Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Cynthia and Jeremy's wedding was absolutely beautiful. The weather held, although we did hear a lot of thunder at the end of the ceremony. It was hot and breezy, but Cynthia and Jeremy supplied their guests with parasols and fans. Jeremy's dad was allowed to preside over the ceremony, which was awesome! He did everything except for pronounce Cynthia and Jeremy husband and wife. It was beautiful, and one of the best wedding ceremonies that I have ever been to.

Now it is time to return to reality. I will blog some more about this wedding when I have a chance. We didn't get our wake up call (again) this morning, so we are running a bit behind. Time to pack everything up and head home!

Thanks for reading.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Get Set...

Negril is gorgeous. There is no other way to say it. It is the epitome of a tropical paradise-- And I haven't even been on the beach during the day yet. Lush palm trees and colorful flowers beautify the scenery. It is as though you stepped right into one of the photographs in a travel brochure.

Ebony and I are staying in a Honeymoon Suite at Beaches Negril. We are in room 118, which has a balcony facing the ocean. It is a beautiful room, with a king bed, pullout couch, bathroom with two sinks, vanity and really large closet. It is one of the nicest hotel rooms that I've ever stayed in, whether at an all-inclusive resort or not. The furniture is comfortable and attractive. I can see how much Cynthia and Jeremy like their room, which is the same category room that we are in. (They are actually in room 128!) The room is stunning, and makes guests feel right at home. It truly is a work of art.

Upon arriving, a few things went awry. First of all, we weren't able to check into our room until 2:30. That meant that we missed the 2:30 shuttle over to Sandy Bay and missed a tour of the resort. (I really want photos to show my clients that are planning on staying there.) When we got to our room, the woman brought the wrong key. Then, I found out from Cynthia that her wedding time had been changed from 4pm tomorrow to 1pm tomorrow due to concerns of inclement weather. That meant that all of the spa treatments had to be changed to 8am instead of 10am. Drama, drama, drama, drama. At least there were some characters from Sesame Street floating around to make everyone smile.

Even though the rehearsal dinner started late tonight, it was in a beautiful setting-- The beach. Jeremy made a nice speech to the guests, thanking them for being there. Then, I thanked everyone and handed out some favors I got from Advantage Bridal. After doing so, Ebony and I went to Kimono's for a bite to eat, and just came back up to our room to upload some photos and get ready for bed. We had a long day of traveling. It's time to get some sleep!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

On Your Mark...

Ebony and I are sitting at the gate for our JetBlue flight. It is LOUD. Some alarm is going off. Definitely not the way I like to start the morning! But, the staff and service at JetBlue got us off to a great trip. I even brought the ticket counter some Munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts for all of their help last time. I showed Ebony where we filmed the JetBlue spot for Wedding Lane with Candy Cain.

Since starting this blog entry, Ebony and I have boarded the JetBlue plane and are in our seats, waiting for everyone else to board so that we can get down to Montego Bay! It is an hour and a half by shuttle to Negril from Montego Bay, so it is certainly going to be a long morning of traveling. Tonight is Cynthia's rehearsal dinner at Beaches Negril, followed by a morning at the spa tomorrow with all of the ladies and then the wedding. Ebony and I leave on Tuesday morning. It's a quick trip, but will most certainly be worth it. I just wish I picked up some breakfast before boarding the plane!

When traveling, it is always a good idea to get to the airport at least 90 minutes in advance. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to get to the airport at least two hours in advance. Trust me-- I've gotten to the airport late by a few minutes and have missed planes in the past. Allow yourself plenty of time to check in, get through security and pick up something to eat near your gate. (Using the bathroom is always a good idea before boarding your flight, too!)

Regarding carry-ons, you are allowed one carry on bag and one personal item. If you are bringing a garment bag for your wedding gown or tuxedo, this counts as one of those bags!!! Yes, you are getting married and it's a really special day. And, if it isn't a full flight, they might let you get away with bringing another bag. However, just because it's your special day doesn't mean that the flight crew has to accommodate you. Find out at the check in counter whether or not the flight is full. Ask nicely if you can bring an extra bag, and be very appreciative if they do allow it. Being polite and nice goes a long way! That being said, being nasty to someone can have the opposite effect. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

Well, the captain just came out and said hello to everyone, let us know about our flight, closed the door, and now we're off. More when we're in Jamaica!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Excuses, excuses...

Let me start this blog entry off by apologizing for not blogging for Tantra's and Nicole's weddings. Long story short, we ended up getting SO MUCH great footage from the weddings that we decided not to blog so that we don't spoil the episodes of Wedding Lane with Candy Cain.

That being said, I am about to head to Beaches Negril on Sunday with my assistant, Ebony, to attend Cynthia and Jeremy's wedding on Monday, October 26, at Beaches Negril. I have never been to Negril, much less Beaches Negril, so I am very excited to attend this wedding. This is also the first wedding that I've had kids attend, so I will be sure to post quite a bit about their experience for all of the families that read this blog.

I know that I've only been blogging lately about the weddings that I've been attending. That's because October was slammed with weddings! I don't have any planned at all in November, and I know that I will have a bit of downtime, so I will be sure to get back on track with some informational entries.

Happy planning!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New York. New York, A Helluva Town...

I love being a New Yorker. Granted, I was born and raised on Long Island... I still have the New York state of mind. I love the attitude of New York, the skyline, the songs about it and, of course, the reputation. New Yorkers are tough people, regardless of what part of the state they are from. And when you get a bunch of New York friends together, you know that you are going to be a part of a good time.

Tonight was Tantra and Michael's rehearsal dinner at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. Sandals did an amazing job setting everything up. it was absolutely beautiful! They were on the Manor terrace, overlooking the gardens and the Roman gazebo, with a view of the ocean in the distance. It was so private. The champagne was flowing, the food was fabulous, and they had a really great time.

Tomorrow is the big day for Tantra and Michael. I can't wait to see her in her Maggie Sottero gown. Brigitte Philippides (my stylist) is going to do her hair and makeup. I know that it is going to be amazing. Tantra is already stunning.... she is going to look like an absolute princess tomorrow.

By the way, I didn't bring my camera tonight. That's why you don't see any photos right now... I'm waiting to get some from Ashley, Tantra's best friend and maid of honor.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I am sitting on a Jet Blue flight right now. We shot the spot this morning for Jet Blue... Stay tuned to the Wedding Lane website to see it! I already have to power down... More later!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last Minute Candy...

It is 11:35pm, and I'm watching last week's episode of Glee. I just finished packing (well, almost) for tomorrow's trip to Jamaica, where I will be heading for Tantra's and Nicole's weddings. Tantra is getting married at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios on 10/6 and Nik is getting married at Sandals Dunns River on 10/7. It's going to be fantastic!

So,Ii just wanted to drop a line on here before I finished getting everything ready. You'll be following TWO live wedding blogs this week.... Stay tuned!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dawn's Blog Entry: My Perfect Paradise Wedding

Dawn was asked to write a blog entry about her experience at Sandals and with Candy Cain. This is her take in her own words about her trip, her wedding and her experience.

We arrived in Montego Bay on September 16 after a very long day of traveling that started with Cody’s hunting knife incident at Denver International Airport and included two layovers. Cody was just starting to come down with a nasty cold so it had not been a pleasant trip to say the least. We got off the plane and went through immigration. At this point we were both so tired we could barely stand up. Then we saw the Sandals lounge near the baggage claim. We were greeted by a very friendly Sandals employee who instructed us to wait in the lounge while they summoned our ride. As soon as we stepped into the lounge, our long tiring day started to just melt away. Candy had arranged for a private car to take us to Ocho Rios. The driver arrived and took us to the car where he had champagne, fruit, and cheese waiting for us. We felt like we had stepped into another, much more pleasant, world. When we arrived at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios about 90 minutes later we were greeted by the night manager, Jackie, who welcomed us like we were old friends. She shuttled us to our Romeo and Juliet suite where we were treated to an in-room check in. Our suite was fabulous! The bedroom and sitting room were separated by a private pool and whirlpool.

The next morning we met with our butler and then went to meet with our Sandals wedding consultant, Arla, to finalize the details for our wedding and choose our menu for our wedding dinner and our breakfast in bed. After our meeting with Arla, we ate some lunch and then headed to the spa for the couples massage that Cody’s mom had purchased for us. It was so relaxing. I wish we could have gotten a massage every day that we were there! After the massage I got a pedicure. I must say that at the end of all that pampering I was really feeling like a princess! Then we headed back to our room to relax for a while in our private pool before getting ready for dinner. We were supposed to meet Candy for dinner and we were very excited to finally meet her face to face. We had some trouble finding out if she had arrived yet or not. We finally got word from our butler that “Miss Candy has arrived,” but dinner would be a little later than we thought.

Cody and I were both starving. Suzanne and David (the producer and cameraman, respectively) came to our room to meet us and they were both very warm and friendly, which took the edge off of us being nervous about them filming the wedding. They filmed us for a little while in our room and then we were off to meet Candy for dinner. I was so excited to meet her that I can’t even put it into words. We had been talking on the phone and through email for months and I felt like I had known her for years, so I was really looking forward to finally meeting her in person. They seated us for dinner and Candy arrived a few minutes later and greeted both of us with a big hug. We had a great dinner and really enjoyed visiting with Candy, Suzanne and David. Towards the end of dinner, Candy said she had a surprise for us and she pointed towards the stairs. There was a woman that I didn’t recognize walking towards us with a big smile. Candy said “That’s Jenna.” I was really excited because Jenna was our Sandals Wedding Coordinator and I had talked with her many times over the phone, so it was great that she was able to come to Ocho Rios for our wedding!

The next morning we had breakfast with Candy to go over the final details of the wedding and she let us know that we had the option of having our wedding dinner on a raft in the lagoon. We thought that was really cool, so we eagerly accepted. After breakfast we had a couple of hours to relax before it was time to get ready for the wedding. I was taken to the spa to get my hair done and Cody also went to the spa to sit in the sauna for a while to try to clear up the congestion from his cold. I’m not sure if it was the sauna that did the trick or the two shots of rum that he had before the wedding, but he was congestion free for the wedding! After my hair was finished, I went to wait for a ride from my butler. When I got upstairs I saw David and Suzanne at the business center where Suzanne was on the computer and David was sitting on the floor with his back towards me. They hadn’t seen me so I snuck up behind David and said “Get to work you slacker!” He turned around with a classic look on his face like “excuse me?!” then he saw it was me and he didn’t skip a beat. He sniffed and said “Go get married”. I was taken to Candy’s room to finish getting ready. Candy had arranged for some lunch to be brought to me but I really couldn’t eat much of it. I was way too excited! I put on my makeup and I was quite proud of myself for being able to put my eyeliner on. I figured that was a good sign that my nerves weren’t too bad! Jenna and Candy helped me put on my dress, jewelry, and shoes and then we all loaded up into the wedding bus to be taken to the ceremony site.

Candy and I stood waiting for what felt like an eternity for Arla to give us the signal that it was time to walk down the aisle. With all sincerity I can honestly say that as soon as I started walking down the aisle and saw Cody waiting there, everything and everyone disappeared except for me, Cody and the minister. I was completely unaware of the scenery, the filming, and the other people that were there. It was absolutely perfect in every way.

After the ceremony, we went with the photographer to get our pictures done. When we started to head back for the reception the photographer stopped us and said that they were moving the location of the reception so we would need to wait for a few minutes. She asked if we wanted to wait in the beachside bar and that was probably the closest I came throughout our whole trip to throwing a fit. I told her that I was absolutely NOT going to sit in a bar in my wedding gown. The other option that she offered was the beachside grill which is basically like a diner with stools. That made me even less happy! So we finally found a table with chairs to sit and wait….and wait….and wait!

Finally we were escorted to the reception where we found out that they had been waiting for us for quite a while. I don’t know what happened, but I decided to shrug it off since it was really the only thing that had gone wrong that whole day. I didn’t find out until we got home that they had piped our first dance song throughout the whole resort and I really thought that was beyond cool! That song has a lot of meaning for us because practically every word of it fits us.

Before we had dinner on the raft, Candy bid us farewell because she was leaving early in the morning. I was sad that we wouldn’t get to see her again before she left. Dinner on the raft was very romantic but had I known how long it would take I think I would have changed clothes. By the end of our three hour dinner I was ready to rip off my dress and swim back to shore!

The rest of our stay was very relaxing. Our butler Nadine took very good care of us. In fact, after I also came down with Cody’s cold, she made sure to have a bottle of water on each of our nightstands every night. The staff at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios is superb. We were always greeted with smiles and everyone we encountered was happy to assist us with anything we wanted.

From the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank everyone who played a part in making our special day perfect. Most of all, we would like to thank Candy. She went above and beyond at every step of the way during the planning of our wedding and during the wedding itself. I feel blessed to know her and I am so thrilled that what began as a business relationship has blossomed into a lasting friendship.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The End... Or, Actually, the Beginning!

After the ceremony, Dawn and Cody headed off to have their photos done. Suzanne, David and I were told that we were heading into the piano bar for their reception. My heart dropped into my stomach. The piano bar??? Um, no. We had arranged for the San Gennaro Pier. Dawn and Cody and not high maintenance people in the least, but I knew that they wouldn’t want their reception in the bar-- Especially since we arranged for it on one of the prettiest settings at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. Arla, Wendy and the rest or the wedding team scrambled to move everything from the piano bar to the pier. Suzanne, David, Ian and I went to retrieve Suzanne’s belongings.

It was a fast transition. We walked down to the pier, where they were setting everything up already. It was done in about five minutes. Suzanne, David, Wendy, Ian, Arla and I sat together and chatted for quite a while. After about 30 minutes, we started to wonder where Dawn and Cody were. Arla called Delsena (I think) and told them that they should head over to the pier. As they were walking down the pier, I saw Dawn’s face. Let’s just say she looked a little less than happy. (Which is weird for Dawn, by the way. She is virtually always upbeat, if not happy.) I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she and Cody had been sitting in a bar for about 20 minutes, waiting for us to set up. I nearly dropped dead. The last thing I wanted to do was to intrude on Dawn and Cody’s wedding day!!! We made sure not to make them wait or anything. I don’t know how the wires got crossed, but they did. I apologized profusely, and they shrugged off the mistake. A day later, I still don’t know how it got screwed up.

To make light of it, I grabbed their hands and skipped down the pier. Cody started singing, “Skipping down Wedding Lane with Candy Cain!” I’m sure we all felt like a bunch of silly idiots, but it was fun to just let some of that energy loose. The San Gennaro Pier was set up perfectly. It was really pretty, and Dawn and Cody were really happy.

Arla instructed Dawn and Cody how to toast the Jamaican way, which gave us all a good laugh. Then, I made the toast. Tryg had written something for me to say, but I honestly couldn’t remember it-- Something about Jimmy Stewart. (It was, by the way, a great toast.) I’ve only given one wedding toast before, when I was Maid of Honor at Charles and Rona’s wedding back in 1999-- And I had known Rona since grade school. I had only known Dawn and Cody for three months. So, I did what I do best: I spoke from the heart. I truly don’t remember what I said-- Something about love knowing no age or number, and that I wished them a lifetime and happiness. Like I said, I spoke from the heart.

Dawn and Cody danced their first dance to Brad Paisley’s song Then, which was totally perfect. There was no CD player on the pier, so Arla had it piped through the entire resort. I must say, it was incredibly romantic-- Dawn and Cody dancing their first dance over the Caribbean Sea as the sun set in the background. I bet they didn’t notice anyone else. At that moment, I knew it was time to go. I collected my things, signaled to the camera crew, and turned to go.

As soon as I turned, Dawn and Cody’s butler’s cell phone popped out of my purse, hit the pier, split in two and bounced into the ocean. There was a collective gasp from everyone around me. I thought Ian was going to jump in after it. Everyone thought it was my camera, rather than the resort’s cell phone. So, when you are walking on the San Gennaro Pier, take a look over the left side where the coral reef is. If you see a cell phone, it’s my fault that it is there. So, I had to wait for Dawn and Cody to sit down for their cake, then explained to them what I did. Dawn cracked up.

Speaking of my own goofs, I kept forgetting about the ring for Cody, which Dawn asked me to hang on to. I must have left it in the room about 4 times. Then, right when I was about to walk to the gazebo for the ceremony, Dawn asked me if I had the ring. It was in my purse. I retrieved the ring and stuck it on my pinky finger so I wouldn’t get. Fortunately, the minister asked me for the ring right before the ceremony started. Thank goodness.

So, after I apologized profusely for the phone, I called Nadine (Dawn and Cody’s butler) to let her know what I did. I really hope that they got their phone replaced. I’m sure that they did. Then, I met Brian Roper, the General Manager of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, who is an absolute doll. I wish I could have spent more time with him-- Maybe on my next trip there (which will hopefully be the first week of October). After our brief meeting, I headed over to the bar with Wendy, Ian and Arla. A few people recognized me from filming and asked for some photos, which was a lot of fun. Wendy insisted that I try a drink called a hummingbird. Honestly, I really haven’t had a drink since my babies were born last year. Regardless, I agreed. And, boy, am I glad I did! I don’t know what was in it, except for a fresh banana, but it was fabulous. I only had one, though. I was a good girl.

After about an hour, I headed up to Dawn and Cody’s room to see how beautiful everything was set up before they got back from dinner. It was set up beautifully. The room smelled so nice, from the scented candles. There were rose petals everywhere and a bath was drawn. It was so romantic. I know that Dawn and Cody just loved it.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Wedding & A Show! Who'da Thunkit?

I am sitting in the back of a beautiful Mercedes, traveling from Sandals Grande Ocho Rios to the Montego Bay airport. It takes close to two hours to get there. Let me tell you, compared to the shuttle the crew and I took to Ocho Rios on Thursday, I have officially decided that there is no other way to travel in Jamaica. I am going to recommend a private car to absolutely everyone that stays at a Sandals property in Jamaica. (Fortunately, if you are a butler guest at Sandals Royal Caribbean or Sandals Montego Bay, your private car transfer is included!)

But, I digress.

Since I've got a little more than over an hour in the back of this car, I figured it was a good time to reflect upon yesterday's events. But, where shall I begin?

As you already know, I was fortunate enough to stay in a Oceanview Grande Luxe Plantation Villa One Bedroom Suite with Pool. I was on top of the world-- The last room on one of the many roads on the Manor side of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. (Specifically, I was in room 7403, in case you want to request it for the amazing view.) I woke up at 7:30am, thanks to a wake up call ("Rise and shine! It's wake up time!"), took some pics of the view, did a little video of the room, then slipped on my bathingsuit and went for a dip in the pool. It was surreal. The pool was actually large enough for me to do laps. It isn't an Olympic-sized swimming pool by any means, but certainly large enough to swim in.

After my swim, I hopped into the shower and got ready for the crew and some Sandals staff to come to my room for a morning meeting. Derron, my fabulous butler, set up coffee, fruit and pastries for our production meeting. By the time I was all ready, everything was set up. The internet connection was spotty in the room, but I was able to get a strong connection on the patio.

Suzanne (producer / field director), David (cameraman), Wendy (known as "Jenna" to the brides and agents she works with as a Sandals Wedding Coordinator), Arla (Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Wedding Consultant) and Ian (Public Relations) showed up to my room right on time. We went over the shot list (what we wanted to film and when) as well as exactly what was going to happen at the wedding. Arla went over a couple of things with us, including a special option for Dawn and Cody. At 9:30, we all headed out. I went to meet Cody and Dawn at Valentino's while Suzanne and David went with Ian to pick up some equipment that was left in David's room.

As I pulled up to the stop for the jitney to bring us down to the Riviera section of Sandals Grande, I saw Cody and Dawn waiting for the jitney as well. I greeted them, and we hopped onto the jitney together. (We actually ended up taking a smaller jitney than the usual shuttle that runs between the two sections.) As soon as we got settled into the jitney, Suzanne, David and Ian showed up. I had a pic snapped of me, Dawn and Cody, and then we were on our way.

The Riviera section of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios is actually the original resort. A hotel across the street was purchased by Sandals later, and turned into the Manor section. Both areas are absolutely gorgeous, and you can't tell that they were ever different hotels-- the only thing to suggest such is the distance between the two areas.

We climbed out of the jitney and made our way to the area where Valentino's is located. Suzanne, David and I decided that we wanted to take a look at the Reef Gazebo, where Dawn and Cody were going to tie the knot. We sent Dawn and Cody to breakfast, then followed Ian to the Reef Gazebo.

I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the view from the Reef Gazebo. "This is where we get our ocean shots!" David excitedly exclaimed as he looked over the railing. The photos I had seen of it just did not do it justice. It is ten times better in person. The Reef Gazebo is located right by the Manor House, off the side and down a little path. It is pretty secluded, which is really nice for a wedding and other private events.

We decided to do a little intro about the Reef Gazebo. It was off the cuff, but was just what we needed to show what the gazebo looked like before the wedding and during it. After we filmed that (which took three takes), we headed down to Valentino's.

I was surprised when I saw that no one else was in Valentino's, except for Dawn and Cody. It is a really beautiful restaurant, and I am disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to dine there during my short stay. Who knows? We might be back sooner than we think to film another wedding, and I will fully take advantage of dining there. Dawn and Cody were sipping coffee, looking over the beach and Caribbean Sea. I greeted them, and told them that we wanted to film my offer for an option that Arla gave me for them, and get their true reaction to it. Of course, they were agreeable. So, I left the room while Suzanne and David set up. I was cued, then entered and gave them their option.

You see, Cody's mom Nancy purchased the Love Nest Romance Package for them as a wedding gift. The package includes the Scents of Love massage, candlelight dinner, and an in-room escapade. Dawn and Cody had decided that they wanted their dinner on the beach. However, I had a really cool option for them... Last week, Sandals Grande Ocho Rios started offering candlelight dinners on a raft in the middle of their lagoon (for lack of a better term-- It's a square dock that the ocean runs into. Look at the pics), and Arla suggested that I offer it to Dawn and Cody instead of the beach. I offered it, and Dawn's reaction was, "HECK YEAH!" and I thought Cody's eyes were going to pop out of his head. They were so excited! So, I called Arla and made the changes.

Suzanne, David and Ian all left. I joined Cody and Dawn for a lovely breakfast. They told me that they had just been speaking about how cool it would be if they could have their dinner on the raft in the middle of the lagoon. They were so excited. I was wicked excited that they were so excited! It really made my morning.

Dawn and Cody went to their room and I went to mine to get ready to film. Dawn had to be at the spa at 1:00 to get her hair done, and poor Cody was suffering from a cold, so he wanted to sit in the steam room for a little while to try to clear up his stuffiness. I needed to get changed into my outfit to do the intro to the show. Plus, my headache turned into a full-blown migraine, and I wanted to take some Tylenol. Suzanne and David were doing some scenic shots of the resort while I was getting ready.

I was all dressed and headed back down to the Riviera section at around 11:30. My head hurt so much, my hair felt as though it was pulsing. It took me like 15 takes (at least) to get the intro done. Plus, it started to rain. I had to walk and talk at the same time, while looking up and into the camera lens. (Suzanne and David were filming down from the top of the roof.) It sounds easier than it was-- I had to pace my walk and my words to match-- I usually talk quickly and walk slowly, but I had to adjust both. Plus, it was really awkward looking up and still trying to be natural.

As we were filming the intro, two couples (Amanda and Cedric from Vancouver and Brandi and Sonny from Kentucky) were recruited to be a part of the scene. Amanda and Cedric were staying at Sandals Royal Caribbean, and Brandi and Sonny were at Sandals Montego Bay-- both were married on September 12 and on their honeymoon. They were given their direction and did a GREAT job. (Thanks again!!) We decided to use Sonny and Cedric for the closing scene. All four of them were agreeable to it, thank goodness.

So, we took a couple of pics of me and the couples inside the Manor House, then headed over to the bar to pick up our drinks for the closing scene, which we filmed on the pier. JUST SO YOU KNOW, the final scene was written by Trygve Olsen, a longtime friend of mine and fantastic writer. I only write this because I know my husband is going to KILL me when he sees the closer. Granted, it's not raunchy or anything, but both Sonny and Cedric end up sitting very close to me. It's pretty darned funny, but I'm not going to write anything else-- You have to watch the show to see it! I will say, however, that it took about 5 takes to get right, because I wasted two takes laughing.

After that was all said and done, I headed back to my room while Suzanne and David went to film Dawn in the spa. I changed into comfortable clothes to hang out for an hour or so. I called Derron and asked him to bring me up something to eat. I just didn't have time to go down to a restaurant, get something to eat, come back to my room, get dressed, and try to relax. I told Derron I didn't care what he brought me, as long as it wasn't fish. A little while later, he showed up with a chicken cesar salad,a plate of food from the buffet and some desserts. I'm not exactly sure what I was eating while I blogged, but it was good.

David and Dawn showed up around 2:45. Dawn sent an email to her daughter, Brittany, while I put on my dress. Then, she put on her makeup as the photographer, Delsena, arrived. Delsena took some photos of Dawn getting ready. Wendy arrived to help as well. It was so cool to get Dawn ready with Wendy, since she and I were the ones that worked on putting Cody and Dawn's wedding together. It was a bit surreal, too.

I helped Dawn into her dress, and Delsena snapped a few more photos. In the meantime, Suzanne was filming Cody with the "B-Camera" in Cody and Dawn's Romeo and Juliet Suite. At 3:45, Dawn's butler Nadine (who was FABULOUS, by the way!!!) showed up with the wedding bus (yes, wedding BUS) to bring all of us down to the Reef Gazebo. Dawn is such a good sport about the age difference between herself and Cody-- She got some good jokes in while she was getting ready, and I got one in on the bus. (You'll have to watch the show to see what!) We got off the bus and were walked over to this little area near the Reef Gazebo, near some trees and right by a barbeque stand. And we waited for what seemed like an eternity.

They were setting everything up for me and Dawn to enter. Unfortunately, whomever set up the music forgot to set up the song that Dawn and Cody wanted to use, even though they had the CD. (Hey-- mistakes happen to the best of us, and that was the only mishap of the whole day!) I heard the music and was told to start walking. I honestly forgot that a different song was supposed to play. I turned the corner and saw Cody standing there in his khaki tux, looking excited, nervous and deleriously happy. I walked to the front and felt like giving him a huge hug, but walked to the side of him instead and stood near Wendy. It wasn't appropriate for me to stand with Dawn and Cody with the minister-- It was their day; not mine. Even though we were filming a television show, it was - first and foremost - Dawn and Cody's wedding.

The ceremony was brief, sentimental, touching and quite humorous. At one point before the vows, the minister instructed, "Cody, I want you to look at Dawn and say her name like you have never, ever said it before." Cody took a deep breath, looked at Dawn and said in the deepest voice I've ever heard, "Dawwwwwn..." I cracked up!

They exchanged their vows, then signed the certificate and took some photos while Suzanne and I signed as witnesses. Then, they went back in front of the minister to complete their ceremony and become Mr. and Mrs. Cody Cousins. Once they were pronounced, everyone applauded.

It was wonderful. It really was. Neither one of them could stop smiling. You could see in their eyes how unbelievable happy they really were. I hope that happiness echoes throughout their marriage, for all eternity.

Congratulations, Cody and Dawn. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your lives, and for trusting me with your wedding. It means the world to me. I am so happy that you have turned from clients into friends, and a truly hope that we hold onto this friendship forever. God bless you both, and may you live happily ever after.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Friday, September 18, 2009

One Love.

What a day. What a spectacular day. I was able to witness two people that absolutely belong together get married. It was wonderful.

The day started out with breakfast at Valentino's. I didn't know that they were setting up something especially for us. Valentino's is a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view of the ocean. I was able to have breakfast with Dawn and Cody before things got crazy. We took the jitney from the Manor side to the Riviera side together, then they went over to Valentino's while I took care of a couple of filming things.

Unfortunately, I've had a migraine since I woke up this morning. It just won't go away, so I am going to end this entry here. Dawn and Cody deserve a spectacular entry about their special day.
I will write in the morning.

Congratulations, Dawn and Cody! I am SO happy for you!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Let the Games Begin!

Wow. That’s the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. It is absolutely gorgeous. The property is vast, and the views are absolutely breathtaking. I am staying on the Manor side, in the Ciboney Villa Suites, in an Oceanview Grande Luxe Plantation Villa One Bedroom Suite with Pool. It is simply magnificent. I have to take photos tomorrow morning, as it is already after 11:00 and I have been up for nearly 24 hours. I totally need to go to sleep. However, I wanted to write an entry into this blog about Dawn and Cody.

I met Dawn and Cody in person tonight for the first time. We had dinner at the Manor House, which was very good. I had my husband’s favorite- green curry chicken. So tasty! We filmed a lot, laughed even more, and just enjoyed each other’s company. Then, my partner at Sandals for Dawn and Cody’s wedding, the lovely Wendy “Jenna” Williams, joined us for dessert. I was so happy to see her! I speak with her at least once a day regarding the different weddings that I am working on during the second half of the month at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. It was so great to be able to spend some real time with her. She’s as awesome in person as she is on the phone. Plus, we both ended up wearing red! How random is that? Both wedding planners show up in the exact same color…

Dawn and Cody are wonderful people. They are an awesome couple, and I know that they are going to be very happy. I feel so honored to be a part of their big day. I am so excited about tomorrow! If I wasn’t so tired, I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep.
More in the morning!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off to a Rocky Start...

My plan last night was a simple one: Eat dinner, put the babies to sleep, finish packing, get to bed by 9:30. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans hit some pretty major bumps. As I was heading up to finish packing, my phone rang. Long story short, I was on the phone for a little over an hour, dealing with some drama that I just didn't need. (It's a long story that doesn't even merit more than a mention. The only reason I bring it up is because of the delay it caused for me to go to sleep.) So, I go upstairs, finish packing, and put my stuff in the car. The next thing I know, it is nearly 12:30am.

So, I ask my husband to set the alarm for me for 3am so that I can take a quick shower and hop in the car to JFK airport, about an hour away. It felt like I blinked my eyes, and my husband was trying to wake me up. I figured he was wrong, so I didn't move. I was actually still dreaming. All of a sudden, my door flies open, scaring the heck out of me. It was my mom, to the rescue! "It's 3:27!" I almost had a heart attack. I was supposed to be on the road at 3:30! I jumped into the shower, got dressed and ran out the door as fast as I could.

For some odd reason, I hit traffic. Yes, traffic at four in the morning. I didn't get to the airport until 4:15-- Not bad time, though. It took me about 40 minutes to get there. (Ah, the benefits of having a cop as a husband... I was fully prepared to pull that card if I got pulled over!) I jump out of the car in long term parking and make my way to the Air Train. I get to the ticket line at about 4:25am. I tell this nasty woman that I have a flight at 5:45. she checks her watch, then tells me to get in line. So, I get in line, and I wait...
And wait...

And wait some more.

Finally, at 5:00, I call someone else over and let them know that I have a 5:45am flight. He tells me that the flight is CLOSED. I nearly fainted. Still, he doesn't do anything to make things right. He just lets me stand in line.

And wait...
And wait...

And wait some more.

Finally, I get to the ticket counter and deal with this lovely woman, Cheri, who proceeds to tell me that my entire itinerary was cancelled. I couldn't help it; I started crying. Cheri tries to soothe me, and tells me that I should be able to get on the 7:30 flight. However, I would have to go standby. She gives me my standby ticket, and I set on out to the gate, number 46.

For those of you that have never been to get 46 in Terminal 8 at JFK airport in NY, it is the absolute furthest gate from the front of the airport. I was carrying two bags and walking as fast as I possibly could. Fortunately, I breezed right through security. However, I stopped at the Duty Free shop to purchase a little something for the gate agents. (If you are EVER in a position where you are at the mercy of airline agents, stop in a shop and buy some goodies, like cookies.) I picked up a box of Godiva cookies and a couple of Godiva chocolate bars for just under $20. I went up to the desk at the gate, and the woman was clearly in a foul mood. I told her that I was on standby, and I didn't even get my name out when she barked, "Listen for your name." She didn't even look at me. So, I placed the plastic bag on the desk with the goodies in it and said, "Here is something to brighten your day. Thank you for your help." She was visibly taken aback.

About 15 minutes later, she calls my name (and completely butchers the first part, "CanDEECE"). I gather my things, and see that she noticed me. I walk up to the desk and she smiles and hands me a ticket. She says, "Thank you for the treats. That was so nice of you. I gave you a good seat in the front." I thanked her, grabbed a coffee from Starbucks, then found a seat in the waiting area. They started calling people, and I realized that I only had one ticket... I didn't have one from Miami to Kingston!! So, I gathered my stuff and went to the gate. Another agent was there with her. The original agent thanked me again and told me I could board the plane. I was surprised, as my seat was 7B. I asked her, "Am I on standby for Miami to Kingston, too?" She smiled and checked, then said, "I just put you on the list. You're all set." I thanked her again, then boarded. I started having a panic attack as I walked down the jetway... This is REALLY happening! I'm headed to Jamaica for Dawn and Cody's wedding, and we're about to film! OhymyGod, what did I get myself into?!

I stepped onto the plane, which was virtually empty. The flight attendant looks at me and asked me if I needed to sit down, wanted a drink, etc. I assure her that I would be fine, thanked her, then walked to my seat.... WHICH IS IN BUSINESS CLASS!!! Not only that, it is in the bulkhead. And no one is sitting next to me.

The moral of the story? You get more with honey than you do with vinegar. For a $9.50 box of Godiva cookies and a couple of $4 chocolate bars, I'm flying in style. Rock. Maybe I started off rocky, but it sure seems to be turning into a good day...

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking Sharp on Your Wedding Trip

Sept. 16th, 2009

Okay, just for a quick intro - My name is Mechelle and I live in Colorado. My best friend and random business partner, Candy, called me up one day and said she needed a favor. As all best friends do (or at least I do), I said, "Sure!" even before I knew what she was going to ask for.

I was asked, by Candy, to film some interviews and footage of her wedding couple Dawn & Cody. Meeting the couple has been a joy. They have put up with me interfering in their lives and asking them questions about their wedding and experience with much grace. From my short meetings with them I can tell that they really have a lot of fun together and I hope I have caught some of that on camera. I'm writing this particular blog today to give you some insight into the videographer's point of view of a particular incident this morning....

So, here I am at 6:00 am driving up to Denver Airport to film Dawn and Cody leaving for their adventure into wedded bliss. I had made arrangements to meet them at the airport at 8:00 am and I never know what traffic is going to be like, so I left early and planned on getting some outside footage of the airport before they got there if possible. Luckily, that part of my plan went well. I arrived in plenty of time to get a few minutes of b-roll (random scenery footage to use in montages and develop where actions are taking place).

Dawn called me and let me know that they were on the shuttle to the airport just as I pulled into airport parking lot. I was able to meet them at the check-in station and all was going well. Baggage was checked and we were on our way down to security. Now, I must let everyone know, that I am the only one there with a video camera. I don't have a crew, I don't have anything official on and I'm following these two around filming them walking around the airport, checking in, going through security... you get the idea. So, people are looking at us kinda funny anyway and a hear a few people say that they think I'm there doing some kind of security check. But, for the most part, no one says anything and they leave us alone.

Dawn and Cody get to security and I can't follow them without a ticket, so I pull back and walk over to the side and try to film as much as I can of them taking off their shoes and going through the x-ray machines. Once I see that I can't get much more footage from where I am, I walk around to the back side of the security section that is blocked from view where there is a windowed area that you can watch people walk down the stairs or ride the escalator down to where the "train" takes you to the terminal.

I sit down in this small area between the window and some planter with trees in it so I can get some film footage of Dawn and Cody descending the stairs. I see Dawn sitting on a bench putting on her shoes. And she's sitting there. And she's sitting there. And she's sitting there... Now, I couldn't really see what was going on as they were on the backside of this curved area and it was blocked from my view. However, I finally saw Cody standing up by a security guard and thought to myself, "Great, he got tagged for a random security check."

So, I'm waiting there, watching through this window for everything to get cleared and for them to be on their way. But then Dawn gets up, walks over to Cody and starts talking with the guard. Then Cody looks over at me and points. Then Dawn looks right over at me. She points to me and waves and motions for me to come around to the front of the security check.

At this point I'm a bit confused. Then the security guy points to me and motions to me to come around. He doesn't look pleased. "OH, great!" I think, "I've gotten everyone in trouble for filming and now I'm gonna get it." I was envisioning myself, Dawn and Cody sitting in a security room getting the third degree, them missing their flight, and me having to call my husband to come bail us out or call Candy to vouch for our presence. It was not a pretty image.

So, I get up and gather my equipment. I walk around the security wall, wondering what is being said behind it and trying to come up with my best story ever, or at least some decent story of why I was there and an explination that I had no malicious intent. I arrived at the side opening and waited. I could see the security guard walking in my direction. I was nervous.

A female security guard that was sitting close to where I was standing asked nicely if I was filming the wedding couple. "Yes, we're putting together a farewell segment. They're going to Jamaica!" I said in my most light-hearted manner I could. But, at the same time I'm thinking if they didn't accost me once I got around the corner and then I must be okay.

So what's the problem?

The security guard that had stopped Cory finally reached my location. He gave me a disgruntled look, which worried me for about a half of a second until he reached out toward me with a small, black cloth case. I instantly knew what it was and what had happened.

"Could you please take this for them?" the guard asked, "They can't carry it on the plane. You can send it to them," he said in a stern voice. Dawn waved at me and smiled. I laughed and took a sigh of relief.

"Sure!" I said. "No problem."

Cory, having not flown in many (MANY) years, had left (or put) his pocket knife in his carry-on. Many people in this area carry pocket knives and don't even think twice about it, but in this instance I'm sure the small piece of metal sent off multiple alarms and caused Dawn and Cory a small heart attack as they were trying to get to their plane. I know it caused me to gain a few extra, unwanted gray hairs. Luckily, I was there to take possesion of the item or Cory would have been faced with throwing the knife away. Not that he couldn't have done so, but now he can use his money for the honeymoon and not have to save it up for a new pocket knife. (just joking!)

So, a word to those who are traveling by plane - anywhere - please, please double check your carry-on. Remove any sharp items: knives, fingernail files, letter openers, razors, etc... Make sure your liquids are under the 3 oz. limit. Be sure your medications are easy to pull out and have visible lables. Wear shoes that are easy to take on and off (cause we all know what a hassle that is). And for your own sanity - make sure your fiance does the same.

I hope the rest of Dawn and Cody's wedding experience is security guard free. (Please be careful what you bring home!) I expect Dawn will be a beautiful bride and Cody will look sharp (excuse the pun) in his suit. Take care you two and best of luck on your journey together! I can tell already that your's is going to be an interesting ride!

- Mechelle Martz-Mayfield

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Upcoming Live Wedding Blog: The Story of Dawn & Cody

And so it begins! Wedding Lane with Candy Cain will film the wedding of Dawn & Cody at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios in Ocho Rios, Jamaica from September 17 - 19, 2009. I will be there not only to ensure that everything goes smashingly for these two lovebirds, but also to act as Dawn's Matron of Honor! (Can you tell that I am excited?)

Visit Dawn & Cody's Romeo and Juliet Suite, sample the sights and sounds of Ocho Rios, watch as they tie the knot at the stunning reef gazebo, and follow them as they walk off into the sunset to live happily ever after as husband and wife. I will be posting pics, videos and a live wedding blog while I am in Jamaica with them.

Please feel free to leave comments for Dawn & Cody here to wish them well. They will certainly be reading!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Guest Dilemma

I have been speaking with a lot of brides lately that are so excited about their destination wedding. A few of them have decided to get married without inviting any guests, while others are debating over who to invite, who not to invite, who to pay for and so on. This is probably the aspect of their wedding that destination wedding brides stress out the most.

Why? Many brides say that they do not invite guests because they feel uncomfortable asking them to pay "so much money to go to the wedding." I understand that. I really do. But, it isn't the right way to approach inviting guests to a destination wedding at all. Couples that don't invite the people they want to invite because of worries about money are doing themselves as well as their potential guests a disservice.

Dictating Other People's Budgets
The biggest worry about inviting people is that brides don't want to ask people to spend money to attend the wedding. No offense, but who are you to dictate what someone would and wouldn't spend? How do you know what they can and can't afford? Money - especially in this ecomomy - is a big taboo topic of conversation. My best friend and I have known each other for close to 2 decades. I have no clue as to how much money she and her husband earn, nor do I know what they set aside for vacations. Invite whomever you'd like. Let them decide if they want to come or not.

Limitless Possibilities
When it comes to a traditional wedding and reception, guests have a "per head" price. Often times, a bride and groom decide what their budget is going to be for the reception itself, and figure out how many people they can invite in order to keep within the confines of the budget. For example, if the reception budget is a total of $5000, they should subtract $500 for tips (valet parking, maitre-d, servers, bartenders, coat check), which leaves them with $4500. If they have a $45 per head rate, they can invite 100 people. Now, if you have a big Italian family like I do, you have to pick and choose wisely. Couples end up with a main list, and a back up list of other people to invite in case someone on the main list can't go. Then, they make up some sort of excuse of why the invitation was late, yada yada yada.

Not so with a destination wedding! Couples send out their Save the Date cards (if they want), followed by invitations with the contact information for the travel agent that is coordinating their wedding. Then, it is out of their hands. The guests that want to come will make their own arrangements. They will pay for their flights and such. If the couple decides to have their destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort such as Sandals or Beaches, then virtually everything is paid for. You can invite anyone that you want, and not have to worry about paying for anyone to come to the wedding-- unless you choose an option of doing a sitdown dinner at your destination.

Reason to Be Together
There is no better reason to go on vacation than having something to celebrate. Afterall, that is why people go on a honeymoon! Inviting guests to attend your destination wedding may be the catalyst to celebrate something else. Perhaps Aunt Sally just retired, and wants to celebrate in Jamaica after your wedding. Maybe Cousin Paul got a promotion, and bringing his family on vacation is the way he can celebrate on a cruise. Call it killing two birds with one stone... Call it multi-tasking... Call it what you want. I call it a good time. Your wedding just might be the thing to set it all into motion.
You're Worth It
How many weddings have you attended? Think about the last wedding you went to. How long did it last? How much did you spend on the gift? How much did you spend on your outfit? How much did you spend to get there? I just spoke with a bride that I am working with, and we discussed this exact thing. The last wedding she went to was 5 hours long. She spent $300 on the wedding gift, $80 on her outfit, $120 on her shoes, $150 on gas to drive to and from the venue, $100 on her fiance's outfit, and $50 in tips for the bartender and valet. That is $700 for a one day affair where she didn't even get to spend time with the bride and groom! Think about that a minute, folks. For that amount or just a little more, your guests can have a mini-vacation to attend your wedding.

Summing It Up
Do you have to have guests at your destination wedding? No, of course not. Some people want to elope and have a reception when they get home. But, if you are one of those people that secretly wants to have your friends and family around you as you marry the love of your life, go out on a limb and invite whomever you'd like. Don't settle for "Well, I don't think anyone would come..." This is your wedding, for crying out loud! You shouldn't have to settle for anything.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Using a Travel Agent as Your Wedding Planner

I'm a travel agent. If you've been following this blog, you know that by now. I own the Candy Cain Travel Co., and am featured on various wedding websites as a destination wedding and honeymoon expert. I love my job. Every new travel booking - whether a wedding or not - is exciting for me. I love sending people on vacation, or taking care of their business travel. I love looking at their photos, hearing about their experiences, planning everything for them so that they have a stress-free vacation. I have the greatest job in the world.

Weddings are a completely different beast entirely when it comes to travel planning. There is just so much that goes into planning a destination wedding, couples really should enlist the services of a travel agent to help them out. With everything available on the internet, many couples are under the misconception that they can do everything for themselves and pay less. This is absolutely not the case!!! Most times, travel agents are able to at least match any printed quote that you get. Travel agents can often beat the quotes, as they have a variety of resources at their finger tips. Your travel agent is your friend.

When it comes to planning a destination wedding, your travel agent also takes on the role of your wedding planner. Whether you are going to have guests at the resort or it is just going to be you and your fiance, your travel agent will make sure that everything for your wedding is set up before you get there. Once you arrive at the resort (or cruise, as the case may be), you will do a site inspection with the wedding coordinator that the travel agent worked with in setting everything up.

Your travel agent will help you set up your wedding group, if you have one. This means that he or she will offer the same exceptional service to your guests when they book their rooms. Your travel agent will arrange all group gatherings and let everyone in the group know the details regarding time and place. They will also arrange the transportation to and from the airport, so that your guests are all together in the airport transfer. Plus, they can also arrange flights so that everyone can sit together. Are these things that you really want to take care of yourself? Trust someone that has experience.

Your travel agent should have your best interests at heart. While it is true that travel agents earn a commission on your travel as well as some items you may book for your wedding, travel agents should not act as sales people. They should inform their clients of what is available, make suggestions for what they think their clients would like, and never be pushy. If you feel pressured by your travel agent, find another one immediately. You should feel a certain comfort with and loyalty to your travel agent. If the relationship isn't there, you should find one that you do have a connection with. That way, you know that they have your best interests at heart.

Most travel agents do not charge a fee for their services. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of travel agents get burned. For example, several brides have approached me for information regarding booking a destination wedding. I give them a lot of information in the hopes that they will book with me, only to find that they book themselves, then start asking me questions regarding planning their wedding. It doesn't work that way, folks. If you want a travel agent to answer your questions and work with you - ESPECIALLY for your wedding - book through one. If you don't want to pay a fee for it, find a travel agent that doesn't charge a fee. The travel agent will be paid a commission from the resort where you are booked-- It costs nothing extra to you. After all, you wouldn't do your job for someone else (not to mention someone that you just met) without earning anything on it, would you? It just isn't right.

Travel agents are not there just to book your travel for your wedding and honeymoon. Many travel agents have made connections and even friendships at the resorts where they send their clients. A good travel agent will contact the hotel and let them know to expect you. For example, I send an email to the hotel manager of every resort where I book a client, regardless of whether I know them personally or not. If I don't know them personally, I introduce myself. If I do know them personally, I share some information about the clients that I have booked there. Nine out of ten of my clients have come back to tell me that they received a free upgrade, special perks and other things. It's good business for both the travel agent and the resort.

Your wedding is the most important day for you and your fiance. It unites you as a couple. Whether you do it alone or in front of a group of people, it should go off without a hitch. The planning process - especially for a destination wedding - should not be stressful in the least. Work with a travel agent that has experience and the connections that you need for the perfect wedding. It is the smartest decision you will make... Aside from getting engaged, of course!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why a Destination Wedding?

I have been thinking a lot about destination weddings lately. I'm working with several brides that are planning their destination weddings at various resorts in the Caribbean. As I am working on all of these weddings, I keep thinking about my younger sister, who has been dating a really great guy for the past year and is just waiting for him to propose to her. Heck, we are all waiting for him to propose to her! Anyway, my sister lives in Alaska right now, and the majority of our family lives in New York. The majority of her boyfriend's family lives in Alaska. I'm Julienne's only sister, so I'm going to be the Matron of Honor. (Well, I hope that I'm the MoH. She was my Maid of Honor, after all... And we are very close. But, I digress...)That means that I'm going to be the one that does the majority of the planning if she decides that they are getting married in New York.

On the Sandals WeddingMoons Fan Page on FaceBook, I posted the question, "What was the best part of your destination wedding?" Jennifer Sanchez put it best when she wrote:
"...the VERY best part and the reason why we decided to have one was because prior to our wedding, we had been to 7 weddings in one year. They all seemed cookie-cutter. Church, drive to hall, you were there for 5 hours, danced, ate, talked to people, maybe got a few seconds with the bride and groom and then it was over. All along we thought, wow, these people just spent $35,000 plus on 5 hours and now it's over. We wanted something different. Not only did we not want to spend that kind of money, we didn't want a cookie cutter wedding. At first I wasn't too fond of the idea of a destination wedding, but then it dawned on me, most weddings have 150+ people and do you really even know them all? No, probably not. So with a destination wedding, your closest friends and family will be there. At my wedding there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd? Why? Was my wedding that different, that emotional? The answer is no... the reason why that happened was because everyone there truly loved us and knew our story and felt the emotions. What made the entire experience so great was the fact that for 7 days we spent an AMAZING time with 45 of our closest friends and family. The entire week was a celebration and we got to spend intimate time with every single person. Everyone was so relaxed and on "vacation" mode so it was very relaxing. And of course, what an amazing setting for a wedding!"
That really got me to thinking about my sister. We come from a big, Italian family. My cousin got married last month on Staten Island, and there were close to 200 people in attendance. The wedding was easily over $50,000. Then he and his new wife took a honeymoon for 2 weeks to Sicily. Jennifer's point hits so, so close to home-- And it makes so much sense. The stress that goes into planning a wedding like that is outrageous. My own wedding had 100 people. To tell you the truth, I can't rattle off the guest list.

If I were to have a destination wedding, I would want my family to be there. I would honestly invite three friends to come that I know would attend, and invite a few others that I know wouldn't. I think my husband would have his family, then probably just one friend. It would have been very memorable. That isn't to say that our wedding wasn't memorable-- It was just a blur. Craig and I still agree that, with the exception of the day that our twins made their 7 week early appearance, it was the most hectic day of our lives.

A destination wedding is so much less stress on the bride and groom. If you are working with a good travel agent, specifically someone that specializes in destination weddings, then they will be able to take care of everything for you. If any snags or problems arise, they will be told. They will handle the problems, and only come to you if there is a big problem that you need to address yourself. With a good travel agent, everything will be in place weeks before you leave, and every last minute request will be granted.

Most resorts that cater to destination weddings offer complimentary wedding coordinators for your special day. This person will work with your travel agent to get you everything that you want, need and deserve on your special day. Once you get to the resort, you will sit down with your wedding coordinator and review the details. You will go on a site inspection for the ceremony and the reception, just to make sure that it is exactly what you want. If you aren't happy with it, you can work with the wedding coordinator to make changes. If you were to pay for a wedding coordinator and/or a wedding planner for your wedding, it would run you thousands of dollars. Many travel agents (including myself) do not charge a fee for their services. Look to work with a resort that offers wedding coordinators for free, such as Sandals or Beaches.
Having a destination wedding allows couples to focus on each other and their love, rather than stressing over place settings, seating arrangements and all of the other drama that can come with a traditional wedding. Love trumps drama, in my humble opinion. Happiness trumps stress.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding! Special thanks to Jennifer and Lazaro for sharing their wedding photos for the purpose of this article!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Choosing the Ceremony Site

Once a destination is chosen for the wedding, it is important for the couple to decide actually where they are going to have the wedding ceremony on the resort property. Many resorts offer a variety of options: the dock, the beach, the gazebo... While many resorts tell couples that they can choose their location when they get to the resort, it is an important detail that should be decided upon before actually getting to the resort. Once there, the couple can do an inspection of the site. If they do not like it, they can always change the location to something else.

One reason it is important to have an idea as to where you want to have your ceremony - and to let the coordinator at the resort know - is so that no other functions are booked in that location. There is nothing worse that showing up with an idea of where you are going to get married, only to find that you can't have it. You're the bride. You should be able to get exactly what you want. Plus, isn't it a little less stressful to have seen the different options before getting there right before your wedding?

Another reason to choose the location where you are going to get married has to do with the decor. How do you know what to choose to decorate your location? Many resorts offer decor and floral packages that cost thousands of dollars. That is all well and good, but how do you know what it is going to decorate if you don't have an idea of your ceremony location? How can you justify purchasing an $11,000 wedding package and not know what the site is-- or even just have an idea of it? That in and of itself can cause a great deal of stress.

This is one of the many reasons why travel agents are such a valuable asset to a destination wedding. A travel agent will be able to get the information that you need about ceremony sites (among other things) at the resort where your destination wedding is going to be held. He or she may already have photos of the sites on hand, not to mention photos of weddings he or she already arranged at a particular resort. Plus, they can have recommendations of where to and not to hold the ceremony at a particular resort.

If you receive a variety of photos of different ceremony locations, rank them in the order of your preference. That way, if you arrive at the resort and your first choice isn't what you thought it was going to be, you don't have to stress out because you already have a fall-back plan. And don't forget to look at indoor locations in case of inclement weather. (Unfortunately, this does happen at times.)

Choosing a location for your ceremony should be easy. You did, after all, choose the resort. You are aware of its location as well as the beauty of its grounds. With help of your travel agent and wedding coordinator, your picture-perfect ceremony location will be exactly that.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding! Special thanks to Jennifer and Lazaro for sharing their wedding photos, as well as the other bride and groom that allowed me to use their photos for the purpose of this article!

Do Me a Favor!

Everyone likes to get gifts. Whether a plastic spoon with some chocolate kisses or a Tiffany frame, favors are gifts given by the bride and groom to their guests. They can range in prices from less than $2 to over $50. It is completely up to the bride and groom what they spend and what they give.

Favors for destination weddings are a little trickier than "normal" wedding favors. Surely, checking a box of glass ornaments can cause a bride to have heart palpitations during any sort of turbulance on the flight to the destination. Plus, depending on the amount of guests in attendance, another suitcase just for favors may have to be packed. That can incur more airport charges. Chocolate can melt. Glass can break. Metal can bend. What is a bride to do?


You aren't going to be the only person carrying these favors on the plane. Your guests are going to have to bring home the favors as well. If it's something heavy, such as a paperweight, it is going to be a memorable favor for reasons other than you want them to be.

There are so many favors that you can give to guests at a destination wedding. Think about something that you might leave home on a trip... How about a personalized travel bag? One bride that I am working with is having totebags personalized with their names and wedding date, then filling it with necessities for a trip: tissues, lint roller, lip balm and so forth. Perhaps you would like to give a bottle of sunscreen. Why not personalize the label? There are plenty of companies that create personalized labels, or you can do it yourself on your computer, if you are handy.

Many couples agonize over what they should give as a favor for a destination wedding. Stop thinking about the favors that you have received at weddings you have attended in the past, and start thinking about something that you would like to get if you were attending a destination wedding. Many resorts offer souvenirs with the resort's name on it. Why not buy a bunch of them while you are at the resort and add a personalized ribbon? For all of the destination weddings that I book at Sandals and Beaches Resorts, I give the bide and groom as well as all of their guests a free 30 minute photo session and a free 5x7 photo, which is worth $116. I create a certificate for the favor with instructions on how to redeem it, as well as a note from the bride and groom so that it looks like it is from them instead of from my travel company.

You don't have to deal with the favor situation alone. Ask your Travel Agent for help. He or she should be able to recommend someone that they work with. If you ask the favor company, they may be able to ship your favors directly to the resort. (A great company that does this is Creative Edge Events.) Remember that, while this may be your first wedding, the people that you are working with have done this many times before. Have faith in that.

There is no rule that says you have to give wedding favors at the wedding. A more non-traditional approach is to give favors when you get back, as a "thank you for coming" gift. People understand, especially if your favors aren't conducive to travel. You can deliver them in person, or send them yourself. Either way, they will be appreciated.

Favors aren't mandatory for any wedding, especially for a destination wedding. They are certainly a nice touch, but often end up collecting dust on someone's shelf somewhere. Give your guests something you know that they will use and enjoy, not to mention something that will remind them of the wonderful vacation they took in order to celebrate your wedding.

Candice Cain is a Destination Wedding Expert and Certified Sandals Specialist, as well as the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. For help planning your destination wedding, please send Candice an email. Juliette Marotta is the owner and one of the designers of Creative Edge Events. For customized favors, please send Juliette an email.