It’s been said that travelling is essential to our happiness, so it only makes sense to combine it with one of the happiest days of your life, right? Destination weddings are a trend on the rise, and it’s not hard to see why after a scroll through Pinterest. A report by American wedding publication The Knot estimated 340,000 couples chose to have a destination wedding in 2016, with this generation’s version more than just a stay at a resort with a beachside reception.
With over 14 years of planning weddings throughout the world, Wedding Destinations are the experts at designing not-to-be-missed affairs. We sat down with them to discuss all things planning, locations, budgets, guests and more.
Wedded Wonderland: Which hot-spots are currently trending for destination weddings?
Wedding Destinations: Thailand is still the destination of choice for not only Australian and New Zealand couples, but also Indian, Chinese and Europeans. While Phuket is the most popular destination, Koh Samui is fast catching up, with the neighbouring island rivalling the former for quality and value for money.
Despite Thailand being a longstanding choice, we’re receiving more and more requests for the Greek Island of Santorini. Since making the decision to establish a dedicated team on the island several years ago, we’ve seen demand for Santorini weddings explode beyond our wildest expectations. The island is in such demand now that couples are often having to book their wedding three years in advance to secure their preferred venue and date. To accommodate this, Wedding Destinations will be adding more Santorini venues to our offers in the near future.
Wedded Wonderland: How far in advance should couples be planning a destination wedding?
Wedding Destinations: This really depends on the destination and availability of dates at venues. As we mentioned earlier, venues in Santorini are in short supply, with the availability period becoming even smaller if couples want to book in the summer (June to September). With this in mind, it’s important for couples to be aware that seasonal destinations may need a booking multiple years in advance, however less seasonal destinations such as Thailand, Fiji, Bali, and Hawaii require somewhat less notice. These destinations require couples to book between 12 and 18 months prior to the wedding.
In saying that, we always recommend giving yourself, and, more importantly, your guests, plenty of time to arrange the necessary travel and time off.
Wedded Wonderland: What things should couples consider when it comes to choosing the perfect location for their wedding?
Wedding Destinations: Cost is an unavoidable factor and one which doesn’t apply to just the couple. People should be considerate of guests’ financial situations before confirming a location that might fall outside what they can afford.
Couples should also contemplate what they and their guests want from the location. If you like to party or enjoy local cuisine and culture, an isolated location is probably not for you. A great example of this is the Pacific Islands, with most of their destinations very resort-based with little to nothing to do outside of the retreat. Adventurous and more budget-conscious groups, however, will opt for destinations where resort confinement is out of the question as they wish to avoid inflated prices for dining and entertainment and want to explore the local surrounds.
Privacy is also incredibly important when choosing a location. We’ve found that roughly 50 per cent of couples are looking for an intimate and private affair, while the other 50 want to share their big day with every guest at the resort. Whatever they’re after, options range from private to public wedding villas and beaches.
Wedded Wonderland: What’s the protocol for encouraging/inviting guests to a destination wedding?
Wedding Destinations: Selling the idea of a destination wedding to family and friends is understandably easy. Our advice is not to make it all about you – even though it is! – by convincing guests that this is the opportunity to take that holiday they’ve been putting off.
Anyone considering a destination wedding must consult their guests before deciding upon a location. There are a million and one reasons why certain guests will raise concerns about particular destinations, with some citing political and religious views among others. We generally find that choosing the destination ‘with’ the guests instead of ‘for’ the guests is a guaranteed way to ensure they attend.
One reason that couples normally overlook when considering a destination wedding is bonding. Destination weddings have the ability to bring families together in the most unexpected and remarkable ways, which is fantastic for both parties. At a conventional wedding, family and friends from either side of the relationship first see each other at the ceremony and maybe, just maybe, get introduced at the reception.
At a destination wedding, guests will usually share the same space for several days which can open doors to interesting and new friendships, strengthen family ties, and even discover business opportunities. This bonding can give rise to another word that often gets lost when planning traditional domestic weddings – fun!
Wedded Wonderland: What are the most common mistakes you see made when couples plan a destination wedding?
Wedding Destinations: Our biggest concern is when couples choose to source venues or suppliers outside of our tried and tested network. Most couples come to us to utilise our knowledge of local services and our dedicated teams of wedding professionals across the globe. From time to time and against our advice, couples will throw us a wildcard by sourcing a photographer, DJ or stylist we have never worked with or heard of before. While we have a trained nose for sniffing out and avoiding poor suppliers and venues, often brides don’t. Wedding Destinations have high standards for all our suppliers and venues, and unfortunately, when we work with businesses not known to us, that’s where the stress-free process breaks down.
Wedding Destinations have perfected the process over 15 years to avoid poorly skilled or dishonest companies. We pride ourselves on delivering a perfect and stress-free wedding experience each time to every guest. We have every conceivable resource at our fingertips to ensure precision and quality is applied to every wedding we coordinate.
Leaving guests to work out their own accommodation can be another disaster waiting to happen. We’re regularly contacted at the last minute when a bride or groom’s relative can’t book a room at a resort close to where the wedding will take place. Occasionally online bookings go horribly wrong, and due to the nature of these arrangements, little or nothing can be done to fix them.
It’s another worry that the bride and groom don’t need, which is why we always aim to get the guest list together sooner rather than later. This allows us to negotiate a competitive group rate with the resort for all attending guests, ensuring that everyone doesn’t have to pay, and stress, more.
Article written by Alison Donnellan