Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting Started: Destination Weddings

We love planning destination weddings and the fun it brings to the happy couple and their loved ones. When considering a destination wedding, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Location, location, location: most often destination weddings are a way for the couple to keep things simple. You can celebrate your nuptials with close family and friends, often times save a ton of money, and combo your honeymoon. With that being said, stateside locales like San Diego, Palm Springs, and Hawaii are great as you can usually find great airfare and package deals for cheaper than European, Caribbean, and other destinations. Check out hurricane or "off" weather seasons, too. You don't want to have an amazing outdoor celebration planned and have to move inside!

The fine print: Most couples we talk to have no clue that you need a beach permit for a ceremony, no matter how large or small. Also consider what type of permit (if any) your reception venue requires. Many cities have noise ordinances that require music is turned off early; sometimes at 10 pm! Insurance is also a big one; on Maui you need a $1 million insurance policy (we always recommend our client pick up a policy anyway, but read the fine print so you know what it needs to cover).

Extra costs: Many destination event venues offer "packages" that we usually urge clients to really think about. What if you don't want pink roses or the in-house photographer or want more than 100 photos? Often times negotiating items within pre-set wedding packages is doable. We did this with one wedding in Mexico; we flew in a photographer so were able to remove the resort's photo fee and barter for more cake and other items. If your venue allows for bringing in outside vendors, this is often times a benefit that will save.

Privacy: Remember that when you get married in a public place (on the beach, in a park, or an open air venue like a resort), you might have rented the space but it won't stop gawkers from walking by and stopping to watch your vows. Though we always do our best to curb people from standing too close, you really have to keep in mind that you can't make people leave the beach so part of your crowd might be watching in Speedos! Are there a handful of weddings going on during your wedding? We have steered clients away from venues that act as wedding factories and have six weddings going on at once (no kidding!); it takes away from the magical feeling of your own.... While most venues are really good about this, be wary.
Finally, remember that like with all wedding planning, the process should be fun. Especially when you're considering a destination event, you need to think about what cool activities are nearby for your guests. Can they get away without a rental car? Are there free snorkeling, boating, or other activities at the resort? Your guests will not only love celebrating with you but they'll appreciate the thought you put into planning a fun experience for them.

As always, happy planning!

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