Modern Day Solution: A destination wedding!
For today’s bride, planning a perfect wedding is still the ultimate dream! And like most women living in the 21st century, it needs to be exciting and most of all…personal! Destination weddings are a very popular wedding trend because the guest list is smaller and more intimate. With family and close friends as guests, the event allows for a reunion with those who mean the most to us. And because destination weddings are unconventional, couples can control how long the celebration will last. Sure, planning a wedding from afar can be a challenge, but if you take advantage of the many resources available to you, the process can be smooth and the event – spectacular! Here are a few tips and ideas for a wedding to remember!
1. Claim Your Discount
Bringing 80 guests to Aruba? Don’t forget to ask the hotel for discounts for you your guests. “Remember, the resort is very interested in having your guests’ business, so they shouldn’t be charging you the absolute full price of the event,” says Carley Roney, The Knot’s editor in chief.
Many destination spots now offer wedding packages and business is booming for some. Sandals Resorts, for example, has seen a big uptick in its wedding business. Last year, the resort experienced a 15% increase in revenue over the previous year. That’s not so surprising given the generous wedding packages it offers. In fact, people planning a tiny wedding of four can even get married for free, provided they book a six-night honeymoon in one of the resort’s concierge-leve suites (or any other premium room). The package includes a Caribbean wedding cake, champagne, the bride’s bouquet, the groom’s boutonni re, a Waterford crystal, a pair of “just married” T-shirts and more.
Regardless of the size of your wedding, however, you should be sure to negotiate with vendors. If there are certain items included in a wedding package that you don’t want, ask for a credit. And if a property won’t drop its rates substantially, look for free upgrades for you and your guests instead. For example, at their hotel in Oahu, the Felipes got a free night and an upgrade from a regular room to the hotel’s best suite.
2. Be Kind to Your Guests
“If you want to do a destination wedding, you have to make it affordable for the people who are coming,” says JoAnn Gregoli, a New York-based wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings. So, lovely though it may be, don’t pick a location that will cost a few thousand dollars for the weekend.
You can submit a request for a group wedding discount online
You also can save your guests money by telling them that their presence at your wedding is the only wedding gift you need, says TheKnot’s Roney. If you’re not willing to give up the registry completely, be sure to register for some inexpensive items.
3. Fair Warning
With a destination wedding, save-the-date cards are crucial. Send them off as early as possible, preferably at least eight months in advance, says Roney. “Remember, this is a destination wedding, and your guests may be planning their family vacation around it,” she says. Giving them a heads-up allows them to shop for the best airfares and work the trip into the family budget.
4. Know the Legalities
If you’re going international, be aware of the legal requirements, says Roney. Many places have marriage fees and residency requirements in addition to a slew of other red tape. England, for example, has a seven-day residency requirement. If you’re tying the knot in Venice, Italy, you’ll need certain documents translated into Italian with special seals from the secretary of state where the documents originate. Other countries, like Mexico, require you to take
chest X-rays and blood tests.
5. The Wedding Planners
Given the added complications of destination weddings, a good wedding planner can be a godsend. After all, you might have to communicate in a foreign language and deal with people who live in a foreign culture. The best favor you can do yourself is to hire an onsite wedding planner.
The easiest way to do it: Hire a wedding planner in area who specializes in destination weddings, and let him or her work with an onsite planner. “It’s sort of like going to a doctor,” says the Association of Bridal Consultants’ Monaghan. “He can take all the information, all the history, all the symptoms and then call a specialist.” And don’t worry about having to pay two fees, says wedding planner Gregoli. The services of the local wedding planner are generally included in the overall price.
How much do wedding planners charge? Whether it’s a flat fee, a per-hour fee or a combination of the two, prices vary by region. Generally speaking, the total fees account for roughly 10% to 15% of the cost of the wedding, Monaghan says. But remember: A good wedding planner can help keep other costs in check. He or she should be in a position to bargain with vendors, who are always looking to curry favor with high-volume professionals.
To find a good planner, start by asking friends and relatives for referrals. You can also check with a reputable wedding association, such as the Association of Bridal Consultants or the Association for Wedding Professionals International for destination wedding planners in your area. TheKnot.com also has a helpful database of wedding Web sites organized by region, each with a list of wedding coordinators in the area.
6. Don’t Stress Out
Wedding planners say destination weddings are less stressful than traditional hometown hooplas, since many of the details are simply out of the couple’s control. “It’s the level of trust that matters,” says Gregoli.
Attention, A-types: If you’re planning an island wedding, set your watch to island time and your mind to island mentality. Vendors there are likely to be slower to respond to requests than mainland vendors might be, Gregoli warns. “Just be aware things could be delayed, and don’t stress.”
That said, if there’s an element that’s really important to you say, the band or the photographer you could always bring your own. For a wedding Gregoli recently organized in St. Thomas, the couple flew in a band from New York, and the extra cost didn’t throw the couple over budget. “The food was cheaper [than it would have been in New York], so it all balanced out,” she says. They put the band (six people in all) in an affordable motel, and since the band agreed to a lower fee than they normally charge in New York, the total cost was less than $6,000 the New York average, Gregoli says.
7. Visit at Least Once
For a bigger wedding, at least one previsit is necessary, says Roney. So, alas, in the name of research, you just might have to take an extra trip to paradise with your honey. Tough work, but nobody said planning the perfect wedding would be easy.
Check out my next planning post on destination weddings, when I will reveal my top pics for locations!
Enjoy Planning and Dreaming!