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REAL Couples

Say “I Do!” The



Personalizing your


Wedding Award-Winning Resorts

Perfect for Your Big Day

guide to your successful destination wedding


DESTINATION WEDDINGS Often imitated, but never duplicated. Many resorts offer destination weddings. We specialize in them. From dreamy locations, beachfront chapels, attractive packages and a dedicated team of wedding professionals, to bridal suites, groom’s rooms, and our award-winning Gourmet Inclusive Ž concept. El Dorado Resorts have become synonymous with destination weddings and have developed a cult following among brides, grooms, guests and honeymooners.

Free Upgrade* Confirm your wedding* and receive a 1-category upgrade, the bride and groom stay free promotion,** up to $1,500 credit

Nobody else offers more exclusive packages to

towards a return 1st Anniversary stay, and much more! For

these resorts than:

more information:

The difference is. Gourmet Inclusive.


For more information call 888-536-1923 or visit *Exclusive offer only available through **Check with your destination wedding specialist regarding this promotion. Subject to change and cancelation at anytime.


On your





Honeymoon the luxury is included. And so is the fun.

At Sandals® everything you could possibly imagine has been thought of, including all the luxury of a fi ve-star resort. The difference is that our luxury is included, and so is the fun. Experience more unlimited land and water sports-including scuba diving ◆ and golf †-than any other resorts on the planet. Experience more restaurants—with up to 15 restaurant choices per resort. Enjoy unlimited premium brand drinks at up to 10 bars including Beringer ® Wines. Relax in the most unique honeymoon suites in the Caribbean. Sandals is the perfect choice for a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. MORE QUALITY INCLUSIONS THAN ANY OTHER RESORTS ON THE PLANET




Scuba diving included for certified divers. Dive courses and night dives additional. †Greens fees additional in the Bahamas and Antigua. Sandals® is a registered trademark and is represented worldwide by Unique Vacations, Inc.

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Editor in Chief/Publisher Ed Cotton


It’s All in the Details – Personalizing Your Destination Wedding

When it comes to your destination wedding, adding your own personal flair can be fun and create a unique spin to your special day. From welcome baskets and shoe valets to memorializing your guests’ own weddings – we’ve got tips and tricks to make your nuptials your own.


Jewish Weddings Made Possible

Tying the knot and smashing the glass has never been easier. Hoteliers, like Palace Resorts, are making religious traditions possible by offering services to cater to Jewish couples. Now you can have your wedding in paradise, complete with a Rabbi and a Chuppah!


Destination Spotlight: Riviera Maya


DESTI Awards Spotlight: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana & Sandals Royal Plantation

One of the most popular destinations in Mexico – the Riviera Maya - is special for many reasons. Find out why couples are flocking to this gorgeous locale south of the border.

The Dominican Republic boasts countless resorts to say “I do!” and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is at the top of its class and getting recognized. Jamaica also has an award-winning property in Sandals Royal Plantation. Either one might just be the place for you to celebrate your wedding away.


Real Destination Wedding Stories


Make Your Wedding Intimate with’s Villa Collection


Destination Weddings Get Social

This issue we are featuring five couples who celebrated the weddings of their dreams in the destinations of their dreams. From the pristine coastline of the Caribbean to the colorful flair of Mexico, they all have one thing in common – they used to navigate their trip down the aisle.

Getting married in a villa offers the ultimate in seclusion, luxury and romance. Now it’s easier than ever to get the exclusive destination wedding of your dreams with this elite collection of properties. Wedding planning has gone from print, to online and now – it’s getting social. From Twitter to Facebook and now even Pinterest, planning your wedding has never been easier. has launched a new website and is offering more tools than ever to help you stay informed.

Editor Lauren Byrnes Advertising manager Julia Hayes Social Media MANAGER Lisa Gundlach Advertising Inquiries Please contact Julia Hayes at or call 508-651-4008. Contact Us If you wish to contact us, please call our toll-free number: 800-788-0024 or visit us online: Copyright 2012-2013 and Destination Media, LLC Corporate Offices for 321 Commonwealth Rd. Ste. 303, Wayland, MA 01778 508-651-4007 Guide to Your Successful Destination Wedding is a Special Promotional Feature published by Destination Media, LLC. Front and back cover images by Elizabeth Medina Photography,

Get Started Planning Your Destination Wedding Have you decided to have a destination wedding? It’s easy to start planning your dream day with!

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Visit our website and take a look at our testimonials and the services and benefits we provide. DestinationWeddings. com has planned over 13,000 weddings and booked travel accommodations for nearly 500,000 guests. After clicking on “Planning a Destination Wedding” on our homepage, you’ll be able to tell us about yourself and your does not charge anything for their services. However, a $50 commitment deposit is required. The deposit will be credited towards your final travel package.

Follow us online:


fiancé and the ideas you have for your dream wedding. After you’ve submitted your information, you will be matched with a certified destination wedding specialist, who will help you find the perfect destination, a resort within your budget and assist you with all of your travel needs.

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It’s all in the


Personalizing Your Destination Wedding

Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Elizabeth Medina Photography,

From flowers, table settings and favors to the perfect heels and jewelry, at, we know the beauty of a wedding is in the details. Although transporting unique décor can be challenging when having a destination wedding, there are plenty of simple ways couples can incorporate their style, and you won’t have to bring three more suitcases to do it! Consider our tips to make your wedding unforgettable.

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Paper products can be easy to create and travel with, and they’re bound to make your wedding extra special. Homemade or professionally designed paper details are pretty and elegant and perfect for dressing up a wedding. Decorative menus, place cards and ceremony programs are some of the most common items couples incorporate into their celebrations. Consider making your menus, place cards and ceremony programs go with your theme. Ceremony programs that double as fans are perfect for an afternoon beach wedding and place cards which do double-duty as table décor are also a great option.

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Charming Details There are so many ways to show your guests your appreciation by incorporating fun details they’re sure to love. Many destination wedding couples opt to set out baskets of flip flops for guys and gals at beach ceremonies and receptions so their guests can get their toes in the sand. To save guests from carrying around their shoes all day, set up a shelf (or a shoe valet) for everyone to store them. Then, guide guests to baskets or rustic pails full of beach brushes to dust off their sandy feet – what could be cuter than that?

Delightful Decorations Many destination wedding couples are now incorporating signs into their ceremonies and receptions. Show guests where the ceremony is by using sweet signs, which say, “Wedding This Way” or “Happily Ever After Starts Here.” For the reception, decorate your chairs with “Mr.” and “Mrs.” signs. Want to add a little humor instead? Opt for “Mr. Right” and “Mrs. Always Right” signs. Not only do the chair signs make great reception décor, but they can also be used for a unique photo op!

Memorable Touches

When planning your wedding, you want to make sure your guests feel included and what better way to do that than by asking your married guests to bring one of their wedding photos? Put the photos in vintage or embellished frames and display them by your guestbook or cake. Everyone will enjoy seeing family and friends’ wedding photos and it will remind you and your fiancé that you have plenty of marriages to look up to as you start your journey together.

Personalized Keepsakes While you’re at your wedding destination, you’ll surely want to embrace the culture. What better way to do that than to give your guests personalized keepsakes from that destination? Having a wedding in Mexico? Hand out personalized maracas. Planning a Caribbean wedding? Give your guests beautiful shells to remember the destination by. Not only do the souvenirs make great keepsakes, but they also serve as wedding décor, perfect for reception tables.

While you may want to incorporate special touches into your wedding décor, don’t forget to leave a lasting reminder with a personalized thank you note. One of our favorite ways to do this is with a photo – many couples have their photographers take photos of them holding thank you signs, so they can use them for personalized thank you notes. These personalized notes are a great way to not only thank your guests, but also remind them of the fun everyone had during the wedding weekend. Regardless of your wedding style and budget, with a little creativity and some inspiration, you can make your destination wedding extraordinary for you and your guests.

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Leave an Impression with Photos


Jewish Weddings made possible

Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Kella MacPhee,

Couples planning religious and cultural weddings were once limited when it came to venue options, but nowadays these brides and grooms can have their weddings almost anywhere. Many resorts and hotels are now able to accommodate a range of religious and cultural celebrations. Palace Resorts, which has seven five-star, all-inclusive properties throughout Mexico, is making Jewish weddings a top priority at their resorts by offering the services of reform Rabbi, Stephen Spiegel. Although Palace Resorts has hosted Jewish weddings before, the company found that many couples wanted a rabbi to officiate.

In order to make the ceremony as personal as possible, Spiegel likes to get to know the couple throughout the planning process. He sends them questionnaires to fill out and then talks with the couple via phone, email or Skype prior to the ceremony, which allows him to get a true idea of their vision before they arrive to the resort.

“Before if brides and grooms wanted to have destination weddings, they were bringing in their own rabbi,” says Vice President of Marketing, Palace Resorts, Kathy Halpern. The cost of a couple bringing their own rabbi to the destination can be enormous and some couples simply can’t afford it.

“We can have as many meetings as possible (before the ceremony),” says Spiegel. “By the time they get to me, we know each other.”

With the idea in mind, it was simply by chance that Halpern was able to make the idea become a reality. While she was traveling, Halpern met a couple who knew Spiegel was moving to the Cancun area. “The whole thing kind of fell into place as if it was meant to be,” says Halpern.

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She believes having a rabbi right at the resort “makes it so much easier” for Jewish couples. Additionally, the fee is included in some of the wedding packages designed by celebrity event designer, Colin Cowie. Because Spiegel is a reform rabbi, he is able to custom-fit ceremonies to meet each couple’s needs. Whether a couple wants to include some of the most traditional aspects of a Jewish ceremony or add in unique touches to make it their own, Spiegel says “there are no rules” when it comes to customizing a couple’s wedding ceremony. He does not restrict couples to having their ceremonies at specific times, either. “My goal is to create a very personal ceremony for the bride and groom that reflects who they are,” he says.

Spiegel will also perform interfaith and same-sex weddings, both of which are customized to fit the couple’s needs. When it comes to coordinating interfaith ceremonies, Spiegel’s goal is to “create a ceremony that’s not only warm and inviting, but also all-inclusive so everyone feels included.” Regardless of the type of ceremony, Spiegel says he acknowledges that “each couple is different” and it’s important their weddings are customized to fit their specific needs. “I want a happy bride most of all,” Spiegel says. In addition to offering the services of a rabbi, arrangements can be made to provide kosher catering for those who desire or require it for their event. has plenty of experience planning different cultural and religious weddings. For more information or help in planning your cultural or religious wedding, contact your certified destination wedding specialist or go to to get started.

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Destination Spotlight:

Riviera Maya

Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Elizabeth Medina Photography,

Planning a destination wedding involves making a number of important decisions, but none are as difficult as selecting the destination for your celebration. Whether you envision yourself getting married on a stunning, white-sand beach, on a cliff overlooking the sea or in a historical castle surrounded by lush landscape, there are many beautiful destinations to choose from. However, if you’re looking for a romantic paradise which boasts glorious sunsets, exquisite beaches and incredible views, look no further than the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Set along 81 miles of Caribbean coastline, Riviera Maya has much to offer brides, grooms and their guests. Riviera Maya has a wide range of beautiful all-inclusive resorts for all budgets, making this the perfect destination for couples planning dream weddings of all sizes.

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When it comes to selecting a ceremony and reception location, Riviera Maya has many to choose from. Exchange vows on a pristine beach with your toes in the sand, in a charming colonial chapel overlooking the water, in a lush garden or a beachfront gazebo. Afterwards, have the reception you’ve always dreamed of outdoors or inside the resort. Whether you envision yourself celebrating your recent nuptials with a fourcourse dinner and dancing or a small beachside barbecue, there are plenty of beautiful options from which to choose. Riviera Maya has plenty of natural locations which make couples’ wedding photos extraordinary. Many couples who wed in the Riviera Maya choose to do trash the dress photo shoots after their weddings. Brides and grooms pose on the beach, in cenotes, colonial towns or in the jungle – some couples even choose to have photos taken under water! Photo shoots in the Riviera Maya leave brides and grooms with lasting memories and beautiful

photographs they’ll cherish for years to come. Riviera Maya boasts a number of exciting activities to suit everyone’s tastes. Scuba diving and snorkeling are some of the most popular activities because Riviera Maya boasts expansive coral reefs and a variety of marine life, as well as pristine beaches visitors love. For those seeking more adventurous excursions, cave diving is also a popular activity. There’s also no shortage of nightlife, either. Lively bars and clubs play salsa, rock and reggae and will keep you dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Restaurants in the heart of the Riviera Maya serve up traditional cuisine guaranteed to delight your taste buds. Although Riviera Maya is known for its natural wonders and exciting activities, it is also a great place to relax and unwind. Riviera Maya has fabulous shops, golf courses and luxurious spas which offer an assortment of treatments including facials, massages and the unique temazcal ceremony. If you’re looking for an incredible wedding destination, the Riviera Maya will surely make your special day unforgettable.

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DESTI Awards – Spotlight:

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana

Words by Lauren Byrnes, the largest producer of destination weddings in the world, prides itself on providing superb customer service, which is why the company established the DESTI Awards. The DESTI Awards recognize resorts for their destination wedding capabilities and accomplishments within the romance travel market. Recipients of the award were chosen based solely on client feedback and customer satisfaction.

Although the hotel is large and boasts 1,800 rooms, the staff is focused on providing outstanding customer service to each and every guest who comes through the door. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana has approximately 3,000 employees and a two-to-one staff to guest ratio, which means every guest can feel pampered during his or her stay. “We are always trying to bring a small feel to a large property if that’s what you desire,” says Vice President of Marketing at Palace Resorts, Frank Maduro. The hotel’s newest addition is the Rock Star Level, which guests can choose to upgrade to if they want to be pampered like rock stars. Guests of the Rock Star Level enjoy a number of amenities and services, including 24-hour dedicated butler service, a private cell phone to communicate with their personal butler, a private pool and beach concierge and drink service. d e s t i n at i o n w e d d i n g s . c o m


While the customer service at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is exceptional, the hotel’s accommodations and facilities are also unparalleled. Situated on one of the most desirable beaches in Punta Cana, the hotel boasts nine types of incredible suites, 15 pools, nine restaurants, a casino, fabulous nightclub, the Cana Bay Golf Club and a number of stunning destination wedding venues. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is undoubtedly a step above the rest. Maduro believes couples want to have their weddings at the hotel because it is a “dual-purpose property,” which not only offers great destination wedding venues, but also

exciting activities to keep guests having fun throughout the wedding weekend. The hotel “is a fun a location to stay,” whether you’re the bride or a wedding guest, Maduro says. While the hotel caters to those looking for non-stop fun, they also have plenty for those seeking rest and relaxation. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana offers quiet areas and adults-only pools, where guests can relax and unwind. “It’s a property where you can choose to do it all or nothing at all,” says Maduro. While the property offers many activities and outstanding service, brides and grooms will not be disappointed with the hotel’s wedding collections. The nine wedding collections, which are designed by celebrity event designer Colin Cowie, are innovative, fresh and modern. When Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana was recognized for being one of this year’s best destination wedding performers, Maduro says he and the staff were “extremely proud and excited.” The DESTI Award is like a “stamp of approval on our product for the bride,” he says. Awards aside, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana has always been committed to offering exceptional service. “Customer service for us is ‘make it or break it,’” says Maduro. “The fact that people are impressed … (and) people want to come back speaks of what a wonderful property we have.” Are you ready to start planning your dream wedding at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana? Contact your certified destination wedding specialist or go to www. to start planning today.

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Photos courtesy of Hard Rock Hotels

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is the winner of this year’s DESTI Award for the Dominican Republic.

all day. all night. all included. and all for the two of you.

Set against the inviting backdrop of warm sand and cold drinks, the Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana and Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta offer every couple the tantalizing all-inclusive escape of a lifetime. Guests can enjoy sunset dinners along pristine waters, indulge with tandem spa treatments, or cozy up with the ultimate in relaxation and room amenities. It’s all included and all in the name of love. Create new memories and experience the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, coming in 2013.

Book your stay now and receive a $1,500* in resort extras like room upgrades, spa treatments, tours and more.

AN All-iNclusive experieNce

cANcuN . puNtA cANA . vAllArtA opeNiNg 2013: rivierA MAyA 855.762.5255 l hrhAlliNclusive.coM

*$1,500 Resort Credit based on a 5-8 night consecutive stay per room. Bookings of 4 nights receive $750 and 3 nights receive $500. When applying Resort Credit to a Wedding Collection, full amount must be used. Resort Credit is only applicable towards select wedding collections. Additional restrictions may apply. ©2012 Hard Rock International (USA), Inc. All rights reserved. SeeTheShow™

DESTI Awards – Spotlight:

Sandals Royal P lantation

Ocho Rios

Words by Lauren Byrnes

Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica is the winner of this year’s DESTI Award for Jamaica, and it’s no wonder why. Sandals Royal Plantation has a unique old-world charm and Georgian architecture, sweeping staircases, romantic gazebos and statuesque fountains, making it a romantic place for a wedding or honeymoon.

Couples looking for exceptional service and luxurious accommodations will find all they desire at the beautiful Sandals Royal Plantation. This intimate resort boasts 74 ocean-view suites, all of which include butler service, making Sandals Royal Plantation the only all-butler, allsuite boutique resort that is part of the Sandals collection. Additionally, every butler at the resort has been trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, making this resort perfect for those who truly want to be pampered. “We look after their every whim and fancy,” says Fraser. “We really want to go above and beyond to amaze the guests.”

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In addition to the impeccable service, Sandals Royal Plantation also offers incredible amenities, including a freshwater pool with two whirlpools and poolside and beach butler service. For those looking for activities, Sandals Royal Plantation offers spa treatments, a nearby golf course, scuba diving, snorkeling and unlimited land and water sports. When guests work up an appetite, the restaurants at Sandals Royal Plantation have a variety of international, Mediterranean, Caribbean and French dishes to delight the palate. When it comes to weddings, Sandals Royal Plantation is all about the details. Fraser says the team of professionals at Sandals Royal Plantation truly “make your dreams come true,” as they ensure every detail is exactly the way the couple

desires. A consultation begins the process and allows the bride and groom to explain their vision for their special day. Throughout the process, brides can easily plan every detail of their weddings with the online Destination Wedding Designer, an interactive planning tool. The resort offers a number of wedding venues including a long stretch of pristine beach and gazebos overlooking gardens or the magnificent ocean. Weddings at Sandals Royal Plantation are simply unforgettable – the pristine, whitesand beaches, turquoise waters and glorious sunsets serve as the perfect backdrop for a magical wedding in paradise. When Sandals Royal Planation was recognized for being one of the year’s best destination wedding performers, Fraser says he and the entire staff at the resort were very pleased. “We work as a team. ... It’s good that all of our efforts have been noticed.” And although Sandals Royal Plantation was recognized this year, Fraser is confident the commitment and passion of the team will continue to make the resort shine with couples and their guests for years to come. With resorts like Sandals Royal Plantation, it’s no wonder was named Top Agency in the World by Sandals & Beaches Luxury Resorts. Are you ready to start planning your dream wedding at Sandals Royal Plantation? Contact your certified destination wedding specialist or go to to start planning today.

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Photos courtesy of Sandals & Beaches Resorts

“The hotel is a one-of-a-kind hotel,” says General Manager, Peter Fraser. The property is “steeped in history and even though the building is quite majestic, you can see the ocean” anywhere you turn.



Honeymoon Garden Rondoval with Private Plunge Pool at Sandals Grande Antigua





A S T H E R E S O R T S C R E AT E D FO R T WO P E O P L E I N LOV E , Sandals Resorts has always taken romance to heart. ®


Set on the Caribbean’s best beaches, each of its 14 resorts has its own distinctive personality–all are uniquely romantic. Since newlyweds have their own ideas for their perfect honeymoon, Sandals has created


a wide variety of suites to fulfill every possible dream.


With a Sandals Love Nest, you’ll be in your own

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unforgettable world. These are so much more than


suites–they are your ultimate honeymoon experience.





Sandals® is a registered trademark and is represented worldwide by Unique Vacations, Inc.


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Heidi & Chris • Riviera Maya, Mexico Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Elizabeth Medina Photography,

For fun-loving couple Heidi and Chris Barta, who met while in college at Arizona State, a destination wedding was the perfect fit for their close-knit group of family and friends. After exploring a venue in Dallas and realizing it wasn’t the right fit, Heidi and Chris decided to have a destination wedding. “We wanted it to be about us, family and friends,” says Heidi.

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After exploring options in the Caribbean, the couple decided to have their wedding in Mexico, which meant guests would only have to take a short flight to their destination. “Vacation there is not like anywhere else,” says Heidi. “We knew the backdrop would be beautiful.”

The couple and their wedding party looked effortlessly chic on the wedding day. Heidi wore a stunning strapless wedding gown with an elegant train, low back and sweetheart neckline and “I do” white flip flops. She accessorized with pearl earrings, two statement necklaces and pearl bracelets. Chris and his groomsmen wore Theory suits and white Vans sneakers. The bridesmaids sported peacock blue, one-shoulder dresses with ruffles and flowered flip flops in white and canary yellow. The maid of honor wore a complementary teal, ruffled, strapless dress.

Thanks to Brittany, Heidi and Chris found the El Dorado properties in Riviera Maya, Mexico and ultimately chose El Dorado Royale. “We loved the look of the property,” says Heidi.

The couple was married at a picture-perfect, tropicalthemed beachfront ceremony, surrounded by over 50 of their family and friends.

With little time to plan their wedding, Heidi knew they needed help, so she reached out to Their specialist, Brittany “made it seem like it’d be a seamless process – she was so great to work with,” says Heidi. “I put all my trust in her hands.”

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It was so loving. Everyone was just so happy. The ceremony décor included bright-colored flowers, canary yellow bows on the chairs and fabric on the canopy, which popped against the white sand and azure sea. Heidi and Chris had a string quartet play and also did a sand ceremony, which made their special day even more personal. Heidi says one of her favorite moments was walking down the aisle. “It was so special to be the last person out,” she says. The couple and their guests then enjoyed a cocktail hour, complete with nachos and jalapenos – the couple’s favorite – followed by an evening beach reception under a tent. “It was so loving,” says Heidi. “Everyone was just so happy.” The entire party enjoyed a number of heartfelt speeches, dinner and dancing – the DJ even had a bubble machine, which made the reception even more unique. “It was so pretty and romantic,” says Heidi.

The yellow and teal wedding cake matched the couple’s theme perfectly with its love bird cake toppers and tropical flower décor. The groom’s cake was designed as a Texas Rangers baseball jersey, a favorite team of Chris, who is originally from Dallas. The evening ended with sparklers for the entire group and the couple drove away in a decorated golf cart with a “just married” sign on it. After their wedding, Heidi says she and their guests had “PPD – post-party depression.” Having a five-day wedding with “all their favorite people in one place” was like “a dream come true,” says Heidi. “It was the most amazing experience we’ve ever had.”

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The reception theme was “a white and teal dream sequence,” says Heidi. The couple used teal bows for the chairs, white linens and tall centerpieces with canary yellow and white flowers. Heidi and Chris also incorporated some unique details, including bride and groom signs for the head table, rustic table numbers, a signing mat with the words “Happiness is being married to your best friend,” message-in-a-bottle escort cards and shot glasses with chalkboard paint.

“We really wanted to have those personal touches,” says Heidi.

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Latoray & Dewayne • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Tropical Studio,

Latoray and Dewayne Wood, who met while deployed in Iraq for the United States Army, never expected their friendship would quickly turn into romance. After dating for just over three years, the couple got engaged and began planning their dream wedding.

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“We wanted to do something different,” explains Latoray. The couple wanted to make sure their wedding was memorable for them and their guests, so they decided to have a destination wedding. Latoray and Dewayne found that a destination wedding would be more cost effective for them and they knew it would make a “nice little vacation for the family,” Latoray says. The couple knew they needed help planning their special day so they enlisted the services of With the help of and their specialist, Debbie, Latoray and Dewayne planned the wedding of their dreams stress-free. “She turned our dream into a reality,” says Dewayne.

The couple considered a number of destinations and resorts, but eventually chose Majestic Elegance Punta Cana in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Because most of their family and friends had never been to the Dominican Republic, the destination was an obvious choice. For the ceremony and reception, Latoray envisioned a celebration with an island theme and bright colors, but most of all she and Dewayne wanted it to be fun. Latoray wore a stunning strapless white gown with a beaded sweetheart neckline and an incredible, dramatic train. She accessorized the look with beaded sandals, sparkly earrings, a matching necklace and a white flowered hairpiece. The

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I think my favorite moment was coming down the aisle and seeing his face. It was like I was in dreamland.

bridesmaids wore one-shoulder dresses in either tangerine or bright pink, pearl necklaces, matching pearl earrings and strappy silver heels. The groom and groomsmen wore light colored linen suits and matched the bridesmaids with their ties and boutonnieres. The couple said their own vows in the resort’s gazebo surrounded by approximately 20 of their family and friends. The guests received elegant fans, personalized ceremony programs Latoray made and bubbles for after the ceremony. A saxophone player provided the music and the couple was married by Latoray’s uncle, which made the entire experience even more special. Latoray and Dewayne also incorporated a beautiful sand ceremony.

The couple then had an elegant reception at the resort’s restaurant, which was so close to the ocean they could hear the waves lapping against the shore. Latoray, Dewayne and their guests enjoyed delicious cuisine and danced the night away as the DJ played a variety of tunes to keep everyone on the dance floor. The entire wedding “turned out perfect,” says Latoray. “We’re so glad we did it.” And although their wedding was just a short time ago, “everybody that went wants to go back,” says Dewayne. “You couldn’t ask for anything better.”

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The ceremony itself was “very personal,” says Latoray. “I think my favorite moment was coming down the aisle and seeing his face. It was like I was in dreamland.”




Mandy & Jeff • Montego Bay, Jamaica Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Wendy Martin Photography,

For college sweethearts Mandy and Jeff Pas, tying the knot in beautiful Jamaica surrounded by family and friends was the perfect way to start the next chapter in their lives.

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The couple, who met through friends at Michigan State, dated for four years in college and then parted ways. Because the couple had mutual friends, they often saw each other at social events. After approximately four years apart, the couple decided to give it another go. Eventually, Jeff popped the question in Jamaica just one year and one day before they were married. When it came time to start planning their special day, Mandy and Jeff quickly realized they wanted to have a destination wedding. “We both decided we didn’t want the big, expensive wedding, we wanted the marriage,” says Mandy. Although the couple knew they wanted to have a destination wedding, they knew planning their celebration would be

challenging. They enlisted the help of and their specialist, Debbie to help them plan their dream day. The most challenging part of the planning process for the couple was selecting a destination and resort. Although they thought about going to a destination other than Jamaica (where Jeff proposed), it was the Jamaican culture and friendly people which inspired them to stay at Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa in Jamaica. The couple exchanged their vows at an afternoon beachfront ceremony surrounded by 40 of their family members and friends. The ceremony site featured stunning arrangements of blue hydrangeas and a beautiful canopy with starfish hanging

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Travel Impressions is proud to partner with, one of the premiere Destination Wedding Agencies in the World.




overhead.“It was perfect,” says Mandy.

The couple incorporated a sand ceremony into their wedding and made sure their mothers were part of the experience. “We just wanted a way for them to feel special,” Mandy says. After their ceremony, the couple and their guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the beach followed by the reception. The DJ played a range of styles of music to keep all the guests on the dance floor. Although they knew the day would be special, Mandy and Jeff wanted to make sure their wedding reflected their style. Mandy found inspiration on Pinterest, a site well known to brides all over the country. The couple’s “beach chic wedding” featured a number of unique details.

Mandy brought rustic-looking lanterns for each table which she found during a shopping trip and a number of items were ordered from, such as a monogram cake topper, table numbers and a sign reading, “Happily ever after starts here.” Each item gave the couple’s wedding a “beach chic” feel. “I just wanted our wedding to feel special and have our special touches,” says Mandy. When looking back on her wedding day, Mandy says having eight days celebrating with family and friends and watching everyone get to know each other was one of the best parts of having a destination wedding. “Everyone was having the best time,” she says. A destination wedding “was just right for us,” Mandy says. “It was the best decision we ever made.”

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Sandra & Michael • Cancun, Mexico Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Evie Perez Photography,

Sandra Rojas Honan and Michael Honan met through a mutual friend while out on the town one night, but it wasn’t until many years later that sparks flew between them at Michael’s birthday party. After a number of dates and wonderful getaways, Michael surprised Sandra with a fairytale proposal in Castle Urquhart on the banks of Loch Ness in Scotland.

With the help of and their specialist, Sonia, Sandra and Michael planned their traditional Catholic wedding at Gran Caribe Real Resort in Cancun, Mexico. When it came time to choose the destination and resort, it wasn’t difficult for the couple to decide – Sandra’s best friend was married at the same property a year and a half before and Sandra and Michael never forgot the resort’s beautiful chapel.

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“We had looked at other chapels – there was just no comparison,” says Sandra. It was important to the couple that they incorporate Michael’s Scottish heritage and Sandra’s Colombian background in their special day, so they started with the attire. Michael and his groomsmen opted to wear traditional plaid kilts with waistcoats, periwinkle colored ties and white button downs. Sandra wore a stunning strapless gown with pickups and a lavender beaded belt which accentuated her waist. She accessorized the look with dangly earrings, a cuff bracelet, champagne Kate Preston heels and a finger-tip length veil. Her bridesmaids wore knee-length lavender, one-shoulder dresses and silver shoes.

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With family and friends coming from all over the world, the couple knew a destination wedding was the perfect way to say “I do” and share their special day with their loved ones. “We wanted to do something that gave family and friends the opportunity to get together … and get to know each other,” says Michael.




The couple said “I do” overlooking the ocean at a traditional Catholic ceremony at the resort’s oceanfront chapel, Our Lady of Guadalupe, surrounded by over 60 of their closest family and friends. Simple lavender paper lanterns decorated the pews and kept the focus on the couple and amazing ocean view. They had a full mass, which lasted about an hour. The couple incorporated a number of readings into the mass, some of which were read in Colombian, which made it especially personal. After the ceremony the couple joined their guests at the reception at the resort’s outdoor terrace. “The weather was absolutely perfect,” says Sandra. “We wanted to enjoy the weather, the stars and the night.” The couple and their guests enjoyed a wide variety of cuisine and a delicious wedding cake, which featured a homemade cake topper from

Turkey that Sandra had made for Michael. Sandra, Michael and their guests spent the rest of the night on the dance floor. Despite having families from two different parts of the world, their cultures are very much alike – their Scottish and Colombian families both love to dance and have a good time. Sandra, Michael and their guests danced the night away to a variety of music – everything from 80’s hits to Colombian Salsa music and Scottish tunes. Looking back on their wedding day, Sandra and Michael agree that having a destination wedding was perfect for them and their guests. “It just exceeded our expectations in every single way,” says Michael. “For most people, their wedding day is four to eight hours at most,” Sandra says. “Ours was extended for days. I know everyone says (their wedding) was the best day of their lives, but for us it really was.”

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All-inclusive forevers.




Raniyah & Bryce • Montego Bay, Jamaica Words by Lauren Byrnes Photos by Renee Brookdale Studios,

“We wanted a more intimate experience,” says Raniyah. “It was a good way to get everyone we love together.” Although the couple knew early on that they wanted to have a destination wedding, they knew they needed help planning their dream celebration. and their specialist, Barbara, helped the couple ensure all their plans went off without a hitch. The couple’s most difficult decision was where to say “I do.” They wanted a laidback and fun location for their

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destination wedding. After considering a number of resorts and destinations, Raniyah and Bryce chose Iberostar Rose Hall Suites in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Despite having a relatively stress-free planning process, there was one bump in the road. Right before the wedding, Bryce dislocated his ankle while playing basketball, which meant he’d need to wear a cast and be on crutches. Even with his injury, Bryce was in good spirits. With his crutches and cast designed like a tux, Bryce made sure he got to the wedding and still had fun.

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When it came time for college sweethearts Raniyah M. Copeland and Bryce Copeland to tie the knot, they knew a destination wedding was the perfect way to celebrate with their closest family members and friends.




The couple celebrated their love for one another at a cozy and casual beach wedding surrounded by approximately 50 of their family and friends. “It was a really intimate ceremony,” says Raniyah. “There was lots of laughing and crying at the same time.” There were many special touches the couple included in their wedding. Although a minister was present, their fathers married them, which was “really important to us,” says Raniyah. The couple also wrote their own vows, which made the experience extra special. The entire ceremony was “like a family coming together,” she says. After their ceremony, the couple and their guests enjoyed a lively reception. “It was better than I envisioned,” says Raniyah. “It turned into an all-out dance party!” Everyone, even the injured groom, danced the night away. Although the couple knew their wedding would be memorable, they wanted to make sure their celebration reflected their personalities and was fun for their guests. “Even though we were doing a destination wedding, we wanted guests to know we put a lot into it,” says Raniyah. The couple made sure each guest felt right at home from the start with a welcome bag, which included a Bob Marley CD, candy, a Jamaican-themed postcard and newsletter. The couple also brought a number of decorations, including

seashells for the tables to add to the beach theme and homemade centerpieces made by the mother of the bride. Raniyah and Bryce also planned some activities for the entire wedding group. In addition to the resort activities, the couple had a welcome dinner, scheduled pool times and a boat trip, which everyone enjoyed. “After all the planning, having friends and family around made (the destination wedding) even better,” says Raniyah. “It was a great decision – I’m so happy we did it.”

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with your


At Beaches® Resorts, we make your dreams of the perfect wedding come true, because only Beaches offers a fully customizable wedding designed and created by you. Here, you can celebrate the most special time of your life with the people who mean the most to you. Best of all, Beaches marries your perfect wedding with the romantic honeymoon of a lifetime, giving you a WeddingMoon® with every land and water sport under the sun, anytime gourmet dining at up to 16 specialty restaurants serving exclusive Beringer® Wines, and luxurious family friendly suites. So while all your loved ones come to celebrate your love, everyone will enjoy their own celebration of a lifetime, too.




A Caribbean Family-Owned Company

M OR E QUALITY INCLUSION S THA N A N Y OTHE R RE SO RTS I N THE WO RL D Beaches® is a registered trademark and is represented worldwide by Unique Vacations, Inc.

A grand setting. A grand experience. A grand wedding.

Begin your life together in total harmony at IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso. This luxurious, adults-only destination combines a breathtaking setting and endless pampering to create a wedding made in paradise. At this AAA Four Diamond resort, personal wedding coordinators take care of every detail. And with no more than two weddings per day you’re ensured your moment in the spotlight is truly your own. You’ll also enjoy privileges at Iberostar’s nearby sister properties — ideal for family and friends traveling with children. Riviera Maya, Mexico Visit


Make your



with’s Villa Collection Words by Lauren Byrnes

Whether you’re planning your dream beach wedding in Mexico or a Hawaiian luau-themed celebration in Maui, the possibilities are endless at Although many couples want to have their weddings at large or mid-sized resorts with an array of activities, entertainment and restaurants, others desire a more intimate location for their nuptials. For those seeking intimacy, romance and exclusivity, has launched The Villa Collection, a group of over 500 incredible villas in a number of exotic destinations – everywhere from Greece and Italy to Mexico and the Caribbean. These magnificent villas range in size from one bedroom to 20, offering plenty of space for guests. Whether you’re looking for a charming one-bedroom villa for your romantic honeymoon or an expansive 10-bedroom villa to accommodate all of your guests for your dream destination wedding or vow renewal, there are plenty of options no matter what kind of getaway you’re planning. Each charming villa boasts sweeping views, beautiful architecture, plenty of space for you and your guests, plush accommodations and a number of amenities, including jacuzzis, swimming pools, tennis courts, gourmet kitchens and even staff members to tend to your every need. The villas are far from the noise and stresses of everyday life, but close enough to exciting activities and excursions. Eco Serendib Villa and Spa St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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Staying in a villa offers couples the chance to say “I do” in private, away from the hustle and bustle of resort guests. Villas provide brides and grooms with gorgeous wedding venues – everything from beach spots and gardens to wineries and cliffs overlooking spectacular scenery. Those who choose to stay in a villa will feel like celebrities, as they can enjoy all the luxuries of a resort, but in a stunning, secluded location.

Los Suenos - Villa Firenze, Costa Rica There are many villas in a variety of destinations you can choose from. Villas in Italy off the Amalfi Coast or near Lake Como offer couples European elegance, while villas in the Caribbean offer island charm. If neither of those destinations appeals to you, consider staying in a villa in Ireland, Hawaii, Central America, France, Greece or Mexico. You will be pleased with Villa Borgo Bernardini, all the unique Tuscany, Italy choices you have. Regardless of the destination you choose, there are few things more spectacular than a villa wedding, honeymoon or vow renewal. Ready to start planning your dream wedding, honeymoon or vow renewal at one of our amazing villas? Go to to start planning today!

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Your life together should begin in bliss. An unforgettable destination wedding or honeymoon awaits you at Le Blanc Spa Resort. This AAA Five Diamond award-winning resort is an all-inclusive haven for mind, body and soul. With an incredible spa as its centerpiece, plus butler service and a pool concierge all included, the pampering never ends and neither does the romance. Couples even receive a complimentary wedding or honeymoon package, to make your stay truly special. And since it’s adults-only, you can relax and make the most of your romantic escape together.

1.888.536.1923 |


*Restrictions apply. Services and amenities are subject to availability. Co-op ads X2 due August 27_LB.indd 1

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A Unique ROMANCE Experience! One day he asked her to marry him... and she said “Yes”!... We made it REAL Imagine exchanging your marriage vows amidst the breath-taking views of the Caribbean Sea, white beaches, lush tropical gardens, seaside gazebos, and unforgettable sunsets. Or… capture your intimate romantic moment by consummating your vows inside the one-of-a-kind, Oceanfront Catholic Chapel Our Lady of Guadalupe... the perfect start to a perfect wedding!




Royal Weddings by Real Resorts Where cherished memories are born Our professional Wedding Planners combined the best of many international resorts offering only weddings to create the most thoughtful wedding packages and they will take care of each and every detail, from helping you select the ideal bridal bouquet, wedding location, and dĂŠcor options; including an array of ultimate catering touches that will exceed your expectations.







#1 in creating memorable weddings for couples for the past 10 years! 1-888-536-1923

Destination Weddings Words by Lauren Byrnes

Nowadays, whether a bride is planning to have a destination wedding or traditional celebration at home, she is most likely using a number of tools to create the wedding of her dreams.

Get Social Hairstyle Ideas 12 pins

El Dorado Casitas Royale

Trash the Dress

Easy to navigate and full of imagery and information, our website will help you find the destination and resort of your dreams. If you’re not sure of the type of wedding you want, take a look at our wedding inspiration page, which will lead you to our wedding collections. Our wedding collections feature hotels and resorts of all sizes, styles and in an endless number of destinations. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious boutique-style resort or something off the beaten path, you’ll find a property to meet your needs in our wedding collections, and if you don’t, we have over 1,200 resort pages within our destinations section. Every resort page features a photo gallery, information about the property – everything from rooms to activities – as well as wedding package options. When you’re ready to start planning your honeymoon, head to our hon-

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eymoon section on our website. The content and resort suggestions will surely inspire you to plan the romantic getaway of your dreams. From lavish resorts in tropical locations to hotels close to sights and attractions in Europe and South Africa, you’ll find a property to suit your tastes. Whether you’re a “Fly and Flop” or “Lavish Luxury” bride, there are plenty of hotels from which to choose.

site where it was originally from, which allows users to have access to blogs and websites galore.

And when it comes to destination wedding ideas, the DestinationWeddings. com blog, which is accessible from our website, is the place to go. There you’ll find plenty of features on resorts and destinations you might want to consider, as well as trends, fashion advice, testimonials and real wedding stories.

If you’re looking to get involved in the conversation, our Facebook and Twitter pages are great to check out. With posts about wedding themes, resorts, destinations and inspiration, it’s easy to engage in the conversation! Not only are there daily posts, but we also share photos, important announcements and ask our fans to participate in polls and exciting contests!

In addition to a content-rich website, we also keep brides and grooms updated through social media outlets, like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Of all the social media outlets out there, Pinterest has to be one of our favorites. Pinterest, which became popular in early 2012, allows users to save and share all of the inspirational and interesting photos they find online. Those photos can be “pinned” to specific boards and each picture can be linked to the web-

Our Pinterest has nearly 100 boards designed to inspire and inform you. Whether you’re looking for a specific destination, resort, theme ideas, specific wedding colors, hairstyles or dresses, there’s plenty to help you plan your dream wedding in paradise.

If you want to make sure you stay in the loop, like us today at, follow us on Twitter at DestWeds and on Pinterest at

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At, we offer several ways to help our couples get started planning their dream weddings and one of our favorites is our new website. As the experts in destination weddings and romance travel, it is our goal to not only help you plan your special day, but also guide you through the process with our tools and tips.



The perfect place to live your love story


the place you thought you knew Discover more at

Photo by • Shot on location, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur. Mexico



At Azul Hotels luxury meets location with choices such as SKY weddings, beach weddings and wedding gazebos. Our dedicated team of wedding professionals specialize in making your wedding day just perfect. And our award-winning Gourmet Inclusive速, paired with bridal suites, grooms rooms, and weddings and honeymoon packages, simply

The difference is. Gourmet Inclusive.

completes the experience. Any way you choose, we will make your dream day into a reality.

For more information call 888-536-1923 or visit Nobody else offers more exclusive packages to these resorts than:

Free Upgrade* Confirm your wedding* and receive a 1-category upgrade, the bride and groom stay free promotion,**


*Exclusive offer only available through **Check with your destination wedding specialist regarding this promotion. Subject to change and cancelation at anytime.

up to $1,500 credit towards a return 1st Anniversary stay, and much more! For more information:


advice at your fingertips. • 1-888-536-1923 Front and back covers by Elizabeth Medina Photography,

Destination I Do  

Winter 2012 Outsert

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