If you've always imagined yourself saying "I do" in an exotic locale with a breathtaking beach backdrop, a destination wedding is the right choice. There are countless possibilities when it comes to picking the perfect location, so with a little research, you can certainly find one that fits your tastes & reflects your unique relationship. Before you start planning one of these special events, though, there are certain considerations you need to take into account to ensure you have a relaxing & enjoyable big day.
Whether you're tying the knot in Tahiti or Mexico, remember these tips:
Do you have your passport? This document is required for destination weddings outside the U.S., so you should make sure you allow enough time to apply for one. There is the option of expedited applications, but the process will still take several weeks. You'll also need to bring proof of citizenship to wed in the Caribbean, Mexico & other foreign destinations.
Don't forget to research the marriage laws for the destination you choose. Every country is different, but many locations require that the couple applies for a marriage license in person. That means you'll want to arrive with all of the necessary paperwork & enough time to take care of the application. Additionally, some locations have a waiting period of several days. Looking into the specific laws ahead of time will ensure you're fully prepared – the last thing you want is any surprises putting a dent in your romance.
A destination wedding requires more notice for your guests. Be sure to send out save the date announcements & invitations as early as possible, & discuss your plans with immediate family from the start.
A travel agent is invaluable when it comes to these events. They can be a liaison with your resort & even act as a wedding planner or coordinator. A knowledgeable agent will also typically have special access to benefits, amenities, tours & wedding packages that can make your big day particularly memorable, as well as cost-effective. Plus, these advisors can make your guests' lives easier by looking into group discount rates. Be sure to pass on your travel agent's information to friends & family so that they can facilitate the booking process.
For brides, a destination wedding will likely demand some special planning in regard to style & beauty. First, you'll need to think about how you're transporting your gown to make sure it stays in tip top condition. It's also important to think about the destination's climate. After all, long trains aren't practical for beach weddings – & it may be necessary to invest in melt-proof makeup for island weddings.
Once a quaint fishing village, Playa del Carmen has burst in recent years into a hub of action. Now one of the trendiest spots for luxury travel in Mexico, this town boasts more than beautiful beaches. In fact, with a bevy of quality restaurants along on Avenida La Quinta (5th Avenue) & in the surrounding area, Playa has become a top culinary destination in Riviera Maya. Between the cosmopolitan European vibe & innovative fusion cuisine, dining here is nothing short of an adventure. Whether you're looking for an five-star Italian restaurant or a traditional Mexican meal, you can find it on your luxury vacation here.
These are a few spots you don't want to miss:
Yaxche Yaxche is the place to go if you're seeking authentic Mayan fare. The menu lends a modern spin to old world dishes for a truly unique & flavorful experience. Try traditional venison tsi'ik with radish, red onion, coriander & sour orange. Or, for something lighter, order the Xochitl-Nicte salad, which is a refreshing mix of fresh vegetables, edible flowers, grilled papaya, mango & honey with crispy corn & mustard dressing. Even familiar favorites like enchiladas are given an interesting twist with duck breast, cabbage, cotija cream & Black Maya Mole sauce. If you're overwhelmed by the foreign lingo on the menu, don't fret – the wait staff is happy to provide insight & even make pairing recommendations from the restaurant's extensive wine collection.
Casa del Aqua
What do you get when Mexican & German restaurateurs collaborate? A highly unusual eatery with dishes that are bound to please any foodie's palate. Casa del Aqua's menu emphasizes seafood, but there's certainly something for everyone, from hearty pasta dishes to mouth-watering steaks. If you're feeling adventurous, try a fusion option like the shrimp puff pastry strudel with fresh plums, mashed sweet potato, Oaxaca cheese & white wine sauce. With 140 different selections on their wine menu from around the world, you'll definitely find an ideal varietal to complement your food. The best part about Casa del Agua is that it features five different atmospheres with a distinct ambience, including a swanky bar area, an elegant terrace & a roof garden overlooking the ocean & island of Cozumel.
La Cueva del Chango
The laid-back atmosphere at La Cueva del Chango is ideal for a late leisurely lunch or even a casual dinner. While surrounded by lush vegetation, you can savor an exotic juice made from fresh fruit, a refreshing mango tequila cocktail or one of the many Mexican wines. The main dishes are reasonably priced & big on flavor, like the fish filet with mole over banana & guava sauce or the grilled tuna with hibiscus flower reduction. Just don't forget to save room for the homemade vanilla flan with orange sauce.
They say you can't have it all – but the truth is, perfection is possible, & Sandals Royal Plantation in Jamaica is the proof. As the brand's only all-butler boutique resort, this hideaway on two private cove beaches near the St. Ann Mountains combines chic decor & old world charm for an unforgettable experience. Between a world-class spa, unparalleled personalized service, gourmet dining & stylish amenities, every aspect of your luxury vacation here entails a new level of extravagance. The best part? The resort is all inclusive – & the breathtaking oceanfront views, which are available in every single suite, come for free.
Here's a look inside your grand getaway:
Make yourself at home
You can't go wrong with any of the accommodations at Sandals Royal Plantation. The Governor General Oceanfront One Bedroom Butler Suite & Prime Minister Oceanfront One Bedroom Butler Suite both boast an old world charm that will transport you back in time, while the Great House Oceanfront Butler Suite includes an elegant French-style ornamental balcony & an oversized bathroom. Plus, the in-suite bar is fully stocked with top-shelf wines & liquors for you to enjoy on the plantation-style sitting area.
Of course, you could always go all out with the three-bedroom Villa Plantana, which comes with its own swimming pool & is perfect for those who want ultimate privacy. While sitting on your shaded patio, your own private butler & room attendant will cater to your every need & desire.
Indulge your inner gastronome
There's no reason to feel guilty for eating gourmet fare at every meal while staying at Sandals Royal Plantation. That's because you'll be treated to unlimited fine dining at the five stellar restaurants on the grounds. When you're looking for a laid-back lunch, head to the Royal Grill for fresh salads & sandwiches made with exotic ingredients – they pair well with the picturesque view of the sparkling sea & white sands.
Then in the late afternoon, take part in a beloved English pastime at the Tea Terrace, where you can sip on a refreshing herbal blend in keeping with the time-honored tradition.
Papillon is an ideal spot for a romantic dinner, as the flavorful French cuisine & quaint ambience make for a memorable meal. Don't forget to finish off the evening with the restaurant's decadent signature drink, the French-inspired Brandy Truffle.
There's even more to please your palate at C Bar, Jamaica's only caviar & champagne bar, which is a great place to kick off or end your night.
Sometimes you just need a beach vacation for a dose of sunshine & a fresh perspective, & who could blame you? Sinking your toes into the warm white sand with an exotic cocktail in your hand is the best way to combat the winter blues or work-related stress. However, the key to a worry-free luxury vacation is to budget properly. The fact is, you can get away without going overboard on spending.
Here are a few tips for a beach vacation that won't break the bank:
It may be counterintuitive to look for a resort with direct access to the beach, but spending a little extra will be worth it. If you stay at a property that's farther away, you'll have to deal with transportation. Plus, you'll be less inclined to spend money on costly tours & activities off the grounds if you have a breathtaking stretch of sand right on-site. If you're a stone's throw from the beach, you can also forgo the room with the ocean view to save some money.
There's no reason to stuff your luggage with half your wardrobe – after all, you're probably going to be wearing a swimsuit for most of your stay. By packing light, you'll avoid checked baggage fees & also save yourself the hassle of lugging around a heavy suitcase.
Look for resorts are all inclusive. Food can be a major budget buster if you're not careful, but at this kind of hotel, you won't have to fret about the bill every time you dine. Some resorts even include alcoholic beverages in the rate.
Bringing items like sunscreen & beach toys for your kids can help you to save a bundle. While local convenience stores & gift shops may have these products, the prices will likely be higher.
If you're planning to attend a special event or activity at your destination, book tickets in advance & you may be able to take advantage of a discounted price.
Be flexible about the location & you might get more bang for your buck. For example, though you may be dying to go to Hawaii or the Caribbean, you could find a great deal in Mexico. You'll still be able to enjoy a blissful beach getaway, but you'll have a shorter & potentially less expensive flight.
Leverage the expertise of the hotel concierge. These staff members can often provide insight about special deals both at the resort & at restaurants & other businesses in the surrounding area.
It goes without saying that Sandals Resorts is a respected & cherished brand in the travel community – & it's no surprise. With 24 award-winning properties in seven different countries, the company is no doubt a leader in the realm of Caribbean luxury vacation experiences. Constantly upgrading its accommodations & adding new innovative amenities to make for a more comfortable guest experience, Sandals doesn't just meet expectations, it exceeds them. Not only that, but the brand stays committed to its budget-friendly all inclusive concept, taking the term "getaway" to a whole new level by allowing vacationers to forget their wallet-related worries at home.
So when Sandals gives a travel agency accolades, it definitely means something. Each year, the Sandals Travel Agency Recognition Awards recognizes agencies & their staff members who are able to go above & beyond in booking rooms for the chain & matching the company's dedication to excellence. This year, Beach Bum Vacationwas honored with the Best of the Best Travel Agency Award, once again cementing its position as a cut above the rest in the industry. Additionally, Beach Bum Hayley was given the coveted Spirit Award for her outstanding promotion of the Sandals & Beaches brand & continual engagement in helping to fulfill the organization's mission.
Last but certainly not least, Beach Bum was chosen as one of the STAR Top 10 Travel Agencies Worldwide. This is no doubt a significant achievement, but it's not the first time the agency has been selected in the top 10. In fact, this is the 7th year Beach Bum has earned such praise. Sandals works with a considerable number of travel agencies across the globe, but Beach Bum clearly has continued to shine among the rest. Not only did the agency make the top 10, but it was named No. 2 in the world with all Sandals & Beaches resorts.