July 30, 2013

Wingwomen Tracy: Tips and Tricks for Surviving Wedding Season and Maintaining Nuptial Bliss

 

Published on Huffington Post on 7/29/13

It’s the middle of the summer, a.k.a. wedding season, with plenty of wedding-related travel in full swing. As a flight attendant, I get to meet plenty of people caught up in different stages of nuptial bliss: fiancés heading off to their destination weddings, newlyweds traveling on their honeymoons and even guys and gals ready to celebrate their friends’ last nights of single life at bachelor and bachelorette parties.

My advice:
• Begin your celebration by selecting a destination that everyone attending will enjoy.
• Choose the right venue for your celebration.
• Be sure to consider a destination that offers as much — or as little — excitement as everyone would like, with an array of food choices, activities, etc.

If you’ve got a wedding celebration to plan, but you’re not quite sure where to start, here are a few helpful hints to get you inspired:

Where to go for one last hurrah
I can spot a group that’s headed off to a bachelor or bachelorette party from a mile away. I have a great time when particularly high-spirited groups, usually dressed from head to toe in wedding paraphernalia, are on my flights. And more times than not, these groups are on their way to – you guessed it – Las Vegas.

It’s no surprise that Vegas is a popular place for bachelors and bachelorettes to celebrate their final days of being single. Describing Sin City as “extravagant” hardly does it justice. Every experience is over the top, from what you eat to where you stay. Vegas offers something for everybody. Take in a show, play some blackjack, indulge in a great meal, go for swim, get pampered at a spa, dance the night away. And if you’re with a large group of fellow partygoers, you’ll likely be rewarded at these different venues and get better seating and other free perks. But even without any preferential treatment it’s hard not to enjoy yourself during a Vegas vacation.

While Las Vegas is a popular bachelor/bachelorette party destination, it’s definitely not for everyone. For those who would prefer a more low-key affair, Arizona has plenty to offer. Like Las Vegas, Arizona has a dry heat, so taking frequent dips in a pool is a must. But unlike Las Vegas, a vacation in Arizona may actually feel like well a vacation, instead of an experience that requires time to recuperate and recover.

If you’re planning a getaway for a bachelor or bachelorette who’s in need of a little R&R, then look no further than the many resorts located in Scottsdale, Arizona. After spending your day outside hiking, playing golf or sipping a cocktail by the pool, pamper yourself indoors with massages, facials and other spa treatments. One of the best-known resorts in the area is The Phoenician, which offers fantastic amenities, great golfing and, perhaps most importantly, an amazing spa. It’s the perfect place to relax with friends and family and spend quality time together before becoming a husband or wife.

Where to go to tie the knot
A wedding is a wonderful time to bring friends and family together to celebrate one of the most special moments in their loved ones’ lives. What’s nice about having a destination wedding, specifically, is the intimacy of the whole affair. It’s not always easy for guests to take time off from work to attend a weeklong celebration, so you can be sure that those who are with you on your special day truly want to be a part of the occasion.

An island provides the perfect backdrop for a wedding. Who wouldn’t want to exchange vows under blue skies, beside clear water? Don’t wait until your honeymoon to enjoy the beaches of Hawaii or Turks and Caicos; soak up the sun with your future spouse as well as the other important people in your life before tying the knot.

Finding an all-inclusive resort to host your big day is one of the greatest perks of a destination wedding. Friends and family can enjoy their own “mini-vacations” before the couple’s big day, taking advantage of meals, drinks and activity plans without having to worry about carrying cash and going over a budget.

Getting ready for your wedding shouldn’t keep you from spending time with attendees, which is why I suggest taking advantage of one of the custom packages offered by most island resorts to make the event truly memorable and alleviate the inevitable headaches and stress of planning the occasion on your own. Event planners on the grounds handle all the details involved in planning and executing the perfect ceremony and reception. I know firsthand how valuable these services can be. While my own experience was with Sandals Resorts – I will forever sing their praises for making my day extraordinary – I’m sure that whichever venue you travel to will also make your wedding a truly unforgettable event.

Where to go after saying “I Do”
And if you have a destination wedding, the honeymoon can pick up right where the wedding left off. Once all your guests leave, enjoy the even more intimate, couple-focused features that your resort has to offer. Or switch hotels to experience a new part of the island alone together.

Whether you plan to travel for your wedding or get married closer to home, make an effort to take a trip together right after saying your “I do’s” and enjoy your transition into marriage. Choose a destination where you can spend quality time with each other and focus on the future. Islands with isolated beaches, fine white sand that sneaks between your toes and exquisite ocean views make for an ideal romantic getaway. If this sounds like your idea of a perfect honeymoon experience, then consider spending time on some of the most beautiful islands in the world: Maui and Fiji, where you can snorkel and dive with fish and dolphins, or, for an even more intimate experience, the Maldives, where you can stay in a private bungalow atop calm waters.

If you think you would enjoy a honeymoon with a little more action, I recommend heading to the breathtaking Napa Valley to tour vineyards, taste wines, relax at spas and hike the beautiful California hills. And for an even more adventurous experience, I suggest staying at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. This resort offers its guests a long list of activities, including hiking, biking, horseback riding and more. Enjoy fantastic food in any of The Greenbrier’s 14 restaurants, or choose to dine privately in your room.

Whatever honeymoon destination you choose, make sure that it offers activities that are focused on just the two of you so you can celebrate the beginning of your new life together.

How to travel to a wedding-related celebration

If you’re traveling with a big group, book everything together. Airlines (including JetBlue) and hotels offer great rates for groups, so do your research – search the Internet and make a few phone calls – to make sure you get the best pricing options.

Don’t bring large wedding gifts with you on the plane; instead, mail them to the couple’s future home. Fragile items may not always be handled with care, and you don’t want to risk the gift getting lost in transit.

Be prepared to fold your delicate attire and lay it on top of your carry-on luggage when flying. Keep your clothes in plastic or a garment bag to prevent wrinkling. And one tip every traveler should live by is to leave clothing in the plastic garment bags from the drycleaners – it’s a lifesaver! As for traveling with a wedding dress, I advise against it. There is simply no good way to pack it. Shipping your dress to your wedding location is your best bet to prevent damaging the garment. Or negotiate ahead of time with your wedding coordinator to have garment steaming included as part of your package.

And my biggest and most important wedding season tip for brides- and grooms-to-be: Remember to enjoy your celebration and appreciate your friends and family who are sharing your most special day with you!

Follow me on Twitter (@Wingwoman_Tracy) for more wedding-related travel tips and share your own advice in the comment section.

 

Whatever honeymoon destination you choose, make sure that it offers activities that are focused on just the two of you so you can celebrate the beginning of your new life together.

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