(All images in this post kindly provided by Hayman Island )
“If you leave me... can I come too?”
Is it still eloping if 40 people come with you? We thought so.
When our budget started to blow out in the very early days of planning our Noosa wedding – the thing that was really troubling us, was the guest list.
When your wedding venue is within driving distance of where you live – your guest list magically expands. Exponentially. To 2nd cousins, to those Aunties you haven’t seen since you were 5, to workmates and their partners and to the neighbours - which is awkward because you don't even know their last name for the invite...
We reached crisis point when our dummy guest list crept past 120 people.
And I say 'Crisis' because I never wanted a big wedding. I don’t like being the centre of attention. And having worked more weddings than I can remember – I wanted to actually enjoy my wedding, be able to talk to everyone without having a minute-by-minute schedule and not have to be a performing monkey.
Also - to put it bluntly - we couldn't afford it.
It was at this stage – we decided to elope. Well not really elope, but definitely run away and take our nearest and dearest with us.
And while this idea is not going to appeal to everyone, if you are starting to freak out – this could be an option for you.
The Package Wedding:
We got married on Hayman Island, just yesterday voted Australia's Best Resort in The Australian – so yes, it was swanky, and we could easily have saved more money by having it on a less luxurious island – but you know what? I’m a snob, although admittedly a snob on a budget!
The benefit? We chose the Ultimate Package – which covered our Ceremony, Celebrant, Cake, Flowers, Wedding Car, Champagne and an upgrade to Suite Accomodation. And to top it all off – a Wedding Planner. Asides from the trip we made to select our location for the Wedding and Reception (such an inconvenience... not!), I planned our entire wedding by email.
We got enormous value out of this package, not only from the money we saved having everything provided at a capped price– but from the time we saved not having to get quotes, drive to shops and pay for samples. It was all included.
So I guess the next thing you’re wondering – was the quality what I expected? Yes. Definitely. Without a doubt.
The Ceremony - Stella Maris Chapel overlooking the Whitsundays through its Glass Panelled Walls - a view unlike any other.
The Reception – Private use of the Beach Pavillion right on the beach, complete with theming, audio and a permanent bar.
The Flowers – Trailing Orchid bouquet for myself and bridesmaid, button hole corsages for the Groomsmen, stunning simplicity.
The Car – A pristine 1963 Silver Cloud Rolls Royce for the Bridal Party and Deluxe Golf Buggies for the Guests. Pure elegance.
The Cake – Individual White and Dark Chocolate Mudcakes, handmade by their Award Winning Pastry Chef. Easily the best cake I have ever eaten. (I had the leftovers delivered to my room...)
The Champagne – Champagne and Orange Juice awaiting us and our guests the moment we exited the church, and refilled while we took photographs.
The Upgrade – Needs to be seen to be believed. Although we have stayed in their Pool rooms before, and they are stunning. Our Lagoon Suite was enormous and luxurious - literally almost the same size as our 4 bedroom house. With a huge lounge that seated 12 people while I was getting ready and a free standing bathtub that accommodated my 6 foot 2 husband with just his eyes showing above the water - this room surpassed any expectations and was the perfect venue for our pre-wedding preparations.
All in all - this option worked perfectly for us - and the great news is that it is available in thousands of Hotels and Resorts all over the world! If the planning, quoting and guest list is all getting away from you - maybe this is something you should consider?
Do you want to save money on your honeymoon?
Do your research – know if your destination is in High or Low season when you want to travel. The closer to low season you are travelling - the greater negotiation power you have.
Check out Hotel rates on their own website as well as other sites like Wotif. Once you know what their rooms are "worth" – call and ask if you can secure your honeymoon rates at the Wotif pricing. Will they offer a discount if you pay upfront? A Hotel that has empty rooms is losing money, many of them will offer discounted rates if it means they have secured business for months in advance.
We spent a week of our honeymoon at Palm Cove, North Queensland and their website quoted a rate of $650 per night for a 1 bedroom Penthouse with Private Spa Rooftop. Wotif had this same room listed at $450 per night. When I called them almost 8 months prior to our wedding, by paying upfront for a weeks accommodation - I managed to get the price down to $250 per night. An incredible bargain and a lesson in "just asking the question".
Brag, Brag, Brag.
It's your Honeymoon so shout it from the rooftops! While we didn't get any discounts for being Honeymooners - we did get special treatment.
On Hayman we were presented with a Wedding Present, French Champagne and a Congratulatory Platter each day we were on the island. At our next 2 Hotels we received bottles of Champagne, discounted Spa treatments and Chocolate boxes. All wonderful surprises that make your stay just that little bit more special.
!! WARNING !!
My biggest piece of advice? Please, please, please take out Travel Insurance. I don't care which comapny, I don't care if it's provided free through your Credit Card - but please protect yourselves!
We were caught unaware on our honeymoon when the operator cancelled due to "bad weather" and refused our demands for a refund. Not only was our honeymoon cancelled, we were also left high and dry in the Whitsundays with no accommodation, car or plans. Not the ideal way to cap off our dream wedding.
Luckily we had Travel Insurance and although we had to pay for our last minute (read: highly inflated), alternate plans- we were able to claim most of it back.
This is my last post for ANZ Febusave - so I hope that you have found something useful in my posts, and I also hope that your wedding is everything you ever dreamed (and within your budget!).