5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Destination Wedding

I’m happy to welcome today’s guest blogger, wedding planning expert, Suzan Hall. Suzan hails from Long Island, New York and works on the marketing team for the gorgeous Leonard’s Palazzo banquet hall in Great Neck, New York. She has a passion for weddings and bringing your perfect vision to life.

As a travel lover, my husband and I thought long and hard about a destination wedding. We ended up getting married on a cruise ship in the Port of Galveston. For us, at the time, it was a perfect compromise within our budget. Galveston will forever hold a very special place in our hearts – not only because we got engaged on the beach there but we were married there.

Choosing your wedding location is such a big decision! It’s a big big world out there. So choose wisely!

I’m so happy to have Suzan sharing these wonderful destination wedding planning tips for all of you who may be thinking about getting hitched abroad. I say, if you can afford it, GO FOR IT!!

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Sweeping away from home to a far off place to tie the knot with your love in the presence of your near and dear ones is a dream of many. A destination wedding can turn this dream into reality in an exotic setting. If you are planning for a destination wedding, then here we have a few tips for you that can make this big event of your life absolutely perfect.

1. Decide the perfect destination and make advance bookings.

The foremost thing to do while planning a destination wedding is to decide a practical place where you want this grand event to be held. Once the destination is decided, you must book the wedding reception hall well in advance so that you get a plenty of time to plan for the wedding with unlimited choices. Along with that you must also send ‘Save the Date’ cards to your guests so that your guests can subsequently take leave from their work or plan accordingly to make their presence on your big day.

2. Hire a professional wedding planner to make the things work smoothly in budget.

It is always advised to hire a professional wedding planner or travel agent to make your dream destination wedding a reality. A professional will definitely recommend the best hotel or resort that will be suitable for both of you and the guests as well. Moreover, if you have a specific budget for your wedding then taking professional help is a must to find a venue that matches your desires and also fit your budget. An experienced wedding planner has the basic knowledge of how to make your destination wedding just the way you wanted it to be.

3. Decorations and styling of the venue.

You would definitely have some specific things in mind when it comes to decorating the wedding venue. You might be looking for a theme wedding or anything special. Instead of looking for the arrangements yourself, you should directly tell the wedding planner about the specific decor that you want for your wedding like the flowers to be used, the particular color scheme, the kind of music to be played, etc. and he/she will make sure that you get exactly what you pay for.

4. Take care of your guests.

A destination wedding will definitely be a costly affair than an at-home reception. However, you can easily keep costs in check even in a faraway locale. This can be done by keeping your guest list short by inviting your very close relatives and friends, whom you want to be present by your side on your fabulous event. The wedding planners or travel agent can again help you scoring great deals on airlines and wedding venues. As the guest will be travelling abroad and they might not want to drive to the venue, make sure that the flight connections are good and a favorable transportation mode is available from the airport to the wedding location.

5. Take advantage of the concierge services to entertain your guests.

Since the guests for your wedding have taken a lot of efforts to travel and spend money on this travelling, so it becomes your duty to make them feel welcomed and appreciated. For this, however you don’t have to be their personal travel agent to entertain them. Many hotels and resorts offer concierge services to ensure that your guests are welcomed and have a comfortable stay. You can entertain your guests with additional events like throwing a welcome dinner party before the wedding and the next day, you can arrange for a relaxed brunch or a pool party.

Looking for a beautiful destination wedding in New York?

Destination weddings are counted as the most romantic types and certainly are a great choice for those looking for an exciting alternative to the chapel. If you are planning for a memorable wedding celebration in Long Island’s wine country, then you can pick from the various Long Island wedding venues that will provide the perfect backdrop to allow your reception party to shine. You can find a number of reception halls in Long Island where you can treat your family and friends with a fine dining experience they will remember for years.

leonard's palazzo
To check out all that Leonard’s Pallazo has to offer, visit their official website here.

Happy Wedding Planning!

Our Week at Sea Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas

For our very long-awaited vacation this year, my husband and I decided to take our second cruise together – this time with Royal Caribbean aboard the newly renovated Navigator of the Seas. Back in 2012, we got married aboard the Carnival Magic and honeymoon cruised to Key West & The Bahamas. We love cruising.

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Ports of Call

This time around, we traveled to three new ports and explored places we’d never been before. We set sail out of Galveston (our home port) and traveled to three ports along the Western Caribbean:

Cozumel, Mexico

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Cozumel was absolutely beautiful. I snapped this photo from the cruise ship. It was a day filled with perfect weather. We bottom fished and then visited Casa Mision restaurant for an authentic Mexican meal for lunch. Delicious, fresh food in a gorgeous atmosphere. This property also does tequila tours and tastings on their grounds. They also provide free wi-fi, as well, and a really, really great margarita.

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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

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This was my absolute favorite stop due to all the amazing things we got to do! On our excursion, we visited the incredible and world-renowned Sting Ray City and swam with tons and tons of sting rays. This was a little scary for me, since they aren’t exactly my favorite animal, but it was SO beautiful and such a cool experience. I highly recommend doing this if you’re ever in the Cayman Islands!

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We also got to swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove in Grand Cayman. This has been a LIFELONG dream of mine that had never been fulfilled until this vacation. It was SUCH an incredible experience. We got to meet, swim, dance, and mingle with Sally, the dolphin. It’s an experience that I’ll never ever forget. This is one thing off my bucket list that I am so grateful to be able to check off!

Falmouth, Jamaica

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In Falmouth, we took a bus tour through parts of the island then sailed on a beautiful catamaran to a coral reef off the coast and snorkeled. This was my husband and I’s first time snorkeling and it was absolutely amazing. We both love the water so being able to explore the ocean floor of Jamaica was quite the experience! Again, another adventure we won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

Another wonderful cruise vacation!

I have to say, Royal Caribbean provided us with wonderful treatment and customer service throughout our trip. We really enjoyed the headache free excursions which took care of everything from transportation to and back without any problems whatsoever. The crew and staff are absolutely awesome and come from all over the world. It’s always so nice to get to know them a little bit and learn where they call home. Everyone has a very unique story and you can get a little taste of what life is like in different places all over the world.

Having cruised with Carnival, Royal Caribbean’s biggest competitor out of the Port of Galveston, I can honestly say – I have no preference between the two! We love cruising and are really lucky to be so close to port. Next on my cruising wish list, though, is definitely ALASKA!

For more travel photos from our cruise, please visit my Instagram account: http://instagram.com/xtineds

West University Massage Envy Spa® Review + Your Chance to WIN a FREE Massage!

Disclosure: I was provided with a free massage session for my blog work on Massage Envy’s Healing Hands for Arthritis campaign. This is my review of the West University Massage Envy Spa® location.

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Why? Well, I just finished a massage session with Bert of Massage Envy’s West U location in Houston, TX. I, seriously, owe this masseuse a HUGE thank you. I’ve been experiencing neck pain lately and a lot of tension due to everyday stress, I’d assume. After getting this massage, I’m highly considering signing up for a membership because physically feeling this good on the regular sounds like an investment worth making.

I’ve had a couple of massage therapy experiences before and this was by far, the best. Massage Envy takes care of you from the moment you walk in, until your last step out the door, their focus is your relaxation.

It had been a while since I’ve had a massage (2 years exactly) so I wasn’t really sure what type of massage or pressure would we best for me. I met with their delightful store manager, Justin, who was SO helpful. I let him know about my health background of having two vertebrae removed during my brain stem surgery a few years ago. He was very precise about asking all the right questions to help tailor a fantastic massage for a newbie like me who had no idea what to really ask for up front. My therapist, Bert, took all of this information and worked his MASSAGE MAGIC. Seriously, the guy has miracle hands as far as I’m concerned.

Aroma Therapy Meets Massage

Justin suggested trying their new aroma therapy massage treatment enhancements which are infused into your massage oil during your session. I’m really glad I did. I opted for the Lavender Garden scent which promotes restful sleep, reduces inflammation, and calms the mind. YES. PLEASE. I was so relaxed that – to be honest with you, at times during my massage, I found myself trying hard not to drool! The other scent, which I also got to smell, was Mint & Rosemary and it’s supposed to “increase circulation and enliven your body and mind” – next time maybe.

My massage session lasted a good 50 minutes and I opted for the full body, Swedish with a focus on neck, shoulders, and back. From start to finish, the massage was on point. Turns out, I like a quite a bit of pressure and Bert got it just right. On another note, I loved the ambiance of the massage room. The relaxing soundtrack of waves hitting the beach was perfect… it just so happens that I’m leaving for a cruise vacation in a few days and this was just what I wanted to hear. There’s also different levels of lighting and whatever your preference is – they will cater to you.

I was really pleased with my experience and if you’re in the Houston area, I absolutely recommend giving this location a shot! They offer a number of different massage options from sports massage and deep tissue to prenatal and geriatric. I was also surprised to find out that they offer Murad® Health Skin facials, too.

Just in case you need a little encouragement…

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7 Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Stress Relief
  • Pain Management
  • Give yourself some “ME TIME” and RELAX. Let your mind wander.
  • Improves posture and circulation
  • It’s healthy for you & lowers your blood pressure
  • Great option for a creative date night!
    • The West University location offers couple’s massages. I love the location because it’s in a shopping center with plenty of great options. Grab a meal at one of my faves, Vietopia, or indulge in a sweet treat from Paciugo or Bite Macarons right next door.
  • Pamper yourself for a good cause, make an appointment for September 17th, & $10 from your one-hour massage or facial session will benefit the Arthritis Foundation. Learn more here.

Enter to Win a FREE Massage Envy Spa® Gift Card to Any Houston Area Location:

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For more information on Massage Envy, visit their official website. – Stayed tuned to all things Massage Envy Houston on Twitter by following: @MassageEnvyHOU & liking their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MassageEnvyHouston - They are known for hosting many great Facebook giveaways for their fans. Thank you, Massage Envy, for giving this girl one heck of a great massage!

Healing Hands for Arthritis + Your Chance to Win a Massage from Massage Envy Spa®

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Massage Envy Spa®. I have been provided with a complimentary massage session in exchange for exposure on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Massage Envy is back this year with their Healing Hands for Arthritis campaign and I’m thrilled to be taking part in it. In partnership with the Arthritis Foundation, Massage Envy Spa sponsors a one-day, nationwide fundraising event at all of their locations. $10 from every one-hour massage or facial sessions will be donated to the Arthritis Foundation, as well as,10% of all Murad®, Wyndmere, and BioFreeze product sales.

Arthritis runs in my family so this is a cause that is very near to my heart. I’ve seen my grandma suffer from the pains of arthritis ever since I can remember. My mom has been recently diagnosed and well, I wouldn’t be surprised if I, myself, take on some of the symptoms one day. Oddly enough, I have already begun to experience some routine neck pain which may or may not be related to my brain stem surgery in 2012. I had two vertebrae removed from the very top of my spine so they could get to my brain stem. (Who knew you don’t really need them?) Tiger balm has come in VERY handy for me when dealing with neck pain.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that affects more than 50 million American adults (that’s one out of every five adults). A common misconception is that this condition only affects older adults. This is false! 300,000 children are affected. There are different types of arthritis but all are associated with painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. It’s always been difficult to see my grandmother complaining of how painful her joints are and seeing how her hands have changed over the years. 

This is actually one of my favorite photos of my grandma and I — and so fitting for this post!

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Prevention & Treatment of Arthritis

I love seeing Massage Envy Spa team up with the Arthritis Foundation. It’s a wonderful partnership because massage is known to actually alleviate and control symptoms of arthritis. I have fond childhood memories of staying over at my grandmother’s house and giving her neck massages and back rubs. It ALWAYS helped her pain go away, at least for a little bit.

Aside from prescription treatments, staying active with exercise and a healthy diet can help arthritis suffered. Diet is closely linked to inflammation and one way to fight inflammation is to eat less processed and fried foods. Focus on a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. For more information on making a better life with arthritis, visit Arthritis Today.

Pamper Yourself for a Good Cause!

I encourage everyone to make an appointment at your local Massage Envy Spa® location on Wednesday, September 17th, in support of the Arthritis Foundation. Click here to locate your nearest location or make an appointment online.


Win a FREE Massage at any HOUSTON Massage Envy Spa® Location!

Massage Envy’s PR team has been kind enough to sponsor a FREE 50 minute massage for one lucky, Houston-area readers! For your chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below.

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Included as #25 in Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers of 2014

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Last week was a really great week for me! Not only did I celebrate my 27th birthday, I was also included in this super-mega-amazing list compiled by social media rock star/GURU, Eric T. Tung. I ranked #25 on Houston’s Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers for 2014!

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I would like to say thank you SO MUCH to my readers, followers, and supporters. Your comments, likes, RTs, follows, and shares truly mean the world to me. Fostering community online has always been something I’ve been passionate about.. starting WAY back when with LiveJournal, MySpace, AIM… etc. Look just how far we’ve come!

So once again – thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Also – I do apologize for my lack of consistent blog writing over the last few months. I have been working full time for the Epilepsy Foundation Texas since January and have been struggling just a bit with finding balance between my blog life and work life. Fellow bloggers, do you have any tips for me on this subject?

In the meantime, stay in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest – I’ve got the micro-blogging thing down PERFECT! ;)

An Open Invitation To Houston Bloggers

I’m really excited to be attending this month’s Houston Bloggers Meeting. Join us tomorrow for blogger chat, great networking, and some sweets and treats provided by Blog Elevated & Barry’s Pizza!

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