From the Experts

Making the Move to Destination Wedding Planning: Part II

Last week, Heather Vickery took us through basics of destination wedding planning, from dressing for the tropics to picking a location. But that’s not all there is to it—learn more about the logistics of planning your first destination wedding!

All photos in this post are from events produced by Greatest Expectations.

More than just the wedding day

In many cases, your clients will want you to plan more than just the wedding itself. Part of the fun of having a destination wedding is getting your loved ones together for multiple celebrations. In my experience, clients want some type of welcome reception, a rehearsal dinner, daytime activity for the wedding day (for guests) and a brunch.

Even if you are planning these events at an all-inclusive property, chances are you will encounter food and beverage expenses. If the venue is reserving space and staff there will be additional expenses. You cannot assume that there will not be food and beverage expenses at an all-inclusive venue.

Other vendors

heather vickery destination wedding
Photography by Julia Franzosa & Kina Wicks

This can be a tricky one. There will, obviously, be times you are required to hire local vendors to service your events. This can be difficult if there are language barriers and you don’t know who you are working with. My first step is to always reach out to my wide network of event professionals and ask for personal referrals. If someone you trust has worked with a specific vendor you can be much more confident in their service and products.

If the budget allows, I always prefer to fly vendors in for the event. In most cases I encourage clients to bring in photographers, videographers and hair/makeup artists to ensure they are getting the best vendors possible. It is difficult (although not impossible) to bring in a florist so sourcing them locally will be important. Be sure not to simply trust the internet for this!

International travel

Heather Vickery Destination wedding planning
Photography by Lisa Rigby Photography

If the destination is international be sure you are aware of their laws and customs. Is it safe and legal to get married there? This is especially important if you have a same-sex couple. Will your clients be required to have a legal ceremony at home prior to traveling to their destination?

What about event materials? If you are shipping anything into another country those items need to go through customs. They could be held up for quite a while so be sure to build in plenty of time for those items to clear customs. I suggest taking as much on the plane with you as possible. Sometimes I ask other vendors to help me transport items as well, just so we know they are going to arrive safely and on time.

Guest travel

Depending on the location, there could be extensive guest travel needs. Again, this is where working with a travel expert/agent can be very helpful. When doing a destination wedding, I include the travel professional in my package. Essentially, the travel agent becomes a member of my team. I have her set up a website for guest travel that allows them to easily and efficiently arrange all of the travel needs and in return, we have everything at hand to know when guests will be arriving and where they will be staying. It also makes guest transportation a lot easier to manage.

From the client and guest perspective, this is a seamless and smooth process. It truly allows everyone to feel spoiled and as if they are part of something very special—and it really does not cost much extra to make it happen. We are magicians, us wedding planners!

What it really costs

kina wicks destination wedding
Photography by Kina Wicks

I love destination weddings. I think they are creative and fun. They allow clients to be truly authentic and create an event experience that is like no other. But they are not cheap. The largest financial “benefit” to hosting a destination wedding is that, in most cases, your guest lists are smaller. The fewer guests you have, the less money it costs! Beyond that there are rarely any cost savings when having a destination wedding vs. one at home. As the planner, it is so very important that you accurately educate your clients. Make sure they know what to expect—surprises are not your friend in this situation.

I love planning destination weddings. They excite and surprise me. They challenge me each and every time but the pride I feel when celebrating my post-event success is priceless! Just be prepared for a great deal of hard work that is totally worth it!

Ready to help your clients plan the destination wedding of their dreams? Get inspired by these 10 unique wedding destinations!

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