What led you to choose a destination wedding?
We chose a destination wedding because we had attended one in Mexico a little over a year before and had the time of our lives. All of the hanging out by the pool and beach gave their friends and families so much time to bond and make memories and we wanted the same for our guests when it was our turn!
How did you select the resort? What were the deciding factors?
We selected our resort in particular because it was a newer build and we had stayed at a different location of the Dreams resort chain in the past. We never actually saw our venue until we got there for the wedding weekend, so it was somewhat of a gamble, but we trusted that the service and food would be great just like we had seen at the other Dreams location. Lastly, we found that the prices they were offering for our guests’ nightly stays were reasonable for all that was included, and the resort threw in some extras for things like rehearsal dinner and additional rooms when a certain amount of people booked.
Describe what it was like working with the wedding coordinator at the resort? What went well? Any challenges?
Our wedding coordinator at the resort, Jennyfer, is a miracle worker!!! She was so polished, kind, and amazing at putting together our dream wedding. We were truly blown away. She cranks out weddings with her team almost nightly, sleeps very little because of that, and you would barely be able to tell. She is so attentive to detail and passionate about making everything look and feel great, including the bride on the big day.
Describe the booking process for your guests. Did they find that to be easy to navigate?
The booking process was online and very easy for our guests to navigate. From what I’ve been told, when any of our friends and families had a specific question they wanted Shelli or Heather’s help with, they were always quick to respond and offer their assistance.
What were some of your biggest fears or things you worried about as your wedding date drew near? How did you get through this?
Most of my big fears were Covid related - specifically that the resort would have to shut down, there would be border closures, or that we would have to last minute postpone and throw everything off. I was also worried about forgetting important items at home. I eased my worries, though, by realizing that nothing productive really ever comes from anxiety and by creating an extensive and detailed packing list that I stuck to while we prepared the week before leaving.
Describe the meeting you had with the onsite wedding team when you arrived at the resort.
The wedding we had with the Dreams Team once we arrived was very extensive - probably lasting about an hour and a half long! While it was tiring to go through it all and I was bummed we were missing time with our guests, I knew it was necessary and I really appreciated their willingness to work out and confirm all of the little details with us!
Were your guests wowed by the resort and the all-inclusive concept? What was their reaction upon arrival?
Our guests seemed to love the all-inclusivity and general charm of the resort. We kept getting comments during and after the weekend about how much fun everyone had just being able to relax and not worry about the cost once they got out there.
Tell us about your wedding – did you have a traditional wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner reception and dance? What was different about a destination wedding compared to a wedding at home?
We had a traditional wedding ceremony with cocktail hour, then a plated meal, speeches and dancing. I loved the set-up of that and I would say a difference between what we were able to do and what we would have had at home was that we had a long cocktail hour where people were told they could even go up to their rooms and freshen up if they needed to, and that at the end of the night, everyone could just go right up to their suites and not worry about Uber’s/driving. There was also no driving to different venues for the ceremony versus reception as everything was just a short walk apart.
What was the best part of having a destination wedding?
The best part of having a destination wedding was how close all of our friends and family members were able to get because of time spent together just hanging out before the big day. Everyone seemed to just make a vacation out of it, which is exactly what we wanted. It’s also so nice as the bride and groom to be able to mingle with guests over the course of a few days and not have to worry about fitting it in all in one evening during a reception!
What is your most favorite memory of your wedding experience?
My most favorite memory of the wedding is hard to choose, but I would have to say it was either walking down the aisle towards my best friend or the end of the reception where after what was supposed to be our “last song” (New York, New York by Sinatra), our friends started singing (screaming, really) the words to Mr. Brightside until the DJ finally caved and just turned the song on. Next thing we knew, my new husband and I were hoisted onto shoulders in the air, and it was so much fun. I know it was after our reception’s time was “up,” but I could never thank the resort enough for allowing that moment to happen.
In what ways did Romance Travel Group make the planning less stressful for you?
Shelli and Heather made the planning so much less stressful for me by handling just about all the logistics of our guests flying in and out plus their lodging at the resort. I’m sure it is a HUGE undertaking to have to handle the flight schedules, airline issues, billing with the resort, etc. so it was amazing to have that off of our shoulders and to have a resource that we could point our guests to when they asked us questions.
Destination: Negril, Jamaica
Resort: Riu Palace Tropical Bay
The Riu Palace Tropical Bay Hotel is located on Negril Beach, one of Jamaica's most stunning locations. This 24-Hour All-Inclusive hotel is one of the best hotels in Negril, thanks to its brand new complete renovation, comprehensive facilities and the exclusive services that characterize RIU Hotels & Resorts.
In its more than 400 rooms, you'll find all the comforts you need, like a minibar, satellite TV, a safe, beverage dispensers, a coffee machine, and a balcony or terrace. Plus, the 24-hour room service this all-inclusive hotel in Negril offers means that you'll have everything you need during your stay with them.
Destination: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Resort: The Fives Azul Beach
Bring out your inner child (or your real one) and inner foodie when visiting The Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa Del Carmen By Karisma – a AAA Four Diamond Award resort! This Gourmet Inclusive playground will bring out the playful side of everyone. At the same time, The Fives Azul Beach's luxurious accommodations and impeccable service will satisfy the most discriminating adult tastes. At The Fives Plaza, you’ll discover trendy shops, live entertainment, restaurants and bars. Then make your way down to the white sand beach, where swim-up bars, waterfront activities and gourmet a la carte eateries satiate even the heartiest appetite for food and fun.
This year, Romance Travel Group’s Cathy Westereng had the pleasure to tour the Tuscany region in Italy with one of our favorite Italian partners. “We walked Renaissance squares, made pasta from scratch and tasted wine at centuries-old vineyards! And the best part? I never once felt like a tourist,” says Cathy.
“One of my favorite memories from this trip, I have to say, was a wine tasting near Pienza, Italy. Pienza is located in the untouched Val d’Orcia region – a scenic valley about 2 hours from Florence. First, we toured the historic vineyard -- walking among the grape vines. Next, we enjoyed a private tasting with the winery owner. Even better, this epic tasting was inside the cellar where the wine ages! I was in heaven.”
What made this experience even more special for Cathy was the chance to do it with a local guide. She was so thrilled to share this gorgeous area that so few Americans know about. “As our day came to a close, I glanced out over the Tuscan wine country -- the sun dipping behind the hills -- and said under my breath: "This is the real Italy."
Who’s ready to savor the real Italy? Cathy is here to make your Italian dream a lived reality. Contact Cathy at Cathy@RomanceTravelGroup.com or 952-583-5033 to book your Italy experience today!
Hilltop Monteriggioni is tucked near Siena. The town of Monteriggioni is actually a medieval walled castle – topped in stone towers. Perched above a green valley, Monteriggioni was built between in the 13th century. Intact towers and two gates crown this castle-city’s rock walls.
RADDA IN CHIANTI
This tiny gem of a town is framed by stone ramparts. Easily reachable from Siena or Florence, Radda in Chianti offers up meandering medieval streets and scenic views of the Tuscan wine country. Located near some of Tuscany’s main roads, Radda in Chianti makes for a stunning stop a day of wine-tasting.
Pienza is an icon of Renaissance design and architecture. Located in the lush Val d’Orcia region, Pienza is framed by green valleys, sunflower fields and rolling vineyards. From here, travelers can enjoy a day trip the hilltop jewel of Montalcino or spend the day sipping Brunello wine.
P.S. Contact Cathy@RomanceTravelGroup.com to make your own Tuscan dream a reality. Ready to plan an Italian honeymoon? Get started now! Ciao, ciao!