Considering a Destination Wedding?

If you’re considering a destination wedding and happened to have missed Sunday’s article in the Travel section of the LA Times, here’s a recap:

Destination weddings beckon more brides, grooms

By Rosemary McClure

The turquoise lagoons and misty mountains of Bora-Bora have always enchanted bride-to-be Maja Sakowsky. She’s so enamored of the fabled South Pacific island, in fact, that she has delayed her wedding for more than a year so that she can legally wed there.

In May, Sakowsky and her groom, Zach Hosford, plan to say their vows while standing on a spit of land overlooking one of those turquoise lagoons, taking advantage of a change in French Polynesian law that simplifies the marriage of foreign visitors in Bora-Bora and the other islands of Tahiti.

“I just know it will be perfect,” said Sakowsky, a Baltimore resident.

The couple will join a growing number of brides and grooms who are forgoing hometown ceremonies for destination weddings, sometimes in such locales as Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii, at other times in vacation regions closer to home, such as California’s Napa Valley or Sierra.

We’re not talking about eloping: We’re talking about elaborate, well-planned, white-gown weddings with a passel of guests, flowers and all the other trappings of a Big Wedding.

So why leave home to do it?

Basically, to avoid the hassle of a hometown wedding, say bridal planners. Tying the knot while on vacation is a vacation.

“It’s hard to limit your guest list if you marry at home,” said Los Angeles event and wedding planner Evette Knight.

Limiting the guest list is easier when the wedding is far away, she said. “Even if you do invite a lot of people, many won’t come,” she said. “And the people who do come really want to be there. It’s a much more intimate feeling.”

Another advantage: The couple typically feels much more relaxed. “The atmosphere is better,” Knight said.

“Instead of rushing around before the wedding, the couple arrives a few days in advance; they’re pampered and their guests are pampered.”

Couples in their 20s and 30s are more likely to choose domestic resort locations for destination weddings, according to Brides Magazine. “The trend is really hitting this age group,” said Jacqui Gifford, travel editor for Brides.

“Before, a small group would fly out to a beach resort, spend a couple nights, fly home. Now, we’re seeing people ask their guests to travel a little closer to home,” she said, using as an example a San Francisco couple who might wed in the Napa Valley.

But, she added, exotic locations still draw many brides and grooms — and the weddings often become weeklong parties.

“The top, classic destination wedding markets (Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean) are seeing guests stay longer, sometimes up to five nights,” Gifford said. “The couple has events planned for each evening. From the guests’ perspective, it’s a built-in vacation. From the couple’s perspective, [it's] an easy way to spend more time with their friends.”

Los Angeles resident Felicia Midrahi agrees. She married her husband, Guy, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, attended by 100 guests; they chose a south-of-the-border wedding “because we’re selfish,” she said. “There was no other way we’d ever have been able to spend so much time with the people we’re closest to. We were able to have an extended vacation with them.”

Everything went as planned. “The scenery was beautiful and the wedding perfect,” she said.

That’s what most brides want, of course, and Sakowsky has been willing to wait to make her Tahiti wedding work out. Bora-Bora and the other islands of Tahiti formerly required non-French nationals to stay within French Polynesia for 30 days before marrying there. When Sakowsky heard that a proposed law that wouldn’t require 30-day residence was pending, she put her plans on hold for more than a year until the French Parliament approved the change.

French Polynesia may be late to the destinations wedding party, but the hoteliers there — just like bride-to-be Sakowsky — have been planning.

Luxury hotels such as the St. Regis Bora Bora, Hilton Bora Bora Nui and Four Seasons Bora Bora have their own wedding chapels, some built over lagoons so the wedding party can see fish swimming below glass panels in the floor. Many other resorts conduct lagoon-side weddings, with the couple arriving by outrigger canoe dressed as Tahitian princesses and chiefs. Wedding packages abound: spa treatments, traditional Polynesian feasts, honeymoons on desert isles.

But marrying in French Polynesia still isn’t easy. Couples have to plan — as they do in many overseas locations — on providing paperwork and documents as much as three months in advance. And they must be officially married in the local mayor’s office before the lagoon or chapel ceremony.

“We suggest you start planning at least 45 days prior to the ceremony,” said Jonathon Reap, communications director of Tahiti Tourisme (www.tahiti-tourisme.com), the L.A.-based Tahitian tourism bureau. The organization also recommends working with a travel agent who specializes in French Polynesian weddings or with an event planner who specializes in destination weddings.

“Getting married in Bora-Bora will still be a lot of trouble,” Sakowsky said, “but I think every wedding is a lot of trouble. And mine will be worth it: I’ll be getting married on a blue lagoon in Bora-Bora.”

How to Change Your Name After the Wedding

Image Source: Wedding Paper Divas

No matter how you approach it, changing your maiden name to your married name is a daunting task with a seemingly never-ending list of “to-do’s”… it’s almost as complicated as planning the actual wedding! Have gone through the process recently, here are some tips on approaching the big change…

1. Order 3 copies of your official marriage license. If you didn’t send an additional $14 and request an official copy when you mailed in the license after the wedding, you’ll need to order official copies from a County Registrar’s Office. In the Los Angeles area, you can find your local office by clicking here. NOTE: Most places will give you your marriage license back after they make a copy, but it’s always good to have a couple extras!

2. Request a new Social Security card reflecting your name change. I went down to the West LA Social Security Office at 11500 West Olympic Blvd Ste 300. Los Angeles, CA 90064 with my Marriage License to apply for a new card. I went mid-day and definitely caught the lunchtime crowd. After waiting about 30 minutes, I spent 5 minutes at the window and was done! I received my new card in the mail about 7 days later.

3. Make an appointment to visit the local DMV to get an new driver’s license. Be sure to bring your Marriage License!

4. Obtain a complete Passport Amendment/Validation Application (usually a DS-82). You’ll need to mail this application, along with your current passport, applicable fees and a copy of your marriage license. The current cost to process a new passport is $110. Don’t worry, you’ll get your old passport back with a giant hole punched in it — at least you’ll still have proof that you traveled to all those cool places when you were in college! :)

5. Change your name at the bank — this was one of the easiest steps for me! I was in and out of the bank in 10 minutes or less with my name officially changed on all accounts. They also ordered new checks and debit/credit cards for me automatically. Done and done!

6. Order replacement business cards and let your employer and/or school know about the name change. They may ask for a marriage license or a copy of your new Social Security card so be sure to have those handy!

7. Change your name on your car registration, insurance and mortgage companies, and with any frequent-flier/reward programs. Let me know if you have any questions about this! I’m currently working through this step and will surely have updates and/or tips! :)

8. Contact the post office, utility companies and registrar of voters.

9. Change your email address! Email all contacts on your current contact list from your new email address. Then, set an “away” message on your current email asking people to kindly update their address books with your new email address. It’ll take a few weeks (or even months), but everyone will get the hang of it eventually!

10. Congrats, you’re done! Do something fun to reward yourself and celebrate your new name!