You’ve decided to “marry away” at a fun, exotic and romantic destination. Your choice will include a little bit more planning than purchasing a plane ticket and securing a hotel room, but don’t panic … Our team at Invitations by R Squared has checked in with several wedding planning professionals to put together the best collection of do’s and don’ts to make your special day your best day ever!
Choose a location that’s relatively easy to travel to. The professionals from Cristina Verger Event Planning & Productions in New York, tell us that clients look at beautiful photos of a location and immediately decide that’s the location they want. It takes a lot more than a pretty picture to have a seamless destination wedding. Travel can be complicated and you really don’t want to overwhelm your guests with lots of transfers, possibly ferry trips and what not. Be mindful of the actual location in relation to the closest airport. Less transport and less headache.
A planner or a package is a great idea. Distance wedding planning on your own can be a daunting task. Most resorts offer stellar wedding packages. If your heart’s desire involves some personalization, a wedding planner would be the best choice for you. Packages tend to be a little one-size-fits-all. If you’ve already decided on a location, and you’re going to hire a planner, be sure to look for one who has already held events in or around the same location, since sourcing great vendors is going to be key.
Find out if any other events are taking place at your location at the same time. Most resorts are not so unsophisticated as to have a number of weddings planned at the same time, but there may be other events – such as a large sales convention – that could cloud the fun for you and your guests. Just be mindful with your questions and do query about other large groups that may be availing themselves of the resort.
Mail your Save the Date cards and invitations as early as possible. Some guests will not be booking their plane trips and hotel accommodations until they receive the official invitation. Alison Events in San Francisco tells us that she recommends Save the Dates to go out a year to nine months in advance, invitations a minimum of three months out and to request an RSVP a month in advance of the actual event.
Plan activities for the entire weekend, or group of days, not just the day of the wedding. Most destination weddings are planned to happen over long weekends, with guests generally arriving Thursday and staying through Saturday or Sunday. It’s the couple’s responsibility to keep them entertained. “Provide a welcome party, so guests don’t have to think about going out to dinner anywhere,” says Verger. Most weddings will include a rehearsal dinner, a party on Friday night, and the wedding on Saturday. Brunch the morning after the wedding is standard procedure as well. It is also standard operating procedure to offer some adventure options like surfing lessons, parasailing, nature adventure or spa pampering.
Read the contract. If you have a planner, he or she will do this for you, but it’s also a good idea to review it yourself as well. A typical venue contract can be 25 to 50 pages long, and can take considerable time to negotiate. You’ll want to address the big things first, like how dinner will be served.
Provide extra notice for your guests. Destination weddings require extra planning for everyone, including your guests. It’s smart and fair to give a bit more notice than you would for a local wedding. Some couple plan a destination wedding because they don’t want people to come; they don’t want to invite the boss and the whole office. If you actually do want a crowd at your event, give them as much notice as possible.
Create a Pinterest board. At some resorts like the Four Seasons Bora Bora, wedding packages are customizable. Make sure your vision is succinctly shared with your wedding planner. This way, your planner can make sure that this special day is all yours.
Negotiate group discounts for hotel rooms. In general, you can get a group discount, which can range from 5 to 10 percent at larger hotels. However, smaller hotels or places that book up whether your wedding is there are may not offer a discount. It’s definitely something to consider. You’ll also want to negotiate the number of rooms you’ll be responsible for in your contract.
Invite everyone you know. While it is possible to have a large destination wedding, most couples prefer to keep the setting a bit more intimate. Groups of 40 to 50, or smaller, are an ideal number.
Leave guests to figure out their own transportation. If you do have guests staying at nearby properties, it’s your responsibility to provide car or shuttle service to the main venue. Have the hotel give guests a schedule of events along with pick-up and drop-off times so that nobody misses a part of the celebration.
Spend a lot on flowers. One of the main reasons to have a destination wedding is the beautiful scenery. Many couples choose to have an outdoor ceremony where there’s little need for the elaborate floral arrangements to be found at a traditional ceremony in your hometown. Simple, yet elegant, is easily the order of the day for destination wedding florals.