Island love affair endures
I HAVE seen more male strippers than most mothers would think appropriate, I have fluffed more bridal gowns than the Kardashian sisters and have worn so many bridesmaids' gowns.
I make Katherine Heigl's character in 27 Dresses look like an amateur.
So when the opportunity arose to spend four days experiencing life as a Whitsundays bride I felt it was only fair that I accept as a reward for my years of trusty service as a bridesmaid.
As a guest of Tourism Queensland I was part of a media contingent that was treated to a whirlwind trip packed with stunning wedding locations, luxurious accommodation, breathtaking scenery, divine food and enough champagne to sink a battleship.
Destination weddings are becoming more and more popular with couples for a variety of reasons.
Cosmopolitan Bride features director Kristy Bradley said destination weddings were used to treat not only the couple but their guests as well.
"If people have to travel to a wedding anyway why not make it somewhere spectacular?" she said.
"You can turn your wedding into a wedding festival by entertaining your guests a few days before and after."
Another recent trend is to elope.
"Some couples are choosing a super-romantic location, such as the Whitsundays, to say 'I do' without any guests," Kristy said.
Destination weddings can also prove cost effective and you can easily tag your honeymoon on to it.
Each island caters for everything a bride needs to make her day special from the flowers to the photography and entertainment.
The peak wedding season is from September to October but with the Whitsundays boasting beautiful weather all year round a winter wedding is certainly not out of the question.
The options for getting married in the Whitsundays are endless, no matter what your budget, so to point you in the right direction and give you a bit of a sample I have handpicked some of my favourite venues and locations.
Reception: Villa Botanica is a veritable paradise serving as one of Australia's most beautiful and exclusive boutique wedding venues, a place where other couples can experience the special magic of this temple dedicated to love, passion and nature's beauty visit http://villabotanica.com.au/weddings/.
Honeymoon: Coral Sea Resort. Reasonably priced and located right on the point at Airlie Beach. Visit http://www.coralseasresort.com/
Must do: For a recovery function DéjÀ vu's long lunch is the way to go. It begins with a beautiful view, eight courses of divine food, lots of wine/beer and live entertainment.
Hamilton Island Weddings is the only name you need to know when it comes to getting hitched on Hamilton. Visit www.hamiltonislandweddings.com.au
Ceremony: Dent Island. Arrive in a helicopter and tie the knot on top of the fifth tee overlooking the beautiful turquoise waters.
Honeymoon: Qualia is situated on the secluded northern-most tip of Hamilton Island. Visit http://www.qualia.com.au
Reception: Ideal for a family orientated destination wedding. Plenty to keep the kids occupied and accommodation to suit everyone. My pick of the locations for ceremony and reception would be Lover's Cove.
Hair and make-up: The Daydream Island Spa is amazing.
Hayman Island Resort is synonymous with the word luxury.
Reception: Stella Maris Chapel - nestled in the hills of the island, the Stella Maris Chapel enjoys tropical surrounds and breathtaking vistas.
Honeymoon: The service at Hayman is impeccable. I recommend the Retreat Rooms.
Special features include a daybed and an open-plan bathroom with a sunken bath that overlooks a private garden.