Updated: Oct 23
I totally get it! Planning a destination wedding to a place you’ve never been to is challenging. How do you know you’ll like it? How can you be sure it will match your vision? Is the food up to your standards, what about the service, or the wedding locations?
This is why a pre-wedding planning trip is recommended and should be a part of your overall budget. Follow these tips to maximize your pre-wedding planning trip and make the best use of your time and resources.
TIP 1: Visiting a Destination
When choosing a destination for your wedding, prioritize safety, accessibility, and guest comfort. Ensure there are no recent travel warnings, political issues, or health concerns. Consider the feasibility of travel for all guests, especially those with specific needs.
Discover the must-see attractions, experiences, and sites that your destination has to offer. This will be part of what your guests may enjoy and you want them to create memories while celebrating with you.
If golf is on the list, find out your options that are nearby where you and your guests will be staying and ask about setting up a group.
Consider The Weather: Understand the climate of the destination and how it will be around the time of your planned wedding. Always have backup plans in case of bad weather.
Consider hosting additional events like a bachelor/bachelorette, a welcome party, or a farewell brunch. Check out locations in the area to host these events and enhance your guests' experience. They can also be held at the resort venue you choose as well.
Tip 2: Visiting The Resort Venue – What to Consider
When scouting for a resort wedding venue, several important factors must be considered. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
Location: Choose a location that aligns with your vision and is easily accessible to all your guests. If you can find a location that is within 30-45 minutes of the airport, that is ideal, but don’t let that be your sole criteria.
Ceremony & Reception Locations: Seeing ceremony and reception sites available at your resort or at an offsite venue is the number one decision to make on a pre-wedding planning trip. You need to be able to “see yourself” truly having the ceremony of your dreams there.
Capacity: Make sure the space is right for a group of your size and that the venue's capacity is suitable for both the ceremony and reception
Policies: Ask about the venue's policies on outside vendors, alcohol, decor, music and entertainment, catering, cake, accommodations, insurance, and security
Accessibility: Check the venue's policy on accessibility and parking situation. If you are inviting people who are more physically challenged, then choosing a location and resort that is easy to get around in, without a lot of hills or valleys, is preferable.
Indoor vs. Outdoor: Decide whether you want an indoor or outdoor wedding and consider the pros and cons of each option. Obviously, unless the weather is a factor, most people will have their ceremony and reception outside, that’s the main reason you are having a destination wedding however, there are times when you could have the beauty of an outdoor ceremony, with the comfort of a ballroom reception, out of the heat and humidity. It just depends on you.
NOTE: Make sure that the resort you choose does have quality spots for a backup plan if needed when weather is bad.
Your Guest Experience: The comfort and enjoyment of your guests is also a top priority area. Make sure that the resort you choose will have plenty to offer for all of your family and friends you are inviting to your wedding.
Tip 3: Meeting With The Onsite Wedding Team
One advantage of doing a pre-destination wedding visit is being able to meet with the onsite wedding team to see how you relate and communicate with them. Your comfort level of course is of utmost importance when working with a wedding team.
Here are some areas to consider during your visit to maximize the productivity of your meeting.
Prepare a list of questions that include inquiries about menu options, venue capacity, and decor choices.
Be receptive to suggestions and recommendations from the onsite team. They possess valuable experience and knowledge about the venue and the local area, which can prove invaluable in making informed decisions. With that said, make sure the team is actually listening to your concerns and needs. If they aren’t now, when they are looking for your business, they really won’t be once you’re signed, sealed, and delivered.
Take a comprehensive tour of the venue alongside the team. This will give you a clearer understanding of the space and how it can best be utilized for your wedding.
Communicate your wedding vision and preferences. Collaborate with them to develop a plan that aligns with your desires and suits your budget. Again, make sure they are listening to you, not just pushing their own agenda.
Ensure that your expectations are transparently communicated. Any special requests or requirements should be clearly articulated to the onsite team.
Your meeting should make you feel like you can collaborate effectively with the onsite team to make well-informed decisions for your wedding, resulting in a memorable and enjoyable experience for you and your guests.
NOTE: Unfortunately the reality is that many of the resort wedding venues have high turnover in the onsite wedding staff. It’s very possible that the team you start with, won’t be the team you end up with as you get closer to your wedding. With that said, I always advise couples to consider hiring a destination wedding consultant to help them with every aspect of their destination wedding, including keeping in constant communication with the onsite team, and any changes that may occur, so that you don’t have to constantly be trying to keep up with it all. A destination wedding designer will be able to take great notes and quickly jump in to make sure your wedding vision is going to happen, no matter what changes happen with the onsite team.
Tip 4: Turn Your Pre-Wedding Planning trip into a Mini Getaway Experience
While a pre-wedding planning trip can be busy, try to enjoy a little break while there. Take at least one day to relax on the beach, sip some margs, and rejuvenate. The details of your wedding will come together and you won’t plan everything in an entire weekend, so relax!
Enjoy your visit and come back excited and energetic to make your final decision and start planning your destination wedding!
Pro tip: have some professional pics taken while there so you can send out the save-the-date cards with a photo of you two at the destination! How cool would that be?
Your pre-wedding planning trip could be an important chapter in your destination wedding journey. This is where your wedding vision has a chance to become reality. These tips will help you make the most out of your trip, from choosing the perfect venue to connecting with the onsite team to embracing the destination’s culture. Your trip can help you plan and execute a destination wedding that leaves a lasting impression on you and all of your wedding guests.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and want to ensure you cover all your bases with your destination wedding planning, Or you would like to do a pre-planning destination wedding trip, I’d be delighted to chat with you. Here is a link to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation - no strings attached!