Planning a destination wedding can easily become overwhelming and stressful if you have never planned such an event before, and you end up asking the age-old question, where do I begin?
The good news is you’re here, where I will take you step by step through the process of planning your wedding at destination, and help you ease your mind as our goal is to always take couples through a fun and stress-free journey.
Step #1: Discuss Your Destination, Budget, and Departure Date
We always recommend that you both sit down and discuss where you would like to see yourselves getting married. When you go on vacation, what do you like to do the most while at destination, and also ask the question, are you planning on inviting many guests to attend your ceremony?
If you’re looking to invite family members, wedding party, and friends, you want to make sure the destination you choose is accessible from all cities where your guests are coming from. If you select a destination where you don’t have direct flights, or it has several connections, this may deter some of your guests from joining you.
Your destination selection should be a favorite vacation spot, or a dream location where you both agree will be the best option for the both of you, and for your guests if you’re planning on inviting them. We always recommend that you choose your top 3 destinations, and then casually discuss your selections with immediate family members, close friends, and especially with your wedding party if you have already selected and notified them that you’re having a destination ceremony.
This is an important step as the feedback is crucial to help you during the beginning stages of the planning process. You may receive some valuable tips, along with some positive and negative comments. Keep in mind though, you’re planning your special “once-in-a-lifetime” event, and even though the feedback should be helpful, it should not get to the point where it’s swaying you one way or the other. In the end, you both make the final decision where you want to have your wedding, and it should not be influenced by others that may have their own agenda.
When we say discuss your budget, we not only mean your wedding budget, but also discuss what you believe will be your guests budget as well. Getting this magic number helps you during the process eliminate any destination that may end up being too expensive for you and your guests. As the end results will be that not many will attend your ceremony.
However, budget can be a sensitive issue, and should be discussed with compassion, because if you let it take over, you both may end up selecting a destination and venue that was not your first choice, but it ends up becoming the compromised option. Be careful as you will see that I mention several times throughout this article that when planning your wedding, you need to think about yourselves first, and focus on your needs and wants. The reality when planning a destination wedding, is that you’re not going to make everyone happy, and you’re unfortunately are not going to be able to accommodate all your guests needs and wants. It’s just not realistic!
Discuss Departure Date:
You may think this is the obvious and easiest part of the planning process, but it may end up being your nightmare if you end up selecting the wrong dates. Of course the dates must work for the both of you and your schedules, but also choosing the right date for your guests is beneficial if you’re wanting to make sure as many as possible can attend. Select the wrong date, and you may have guests quickly declining for several reasons, including vacation schedules or they just can’t travel during your chosen dates.
Other reasons may be your date might fall on a popular holiday season or annual event that is in high travel demand. This increases your price dramatically, and may fall outside of yours and many of your guests budget.
In the end, if you really don’t care who shows up for your wedding, then you can choose any date you like and works best for you.
Step #2: Seek Out a Specialist for Help
Now that you both have an idea where you would like to get married, and what your rough budget is, plus your departure dates, the next step is then to seek out a company and/or specialist that will help you with your planning, and this step may be one of your most important decisions to make.
We understand that your first reaction may be to contact your local travel agency, and even though I agree they may have all the resources to assist you further, these agencies and travel agents may not have the experience to handle all your wedding details! Of course they will tell you they can handle it in the beginning, but as time goes by and many of the important wedding details need to be addressed, this may be end up being out of many travel agents experience and comfort levels. In the end, they unfortunately pass most of the important and daunting tasks on to the couple to take care of them, and this may be something you wanted to avoid doing in the first place.
Search for a Destination Wedding Specialist – You Won’t Regret it!
Getting in-depth on the major differences it would be when choosing a destination wedding specialist is for another discussion, but I will highlight some of the importance of going this route:
Destination Wedding specialists are travel agents that have taken it to the next level. We dedicate our time, resources, experiences, skills, and knowledge to couples looking to have a wedding at destination. This is what we focus on, as we are fully aware of the importance of your special event, and we want to ensure that you’re taken care of from beginning to the moment you are married.
Specialists take the time to continue their designations, education, and training. Our goal is to see that all couples are kept up to date to the changes in the industry, including legal ceremony requirements, and so much more…
Finding a destination wedding specialist will put all your needs and interests first, and will make sure that all details are not overlooked. Unfortunately, many travel agencies and agents out there today start out with true intentions to help and treat you as a priority, but the reality is, they always get caught up with other office tasks that eventually take their attention away. What eventually happens is that all the details that were supposed to be handled by this agent is now being neglected, and in most cases not on purpose.
In conclusion, the moment you have all the information in order above, a travel specialist will be able to help every step of the way in finding the perfect location and venue for your wedding ceremony. Then once all the details are in place will continue to provide you valuable tips and steps to move forward in making all the necessary reservations, and assure that they will stay on top of your wedding group.
Bill Parise (ACC) has been involved in the travel industry offering trip and vacation advice since 2000. Bill and his wife Maria currently run their own home-based travel business and have been doing so since 2007.
As a Destination Wedding and Group Vacation Specialist, Bill has helped plan and arrange a number of wedding ceremonies over the years for couples to several exciting destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe as well.
Not only has Bill and his wife Maria been assisting couples plan their dream ceremonies at exotic locations, but they also planned their very own destination wedding ceremony that took place in Varadero, Cuba back in 2004. So Bill truly believes that it’s extremely important in being well rounded in this ever growing market.