And that got us thinking…
Even with the increasing amount of couples that choose a destination wedding every year, that number is still nowhere close to 60%. So, where’s the gap?
Resources, Experience, and Comfort
The biggest barriers to having or even considering a destination wedding stem from a lack of experience and information. More often than not, we’ve experienced dozens of local weddings, but few, if any, destination weddings.
So, it’s easy to feel like you don’t know where to begin.
Enter Vows and Vacations
You already know that one of our missions here at Indian Wedding Buzz is to give you the tools and resources to have your dream wedding.
So, we asked our friends over at Vows and Vacations, a travel agency specializing in destination weddings, to help provide the kind of advice and tips that make planning a destination wedding a little easier and more comfortable to any couples that are considering their own!
Q&A with a Destination Wedding Travel Agency
Without further ado, here are 9 destination wedding questions that everyone wished they knew, answered in-depth with experience and insight from a specialized travel agency, just for you.
QUESTION 1: What would be the first step to getting started planning a destination wedding?
1. Consider your choices of countries and islands.
Sit together and make a list of the destinations you and your partner can see yourself getting married at. Are you looking for a bustling metropolitan city? A beach wedding? A resort or a hotel?
2. Consider the accessibility from the departure cities for yourself as well as majority of your guests (Will everyone have a direct flight? Are there stopovers? etc.)
Remember, you can’t expect everyone to make it to your destination wedding, but what you can do is try and make it easier for your main guests to fly in and depart conveniently. Make a list of your most popular departure cities so that later you can ask your travel agent to make an itinerary for each.
3. Pick a season. Seasonality is very important with regards to weather, pricing and availability. Just like local weddings, Destination Weddings have peak season
Peak season is from November to April, and during this time prices can be higher for your guests and availability can be a little bit more limited. If you are considering peak season, try to book at least 10+ months out for larger groups.
4. Budget! How much do you want to spend on your wedding? What are you comfortable with your guest spending to attend your wedding?
Whether you’re looking at packaged all-inclusive vacations for your guests or hotel accomodations, you should have a ballpark figure in mind for your guests. Are you comfortable with them paying $1,500 per person for the week? Is that number lower? Higher?
And, remember to budget yourselves too! Destination weddings still require venue rentals, vendor costs, and many of the same costs you would have for a local wedding. Consider your finances and wants, then pick an ideal number.
5. Once you consider the 4 steps above, you can begin looking into specific resorts, hotels and venues.
That means that when you visit your travel agent, you and your partner should ideally already have discussed the following:
-A few destinations (or description of destinations [Island beach resort with great food, European city with lots of local attractions, etc]) that you both agree on
-A list of where you and your main guests will be departing from
-A time of the year or season that you’d like to get married
-A target budget for yourself and your guests
That way, your travel agent can have lots to work with to offer you the perfect resort/hotel or venue.
QUESTION 2: Can you clarify the roles between the travel agent, a wedding planner and a resort wedding coordinator?
When planning a destination wedding, most couples are in contact with a travel agent, wedding planner and resort coordinator.
First is the travel planning portion. A travel agent:
-Assists in hotel and destination recommendations
-Works with various suppliers (hotel, airlines) to obtain a group rate for your guests
-Facilitates the booking from deposit until departure to ensure you and your guests have a stress-free and memorable travel experience
Next, a Wedding Planner can be helpful with:
-Sourcing and recommending vendors for your wedding (whether you take them to your destination, or want them to be locals)
-Working with the resort wedding coordinator for scheduling and wedding details
The Onsite Coordinators are your eyes and ears on the ground:
-They present wedding packages for your budget and let you know about accessibility for religious/cultural events
-Offer services from the hotel/resort (catering, package inclusions, extra services, pre-wedding events, reception venues)
-Are present during your wedding with staff and amenities
Oftentimes, a good travel agency that specializes in destination weddings will be able to provide both travel services (booking, travel costs) and that of wedding planning (communicating with the on-site coordinator, getting you the wedding packages from your chosen hotel/resort, etc).
Plus, these kinds of agencies, like Vows and Vacations, can handle everything from the wedding to the honeymoon and any additional travel plans of your guests (this can be especially useful if you choose a destination that’s a hub for additional travel after your wedding!)
QUESTION 3: What are the benefits of using a travel agent for a destination wedding?
Using a travel agent can be extremely beneficial as they are able to obtain better rates for you and your guests versus non agents, or doing it yourself.
Travel agencies build relationships with numerous suppliers, airlines, resorts and hotels. They can advise on particular locations and hotels that are better equipped at handling large Indian weddings. They can also advise on what regions are able to facilitate specific religious ceremonies.
Whether you are considering a Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or non-denominational ceremony, having this insight makes all the difference.
Plus, your travel agent becomes a point of contact for your guests. All of their planning and payments go through the travel agent, which means that a lot of questions, concerns, and even financing details go through them- and not you! (And trust me, that can be a huge relief.)
QUESTION 4: When it the best time to inquire about a destination wedding? When’s the best time to book?
Similar to local weddings, Destination Weddings are usually planned 1.5 years to 2 years in advance. Earlier is always better as you will have more options of resorts and room categories without the fear of seats on the plane and certain room categories being sold out.
The larger your group, the closer to that rule of thumb you’ll want to be. And remember, just because you’re planning a year and a half prior, doesn’t mean people have to make their full payments then.
Destination weddings often come with great tiered payments, asking for a deposit upfront, and multiple opportunities to make the full payment closer to the date of departure.
QUESTION 5: How can couples find the best travel agency for their group? What questions should they ask their agency and or planner?
The best travel agency for a couple should be one that has experience in the kind of wedding they’re interested in (consider: group size, culture, destination). The couple should feel comfortable chatting with their agent and feel a degree of competence in the agent’s attention to detail (they’ll need a lot!), their knowledge about hotel/resort options and their willingness to be accessible to them and their guests.
Here are a few important questions that couples can ask their agency:
- Have you done weddings in particular destinations that we are interested in?
- Are you able to obtain our group exclusive rates?
- Are you knowledgeable as to what resorts offer more ethnic wedding packages?
- What kind of services do you extend to my travelling guests?
- Are we eligible for early booking bonuses?
QUESTION 6: In your opinion, what are the 3 greatest benefits of having a destination wedding?
1. Combining two of the most memorable life experiences; weddings and vacations!
Destination weddings give you the most beautiful aspects of both a wedding shared with your family and friends and the novelty of traveling and staying together. A destination wedding is sometimes the first time a group vacations together, and it can a beautiful thing to explore, play and eat together throughout the days.
2. Affordability, it’s much more economical to have a destination wedding and fewer friends will be asking for plus ones.
The caveat to this is that even though there are travel expenses, the bride and groom can end up paying less than a local wedding where they may expect many more guests.
3. Quality time with your guests, as most destination weddings take place over 5-7 days.
The experience of a destination wedding includes close proximity at all times to your friends and family. That means more opportunity for spontaneous meetups, casual hangouts, and since everyone’s schedule is already clear for those few days, you can expect everyone to be more fully present.
QUESTION 7: What’s the biggest hurdle in planning a destination wedding? What’s the solution?
The biggest hurdle is finding a time that suits everyone. That’s why advanced planning is key to give all of your guests enough time to prepare financially as well as make arrangements with their employers.
A lot of people like to plan their vacation time 9 months to 1 year in advance, so try to have full travel options available for them to consider before their vacations days and their yearly travel budgets are already locked in.
QUESTION 8: What are 3 pieces of advice you can give to bride’s considering a destination wedding?
1. Tan lines fade but the memories won’t, so go for it! It’s actually a less stressful option
With a travel agent and wedding coordinator helping you with pre-prepared wedding options, there are far less variables than coming up with a local wedding from scratch. Past the initial consultations and travel planning, you’ll likely find the experience to be easier.
2. It will be a much more intimate affair than a local wedding, brides should consider this
You’ll be spending lots of time with your guests, consider this when making your guest list. You’ll likely be seeing them for your meals and in and around your rooms. Surround yourself with people you’re thrilled to spend the occasion with.
3. Consider if the most important people in your lives are financially and physically able to travel
Sit down with your partner and discuss whether or not the two of your are comfortable with some people not being able to come. This might be because of vacations days, finances, or health.
Regardless, your choice to have a destination wedding should include these possibilities, and possible solutions like a local event or even live streaming if important guests cannot attend.
QUESTION 9: What should a couple consider when planning a destination wedding? How do they pick the best location and resort for themselves?
Consider these variables to come up with a destination that works for you:
- Price for the wedding (incurred by the bride and groom)
- Price per guest
- Location (considering where you and your guests are coming from, and how accessible it is)
- Star rating (5-star? Or does a 4-star work too?)
- Adult or family friendly resort
- Food and drink options (how many restaurants, bars, etc)
- Recreation options (number of pools, free activities, off-site excursions/tours/sports)
- Accessibility to cultural/religious needs, if any
And, remember to leverage your travel agent’s experience along with the wonderful power of online reviews!
There you have it, information directly from a specialized travel agency, answering 9 fundamental questions to help you better understand and plan a destination wedding.
We’d like to thank Vows and Vacations for their comprehensive and insightful answers to all of our questions.
We hope that this resource will make more brides and grooms comfortable with pursuing their dream wedding. And if that’s a destination wedding, we want you to feel empowered to go for it.
Happy Planning! – Indian Wedding Buzz
P.S. Pass it on! Planning a wedding can be hard, forward this article to a bride-to-be in need.