Believe the hype
You decide to have a tropical destination wedding and you are ready to do your research. You create your first list of destinations and resorts. You read all the reviews on line. Now you are even more confused. You then decided to look directly at the resorts websites and now every resort looks 5 star and better than the next. The reality is they are not. The problem is that even a 3 star resort with a good marketing team can look like they are the best resort in the destination. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What location would you like your ceremony in?
- Where would you like your welcome, cocktails and reception?
- Is there something special that you are looking for at the resort such as a sushi bar, swim up bar, free spa treatment, 24 hour room service, do they serve Johnny Walker Black, or do they have mini bars in the rooms.
- What type of wedding packages does the resort offer?
Now that you have some answers you can contact the resorts directly and request this information. You can also go to google images and look at real pictures. Or what we suggest is that you find an experienced travel planner that specializes in destination weddings. They can tell you the reality of each resort you are interested and maybe suggest a few that they have experience in working with.
You have narrowed the list and decided to email the resorts directly and ask more questions. It has been 3 days and you still have not heard from them other than the automated email telling you how important your wedding is and they will be back to you in 24 hours. You decide to call the resort and you are transferred to a voicemail and you leave your information, but a few days go by and no one calls you back. Don’t get frustrated as this can be the norm at many resorts. The problem is in many cases the person you want to talk with might just be the same person that manages the weddings at the resort. They will respond to you but it just takes longer then you might expect.
Plan on a faraway expensive resort
When you are thinking of the destination to host your wedding first you should think about the guests you are inviting. You should think about where they live, how long they can take off of work to attend your wedding and what you think most guests can afford to spend. Many times couples think about exotic locations such as St. Lucia or Tahiti or Hawaii, which are all amazing places but they are all very far from most guests and expensive to get to. A few general rules:
- The average guest will spend 4 nights at a destination wedding
In 2018 Riviera Maya Mexico, Cancun Mexico, Punta Cana and Jamaica were the most popular locations to have a tropical wedding at. This could be due to the fact that they are all 3-4 hours flying time from most locations in the US, have many all inclusive resorts and are the most affordable locations. In the past we had a client invite 300 people to a wedding in Spain and everything except the airfare would be paid for. Only 40 guests attended because the flights were 8 hours and over $1000 pp and the trip was at least 5 days.
You might want to keep the exotic location as the place for your honeymoon.
Pick a resort that is to inexpensive
An inexpensive resort typically means lower quality. They may require bracelets or wristbands for your guests that are based on the type of room they book. These bracelets can control, what pools they can swim at, how many towels they can have, the restaurants they eat at and the bars they can drink at. Low priced resorts typically serve low quality food and mostly will have the majority of their restaurants as buffets and regulate how many times the guests can eat a full service restaurant. Lower priced resorts will typically serve brands of alcohol at the bars that you have never heard of. Are you dreaming of having a Cosmo with Grey Goose? If so forget it at the lower priced resorts. It should always be your goal to exceed your guests expectations for the host resort. A typical destination wedding is planned 9 months in advance. This provides your guests 6-8 months to pay for their trip. If a 5 star resort costs $200 per person more than the 3 star the $200 will not matter when the guests have a bad experience and they forget they saved money but might have gotten sick from the bad drinks and food or had to deal with bad service.
I highly suggest that you don’t plan your destination wedding without the help of a travel profession such as Vacationeeze that has over 35 years experience and specializes in destination weddings. A qualified travel professional knows the wedding teams at each resort you might be interested. They visit the resorts on a regular basis and can provide you insider tips. They know which resorts are more hype than reality. They don’t charge for their services and will allow you to be the VIP Bride and Groom and not have to be the logistics manager for all of your guests. Here are the typical services that an experience Travel Consultant will provide
- They will interview you to learn more about your wedding dreams, budgets, your guests and any special requests you might have.
- They will typically suggest several resorts they feel will be a good match for you and your guests
- They will get pricing for the rooms, check with their contact at the resort for availability and provide you the wedding package information with perks from the resort
- They will negotiate on your behalf to get you perks such as free rooms, free upgrades, resort credits or coupon and in some cases even free ceremonies, receptions and private cocktail parties
- They will create a brochure or wedding website for you and your guests
- They will work with each of your guests to answer questions and arrange their travel to your wedding.
- They will provide you updated reports of who is attending and work with you to make sure things are happening on an easy timeline
Most importantly they will make planning a destination wedding stress free and fun!