Advice from a Destination Wedding Planner
I'm looking outside at the snow coming down, and thinking.... two more weeks and I'll be on the beach in Mexico for one of my clients weddings! Can't wait!
The Colorado mountains are one of the top destination wedding locations within the United States, but a lot of my clients are traveling beyond the borders to exotic places to say their I Do's.
There are wonderful locations abroad and many appealing things about destination weddings.
Some of the reasons couples choose destination weddings are:
- Because they will be surrounded by a smaller group of people, their closest friends and family.
- They can be less expensive than the full blown wedding in their hometown.
- They may like the idea of combining their wedding and honeymoon.
- My favorite aspect of destination weddings is how close everyone gets in those few days. No other type of wedding allows all the guests to gather several days prior to the event, to mingle in a casual setting, and really get to know each other. You get to have a 4 day wedding event, instead of a 4 hour! By the time everyone get's to the reception it's quite the celebration.
In planning a destination wedding there are so many things you need to think of and it can be challenging with language barriers and getting timely responses. Of course I strongly encourage you to hire a wedding planner who has experience in planning weddings abroad. The "wedding planners" on the properties are really facility coordinators and don't really help the way we would think they would. They are mostly responsible for booking your event, making sure the ceremony is set up, making a dinner reservation if it's all-inclusive, and that's about where their responsibilities end.
There are the regular big name hotels, boutique styles, and all-inclusive properties. At any of the big name hotels setting up a wedding is very similar to here, and you'll need to find most of the vendors on your own. The hotel has recommendations, but they can be pricey, so do your research online.
At most of the all-inclusive properties their wedding packages usually include the bouquet, the boutonniere, the ceremony site and officiant, dinner reservations at one of their sit-down restaurants, a bottle of champagne, and a small wedding cake. Sounds perfect! Well...yes and no...these are great for the smaller groups of say 10-15 people which is what they are really designed for. Note that the dinner reservation is just mixed in with the rest of the hotel guests, it's not a private event. If you have a larger group, and want all the festivities of a traditional wedding (dancing etc) you'll need to set up a private function which will be an additional cost (yes you'll need to pay for the bar and the food even though it's all-inclusive).
I think the biggest challenge for couples going abroad is knowing the right questions to ask the resorts, and that's where an experienced planner can really help. Realize that many resorts want to finalize the details of your wedding once you arrive on the property.....we generally try to get everything taken care of before you get there, so that there are no surprises. If you're planning it on your own, really push to get all the details ahead of time.
With so many fab places, how does one decide where to go?
I notice that here in Colorado we go to Mexico a lot because you get a lot for your money, and it's so easy to get to. You can hop on a plane in the morning and be on the beach in the afternoon. Most of the Caribbean and European locations you'll lose days just in travel. However, who minds when you get to your Italian Villa, Scottish Castle, or stunning views of the clear blue Caribbean waters?
Here are some of our favorite destinations and ones that we see requests for all the time:
- Mexico-Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum
- Costa Rica
- St. Lucia
- Virgin Islands
Whatever your destination keep your friends and families budgets in mind.
You and your guests will create some fantastic memories in whatever destination you choose!