In this exclusive Q&A, Sandals Director of Weddings and Romance, Marsha-Ann Brown, shares her tips, tricks, and recommendations for those embarking on a new chapter in their love story, whether it be a destination wedding, honeymoon, or babymoon!
Questions answered in this article:
What are the timeline recommendations for newly engaged couples, including save-the-dates, room blocks, and vendors?
What are the benefits of celebrating a destination wedding in the Caribbean?
Can you offer advice and tips for making the planning process of a destination wedding less stressful?
Do you have recommendations for couples honeymooning at Sandals Resorts, such as the Honeymoon Hop and island excursions?
What ideas can you share for couples to keep the spark alive after being married for a few years?
What is a babymoon, and why has it become a popular trend among modern-day couples?
How have past Sandals and Beaches newlyweds incorporated fun and memorable moments into their big day?
Timeline recommendations for wedding planning
Q: Engagements are an incredibly exciting time for couples, but they also come with quite a big to-do list! To help newly engaged couples, can you share some timeline recommendations for sending out save-the-dates, booking room blocks, securing your photographer, and any other big items?
A: First and foremost, get excited! Then, take that excitement and turn it into a fun-filled way of sharing the news with immediate loved ones and friends. You should want to tell people about it — it’s your bragging rights!
Once the excitement settles down, you can dive into your timelines. The first thing to identify is the official wedding date, so you can get those save-the-dates in the mail! Do not hesitate to send those out 12 -14 months in advance because a save-the-date isn’t just for planning; it’s especially helpful for booking airfare and helping your guests lock in the best available rates. Moral of the story: give your guests the courtesy of having more time to plan ahead. And that statement goes for anyone planning their wedding, not just destination wedding couples.
Next up, lock in your vendors! It's a rule of thumb that anyone who is popular at a specific location gets booked first. That being said, start by identifying what you value. Is it photography, videography, entertainment, or your venue time slot preference? Once you have that figured out, start reaching out and securing their availability for your big day. There truly is no such thing as too early in your planning process!
Benefits of getting married in the Caribbean
Q: As an expert in destination weddings, can you share some of the benefits for couples thinking about celebrating their big day in the Caribbean?
A: I believe the most important thing to do as a couple is to plan a day of dreaming. This lets you identify what you like individually and collectively about the Caribbean. For some it's the beach, for others it’s gardens. Maybe even the music, food, tropical florals, and adventure of the islands stand out. Once you’ve identified why you want to say “I do” in the Caribbean, you can figure out how to incorporate those things you both love. Let’s say you envision a beach ceremony with a steel pan band — something unique to the Caribbean that you wouldn’t get back at home. Allow those special magnets of why you chose the Caribbean to be a big part of the tapestry of your wedding day.
Tips for stress-free destination wedding planning
A: So, let’s talk about the planning process. The important idea to underscore is that Sandals Resorts helps dispel the notion that the wedding planning process is stressful.
How do we do that? First, we provide you with a personal Wedding Entourage that will make your dreams a reality. Second, we ask you to share your vision of the big day. But don’t just tell your Wedding Entourage. Allow them to work with you to customize your wedding canvas and make it as unique as the love you share. The idea is to collect pictures that resonate. Explain specific details of tablescapes and bouquets you love. Share colors that you can picture in the decor and design landscape. Those critical elements become part of the wedding planning foundation.
And last but not least, don’t forget to dream big! Talk to your other half about non-negotiables. Individually and collectively, you should both be able to express the items you must have. This will further define your personal preferences and help move the planning process along.
Sandals honeymoon tips for couples
Q: After the wedding comes the honeymoon! Do you have any recommendations for couples honeymooning at Sandals Resorts? (i.e. speak to Honeymoon Hop, island excursions, relaxation, perks of total privacy and luxury, etc…)
A: A big part of what makes a honeymoon special, the first word that comes to mind is romance. After that you want it to be memorable and exciting. In speaking to how couples should choose a Sandals Resort, you really want to fuse the honey with the moon. That means identifying what each half of the couple likes in advance, whether it’s something adventurous like ATVing or a more laid-back experience.
A great way to enjoy the best of both worlds is by splitting your stay. For example, you may envision a romantic stay in one of the Over-the-Water Bungalows at Sandals South Coast. I’d recommend staying there for four nights and then taking advantage of Sandals Honeymoon Hop™ by relocating to Montego Bay for the remainder of your honeymoon where it’s more upbeat, lively, and full of island excursions. All in all, the best advice I can give is to equally plan the honeymoon with as much detail as the wedding!
Expert tip: Surprise one another with a gift while on the honeymoon! It could be a couples massage, honeymoon photoshoot, or island excursion. Whichever you decide on, gift giving is a great way to start marriage and ensure thoughtful surprises will continue throughout the marriage.
Ideas to keep the spark alive after marriage
Q: After a few years of being married, what are some ideas for couples looking to keep the spark alive?
A: Sometimes because the buildup to the wedding is so high, couples go into an immediate post-wedding lull. That’s why I always recommend lighting the love torch soon after the wedding. One of the best ways to do that is with a consistent, committed date night that is non-negotiable. Set a time that works for you both and plan it out every week! Only an emergency or act of God should break that weekly commitment. Another great tool is identifying a hobby or sport that you both can enjoy together. We tend to focus on romance, so when you grow together and share a sport, knowing you share that same space becomes essential because it’s time spent together. Whether it’s golf, scuba diving, running, or anything else, choose something that is synonymous with you as a couple, and then let that activity be an integral part of your relationship.
When it comes to your anniversary, I believe you should treat it in such a way that it’s like having a watch party! By that, I mean bring out the wedding day memorabilia and pour a glass of wine. Make it a commitment to watch your wedding video and look back on photos — it’s what truly lets you rekindle your reason why.
Lastly, choose to renew your vows! Whether it’s a five-year anniversary or 20-year anniversary, there is something so beautiful about recommitment.
The scoop on babymoons
Q: Can you share with our readers what a babymoon is and why it’s become a popular trend among modern-day couples?
A: I believe babymoons have definitely taken center stage because couples are more aware of how important it is to spend time together before the baby comes. A baby will take up a good percentage of your time and energy, so babymoons make time for the four R’s you’ll need: rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, and romance. This allows couples to create a space that nurtures and sets them up for life as parents. It also reminds them that, while this new chapter will be the focal point, they should continue to set apart time for those four pillars.
Some of my favorite ideas for couples on their babymoon include dinner for two, a day of pampering at the spa, coordinating outfits for a photoshoot, and journaling together! Writing is a great tool for exploring the power of your partnership, and dreams you have for your future child.
Ideas for unforgettable 'I dos'
Q: Can you share some of your favorite ways past Sandals and Beaches newlyweds incorporated fun, memorable moments into their big day? (i.e. signature cocktails, a photo table dedicated to those who have passed away and couldn't be there, first look, etc…)
A: One great way couples can incorporate something unique is through a signature cocktail that they established for themselves as a couple. Some newlyweds opt to play a game or activity during the cocktail party or as a pre-wedding event — cornhole and karaoke are two great options for bringing people together and breaking the ice! Recently, I’ve seen 360-degree photos become very popular. They’re a fun way to engage guests and it gives them a great memory to take home.
Ready to start planning your next romantic getaway?