Ten Essential Tips for Planning Your Destination Wedding


June 27, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Tips & Tricks



Pick the Perfect Spot

The location of your wedding determines not only the mood (rustic, sophisticated, beachy), but also the travel, time and budget required to pull it off. You want your guests to walk away from your wedding weekend saying, “That was so them!” Your wedding elements – not just location, but also activities and overall vibe ­– should say something about your personal style and your passions. Did he propose on vacation on the beach? Then why not host a barefoot wedding in sand? Are you foodies? Think about serving our favorite Low Country dishes at your reception.

Time It Right

The best weather on the Grand Strand tends to correlate with tourist season when there are typically more crowds, fewer hotel and venue availabilities, and higher rates. If you choose to marry during high season, you’ll want to reserve hotel blocks and venues immediately and send out save-the-dates 10 to 12 months in advance so guests can book their flights and accommodations before prices skyrocket. If you choose the shoulder season (right before or after high season), you may be able to save yourself and your guests some money and still enjoy great weather. While the off-season will mean fewer crowds, the weather can be iffy, and you may find that many stores, venues and vendors close up shop.

 

Take a Trip

We seriously can’t recommend this enough: take at least one planning trip and if you can swing it. Two or three is ideal. On the first trip, you’ll need to scout and secure your key venues ­– ceremony and reception spaces, hotels for guests, a rehearsal dinner venue ­– and local suppliers such as caterers, florists and photographers. Next, you’ll need to schedule “tastings” with your caterer, see sample bouquets from the florist, plan a hair and makeup session with a local salon and organize activities for your guests.

 

Factor in the Extra Expenses

If done right, a destination wedding can cost no more – and maybe even less – than hosting the same party at home (depending on where you live, of course). For example, if you live in a metropolitan area where event facilities are in high demand, like New York City, then holding your wedding in Myrtle Beach will likely be less expensive than doing it at home, even when you factor in airfare, hotel expenses and planning trips. Still there are extra expenses you’ll need to factor in for any destination wedding, including importing key vendors and décor, welcome bags for guests, additional activities for guests and travel costs for you and your immediate families (including the planning trips, not just the big day).

Get Help

Control freaks, beware: If you’re hosting a destination wedding, you will need to entrust at least part of the planning to someone else’s capable hands. A wedding planner can shoulder the burden of researching and securing local vendors, dealing with logistics like tent rentals and lighting and handling any last-minute fires that may start in the weeks leading up to the wedding. She is also the behind-the-scenes queen, creating gift bags for guests, greeting everyone as they arrive, keeping people busy with fun activities once there, vetting special requests (babysitters, dry cleaners, and so on), and getting everyone where they need to be on-time. Many resorts include a coordinator in their wedding packages. Otherwise, set aside about 10 to 15 percent of your total budget for a local planner. Generally speaking, a local planner is your best bet, as she can be your gal-on-the-ground when you can’t be there. But if you prefer to go with a planner from back home, make sure they have experience planning weddings in your chosen destination and expect to cover his transportation costs for planning visits and the actual wedding.

 

Vet Vendors Carefully

While you can view vendors’ portfolios online and check references from afar, it’s especially important that you’re comfortable with all your vendors. You’ll be leaving a lot in their hands, as you won’t be able to be nearly as hands-on, so it’s important you trust those hands are capable. That’s why we strongly suggest making at least one planning trip to meet with potential vendors. If you must hire your vendors unseen, schedule a video chat so you can get a sense for a potential vendor’s demeanor and personality before you sign a contract. Your wedding planner can meet with potential vendors on your behalf and brief you on your options, as well.

 

Forewarn Your Friends

Tell your bridal party about the destination before you ask them to stand by your side so that they can gracefully decline if finances are tight. Don’t be upset if some of your closest friends or relatives don’t attend. While you are, in a sense, footing some of the food bills, their fees for travel, hotel, and car rental can really add up. And while your wedding is a mini-vacation for you, it may not be the one they want to take!

 

Take Care of Guests

In addition to arranging group rates for flights and rooms, list information for getting to and from the nearest airport to your wedding locale, invite everyone to the rehearsal or welcome dinner and next-day brunch, and deliver welcome bags to their rooms, full of essentials for the trip, like suntan lotion, water and bug spray.

 

Get Moving!

Not to stress you out, but you’re basically competing in the Olympics of wedding planning–the long-distance affair. You need to be twice as organized as a local couple and pre-think everything, because you won’t have much time to make up your mind, especially if you can only do one or two planning trips. Every trip should be one fat to-do list of appointments with vendors, coordinators and venue managers, so do your research, set up appointments and form a clear vision of what you want before you go. The good news: If you give yourselves one weekend to find a reception site, you’ll find one. In other words, distance will make you decisive, which will make the whole planning process a lot less stressful.

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