When it comes to planning a wedding, it may scare you to think about relinquishing all control to a far-away place, trusting a “wedding coordinator” who you have never met and, more importantly, has never met you and your fiance. I want to draw attention to the reason people choose a destination wedding and help alleviate some of the fears by giving you things to think about and help you truly enjoy planning an experience for all your guests.
Why a destination?
First, when I ask why did you choose location “x”, many couple’s respond by saying that they had a very special trip to that place or it has emotional significance to their past and they are wanting to share this with all of their family and friends. Whether it is Greece, New York City or Wyoming, Illinois (shout out to my hometown), you have to approach this as a wedding weekend and plan events and experiences to help share your story.
Case study: Opa!
I am currently planning a destination wedding in Folegandros, Greece. A small island in Greece with a current Wikipedia population of 667. The church of panaggia is high up on a hill and the bride will have a dramatic 20 minute walk to the top. No donkeys will be used, thank you very much. Today’s post will give you some planning tips and ideas to think about, no matter your destination.
You need to explain everything in detail when you send out the invites. If there is too much to say then you may want to consider a second mailing to only those who RSVP yes to the invite. Important things for my Greek bride to tell her guests: flight/car/ferry/donkey details, be prepared for a 4 hour ferry ride from Athens to the island (aka – motion sickness heads up), bring flats for the walk to the church (aka – long walk in Louboutin’s will not be fun), and any heads up about the weather and attire needs.
2. Local vs. home-grown
When deciding whether to use local vendors vs. bringing in your own, it really is up to you and your fiance and you can never ask too many questions. What do you value most? Photos? Then you may want to think about flying in your own photographer. I strongly suggest doing at least one site visit around 6-8 months before your wedding weekend to meet with the local vendors (test their punctuality), see their work, taste any food, and do a full walk through from soup to nuts (see the guest rooms, ceremony space, cocktail area, reception and dancing area).
3. Give them a well-thought out welcome package.
Whether it is NYC or an island, there will be some or a lot of guests who have never been to that destination before. A welcome package is the first thing they see when they check-in to their hotel or enter their room. It is a thoughtful way of thanking them for making the trip and an easy way to give them more information now they are on the island. Creative bride tip: Try to incorporate something that could give them a sneak peek of that night’s event (ex: having a welcome party on the beach? maybe give them some flip flips with a note that says “See you tonight at 7:00pm!”). Other things to possibly include in the welcome package – maps, water, snacks,
4. Let’s get this party started.
A welcome celebration is a great way to kick off the wedding weekend. It can be as informal or formal as you want but gives you an opportunity to do something with your guests that you may not want to be a part of your wedding day. For example, an all white attire beach party, a Hawaiian shirt luau, etc etc. This is also a great chance to do any toasts that are not going to be a part of the reception.
5. Give your guests time to relax during the weekend.
You may think you need to plan every minute for your guest from the moment they step off the plane but, for the sake of all wedding guests out there, please don’t. Give your guests time to relax and explore the destination on their own with some gentle guidance from your well-thought out welcome package.
6. Hi my name is…..
The biggest thing to remember is that you are NOT a resort/hotel employee nor are you a tour guide. Don’t give in to the impulse to show people around, take them on excursions, order lunch by the pool for people, grab drinks for people, etc etc. You must remember that this is ultimately your wedding weekend and that you should take time to get away and go for a run, go to the spa and take a nap. You do not need to be the 24/7 concierge and your guests will commend you for it. You can hear about their wedding weekend stories at the next family holiday party.
Bon voyage and happy planning!