Dreaming of an out-of-town ceremony? The Editor in Chief of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine, Susan Moynihan, answers your planning questions.
Q. I'd like to have a sophisticated destination weddings in the Caribbean, and I don't want children at the ceremony or reception. How do I handle this without offending anyone?
A. One of the best things about a destination wedding is that your guests get a little vacation as well. Understandably, some parents will want to bring their kids along and turn your event into a family getaway. However, just because the kids are along for the ride doesn't mean that they automatically make your guest list. If you dream of an adults-only affair, there are a few things you can do to make things easier for parents. First of all, give them plenty of notice. Specify early on -- ideally in the save-the-date cards -- that children will not be invited to the ceremony and/or reception. This way, the parents have plenty of time to make other arrangements.
Some parents may still want to bring their tots along, so to help them out, ask your hotel about babysitting. Many large resorts offer elaborate kids' programs, often free of charge for guests or available for a nominal fee. If there isn't a kids' program, ask the concierge for a list of local babysitters (complete with references, of course). Depending on the number of children, you can hire one or two sitters to watch them all. Order in pizza and bring along some appropriate DVDs. The kids will have a great time and their parents can relax knowing that everyone is well cared for.
There's a third option as well: Have your event at an adults-only resort. This way, no one can blame you -- it's the resort's policy. For those who insist on bringing tykes, give them recommendations for a child-friendly hotel nearby.
Q. I'm getting married in Mexico in October 2006. Will my guests need passports to enter the country, or can they get by with just their driver's licenses?
A. It used to be you could get into Mexico, Canada and most Caribbean nations with just a driver's licenses or birth certificate. That's still the case, but not for long: Beginning on December 31, 2006, U.S. citizens traveling by air or sea to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada will need a valid passport to reenter the United States. Effective December 31, 2007, this policy will be extended to land borders as well. (No more impromptu bar-hopping runs down to Tijuana without a passport!)
This shouldn't be a problem if you plan ahead. For new passports, you'll need to apply in person at one of the 7,000 passport acceptance facilities across the country (Usually a courthouse or major post office -- you can find the complete list online). Bring two recent passport-size photos of yourself, plus proof of U.S. citizenship (e.g., birth certificate or naturalization card) and a valid picture ID, such as a driver's license. With fees and taxes, it will set you back $97 ($82 for those under 16). Six weeks later you'll receive your new passport in the mail, and it will be valid for 15 years.
For you last-minute folks, the U.S. State Department offers two-week expedited service, with an extra $60 surcharge. There are also a number of processing companies that specialize in last-minute applications (a good one is officialtraveldocuments.com). They'll expedite the process for you, but also charge a service fee. For more information, call the National Passport Information Center at 877-4-US-APPT or visit travel.state.gov.
Q. I'm holding my ceremony at an all-inclusive resort where tipping is not allowed. Does this policy extend to everyone involved in my wedding?
A. All-inclusive resorts are all about convenience: You pay for everything up front with one flat price, and there are no nasty surprises on your bill when you leave, including extra gratuities.
But what happens if you want to thank a resort staffer who really goes that extra mile for your wedding? And how do you handle any outside vendors hired by the resort? The fact is, there is no one-fits-all answer -- it depends.
Most all-inclusives keep a tight rein on tips -- after all, the one-prince-no-catch is how they built their reputations. Some resort brands take this more seriously than others. For example, at Sandals, tipping of staff is prohibited, no exceptions. This goes for their vendors as well -- when Sandals says all-inclusive, they really mean it. Couples Resorts have a no-tipping policy as well. But for guests who absolutely insist on leaving a tip, they have created a special policy: All gratuities go into a general pool, which is then divided up equally among employees. For other brands, such as Palace Resorts, tipping is discouraged but individuals staffers are allowed to accept gratuities if the guest insists upon it.
Confusing, huh? We agree. So the best rule of thumb is to ask your wedding planner or resort concierge about gratuity policies early in the planning process. If they say no tipping, follow their lead, even though it may not be what you're used to. If tipping is acceptable, the budget accordingly for it and make sure you have the extra cash on hand, in local currency, when you arrive at your destination.
Here's one more idea: If the resort has a strict no-tipping policy, or even they don't, you can always reward excellent service with another type of thank-you: a note to the general manager pointing out how a particular employee or vendor went out of his or her way to make your day special. A good word to the boss is valuable in any language!
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.