I must start off by first apologizing that this blog took longer than expected. With ending last year and starting this year both in India for multiple Weddings, it surely took it's toll on me amongst other things. That however is a story for a next blog my friends!
Let's get down to business. Most wedding professionals will argue that you really haven't set your wedding date until your venue has been booked and there's definitely truth to that. Most popular venues book up way in advance and this goes double for Destination Wedding Venues. It's important to start thinking about your actual ceremony and reception spaces early to avoid disappoint. So let's discuss tips on choosing your Destination Wedding Venues!
Tip 1: What's Your Scene?
Let's sit back for a moment, close our eyes and imagine your perfect dream wedding spot. What's around you? Is it a calm sandy beach? Or maybe clashing waves against the cliffside you're standing on? How about an underground cave? Perhaps you're a Mountaineer and want to incorporate your lifestyle into your day. My point is, there's more to Destination Weddings than a Beach Wedding and the possibilities are really only as limited as your vision. Yes the budget can put a damper on us sometimes but by first acknowledging what your dream spot would be, you'll be much better equipped when sourcing venues that either give you that 100% or at least give you the vibe and feel of what you're truly going for.
Tip 2: On or Off-resort?
It's no surprise that Destination Weddings require accomodations and most resorts and hotels cater to a Destination Wedding Market. When the majority of us think of Destination Weddings, we picture them to be at the resort or hotel themselves. It's convenient, saves on travel time, often has pre-packaged wedding selections to choose from, vendors already hand selected and don't require much work on our part. Well what if you want more than just the cookie-cutter wedding? Can your resort or hotel accommodate this? Going off-resort can open up a lot of options you may not have thought about just yet. For example, do you want access to your venue for the entire day and exclusivity for your guests to explore without bumping into another wedding? (Cue awkward faces when you see someone wearing your outfit, or worse, the wedding dress! Gasp the horror!) What if you are in need of special requirements such as an open fire for a Hindu ceremony? Or maybe you just want your wedding photos/videos to be 100% bikini/strange onlookers free! Whatever the reason, an off-site venue may just work out in your benefit. Now I'm not saying that on-site resorts can't offer the same as an off-site venue, but I am saying you need to ask these questions and be clear as to what your expectations are vs what they can and can not provide. From that point you'll need to weigh your decision on a "How important is this to us?" basis.
Tip 3: Inspiration and Photo-Ops
Okay I'm going to have some of you disagree with me on this one and that's A-okay! I'm a strong believer in capturing your wedding day via amazing photos and video. Let's face it, at the end of the fabulous decor, delicious cake and spectacular entertainment, what's your take away from your wedding day? Yes you get to take home the world's most awesome life partner, but what else? The flowers? Food? No. All you will have to cherish and re-live your day will be through your photos and video. Before I go further, let me just state that all the other elements of a Wedding are just as important but I stress the importance of photos and video because that's what will showcase it all for years to come. Now back to my point! You want to make sure when choosing a venue, you're inspired by the surroundings. The atmosphere and ambience already there will only be enhanced by your decor and setup so it's important that the foundation is there for you to build upon. Having a venue that sets your mood right and gives you multiple options for photo/video sessions, will not only ensure you feel your best on your wedding day but as we all know, it'll really shine through in your photos and video. Alas, when you look back at those awesome moments captured in film, you'll be reminded of those perfect moments you celebrated rather than feeling regrets and disappointment. Trust me on this one!
Tip 4: Budget
Yes, the big B word. I'd like to think this one is pretty obvious and self-explanatory but after a few weddings I've done now with couples doubling up their original budgets despite my appeals, I feel the need to add this to the list of tips. While I'm all for the extravagant details of a wedding, I like to also think of myself as a realist. You need to find a happy median between creating that fairytale wedding and remembering you're starting a life together on a happy financial note that doesn't include the D word; Debt. Set a budget and stick it too (or at least as close as possible!) Remember that when you're planning a Destination wedding, you need to do so according to the funds accepted in that country. If you're heading to the Caribbean, you'll be paying in mostly USD and if in Europe it's mostly EUR. Sadly our CAD isn't 1:1 with either so please remember to factor in some buffer for exchange rates. Make sure you're asking potential venues about all costs included. Officiant fees, marriage license fees, vendor fees, set-up fees, VAT, etc. These are all fees that will not change from the venue so you need to factor them in first and ensure it works within your budget. You'd be surprised how much some of these things can cost and how they vary from venue to venue so please remember to ask for all those hidden costs and thoroughly read the fine print!
Tip 5: What's the Plan B?
As much as we'd all like to believe our wedding day is going to be perfect, mother nature may have plans of her own and trust me it's not all as pretty as the picture above! In the event that you choose an outdoor venue space, what is their plan B if it rains? As crazy as it sounds, I personally believe you've got to love plan B at least 80% of how much you love your original choice or you won't be satisfied. If a venue tells you they don't have/need one, RUN! Everyone needs a backup plan for their wedding day and while I'm not trying to put a damper on your big day (pun totally intended) it's something I find more couples need to be aware of and ask about. Remember I talked about ambience and setting the mood in Tip 3? Well you need to ask if the Plan B is doing it for you or not. Mind you, it isn't the primary choice but you do still need to feel a connection with it just in case!
Well there you have it! My top 5 tips to help choose your actual Destination Wedding Venue. I hope it's helped put things into perspective for you and narrowed your options down quite a bit. If you like a venue but you're still unsure of a few things, look out for it on the blog, as I'll be featuring the Pros and Cons of some Destination Wedding Venues quite shortly!