I was asked to speak before our local Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) about destination wedding planning. I prepared my first ever PowerPoint presentation and was pleasantly surprised at how easy and enjoyable this experience turned out to be. Even though the night of the meeting was cold and rainy, attendance was higher than usual.
The meeting was held at the Westin Galleria in Edina and our gracious hostess, Julie Broder helped to make the evening perfect with fabulous foods and pleasant accommodations. I learned quite a bit about their new hotel and have it on my radar as a preferred venue.
Since 2006 Fete Perfection has steadily grown in the destination wedding market having successfully planned and coordinated our first destination wedding at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN – yes Grand View qualifies as a destination since the distance is over 150 miles which required 3 hours of travel, plus everyone was from out of town.
Since that very first wedding we have learned an awful lot about destination weddings and hopefully what I have to share will inspire you to either jump into this growing market or if you are a bride, plan your own destination wedding – with the help of Fete Perfection, of course!
Here is my best advice which applies to brides as well as planners:
- Scouting locations is a must. Don’t rely on websites – they are biased and don’t tell the whole story.
- Contact the local Convention and Visitors Bureau for venue recommendations, assistance in securing discounted accommodations during your travels, connect with members who are happy to offer personally guided tours while visiting locations.
- When conducting your scouting trip, stay at least one night in each hotel being considered as your “host hotel” to observe the hotel from a guest perspective rather than just a 30 minute walk-through.
- Read online reviews of the properties being considered. Trip Advisor and Hotels all have reviews on their websites. Trip Advisor tends to have more comprehensive reviews, but check out both.
- Contact a trusted travel agent for their first hand experience – part of their business as a travel expert is attending Familiarization Tours of dozens of properties every year.
- Contact a local ABC member for advice and recommendations. Other ABC members are usually very cooperative with each other and willing to share information with colleagues.
- Get married during the week and avoid the weekend – rental fees and minimums are less expensive than on Saturdays, the most popular day to marry. My motto “when you are on vacation, everyday is a Saturday”
- Consider bringing a local photographer to your destination wedding, especially one who is trying to break into the destination market. Your photographer may be wiling to discount their usual pricing since they do not usually shoot mid-week weddings.
- Purchase wedding cancellation insurance to protect against unforeseen weather emergencies, illness, accident or other reasons events that prevent the wedding from taking place…cold feet however is not covered.
- Purchase trip/travel insurance which will cover lost luggage, canceled flights, rescheduled flights, inability to travel due to illness or injury or weather related delays/cancellations.
- At the risk of sounding redundant, hire an experienced destination wedding planner – they will more than pay for themselves in terms of reliable recommendations, negotiated contracts, securing complimentary upgrades and their ability to save time and stress from the long-distance unknowns of destination weddings.