24 Jan Destination Wedding…
Note: This article is based upon my personal experience, but remember every couple and every location is unique. Your experience may be different pending the country and location.
If you’ve been following Creative Purposes on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Periscope, then you know our first wedding of the year was in La Romana, Dominican Republic. That’s right, I got the chance to experience planning my first destination wedding, and it was nothing short of amazing. Starting 2016 off by leaving the cold Ohio weather has certainly been the highlight of my year thus far. If you’ve ever planned a destination wedding or you’re planning one now, after you finish reading, I’d like for you to share your experiences with me in the comments below.
Planning my first destination wedding was perfect because my sister-in-law (husband’s sister) and her fiancé gave me this opportunity when they hired me last year. They live in Alpharetta, Georgia and I live in Columbus, but the great part about destination weddings is that you can plan anyone’s virtually! Of course, there are a few other things that I include in my destination wedding planning package that may require my presence. I ended up traveling to Atlanta twice last year to check those items off my list.
Another reason this wedding was so special to us is because my husband is a pastor, so he got the chance to officiate his first wedding, which of course happened to be his sister’s. On Saturday I hopped on Periscope and shared 5 things I learned from planning my first destination wedding. In case you missed it, no worries…I have listed those bullets below. But make sure you’re following @CreatePurpose on Periscope because next time I may not feel so generous as to share via the blog…haha! Here’s what I shared:
- This first tip is for all of my fellow wedding planners and really any other wedding professional: Your client’s destination wedding is not your vacation. If you want a vacation, then stay a few days longer. Unlike in America where we schedule vendor meetings months in advance, you’re going to have these meetings two to three days prior to the wedding. More than likely your clients will want you there to sit in on all of the meetings in order to ensure they’re making the best decision. So make sure you’re prepared to arrive a few days before the wedding day. You’ll have to meet with the resort’s wedding coordinator to finalize all of the details in person. Your clients will have their food and cake tastings, and if they chose to go with a photographer recommended by the resort, then you will also have a sit down meeting with the photographer. It’s so easy to get distracted by the 86 degree weather, palm trees, and merengue playing in the background, but just remember why you’re there.
Okay wedding planners AND brides: Don’t freak out if you’re not getting a fast enough response from the wedding coordinator at the resort. Several times throughout our planning process, we would become seriously annoyed that we weren’t getting a response right away. But here’s what we learned: THEY. ARE. NOT. IN. AMERICA. Time is different. Cultures are different. Holidays may be different. You may even speak different languages. But most of all it’s a resort and they are busy!! Just make sure you do your part by clearly stating and documenting everything via email. Use bullet points and numbers so that they can easily understand and answer all of your questions without missing anything because you placed it in a huge paragraph. Make it easy for them to read. Listen- You are not the only one getting married there that month…that week…or even that day! Yes I said DAY!! After speaking to Yelissa (the photographer) once we arrived, she told us how she shoots weddings 7 days a week and sometimes 2-3 weddings a day!! And to top it off, they only have one lead wedding coordinator and an assistant coordinator. They’re literally running around all day for a wedding, but rest assure that things will turn out fine! In the states you’re solidifying so many different vendors and checking your lists off months in advance. However, for a destination wedding a lot of things will have to wait until you arrive…and that’s just the way it is.
- It may be cheaper to bring some of your own specialty items like designer linens or even chair sashes. Reece and Rick’s wedding took place in La Romana which is kind of in the jungle, so to speak. Most people vacation or get married in Punta Cana when in the Dominican Republic, but La Romana is a little far out. This means that in order for the resort to obtain certain decor items and even certain flowers, they would have to use vendors in Santo Domingo (the capitol of DR), which meant the price would be inflated. I happened to have the perfect silver sequin linen that I knew Reece would love for her king styled reception table. I packed it in my suit case and Viola! She didn’t have to worry about spending that extra money.
- Be prepared for some things to go wrong! We had really great internet service and Reece had lots of friends who couldn’t make it so she asked if I could periscope the ceremony for them. Of course we make the announcement via social media that we’ll be periscoping the wedding and we’re so excited that additional family and friends will be able to tune in..YAY!! Um…negative! I get to the location outside, pull up my periscope app, type in the title and go to start the broadcast and guess what happens?! It says the connection is too poor. Well that’s just peachy! Luckily, and oddly enough…the part of the beach where the reception took place had great service! So I was able to periscope all of the major and fun moments of their reception.
- Don’t under estimate the power of a rehearsal. You’re the planner, you know best. Even if the bride suggests that a rehearsal isn’t necessary, demand that a wedding rehearsal is your ritual! This is where I went wrong. You may think, “Oh there’s only one person in the wedding, we don’t need a full rehearsal.” Um, yes you do. So I actually DID DO a walk through with everyone involved. We went to the location and pointed out where the bride would be walking from in order to get to the cabana (where the ceremony would take place), but we didn’t go through a traditional rehearsal like I would normally do for big weddings in the states. So on the wedding day, (everything turned out fine regardless) being the perfectionist that I know how to be, I found small things that I could’ve prevented had we gone through a FULL REHEARSAL. Not only should you do a rehearsal but you should also consider doing a walk through of the entire resort with the group. For example, you’ll need to point out where the spa is for hair and makeup, the restaurants where the rehearsal dinner or family brunch will take place, what part of the beach the reception will be held. Remember, you’re on an island so you won’t always have reception or wifi…so make sure everyone knows where they should be at all times and how they should get there.**BONUS**
- TREAT YOURSELF. Okay I know in the beginning of this blog I yapped about how this isn’t your vacation and how it’s all about the couple. But once they’re married, make sure you get a chance to take in the beauty of the island. I know I did! I got a massage on the beach, went deep sea fishing, did Zumba on the beach, and just soaked up the awesome sun that I knew I wouldn’t see again until MAYBE June of this year.