This is the 4th Blog in a series on Destination Weddings.
To review or read blog 1, 2, 3 here are the links:
Now that you have your destination location, your Wedding Planning and your venue(s) and the Save the Date cards have gone out indicating how to locate your Wedding Website. You need to encouraging them to check back frequently for updates. This will be the major communication tool with your guests. Now put your tour coordinator hat on.
Travel- Airfare, Accommodations, Activities all need to be added to your Wedding Website.
Airfare– If you have a large group coming from the same location then I recommend you use a Travel Agent to set up a group airline package with rental car. They can coordinate with the group and may even assist individuals in other parts of the country. Resist the need to micro-manage travel. Between those that travel with limitations of air miles, time off work, extended vacation plans – just put out the information and let it go.
Accommodations– This a another area where you need to trust the guest travelers. If there is a resort or hotel near-by you can usually get a special rate for a block of rooms. A block requires that a minimum number of rooms be booked by a certain date to get that rate. I suggest reserving the block for a period of 4 -5 days prior to the wedding date and a day or two following. I would do some quick searches right away starting with VRBOs, AirBnB, and HomeAway for other rental options. If you choose to assist your immediate family and the wedding party simply send them the links you find. If your Wedding Planner is willing to check out these other locations or suggest a hotel- great!
Activities- This is where the destination wedding shines above all weddings. In my experience, what you do with this area makes all other weddings pale in comparison. My experience in South Africa was far more then a celebration of a marriage. It was a bonding of family and friends growing in relationship and making lifetime memories. These loved ones are drawing together from around the world because they all have you in common- Magic Happens. They likely don’t know one another, but instantly they are thrown together in a strange place and you now have the opportunity to set a foundation of unity for your friends and family. The more (optional) group activities you plan the more the bonding will happen. You are not responsible to pay for the activity but I recommend a schedule be put out on your Wedding Website. Start the organized activities at about 4 days prior to the wedding date. A group dinner is important (I don’t like the term rehearsal dinner). In South Africa we went wine tasting, had lunches, dinners and site-seeing tours. Last year in Grand Cayman we went on a totally amazing Stingray City boat tour and in St. Thomas we met as a group at the beach, had many group meals and parties, experienced wave runners and local tours. As the bond of friendship grows with your destination guests you are creating a lifelong foundation of folks that now know each other, will likely see each other again and be excited to join together for other celebrations during your married lifetime.
For this reason yes, I feel a destination wedding is worth it. It isn’t easy but look at it this way; You are giving your loved ones a reason to travel, the opportunity to make new friends and a lifetime experience as they gather round to bless your marriage. It will be a small group and the elderly will not likely attend. What I did for my daughter was to have a local reception here in Gig Harbor a little later. A good option to consider.
In the next blog I will show you more details of the South African Wedding I attended . The professional photos came out yesterday and are stunning. I apologize that this blog was more wordy then usual but I feel is the heart of the topic.
Here are pictures of pre-wedding group activities in South Africa.
Here are pictures of pre-wedding group activities in Grand Cayman 2016
Me with the Mother of the bride Here are pictures of pre-wedding group activities in St Thomas 2009.