Tip of the Day #63: Destination Weddings – What To Know Before You Go
Although the thought of an intimate destination wedding sounds appealing and relatively stress-free, there are many hidden issues that couples are likely to experience when planning and hosting a destination wedding. Before you book your destination wedding, take a peek at our suggestions for factors to consider when planning a destination wedding.
It may seem like the most glaringly obvious concern, but make sure you track the weather predictions and seasonal trends for your wedding destination. Is the area prone to a tropical storm season? Are the warm months reversed with the American summer and winter seasons? Does the weather change drastically from day time to nightfall? Plan ahead!
Travel is usually equated with exotic food and local delicacies. As you plan your wedding, make sure that you pay careful attention to what food and beverages are available at your destination and what food items may be harder to get. In addition, the price of certain ingredients may differ drastically from what you are used to paying so plan accordingly in your catering budget.
In some foreign locales, a separate currency is the primary method of payment. Make sure you pay particular attention to exchange rates and calculate the pricing of your wedding details accordingly. In addition, tipping customs and taxes vary drastically from one country to another.
Whether or not you plan to pay for airfare and accommodations for your guests, you need to explicitly state your position early on and make sure you give guests enough time to plan ahead.
Shipping & Customs
If you can, try to avoid shipping items to your destination wedding as much as possible. Items in transit can get stuck at customs or re-routed and delayed. Try to make friends with the concierge and catering team at your wedding hotel to get assistance and expertise on shipments to make sure they arrive safely and in time for your event. Always, always, always travel with important items (i.e. your wedding dress!) in hand.
Don’t let your wedding plans get lost in translation. If English is a second language for the majority of your vendors, make sure to enlist a local translator to assist with vendor negotiations and wedding communication to make sure every person is on the same page. C’Est magnifique!
In terms of travel to and from your destination wedding, make sure you build in time for guests to adjust from jet lag or time zone changes. In addition, some cultures have very different view points on time. For instance, when I studied abroad in Greece a few years ago, I came to find that the majority of shop owners take a nap between the hours of 12 noon and 2 p.m. and shut down their businesses for a significant portion of the day. In America, we are used to everything happening in “A New York Minute” so you should plan to be patient with slower communication and movement in other places.
If your destination wedding is in a sunny locale, you may need to change up your normal beauty and make-up routine to accommodate extra heat and humidity. Make sure you do a test run with your make-up artist and put your make-up through a test in the hot sun.
Often times the resources available in one locale will not be available in others. Similar to the plethora of restaurant options in Manhattan compared to those in a country town in Pennsylvania, you will most likely have to get creative with making your wedding design work. Floral design in one country may vary drastically from another. Try to be as flexible as possible when things don’t quite look or work exactly the way you had envisioned.
Murphy’s Law – whatever can go wrong will. Make sure you come prepared with traveler’s insurance as well as medical insurance for your trip. You can never be too prepared.
Marriage laws often vary widely depending on where you are. Make sure to read up on local wedding customs and laws to ensure that you have followed proper protocol to prepare for your wedding.
Some places are much safer than others. If your destination wedding locale is known for having shady outskirts of town, plan ahead and make sure you have proper transportation and/or security for your guests.
If your wedding is being held in a locale that has a culture vastly different from your own, prepare guests and help them plan accordingly for the proper attire and behavior.