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Q: A friend suggested I incorporate a sand ceremony into my beach wedding on Tobago.  I had never heard of it. What’s it all about?

A: Your friend makes a good suggestion. Interest in the sand ceremony peaked when Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter of ABC’s The Bachelorette performed it during their televised nuptials in the California desert, at The Lodge at Rancho Mirage. 

According to Lois Pearce, director of ethnic diversity for the Association of Bridal Consultants, the practice grew out of the Native American tradition of a bride and groom pouring white cornmeal and yellow cornmeal into one vessel as a symbol of their union. 

Today’s sand ceremony usually follows the ring exchange. The bride and groom hold separate containers of sand, often in two distinct colors to represent their lives as individuals. While they pour the sand into a single glass vase, the officiant says a few words about the symbolism of blending the sand—how once joined, it can never be separated.

You can bring colored sand with you from home. Or, since you’re getting married on the beach, look for local beach sand with two different colorings or grain sizes. That way, you will always have a decorative reminder not only of your union, but of Tobago, the island where it all began.

Q: My fiance´ and I have friends and family scattered all over the West and Midwest. Our friends are pushing us to choose Las Vegas for our wedding. We’re convinced, and the central location is great, but my future in-laws are very traditional. We’re worried they’ll feel uncomfortable the whole time. What do you think?

A: The anything-goes reputation of Las Vegas can be misleading. Sure, you can find offbeat ceremony settings ranging from a pink Cadillac to the USS Enterprise at the Las Vegas Hilton’s Star Trek: The Experience. But Las Vegas also offers traditional churches and historic stained-glass chapels, along with splendid settings at five-star hotels such as Bellagio and The Venetian.

If you’re concerned about filling your in-laws’ downtime with activities they’ll enjoy, don’t be. Las Vegas prides itself on offering something for everyone: topnotch shows, luxury spas, fabulous golf, and plenty of activities for children.

If your in-laws aren’t into gaming and nightclubbing, suggest they take in a show or two. Some visitors with traditional tastes come specifically to see acts like Celine Dion at Caesars Palace and Barry Manilow at the Las Vegas Hilton.

If they enjoy great food, you’re in luck. Las Vegas is jam-packed with superstar chefs and their restaurants. Thomas Keller (Bouchon), Bobby Flay (Mesa Grill), Emeril Lagasse (Delmonico Steakhouse), and Wolfgang Puck (Spago) have rocketed the town’s culinary reputation into orbit over the last few years. Any of these restaurants, and many more, would surely win your inlaws’ hearts.

Or think about introducing your mother-in-law to the softer side of Las Vegas through a spa. Have her try the Desert Stone Therapy massage at the Aquae Sulis Spa in the JW Marriott  Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf or the Ultimate Pampering Package at Luxor Resort & Casino’s Oasis Spa. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. 

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With so many choices, your in-laws are sure to find their comfort zone.

Q: My girlfriend and I fell in love on St. Thomas two years ago. For our wedding next year, we want to return to the island. Now we’re looking for ways to make the travel easy and affordable for our guests. Any ideas?

A: Absolutely. Travel, like many things, adheres to the old strength-in-numbers rule. Most of today’s airlines offer discounted rates for groups needing as few as ten seats.

American Airlines, for instance, flies to St. Thomas from many major U.S. hubs and offers a five-percent discount off its lowest published fares.

Once you line up the discount with the airlines, you’ll receive a reservation code. You can save yourself a lot of phone calls and e-mails by supplying the code with your save-the-date notes. American will even give you free printed cards to slip into the envelopes.

With some airlines, groups can save not only money but also another valuable commodity—time. Ten or more passengers checking in on a single reservation at American, for instance, can use the self-service check-in machines. That means your guests won’t need to stand in long lines at the ticket counter. And these days, who couldn’t appreciate that?

A: You should be looking for a dress that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful. There are no rules when it comes to what you wear in Hawaii on your wedding day! That said, there are a few things it can’t hurt to think about.

More and more designers, recognizing the trend toward destination weddings, are making gorgeous gowns that are easy to pack or carry. Watch for dresses made of chiffon or organza. These fabrics travel well and will need minimal attention when you arrive. Consider wearing a dress with no train, or with a puddle train, as these will be easier to maneuver across the sand. And, of course, always keep the tropical weather in mind when choosing sleeves or no sleeves and neckline.

Designers currently creating dresses with destination brides in mind include Jessica McClintock and Claire Pettibone. Or, for a remarkably simple answer, take a look at the J.Crew catalog as well. The company’s wedding dresses are as easy as they come, elegant, and affordable. But remember, it’s your day so anything goes. Have you considered a sarong?

Send your wedding questions by e-mail to, or by mail to Annette Burden, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, 6267 Carpinteria Avenue, Suite 200, Carpinteria, CA 93013.

Destination Weddings & Honeymoons is your ultimate resource for planning a destination wedding or honeymoon. Discover amazing places throughout the world to tie the knot as well as the perfect spot for your honeymoon. In every issue, you get coverage of real-life lovebirds and their nuptials, expert advice for planning your big day, and the hottest styles in wedding attire to take you from wedding to honeymoon.


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