STEP THREE: Which comes first- Choosing the date or the destination?
I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten there yet. We’re struggling with choosing the destination. Some destinations we are considering are Fiji, Tahiti, Mauritius, Australia, Malaysia and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Talk about some tough choices! However, for some couples, the date may very well be the most important aspect if you want to get married on a date that is significant to you as a couple. So, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer to the big question. My advice is that if the date is more important than the destination, choose your date, then contact a travel agent to discuss which destinations will best suit your needs, wants, budget, and chosen date. You certainly do not want to get married in Asia during monsoon season. However, a big caveat- try to have your destination choices narrowed down a bit before contacting the agent. With the whole world to choose from, it will be hard for an agent to help you choose the right place if he/she doesn’t have some examples to go on. I know that I work hard trying to figure out the personalities and tastes of my client based on past travel experiences and resorts that have caught their eye.
If the destination is more important, do some research on some possible destinations and then contact a travel agent. Give the agent the information you have found thus far, your budget, and ask them when the best time to travel to your preferred destinations are given your budget and other needs. Then, discuss with your significant other what destination and date combination works best for you and communicate that to your travel agent. Whatever you decide is most important, once you have made your decisions on date and destination, the travel agent can then help you with resort recommendations and pricing.
As I mentioned above, we’re having a tough time choosing a destination, and therefore, we don’t have a date set either! We happen to be a couple who prefers to place destination over date and want to make sure that the destination best reflects our personalities and captures the way we feel about each other and our future together. I also have to mention that we’re total workaholics, so we really want a nice break from reality as well!
Update on 12/31/10: As the New Year approaches, we’ve now been engaged for almost two months, and still no date or destination has been chosen. Why you ask? I have an amazing set of destinations and resorts to choose from! I’m quite lucky and blessed, and because of that, we’re starting off the New Year happy to just be together. I will say that we’ve narrowed it down a little-maybe- to Mauritius, Fiji, Tahiti, or Malaysia. If it’s Mauritius, we’re looking at a September 2011 ceremony during our already-booked “bucket list” Indian Ocean vacation. I’m anxiously awaiting a response from the yet-to-be opened St. Regis Mauritius to see if they will draft a proposal. If that falls through, we’re very interested in a early Winter 2012 ceremony in Fiji or Malaysia with a honeymoon immediately following in the outer islands of the Philippines and Palau. In Fiji, Laucala Island, Likuliku Resort, Vatulele, Yasawa Island, and Matangi Island have all caught my eye. In Malaysia, I’m keen on The Andaman in Langkawi as the chosen spot. I am drawn to its isolation. Of course, Tahiti is always in the mix because I usually visit there every year and how could you not just love it there? Ah, decisions, decisions!
I’ve been engaged now for a about two and a half months (it’s now 1/20/11), and I think we’ve changed our minds a few times as to where and when our wedding will take place. We always thought the destination was most important to us, but then we realized, it’s really a combination of both the destination AND the date! So, we’ve decided (at least for now), that we’ll marry on a special date in the late fall of 2012 and we’ll find the perfect destination out of those mentioned just above. I’ll announce the destination once we have it all figured out. After all, I have almost two years to make it work!
UPDATE on 2/22/11: The day has finally arrived! We have tentatively chosen our destination! I say tentatively only because I still need to sort out the specifics of the resorts and things are subject to change if what we want is not available. However, after months of research and scouring the globe for the perfect place to say our vows, we have chosen The Cook Islands. Where, you say? Exactly my point!
UPDATE on 6/20/11: It’s now been over 6 months since our engagement. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve gone back and forth over what date and destination are right for our big day. I know that I declared The Cook Islands to be “the winner”, but now we’re having second thoughts. Why not the Maldives, so we can cross off another item on my bucket list (NOTE: I’ll need to complete paperwork as weddings in the Maldives are not legally recognized in the US?) How about Australia so we can get married by the reef and then explore the continent? So, needless to say, we’re very indecisive. Try not to be this indecisive after initial pricing with a travel agent, as it will definitely cause delays in getting proposals put together. I have not yet reached out to any of the resorts we have been considering, so my indecisiveness is only affecting me. A good travel agent will help you narrow down your choices in the beginning, but after you have started the pricing and/or have contracts in place, it’s very hard to go back and change things without complications. Check out my “Step 4” post for more information on how to finalize your package!
UPDATE on 7/27: After locking ourselves away for a weekend with only the internet and an Excel spreadsheet, we FINALLY decided on a destination and a date. FOR REAL this time! We created a list which included the resort, approximate cost, pros, and cons. Some of the destinations we initially listed were places we had already visited, some where combinations of places we wanted to visit (Australia and the Cook Islands; Europe and the Seychelles) and some were just places that seemed like the easiest to plan. After the process of elimination based on various factors, such as weather (aka hurricane season), the frustration factor (jumping from Europe to the Indian Ocean), and lack of interest (do we need to go back to Hawaii again?), we finally chose a speck of sand in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef otherwise known as Wilson Island! Wilson Island embodies everything we have been looking for in a destination- seclusion, privacy, romance, natural beauty, and exotic flair. Wilson Island only has 6 luxury tents and is only accessible by boat. Not having some of life’s luxuries for a few days may be interesting, but it will certainly lend itself to a wedding that we’ll never forget. To top it off, we’re also spending our honeymoon at the luxurious Lizard Island Resort!