Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Destination Weddings – travel agent, wedding planner where to we begin?

Written By: Jaime Valdes-Riench, owner of Travel & Events with Style

You sat down as a couple, made the decision and know you want a destination wedding, now where do you turn? Ads and billboards are everywhere and suddenly everyone is a destination professional. Every family member and friend is more than whiling to share their experiences and opinions. This can be an over whelming to a couple, and the true essence of a destination wedding is to have their wedding away, leaving the stresses (and possibly winter) behind.
As a couple, take some time to find out what you both are hoping for while you are away. Are you looking for adventure, relaxation, culture, luxury or all of the above? Often the first thing every couple says is, “We imaged something different than everyone else’s wedding we have seen”. The hardest challenge is: What do you define as “different”? What would make your day truly distinctive? Write a list of the most important items you would hope for and get ready to explore your options.

A lot of couples desire “off the beaten path” destinations. When exploring these options, it is important to make note of a few key points:

  • If it is not a regular vacation spot for your gateway (i.e. Winnipeg), there is a chance their may not be direct flights. Are direct flight very important to you? Are you whiling to over night for a connection in order to get to your destination?

  • The more the location is “off the beaten path” the more costly it may be. It may be so because of lack of volume for airlines and vacation companies to bring people from your gateway to that location. Are you whiling to pay a little more? Are your guests whiling to pay a little more?

  • Depending on the location, the area may not be as prepared for weddings or costs may be much higher because weddings that are held there are simply more exclusive. A lot of the Caribbean islands can have a higher prices tag vs. the more typical spots we are used to seeing.

Once your research has been completed and priced by a travel professional, you may come to a cross road. Simply, the options may not be to your liking or budget. Costs may be high or travel too long when you consider your guests. Don’t allow this to be a road block, but rather a stepping stone. A suggestion is to go back to why you chose the area and what drew you to it in the beginning.

The next suggestion is to sit with your destination wedding professional and map out your best options so you can find the most viable locations and resorts to fit your criteria. Hiring a professional who is both a licensed travel agent and wedding planner is simply invaluable. A seasoned travel agent would have the experience to direct you towards alternative travel options so you may choose a different destination that can fit your budget and offer better flight plans. A destination wedding planner would be able to guide you as a couple to what you can do in order to make your wedding distinctive and unforgettable on budget. An experienced destination wedding planner has accumulated the knowledge of different wedding packages abroad, how to change them to fit you specifically, and your desired look. They also can suggest which resorts to choose so they can offer you the best options that would suit your wedding vision. Both areas of knowledge are necessary when choosing the best location for your special day. Compromising one of these services may not be a corner you wish to cut in order to receive the guidance you desire.

A destination wedding requires more than simply travel arrangements, and a wedding deserves attention and dedication. Having professionals helping you in every area will ensure your wedding will be nothing less than what you always hoped for.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who’s that Girl?

A little about Jaime Valdes-Riench & about her companies
Written By: Jaime Valdes-Riench, owner of Travel & Events with Style
Photo credit: Kamp Photography

Well, first off, I think I should apologize for the title and pay credit to Madonna who really made that title distinctive. I simply wanted to get your attention and finally write what I am often asked as a business owner of Travel & Events with Style and With Style Designs.

First off – who am I? Well, I am one of those people who knew from day one that every minute we spend learning something is never wasted and should never be put on a shelf (seriously ask my parents, I was quite the ambitiously artistic little girl who was obsessed with Wonder Woman – who knew I would be her one day?). I would like to elaborate on that for just a minute and explain why it is pertinent. A lot of people throughout their lives have a career change. I on the other hand believe that every time I feel a career change coming on, I would challenge myself to learn something new and I find away to take my new found education and apply it. This was a great way to give my clients even more!

Right out of high school I jumped into the hospitality industry. With my mother-in-law as a cake decorating mentor, and new entrepreneur, I learn a lot from her and found my new love of weddings. (No, I am not a wedding cake decorator, and you’re welcome. I am sure most of you appreciate that I gave it up after my lack of skill). After a few years I put it aside to jump into travel education and start as a travel agent. I was fortunate to get onto the federal government account where I learn more about the world and conventions in matter of 7 years than most regular agents would learn in 14yrs or more. I am not tooting my own horn; I am simply saying it was sink or swim at its best. Thank goodness I learned to swim quickly.

After my son, I knew my passion where with weddings. I also have always been an artist, so I took graphic design part time. Somehow everything came together. Within the year of 2004 we opened the doors to our companies: Travel & Events with Style and With Style Designs. I made a point of being educated in every area of the company and even went out to get my designation in wedding planning from WPIC ( which was unlike any travel agent in Winnipeg at the time.

Even though this post is supposed to be more about me, it is also about our companies’ growth as it is my pride and joy. It is important for you to know before you hire us as a company, and in turn me, that we are boutique and very specialized. Even though we have been around as a company for 6+ years (7 in October), we still feel we would rather be a smaller team that works on every detail. This way our clients clients walk away feeling that were understood and that we made their dreams a into reality. We are not that company you send an email off to for a quick quote. We are the company that sits with you first to meet to see if we are the right fit for you, simply because we care that much. Now don't misunderstand, we do offer quotes of course, but with care and knowledge of you individually. The word couture is starting to be used a lot, but we feel we can be bold by stating that as we are boutique, tailored and educated in our respective industries. This in turn gives our clients the best services with actual style. Most of all, we care!

So who’s that girl? Someone who cares, loves, and is deeply passionate at what she does. Staying grouned and appreciating everything is so important to me. I know there is always something to learn and have a hard time being around those who don`t feel the same. Anyone who's ego has grown out of control really as no business being in business with me. Reason being, they no longer care about you the client. It is about them and their "business". Over time, finding great colleagues and vendors that have the same qualities, ethics and personalities makes for the best team anyone could ask for! I enjoy being approachable and “human” with a touch of class. So if you are in Starbucks, take a look over your shoulder. Chances are it may be me sitting at the table next to you, having a coffee with a client.

Thanks for reading this very long post and Salud!