I’ve always blogged about what is going on in my life. So I’m excited to announce that for my next couple of posts I’m focusing on destinations weddings because… I’m getting married! Of course as a self-proclaimed travel junkie it’s only fitting that I’m planning not one but two destination weddings. I reached out to two veteran wedding planners, Shieka from Doctor’s Travel and Ayron from Bella Dawn, to get their take on destination weddings. Hopefully it is helpful for those who are either planning or dreaming of a destination wedding.
Can you give a brief overview of your company and services?
Doctor’s Travel: Doctor’s Travel is a full service travel agency that specializes in honeymoons and destination wedding planning.
Bella Dawn: My full service event planning company is called Bella Dawn. We specialize in weddings, but we will do any event that needs a little Bella Flair! We have three packages to accommodate any bride:
-The Do it Yourself Bride, who just needs a little help towards the end of the wedding planning process and day of.
– The Take it All Bride, who needs help from beginning to end.
– The Custom Bride, who would prefer to select specific needs for her special day.
What made you become a wedding planner?
Doctor’s Travel: I got into this as my mom is a wedding florist and designer and I have always loved seeing her work. I started out with the travel end of things and then realized how much I love destination weddings.
Bella Dawn: As a little girl my mother was a professional florist. She would often let me tag along to her various commitments, and it exposed me to an exciting world of events, hosting, and people, and colors, and celebrations! I loved it, and it just always stuck with me. Dawn is my mother’s name, and I chose to name my company in her honor.
What is the true price range of a destination wedding?
Doctor’s Travel: This price really does range but I normally say between $5000-$15000. If you have a larger group it can be more but a smaller group it may be less. You also want to try to create a group as some resorts will give you group comps that will help with the cost.
Bella Dawn: The price of destination weddings can vary greatly. It really depends on the desires of the bride and groom. They’ve been a growing trend for almost a decade now. Before, it was the sure way for a budget friendly wedding, but these days the sky is the limit for some couples. Due to its rising popularity, the budgets have risen in recent years. That said, I’d venture to say you can expect to start at around 5k depending on destination, and guest count.
What are the cheapest destinations?
Doctor’s Travel: I wouldn’t really say any destination is cheaper but some are easier for you to get married in like Jamaica there aren’t as many requirements to get married there.
Bella Dawn: Some of the best budget friendly destinations include: Mexico, Belize, and The Dominican Republic. And there are also some favorites in the United States like Tahoe, certain parts of Florida. A great destination selection also depends on the couple’s base location, or the location of the majority of their guests. Flights are the tricky part, but hotel and resort rates can usually be booked at a reasonable cost, especially for large groups.
What is one question to ask or detail that gets overlooked with destinations wedding planning?
Doctor’s Travel: The main thing if you are getting married at a resort you want to really pay attention to your package. There are some things you want that may not be covered and are a per person cost but you may not notice it at first. You want to make sure you really focus on your guest count too.
Bella Dawn: A detail that is frequently overlooked is the daily activities for the wedding guests outside of the ceremony and reception. Yes, they’re coming to celebrate the couple, but they’re also expecting to enjoy themselves outside of the wedding. Ensuring that they can enjoy various activities with and even separately from the couple is key. I like to suggest a loose itinerary of optional activities to my Bella Brides.
What suggestions would you give to couples to make the planning less stressful?
Doctor’s Travel: I always tell people that life isn’t perfect and planning a wedding isn’t either. There will be things that go wrong but in the end it is about your new life together and that’s what is most important.
Bella Dawn: A great way to make destination wedding planning less stressful is to hire a wedding planner (hint, hint…lol). In all seriousness, though, brides should make sure to have someone there to alleviate some of the elaborate detailing that comes along with wedding planning. Trying to tackle a wedding on your own can be a daunting task, and can often steal the joy and significance from the experience. A destination wedding should also feel like a vacation. I mean, it is after all! Oh, and one last thing: An American planner is great, but they should be in contact with a coordinator at the destination of choice who is able to help facilitate all your wedding needs.
What are the most common reasons guests give for not attending a destination wedding and what can a couple do to help overcome those reasons?
Doctor’s Travel: The most common reason is normally the cost. I always try to tell couples to try to poll their family and friends on the front end and set a realistic budget. They may not be able to afford that luxury property you want to go to but may be able to do something more budget friendly. The other option if you really want them there is for the couple to help with the cost.
Bella Dawn: Cost is typically the number one reason guests don’t attend destination weddings.
To accommodate these guests, the couple and their planner can be as considerate as possible in finding a budget friendly wedding packages that offer discounts to groups. Group rates can be a life saver! The couple can also use Air BnB, VRBO, or the likes to rent large villas that can lodge their guests.
Children are usually the second cause for hesitation for guests of destination weddings. Parents often face difficulty finding a sitter for local evening weddings, so finding someone who’s willing to keep your kiddos for three to five days can be quite the task.
To make it easier on these parents, the couple can make their wedding kid friendly as well as choose a resort that can accommodate children of all ages. If the resort offers free child care, that is an added bonus!
How have destination weddings changed since you started as a wedding planner?
Doctor’s Travel: They are becoming more and more popular and more couples are making them a big thing. They are planning a whole week-long trip and adding on excursions and fun activities too.
Bella Dawn: What has changed most about destination weddings goes back to the increase in price, but that can be said for any type of wedding. The general ideas for what a destination wedding looks like have gone from intimate beach ceremonies to large villas for lodging and castle ceremonies in Italy. Anything a couple wants, anywhere in the world they truly can have!
If you could get married anywhere in the world where would it be?
Doctor’s Travel: I actually want to plan a vow renewal for my 15th anniversary and Jamaica is on my list.
Bella Dawn: What would be my own wedding destination of choice? That’s easy! NEW ORLEANS! I absolutely love the magical, mystical, and historic vibe of this city. The music, the people, the color, and let’s not forget the FOOD! Ah-mazing!
Of all the weddings you’ve planned, of which are you most proud?
Doctor’s Travel: I can’t say that I have a favorite as I love them all.
Bella Dawn: All of my weddings have made me proud. They all truly hold a special place in my heart because I love them for different reasons. Each wedding, couple, and experience have been unique. I will say that one of the most memorable weddings be one I did near the beach in Santa Monica, California at The Victorian.
It was the first weekend in November, and we were all scared of the weather as it was near the beach, and the ceremony was outdoors. But the day turned out to have perfectly beautiful weather. As day turned to night the lights hanging from the trees created the most romantic setting. The loving couple looked amazing surrounded by their family and friends. It was definitely a good time!
Big thanks to both Shieka and Ayron for answering all of my questions. Hopefully this works as a great base to begin thinking about what destination wedding planning really entails. I know it’s been helpful for me.