Wedding planning ... it's definitely been on my mind lately, to say the least.
As I mentioned in this blog post, when my now fiancé popped The Question back on New Year's Eve, two thoughts immediately ran through my mind:
- This is awesome!
- A destination wedding seems like it would be hard to plan.
While it's true that many people decide to throw destination weddings just for the fun of it (because it does sound fun, doesn't it?!), for me and C, it was more of a "must" than a "maybe that would be fun" kind of thing. Since C is Australian, and his entire family still lives there, determining a place to throw our wedding that would be suitable to visitors from both Australia and the East Coast of the U.S. became my new dilemma. (I mean, if you're going to have a dilemma, it might as well be this kind, am I right?)
Anyway, with my very limited knowledge of travel prices and geography, I took to the map. A few initial ideas included:
- Bora Bora
- The Galapagos Islands
- Cabo San Lucas
That's a long, intimidating list. I started blindly slashing places off for one reason or another. (The hotel I contacted in Hawaii never got back to me. The Galapagos Islands only allows a certain number of people there every year. Whatever I could come up with to whittle the list down.) Still, for every place I crossed off, it seemed another would pop up in its place.
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Get started with a free financial assessment.
"How about Costa Rica?" one well-meaning co-worker suggested.
Great, thanks. On the list it went. (Luckily, as it turns out, Costa Rica is pretty far from Australia. Who knew?)
All of this is to say, I was in some real trouble.
Enter Jetsetter's new personal travel planning service. When another co-worker mentioned the service to me, and suggested that I try it on for size, I jumped at the opportunity to get any help I could.
I was hooked up immediately with Anthony Maggio, manager of personal travel planning, who told me that, although this service isn't normally used to help plan destination weddings, per se, it is frequently used to help plan honeymoons, as well as family travel.
In a nutshell, here's how the service works:
- Users pay a $150 deposit to use towards the planning service. (Jetsetter Membership is free, although you don't need to be a member to use the travel planning service. Anyone can sign up at www.jetsetter.com/advice.)
- When you sign up for the service, you'll be contacted by the planning team within 24 business hours.
- You will receive some questions to answer so that you personal planner will get a sense for what you need help with, what your budget looks like, and any other details you'd like to provide (In my case, I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with Anthony as he kindly listened to me go on and on about how I needed a place that was equidistant from both Sydney and New York and was relatively cheap for all involved and was preferably all-inclusive .... and could he pretty please wrap all that up in a bow and make it happen for me?)
- Once you send in the info, you'll work with a member of the team who will help plan the trip (which can include anything from narrowing down destinations and resorts to planning an entire itinerary through Europe, Asia, etc.). Any recommended resorts or hotels are vetted carefully by Jetsetter correspondents, who are freelance travel writers and have tried out the places themselves.
- Once the itinerary is determined, Jetsetter helps you choose and book your hotels. For certain locations, they also put together packages that include ground transportation, activities, guides and other services.
- The $150 deposit is fully refunded once you've booked the trip (as long as it's a trip with a minimum three-night stay at any hotel). If you don't book through the site, Jetsetter keeps the money.
For my own part, I have Jetsetter to thank for my current destination wedding plans. After mentioning that C and I were strongly considering Hawaii, Bora Bora and Cabo, what I got back from Anthony one day later was a three-page document including hotel options for each of the three places, flight prices from both New York and Sydney, and, most importantly, another destination idea.
You'd think at this point I might sigh and be frustrated with yet another idea added to my list, but I wasn't. Because this place is awesome. Why hadn't I thought of it before?! It's the cheapest flight possible from both of our family's starting points, and the area has a ton of activities for people to do when they get there (which was also something that was important to us).
Unfortunately I can't tell you where the place is. I know—it's upsetting. But I haven't shared the news with all my family yet, and we won't know for sure until we take a trip out there to visit it.
Suffice it to say, if I were asked if I would recommend the personal traveling services of Jetsetter, I'd say yes ... and I now have considerably more peace of mind thanks to them.
Now about the honeymoon ...