Meet Mandi, to call her a travel expert is really not quite enough Beyond that Mandi is a destination wedding planning guru. Find out more about Mandi as she shares some sage advice for wedding planning abroad.
Tell us a little about your background?
I have been in travel for (ahem) 38 years but has been specialising on destination weddings for the last 10 – 15 years. I was born in London, then aged 30 I left for NZ for a three month holiday (that was 1993!), finally moving to Brisbane in 2000. Now happily married to an Aussie country boy, so I guess I am here to stay.
I have worked in all areas of travel, from retail to corporate, airlines, wholesalers – all over. I am also a Marriage Celebrant and have been doing events and functions for 30 or so years, so I have a lot of expertise both in the travel and the wedding areas, hence destination weddings are a perfect combo!
What is Viva Destination Weddings and Travel?
We are a fully accredited travel agent, and part of the Travellers Choice network, but we are much more than that. What makes us different is that, whilst Internet travel sites are great for work-shopping ideas, when it comes to pulling off an extraordinary Destination Wedding, only a creative, informed professional – with experience and local contacts – can make sure it comes together without any heartache or heartburn!
So, what do you do?
Essentially everything a destination event involves…unfortunately we can’t do the cake tasting or shopping for outfits with you though (we wish!). Here is a list of things we can organise for you to be leaving you stress free.
TRANSFERS- All transfer arrangements such as budget group transfers, private transfers, helicopter transfers, yacht transfers etc. We get you from A to B seamlessly.
FLIGHTS- All individual and group flight bookings
ACCOMMODATION- Combined with years of experience & work familiarisations to discover the best accommodation options, we will help you find the PERFECT place to stay. Once you have decided we can book your guests in there too!
DOCUMENTATION – We know what you need and how to process it all, making it way less of a paper trail.
VENUE- We have spent years researching the most stunning, picturesque venues worldwide but if you have one in mind, let us know and we will contact the venue to ensure we can become partners in creating your event.
FOOD- Catering is one extremely hard part in organising a destination event, with so many different options & food types it gets crazy. We sort through the professional caterers from the wannabes.
BEAUTY- As you are looking at a destination event it can become increasingly hard to have a makeup trial, so we have done it for you! We have personally tried & tested some of our favourite makeup artists to ensure they are top quality & know how to do the PERFECT eye makeup, hair & beauty treatments.
ENTERTAINMENT - As we expand throughout the world we try our hardest to go to all the events and parties with some top event entertainment (what a hard life) so that we will know the music will be contagious & you will spend the night being a dancing queen.
STYLING - Want an event that belongs on Pinterest? It is hard to organise the perfect colour scheme & table settings from an overseas location. To combat this, we have some amazing stylists who can turn any venue into a personal & uniquely styled place.
PHOTOGRAPHY - Photography is so important to capture your big day & a simple shot can be taken from a 3/10 to a 10/10 with the right photographer. Don’t only rely on word of mouth, talk to the experts!
If your event is a wedding, you'll be wanting a break from the in laws & to get away for some alone time with the love of your life. For your honeymoon we can plan all travel arrangements, accommodation & tours. After the big day all you will want is to relax on a beach with your new love and relish in the ‘just married’ feeling, not stressing about any travel plans.
What does it cost?
As a professional destination wedding travel expert, we are often asked if we cost more.
The answer to that question is simple. No, we don’t! We simply work off a small commission paid by each of the suppliers for passing them your business. We save you time, money and stress.
What inspires you?
Travel, seeing the radiant faces of my couples, the satisfaction of seeing it all go off without a hitch and knowing we had a part in that. That goes for both the travel side and as a celebrant too.
What three pieces of advice do you have?
• Choose wisely - You will need to firstly decide what sort of wedding you envisage, how many guests might attend and the make-up of your guest list. Don’t make your decision based purely on price alone
• For a successful Destination Wedding, communication is the key. You need to have a chat with all of your family and friends to establish how many are serious about joining you. All too often we have brides planning, organising and paying deposits only to discover when they make the big announcement, that parents get upset, people do their sums and realise they can’t go, mothers are annoyed they haven’t been consulted and then the guilt trips start! This will also determine your budget, and for that you have to be realistic!
• Get help - Whilst doing this can make some people crazy, others will glide serenely down the aisle without a worry in the world. Why? Because they trusted someone else who knows what they are doing to handle it for them. Using a specialist travel agent who can handle all aspects of the trip is an instant stress release. Doing it yourself via the internet may save you a few dollars here and there but calculate that cost versus the ease of downloading it to someone else. We have a lot of (real life) stories, but for now the lesson to be learnt is – book with an expert who can look after it all for you, so you can get on with the business of getting married and having a party
What are the most popular destinations for weddings?
As I am based in Australia, it is going to be a little biased towards this end of the world. The South Pacific is always a winner, and Fiji is one of those destinations that is so easy and familiar yet can also have such amazing scenery and backdrops, so that is a favourite. Tahiti is a dream destination and has that text-book idyllic dream location. Further afield, Italy for sure, I am an expert on Italian weddings as they can be quite complex. Greece is always a favourite too.
It also depends on if you want a legal wedding or a symbolic one, because there are lots of places where having a legal wedding is not easy, but we can create amazing symbolic ones!
Where is your personal favourite destination in the world to escape to?
Italy, specifically the Amalfi Coast, Malta, South Pacific – for a girl from London, all the beautiful places and people still amaze me, but I have an intense love affair with Fiji. I chose Tahiti for my honeymoon and was blown away by it.
Find out more at www.vivaweddingsandtravel.com