The 5 most common mistakes planning a destination wedding.
Some of the most common mistakes that couples overlook are ones that a professional wedding planner already has experienced.
- Not Hiring a Wedding Planner. Weddings take a great deal of planning so it’s important to search for the right fit for your needs, whether you need partial planning, full planning, or day-of-event details management. Hiring a wedding planner that is knowledgeable is important, but the key is getting one that also knows the destination well. If the planner has years in a destination, it’s likely that the planner has a big book of professional providers that can fit various budgets, and has built relationships with hotels, resorts, and private homes.
Tip: There is an incredible amount of wedding planners in the Riviera Maya in a wide range of pricing when it comes to their consulting and/or planning fees. Many planners will charge a fee based on the number of guests and experience. When you are looking for a destination wedding planner, ensure that the planner speaks the same language or will understand what you envision, has a strong base in the area, solid reviews or references, and can offer customization without hiring added outside providers. Hiring a one-stop-shop, multi-specialist planner, is a wise choice that can execute a seamless and memorable event.
- Not having a Contingency Plan. The most overlooked element in planning a destination wedding is to ensure that the location has covered areas or protection against bad weather, with space for all guests. If it doesn’t, plan on incorporating expenses for tents and structures in your overall budget. I’ve seen and heard couples fall in love with sites without having a plan “B,” in place. Days before the event, guests were freaking out because the weather forecasted showers. Proper scouting and planning ensures that the floor plans for plan “A,” or plan “B,” are well communicated and designed in advance.
Tip: Ask to see photos of the plan “B,” and make sure you are happy with the spaces. Do your guests fit well into the plan “B,” space?
My experience: Ask the venue what they have in place in case of loss of power. This can happen in the Caribbean and it happened to me! The venue didn’t have a backup generator when a storm came quickly, rumbling through in late January. The venue lost almost all of its power! Luckily, we had a provider bring in a generator. In the end, the guests had a lovely celebration, in a setting filled with romantic candlelight.
- Skipping the Wedding Rehearsal. Not all couples choose to have a wedding rehearsal. Here’s why it’s important. A quick run through helps the couple and bridal party feel more comfortable in the surroundings, knowing when to walk, seeing the actual aisle, and whether they will be walking on sand, grass, stones or cement, knowing where to stand when they finish the processional, and recessional roles. I’ve found that many couples want to do it their way by changing up the traditional order, and incorporating special elements. I tell them to go for it! But don’t skip on a rehearsal.
Tip: Bring a small speaker with the processional and recessional songs to help the wedding party make their journey down the aisle. You can have fun with this!
My experience: Don’t expect all brides to walk on the left. It’s pretty much up to the couple. You can guide them but in the end the ceremony should be as the couple envisions.
- The Oh-so-important Walk-through of the Venue Before the Big Day. It’s essential to do a walk-through of the site before the event so that the wedding planner and couple are moving in sync. Communicating and confirming where the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception and dancing will take place, along with the layout, floor plans, and Timeline of the segments is recommended to avoid any confusion. Some couples travel to the destination before the wedding day, while many do not and rely on the floor plans and the wedding planner to help them visualize the location.
Tip: Pictures and videos help! In advance of the couple’s arrival, send a video of the spaces, photos, and floor plans with photos of any rental equipment on the layout and placement, to cement in their minds what they can expect. There is no such thing as too much information.
- Adding Vendor Meals to the Catering Budget. We can all agree that the vendors who provide services to the event, such as the DJ, photographers, videographers, and especially, the wedding planner and their team, are crucial to the success of the event. but many couples omit them from the catering expenses. Wouldn’t you want to feed them if they are working an 8-10 hour day for you? Of course you would! There are a couple of ways to do this. Ask the caterer to add on the vendor meals with the final guest count. Either, the vendors would eat the same selections as the guests, or, the caterer can offer a “vendor meal,” at a lower rate.
Tip: Guests would only need to include the vendors working the long 8-10+ hour day, such as the DJ’s, photographers, videographers, and wedding planner. Florists, providers working on the ceremony set up, would normally be excluded from the list.
Experience: Providing extra meals for vendors ensures that everyone has energy to work the day and well into the early morning hours!
Hiring a wedding planner for your special day is vital to handling any unforeseen situations. You’ll save money, time, and above all, avoid undue stress, with peace of mind to enjoy family, friends, and your special day!