By Susie Reese
There is no such thing as a perfect wedding, but you can get elegantly close. That’s why it’s imperative when planning a destination wedding that you select the location that is best for you and your guests. And who knows where to book a destination wedding better than travel experts? We’ve got two romance consultants who know the best resorts and the best deals to make your dream wedding a reality.
Jennifer Wayland – Jamaica
Jennifer Wayland has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years and opened her own agency, Island Bridal, Inc., which specialized in romance travel. Since then, Island Bridal has expanded to Island Travel Group, a full-service agency, and Jennifer and her thoroughly educated, highly knowledgeable experts travel frequently, keeping abreast of the newest destination trends.
Wayland enjoys booking Caribbean destinations and has her favorite: “Jamaica originated the couples only, romance concept and has mastered it,” says Wayland. “The island is breathtaking. There is more to do and see in Ocho Rios than on any other island in the Caribbean. And the people have a unique festive sense that keeps everyone entertained.”
Jamaica is known for its vivid sights, like the majestic Blue Mountains and the pristine sandy beaches, but Wayland suggests future brides and grooms choose Jamaica for their nuptials for another reason: “It’s quite simple to complete the necessary steps for a legal wedding in Jamaica,” she says. “The process is not intimidating.”
And for weddings with families, Jamaica is the perfect destination. “[The locals] have been welcoming families, and [the island] has been home to some of the top family resorts in the world for decades.”
Which is why when Jennifer had to recommend one resort, she chose one known for its family fun. “I have many favorite wedding resorts in Jamaica, but the ones that definitely stand out are the Beaches Resorts,” says Wayland.
Read more: Three Ways to Get Married in Mexico and the Caribbean here.
Beaches Negril has been voted the number one for families in the Caribbean in the Travelers’ Choice awards by TripAdvisor, and Beaches Ocho Rios was voted among the Top 10 Best Beach Resorts by Parents magazine. These fun-filled resorts offer Sesame Street® characters, gourmet restaurants, swimming pool, water sports, all-inclusive amenities, and of course, world-famous beaches.
At Beaches, brides can hold a WeddingMoon®, which includes a fantastic wedding ceremony plus an all-inclusive honeymoon. With extra large suites, decorated rooms, breakfast in bed, complimentary ceremonies, and even an on-site wedding coordinator, Beaches is a wedding delight for couples and their guests.
“The two Beaches resorts in Jamaica offer very unique experiences,” Wayland explains. “The resorts capitalize on their location and amenities, offering something for every guest!”
Piper Fenton – Fiji
But Caribbean destinations weddings are sometimes hard to fit in certain budgets.
“Most people are looking for all-inclusive, small, boutique hotels, which are not really easy to find for reasonable budgets in the Caribbean,” says Piper Fenton of Remarkable Honeymoons.
Fenton has been working in the travel industry for more than 20 years. After beginning as an in-house travel consultant in Portland, she transited into Internet inquires with Big Day and the Turtle Island Resort in Fiji before creating Remarkable Honeymoons. Fenton has booked weddings in Hawaii and the South Pacific, and though she enjoys the popular destination of Tahiti, the difficulty of a legal ceremony doesn’t make it a great destination for weddings. She lists Fiji as her top wedding destination.
Fiji is a cluster of 333 islands about halfway between North America and Asia with the fairy-tale sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and quintessential island hideaways. Fenton recommends the five-star Qamea Resort and Spa, a Fijian village-themed resort with impeccable accommodations and attentive staff.
“I love that resort because they take such good care of the client,” Fenton explains. “I’ve been there a couple of times, and every client who comes back—it just far exceeds their expectations. It’s hard to explain to them how wonderful it will be until they get there.”
For a travel agent, good client experiences are extremely important, especially when booking a destination wedding, which is why Fenton continues to work closely with Qamea.
“I just feel very comfortable selling that resort because I trust them with everything,” explains Fenton. “It’s not the most expensive property in Fiji, but they treat everyone so well.”
Read more: “The Top Three Celebrity Wedding Destinations” here.
According to Fenton, Qamea’s staff will know every client’s name within the first few hours of arrival, and they make friends with the guests. Happy couples and families frequently communicate with the staff after they leave resort, and she’s had more than one client cry when departing.
But that’s not the only important factor when choosing Qamea: “The accommodations are beautiful,” Fenton raves. “They replace sheets. They replace towels. Nothing gets old and wore-out.”
The resort also has a fantastic chef, and the owners care about every guest’s experience, allowing Fenton to book worry-free.
“To me, that is very important-not to have to worry about what people think about their wedding or vacation. It’s a great feeling to sell a resort like Qamea because I know the clients are going to be happy.”
Check out more wedding destinations on The Journey, keywords “Destination Weddings.”