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destination weddings

Do’s and Don’ts for Planning a Honeymoon

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! You’re probably knee deep in wedding plans, but you should also turn your attention to planning a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. Here are some do’s and don’ts for planning your first trip as a married couple:

Don’t rush: Planning for a wedding is an incredibly stressful experience. Between booking the venue, and the DJ, ordering the food, sending out all the invites, getting the dresses and tuxes, and setting up tables, you can become so stressed from the wedding that you might want to rush straight into the honeymoon for a much-needed break. This causes couples to often plan their honeymoons so they can hop on the plane out right after the wedding ends. Instead, try to slow down and take your time. You don’t have to leave right when your wedding ends; you could wait weeks or even months afterwards until the time is just right for you.

Do ask for advice: It can be tempted to take a DIY-approach to your honeymoon. After handling all of the other people you had to rely on for the wedding – the bridesmaids, groomsmen, caterers, and even the guests – you might want to just take a step back and rely on nothing but your partner and a Google search. While this could work, you might find yourself benefitting more by asking other people for tips. Your friends and family might have insider info from traveling to the same places you’re considering, and travel agents can remove a lot of the stress from your planning, leaving more room to enjoy the vacation.

Don’t forget important documents: You might be so focused on things like the hotel, the location, and the activities of your honeymoon that you forget important things such as insurance cards, identification, tickets, or any travel documents you might need. Keep everything in check, easy to access and organized. You don’t want to miss a flight because you’re fumbling around for your license or shell up a large sum of cash because you didn’t get any proper travel insurance policy.

Do look for deals: Creating a budget and staying with it is important for any trip, including a honeymoon. Weddings are expensive, so you want to make sure you don’t overdo it for the honeymoon. Look for special deals and accommodations that hotels and flights offer for people on a honeymoon, and even finding coupons for local restaurants wherever you’re traveling could cut back on some expenses.

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Reason to stay at a Secrets Resort

There are so many destinations to choose from around the world where you can go, but there are several reasons why you should book your next vacation at one of the romantic retreats of Secrets Resorts & Spas:

Location, location, location: There are many Secrets Resorts in Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica, so you can find the perfect destination for your vacation. For example, you can stay at Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya, where you can relax on their white-sand beaches and look out at the beautiful, clear waters of Akumal. Or stay at Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa, where you can enjoy the Caribbean Sea while walking along their exclusive Juanillo Beach. So many choices!

Adults-only: Vacationing with the family can be great, but let’s face it, we all need our alone adult time and Secrets provides that adult-only experience. No kids running under foot here with their sticky fingers. It’s all about being a grown up and enjoying a sophisticated vacation.

Amenities:  Secrets Resorts provides some of the best pampering around, whether you choose a massage, facial, or body wrap, this is the place where the stress of work and home life can literally disappear from your fingertips. You also have access to a 24-hour concierge, room service, and gourmet dining.

Activities: An adults-only Resorts experience isn’t just about rest and relaxation. There’s plenty to do at all of the locations, including beach volleyball, dance classes, water sports, scuba and snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, adventure tours, nightly theater and outdoor entertainment and so much more.

All-inclusive: And last, but definitely not least, when it comes to pricing, there are no ‘secrets’ here. These resorts are all-inclusive (except for a few select activities) so there won’t be any surprises on your bill. This includes free Wi-Fi, unlimited international and domestic top-shelf spirits, unlimited natural fruit juices and soft drinks, 24-hour room and concierge services, pool and beach wait service, daily refreshed mini-bar with soft drinks, juice, bottled water and beer, activities and entertainment and, of course taxes and gratuities.

If Secrets Resorts sound like the perfect destination for you and your loved one, contact your travel agent.

Travel Specialist Group

Visiting Jamaica

The Caribbean island nation of Jamaica is one of the most beautiful places to spend your vacation. With its blue waters, lush rainforests and landscapes, waterfalls, reggae music, gorgeous white beaches, including Seven Miles Beach and Cosmos Beach, and diversified wildlife, there’s so much to see and do. Jamaica is also all about the rum and there’s delicious food all over the island to try.

If you and your honey are planning a romantic getaway, then be sure to visit Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon, near Port Antonio, which was used in filming the Brooke Shields’ movie Blue Lagoon back in the 1980s. It is legend that the water – which changes from blue to green – is an aphrodisiac. Speaking of interesting waters, you can’t miss the Glistening Waters’ Luminous Lagoon where the organisms, when disturbed, create an eerie, glistening light. How cool is that?

You also can’t go to Jamaica and not enjoy some time actually in the beautiful blue waters. Enjoy the island’s Montego Bay on Doctor’s Cave Beach or Walter Fletcher Beach. Jump in and go snorkeling or diving. There’s also Treasure Beach, a six-mile stretch of coral-colored and black sands, private coves and rocky shores. You can also explore Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica’s, especially if you’re interested in some clothing optional adventures. If you’re in the mood for some romance, a sunset cruise is the most romantic thing you can do or visit Dunn’s River Falls.

Jamaica is also home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, also called the Hope Gardens, where there are many beautiful species of tropical plants for you to enjoy. You can also enjoy an excursion of bamboo rafting down the Great River or the Martha Brae River.

Finally, Jamaica is the home of the famed musician Bob Marley, who was born in 1945, so when you’re on the island, make sure to enjoy some reggae and take in The Bob Marley Museum. He lived in the property that he purchased in 1975 and lived in for six years until his death in 1981 from melanoma. His wife, Rita, converted the home to a museum.

Foodies will love the island too. Be sure to try some of Jamaica’s finest, including Jerk chicken, curry goat, fried dumplings, fried plantain, and steamed cabbage.

Travel Specialist Group

4 Basic Mistakes Made When Planning a Honeymoon

Planning a honeymoon is supposed to be an exciting time in your life, but with so much going on around you, it’s easy to make some basic mistakes. Here are four of them that you should be careful of when planning:

Bad timing: You want a quiet time on the beach with your honey now that the festivities are over, but unfortunately you’ve planned your honeymoon smack in the middle of spring break season. Maybe your hotel is hosting a children’s dance show and the pool is busy with youngsters. Timing is everything and knowing the right and the wrong time to travel is important when planning a honeymoon. Don’t think it matters? Try planning a honeymoon right in the middle of hurricane season.

Leaving the next day: Traditionally, the wedding is held, the rice is thrown and the happy couple leaves the next day for the perfect honeymoon. It doesn’t have to be that way. You’re probably exhausted from all the planning and the partying and might even be a little cranky. If you plan your honeymoon for a few days later or even a week later, you’ll have some time to relax, pack accordingly and get ready for some fun. It’s okay to break from tradition. This is your honeymoon and you don’t want to be so tired that you won’t enjoy it.

Doing too much: Trying to jam too much into a short honeymoon can leave you even more exhausted when you get home. Instead, try to pick a few things you know you want to see or do while you’re on your trip and balance it with some much deserve rest and relaxation. If you really like the destination, you can always make a return trip for your first anniversary.

Splurging: Spending a lot of money on your honeymoon sounds logical, because after all your honeymoon is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. So many couples will often blow their budgets on the trip for that very reason. Not the best thing to do. If your finances will take a hit, or if you’ll put a dent into your budget that doesn’t leave you room for other things you want to do as a couple or plans you have, then consider a smaller version of your honeymoon. If you’ve always dreamed of a two-week honeymoon to Fiji, then consider one-week instead and save the rest of the money for other day-to-day expenses if you need them.

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Fun things to pack on your honeymoon

Packing for your honeymoon might seem easy – pack a bunch of clothes and you’re ready to go. Not quite. Before you close that suitcase, consider packing a few fun things just for the special occasion:

Travel games: Traveling can take a lot of time and there can be a lot of down time, so bring some fun mini versions of games to do on the plane or in the car. Scrabble, hangman, trivia games and even a deck of cards can help to pass the time away and fit in your travel bag very easily.

A surprise gift: What a great way to start your honeymoon than with a surprise giftyou’re your loved one (or more if you are feeling generous). One couple continues this tradition each time they go away and they’ve been married for more than 25 years. A little waterproof GoPro-style camera would be fun for the beach or for taking photos of activities you are participating in. Young couples use them on cruises and while they are sailing, snorkeling and on water slides, etc.

Sporty fun: If you and your honey are going to take any excursions or lessons, such as scuba diving or tennis, make sure to pack what you need for the fun. Before you leave for your trip, make sure that your resort or tour operator doesn’t provide your equipment before you fill your suitcase. If however, you need to bring extra gear – even sneakers or special hiking boots – be sure to pack them to you can get in on the fun.

Passion play: Let’s get right to it. Your honeymoon is all about fun in the sun (or snow depending on where you go), but it’s also about passion and sex. So why not bring some fun adult toys to get the fun going? Make sure you bring lubricant and condoms if you are not looking to get pregnant on your honeymoon. Then you can also bring some fun sexy card games or other accessories to enhance your bedroom excitement. Think about packing some sexy lingerie or underwear too. You never know where the night will take you!

Travel Specialist Group

Affordable Destination Wedding Locations

Your love for each other is huge, but your budget for the wedding of your dreams is not. That doesn’t mean that you need to give up your dream of a destination wedding for a hot dogs and hamburgers outdoor wedding. However, it does mean that you need to find a destination that’s won’t leave you with an empty piggy bank for your honeymoon.

Dominican Republic: From the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, to the crystal blue waters of Juanillo Beach and the tranquility of Playa Bayahibe, the Dominican Republic is a great destination for your wedding. The numerous all-inclusive resorts provide money-saving options when finding a location for your big day.

Costa Rica: South of the United States lies one of the most beautiful places in the world. Costa Rica, and its beautiful white sandy beaches and parkland, make for the perfect backdrop to your ceremony. Your guests can lounge at Panama Beach, Playa Hermosa, Playa Grande, Pan de Azucar, Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco beaches. They can explore Guanacaste, a town that’s home to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, a 34,800-acre home to over 300 species of birds as well as cougars, monkeys, and kinkajous. If they are the more adventurous type, they can explore the Guanacaste’s Corobici River or the bat caves of Barra Honda. In addition to having numerous all-inclusive resorts to choose from, Costa Rica is centrally located to Juan Santamaría International Airport, making it both location perfect and picture perfect.

Jamaica: The U.S. World & News Report recently named Jamaica as the #1 most affordable wedding destination. Jamaica is the land of sugar cane, coffee and limestone, and all-inclusive resorts, such as the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa that are looking to give a financial break to the soon-to-be happily married couple. Jamaica is the third-largest island of the Caribbean, has beautiful white sandy beaches, such as Seven Miles Beach and Cosmos Beach, tropical weather, delicious food, and a wide variety of fun activities and entertainment.

A destination wedding can definitely be a budget buster, depending on your destination and the bells and whistles you choose to put on your bill. But a destination wedding can also significantly cut the cost of your big day because resorts will often provide discounts for a  wedding party because of the extended stay or because of the amount of rooms you have booked.

In addition, all-inclusive resorts provide photographers, music and other components of a wedding in their price, so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Travel Specialist Group

Things You Need To Know When Planning a Destination Wedding

Congratulations! You’re getting married and you always dreamed of having a wedding far away from home, perhaps on a remote island or at an adventure park. Wherever you dreamed of saying your ‘I Do’s, there are things you should know when planning for your big day.

 

  1. Start early: Some popular destinations can book up in advance. Plus, you should spare some time to visit the destination of your choice.
  2. It’s not as expensive as you think: According to The Knot magazine, most couples spend an average of $30,000 on a local’ wedding. A destination wedding with a small circle of your closest friends and family can cost a fraction of that total.
  3. Think about your budget: While it can cost less than a traditional local wedding, you still need to have the funds without depleting your bank account. Decide what’s most important to you as a couple.
  4. Keep your guests in mind: Are you having children attend? Then pick a kid-friendly destination. Want your elderly Aunt Lola to attend, but she struggles with walking? Make sure that your destination is accessible for her.
  5. Location, location, location: Your destination wedding really comes down to the location that you picked. Do not pick a destination because Aunt Lola will be happy or because she told you that she always saw you getting married there. Pick a destination that you both want and that means something to you, whether it’s romantic Tuscany, the beautiful Hawaiian islands or the cold Swiss Alps.
  6. Visit your destination: Don’t take someone else’s word for the destination you want. Go visit it yourself, even if you’ve been there before. You should meet with the vendors, including the photographer, and you’ll want to see the venue at least one more time. Make sure you try the food while you are there too.
  7. Check the paperwork: Depending on your location, you may need special permits for your wedding. Some may take time to get, so give yourself plenty of time to get everything you need.
  8. Use a travel agent: A travel agent can help you plan your wedding from far away. They are more familiar with destinations and local customs and can make sure that your big day is just perfect. They can talk to your vendors, help you to book your reservations and make your day less stressful.
  9. Plan the honeymoon: Planning a wedding is great, but make sure you spend just as much time planning the honeymoon.
  10. Relax: It takes a lot to plan a wedding, especially one that is hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Make sure you spend time relaxing before the festivities and be sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing.

Travel Specialist Group

Best Destination Wedding Locations and Why


The best location to get married is the one that means the most to you and your loved one. Maybe it’s an island where you first said ‘I love you’. Maybe it’s in a country that’s part of your heritage. Or, maybe it’s just a destination that you always dreamed about because it just seems so romantic. Whatever it is, the destination you choose should be the one where you want to say your vows enjoy your big day. Need a few recommendations?

Portugal: With its crystal clear waters, beautiful landmarks and high-towering cliffs, Portugal is one of the most beautiful places in the world and makes an ideal wedding destination. Its city of Algarve is known for its many beaches and Sintra became the first center of European Romantic architecture in Portugal. Portugal is known for its castles including Castle of the Moors, a hilltop medieval castle where you can say your I Do’s.

Italy: Any part of Italy makes a great destination wedding because marrying in Italy is considered one of the most romantic ways to get married. Singer John Legend tied the knot with his wife Chrissy Teigen in Lake Como, known for its deep-blue waters and rugged, forested foothills of the Alps. Of course, there are the rolling hills of Tuscany where you can get married in Florence or Siena or at any one of the hilltop castles, such as the Sala Rossa of Florence, the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena.

Ireland: Speaking of castles, Ireland also makes a great wedding destination site with its more than 30,000 castles across the country, including the 400-acre Dromoland, where you can take a romantic boat ride before you exchange your vows. St. Patrick’s Cathedral located in Dublin is a holy site is created in 1191. The Botanic Gardens, established in 1828, makes a beautiful backdrop to say your vows and, of course, there’s the romantic famous Blarney Castle and sharing an upside down kiss on the Blarney Stone.

Before you plan your wedding keep in mind that, just like in the United States, you need to complete certain paperwork in each country in order to say your ‘I Do’s’ to be considered legal. Check the country’s embassy website or search “getting married in ‘fill-in-the-country’” to find out exactly what you need to do.

Travel Specialist Group

Getting A Passport Quickly

travel-specialist-groupFinally heading out of the country on a much-needed island vacation? Going overseas for a European river tour? Flying to Japan for a really important business meeting? You’ll need a passport if you want to leave the country and do any of these things. If you don’t already have one and apply for a brand new or renewed passport now you’ll probably have it, on average, in just a few weeks.

All you need to do is go to your nearest passport application office and pick up an application. Fill it out and make an appointment to bring the application back and pay your fees. Passport application offices include the post office, local libraries, and designated passport agencies.

However, sometimes you have to leave the country quickly because of a meeting or a family emergency.  Aunt Marie who lives in Spain might have suddenly taken a turn for the worse or your son might have gotten sick during his time abroad. If you need your passport in less than two weeks or even immediately, it is possible.

First, go the U.S. Passports & International Travel website and read everything you need to know about the proof of identification that you will need to bring with you. Then, you can make an appointment at your local state passport agency. You will also need to bring proof of whatever international travel it is that you need to do, so a letter from your business partner or perhaps a doctor’s note explaining your son’s situation.

If your situation is life-or-death – for example, you believe that Aunt Marie isn’t going to pull through and you need to see her immediately – you can call the passport agency and make an appointment for an emergency passport. What falls into the category of life or death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States within 48 hours.

There is no charge for the appointment itself, so if you someone is trying to tell you otherwise, it’s a con and don’t believe them. There are, however, application fees for the passport. Bring your appointment confirmation number, proof of international travel, completed forms and all supporting identification documents. A major credit card, debit/check card (not ATM cards), check, exact cash or a money order are all acceptable to cover the application and expedited fees.

Travel Specialist Group

Planning a Destination Wedding With Children

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Having a destination wedding comes with its own unique set of challenges, but children can add even more challenges to that list. Whether they are in your wedding party, children of the guests or both, you need to think about their needs while you are planning your wedding. Here are five tips to help make your day easier, so you can worry about what’s really important — saying your I Do’s:

    1. Pick a family-friendly destination: There are many resorts around the world that cater to families, with accommodations, dining and activities for all ages. This takes the pressure off of you to keep the kids entertained and provide proper amenities for them. The staff is also familiar with taking care of families.
    2. Have children-friendly activities: Provide activities that are just for adults, some that are just for the kiddies, some that are just for the teens and tweens and some that are for everyone. It takes some planning, but make sure you keep everyone entertained. During the wedding reception, while the adults (and some kids) are dancing the night away, others can be playing with puzzles, coloring or building with Legos at the table.
    3. Children’s menu: Not all children enjoy fancy, schmancy h’or derves, or chicken cordon bleu or roast beef for dinner, so make sure that you have some children’s menu options available. Macaroni, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets are some perennial kids’ favorites. Remember them for the dessert too. Kids love cake, so the wedding cake might not be a problem, but have some cookies and milk on hand as well.
    4. Peace and quiet: Some kids get overexcited and overtired at big events and need a place to chill out for a little while. If you have any new moms who need a place to breastfeed, they may want a place that’s private and quiet. Even some adults just need to get away from all the noise and celebration for awhile, so make sure you have a spot that’s just meant for quiet time.
    5. Teens: The older kids like to be treated like the adults and do what the adults do, so let them participate in the festivities. They can dance, enjoy the grown-up appetizers and menu options, but if there are several teens on hand, consider letting them have their own table, so they can chat with guests their own age.
    6. Time it right: If you have a lot of children attending your wedding or in your wedding party, consider holding some of the events earlier in the day.

Travel Specialist Group