Maureen: Selling weddings? Here’s a gift of an idea…

Maureen: Selling weddings? Here’s a gift of an idea…

Maureen Hill is a regular columnist for Travel Weekly and works at Wessex World Travel, Gillingham, DorsetA gift of an idea

The post-Valentine period is marked by a surge in enquiries about weddings abroad and honeymoons and I can’t help but get that warm feeling as I hand out long-haul brochures.

Some of my best weddings abroad have been purchased by brides who’ve had to wait a long time to snare their groom; as one girl in her late 30s said to me recently: “Give me the top end of what you’ve got. I’ve waited 15 years for him to propose and he’s not going to palm me off with what I’d have settled for at 23!”

Our colleague, Penny, has sent out the invitations for her own wedding later this summer, so much of the chatter in the office has been of happy unions and blissful cohabitation.

Though as Penny said, the date of her wedding tells her groom exactly how things are going to be once they’re married: she’s getting married on July 4 – Independence Day!

The benefits of booking with a local agent are many. Over the years we have built up a network of related services from cake makers to marquee hire, florists and even table magicians, so the perfect wedding is quite literally at our fingertips. 

My client this week called in for advice on the honeymoon she hopes to take in November. We chatted about what she wanted and it wasn’t long before I realised that the budget she’d suggested was unlikely to stretch to many of the destinations she was considering.

“You want the Seychelles, but you’re not going to get much past Cyprus, I’m afraid,” I said. “If it’s any consolation, it is Aphrodite’s island!”

“Who’s Aphrodite when he’s at home?” she replied, unimpressed and rather crestfallen. 

I took another tack and explained that most travel agents offer a ‘wedding list’, whereby family and friends can donate money towards the couple’s honeymoon, and suggested it would beef up her budget so she could look more seriously at long-haul destinations.

“Mike is adamant we’re not asking our guests for money. He’s said we can put down Argos vouchers but that’s it. I’ll just have to cut back on some of the other expenses – make my own dress, that sort of thing…”

I asked if the couple were already living together and she told me that they were.

“You’ll have all the pots and pans and bed sheets you need, then,” I said, “so why not suggest the honeymoon voucher idea to him. You can make it sound funky by suggesting that your guests buy you miles.

“Tell them that £50 buys them 200 miles, that sort of thing. People are very open to those sorts of schemes; it’s like marriage itself – it’s all about the way you package it.”

She agreed to go back and put it to her stubborn fiancé. 

“If he puts up a fight and it gets nasty,” I said, “you could always use the Argos catalogue to knock some sense into him.”

[Editor’s note: For more ideas, check out this week’s weddings abroad features or our weddings abroad page, in association with Sandals]

The old ones are the best

Affairs of the heart continued to haunt us this week when one regular coach tripper called in for some advice.

An elderly widow, she had enjoyed the company of a widower of a similar age on a recent tour. She told me that she’d given him her phone number but that he hadn’t called her since their return.

It was clear the chap in question was not interested in pursuing their holiday friendship and I had a hard time trying to let the old girl down gently, explaining that I was unable to pass on any of his details as it was against the Data Protection Act.

“These men, they’ve got every angle covered, haven’t they? Even the government is on their side.”

I suggested that the best way to get over a man is to find another one and recommended she book another coach holiday as soon as possible. Mercenary? Moi?

Another 70-plus widow popped in to tell us about her coach holiday. She, it appeared, had the opposite problem, fending off unwanted advances from two ‘old men’ (would she, I wondered, have fought off the attentions of a younger man with quite such vigour?).

“I didn’t mind them carrying my case for me, but one of them suggested that they could liven up the evening entertainment as a double act – the Zimmerdales! We’d have spent all night watching them struggle with their buttons. Take it from me, arthritis is a passion killer if ever there was one.”


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