There are few points that could help you understand whether or not a wedding away is really for you.
Author:Kelly Neonakis-Morash, Travel Expert, Destination Wedding Specialist
I know exactly what you are envisioning – a gossamer white veil blowing gently in the wind, the scent of tropical flowers and coconut oil wafting through the air, your guests smiling sweetly as you float effortlessly down the sandy aisle towards your future husband. I know because I WAS a Destination Wedding bride, and I had the very same vision! Since my own wedding, I have been lucky enough to send a lot of happy couples away to tie the knot in tropical destinations. My experience has taught me that there are few need-to-know points that could help you understand whether or not a wedding away is really for you. Here are some character types and the various concerns they will face:
- The Control Freak: Now I don’t mean this as an insult – I AM ONE! Not in a bad way, but in that “I don’t want any surprises and don’t mess with my vision” kind of way. Aren’t we all? The issue with being a CF and choosing a destination wedding is that you truly DO have to let go of the reins a bit and trust that both your travel agent and the wedding coordinators on site are going to do everything possible to make your day perfect. And for those of us who expect and appreciate daily updates, this is just not possible and/or necessary with many of the more popular destination wedding resorts. They DO have everything under control. They have weddings down to a science – and even though it may feel like your world is going to end if you don’t know all of the different colours of chair sashes currently on hand at the property, the wedding coordinators on site will respond on their time. Oh, they WILL respond, but as we all know from experiencing a Caribbean holiday, NOBODY is in a rush! Keep in mind that perhaps that very same wedding coordinator is tending to another bride’s vision for her wedding that is actually happening that day. When it is your wedding, you will also appreciate his/her full attention. Trust me when I say that your requests are being noted, but more importantly you will have an opportunity to sit down with your wedding coordinator on arrival and go over all of the finite details of the wedding. Just breathe….it’s all being taken care of.
- The Uber Planner: This bride is the one who wishes to plan EVERY single moment of the entire week for the group. I understand. I truly do! But keep in mind that this is a vacation for your guests as well as your wedding. Allow them the luxury of some free time to wander off and take in excursions or just unwind on their own. Many brides feel that the group should also eat together for almost every meal and this can become daunting when it comes time to try to reserve those a la cartes for all of your guests. Not to mention that some resorts may charge for any special meals when you refer to them as “Welcome Dinner” or “Rehearsal Dinner”. My suggestion is to quickly locate a central meeting place: the lobby bar, an outdoor terrace and let your guests know that you will be meeting here each evening at a specific time to discuss the next day and share tales of the day’s adventures. Try to make it a time just prior to or after dinner in the evening. Of course always make it optional! This is a way for any guests who DO wish to share activities to make arrangements without having to run around a large resort trying to locate everyone. Planning one excursion for the entire group is a lovely way to thank them for joining you. Many couples will include a note in the Save the Dates, itinerary or Invites saying that the guests are invited to join them on a catamaran excursion – details to follow. Then just contact your travel agent to book the excursion of your choice. One couple I worked with sent out a multiple choice excursion card to all of their guests – whichever excursion received the most votes is the one they selected. Have fun with it and give your guests options.
- The Substituter: This is the bride who insists on changing every little detail of the packaged weddings offered until it no longer resembles the package. Some brides will even create their own wedding ceremony venue on the resort. Again, this is your wedding and I do understand – but keep in mind that any deviations from the resorts wedding packages will almost certainly result in higher cost to you. This is the perfect reason to thoroughly investigate the packages offered at each resort – not only the resorts themselves – until you find one that really does fit your vision as closely as possible.
- The Martha Stuart: This is the bride who really is quite talented and wants to put her own touches on the wedding. Again, not a bad thing at all – until that same bride is bringing suitcases of extra décor down to the resort to complete her grand vision. Keep in mind that extra luggage can be quite expensive and even if you do bring down your own décor it may not end up where you had wanted it to be. (This happened to me at my wedding reception!) Less really is more when it comes to destination wedding décor – after all, you have the lovely Caribbean sea and sand as a backdrop – what could be lovelier?
I truly could go on, but I don’t want to sound negative when there are SO many reasons to pick a Destination Wedding. Here are just a few:
- First and maybe foremost is the fact that the cost of a Destination Wedding is a fraction of the cost of putting on a wedding here at home with the same inclusions.
- Sharing a week with friends and family is the perfect way to introduce two extended families to one another – and where better than in a sunny climate with everything included? The bride and groom can relax and truly enjoy their guests in an unhurried, care-free atmosphere.
- Depending on the time of year that you book your group, you are almost guaranteed lovely weather for your wedding day. Let’s face it, we can’t say that here in Canada! Keep in mind that it DOES rain down south from time to time. Be sure to research the best times to travel to avoid the rainy or hurricane season. Prices will be lower during this time, but so will your chances of a guaranteed sunny wedding day!
- You can combine your wedding and honeymoon! Many couples opt to extend their wedding week and stay an additional week either at the same property or at an alternate resort. This gives the couple that much-need time alone to start making memories of their own.
As a former Destination Wedding bride, I truly could go on and on with advice. Be sure to select a wedding gown that fits the venue – light fabric, not too heavy. Rethink those Manola’s when it comes time to consider your wedding shoes – especially if you are getting married on the beach. Remember, your feet will swell in the heat of the day and none of us wants to look like we are grimacing in pain in our wedding photos! Meet with your hairdresser at home to discuss options for a humid, possibly windy climate. Practice some hairstyles at home before you take those photos down to the resort hairdresser. Bring your own hair appliances and always have a plan ‘B’. Be prepared to change venues quickly in the event of bad weather – even with all of our best efforts, Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and you must be prepared to be flexible and toss away the vision of being married on the beach for a less windy or wet option.
The most important piece of advice I can give to any couples considering a Destination Wedding is to RELAX. One of the biggest reasons couples choose a wedding away is for that stress-free feeling. Go with that….and remember that the small things that brides seem to fret about will not be what you remember about your wedding day. It will be the love you feel for your new spouse and the wonderful time you had with friends and family.
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