Tidewater Traveler - March 2008

"I Do" Travel

by

George Sellers

   It is 6:54pm, and the top arch of the sun is just now disappearing behind the Makaleha Mountains. On the beach at Wailua, a small group of curious ‘locals’ begins to applaud as the bride and groom share their first kiss as husband and wife. The minister, attired in traditional Hawaiian garb, pronounces the benediction and the giddy couple walks hand-in-hand to the surf where they toss their leis into the Pacific. A year earlier they would not have imagined exchanging wedding vows at sunset on a beach of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.
    In just few minutes they will be chauffeured to a luau to be introduced as the honored guests for the evening. The day will end at their beachfront condo, where they can wait for the sun to rise across the Pacific and begin their first full day as Mr. & Mrs.
For decades, travel planners have been consulted about the honeymoon-planning component of weddings. But a growing trend is to call upon travel counselors to plan “destination weddings” - not just honeymoons. Most travel planners have access to planning tools and contacts that enable them to arrange a wedding just about anywhere in the world. When prospective brides, grooms and their families calculate the cost of a hometown wedding and reception, and then consider that the wedding can be in an exotic, memorable location, often for much less money, a destination wedding becomes a consideration.
    Destination weddings can be romantic, exotic and unusual; or they can be very simple. Imagine a wedding by (or under) a waterfall; under waving palms on a Caribbean beach; on horseback against a backdrop of purple mountains; or on skis at the crest of a snow-covered ridge. A travel counselor can plan the trip AND the wedding, including flowers, photographer, a clergyman, local attire and trimmings - even assistance with local marriage licensing issues.
    Rock & roll enthusiasts will be interested to know that they can have a wedding at Graceland in Memphis. “Nestled in the shadows of Elvis Presley’s former home, is Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods. At Graceland the wedding experience begins with the bride’s own private dressing room complete with accommodations to make her look and feel her best. From there to the Chapel’s main entrance, is a beautifully landscaped walk, shaded by stately trees that lead to the Chapel’s door. Inside the Chapel, guests will take their seats in authentic, wooden pews. The flickering gas light of intricately etched wall lamps lights the way for the bride to pass down the aisle to a lovely, stained glass window. Weather permitting, the grounds surrounding the Chapel also make a lovely setting for an outdoor reception, and photos; the courtyard is a wonderful place for a band or D.J.”
    At several destinations in the Caribbean, an engaged couple can arrange to Test Drive the Wedding & Honeymoon. No, it’s not what you traditionalists may be thinking! It is actually an opportunity to fly to a Caribbean destination, meet with the destination wedding planner, see the setting, taste the fare, feel the warm tropical breezes and the sand between your toes, and then return home the same day. The day even includes a special “Bride’s Beach Party.” And the Test Drive can be free if the couple books a wedding and/or honeymoon.
    A cruise ship, renowned for incredible honeymoons, can also be is a very nice wedding venue. The wedding can be ‘at sea,’ or if preferred, it can be on the ship while the ship is docked at the departure port. Imagine you, your wedding party, family and guests arrive by limousine at the cruise ship terminal in Baltimore, Norfolk or Philadelphia, for example. You have special permission for the entire party to board the ship earlier than the regular passengers. You have access to an area aboard ship to dress and prepare for the ceremony. Your ceremony is conducted in one of the ship’s specially featured areas, followed by a private dinner / reception in the ship’s dining room. After the reception the wedding guests who are not going on the cruise will disembark and you, the bride and groom, begin your honeymoon cruise.
    And who could ignore a wedding at that “Most Magical Place on Earth,” Disney World, where wedding and honeymoon dreams really do come true. Few realize that adjacent to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, within view of whisper-quiet, passing monorail trains, is the Disney Wedding Pavilion on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon. Across the Lagoon, behind where a bride and groom stand, is a fairy-tale-like view of Cinderella’s Castle. Disney World weddings are surrounded by romance, fantasy, and excitement. Couples come from all over the world to get engaged, married, honeymoon, and celebrate anniversaries at Florida’s Walt Disney World. For the ultimate fantasy wedding, celebrate your magical time at Disney World, and who knows, maybe Mickey can be convinced to stand up with you as “Best Mouse.”
    A wedding symbolizes a serious commitment between a man and woman, and is not to be taken lightly. But that does not mean it needs to be so formal and regimented that it cannot be enjoyed. Consider a destination wedding and contact your travel counselor to get started with some ideas.
    Looking for something less than a wedding – maybe just few “sweetheart” days away from the daily routine? Within driving distance of mid-DelMarVa two can escape together to quaint, historic Harper’s Ferry; to an oceanfront, Jacuzzi suite in Ocean City; to the excitement of mid-Manhattan for fine dining and a Broadway show; or to a Pocono Mountains resort to enjoy a heart-shaped bed, giant Champagne-glass Jacuzzi, and live entertainment. “I Do” travel and “Sweetheart” travel are a growing trend among all ages.

   May all of your travels be happy and safe!

George Sellers and his wife Priscilla are Certified Travel Counselors and Accredited Cruise Counselors who own Travel Selections by Priscilla and George, Inc. and the popular travel Web site www.sellerstravel.com