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Destination Wedding Advice
By Noelle Andrews
There’s something incredibly tempting about the idea of having a Destination Wedding, and I can guarantee many couples consider it at some point throughout their planning (insert melting face emoji). So, having been a destination bride myself I wanted to provide a bit of Destination Wedding Advice to any couples considering it. There are so many things you don’t know going into it, and while yes there are many advice columns out there, much of it is very generalized and comes from other vendors. While that is certainly helpful, I wanted to provide a different perspective on some things that people may not tell you. All of my Destination Wedding advice comes from combined experience of being a professional wedding photographer as well as being a bride myself. I hope you find this article useful! Be sure to check out our other post called: 5 FAQS for Planning a Destination Wedding.
TOOLS FOR TRAVEL COORDINATION
We used a website called www.destinationweddings.com and it can definitely come in handy. They assign a travel agent to you and for a fee of only $50, your agent can facilitate ALL of your travel needs. Granted, I did end up doing a lot myself but this could be a great resource. I think in any group travel situation, a travel agent can be invaluable. Save yourself some time and sanity and book one!! We also purchased travel insurance which I would definitely recommend for any destination couple. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions. There was a hurricane headed towards our destination location (which was a private villa called Villa Celeste in Puerto Vallarta, MX) less than a month before our wedding and we found out that it only covered natural disaster reimbursement if it had occurred more than 30 days before travel. Thank goodness it missed our location completely but it could have worked out terrible for us! Also be sure it includes some medical coverage since you’re likely traveling far from home and out of the country (even if it just covers medical transport back home). We also made our own wedding website through www.appycouple.com to keep our guests informed and make changes or updates.
PLAN TIME TO REST
Sounds easy right? I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who is like, “Oh I can do it all, I’ll be fiiiine!” But I severely underestimated just how much I needed to have fun and relax that week of the wedding. My husband on the other hand needs no lesson in relaxation, lol. Anyhow, you’d think this is easy in a beautiful, tropical location but that’s where you’re wrong! As a bride (or groom), your brain never stops swimming and working!! But, I made it happen the best I could. I drank. I swam. I laid in the sun. I laughed with my friends and family. And It. Was. Glorious. Be sure to sit back and take it all in and schedule time to relax. Also if you can, plan a day or two after the wedding to stay in the area and decompress with your new spouse. We booked an all-inclusive luxury resort not far from where we originally stayed (called Hotel Mousai) and continued our trip for an extra 4 nights. After a crazy-fun week spent with our family and friends, it was just what we needed to relax and enjoy being husband and wife!!
HAVE A PLAN B, C, and D!
This one probably sounds obvious and since I had a wedding planner, you’d think I would have been more mentally prepared, but boy was I wrong. My first mistake (or maybe a blessing in disguise) was that I didn’t check the weather once that week. You read that right. I was getting married in a matter of days and I never once thought to check the weather (ever heard of bride-brain?). I honestly was just so wrapped up in everything and trying to enjoy myself that I really wasn’t even on my phone that much. Luckily it left me with one less thing to worry about, but little did I know that there was a big storm headed our way. This was also supposed to be the best week weather-wise in all of December (they even plan a festival around it every year!). My advice? Talk through some options with your planner and vendors and just be prepared for some alternatives. I instinctually knew this as an experienced wedding photographer but since we trusted the previous years of weather patterns, it really caught us off guard. Which brings me to the next part…
BE OPEN & FLEXIBLE
This is the best piece of Destination Wedding advice I can give to any destination couple. Be flexible and accept change. I think naturally if you’re getting married in some far-away place, you’re probably already pretty cool and chill (ok, I’m a bit biased, ha!), but being flexible will help your sanity, I promise! I think because I am a wedding photographer, there were certain things I envisioned for my wedding day that just didn’t happen. And part of it was my inability to be flexible and change that vision. Honestly, I was totally ok with things not going absolutely perfect, but I held onto certain things that would have made my life easier if I had just learned to “let go”. For example, I really didn’t want to do a first look because I wanted to see my hubby for the first time coming down the aisle and to feel that real emotion of having all of our close friends and family there with us in that moment (they were all such an important part of our journey). The rain delay caused everything to start really late so by the time the ceremony was over, it was too dark for portraits and we had wasted a lot of time waiting around (which was definitely a result of my indecision). I truly don’t regret how things played out, I was just very unprepared to make decisions and change my vision on the fly (and one of those moments where you just wish you could talk it over with your future spouse!). It caused some unnecessary anxiety on the day of, so just a note to be mentally prepared for change!
RESEARCH PAYMENT OPTIONS
So this may seem like a strange piece of advice but it’s also something that most people wouldn’t think about when planning a destination wedding and sending money across International borders. I’ll admit, towards the end of the planning process my brain was a total pile of mush. Hey, it happens to the best of us (refer to: bride-brain). Seems logical to put a mushy-brain bride in charge of figuring out money stuff, right? Meh. Admittedly I did it to myself since I’m the “money person” in our relationship. But most of our vendors required final payment the week before (including the villas we were using for accommodation and the wedding day) and many preferred wire-transfers. I cannot stress how much easier it is if all your vendors accept some form of credit card or Paypal payment. Preferably something where your transactions are protected and if anything goes amiss your CC company can step in and help.
Long story short, we did a wire-transfer through our bank for our villas and the money literally hung out in limbo for about a week and a half (it’s supposed to take a couple of days to complete). There was nothing wrong with the transaction, it simply took longer that it should have (leaving me sick with worry the whole time). Luckily we submitted payment way early so it sorted itself out. Then for all of the wedding vendors, we were sending one lump sum to our planner (which is actually kind of awesome but I mean, talk about anxiety, ha). She preferred a wire-transfer as well but we asked if we could mail a check (after the last debacle), which unfortunately did not prove to be too successful either. The check ended up getting held in customs for a while, moved around and ultimately “lost”. Our planner received a banged up envelope and no check. Yup, I died a little that day. So as a last resort, we brought a check and handed it to the planner when we arrived in Mexico, which was definitely less than ideal since the vendors needed to get paid ASAP. I know it was stressful for her as well as us! So research options and ask in advance if you can.
Ok well those are a just a few pieces of advice I have for my fellow Destination Wedding couples. Hope you found this useful and happy planning!! We’ll be posting more on our blog so stay tuned. Here are a few more photographs below from the day, just for fun!