warning. And if you're stressed now...prepare for wedding overload if you're not relatively set in the number of guests you'll be inviting.

A seated dinner for 150 requires a room (or adjacent rooms) that can accommodate enough tables and chairs for 150 guests. White-pillared, enchanting veranda, and a trellis with cascading greenery won't change that fact. Don't fall in love with a venue that will force you to cut people off of any set-in-stone invite list. And, yes, kids count. They can't eat in the parking lot.

Money matters. If your overall wedding budget is $25,000, DO NOT rent a venue that includes nothing but the four walls around you for $10,000. I promise you, it won't work. Always ask about how many hours you'll have the space, are chairs, tables, etc. included, any additional fees.

If your dream reception includes chandeliers, marble balconies, antique soft-gold trimmed chairs and pixie dust, don't waste time on visiting barns, tented gardens and beachfront houses. And be flexible on the pixie dust; it's hard to come by.