Wedding Guest Myths

We all know proper wedding etiquette, right? Possibly not. MSN published 5 wedding guest myths. I've attended (and been involved in) numerous weddings and agree that these are commonly held beliefs. Here they are:

Myth 1: You can't wear black.
This is like saying you can only wear all black at a funeral.

Myth 2: The bride is your point person for all wedding-related questions.
Bridezilla got her name from this myth. Give her a break.

Myth 3: Shopping from the registry is impersonal.
True that giving the couple something you know they won't return has merit, but if you know the couple well enough, you can also find something lovely and fitting for their needs and tastes outside of the box.

Myth 4: An invitation means you can bring a date.
This is fairly serious as brides and grooms have budgeted for a certain quantity of food and drinks, and space. It's polite to respect their wishes to only invite you (even though you may want to bop them over the head for leaving you dateless).

Myth 5: The couple is responsible for your accommodations.
This can sometimes include the wedding party as well, so be particularly clear in understanding what is and is not being paid for.


4 Wedding Guest Strategies

Weddings rock. The sentimental journey of watching your friend or family member walk down the aisle is wonderful. The decorations, the picturesque setting (and sometimes dreamy destination), the flowers, the cake, the food coma, the dancing. It's all enough to send you into a dream state, forgetting a few key things you meant to accomplish.

1. Pick out the top 3 people you want to catch up with and find time to visit with them. It can be easy for the night to fly by without your having gotten a chance to visit with people you'd meant to be sure to visit with. Even if you visit with each person for 10 minutes, it makes a big difference. Catching up with old friends or relatives is half the reason for going to weddings in the first place.

2. Cake. I'm a sucker for a good wedding cake. Even though they are calorie rich, wedding cakes are usually culinary masterpieces, so it's easy to have a bigger piece than necessary (or multiple pieces). The wedding I just attended this past weekend had doughnuts instead of cake (a great budget alternative). If you're watching your weight and really want to be good, plan to have a small piece of cake and no more. By thinking about this ahead of time, you'll save yourself the guilt and bloated feeling (trust me, I can attest).

3. Say something meaningful to the bride and groom. How many weddings have we all been to where the same robotic comment comes tumbling out: The wedding was beautiful, You look gorgeous, You look handsome, I almost cried during your vows, Nice reception location. Oh, come on! These newlyweds have been preparing for this single day for at least a year (sometimes longer). Every detail was purchased and pre-conceived. Find something original about the food, cake, ceremony, dress or vows and comment on that.

4. Don't miss the dancing. There are too many societal rules that constrain us in our everyday lives. Be free on the dance floor and shake your groove thing. If you're self-conscious, just smile and no one will fault you for having a good time. If you look like a vertical fish out of water, who cares! Join one of the dance circles that inevitably forms and clap as others make spectacles of themselves so you realize you're not alone. If you're married or dating someone, you have no excuse. What better way to get in the mood than spinning each other around on the dance floor.


Groups Flock to Las Vegas

With Las Vegas dubbed the Entertainment Capital of the World, it's no wonder that our research at TripHub shows more groups planning trips to Las Vegas than any other destination.

Las_vegas_group_travel2_1Surprised? Don't be. Las Vegas has long been popular for bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, weekend gambling getaways (and gawking) for guys, easy-bake wedding ceremonies or full-blown weddings, and a launch pad for visiting the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and other area attractions. And when conventioneers converge there, attendees often extend their stay and invite family or friends to join them.

Vegas continues to evolve, offering world-class shows (think Cirque du Soleil's Mystere, O, Zumanity, plus a bevy of Broadway, magic, and variety shows that thrill 'til dawn), concerts by renowned music artists, and more high-rolling resort casinos than anywhere else on Earth.

Even the anti-glitz travelers (ahem, like myself) who prefer tamer, more au naturale vacations, often admit that Las Vegas is good for entertaining and best enjoyed with a group of friends when you can double dare them to keep betting on the roulette table or give them a dollar bill to tip the dancer (that would be for the guys). The sweeping view from the top of Mandalay Bay is worth seeing, the Bellagio waterworks display dazzling, a massage at any of the luxury hotel spas relaxing, and other activities can fill your every waking moment. Sleep when you return home.

Planning a trip to Las Vegas with family or friends? Here are ideas to get you started:

  • Las_vegas_group_travel_2Plan a weekend getaway with friends, bachelor(ette) party, family vacation, or wedding using TripHub by setting up a home page for your group, inviting guests, discussing hotels, sharing itinerary information, and more
  • Book a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Soar above Las Vegas on a helicopter night flight
  • Hover over the Grand Canyon by air, helicopter, or tour via bus
  • Tour Hoover Dam, engineering masterpiece
  • Catch Las Vegas shows from Splash to Blue Man Group
  • Las Vegas wedding chapels and locations
  • Fremont Street Experience


Photos provided by Las Vegas News Bureau


Romance Via Traveling

I'm not sure if it's the thrill of traveling, alcohol shared among friends, a romantic new setting, or the free feeling of being away from home and responsibilities. My guess is it's a combination of all that can convert travelers to accidental romantics, leading to travel trysts and even some long-lasting relationships.

But be careful. Traveling can also raise toxic levels of flirtation. Enough to make any travel companion gag.

How can group trips increase your chances of meeting that Mr. or Ms. Right Now (or, better yet, that special someone for longer)?

  1. Meeting up for drinks or activities with other like-minded travelers is a great benefit of traveling when you're still single. When traveling solo (especially as a woman), it's not necessarily as easy to meet someone (or safe). However, when with a group of family or friends, you can meet other travelers, knowing you're in the safe comfort of traveling with those you trust.
  2. Destination weddings are naturally themed with romance. Attending a destination wedding as a singleton is a sure fire way to meet at least one eligible bachelor or bachelorette. Be proactive or non-chalant. Ask your friends to introduce you to anyone "special" they know who's attending. Or casually scan the ceremony for singles, and then find yourself next to them in the buffet line at the reception.

    True story: A bride groom and groomsman at a destination wedding of a friend of mine met at the wedding and struck up a long-distance relationship for over a year. They also toured around the destination immediately after the wedding day with other wedding guests. Last I'd heard, after taking a 6-month break, they are back together and may try to live in the same city.
  3. Vacationing with friends opens doors to meeting someone. Whether camping, skiing, road tripping, gambling in Las Vegas, or just doing a weekend getaway, friends of friends usually come well-recommended or at least well-researched.

    True story: A good friend met a woman who was equally as crazy about skiing as he was. Shortly after they met through friends, a big group of them planned a European ski trip in January, where they got closer and have been dating seriously ever since.
  4. Friends serve as "wing men." If you're single and traveling with a group of friends and you meet someone intriguing, chances are your friends will be encouraging. And they'll have your back in case things go awry. This makes it all the more fun to flirt and get to know someone at a bar in a different destination than when at home, you may be more likely to play it safe and stay in your comfort zone of just visiting with friends. If nothing else, you can come home and brag about the best kiss you've ever had while on the London Eye with a saucy Brit you and your friends met while on vacation.

    True story: Being as vague as I possibly can be to protect a friend of mine, let's just say I've heard the Italian Riviera is a great aphrodisiac. Limoncello helps.
  5. Travel where singles travel. Club Med caters to groups such as golf pals, sewing cirlce (many singles, too). Hedonism resorts in the Caribbean have singles activities and welcome groups. And we all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Beaches around the world are also laden with possibilities. Plus, ski resorts and towns during the winter months are group gathering meccas and ideal for warming up with a cozy kiss.

In general, when traveling with friends or families, have fun, be yourself, and get into the groove of the trip. Play it safe. And be cool. In no time, the natural relaxation of the destination and comfortable group could lead to a romance of a lifetime.

Any other ways group trips can add a little romantic spice to a trip?


6 Must-See Pre-Wedding Movies

Whether you're engaged to be married or plan to attend (or be in) a wedding soon, one great way to prep for the big day is to rent films that imitate life, summoning the flavor of organizing, planning, and producing weddings and all the mental and emotional hoopla that goes with them.

I've noticed some important wedding themes that many movies do a good job of addressing. Here they are:

1. The Graduate
Wedding issue addressed: parental "involvement" gone very bad

2. Much Ado About Nothing
Wedding issues addressed: misunderstandings and fixing up friends

3. Runaway Bride
Wedding issues addressed: cold feet and Julia Robert's character's insecurities

4. My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding
Wedding issues addressed: being Greek, eating lamb, multi-cultural weddings, family melodrama... couldn't this also be Italian, Jewish and a number of other weddings?

5. A Midsummer Night's Dream
Wedding issues addressed: outdoor settings and wedding fantasies

6. My Best Friend's Wedding
Wedding issues addressed: being secretly in love with the groom or bride, how hot Dermot Mulroney looks in a tuxedo and Julie Robert's character's insecurities

Any other movies that shed unique perspectives on issues related to weddings or marriage? Post a comment below. Don't be shy.


Bachelor Party Planning Tips

A good friend of mine called to ask if I had ideas or advice for a bachelor party he is organizing for a mutual friend of ours from high school. As we talked, several ideas emerged that seemed fit to share.

1. Sports theme
Does the groom like a particular sport? If so, you can center the bachelor party around a game/sport (baseball, football, basketball, hockey) or incorporate it into a day, weekend or evening event. Plan to buy the tickets at least a month ahead of time; you may be able to get group rates depending on the group size.

2. Outdoor enthusiast
Although it depends on the location of the party and season, an outdoor activity is an instant way for guys to bond while enjoying the elements. This is especially true if the groomsmen and other friends of his don't know each other well. Nothing brings people together like a ski day, kayaking adventure, golf outing or sailing.

3. Bar-hopping
Nothing screams bachelor party louder than a group of guys parading from bar to bar getting progressively drunker. It's a classic that can be folded into a medley of activities or the focus of the evening. Consider hiring a limo with designated driver. The benefits far outweigh the costs and everyone should be able to pitch in.

4. Activity + spa day
Don't laugh. Some of you aren't laughing, but for those who are or who don't know, an increasing number of spas are catering to male clientele. Why? Because men are going to spas more and more. Sports massages are a common form of massage and combining a day of golfing, fishing or white water rafting with sports massages for the crew could be a fun way to go.

5. Gambling
Where else but in Las Vegas (a.k.a. Sin City) is adult entertainment so readily available. Shows, concerts, alcohol anytime, gambling 'til your heart's content, and yes, strippers. The city seems built for bachelor parties. Since this trip is likely to be a weekend getaway, you can also spend a day sightseeing, swimming, etc.

There are plenty of other gambling areas around the country: Atlantic City, Reno, etc. Or you could spend a day at the horse races betting on thoroughbreds.

6. Stripper quandary
A friend of mine quipped, "the only difference between a classy bachelor party and trashy one is the classy one has a stripper and other activities." I couldn't tell if he was joking.

Some men want a stripper involved in their bachelor party, no question. Others may be up for a stripper, but not going to a strip club for hours on end. And still others might find it a bit too crass or cliché. Or they might be engaged to a woman who forbids it. Ask the bachelor how he really feels about it before planning an event that could put him in an uncomfortable position. If he says, "My fiancé would kill me," he either means it (translation: don't mess with his marriage) or he's using it as an excuse to avoid a stripper altogether (translation: move on and plan another activity for his party).

7. Multiple events in one day
Often the groom's father, father-in-law, and others may want to join for part of the day. In this case, it makes sense to incorporate a dinner or other all-ages into the party. I've heard of a bachelor party that involved paint ball during the day with the groomsmen and dads, a fancy dinner in the evening, then groomsmen only hitting the town for the pre-nuptial bar-hopping ritual.

8. Budgets vary
Because there will be a range of salaries among the attendees, you might consider coming up with 3 good bachelor party options and putting it to a vote. Take into consideration what the groom wants, what the others vote for, then choose the option that best suits the greatest number of people. Likely the groom helped hand-select the invitation list and the more who can attend, the better for him and everyone else.

9. Season and location considerations
Above all, if you're planning a bachelor party, ideas of your own should flow from the season and location of where the groom lives and where the wedding events will be held. Then you'll know if the event is during snow season, in the green hills, along a lake, at a beach, in a city with easy access to nightlife activities, during opening day of baseball season, around basketball play-offs. I'd advise to pick the date and location first, then plan the bachelor party around that.

Other ideas? Feel free to post a comment.

If you're planning a bachelor party, consider TripHub's planning tools. They can simplify the coordination and planning process through money-tracking, hotel/air/activity booking, and a home page "hub" as communication central for everyone invited to the event.


Diet and Exercise While Vacationing?

At one point or another, haven't we all wanted six-pack abs, buns of steel, or people on the street to drop jaws when we walk by? In the 80s it was aerobics that took the masses to the gym. The 90s' return to nature brought people back outdoors to get fit via skiing, boarding, hiking, biking, maratons, walk-a-thons, water sports, and more.

The first decade of the 21st century seems to be a hybrid of
1) back-to-nature activities (kayaking, scuba, rafting, adventure travel),
2) extreme sports (Ironman races, extreme skiing, diving with sharks)
3) a kinder, gentler retreat to alternative activities getting mind, body and spirit to achieve balance (yoga, Tai Chi, spa-health retreats) and
4) gym activities for the 80s die-hards with a new twist: Pilates and more personal trainers.

And I haven't even started to mention all the diet fads. Low or no carb diets seem to be the biggest hit for shedding pounds quickly.

Whether it is for health reasons, vanity reasons, self-esteem reasons or any combination, dieting and exercise have a place in our lives; but vacations can make sticking to any regime a bit more challenging. Especially when with a group of good friends, old college pals, at a family reunion, on a golf trip with the guys (who might consider you a wimp for ordering a salad as an entree), bachelor or bachelorette party, wedding, you name it.

Special occasions like this seem ripe for indulgence. One of my aunts sticks to a dieting plan while at home, but lets herself cheat a bit on vacation, knowing she'll work extra hard when she returns. A sound philosophy. But she also cuts back more than others at our reunions since her mind frame is focused on health and diet. I admire this.

Any other tips or philosophies on dieting or exercise while traveling?


Will Your Marriage Abroad Be Valid?

Follow these simple guidelines and you're sure to dodge trouble and get a (figurative) U.S. governmental stamp of approval on your wedding certificate from another country.

The U.S. State Department recognizes that a marriage abroad is valid if you follow the country's laws in which you are married. No American diplomat or consular office representative need be present at the ceremony. If you have any questions, you should direct them to the attorney general of the state in which you and your spouse will reside. Big caveat: If you are applying for a foreign nationality of another country (naturalization) you may lose American citizenship status. See the U.S. State Department's rules on loss of U.S. nationality in the link below.

For more information on U.S. citizens getting married abroad, visit the U.S. State Department's site.


Licenses & Rules for Destination Weddings

Legalese. Legal low-down. Rules and regs. Whatever you call them, they’re essential if you want the destination wedding of your dreams. Here’s the skinny on rules, regulations, and any necessary paperwork needed before the ceremony at some of the top destinations for away-from-home weddings.

1. Las Vegas wedding requirements

2. Jamaica, Caribbean wedding requirements

3. Hawaiian island wedding requirements

4. Florida wedding requirements

5. Mexico wedding requirements

6. Italy wedding requirements

7. France wedding requirements


Top Destination Wedding Spots

Destination weddings are on the rise. Whether all the guests travel abroad, or a select few are invited, an increasing number of couples are heading to the altar (or beach) away from home.

I had the great pleasure of being a guest at a handful of destination weddings. The most obscure was in Bogotá, Colombia, the most picturesque was in Tuscany, Italy. Due to their exotic locations and the experience of going with a group, they were some of the most memorable occasions.

Here are some of the top places to exchange vows (other than home).

1. Las Vegas – Vegas is entertainment central with seemingly more wedding chapels than anywhere on earth. You can plan a complete wedding with chapel, flowers, officiant, photographer, and coordinator all for a few hundred bucks. Many chapels offer packages to suit your budget and taste. Get a video, have Elvis preside over the ceremony, arrive in a limo – you name it, Vegas has it. More zany ways to marry Vegas-style.

2. Caribbean – Jamaica tops the list of Caribbean islands for weddings, but there are numerous island countries to choose from, rich with cultures and traditions and unique ways to experience a beach wedding. Set your budget, figure out which island best suits your love and plan an idyllic wedding that will leave your guests thanking you for getting married.

3. Hawaii – The Hawaiian islands seem perfectly poised to host wedding ceremonies with that famous aloha spirit of family, community, and tranquility. You can find intimate comfort at a number of beaches in Hawaii… dreamy, rugged rocky, long expanses of sandy, and other styles of shore all embrace couples with a warm charm. Hawaii is well known as a destination wedding mecca with plentiful wedding services.

4. Florida – Two things stand out about Florida for newly engaged couples: white, sandy beaches and fantasy-come-to-life Walt Disney World® Resort. Couples who prefer sand in their toes, lapping waves, and sun are all set: beaches line the Florida coast. Choose your favorite Florida beach. Couples attached to the kid inside them can plan a fairy tale wedding at Walt Disney World.

5. Mexico – The spicy south of North America not only has blissful beaches for the vows, but resorts as destinations unto themselves for the whole festivity. While legal requirements may seem a little more cumbersome than other destinations, Mexico offers an experience all its own for you, the wedding party, your guests, and your honeymoon. Olé!

6. Europe – An increasingly popular destination for weddings. Europe is in a bit of a renaissance with a strong euro, European Union formed, and tourism booming. Brides and/or grooms with familial roots in Europe may want to reconnect with their heritage via the wedding ceremony. Italy alone has numerous wedding sites to help you coordinate the big day. Examples: https://www.weddingitaly.com and https://www.weddingsitaly.com.

Ready to plan your destination wedding? TripHub can help you and your guests communicate about and coordinate hotels and activities.

Find other beach wedding ideas at The Wedding Experience. Any other dreamy destinations perfect for weddings? Post a comment and let people know.