So you have decided to have a destination wedding…
You better have at least a 1 year lead-time.
Normally I would say the venue is first priority, but with a destination wedding your Wedding Planner & the Venue selection go hand-in-hand. So get your key person on-board first. They should:
- Speak both English and the native language.
- Know the culture, people and places of the region.
- Know the typical weather patterns, the holidays and recommend the best month for the area.
- Have lived in the area quite a while doing this job- assuring in 1 year they are still with you.
Locking down a destination venue will consume you because wedding marketing is BIG business with grand photos, vague pricing and selective amenities that can be misleading. You also may miss opportunities for a private unknown venue. So now you see the importance of hiring your wedding planner and putting your research into hiring them from the get-go. Not only will they see first-hand the reality of the venue but the possibilities and will assess the ease of working with management.
Tips on picking a destination Wedding Planner-
- >Don’t use a friend if you want to stay friends. Friends may recommend planners- but don’t simply go with that one recommendation. You must check using other sources.
- >Venues can make recommendations- but quality caterers and DJ’s also are in the know, so look for advice from these pro’s. The trail of weddings they have serviced will lead back to the weddings and the planner they used.
- When you hear a reoccurring name or company you are on track- you can simply email them at this point asking for referrals for any “out of country” weddings they have done- don’t interview them yet. Do your research.
- Next, start your internet search in an effort to find the weddings the recommended planner(s) are connected to- venue, photographer, vendors used, the name of the photographer on the photos. (Social Media sites, Google, Yelp, sites with real people saying real things)
- Again- call the venue or a vendor the planner used of no less then 2 weddings they have done and get an opinion of their work.
- If you find the bride or groom contact that would be your next check-point. If you are lucky to speak to a bride or groom ask about the planners knowledge, connections and service and if the planner stayed within their budget.
- Once you have heard personal opinions from venues, caterers and DJ’s, or the actual bride or groom- narrow it down to 2-3 planners.
- Now, time to call the candidates- formulate your questions; Do not totally base your decision on price. A good planner, will save you much money in the long run and will work within your budget. You also want to be sure this person will still be in business when your date arrives, so longevity is good.
- Your interaction (a real conversation- not email) with be your introduction to their:
- Negotiation skills (with their pricing)
- Plan to work within your budget
- Ability to match your vision
- Follow-through and follow-up
- Up-front organization to gather your information (lists/timeline/photos/ websites)
- Group activity planning is extra- ask ahead about this type of service.
Again- this is my basic recommendations from my personal observations-
- The wedding I am attending in South Africa:
- The groom grew up in the area.
- The bride has lived here several years.
- The bride & groom choose their own venue. (which is a story in itself!)
- They have many friends to help.
- A good friend is her wedding planner, and they are still good friends!
- Here are pictures of the venue which is a GIANT private home on the beach