October 15, 2010

Aloha from Hawaii

This week I had the pleasure of attending a friend's destination wedding in Lanai, Hawaii. It was my first time truly exploring Lanai, Maui and Big Island, and I now understand why the state takes the top spot for most popular honeymoon destination. There's a little of everything: mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, beaches, snorkeling, and most importantly, a relaxing atmosphere with friendly locals minus the stresses of currency exchange and language barriers. As I reflect back on a beautiful ceremony and reception, the industry person in me can't help but share a few personal observations about destination weddings that I think are important to keep in mind if you're thinking about jetting off somewhere magical to say your I dos.

1. Save the date way in advance. People are incredibly busy these days, and they have limited vacation days and finances. So let your close friends and family know as far ahead as possible if you're thinking about having a destination wedding, even if it's just planting the seed in their heads that you're considering it. People will really appreciate the heads up as they factor in where they will be traveling that year and how much money they might need to set aside. I was really grateful that our friend had given us more than a year's notice that even though the exact date was not yet booked, her heart was set on a Hawaii wedding sometime in 2010. We then kept a mental note of Hawaii as our big vacation splurge for the year and were prepared to move forward once she sent us the save the date.

2. Pick a fabric for your wedding dress and your bridesmaid dresses that are less wrinkle-prone. Softer materials such as tulle, chiffon, jersey or nu-georgette are good fabrics because they are easier to steam out after being squished into your luggage, but some textured fabrics also travel well. If you're in a tropical location, make sure to also keep in mind strong sunlight and ocean-side winds. Our friend chose an adorable tulle bridesmaid dress with a bubble hem that gathered slightly below the knee so the girls didn't have to worry about their skirts billowing out of control.

3. Keep the centerpieces simple and green-friendly. Sadly, unlike local weddings, your centerpieces can't be taken home by your guests with the vases re-purposed for future use. The bride and groom encouraged us to carry out the beautiful centerpieces after the reception, but I was sad that I had to leave it in the hotel room when I checked out the next morning. Luckily I was able to keep the round paper lantern draped along the ceremony aisle that could be collapsed and tucked into my luggage pocket. If your florist can come pick up the centerpieces after the wedding, that would be ideal, but in this case, the location was too out of the way and not worth the trip for them to come back.

4. The more information the better. Whether it's directions, travel tips, restaurant recommendations, or dress code, you can never give your guests enough information for a destination wedding. Keep in mind that most people may have never traveled to that area before, and not everyone is a research savvy trip planner. Your wedding website is a quick and easy way to post any and everything and continue to add new things as you think of them.

Now having attended my first destination wedding outside of the "mainland", as the Hawaiians call the lower 48 states, I am a big fan of scooping a group of your family and closest friends to get away from it all. Now to convince the rest of my unmarried friends!

The picture-perfect beach where the ceremony took place at the Four Seasons Manele Bay.

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