Today is more like a do and don’t list than a blog. These are things that I learned from my own adventures as a Destination Wedding bride. Some may apply to you, some may not, but hopefully every one of you will pick up a tip or two that will help you and/or a friend in the future.
- If you don’t know where you want to get married and can’t decide based on your Travel Agents recommendations and the information on the internet, visit some hotels. Your travel agent will set up meetings with you and the wedding coordinators and then at the sites you’ll probably be able to witness a wedding or two. If you can’t go, send your travel agent on a fact-finding mission. We are your wedding coordinators until you find the hotel for your dream wedding. I don’t know a single Destination Wedding specialist that wouldn’t go to a destination for a day or two and get you pictures of properties.
- If you do know where you are going to get married, it gives you an opportunity to scope out locations for your ceremony and reception. Also it gives you a chance to get to know the staff. Danny and I made friends with the bar tenders at two of the bars, the head concierge, and the beach butler. When we returned to the property, we were able to get liquor that wasn’t stocked in the bar, we had 3 beach beds reserved for our group, along with a dedicated beach butler to get whatever my group wanted!
- Figure out what is most important to you. Whatever it costs, if you can afford it, make it happen. My one regret is the photography. It was the most important thing for me and the one thing I wasn’t thrilled with. One of my previous brides had a friend do her photography for the wedding. Her friend was a professional photographer and the pictures were amazing and fun. My photographer got flustered when we were running late and didn’t really do a good job. If your big thing is your officiant, bring your officiant. We brought our rabbi from home and were married the way we wanted to be married. If your big thing is hair and make up, see if a friend can learn how to do what you want and make it happen on your wedding day. The list goes on and on, but you get my drift. If there is something that will make your experience perfect, do what you can to make it happen.
- Repeat – make nice with the staff!!! This is the crew that will make or break your experience and that of your guests. Hand out a few tips, talk to them about their children… and who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend or two in the process. We still talk to our beach butler, Israel, on Facebook all the time!
- Dress for the weather. If I had been thinking, I would have put bobby-pins in to hold my veil in place during the ceremony. I think I am the only bride whose veil has blown off of their head in the first 5 minutes of the ceremony! It was really funny and a memory I wouldn’t trade for anything (a big big big thanks to Mike for catching my veil and saving the day!), but you have to know what to expect and make sure you plan accordingly.
- Ask for help. Unless this is a resort you have been to repeatedly, you can’t know all of the ins and outs of the property. You will have a wedding coordinator assigned to you by the resort most likely… use that person. Use your travel agent. Use your friends who have been there. Use everyone! I didn’t know if I should recommend my guests to go on a snorkeling excursion, so I asked. The beach isn’t the best at the hotel I chose, so I sent the snorkelers on an excursion to see their fishes!
- Get stressed out over the little details. If it’s not major, sometimes you just have to smile and go with the flow. My flowers were actually completely wrong. I found that out while I was getting my hair done (45 minutes late). My first reaction was to freak out (I’m a Leo, we do that). Once I took a deep breath and told my Maid of Honor what was wrong, she got Daphne (the wedding concierge) and they figured out a solution! Actually my incorrect flowers were a huge hit and they look simply stunning in pictures!
- Forget to make use of your bridal party. If there is one or ten, they are there to make sure you don’t have to worry about anything. When we were running late, my Maid of Honor is the one who dealt with Miroslava (the on-site wedding coordinator) so that I had time for at least a few pictures before the ceremony. The girls are the ones who ran around the hotel whenever I forgot something or needed something additional. Word of caution – don’t over-do it!
- Plan a big off-site expedition (if you are planning your wedding at an all-inclusive resort) unless you really expect your people to be movers and doers. Let your guests know that there are options for sightseeing, but don’t expect them to all go out and see and do. We found that a couple of people went to the natural park nearby and a couple of people went snorkeling but the majority wouldn’t leave the beach beds long enough to see anything. To our family and friends this was a relaxing, forced vacation! Everyone thanked us for that!