Friday, December 28, 2012

Here comes Lucky ‘13

Written By: Jaime Valdes-Riench, owner of Travel & Events with Style
Image by Kamp Photography

I love this time of year, and I love making a New Year’s blog post.  Like every year I like can’t believe how the year flew by.  I love looking back and at the best and the worst times.  Really, even the hard times just make us so much stronger and wiser.  I believe in growth at all times.  Whether we sign up for it or not, we always some how are moving forward.

Now, “Lucky 13”.. Hum.  I am not a superstitious person, but even the number 13 makes you think for a moment.  During my annual December prep for events (weddings, corporate and personal), I had the opportunity to have a few days of a quiet mind.  My thoughts brought me to this, 13 is only unlucky when we do not prepare and follow through with what life will serve us (so it doesn’t have anything to do with the number, but more with what we do with life).  In other words, I really don’t believe in luck, but rather being proactive rather than reactive in order to have a positive outcome.  It is all on how we work with the hand we where dealt with.  When we plan and take responsibility for our choices, we can then find ourselves in a “lucky” or prosperous situation.  This is just my perspective of course.

Now how does this apply to the With Style companies?  First off, all our dear 2013 wedding couples are getting ready for one of the most special days of their lives.  They planned, they hired professionals, and they followed through with a dream.  In the end, they are will have an incredible memory to start a new journey.  That’s not luck, that’s planning and hiring experienced people to help to be proactive with their dream.  I am not exaggerating that I literally smile ear to ear when I think about all the couples, one by one, and imagine their special days.  How I wish Tiffany, Jorge and/or I could be at them all.  Not because of the “trip”, but for that perfect moment when the bride comes around the corner to see their future life partner waiting for them to say “I will forever”.  I wish I was there for the moment when love binds and makes a new beginning.

Now for new beginnings and what is in store:  2013 will bring us more change, and has inspired us to push the limits even further.  Tiffany, Jorge and I really believe in increasing the value of our services every year.  What is in store do you ask?  Well, for one, we decided the beginning of the year we will invest in wedding planning tools for our new couples that will sign us starting 2013.  We are increasing services to our wedding planning packages, making a lot of online tools and a more thorough wedding website for our couples so their guests can feel a little more part of the planning process.  We find, especially with destination weddings, that guests want to feel a part of the process and want to be more informed.  With destination weddings, guests are making larger financial commitments so they are always looking for comfort that they are making the right decision to participate in the wedding by going.  So does the couple.  Among these positive changes, we always are working on building international relationships with vendors and resorts. That is something we take a lot of pride in.

How we are different: The With Style Team is not constantly trying to sell to our clients! You are not going to get a million email flyers from us for travel sales, we are not going bombard you with a million ads such as “heard you got engaged please sign up here” with posts on social media, and you are not going to hear us tell you that “you have to act now or will loose this great opportunity for this limited time offer” (unless of course it was a third party that made a deadline that is out of our control – still then we will give you both sides of the reasoning so we can help you decide).  Now why do you ask we approach it this way?  Isn’t that against everything marketing tells us to do as a company?  Why yes, yes it is.  Our team works really hard on building trust and pairing ourselves well with our clients.  If we wanted to make a sale I am pretty sure we could, but our main objective is not to make a million sales.  We understand we will be your partner for the next year to build your wedding dream so if you hired us based on hype you would not trust us once the hype subsided.  Our team wants to be able to look you in the eye and be able to give you an honest opinion at all times.  We pride ourselves in this integrity.  It is not a secret Jaime, yes I mean myself, has a BIG funny personality and Tiffany and Jorge have to be the sweetest humans on earth, but all of us can say we care deeply about our job and our clients.  We go to all lengths to help and support our clients over the course of the planning process (and boy, do we have a few interesting stories to tell).  The one thing we have in common is that we are compassionate, empathic, educated and most of all, are extremely honest in caring way.  We have a job where mistakes can take a huge emotional toll on our clients, so for that, we take that to heart to better ourselves every day.  We ADORE our jobs and we adore our clients!

So in closing, it is that time again to say thank you! Thank you to all our clients, to all the vendors we work with, and our amazing team.  Every part of this job is incredible, even on the bad days.  We have a job where we make dreams come true, not everyone can say that.  We really feel blessed to be able to do what we do.

So SALUD! And we wish you all nothing but the best in 2013 and beyond!            
Also, if you made this far in this article.. that is an extra thank you I must say.  This was a long one! (wink)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Las Vegas Destination Wedding you say?

Are people still doing that?
text by Jaime Valdes-Riench

We are asking all the time if Vegas is still in the cards for destination weddings, and my answer is YES! But unless you want a drive thru wedding you may want to raise the stakes and give it a little sizzle to make it more than a typical Vegas wedding.

Our couple Jennifer and David did just that.  They had a reasonable budget and added extras where needed.  Their wedding didn't break the bank.  The location was in the MGM Grand Chapel with the real funs was the reception and after party.

The couple chose to have their reception in one of the Terrace Suites at the MGM Grand.  There was no limit on how late anyone could stay, but with noise ordnance laws they did have to release the DJ after 11pm.  Now did that stop the fun?  Not in the least! We arranged for them to have group area with a tab at Tabu in the MGM Grand as well.  So those who wanted to call it a night after the reception could and those who wanted to dance all night also could.  It was the time of their lives.

Now what was the icing on the wedding cake you ask?  They brought Sugar and Soul Photography along to be their photographer.  She also brought them the next day for a day after shoot in the Neon Boneyard.  The pictures are simply stunning!  Please read our feature in Weddings and Winnipeg Magazine this month in their destination weddings issue!  You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Talking Destination Wedding Decor on BT

Jaime Valdes-Riench was invited to join while they spoke about Destination Weddings and decor. Please watch and enjoy! There are 2 segments, so make sure you watch them both!


Photo: Talking with Courtney of Breakfast Television Winnipeg and Jaime of Travel & Events with Style about destination wedding decor and what you can do to personalize your wedding from afar! Special thanks to Rebecca from Everything is Tickety Boo for the adorable Mr and Mrs chalkboards - check out her blog here:

Also, here is blog from Everything is Tickyboo where these lovely chalk boards where handcrafted:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Destination Weddings - Are you ready to depart?

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

You booked your trip months ago and now the time has finally come to depart on your destination wedding or your dream honeymoon, but the question to ask is, “Has anything changed between then and now?”  The answer often is, “Yes!” in some form or another.  Travel is one of the things that you should expect the unexpected.  In one moment you hear suggestions that you should only take carrier-on so you don’t lose your luggage, and then we hear the news and we are told you are no longer allowed to take carry-on on the plane.  There can be nightmares of the long line ups at security and new procedures they implement everyday to insure air travel is safe.  Now, how do you fit in with it all?  How will it affect you directly on your up and coming trip?  Because your destination may be far from home make sure you have taken the extra steps to make sure you have all your bases covered.

Make a list and check everything off as you pack it:   This simple practice is worth the while.  You have so much on your mind and you don’t want to forget anything.  Making a list and checking it off as you pack it will ensure you have everything you need and will make for a great holiday!

Did you purchase travel insurance:  If you ask anyone who does not purchase travel insurance and why they don’t you often get a few answers such as “I’m young and healthy, I don’t need it”, “nothing ever happened to me before, why should it now?”, or “If I buy insurance I am just planning for the worst!”.  Being prepared is never a bad thing.  For the minimal fee it costs you, it truly is worth it.  And with current packages available now, there are even clauses that they can fly you home if something happened to a loved one that wasn’t travelling with you.  Also, note that some countries such a Cuba have made it mandatory as an entrance requirement to have travel insurance.  You hear it all the time, but it does come down to peace of mind.

Your passport and travel documents:  Believe it or not there are still countries that do not require your passport as an entry requirement, but they are few and far between.  Even though they may exist, it is always strongly recommended that you travel with your passport in hand.  It was designed primarily for travel, thus it covers all the main details needed in order to travel.  Also, entry requirements of countries change on a dime, this ensures you are ready if per chance the country you are visiting changes entrance policies.  As for travel documents, always make sure they are packed in your carry-on or on your person and are ready for check in.  You don’t want to be halfway to the airport wondering if you left your ticket on the coffee table.  Remember that you should have verified your name spelling at the time of booking and it has to appear the same as your passport.  Something that often gets forgotten is that you should not book yourselves under your new married name unless your passport already reflects it.  You can not change to your married name without your marriage certificate and an ID with your new address.  So trying to do it last minute is not always possible.  You will not be allowed entrance if the name does not match and once a ticket is issued it very difficult to almost impossible change it.  Charter companies are more flexible with name alterations, but it is extremely difficult to change regular schedule airline flights (i.e. Aircanada, WestJet, etc.).  Be proactive not reactive.

Double check the location you are planning to visit:  If you are leaving to another country, re-familiarize yourself with the countries entrance requirements, health risks, social risks, and suggested vaccinations.  Also, if you are transiting another country, remember to check that countries transiting requirements as well.  A recommend website for Canadian travellers is Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and also check the World Health Organization

Recheck baggage limitations:  Baggage has been scrutinized in a large way since October 11, 2001 (911) and we have seen changes happen literally over night.  A lot of travellers will try to stand their ground and insist that their travel agent told them 6 months ago this would be allowed.  What they do not realize it is the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority makes their discretion according to current events which occur quickly and must be implemented immediately.  Before you depart, a suggested site would be: to see what changes have been implemented so you can anticipate for longer than usual wait times in order to clear security.  It will also advise if there are any changes to baggage requirements such as limited amounts of medications or no liquids allowed in carry-on luggage.  The time you save in security can mean relaxing prior to flight to literally running aboard or missing your connection all together.

If carry-on luggage is allowed, plan for the unexpected:  If you are allowed to take carry-on with you, making the extra effort of taking a few extra items that can sustain you if you where separated from your luggage.  This can make the difference of being more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.  Now considering the limitation of liquids in carry-on luggage may limit what you can bring aboard, but bringing a change of clothes, a change of shoes, a small amount of necessary medication, a few snacks, and possibly reading material can make the extra long layover a little more bearable.

On the day of travel: When it is time to check in, check-in for international flights and charters 3 hours prior... really!  Legally international carriers and charters can and will deny you boarding.  If your flight is at 5:00am and they request you check-in at 2:00am it is understandable that you are dreading the commute at 1:00am to the airport, but a suggestion can be to rent a hotel room at the hotel that is attached to your airport terminal.  Then you can just role your luggage in prior to check in verses the long commute if there is one.  It simple is a decision of cost (for the hotel room) vs. comfort.

Always consider the holidays and peak seasons when travelling:   Security often can take longer during certain times of the year and may require longer waiting periods.  Also if there is an alert out, this will increase line ups everywhere in all airports.  It is a good idea to make these time considerations so that these early check in times are not be as uncomfortable as they could be. 

Planning ahead can make a world of difference.  Taking the few extra steps are worth it and will keep your mind focussing on the important things, each other, the trip, and how much fun you will have!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Destination Weddings - Is one right for you?

Written By: Jaime Valdes-Riench, Owner of Travel & Events with Style
Travel & Events with Style wedding planner: Tiffany Check

 Most people are getting acquainted and comfortable with what destination weddings are.   In one case or another, most have had the opportunity to have been invited or even attended one of these weddings and holidays raped up in one.  Destination weddings by definition are weddings held a significant distance from the home town of the bride and groom, but often the first image that comes to most minds are the destination weddings that are held in tropical climates on white sandy beaches next to crystal blue oceans.
As you begin to plan your own wedding, has the thought of starting your new life together at one of these locations crossed your mind?  How do you know it is right for you as a couple?  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourselves to see if this option will make for a wedding day dream come true:

1.       Make a truthful budget – one that you can live with after the wedding bells have stopped chiming.  Now what is your true bottom line, so you do not go over it?   Destination weddings at established resorts in the Caribbean and Central America often come with smaller price tags and guest lists verses traditional local weddings.  To keep on budget, thought must be put into location, resort type and ranking, and the actual cost for the celebration.

2.       Are you comfortable that there will be a lot of arrangements that are out of your control?  Are you whiling to trust more to professionals to direct you in your choices verses seeing every item yourself done during the planning process?  Are you the type of couple where the small details do not matter as long as there is sun, sand, and love abundantly?
3.       Will this bring family together because they are too spread out?  Are most of your guests comfortable with travelling?   Are you comfortable without everyone in your family and social circle in attendance?  Are you hoping for a smaller size wedding and were not sure how to obtain it if you had it locally?

4.       Are you comfortable that you will be dealing with legal procedures outside your country?  Are you comfortable not knowing the officiant prior to the ceremony?  Or, as an alternative, are you comfortable with a private and brief civil ceremony prior to leaving in order to alleviate most of the “red tape” from the country of choice?  

5.       Does the idea of another culture, country, and climate inspire you or make you nervous?  Are you the adventurous type that enjoys new things, and will embrace that your wedding location will have another culture inspiring your wedding cuisine, music and theme?

As with all things, there can be easy answers to all these questions and there can be some second guessing that can come with it as well.  If this all sounds like it could be your dream, focus on the important things that can work for you.  See if you can fix the areas in doubt and if so, stand back and look at it again.  If you have found the answer for the area in question, Congratulations!  You have just started the first part of planning you wedding!  Here is an example of a challenge:  If you are not comfortable in dealing with the legal procedures of another country and the correspondence that will come with it, consider having a civil ceremony locally prior to leaving.  This way, once you are at the resort, you can have a renewal of vows, and the legal paperwork is done here in Canada.  If having the legal ceremony here is an option, have an important person in your life such as a pastor or priest marry you prior to your departure (remember, all that is required to make a marriage legal in Canada is to have the officiant, the bride, the groom and 2 witnesses be in attendance and of legal age while the marriage vows are being said).  Then you can still have your dream ceremony at the resort with all your guests in attendance.  You will have the best of both worlds!  If there is no one in particular you would like to request officiate your vows here in Canada, there is always the option of a Marriage Commissioner or Justice of the Peace employed by the province of Manitoba.
A wedding is the beginning of two lives uniting together.  The decision of the location should truly be that couple’s dream into a reality.