Sandy Malone Weddings & Events | Destination Wedding Travel Agent Spotlight Vol. 11
We love a great interview with a destination wedding travel agent, as it’s a sure way to get bombarded with lots of great information and tips that our WeddingDayStory couples can benefit from. On this opportunity, we got to talk with the amazing wedding expert Sandy Malone, star of TLC’s “Wedding Island” and a regular columnist for The Huffington Post and BRIDES Magazine.
Let’s Meet Up
“My name is Sandy Malone, and I’m a destination wedding travel agent and the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events. I also have a podcast on iHeartRadio, and I’m the author of ‘How to Plan your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. I’m an expert on Puerto Rico weddings, and I have experience in the USVIs. My company website is www.sandymaloneweddings.com.”
A Whole Experience
“Destination weddings let brides and grooms spend more time celebrating with their loved ones. It’s not just a quick wedding ceremony and reception, where the wedding couple only gets a chance to visit with each guest for a few moments. It’s a whole experience with several days of activities and bonding before the wedding.”
If you still aren’t sure if a destination wedding is right for you, here’s a guide that can help you figure it out: 7 Reasons Why You Should Have A Playa Del Carmen Beach Wedding.
Like Guests of Honor
“Unless you have spent considerable time at your destination, you don’t have a point person there who knows the ins and outs of things. There are lots of good and bad wedding vendors out there, and you don’t want to have to choose somebody based solely on their website. I believe having a destination wedding planner allows brides and grooms to be the guests of honor at their wedding, rather than the host and hostess. My job is to make sure that my clients can relax and have fun while I make sure everything runs smoothly in the background.
Not long ago, I heard a rumor that a private villa I use for many weddings had been sold. I contacted the owners and found out it was true, but they hadn’t planned to tell anybody until closing. The closing was scheduled a week before a wedding that was planned for their house! And the new owner didn’t want weddings. With only three weeks to go, I found a better villa for my clients, and moved the entire event. Without a wedding planner who knew what was going on at the destination, the bride and groom’s wedding would have been homeless a week before their big day.”
Destination Weddings DIY Projects
“The most complicated DIY project EVER was a handprint arch that we made for a client during the TV show “Wedding Island.” The bride and groom had six children between them, and they wanted the ceremony to reflect their blended family. The children came up with the idea to string cutouts of their handprints from the arch, on fishing line, to surprise their parents. It was a nightmare to construct. After we cut out a thousand hands, they couldn’t be pre-strung because of all the fingers getting tangled. So we had to do it on the beach during ceremony setup. Unfortunately, it was a really breezy day, and it was nearly imposible to hang the threaded strings because of everything kept getting tangled. If the bride hadn’t been late to her own ceremony, we never would have pulled it off. This one is probably my favorite, although I still have nightmares about it.
The funniest DIY fail I’ve ever seen goes to a bride who made fun s’mores kits – attached to sticks – for a desert at her rehearsal dinner beach party. She ignored my warning that chocolate doesn’t hold up well in the Caribbean and has to come straight out of the fridge, and she created absolutely adorable packages stuffed with marshmallows, graham crackers, and mini Hershey bars, to mail to Puerto Rico. Heat and humidity being what it is in the summer in the Caribbean, the packages arrived on the island already a mess.
The marshmallows were gooey, the graham crackers were soggy, and the chocolate was liquid in the wrappers. Totally and completely disgusting. I told her what happened and showed them to her when she arrived, but she decided to use them anyway, even though they weren’t edible, because she’d spent so much time hand-writing all the pretty little tags. Ugh.”
For great DIY ideas that won’t end up gooey and soggy go to: Beach Wedding DIY Projects.
Photo Credit: Mila Orjana
Destination Wedding Travel Agent Tips
“Make sure that you do special welcome gifts for your guests, and that you treat them all to at least one special excursion. Remember, they’re subsidizing your wedding because they’ve already paid for the food they’re eating at the all-inclusive resort. When the resort tells you that you’re getting a free cocktail party to greet your guests, all they’re doing is limiting the options of what your guests may eat and drink for the duration of your party. Make sure you do plenty of things to make their experience more than just a regular vacation.”
A Memorable Wedding With Monkey And A Shark
“The groom was a super nice guy who was happy to let the bride have anything she wanted for their wedding. He only had two requests, when we met for an initial planning consultation. He wanted a shark and a monkey at the wedding. We laughed, but I wrote that down. And I plotted with the bride. On their wedding day, after the ceremony, when they walked out front to take formal pictures, there was a shark waiting for him! While I didn’t rent a chimp for the wedding, the bartender’s name was Monkey. For real!”
Photo Credit: Sandy Malone Weddings
To Make It Easy
“Buy my new book ‘How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional’ and read that before you start making any plans you can’t undo. It’s full of advice on what to do first, and what to watch out for when you’re making your decisions. It can also help you determine whether you need a wedding planner, if it all seems like too much.”
This expert destination wedding travel agent did not hold back on her wedding wisdom. Here are some more great tips:
- Make up your guest list before you choose your wedding destination or venue.
- You’ll have to know how much space you need, and make certain you’ve chosen someplace that has accessibility for all of your guests. There’s nothing worse than watching elderly or disabled guests struggling to get up stairs, or trying to cross a large sandy beach to get to the ceremony site.
- Do all of your guests have passports? It’s not your responsibility to take care of guests’ travel documents, but if you know that the vast majority of your guests have rarely travelled, and never outside the continental United States, you might do better to have a destination wedding in Florida, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. That way nobody has the additional expense or hassle of dealing with getting their first passport. And you can expect to lose some guests anytime you choose a destination that requires vaccination shots and prophylactic medications for the trip.
- Can all of your VIP guests travel to the destination you’ve chosen? If your grandmother can’t fly because of the hassles with her oxygen tank, but she’s game to be a part of a destination wedding, choose a location she can drive or take a train to somewhere stateside. But if somebody important to you can’t leave town because of medical treatment, you may want to reconsider the destination.
Between Sandy’s destination wedding travel agent book and our Beach Wedding Tips, any bride has all the tools she needs to make her destination wedding memorable!
Thank you so much Sandy for sharing your destination wedding travel agent experience with us, it was a pleasure meeting you and learning from your expert recommendations. To read more destination wedding travel agent tips click here!