WEDDINGS 2016in the Turks and Caicos Islands
Where When How Turks & Caicos Islands May / June 2016
“I still cry at my weddings,” confessed NILA Destinations owner/wedding planner Luise Bayley. She laughs and explains that while it may sound “cheesy,” it’s more about the genuine commitment that the people are making that is her favourite aspect of planning a wedding. “I stand there when people are actually exchanging vows. At the end of the day, that’s the whole thing,” she acknowledges.
NILA Destinations was the 1st destination and event management company in the TCI. Founded in 2001, NILA has organised and executed more than 1000 weddings and events. Luise took over the company in 2012, an easy and natural transition with her background in restaurants and hospitality, as well as extensive experience organising successful, large-scale charity events. She is joined by wedding planners Mary Thompson and Lynne Watts who have lived here 25 years and 10 years respectively.
A wedding at sunset on Grace Bay Beach. Photo by www.MyParadisePhoto.com
To some, a wedding planner may seem somewhat of an extravagance, but it is one of the best investments you can make, particularly if you are planning a destination wedding. NILA is here to tell you what works and what doesn’t. You have to be the type of person willing to give up some control. Because NILA wedding planners reside on Providenciales, they are able to provide their clients with an unparalleled level of knowledge, together with the advantages of their close relationships with the best local vendors.
I was surprised to discover that these days, the responsibility of pulling off this special day without a hitch does not rest solely on the bride. Luise explained that with the rise in career women, they simply don’t have the time. Today, it’s not unusual for the mother, or sometimes a sister, to be planning the wedding. Additionally, more and more grooms are involved than you might think, she explained. “They tend to be more controlling than the brides. They are very much on top of every little item,” she laughs. I countered, “Perhaps because he knows he has to answer to his bride.” On average, a bride can spend approximately 250 hours organizing her wedding, (that’s 6 full-time working weeks) so the skills and connections of a wedding planner can be invaluable.
A bride against the gorgeous backdrop at Dragon Cay. Photo by www.MyParadisePhoto.com
Most couples find NILA on the internet, and also through weddingwire.com. They have the distinction of being named ‘Couples Choice Award’ 2014, 2015 & 2016. Reviews are posted by the brides, and NILA’s accolades speak for themselves. “Unwavering confidence,” “wedding goddess,” “genuinely cared,” “I would give more stars if it was possible,” “beyond what we imagined,” “a dream executed beautifully,” and one of my personal favourites, “got rid of wedding crashers!”
From 2 to 200, NILA plans dream weddings. Of course, NILA will do everything possible to make all your wedding dreams come true, but there are bound to be unusual requests, like landing the groom on the beach from a helicopter. Sorry, that got vetoed.
The list can seem staggering, but NILA can handle it all. Think legal paperwork, permits, wedding venues, accommodations, caterers, hair stylists, makeup artists, spa treatments and services, wedding cakes, décor, flowers, photographers, videographers. Plus musicians and DJs, that could include steel drums or our celebrated Junkanoo. Don’t forget transportation, rehearsal dinners and extra-curricular activities for your guests. Even your honeymoon.
So just how much time does Luise recommend if you’re planning a destination wedding? “I think six months is a good guideline” she maintains. There is a lot of back and forth at the beginning. She will book the minister immediately, (there are only a few licensed officiators here) followed by the photographer, DJ, florist etc. Then it generally calms down until about a month before the wedding.
A beautiful wedding arch at The Somerset on Grace Bay Beach. Photo by www.AttimiPhotography.com
Some couples choose to do symbolic ceremonies. In these cases, your legal paperwork would have to be completed back ‘home,’ and you will not receive a Turks & Caicos Islands Marriage Certificate.
To maximize your choices, Luise offers the following advice. If you can get married on a non-Saturday, it doesn’t make it less expensive, but it does make your options easier in terms of booking people. Not getting married during peak wedding season (April, May and June) will give you a little more in the way of options. Keep in mind, the larger the event, the more limited your options.
Idyllic wedding venues include the obvious and most popular choice, the World’s Best Beach,* Grace Bay Beach. With accolades like that, it’s no surprise that the Turks & Caicos Islands are a significant player when it comes to destination weddings. Tie the knot in a lush and picturesque garden or pool setting, sail off to a deserted island, or get hitched aboard your private catamaran, sailing schooner or yacht.
Our islands have become a culinary destination in their own right and boast an internationally renowned cuisine created by some of the most talented chefs in the world, in some of the most exotic and incomparable tropical venues for your special day. Choose from barefoot on the beach to the ultimate in fine dining.
A just married couple at Grace Bay Club. Photo by www.Brilliant Studios.com
I discovered that many of today’s modern brides still go for the traditional white dress. But what about the veil? “It’s a bad idea,” Luise insists. “It’s too windy, which also adds to difficulty with photography. Same goes for flared dresses. I’m all about keeping it simple in this environment,” she maintains.
While Luise encourages her brides to go barefoot, there are those who insist on walking down the ‘isle’ in their Manolo Blahniks and Christian Louboutins. Sand becomes a problem. “We had to adapt to that.” Luise admits and adds, “We build a boardwalk that looks like sand, but it’s solid, so they can wear their gorgeous shoes and still have a beach wedding.” And here, photography is ‘no problem.’ Our cutting-edge photographers rival the creative talents of professionals anywhere in the world, with their innovative and extraordinary perspectives.
For a more untraditional and Avant-garde craze, many of today’s couples have chosen to take the plunge, literally! It’s what is known as Trash the Dress. What better place to Trash the Dress with the backdrop of these stunningly beautiful turquoise waters, pristine white beaches and the ruggedly spectacular iron shore coastline - even a shipwreck. I must admit, the first time I heard about this ‘shooting’ trend, I was quite shocked, particularly when you consider the price tag of the average wedding dress. But the results are truly extraordinary and stylishly chic and sophisticated. I asked Luise what percentage of brides were taking the plunge. “About thirty percent trash the dress … that’s getting more and more popular. It’s a symbolic thing. What else are you going to do with it?” she admits.
An unexpected wave caught the bride and groom at their 'trash the dress' photo shoot. Photo by www.AttimiPhotography.com
Also trending, “Some people are switching things up and doing their wedding the day before their other party. So they’ll do the wedding on the Friday and a hangover party the next day … which is fun because the next day all the stress is gone and they’re just hanging out with their friends having a good time,” Luise explained.
Organizing a wedding is a colossal and time-consuming responsibility – a typical wedding generates about 250 emails, together with phone calls. I couldn’t help but be surprised by Luise’s completely calm and relaxed demeanor. She smiled and said, “I am by nature, and I think that works well because it relaxes my brides. Nobody wants a stressed-out wedding planner. You’ve got to be able to chill people out. My brides tell me, I’m glad you’re just so calm, that’s awesome.” She went on to explain that most of the stress happens beforehand. By the time they actually get here – there’s nothing more they can do. They just relax and enjoy their friends and family. Let it go.
Say ‘I do’ to a wedding in paradise. Join your hearts and entwine your destinies in one of the most romantic and memorable destinations in the world. The Turks & Caicos Islands.
AT ONE WITH PARADISE
For all of today’s innovations and modernisations in technology, it seems we are more disconnected and distracted than ever before. Telecommunications now connect us globally, instantaneously making us accessible from even the most far-flung and isolated tropical outpost. Devices that used to linger in our pockets and handbags are now virtual appendages, and our language has been diminished to a vocabulary of acronyms and abbreviations – anything to save time in this increasingly fast-paced, high-tech world.
It’s time to STOP. It’s time to silence the cell phone, lose the laptop and ignore the i-whatever. Take a deep breath in … now slowly exhale. It’s time to take care of YOU.
Since ancient civilisation, water has been heralded for its life sustaining, therapeutic and healing qualities. It is an element of nature, essential to life and fundamental to the earth’s very survival. It covers roughly seventy percent of the earth’s surface and 97 percent is salt water.
A couples massage at The Palms Resort and Spa. Photo by www.MyParadisePhoto.com
SPA is derived from the Latin phrase ‘sanitas per aquas,’ which means health through water. As in ancient practices, spa rituals continue to evolve around this most basic and vital element – water.
The brilliant and intoxicating waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands offer their own revitalising, refreshing and hedonistic properties, for calming the mind, body and spirit, and melting away stress. Once you immerse yourself in the warm and silky tropical waters, you are at one with paradise, weightless and at peace.
GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER
Renew your consciousness, as you gaze at the unobstructed view of the ineffable shades and hues of the Caribbean Sea. Your eyes may be momentarily blinded by the brilliance of the alabaster-white sand, but you tip your sunglasses yet again in another futile attempt to put a name to these luminous and dazzling colours of the aqueous phenomenon before you. Remember to breathe, even though this glorious spectacle is certain to take your breath away.
‘PRACTICE’ MAKES PERFECT
If it is a more hands on approach you crave, our islands boast a multitude of spa options, with an extensive and comprehensive menu of treatments and services guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating palate. From an intimate and private treatment session in the seclusion of your own villa or suite, to extravagant and lavish world-class resort spas and everything in-between, age-old treatments coupled with contemporary knowledge and modern technology can fulfill your every wish and desire. Just as the spa techniques and principals of yesterday have evolved, so too have our attitudes. No longer considered pure indulgence, both men and women have come to acknowledge and appreciate the curative and restorative effects, plus the improved health benefits that can be derived from the spa experience. It is an essential component of our well-being and the pathway to wellness and inner peace. And it’s not just for grown-ups anymore, teens and even children are getting in on the action, making spa treatments a family affair.
The Turks & Caicos Islands have become a significant player in the Destination Wedding market, attracting couples and their entourages from all over the world. Who wouldn’t want to get married on the World’s Best Beach?* Brides, grooms and their wedding parties can make it truly memorable and indulge in a surfeit of services and tempting treatments as they chill out and celebrate this special milestone together.
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t take a vacation, and those committed to an on-going program of physical fitness can take advantage of our state-of-the-art facilities, personal training and an extensive selection of classes and disciplines including yoga, Pilates, core fusion, spinning and aerobics.
It has often been said that your body is your temple. Some temples may require more refurbishments and maintenance than others, but if you take the time to relax, renew, restore and rejuvenate your body in paradise, you will be more productive, positive and complete, with your mind, body and soul in perfect harmony.
*TripAdvisor, Traveler’s Choice Awards
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