The Journey...Planning a Destination Wedding
My husband and I planned a destination wedding to Puerto Rico. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing. All we really knew was that we wanted a very intimate and private ceremony with only those closest to us present. This is what we learned along the way;
It's not going to be perfect, but it's going to be okay. My husband grabbed someone else's suitcase the minute we landed at our destination, our centerpieces didn't arrive until after the wedding, my bustle broke, my first glance was mysteriously cancelled, and we almost had a wedding crasher. But it was all OK.
First of all do set a budget, but know where your wiggle room is. It is always hard to stay on budget when planning a wedding, but a destination wedding throws in some extra curve balls. Make sure you and your fiance have established your must have items as well as what you may need to let go of. How many $20 taxi rides could you possibly take within a few days? You'd be surprised!
Items lost or damaged in transit
Bottled water and additional meals
Tips- vendors as well as meals and hotel services
Accommodations and meals for vendors
Missed or cancelled flights
Time as we know it
Time is simply not linear while wedding planning. Everything is all over the place. You feel you have tons of time, and then moments later you realize you might be incredibly behind. There will be days where you feel ahead of the game...those are rare.
It's common when planning a destination wedding to hear “oh they're on island time.” My dad told me this 50% of the time while I was attempting to secure our venue. The other 50% of the time he was panicking right along side me. Everything hinged on this one piece, including hotel rooms and flights.
The truth is, no matter where you are planning a wedding, they will be on some different time. Maybe it's island time and you feel like no one ever gets back to you. Maybe it's a high-paced environment and if you can't decide quickly enough your date could be lost. This would happen even locally, the real issue is the lack of flexibility to just book an appointment, or- you know- 12 appointments. You have to get an immense amount of work done over the phone. If you are only planing to take one or two trips to the location where you will be married, you likely want your venue to be secured beforehand.
First Things First
Select venues for your big day that are located in an area you will be able to get to with ease. Lugging that wedding gown through an airport will be enough of an undertaking, you can quote me on that. Make sure any venues that you consider are accessible from hotel venues that will be affordable and safe for your guests.
There are vendors you will want to explore if you plan to take a trip to the area during your wedding planning process, however certain things should be nailed down prior to this trip. You will want to schedule your trip based on the availability of at least the following vendors:
Take a Planning Trip
You and your fiance may not both be able to make the trip together, but do whatever works for you. It's best to not go it alone especially if you will be picking any vendors such as your bakery. Take your maid of honor or a family member if possible. I chose to go with both my mom and mother-in-law as they would be noticing and managing details on the big day that I would simply not be on top of. I also wanted to make sure I didn't make all of the decisions for my fiance on my own.
Map it Out
We are fortunate enough to live in world where we carry maps in our pockets. Use these tools to the best of your advantage. While you are home target your search for additional vendors whom are localized around your main venue. Keep track of where they are in relation to your central point in order to plan out your time in the area. If any vendor is far from this area make sure you plan to visit them at either the beginning or end of a day as well as when you will not be at risk of missing any set appointments.
While it is best to keep the vendors you must visit relatively close to your venue, there are cases in which this may not be possible. You may need to make a visit to a licensing agency. This isn't a situation where you will have options.
Make sure to research local holidays or seasonal vendor closings that may be different in your chosen destination than they are at home. Locations that are seasonal in their tourism may be shut down at certain times of the year. Locations with a cruise terminal often close down at certain times of the week when a ship is not in port.
Stick to Your Guns
Of course your fiance just told his mom he hates all the bakeries you picked out...no the reality is he probably said he didn't care. Don't let anyone push you around on or while planning your big day. Everyone is so wound up, particularly as many details may be sight unseen. I had people trying to alter my wedding location from the moment we announced a destination wedding. It wasn't that they didn't want to travel, they just maybe had a different vacation spot in mind. Make sure that anything that matters to you happens. When delegating tasks choose individuals you can trust with the tasks the are given.
You're a Team Now
Yes you and your fiance are a team now, but these two families becoming one are also a team. We had 26 people at our wedding. Do you know what that translates to? Thanksgiving...
At a destination wedding you wind up narrowing your guest list to individuals whom are closest to you. These are not people who will ever go years without seeing each other again because of you. Do your best to nurture these relationships. Set up a couple of dinners and casual gatherings for everyone to get to know each other, if possible.
Embrace the little things along the way both during your planning and during your wedding. Our family time in Puerto Rico led to many memories we never could have choreographed. We experienced horseback riding adventures and found ourselves in a literal party taxi. The day before our wedding all of the guys had to go buy new centerpieces without me. Talk about delegating, trust,and leaving some wiggle room in your budget!
Make sure you remember to book a little time just for you and your spouse after the big day, even if you plan to take a honeymoon later. Yes you've taken too much time off already or the whole family can't stay, but the two of you deserve a little time to just breathe in whatever beautiful environment you chose to say I Do.