Regular readers of Monsters and Critics know Sandy Malone, a contributor whose frothy fun recaps for Marriage Boot Camp, Below Deck and the Real Housewives of New Jersey and New York are a must for fans who love the dish from an unfiltered veteran of reality TV herself.
Malone starred in Wedding Island for TLC and developed a huge worldwide following with her business of wedding planning.
Her firm is in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and she has had every imaginable problem, dilemma, and “day of” drama unfold while trying to keep a jittery bride calm and a wedding party from up-ending the best-laid plans.
Her new book is How To Plan Your Own Destination Wedding and inside it is a step-by-step primer for the most fool-proof way to save money and not be disappointed with your results.
Sandy deftly takes the reader through her own DIY experience as a bride and shows where the savings and DIY can work and what needs to be farmed out to professionals.
A Washington D.C. native, Sandy, her husband Bill (a retired SWAT team commander) and their dog Houdini have a crack tight team, with over 500 weddings under their belts in the United States and the Caribbean.
Sandy cut her teeth event planning for corporations and political events before weddings became her primary focus.
No nuptial or celebration is overlooked by Sandy whose professional staff together create memorable weddings of all styles, whether they be simple elopements with candlelight, simple barefoot vows by the sea, emotional anniversary wedding vow renewals, gay weddings, or posh wedding events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.
In her book, she explains the processes of DIYing your destination wedding – and having the responsibility of coordinating your very own wedding plans.
It can involve family members and even the groom, but ultimately you are the coordinator and the creator of your own experience.
The DIY -craze looks easy on TV as we see couples bash their old cabinets down and next commercial break, voila, a new kitchen!
Easy stuff right? No. Sandy throws some flower petal-scented cold water in your face and sets you on a straight path to a successful soiree that will be a source of pride for a lifetime.
But getting there…
Sandy’s book takes you through the vetting the vendors process as you begin arranging every detail for the big day.
To do this you must be (or at least make every effort to be) an organized person with time available to thoroughly interview and suss out all wedding vendors during normal weekday business hours, not at night or the weekends.
Sandy cautions the reader to know their wedding party size and stick to it, to use these facts and figures and then canvas and negotiate contracts with vendors.
One big mistake many make is underestimating the size of the venue they need or the cost of the food and what is and is not required when people are watching a budget.
This caveat is especially true in any destination wedding where you show up and expect things to line up like little soldiers, but if the due diligence was less, than you might be in for crisis fixing from a costly professional.
When unsure of the vendors or unable to properly vet, it’s time to call “Uncle” and send in the pros.
Many couples opt for hybrid DIY weddings which Sandy dishes about with loads of insider panache and tips.
Monogramming is a big deal and she talks about creative invitations and says that brides and grooms really can DIY a whole lot of their wedding details, from the welcome gifts to the programs.
It’s all about how much dedication and time they have prior to the wedding day.
Sandy’s company Weddings in Vieques started a new service, offering DIY wedding planning consulting services to brides and grooms who wanted to hybrid their special day and save a bit of money and who may have overlooked many crucial steps in the front end of their wedding planning.
She shares that wedding planners hire the vendors – they do not make the cake, etch the stemware or engrave invitations, but they make sure you get the right vendor at the right price for the job.
A destination wedding is a different animal to a stay-at-home local church affair. Sandy breaks it down in her new book into steps for the DIY-planner to follow.
Before you plonk down hard cash for a deposit on a faraway destination, make sure the vital attendees can make it! Retracting a date because someone has a knee replacement scheduled is costly.
Weather! Understand the risks of your destination and the Plan B. Research your destination to know amenities, hotels, and even medical resources in case someone falls ill.
Don’t think you have to leave the USA for an “island” getaway when all along the Atlantic and Pacific are marvelous island destinations and majestic settings for a fantastic wedding.
Then let your arriving guests have time to unwind and make some plans outside of your wedding.
All in all, this is the must-read book written with Sandy’s trademark wit and wisdom to get for anyone with a wedding in their future.
Make sure to listen to Sandy’s podcast “Wedding Reality Check With Sandy Malone” on iTunes, or Android friendly podcast directories.