Attending a Wedding Reception as a Guest: A DJ’s Perspective

Attending a Wedding Reception as a Guest: A DJ’s Perspective

As a professional DJ with Music By Design, Ltd., my calendar is booked between now and the end of the year with wedding receptions.  Every weekend is different, fun and exciting.  I have the opportunity to play music customized to each couple’s taste, observe family traditions, and orchestrate the evening and deliver a memorable and enjoyable event for everyone involved.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a wedding as a member of the bridal party.  The couple was using a DJ who was working as an independent contractor for a large DJ company based in Naperville.  Clearly, the couple did not know the DJ was an independent contractor – most DJ ‘booking agents’ lie about that part.  Because of Music By Design’s attention to detail and commitment to stellar customer service, I was eager to see how this DJ would perform.  Needless to say, I was observing with a critical eye and ear.

The first thing that struck me was that the DJ was not prepared with the proper equipment to run the audio for the couples’ video montage, even though the couple had made arrangements for with DJ company in advance.  Fortunately, Music By Design’s office was not very far away and I drove to get the proper equipment.  Since the DJ was not accountable for the quality of service (he is an independent contractor), there was obviously a communication breakdown between the couple, the company (booking agent), and the actual DJ.

The next thing that I found unsettling was that he had the wrong bridal party introduction music cued up.  Luckily, I clarified with him moments before he was going to begin and had him change the song to the bride and groom’s selection.  In some cases, perhaps the introduction music is not a big deal, but in this instance the groom was a big Chicago White Sox fan and wanted the party to come out to ACDC’s “Thunderstruck.”  Any other song would have fallen short of his expectations for this big moment.

Next, there was an issue with the dinner music.  When a Music By Design DJ plays dinner music, we hand select songs based on the musical taste of the couple and their guests.  We remain at the DJ booth and actively select music to accommodate the bride and groom.  This DJ put on Michael Buble and let it play through – even allowing the songs to loop (play the same song over and over).  I am not knocking Michael Buble, I think he’s great, but I would have mixed it up with various artists.  To put music on “loop” is cheating the guests and the couple and leads people to wonder, “Why not just plug in an iPod?”.  When a couple is spending over $1,000 for a DJ, they deserve a DJ that is going to “actively DJ” the entire night.

Next, there was an issue with the first dances.  The bride and groom’s dance went smoothly as did the father-daughter dance, but when the DJ played the mother-son song, he began to replay the bride and groom’s song.  Not only was it embarrassing to have to stop the dance and have the groom walk to the DJ booth, but then the DJ did not have the custom song that the groom had requested.  As far as I am concerned, that is completely unacceptable.  How is it possible to not have the mother-son dance? That is what happens when independent contractors are invovled.

At this point, I wanted to try to let go, have a few cocktails and enjoy myself.  After all, it’s not often that I get to party and dance at a wedding.  So, the dance floor opened up around 9:15 p.m. and I put on my dancing shoes.  I was determined to have a good time no matter what and I did, but, I know for a fact that the bride and groom submitted a detailed list of must play songs and I was not hearing any of those songs.  What I was hearing was a very cookie cutter, run of the mill, been-there-done-that, stale list of traditional wedding reception songs.  Oh, we heard, “We are Family”, “Celebration”, “YMCA”, “Shout”… you probably know them just as well as I do.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with these songs.  I am not trying to sound like a pretentious music snob.  I am simply noting that this bride and groom requested specific songs and not many of them were played until the groom spoke with the DJ. All they got was the same cookie cutter wedding music as another couple got the weekend before that, and the weekend before that, and so on.   There was nothing unique about the music selections…even though the bride and groom were told they can choose their music.    Did people dance and have fun?  Yes, they did.  Did I hear people comment that the DJ wasn’t very good?  Yes, I did.

Bottom line: Always know what you are getting if you book a company using independent contractors. Also, learn how to identify a company that uses independent contractors (most of these DJ companies ‘booking agents’ try to hide it).  Chances are, they are accustomed to playing the same music week in and week out and will not go above and beyond in terms of customer service.

Wedding Budget Etiquette

Tradition states that the bride’s parents are responsible for fronting the bill for the wedding reception; these days, the bride’s parents, groom’s parents, and the couple themselves all contribute to the wedding pool. That said, it helps to come to the budgeting table prepped with the traditional list of which side pays for what. These conventional “rules” can then be adjusted according to your financial situations:

Wedding Costs Paid by the Bride and/or Bride’s Parents

* Ceremony rental fee
* Bride’s dress and accessories
* Ceremony flowers and décor
* Bouquets for bridesmaids and flower girl
* DJ, Photography, and videography
* Engagement party
* Bridesmaids’ luncheon
* All vendor services for reception, including food, beverages, and décor
* Groom’s ring
* Invitations and stationery
* Transportation for bridal party to and from ceremony and reception

Wedding Costs Paid by the Groom and/or Groom’s Parents

* Marriage license and officiant’s fee
* Groom’s attire
* Bride’s bouquet, boutonnieres for ushers, and corsages for mothers and    grandmothers
* Honeymoon Travel
* Rehearsal dinner
* Bachelors’ dinner
* Both of the bride’s rings

Costs Incurred by the Wedding Attendants

* Their own attire, including shoes and accessories
* Bridal party hosts bridal shower and bachelorette party
* Groom’s party hosts the bachelor party


Bouquet Toss – A Modern Spin On Tradition

Weddings are full of traditions, but all brides are not traditional. When it comes to your wedding day, don’t be afraid to alter wedding traditions and add your own personal touch to the day. One such tradition that is making its way out of some wedding receptions is the bouquet toss.

Traditionally, the DJ/MC will make an announcement for all the single ladies in the room to make their way out to the dance floor. If you’ve been to a wedding in the past year, you can guess what song is among the top favorites to get all the single ladies out on the dance floor. The young ladies fill the dance floor; the bride turns her back to the wild pack and, on the count of three, she hurls the bouquet over her shoulder into the hands of a lucky young lady. According to lore, the woman who catches the bouquet is said to be the next to be married.

Sounds like a fairytale, right? Well, the truth is that some brides find this tradition silly and are opting to cut the bouquet ceremony all together. If you find yourself somewhere between traditional and new age, there is a very classy, yet fun, option for you: present your bouquet to the couple that has been married the longest.

Discuss the details with your DJ ahead of time. The preparation is simple, but will prove to be a very memorable moment in your evening. Select a song for an anniversary dance. The song should be over 3 minutes in length and should fit the theme of long lasting love. Consider the following: Remember When, by Alan Jackson; Lucky, by Jason Mraz; or Thank You by Led Zeppelin.

Your DJ will invite all of the married couples out on the dance floor. Periodically, he will eliminate couples from the dance floor, starting with you, the newlyweds. To avoid having everyone abandon the dance floor, quit dancing, and miss the crowning moment, he should say something like, “When I call you, please join the newlyweds on the outer edge of the dance floor.” The goal is to have everyone circle the last remaining couple. He will continue calling out years, “If you have been married for less than 30 years…35 years….40 years…” and so on until the last couple is dancing in the middle of all the married couples.

Your “toss” bouquet should be waiting for you at the DJ’s booth, when you go to retrieve it, let your DJ know how many years the winning couple has been married. Your DJ will recognize the lucky, loving couple as you present them with your bouquet. Tip: You can go the extra mile and add a special bottle of wine to the presentation. At this time, the DJ can invite everyone back to the dance floor to join the winning couple.

If you are less than traditional bride, the bouquet presentation coupled with an anniversary dance is a great way to reinvent the bouquet custom.

Calling All Grooms

The following list was created by The Man Registry and is a must read for every groom-to-be.

10. Marriage license: Don’t wait until the last minute

It seems so simple. All you have to do is go to the courthouse, answer some questions, and be presented with your marriage license. Not so fast. You need to be familiar with your state’s requirements and waiting periods.  Most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute! This may seem like a minor last-minute item on the to-do list, but without it you can’t legally be married. Click here for marriage license requirements in your state.

9. Writing vows: Leave a personal mark on the ceremony

Many of today’s grooms are leaving the stock vows behind and penning their own unique commitment words for the bride. If you’ve decided to go this route, remember to include your intentions for marriage, what marriage and commitment means to you, and state the promises  you intend to keep. More about writing vows.

8. Wedding bands: When and what to look for

Just what a guy wants. He’s already shelled out for an engagement ring and now he has to make another trip back to the jeweler to select weddings bands.  Do some research beforehand and decide if you’ll be looking for matching bands or something unique. It’s recommended to have the bands picked out a minimum of three months in advance of the wedding. This leaves time for them to be ordered, shipped, and re-sized, if needed. You can buy a great wedding band in our wedding store.

7. The wedding party: Whom to select

Most grooms have a solid gut feeling on whom they’ll select as their Best Man. This is usually a brother or other life-long friend. It’s considered courtesy to include your soon-to-be brother in laws in the wedding party as well. Depending on how many groomsmen/bridesmaids there will be, there’s always room for more friends to serve as ushers. A common rule of thumb to remember is one usher per 50 guests.

6. Bachelor Party: It’s not just about beer anymore

When you heard the words bachelor party, common thoughts have always been bars, beer, and more beer. This isn’t necessarily the case today. Adventure and destination bachelor parties are all the rage for today’s weddings. Many grooms are trading in visits to the night clubs for golf outings, camping trips, and even sky-diving.  Some couples are even having joint bachelor/bachelorette weekends that involve a weekend trip to wine country or a beach house.

5. Wedding day attire: Stay on top of things

What the groom and groomsmen wear on the wedding day is usually coordinated with the wedding colors and bridesmaids’ dresses. Men who are taking an active role in the selection of attire should think about whether they want a tux or suit, the style and color, and whether they’re renting or buying. Arranging tuxedo rental can be tricky, especially if you have a large wedding party. You need to make sure everyone is measured and picks up their tuxes on time. The last thing you want is one of your groomsmen showing up in a tux that doesn’t fit (or not showing up in a tux at all). It’s also a courtesy for the groom to pick up the cost of the tux rental for the fathers.

4. Groomsmen gifts: Flask, cuff links, or money clip?

If you’ve ever been a member of a wedding party, then you know it’s standard for the groom to present his attendants with a gift to thank them for being a part of the big day. Many grooms opt for a practical, engraved gift that can be put to use (think business card holder, cuff links, or watch). However, just as the groom’s roles in wedding planning have evolved, so have groomsmen gifts. Creativity is key for men today as popular gifts have become tickets to sporting events, bottles of aged wine, and even weekend excursions (with the groom footing the bill). Great gifts for the groomsmen are in our wedding store.

3. Wedding speeches: Toasting with class

One of the scariest things for the groom is to stand up in front of friends and family and toast his new wife.  Statistics say that public speaking is the No. 1 fear of Americans (even beating out death)! One of the best ways to quash the nerves is to apply the age-old adage of practice, practice, practice. Here’s a quick guide for preparing for a successful toast:

Thank everyone for attending.

Keep humor to a minimum (we all know the gut-busting toasts are reserved for the best man).

Thank your wedding party and both sets of parents for their support on the special day.

Close with words directed at your new wife. We can’t tell you what to say, but say it from the heart (obviously).

2. The groom’s cake: A cake that’s all about the groom

Yes, you read that correctly. The groom’s cake is a themed wedding dessert that’s selected and paid for by the groom and his family. The theme is generally styled after a major interest or hobby in the groom’s life.  Some examples include a favorite sports team logo or a past-time such as fishing, fixing up cars, or traveling. The groom’s cake is often served at the reception along with the main wedding cake (just make sure it’s smaller in stature than the main cake), but can also be served for dessert at the rehearsal dinner. You can purchase a wonderful cake at Cocoa Bean.

1. Groom showers: In the name of equality

It’s definitely not your parents wedding shower. Instead of place settings, bath towels, and platters, the gifts given at a groom-friendly shower are power tools, speakers, and BBQ equipment. It’s become common for a couple to have at least one couples or “man” shower during their engagement. Popular shower themes include backyard and garden, home improvement, and bar and grill. The best part: These are gifts that both the groom and bride will enjoy.

source: elegance &

Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony

Personalize your Wedding Ceremony

It’s all about you; take back your ceremony! It is a ritual – time honored and sacred – but that does not mean your wedding ceremony has to be like every other. Of course, some couples choose to be extremely original and opt for exchanging vows on a roller coaster, while bungee jumping or even dressed as trekies. We say – good for them for such uninhibited displays of originality. But even if you prefer a more traditional and “scream-free” wedding ceremony, you can still add a touch of personality.

Not every wedding ceremony must take place in a house of worship. Outdoor locations and other types of ceremony sites can make for ceremonies that are both spiritual and memorable.  Consult our list of unique ceremony site ideas for inspiration.

Welcome and refresh your guests by serving lemonade, iced tea or water. It’s a nice touch, and your guests will appreciate the gesture. Depending on the season or nature of your wedding, you can use your refreshment of choice to tie in the theme or style of the day.

Personalized Pew/Row Decorations
Who says your ceremony decorations must be floral? How about draping framed photographs of the bride and groom tied with ribbon over the ends of each row? Our post about wedding flowers can help you create a unique and memorable decor scheme.

Customize your Wedding Programs
Summer brides – how about the shape of a fan? Or keep the shape and style traditional, and include personal letter or poem to add some interest to this often overlooked detail. This complete wedding programs guide offers even more ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

The Grand Entrance
There are other ways to make your entrance beyond the traditional march with your father. Ride in on a horse. Or be escorted by both parents, a close uncle, brother, friend—even a pet! Here is a list of grand introduction songs.

Personalized Aisle Runner
You will know this is your ceremony while walking down the isle on a runner personalized with your monogram or logo.

Beyond “Here Comes the Bride”
If walking down the isle to the same song as thousands of brides before you doesn’t sound appealing, there’s no reason why your favorite tune can’t make a memorable substitute!

Mix up the Bridal Party
Who says your maid of honor must be a “maid?” If your best pal happens to be a guy, have a “man of honor.” Same goes for the best man; there’s no reason why there can’t be a “best woman.”

Not Crazy about the Unity Candle? Try the Sand Ceremony
Instead, combine sand into a beautiful bowl or vase. The sand can be of two colors, creating a visual representation of the joining of two families and something you can keep and cherish forever. You can purchase a sand ceremony kit in our wedding store.

Write your own Wedding Vows, Readings, Poems
Nothing puts that special personalized stamp on a ceremony quite like vows and readings prepared by the bride and groom themselves. These spoken words expose your mind and your heart to each other and to your audience.  Get started with these tips on writing your wedding vows.

Are You Ready For Marriage?

Must-Ask Introspective Questions Before Your Wedding

Ask yourself these essential questions to determine whether you’re emotionally prepared for the wedding and, more importantly, for marriage

A newly engaged woman certainly has a lot on her wedding planning checklist: Floral schemes? Check. Fabric swatches? Check. Vegan menu options? Uh..check. Emotionally prepared for wedding and marriage?……….Uh, am I?

Engagement and marriage is one of the most significant psychological transitions in our lives, packed with an assortment of tangled feelings. An engaged woman must face these internal details if she ever hopes to arrive at the altar psychologically prepared to say “I Do.” But instead, the “essential” details of planning a wedding monopolize the thoughts of even the most consciously aware brides. So let’s tear ourselves away from the 5th revision of the seating chart for a moment to ponder just what it means to get married and emotionally prepare for a wedding. Bring your focus back to the real you, and ask yourself these introspective questions before the big day.

To Prepare Emotionally for Your Wedding Day – Ask Yourself:

1. How do you plan to cope with the added stress that comes with planning a wedding?
Your to-list doubles the moment he pops the question, so some added stress is to be expected. Take a deep breath, and mentally prepare for the whirlwind that’s to ensue. As you do this, tell yourself that a little added stress is ok – but losing sight of what’s really important is not.

2. Who will be in your wedding party?
Choosing the women who will surround you on your wedding day is one of the most important wedding-related decisions you will make. This milestone marks a profound personal transformation, and the women by your side on your wedding day should calm and sooth.

3. How can your loved ones best support you throughout your engagement and on your wedding day?
What type or level of support will you rely on during this transitional phase? Will you need help with wedding planning details, or are you looking more for support on an emotional level. After you have explored your wishes, you should share them with those around you.

4. What are you happiest about when you think of your wedding day?
How can you make the most of this excitement and revel in it?

5. What is your biggest fear when you think of your wedding day?
How do you plan to cope with any wedding day jitters or potential mishaps?

6. How do you want to feel on your wedding day?
In such an overly stimulating environment, many brides report having to be perpetually “on” during their wedding, instead of being themselves in the moment. What are your expectations for how you will feel as a bride? How will you deal if the reality differs from these expectations?

Now Dig Deeper – To Prepare for Marriage – Ask Yourself:

7. Why are you getting married?
It’s natural to get swept away in the excitement of getting engaged. But before hopping on the wedding planning fast train, take some time for a gut check and evaluate the reasons behind your engagement. Are you really in love with your fiancé? Marriage for any reason other than love – such as a ticking biological clock, financial security, family appeasement, or to avoid being the last lone single in your social circle – is a bad idea.

8. Do you stand to lose more than you gain?
Look at the cost of your current relationship and potential marriage. If you have to sever ties with friends and family or give up a flourishing career, for example, the cost is too high. Once the idea of being married wears off, reality – and resentment – will set in, and your frustration will grow like a cancer to your marriage.

9. How do you see your personal relationships changing after marriage?
Be prepared for marriage to impact the key relationships in your life. It’s natural for your relationship with your parents, your friends and your fiancé to evolve with your engagement and throughout your marriage. Determine your expectations, and discuss them with others.

10. How do you see your role as a spouse?
Your identity will inevitably change after you get married. How will you transition from the role of girlfriend to the role of wife? How do you see yourself fulfilling your new role(s) as a spouse? a professional? a mother?

11. How do you feel about changing/keeping your last name?
Many engaged women struggle with the notion of the impending name change. How do you really feel? If you take his name, what are the implications for your identity? If you decide to keep your maiden name – or some combination of both – what are the potential ramifications?

source: / wikipedia

Formality Dances and Tradition

Formality Dances and Tradition

As you are planning your wedding reception, there is no doubt you will put a lot of thought into your first dance.  The song may reflect your personal taste and can stand the test of time as “your song”.   Your first dance is a moment you will never forget, but the dances that come immediately after your first dance are also important moments that require some planning.

Traditionally, after the first dance, the groom escorts his bride to her father for the father-daughter dance.   Most of the time, the bride and her father rock back and forth with tear filled eyes to something like Heartland’s “I Loved Her First”, but perhaps a slow dance with your dad does not fit your style.  Remember, it’s your day, there’s no such thing as a wrong choice, there’s only YOUR choice.  Take for instance a recent wedding where the bride was a self-proclaimed cowgirl.  Prior to the father daughter dance, the bride and her father changed into cowboy boots and danced an upbeat two-step to Chris LeDoux’s “Cadillac Cowboy”.   The dance was reflective of their personal taste and unique relationship and is sure to be a moment neither of them will ever forget.

The same is true for the mother-son dance.  Don’t be afraid to customize your moment.  Traditionally, mothers and sons may choose a slow song like Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”  This is a beautiful song which usually makes its way into a wedding reception at some point in the evening, but does not necessarily need to be used for one of the formality dances.  We recently worked with a groom who wanted a less traditional song.  They selected Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock.”  As is the case with a lot of Paul Simon’s music, “Loves Me Like a Rock” is a fun, upbeat, playful tune that allows a mother and son to put a twist on the traditional slow dance.

Whether you choose a slow dance or an alternative, be sure to make the most of your special moments and don’t be afraid to customize your day and stray from tradition.

Networking Groups vs. Consumer Resources

In today’s DJ wedding market, many DJ companies boast of all their ‘professional affiliations’ as a way to establish credibility within the marketplace. As an engaged couple, determining which affiliations warrant respect is a difficult task. In this blog, we will simplify your DJ selection process by helping you sort through and understand the difference between a ‘Networking Group’ and a real ‘Consumer Resource’.

Groups Defined

As you search for your DJ, you will notice that many DJs have logos on their website that represent all of their affiliations. Each affiliation can be sorted into two main groups; Networking Groups and Consumer Resources.

Networking Groups

Networking groups (trade associations) are simply a group of wedding vendors that have scheduled meetings to discuss, learn, and collaborate with each other. There are no ‘standards’ or barriers to entry. Being a member does not guarantee the customer anything at all. When wedding vendors advertise that they are a member, customers may feel the company has more credibility because more than one vendor displays a logo on a website. Eventually, potential customers feel a sense of comfort when they see the logo.

For example, The ADJA (American Disc Jockey Association) is a networking group that thousands of DJs have embraced. Many DJ companies proudly advertise the ADJA logo on their websites because many customers like to see professional affiliations. Yet, the organization itself does not have any credible standards for membership. To become a member, all you have to do is pay their membership fee. The ADJA is not a credible resource for an engaged couple to distinguish the quality of one DJ from another. It is only a resource for the customer to learn what questions to ask and the DJ to learn about new products and marketing techniques. The ADJA does not have any credible membership standards or barriers to entry. We actually know of two existing members of the ADJA that are banned from local area banquet facilities for inappropriate behavior. A reputable affiliation or ‘consumer resource’ will either dismiss members that are not ‘up to par’ or grade members based on some type of scale. The ADJA does nothing to guarantee the quality of members to potential bride and grooms.

For dedicated members of networking groups, their overall awareness and customer service should improve over time. Many members of networking groups do receive high levels of customer satisfaction. However, it is important to be aware that being a member of a networking group does not distinguish the quality of one member from another.

Other well known networking groups include: N.A.M.E. (The National Association of Mobile Entertainers); N.A.C.E. (National Association of Catering Executives); ISES (International Special Events Society).

Consumer Resources

A consumer resource is an organization that exists to protect and inform consumers about the legitimacy/professionalism of a business. Ratings and customer feedback are generally the platform used to evaluate each business. Engaged couples can learn a lot about wedding vendors from an organization like the BBB (Better Business Bureau). It is not that easy to become a member and their system of ‘reliability reports’ is very effective. The BBB assigns grades from A to F with pluses and minuses. A+ is the highest grade and F is the lowest. The grade represents BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns filed with BBB. They also have a platform to investigate customer complaints and post those issues online for the general public.

Other well known consumer resources include: The Bureau of Consumer Protection and The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

In addition, searching for online reviews is a great way to view the legitimacy/quality of your wedding vendors. Wedding Wire and The Knot are two great resources for online testimonials.

Cash Saving Tips For Your Ceremony

Great Ways to Save on Your Wedding Ceremony

Site Savings

Two in One
Many reception venues also host on-site ceremonies. The ceremony fee may be built into the cost of the reception or tack on a minimal expense.  Hosting both events in the same location will also save on transportation expenses.
Honor Your Faith

If you have a strong religious affiliation, your house of worship will likely host your wedding ceremony. This is good news for your budget, since members of the organization can usually rent the space free-of-cost (although a donation is a nice gesture).

Décor Deductions

Something Borrowed
Plan your wedding near a major religious holiday when your place of worship is decked with festive décor. “Borrowing” your ceremony décor means one less detail to plan – and one less item to purchase.

Simplfy Your Site
Overdone decorations are unnecessary for a brief ceremony. Keep décor elements simple (and cost-effective), and save the pricey arrangements for the reception – as this is where your guests will spend the majority of time. For example, strategically placed candles set a romantic ambiance and cost considerably less than flowers.

Go Natural
Cut décor costs further by exchanging vows in a naturally beautiful location. A garden wedding hardly needs additional floral arrangements, while an ornate church may be breathtaking on its own

Music Markdowns

Ceremony musicians can tack on an extra $500-$1000 if you’re not careful. Consider some alternatives and pocket the extra cash for your reception entertainment.

Hire your reception DJ to accompany your ceremony as well. Vendor pricing is much easier to negotiate when you purchase multiple services or package deals. Music By Design, Ltd. charges $100 for a ceremony ‘satellite sytem‘ – this compares to $300 to $500 per hour for a string trio.


5 Tips That Could Save Your Honeymoon

5 Tips That Could Save Your Honeymoon

All Inclusive Resorts May Not Be Your Best Bet

All inclusive resorts are a great idea of a lot of couples or families when traveling because they are extremely convenient and save you from the surprise you get upon check out when you have been charging cocktails and poolside snacks to your room the entire trip.  But, be sure to consider how much time you plan on being at the resort.  Do you plan on lounging in your bathing suit by the pool sipping frozen cocktails and visiting the resort’s restaurants, or are you the type of couple that plans on booking day long excursions (which may include a meal and drinks)?  If you like to explore and do not plan on spending a lot of time at the resort, perhaps an all inclusive is not the best bet.  If you do go the all inclusive route, research the food options available.  If you are paying for an all inclusive and have 7 days of fried food buffets, you may not be too happy.

Take Online Reviews With a Grain of Salt

Nowadays, we don’t buy anything or eat anywhere without reading a series of online reviews.  Websites posting consumer reviews are an invaluable resource, but should be taken with a grain of salt.  As you are researching your honeymoon, check out, for example, for reviews on your resort/hotel, restaurants, and activities.  Don’t panic if you have booked something that has a negative review.  You never know what may have motivated that person’s review or what their expectations where.  I’m sure if you looked up your favorite restaurant in your home town, you are sure to find negative reviews.  When in doubt, consult a travel expert like viking travel.  While online reviews are helpful, they are not written by people staking their professional reputation on the outcome of your trip.

Money Matters

Find out if you need to exchange your money to the local currency before leaving.  Credit cards are usually the best bet, but it never hurts to have a little cash on hand for tips and shopping in the local markets.  You can visit your bank, which should exchange your currency for free, or you can always visit a currency exchange, which will likely charge a fee to exchange.  When it comes to your credit cards, call your credit card companies before you leave and let them know when and where you are traveling.  Most credit card companies scan for suspicious transactions and may inactivate your card if they assume it has been stolen.  Most cards are widely accepted in all areas, but it never hurts to check with your credit card company before leaving.  A couple recently told us that they traveled to Cancun Mexico assuming their Discover Card would be accepted, but it was not.  Don’t get stuck, call ahead.  NOTE: Your transactions will automatically be exchanged to US dollars, but your credit card company will charge you a fee.  Generally the fee is between 2 and 3%.

The Name Game

As an engaged bride to be, you plan for months, if not a year or more, for your wedding day and honeymoon.  If you are assuming your husband’s last name, be aware of the implications. When it comes to your travel plans, it’s best to wait just a little bit longer.  If you are leaving for your honeymoon immediately following your wedding, it is impossible to get a new driver’s license and/or passport to reflect your new last name.  The solution: book everything under your maiden name.  It’s no secret that airline security is tight and having an itinerary that does not match your ID can give you an unwelcome headache and can make it difficult, if not impossible, to travel.

Avoid The Allure of the Freebie

On your honeymoon you will encounter savvy salespeople that will offer you dinner, drinks, or a complimentary cruise in exchange for a moment of your time.  Beware: these people are trying to get you to come to timeshare presentation.  You may think, “Hey, we’ll claim our prize and sit through this, no big deal.”  Unless you want to spend hours of your precious honeymoon time wrapped up in a high pressure sales presentation, pass on these every time.  If any perk they are offering sounds that cool, book it yourself, it will be time and money well spent.