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Your Top Questions Answered (Destination Wedding Edition)

August 20, 2020

Countless brides ask, “when is the best time to travel to avoid the hottest times of the year?” 

Let’s face it, our hair plays a big role in how we feel.  Let’s add, no girl wants to be a sweaty bride and melting makeup just isn’t the vibe we are going for. While each destination is different, December through April is relatively a cooler, drier time throughout much of the Caribbean and Mexico.  Take into account, most ceremonies are held at sunset.  You can have it in the afternoon but you’ll be a happier, more comfortable bride in the evening. Not only will you celebrate with dreamy cotton candy skies sparkling over the horizon but you get the cool breeze off the sea and the sun’s rays are in the far distance.  For the European bride, July and August are super warm and crowded.  Aim for a Fall or Spring wedding to avoid the chilly winter cold and the smoldering summer heat. 

Where do you go when you are not a “sand in the toes” type of bride?

You are not limited to the beach! Many resorts are beach front properties but eliminate the beach portion and you have epic spaces like spacious ballrooms, lush gardens, ocean view terraces, open air gazebos, on-site restaurants and yes, if you want, the gorgeous beach! An option I love, a tented a reception! This can be done nearly anywhere, from the beach to the courtyards.  If you want something a bit more unique, check out local event spaces and churches too. Remember, hotels are designed and built with a focus on hosting large parties and events. They are able to accommodate weddings of all different sizes and styles.

How can I budget for a destination wedding?

If you haven’t already read through my previous blog posts, what is the hold up? You are missing out on the goods! You will find there is something for all budget sizes.  Take a moment to read a recent blog post on my favorite budget friendly resorts offering free and affordable wedding packages. You will also read how a destination wedding is not a financial burden yet rather a huge savings! Even a luxurious, over-the-top destination wedding is a fraction of the cost of one in your hometown. Your dollar goes a lot further with a destination wedding. At most beach resorts, packages are created with everything you will need bundled together opposed to hiring a typical 7-10 vendors for a wedding at home.  These wedding packages start FREE (yes, you read that right!) and an upgraded package can start as low as $3,000! You can also earn free nights which will definitely save you a pretty penny when you book your hotel room. 

What does the average destination wedding cost?

You really could get away with one of the free packages at an all-inclusive resort but it’s rare for a bride not to want to take advantage of the “add-on’s” and the invite list can quickly grow.  The devil is in the details! You can have a memorable, beautiful wedding for about $7-10,000. This will include your linens, a wedding planner, ceremony set-up, cocktail hour, 3 course plated dinner, liquor, a private reception, wedding cake, champagne toast, DJ, photographer, decor, florals and more! Try to pull that one off in a major US city.  You can also choose to have a more extravagant wedding starting around $25,000+ depending on guest count.

What is the cost for the wedding guest?

It depends on destination, dates, hotel, flights, etc.  Airfare can range between $350 to $500 and a 4 star, all-inclusive hotel can run guests about $170-$220 per night on average.  The soon-to-be Cuomo’s just booked airfare to Punta Cana for their wedding for $350 and I negotiated a nightly rate at a 4.5 star hotel for only $200 per night! A 3-night, 4 day vacation can run their guests around $950 with all their meals, beverages and activities included! For guests on a budget, they can always choose to share a room to bring the overall costs down. Give your guests far enough notice to save up. The longer they can save, the better, and we offer payment options to help!  An all-inclusive resort is cost effective for everyone. All meals and beverages will be included and guests won’t have any other costs to worry about.   An all-inclusive resort is not everyone’s style, so anticipate for the overall cost to be a little higher when all is said and done with a traditional hotel.  Remember, hotel guests will accumulate a bill during their stay to be paid at check-out when it is not an all-inclusive resort. There are some traditional hotel’s that offer travelers the option to select a meal and beverage plan ahead of time.   This is another alternative! Give guests the option. We all love options!

What if I want to fly down my own vendors or book one not on the vendors list?

 You are not limited to the hotel’s vendors, although, they have countless recommendations and well qualified connections.  If your local make-up artists or family DJ is available and willing to travel, that is an option worth exploring! You’ll be surprised how many vendors such as photographers are willing to travel.  Check the hotel to make sure they don’t have outside vendor fees. Although, the fee is typically minimal.  If you need recommendations, ask yours truly. Through the years I have come up with quite the little black book for reliable, talented wedding vendors!

Should I block hotel rooms?

Almost always! Save yourself the headache! Not only is it practically a must but it is worth it to you! By booking a room block you will earn great incentives.  Who doesn’t want something for free? Free rooms (great for the wedding guest who can’t afford to travel or the outside vendor you hired), upgrades, comped events such as a welcome party are just some of the great concessions you and your guests will earn.  Besides the great concessions, you’ll also want to make sure everyone can be accommodated.  A sold out hotel is not rare and the more affordable room accommodations are always the first to get snatched up.  I have had guests of a wedding stay at an alternative property because there was no availability left at the hotel the bride and groom booked.  This is truly unfortunate for all parties involved.  Guests will miss out on all the festivities and the action.  Not to mention, traveling to and from the resort on the day of the wedding is not ideal.  This requires guests to purchase a day pass to get on property.  If you don’t have a room block, you might be forcing Aunt Sally to book a two bedroom beachfront suite if it is the only available room option. And, if the weekend becomes popular, the reasonable nightly rate that you found when you first reserved your wedding could triple in price.  The list of concerns doesn’t end there.  Play it smart, play it safe.  The right thing to do is to be sure your guests have a room waiting for them at a good price! Keep it classy, keep it simple. 

Should I be skeptical of travel and planning a wedding during Covid-19?

Anyone that’s planning a wedding whether it’s near or far has mutual feelings.  New Jersey just limited their gatherings to 25.  An engaged couple in New York continue to battle state and county officials in court over orders that restrict weddings to 50 individuals or less.   Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, just to name a few more, also have limited the amount of people that can attend a gathering.   Staying home doesn’t make planning any easier.  In fact, it appears traveling might be in your best interest, and, as if you need a reminder, we all could use a vacation after this! The destination wedding market is now booming.  Some couples are opting for a smaller, more intimate wedding just to take the pressure off of planning a local wedding with all the evolving restrictions while others are going full speed ahead with faith that the spacious, open surroundings at a resort with the beach and outdoor accommodations are a safer bet and requires little to no compromising.   No need to limit the guests list with endless space and without the worry of the city and state limitations. As odd as it may seem, you can’t have gatherings of more than 25 in New Jersey but you can have four times that number on a plane. I know, it makes you wonder but this is the reality we live in right now.  Another helpful reminder, resorts are going all out to ensure the safety of their guests.  Countless hand sanitizer stations are spread out throughout the grounds, temperature checks per each and every employee prior to entering the property, no buffets, spaced out seating around the pools, restaurants, bars and beaches, less person to person contact and deep cleaning of all surfaces including in guest rooms.  This is just a peek into what measure they have taken to be certain they can welcome you and your guests to paradise safely!

Finally, one of the most common questions, “what is your cost?”

My answer: nada, zilch, niente, nothing! If you’re booking a room block, I will go the extra mile as a good faith gesture to get your wedding reserved for you.  Having the extra eyes and ears on your “best day ever” deserves it!  I am extremely proud to say, you won’t find another travel agent that will do what I do, make the calls overseas, get you the right pricing, negotiate the deal, send the emails, do the research, reach out to my contacts, give advice and recommendations, and get you all set up.  A personal assistant you didn’t know you could have! As you can see from my blogs and social media, I have behind the scenes knowledge and years of experience that I can’t wait to share with you!

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