Our Second Wedding Planning Trip (March 2010)

Kings Crown lawn at South Seas
Island Resort

So the time came to really get down to business and get some details ironed out for our wedding.  As you may have remembered in my post that “The Decision in In,” we had the tentative go-ahead to start tracking down some costs for the full-out wedding and reception on the island.  As it turned out, March 2010 ended up being family vacation time for my bride’s family.  With the possibility of a southwest Florida destination wedding up in the air, my soon-to-be father-in-law decided we should all rent a house on Captiva Island and visit all the possible venues.  I scheduled the meetings and here’s how it went:

The Venues:

It ended up that the parents of the bride were most interested in seeing the locations at South Seas Island Resort and the Sanibel Collection (Sundial, The Dunes, etc).  When we arrived at South Seas, we learned that some of the pricing had altered since our trip to visit.  We walked the property, checking out all the locations and venues, and talked through availability and basic pricing.  We next moved to Sundial, where we again walked the various properties and went through some basic availability and pricing.

The Details:
I hold much respect for my future in-laws, as they came truly prepared to get their questions answered by the catering/sales managers while on site.  Here were some of the questions they found most interesting:
  • What were all the different locations available for the wedding and reception?
    • Were these locations tied together in a “tiered” pricing system?  In other words, could you only book a particular location for the wedding if you booked it’s associated reception area?
    • What were the backup locations and/or plans for all the outdoor locations?
    • What was the site fee?
  • How many weddings are scheduled the same day?
  • Is there a catering minimum (i.e. a minimum amount of money spent on food and beverage)?
    • Could additional meals count towards this minimum, such as a catered lunch for pre-wedding preparations for the bridal party, or a next-day breakfast/brunch for wedding guests?
  • What is the detail of the contract?
  • When were the timelines for payments, decisions (menu, guest count, etc), and room requirements?
  • What room types could be “blocked”?
    • What was the policy on cancellation of the block and/or unused rooms within the block?
    • Was there a discount applied for guests attending the wedding?
    • Did the number of rooms or nights booked for a stay at the resort affect any of the reservation/site fees?
You get the idea.  They basically went line-by-line, item-by-item determining what was negotiable and non-negotiable.  They also wanted to see how they could customize catering and site options in order to “play with the budget” and control the overall cost of the event.

The Talk:
While I obviously can’t be too detailed on the specifics (I don’t think my in-laws would appreciate it), you can bet there were some serious conversations that followed at the end of our second wedding planning trip.  While my bride-to-be’s parents presented us with two options, the option that we both decided we liked was a southwest florida destination wedding at Sundial Beach and Golf Resort.  We both knew we loved Sanibel and wanted something out-of-the-ordinary that reflected who we are as a couple.   So why Sundial?

The Factors Behind The Decision:

Parents Perspective:  As it were, Sundial was the most flexible in their arrangement of event locations and pricing.  They had a great mix of pre-defined catering packages, but also included a number of items which could be substituted and/or added a la carte.  Sundial also had a lower site fee and catering minimum than South Seas, and offered that we could offset our site fees based on the number of room/nights were booked under our room block.  All-in-all, this seemed to provide the most flexibility to control our “per-plate” expense for the wedding.
Pool Area at Sundial

Our Perspective:  Having stayed at Sundial before, we were well acquainted with the experience the resort provided.  Knowing our friends, and their shared love for fun in the sun, we knew that Sundial would appeal to the young and old alike.  For our friends, there was a pool bar, sand volleyball, pool with waterslide, and on-site sports bar with pool tables.  Oh, and did I mention a pool bar??  For our older friends and family members, there was the convenience of “everything in one spot” – dining, pool, ocean (with beach chairs and umbrellas), hot tub, and the pool bar if they felt inclined for some libations.  Additionally, their stay at Sundial allowed them priority tee times at the Dunes if they felt like playing golf.

What about your own destination wedding planning experience?   What were some critical questions your parents asked when you were scouting for the perfect wedding location?   What were the key/critical elements to a venue you were looking for when you were trying to find a location for your ceremony and/or reception? 

About Rob

A northerner that recently moved South! My newlywed wife and I are long-time vacationers around southwest Florida, and our hearts definitely belong on Sanibel Island!

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