Saturday, November 19, 2011

Exciting Events on Horizon

 I love Mexico. I have been a big fan of Mexico since attending Love Mexico in May of 2010. Sure, I had been to Mexico on my own vacations and booked clients there before then, but I really got to learn a lot about Mexico and meet some key people at the various Love Mexico events that I have attended since then. I have planned many different destination weddings in Riviera Maya and Cancun, as well as group trips to Los Cabos. I have personally been to Mexico more than a dozen times since October 2010.

Debi & John's wedding 7/30/11 at Gran Caribe Real (Photo by Cassandra Mooney)
The most recent wedding I created was at Gran Caribe Real in Cancun. It was AMAZING. I've got to give a "shout out" to my counterpart at Gran Caribe Real, Diana Rodriguez. If you happen to get married at The Royal Cancun or Gran Caribe Real (and you don't use my services), make sure you request Diana. The food was fantastic, the DJ was amazing, the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and everything went off without a hitch. It was a magical wedding, and I can't wait to work with Real Resorts again to make someone else's dreams come true. (By the way, I am SO sorry for not blogging sooner.)

Photo Montage by Cassandra Mooney, Blue Sky Photography
The main reason why I like Mexico as a destination for weddings is because of the value that both couples and guests can get there. While Mexico has a bad reputation in the USA for being dangerous, people must realize that not going to Cancun because of violence in Tijuana is like not going to Disney World because of violence in New York. People, you're not having your wedding at a taco stand on the border. And bridal couples would NEVER put their guests in danger. Be rational and open your minds to having (or attending) a destination wedding in Mexico.
John, the groom - 7/30/11 (Photos by Cassandra Mooney)
Because there is such a stigma attached to Mexico, I came up with an idea to help tourism to the country, as well as enlighten and educate people about destination weddings in Mexico. What is it? My lips are sealed. I'll give you a hint, though... It is going to occur on 12/12/12. And it's going to be BIG. But, that's all I'm going to say for now...

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, May 7, 2011

Anita & Jason's Wedding: Could a Wedding Be More Perfect?

What a day. What a beautiful day. Today was the day that Anita and Jason became husband and wife. The weather could not have been more perfect. The sky was a brigt blue, to match the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. A breeze came every so often to cool off the wedding guests. There was no hint of rain. It was fantastic.

Our day started at noon, when Mechelle and I met Anita and her Maid of Honor Megan in the Red Lane Spa at Sandals Negril. Vinnett was going to do Anita's hair and makeup after both ladies had a mani-pedi. There was plenty of time to relax after the ladies were all done, so we went down to the beach grill and bar for some lunch. At 3:00, Jason headed down to his best man's room, and the four of us went to their gorgeous one bedroom loft so that Anita and Megan could get dressed for the wedding.

I have never seen a bride get ready so fast. She was all done even before the videographer got there! Once the videographer did arrive, Megan and Anita re-created certain aspects of getting ready, such as putting on Anita's necklacce and shoes. Fortunately, the videographer had been in the spa earlier and got tons of footage of Anita and Megan getting pampered and styled.

While Mechelle stayed with Anita and Megan, I went to the Sandals Negril Wedding Office to find the groom and best man. They had just met with the minister and gone over everything with him. I introduced myself to the minister, and then we all headed down to the beach gazebo to await Anita's arrival. I also had the mothers' wrist corsages for Jason to give to his mom, Anita's mom and Anita's step-mom. The wrist corsages matched the bouquets and Anita's hair fascinator, which were all made by Juliette Marotta, owner of Creative Edge Events. All of the guests were already assembled in the gazebo, which was beautifully yet simply decorated. A seashell aisle runner lined the path that Anita would walk with her dad to meet her future husband. Jason anxiously awaited the arrival of his beautiful bride.

Kenny G's "Songbird" started and Megan made her way to the gazebo, looking stunning in an orange Dessy cocktail dress. Soon, Anita and her dad made their way to the beach gazebo to Eva Cassidy's "Songbird." She looked gorgeous. Jason and Chris (best man) wore white pants and turquoise shirts, a terrific choice for a beachfront wedding in Jamaica.

Jason and Anita wrote their own vows. Jason's vows even reduced me - a wedding planner that attends more than her fair share of weddings - to tears. They were so touching and poignant, Anita barely got through hers. It was a very touching and romantic wedding.

After being pronounced husband and wife, the entire wedding party headed to the garden for the cocktail party and dinner reception. The guests had a marvelous time. The garden was the perfect choice-- It was beautiful, secluded, and there was a wonderful breeze blowing through every so often.

Congratulations again to the newlyweds. Thank you for allowing me and Mechelle to be such an intricate part of such an important 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!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Wedding of Anita & Jason: The Day Before

This weekend is the wedding of Anita and Jason at Sandals Negril. It has been a little over a year in the making. I’ll never forget the first contact I had with Anita—She sent me an email after reading an article I wrote about destination weddings, not expecting to hear anything in return. I emailed her back within minutes of receiving her email, as I had been online and received it immediately. We emailed back and forth a few times, and I told her that I would call her later that evening.

Anita expressed to me that she wanted to get married at Sandals Negril, but she had spoken with a few other travel agents who actually told her that she was not allowed to get married at any Sandals resort because they would not allow single people to stay at the resort. I nearly dropped dead when she told me this! Sandals would never turn away any clients, ESPECIALLY people that are coming for a wedding. Yes, Sandals is a couples only chain of resorts. Yes, they usually do not sell rooms to singles. After all, why would a single person want to come to a couples resort? All Sandals rooms at EVERY Sandals resort is double occupancy. No more, but you can certainly have just one person in the room. However, if there is one person in the room, you must pay the double occupancy rate. For example, if the room rate is $1000 for the weekend, that is for one or two people staying in the room. The rooms only have king beds (although some resorts do offer a pull-out couch in the larger rooms) and very few rollaway cots are available, so be prepared to share your bed with your roommate.

While sitting with Anita in the Red Lane Spa as she was having her trial hair and makeup done, I asked her what her advice would be to any potential destination wedding bride. “Definitely use a planner,” she replied. “I don’t know how I would have done this without you.” That made me feel SO good! I felt like Superman—“My work here is done!” Of course, it isn’t—Anita and Jason are getting married tomorrow, and I will make sure that everything runs smoothly, along with my assistant Mechelle and the Sandals Negril Wedding Manager Andrea, whom I had the pleasure of working with at another wedding a year and a half ago at Beaches Negril.

Vinnett did a fantastic job on Anita’s hair and makeup trial. Anita’s hair fascinator was made by Juliette at Creative Edge Events, with matching bouquet. Juliette also made the maid of honor’s bouquet and the wrist corsages for the moms. Anita happened to wear a dress that matched the fascinator perfectly. I brought a couple of spare flowers with me, in case Anita wanted to wear one for her rehearsal dinner or if the MOH Megan wanted one for her hair for the wedding.

After the hair and makeup trial, we went to Dino’s (the new restaurant at Sandals Negril) for the rehearsal dinner. I was able to meet all of the guests that I had arranged travel for and had corresponded with for months. It was very nice being able to put faces to names, voices and emails. After making sure everyone was happy, Mechelle and I left to get our own dinner and retire for the night.

Mechelle and I are staying at Beaches Sandy Bay, just a quick walk down the beach from Sandals Negril. Sandals Negril is so popular that it was sold out for Mother’s Day Weekend! In all sincerity, Sandals Negril is a fantastic resort, and is often sold out because of its fabulous location on an amazing beach. Seven Mile Beach is the second best beach in the world, and Sandals Negril sits right on it (as do Beaches Negril and Beaches Sandy Bay). If you are thinking about planning a destination wedding there, plan early and find a destination wedding expert to help you plan it—Especially one that is a Certified Sandals Specialist. (Candy Cain Travel, by the way, has several Certified Sandals Specialists and is a Preferred Sandals Agency.)

Congratulations to Anita and Jason! Mechelle and I are looking forward to your wedding tomorrow.

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!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Playa del Carmen FAM Trip: Time To Go Home Already

Donna calling home
 This was a fast trip for me. In an out - pretty much two days and two nights. It was my first time in Playa del Carmen, although I have been in Mexico several other times. Donna, the latest addition to the Candy Cain Travel Co. team, has never been to Mexico before. She is leaving to return to New York a few hours later than I am, so she will hopefully get to experience some sun before she leaves, since it rained right after our last seminar all through the night. It would have been nice to spend a day in paradise, just playing with my new friends, but I have to return to reality.

Condo Hotels are fantastic, and I truly look forward to working with them in the future. People really need to know about this place, because they would never leave. As Donna says, it is a "secret haven" here in Playa del Carmen. It is truly spectacular, and I can't wait until my next trip here.

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!

Playa del Carmen FAM Trip: Travel Checklist

El Taj at Night
 You know, sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite. I preach to my bridal couples all the time about having a checklist when they travel. I even create travel checklists for the clients that only book travel through me. But, do I create a checklist for myself? No, of course not. And I suffer for it.

So, what did I forget? Take a look, and make sure you write them down on your travel checklist, so that you don't forget them, too...

TOOTHBRUSH: In my defense, I usually have my travel toothbrush in my travel bag. For some reason, the toothbrush wasn't there-- I probably left it at Sandals Whitehouse when I went to the STAR Awards. Nothing that a quick trip to the convenience store wouldn't take care of, but it is such a pain in the butt when you forget your toothbrush and the front desk doesn't even carry the cheap ones that would get you through a short stay.

The bathroom in our room
HAIRBRUSH: My hairbrush is my downfall of packing. I don't know why, but I constantly forget my hairbrush when I travel. I even set it on the sink before I left. Fortunately, I'm sharing a room with Donna, who didn't forget hers. Thank goodness.

COMFORTABLE SHOES:  Yep, I forgot these, too. Oh, and I told Donna and Jules to make sure they brought theirs. I had planned to pack comfortable shoes, since I knew that I was going to do a lot of walking when I wasn't teaching. I even left room for them in my suitcase. Instead, I left my shoes by the front door and didn't realize it until I unpacked in the hotel. Fortunately for me, Donna picked up a pair of flip flops while she was walking around on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen.

CLOTHES TO TRAVEL HOME IN: There really isn't anything worse than having to travel home in something uncomfortable. I packed my pants, but forgot my shirt and the shoes. So, I'll be wearing the shirt I wore today and the pumps (or flip-flops)-- Probably the pumps because I don't want to walk in 18 degree weather in New York in flip-flops. (Maybe I can find a shop in the airport...)

You get the idea. If you are a destiantion wedding planner, make sure you have a checklist for your bride. If you are a bride, write a checklist for yourself before you start packing. Otherwise, you'll end up like me: Shoeless and shirtless with ratty hair and bad breath.


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!

Playa del Carmen FAM Trip: The Joy of Networking

So, here I am in fantastic Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I am visiting Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen for a familiarization trip (FAM) with the Association for Wedding Professionals International. Donna, a woman I recently hired, and I were invited to come down to check out the resort. I am also teaching three different seminars to the other wedding planners that are in attendance.

At dinner tonight at La Sirena restaurant, after my Be a COSTAR seminar, I was able to get to know a couple of the women in attendance, several of whom will be taking the AFWPI Destination Wedding Specialist Certification Course tomorrow. Among these women were Jules Rupae (an energetic and bubbly wedding planner from Oregon), Taia Younis (a savvy and outgoing wedding planner from New York) and Lisa Barr (a writer, totally not related to Roseanne). The three of them totally saved me during dinner, since I'm allergic to shrimp and was absolutely terrified to eat any of the seafood that was served. Unfortunately, we were at a seafood restaurant.

Don't get me wrong-- the food looked fantastic. I've just been having allergy issues lately, and didn't want to have to break out the epi-pen. I showed the girls how to use it, just in case... The three ladies seemed to love the food, and Donna really enjoyed what she tried. I did have a crostini with steak and carmelized onions on it, which was FABULOUS, but that was about it. Fortunately, Donna and I found a little sidewalk cafe where we wolfed down some authentic Mexican food. It was fantastic.

Tomorrow, I am teaching two seminars. I truly hope that I have some time to at least enjoy the sun and take some photos. We will see...

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!