By: Tracey Manailescu
Guess where we were last week? On a VIP Familiarization trip to St. Lucia with Sandals!
It is so important to visit the properties you want to deal with, so you can share accurate information with your couples when planning a destination wedding or honeymoon with them. I know the service they can expect, and can help point the couples in the right direction for resorts best suited to meet their needs.
I co-produced our 5th "Wedding Professionals International Conference" at Beaches, Turks & Caicos in 2009, and coordinated a Destination wedding last New Year's Eve at Sandals Royal Bahamian in the Bahamas.
The only Sandals properties I have yet to see are Antigua and The Exumas.
What a beautiful island this is. As soon as the plane got close to landing I was hooked. The mountains, the lushness, the stunning water all make St. Lucia a couples paradise. I experienced it with 4 other females, but I imagined what it could've been with my hubby there, LOL!
We were picked up from the airport in an Escalade. Yup. That's right. Then whisked away to Sandals La Toc with Gravol down the hatch. (Really readers, don't be a hero. You will need Gravol for the winding roads and mountainess hour-drive to the resort.)
We were greeted at Sandals La Toc by our Butlers in the Butler's lounge, who took us to our own 2 level suites. (Mine just happened to have 2 doors because one opened directly out to the ocean!!!) This came in really handy for me during my stay, because I woke up early several days and went walking along the beach with no one else around. That was dreamy, I tell you...
The food was very tasty as more spices and flavour were used. We met so many wonderful people through the week, whether they were driving the shuttles, cleaning the rooms, in the restaurants, Red Lane Spa and management. There is a genuine kindness and warmth to the people of St. Lucia. This does not just apply to staff, as we saw with the few locals we met on the beach and on a snorkelling trip. (Yes, the beaches in St. Lucia are public.)
Sandals really utilizes the location of the resorts and gives you breathtaking views at every angle. We were given the chance to experience Red Lane Spa at Sandals La Toc. (Let me insert here that I have been to Red Lane Spa every single time I have been to Sandals or Beaches. Whether it was for FAM's, two personal vacations, or our 5th annual Wedding Professionals Conference, as I mentioned above.) The experience is always the same... that awesome signature scent of lemongrass as soon as you step in the doors, clean and up-to-date equipment, and most importantly, attentive & professional staff who make you feel relaxed and literally in good hands, LOL! I got a 50 minute "Spa Margarita Mani" and a 60 minute "Spa Pedi-Colada". Oh yeah!!!!
La Toc is for lovers. Newlyweds or honeymooners can really take advantage of the nooks and crannies to steal kisses and they won't mind all of the uphill climbing to get from one end to the other, which is great for the bottom half. For others, you can always get a shuttle which drives by every 5 minutes, no worries! The resort is quieter as well, unless you go to the piano bar to listen to some great music and maybe dance a bit if you are so inclined after 11. *Not best suited for couples with mobility issues.
Halcyon is much smaller and more intimate. This is best suited to couples who want to get away from it all and just relax and enjoy each other. It would also be great to have a larger wedding party here to really connect and spend time with loved ones, or a group of friends that you enjoy spending time with and can really be together for most of the vacation. A more mature couple who just want to relax would be ideal.
Grande St. Lucian was my personal favourite. This is where I would vacation with my husband. We get bored easily and need to see variety and like to people watch. Lots to see and do. More people, in a more lively atmosphere. I am 100% a beach person, and the beach here was absolutely stunning with the views of the mountains behind it. (All 3 had great beaches I have to add.) Free shuttles for tours to downtown Rodney Bay ran out of this resort. Horseback riding right on the beach, and horses roaming freely on the other side of the property was nice to see.
Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart have made some adjustments, which is great to see. Couples are now allowed to change up the decor so they can personalize their wedding a bit more with the options available to them. You are no longer limited to set packages. Any staff we asked about this, said it has made a big difference to the couples.
We were invited to watch this wedding above at Grande St. Lucian.
A great time with some great peeps! Thanks Sandals :)
By: Tracey Manailescu
I found some super cute "Save the Date" ideas, on my new favourite "go-to" place for inspiration, Pinterest.
Magnets and postcards are just not doing it for me anymore for Save the Date notification at weddings. Why not suggest that your couples add some fun, romance and personality to the planning from the get-go?
Here are some great ideas that I went positively goofy over:
2. Photo source: Korielynn Photography
3. Photo credit: Pinterest
4. Photo credit: Martha Stewart Weddings
5 & 6. Photo credit: Green Wedding Shoes FPO
7. Photo credit: Etsy
By: Tracey Manailescu
Las Vegas is on my mind this week, as Danielle and I are preparing our seminar on Destination Weddings and booth display for the Wedding MBA Convention. I have been researching some locations that I want to see this time around, as we try to see something different each time we go.
Vegas has this reputation as a drive by Wedding hotspot with more cheese than a Cheese Shop. What many do not realize, is that there are some gorgeous venues and stunning ceremony spots that need recognition. There are also some very cool and different places around the city to WOW you!
Las Vegas was the very first DESTINATION WEDDING I coordinated many years ago. It was a priority of the couple to find a fun and popular wedding chapel, so I found them Graceland Wedding Chapel. While it was a ton of fun, and the couple was thrilled, there are so many other options then the obvious draw of Vegas.
Here are just three of the ones that caught my eye that fall into the cool and different type:
Photo source: www.lasvegaslogue.com
Mandalay Bay -Shark Reef Ceremony has 15 different types of sharks swim around you encased in a glass aquarium while you exchange vows.
Photo source: gregandvonswedding.co.uk
Bellagio's Terrazza Di Sogno -Marble-floored patios right out of Great Expectations. A patio wedding and reception with the famous Bellagio Lago Di Como and Fountains as your backdrop would impress even the Mr. Non-Romanticin the crowd, LOL! One of the greatest elements to this location is that you can have the fountain choreographed to the song for your first dance.
Photo source: www.MaverickHelicoptors.com
Photo souce: www.perfectoutdoorweddings.com
Maverick Helicopters This is flipping fantastic! Imagine being flown right to a cliff to say your vows and have breathtaking photos like no other? You descend 3,500 feet below the rim of the Grand Canyon, to an exclusive landing spot where your ceremony will take place.
For the fourth year in a row, The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, will be a sponsor of this amazing convention, jam-packed with Wedding Industry Marketing tools and tips. Last year, there were more than 1500 Industry Professionals, from all over North America, in attendance.
Danielle Andrews Sunkel & Tracey Manailescu, the Founders of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada and Producers of The Wedding Professionals International Conference, will be delivering the seminar "The Who, What, Where, Why and How of Destination Weddings", on Tuesday, September 13 at 1pm.
Industry Gurus such as Sasha Souza, Kathy Ireland, Alan Berg, Andy Ebon (The Wedding Marketing Network), Peter Merry (Author, "The Best Wedding Reception... Ever!"), to name but a few, will also be sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Be sure to visit our booth at the Vendor Fair where we will be promoting the 7th Annual Wedding Professionals Conference and offering an "Early-Booking Bonus" to Wedding MBA Attendees!
See more details about this convention here: Wedding Merchants Business Academy.
Tonight, ABC's 7th Bachelorette, the energetic and vivacious Ashley Hebert, goes to Savusavu, Fiji Islands for a special date.
The date will include a Seaplane charter to Namena Island near the Marine Park where the couple will enjoy a beach picnic for the day, followed by a romantic dinner arranged by the resort amid a 90-acre virgin Fijian rainforest at dusk. The Bachelorette and her date will greet each other under the canopy of rainforest trees, in a candle lit setting for two. The couple will dine Fijian style on the woven tapestry, seated closely together and savor a succulent menu of beef fillet and walu fish.
If the Bachelorette’s date accepts the invitation to spend the night in the Fantasy suite, they will enjoy a stay in the Kavika Falls Villa, a 3,500 square foot luxury villa perched along the hillside of a lush virgin rainforest, with chilled champagne and expansive views looking out to the Koro Sea, providing the ultimate in privacy. The villa comes complete with two bedrooms in the main house, two master bedroom suites, one on each side of great room, with interconnecting walkway verandas. This stunning private Fijian style Villa highlights fine linens, tropical furnishings, and a cascading waterfall through the entire villa with infinity edge swimming pool.
Your Destination Wedding or Honeymoon couples can also experience the “made for television” special date and experience their own special time together with the resort’s new package:
The package is based on space availability and is available from July 18, 2011 to March 31, 2013.
ABOUT KORO SUN RESORT & RAINFOREST SPAThe rural and pristine location offers you the genuine warmth and friendliness of the Fijian people. Koro Sun Resort & Rainforest Spa offers a truly native Fijian experience, dedicated to adventure, rejuvenation and romance. 29 enchanting bures and luxury villas are private, exclusive, air-conditioned, and offer vivid views of the ocean and reefs beyond. Your stay is all-inclusive with three gourmet meals and afternoon tea (excluding beverages) and activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, biking, tennis and golf.
From the meticulous attention you receive from the wonderful staff to the spectacular lush grounds, Fiji is yours to discover.
The Bachelorette airs on Mondays at 8/7 Central on ABC. For more information on The Bachelorette, visit http://abc.go.com/shows/the-bachelorette .
On July 18 & 19, Tracey and I attended the "Inspire Smart Success Experience" at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. The event is produced by Stacie Francombe, founder of Get Married Television show and magazine. You may think we were crazy to go to Orlando in July, but actually the weather was cooler than Toronto right now!
The view of the Waldorf Astoria property from our room (Photo by Tracey Manailescu):
The event started with a cocktail party overlooking the signature pool at the Waldorf and was DJ'd by our friend, DJ Carl.
The Inspiration Photo Booth, sponsored by Our DJ Rocks, was a great idea!
Panel & Speakers included: Stacie Francombe of ISS, Diann Valentine of Diann Valentine Events & I Do Over TV Show, Tiffany Cook of Dream Design Weddings & Platinum Weddings TV Show, Karlena Wallace of Stiletto Woman Magazine, Leigh Duncan of Orlando Weddings Magazine, Dave Francombe of DF Productions and Lauren Grove of Every Last Detail Blog.
Weddings by Waldorf treated us to a Fabulous lunch. (3D Menu by Natural Impressions)
The meal was topped off by the Waldorf's recipe for the original Red Velvet Cake, first served in 1896!
The afternoon treat was a sight to behold as well:
By: Tracey Manailescu
We had the pleasure of hosting a WPIC networking night with The Cancun Travel Advisory. (Which is a Destination management Company out of Mexico).
Cakepops by: Lottie and Lil
This is a wonderful opportunity to get the best locations for private rehearsal dinners, ceremonies and reception venues that are out of the ordinary. Also great for tours and excursions for the guests and the couple.
Unless you live at the location or have traveled and studied it for these type of Events, you cannot possibly know about these top knotch locations.
Working with a DMC can be great for a Destination Wedding Coordinator, as you can work as a team to ensure your client is getting the best of both worlds.
by: Kim Choy
Monica opened her wedding planning company – Aisle Plan Your Day – in 2006; she has been in business for five years now. She decided to take the WPIC Course after many years of being the one to plan the weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, showers, and stags & stagettes for her family and friends. So many people in her life encouraged her to make a career out of planning all of these milestone events. Prior to planning these big events, Monica wanted to get into radio/television or fashion design, but she ended up following her passion and get into wedding and event planning. (We’re glad to have her!)
“I knew in my heart I had a true passion for planning so it only made sense to proceed with this career” ~ Monica
The name Aisle Plan Your Day was thought of because Monica wanted a company name that created some type of emotional response and described to her clients what she does. Choosing a name that started with an “A” was important to her as it allowed for her to be at the top of directories without having to invest into higher ranking and placement marketing.
Starting out, Monica invested her money into the Yellowpages advertising and social media websites. She started to attend many wedding planning conferences, this was important because it allowed her to network with other vendors in Canada and beyond. Networking with others beyond Canadian borders was important for Aisle Plan Your Day’s growth since Monica knew that working with destination weddings was her ultimate goal with her business. Establishing and maintaining relationships with vendors early on helped to create some innovative cross-promotion ideas with various companies.
“In our industry, networking and attending conferences on a regular basis is an integral part of success, as it’s important to form new relationships and stay up to date on current trends within the industry, so that we can offer the best to our clients.” ~ Monica
Monica is also a WPIC instructor. Monica’s favourite part of being an instructor is being able to share her knowledge and stories of hardships and successes as a wedding planner. “Being able to advise on all aspects of wedding planning to new wedding planners in the industry is so rewarding, when I see how their determination has led to success in their own lives” says Monica about teaching for WPIC Inc.
She is thankful to WPIC for allowing her to travel across Canada and worldwide to teach and network with hundreds of wedding planners in the industry.
“I truly love my job as an instructor for WPIC and having the opportunity to be the first point of entry into the business is very rewarding.” ~ Monica
Monica’s favourite part of her job as a wedding planner is the creative planning process. She likes to work with couples that like to think “out of the box” and create personal touches that reflect their personalities rather than creating a “cookie cutter” wedding.
Among other things, Monica loves being able to bring the couple's vision to life on their wedding day. Since she plans destination weddings, she loves that she has the opportunity to attend FAM trips to view and explore the various resorts and private venues available to her clients. “I truly love travel and being able to incorporate travel into my wedding planning career is something I have always wanted to do” says Monica of planning destination weddings.
“Being involved in WPIC has opened so many doors in terms of creating partnerships with various resort chains and travel partners.” ~ Monica
Like most planners, Monica says that the worst part of her job is the “after the wedding is over” stage. Being a main contact for a year or so, clients tend to become close friends through the planning process.
One of Monica’s most favourite weddings to date was an English/Scottish themed wedding. They were a young and hip couple looking to create a very special day for their 220 guests. Many of their guests came from other countries for their wedding, therefore the couple really wanted to include a variety of cultural traditions from the food to the music. The bride’s family wore the family tartan, there were bagpipers at the ceremony and reception. Scottish children performed highland dancing at the reception. The father of the bride even learned how to play the bagpipes a month prior to the wedding so he could perform a surprise for the grand entrance at the reception.
Another favourite, is a destination wedding she planned for clients and their 60 guests in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The couple were from Iqualit, Northwest Territories and wanted to incorporate some of the Inuit tradition into their wedding day in the Caribbean. The couple had custom-made traditional Inuit groomsmen wedding clothing designed in their wedding colours for the groom and his groomsmen to wear at the ceremony. They were in thick wool, long-sleeved shirts in 35⁰C for a beachside ceremony; however it was important for the groom to incorporate this element into their wedding day.
Monica admires so many people in the wedding industry, especially within the WPIC Family. When deciding to focus her business on destination weddings, Monica put a lot of consideration into someone she wanted to work with to represent the travel aspect of her business. Jenn Borgh, who is also WPIC Certified, works very closely with Monica to help plan Aisle Plan Your Day’s destination weddings.
Being a WPIC Instructor, Monica has had the opportunity to receive first hand advice, experience and training with Danielle Andrews Sunkel and Tracey Manailescu (Co-Founders of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada). She has gained the knowledge necessary on all aspects of wedding planning from etiquette, business set-up, networking, marketing and so much more. Danielle and Tracey have guided her and believed in her every step of the way.
“I am truly fortunate to have such amazing mentors in my wedding planning career, not only are Danielle and Tracey business associates and mentors; I consider them to be very dear friends.” ~ Monica
Some of Monica’s favourite celebrity wedding planners are Preston Bailey, Jung Lee and Colin Cowie. Monica was fortunate enough to be able to meet Colin Cowie in Nassau, The Bahamas in November 2010. Monica says she used to write Oprah on a regular basis begging for a chance to grant her wish of being able to meet Colin in person and to shadow him for a day of work.
“It was incredible meeting him and hearing firsthand of his experiences and advice for success” ~ Monica
If Monica could choose any celebrity to plan their wedding, it would be Oprah Winfrey and Stedman. Why? Because they have been a couple for so many years and truly represent the foundation for a lasting relationship. “I can only imagine all of the elements that would be incorporated into the wedding and the trends that would be created from their nuptials. Everything about the wedding would be over the top and elaborate!!”, says Monica when describing her dream of being Oprah’s wedding planner!
Over the years of running Aisle Plan Your Day, Monica has learned that the wedding planning career is very slow to start off until you have the opportunity to build a portfolio and showcase your talents to future clients. The biggest learning opportunity was when she had to determine rate for services and the hours and time that go into planning a wedding. In order to create more learning opportunities for new wedding planners in the industry, Monica tries to not use a regular assistant for her weddings. There are always so many new alumni who are looking for volunteer opportunities to gain experience and build portfolios, Monica tries to give them a chance to build their confidence and gain firsthand experience.
The best advice Monica gives to new WPIC Alumni is to attend regular networking events and conferences to build relationships with other vendors and keep connections in the industry.
By: Tracey Manailescu
Guilty. Yes, I am guilty of being a true, hopeless romantic. I scour and search for items that are different, unique and wildly dreamy. I am so excited to share this finding with you!
This week I have found...Love Spoons. Yes, you may have known about them forever, but I am giddy about finding them!
Hand crafted by: Andrew Boyce
This beautiful tradition of giving a Love Spoon was started in the 16th century as a sign of affection to a sweetheart.
The Love Spoon had similar meaning to an engagement ring, or when the intended accepted the carved spoon, it signified the beginning of a serious relationship.
Nowadays, it can be given as a gift for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and birth of a child.
The beauty of it, is that the spoon is carved from one piece of wood, no matter how elaborate the handle may be. So the craftsman needed to be very talented. It became known that the more elaborate the spoon, the more he loved the intended :)
The oldest surviving love spoon, dated 1667, is displayed at the National Folk Museum of Wales, St. Fagan's, Cardiff.
Each symbol has a different meaning, which I just adore!
Here are some of the meanings (for more visit the link above):
Vine: Love Grows
Comma Shapes: Soul Signs
Knot: Everlasting, Together forever
Handcrafted by: Steven L Fletcher
Handcrafted by: Rory, from Tools Are For Women too (Click on the link to see a step by step process on her Blog)
For more information on the history of Love Spoons, and a great write up see what Faze 3 has to say.