We can’t stress this enough. The best destination weddings are orchestrated by a local consultant to help you with everything from logistics to bureaucracy. These professionals know the area, the vendors, and the culture. We recommend enlisting a planner who uses a contract. By doing this you are clear on what services are available to you and what you can expect from the working relationship. Your planner will be your right-hand during the planning and when you arrive, so make sure you are comfortable with them. They should support you with logistical advice as well as ideas and assistance on the execution of the event.
The best destination weddings usually include an advance planning trip by the couple. The trip answers questions on what can and cannot be done. Get the most from it by going with your vision and communicate it to your wedding planner. Meet with all the proposed vendors and explain your plans to them in order to know what they can offer; this will help you decide who to hire. Take magazine clippings, print-outs, color swatches, pictures - any visuals that can help you illustrate how you want the day to look. Make sure to get an understanding of the geography of the area and the logistics of the events including lodging, guest activities, etc.
Get a list of vendors from your wedding planner in advance of your planning trip. Review their site and / or portfolio carefully, but also request references to ensure you are clear on how they work. Every vendor may be fantastic, but their style may not be in line with yours, so do your research carefully. When you visit the area schedule meetings to talk through your vision and understand their style. Do a tasting with caterers and bakers that includes both food and drink. Another option is to bring your own vendors. But, make sure to discuss the logistical aspects of this with your wedding planner to ensure you can source all the vendors needs. Extraordinary Weddings has helped with this from photographers to florists. We provide recommendations on sourcing things like flowers and vases as well as answering logistical questions on photos. If you do plan to bring your own vendor(s) make sure to factor that into your budget.
It can get difficult to navigate the legalities of marrying in another country. Make sure to handle the paperwork well in advance so there are no last minute surprises. In example, if the bride and groom are from different countries a legally binding ceremony may require a lot of documentation. This is something that is best handled with professional assistance. A wedding planner specializing in destination weddings can ensure that all the legal requirements are in order as well as how and when to provide the paperwork. In example, in Italy it is possible to marry in a venue managed or owned by the Town Hall. These can be incredible locations like,castles, lakeside villas and sea view terraces.
Communicate your date and location to guests early. Request an early RSVP date so you have an accurate headcount well in advance. This will help with travel needs, like accommodations, special requirements for children or senior guests. In terms of accommodations, make sure you have an understanding of public transport and proximity to airports and train stations. Some parts of Italy have poor public transport, which means your guests will have to be independent and hire cars and / or drivers. You may also consider including transfers in your budget. The transfers can include to and from airports, during activities like a Welcome Dinner, wedding day transportation, etc.
Make sure your wedding planner makes the cost breakdown transparent. A breakdown of each item helps you understand where your money is going. At Extraordinary Weddings we itemize each service to help the couple stay on top of their spending. Your wedding planner can help you with this if they know your total budget. They can advise you on the venues and services that meet your needs. It’s impossible to compare prices from one country to another, and even those of Italy because many times service prices differ. In different locations some things are going to cost more while others cost less.
Finally, make sure you know how to best travel with your dress. One of the most stressful things for even the best destination weddings is getting the bride’s perfect dress to the location unharmed. Then, getting it properly pressed. We spoke with Little White Dress bridal shop in Denver, Colo. for tips for brides traveling with their dress.
Director of Marketing Kelly Leggett said the most important thing is to ask the bridal shop where the dress was purchased how to care for and prepare the gown since that will depend on the fabric and embellishments. “Some gowns, like heavier ones, can be pressed before travel and will still look great after using a hand steamer, which can be easily packed,” she said. “But others, like chiffon or tulle, will likely need to be pressed or heavily steamed upon arrival at the destination because they will get wrinkled during travel. We tell our brides to ask their hotel, venue or wedding planner if they have a large steamer or if they can recommend a local source for pressing / steaming.”
The best destination weddings take a lot of planning and research. But, it’s worth it. And, if you find the right wedding planner and vendors most of the planning will be fun, not work. Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way.
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