In my interview with Kimberly Richmond of Runaway Bride Destination Weddings, I asked some key questions to help our clients work with an Event Planner for a magnificent wedding away from home. This is a must read if plan to have a destination wedding and want to do it right.
I would say the #1 advantage to having a Destination Wedding is that it actually ends up being cheaper than having a wedding at home. This is always something that surprises a lot of people. not only do you inevitably cut down on the guest list, but vendors tend to be less expensive in destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Another huge benefit of having a Destination Wedding is that you get to spend more time with your family and friends. Guests will usually make a mini vacation out of it, so this means that you get to spend 3- 4 days with your guests as opposed to the few hours that a typical wedding reception at home would last. A Destination Wedding is an entire experience for everyone. It involves much more than just the wedding day. Picture having your closest friends and family to share this special time in your life with you while enjoying the beauty of whatever exotic setting you’ve selected. everybody is happy!
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOP AMAZING LOCATIONS TO HAVE A DESTINATION WEDDING?
Wow this is a tough one – so many amazing places come to mind! one of the hottest destinations to get married in 2012 is Belize. This is an english speaking nation that is easy to get to, yet it’s such an exotic destination- you feel like you’re on the other side of the world. You’ve got rain forests, unbelievable beaches, the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world and the mysticism of the mayan culture. Not only is it a very spiritual destination to get married in, but it’s perfect for adventure seekers.
Another amazing location is panama- believe it or not. Not a lot of people know much about this fascinating country besides it’s well known canal. You’ve got panama city which is an impressive, cosmopolitan metropolis- and the area to check out here is the historic ‘Casco Viejo’ region. it’s the old quarter of the city- reminiscent of Havana and is teeming with adorable boutique hotels. a personal favorite of mine is six-room property las Clementinas– simply charming! and then you have the 1,500 islands that make up the rest of Panama- including my top picks: Bocas Del Toro and the San Blas Islands.
The Mexican Riviera Maya has continued to remain at the top of the list popular for its beautiful powdery, white sand beaches, turquoise Caribbean waters and warmth of the Mexican people. While the area is well known for it’s larger all-inclusive properties, there are so many smaller, more intimate boutique hotels that are just begging to be discovered. I absolutely adore the magic of Maroma Resort & Spa, set in a jungle alongside the beach. you feel “ZEN” just by walking through the door!
Another big one for 2012 is London. London’s popularity is at an all time high thanks to the Royal Wedding last year, this years Summer Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. a popular trend with a lot of the brides that I’m working with is that of getting married in a castle. there are so many old castles in the U.K. that lend themselves beautifully to Royal Wedding affairs- that the hardest part is narrowing it down!
And last, but certainly not least would be the amazing Islands of Turks & Caicos. Turks is made up of 40 islands, of which only eight are inhabited. It’s literally the perfect place to go to and feel like you’ve “run away” to a deserted island. To me, this destination is the epitome of romance. You have spectacular beaches- which is what attracts a lot of couples to this destination. It’s the ideal spot to have a barefoot wedding on the beach at sunset. You have a variety of hotel options here from the all-inclusive Sandals Resort to smaller, more intimate properties and villas.
HOW DOES AN EXPERT PLANNER GUIDE THE WEDDING COUPLE THROUGH THE PROCESS?
An Event Planner is truly an invaluable resource for a couple – especially when planning a destination wedding. Planning a regular wedding can be a daunting task, but planning a destination wedding takes it to another level. You have to factor in possible language barriers, different time zones, unknown cultures & customs of the destination, legalities of getting married outside of the u.s., etc. Hiring an expert planner is going to eliminate a lot of the stress that goes along with the planning, but it can also save couples money in the end. Event Planners know these destinations well and have relationships with the hotels and the vendors down there. They are going to be able to guide couples towards reputable vendors and a lot of times able to secure preferred rates because of their relationships with these vendors. Likewise with the hotel selection. The Event Planner is going to be able to assist the couple with the hotel selection based upon their needs and can negotiate a room block and other perks at the property that the couple might not necessarily be able to get on their own. Overall, hiring a Wedding Planner to help couples navigate through all of these details is well worth it!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO BRINGING A PHOTOGRAPHER TO THE DESTINATION LOCATION RATHER THAN WORKING WITH A LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST WEDDING TRENDS YOU ARE SEEING THESE DAYS?
One of the biggest trends i’m seeing these days (especially with destination weddings) is that of the non-traditional Wedding Cake. I’m seeing a lot of cake pops, which are basically cake lollipops. Such a fun idea! Another cute idea is that of the cupcake wedding cake. I’m finding that a lot of couples are steering away from the whole cake cutting tradition and the cake pops or cupcakes are a fun, easy, sweet ending to a wedding that people really get into. Candy bars are big too– it’s so much fun to set up a candy bar, give people “to go” baggies and let them fill them up with a variety of sweets. I try to incorporate as much of the culture into this trend which makes it that much more fun. For example, if we’re doing a wedding in mexico- we will throw in some spiced mango candy or chili lollipops- people love this.
Another interesting trend is that of mismatched bridesmaids dresses and incorporating a variety of colors into the wedding (think rainbow bright!) people are having rainbow-inspired weddings– from the flowers to the bridesmaids dresses to the groomsmen’s ties- totally non traditional. This trend definitely isn’t for everyone, but done the right way can be a chic and unique way of incorporating some fun, colorful elements into your soiree.
HOW CAN WE MAKE THE MOST OF A DESTINATION WEDDING WITH OUR GUESTS?
I would say the biggest piece of advice i can offer is to plan early and give your guests plenty of advance notice! most people are happy to travel to a far flung destination to celebrate your nuptials and many will turn it into a mini vacation, but they need time to plan and save. A wedding website is the perfect place to outline travel details and the schedule of events for the weekend. again- you want to provide your guests with as much information as possible.
The ideal situation is to set up a group room block at one hotel so that everyone is under one roof. the couple will typically host a welcome cocktail for everyone the first night and this is just a nice way for everyone to get to know each other. There are no set rules at all, but many couples will also organize a fun group activity- be it a snorkeling trip, golf outing for the guys, spa day for the ladies, etc. it’s just another nice “touch” and opportunity to do something fun with your friends and family that have traveled to be there on your special day.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PLANNING A LOCAL IN STATE WEDDING VS. A DESTINATION WEDDING? THE BENEFITS?
When you have a destination wedding, you are immediately cutting down the size of your guest list. This can be both good and bad thing. The obvious positive of this is that by cutting down on the number of people that will be attending, You’re cutting down on the total cost of the wedding. You’re also eliminating the dilema of having to invite your co-worker, 3rd cousin twice removed or kindergarden friend who you haven’t spoken to in 25 years! When you have a destination wedding- only the people that you truly want to be there will be there. On the flip side, a destination wedding can be hard for elderly relatives to get to. This is definitely something to keep in mind when deciding if a wedding abroad is the right choice for you. If you’re lucky enough to have living grandparents- then you most likely are going to want them there on your special day. Depending on the destination you chose- it might not be that easy for them to travel down there for it. The legalities of getting married outside of the U.S. is another thing to keep in mind. Rules are different and depending on the country, there can be a lot of time, research and paperwork involved. An easy (and popular) solution for this is to have the couple legally get married in the U.S. and have the symbolic or religious ceremony abroad. Bottom line- it comes down to the individual couple as to whether having a destination wedding is the thing to do. Every couple is different and the location of their wedding should be a reflection of their personalities.
HOW DOES RUNAWAY BRIDE DESTINATION WEDDING SERVICES DIFFER FROM A PLANNER THAT CAN BE HIRED AT THE LOCATION OF THE DESTINTION WEDDING?
Runway Bride is a boutique company that specializes in unique destinations and exotic hideaways. While our key destinations are in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean- we work with boutique properties all over the world- including destinations in the U.S. We’ve scoured the globe and have hand picked what we call our “hidden gems“. We know the destinations that we represent intimately and have stellar relationships with the vendors and properties that we represent.
We differ from Wedding Planners that can be hired at the destination in that we are local and as such, have the capability to meet with our couples in person throughout the wedding planning process. This is something that is so important to us as we pride ourselves taking a very personalized approach with the couples that we work with.
Again- being local, there are no language barriers, no long distance communication, no stress. We have an experienced, bilingual staff and offer a variety of services from basic destination selection to doing everything including on-site coordination day of the wedding.
At the end of the day, our goal is to help our couples find the perfect destination that suits their personalities and make their experience as fun as possible.