4 Things to Avoid During PlanningWords by Aviva Samuels
Photos courtesy of Canva
Aviva Samuels of Kiss the Planner specializes in planning memorable destination weddings and events for discerning clients all over the world. She balances practicality with extravagance to give her clients the experience of a lifetime that fits both their personalities and their needs, to a tee. As an expert in romantic travel, Samuels shares her invaluable tips to help couples who might be struggling to plan their ideal destination wedding below:
There are many great reasons listed in the plus-column for doing a destination wedding. The reality, however, is that there are a few that like to hang out in the minus-column too. Especially in the early stages of planning, these pitfalls can potentially overshadow your joy and foil your plans. Be ready to adapt to what’s to come and get yourself a professional helping hand to get through the planning unscathed. Keep these important tips in mind, take adequate precautions, remain flexible, and you should be absolutely A-OK!
Language barriers are to be expected and need to be handled carefully.
First of all, there are likely going to be language barriers to account for. If you’re choosing a destination in which English is not the first language spoken, be ready to exercise a heap of patience and make Google translate your new best friend. In as much as English is spoken around the world, not all your wedding venue managers, employees or vendors may be well-versed in English. You may think that you have understood what they said, but it’s all-together possible and in fact, highly likely, that misunderstandings will occur. You may, unfortunately, have to do double-duty to make sure that you clarify what was said and understood completely. It is common for couples to drop this important step, in hopes that it will all work out OK. Taking the extra time to clarify in advance will save you loads of stress once you arrive at your destination. Also mucho important is that you ask your questions properly. Clearly state your questions or concerns in a way that they can understand. Keep your language as simple as possible, to avoid confusion. Spending that extra time and going to those extra lengths might just be the way to ensure that no misunderstandings or fewer misunderstandings take place.
“Island-time” is really a thing and it can exist anywhere in the world.
Things tend to happen less quickly in other countries than they do in the United States. The U.S. is known for having one of the strongest work ethics around the world, with many hospitality workers staying in the office past working hours or bringing work home with them. But that’s often not the case in destinations outside of the U.S. It could take several days or even weeks to hear back from a wedding venue or vendor in a foreign country. For them, this time frame might be perfectly normal, even if for you it seems completely unheard of. To avoid disappointment and frustration, set your intentions early and find out if they match the venue or vendor that you are communicating with. Rather than telling them what you expect, find out first how they operate and let them know if you feel comfortable with this or not. Wishing and wanting is not going to change the way they communicate or work or the number of hours that they put in at the office. It would be way better for you if you know in advance what is realistic and what is not, and decide from there if you can, or can’t handle that. There are other fish in the sea and if you don’t find an answer that you are comfortable with, consider moving on to another space or supplier, rather than subjecting yourself to daily frustration. Another option is to hire a wedding planner to help you navigate such frustrations and take countless communication hours off of you. You may still need to exercise patience in that your planner might also be at the mercy of a slow timeframe, but experienced vendors can often consolidate communication and thus cut down on the wait time. Often the experience that they bring to the table will save you lots of these types of headaches.
There’s no standard rule of thumb when it comes to destination wedding costs.
Costs can run the gamut greatly from one destination to another. A destination wedding at your chosen location just might be saving you some big bucks, or it might instead be costing you a lot more than if you were hosting the wedding in your hometown, or on the other side of the world. There are many factors to take into consideration and it will likely take a good amount of research to figure out what to expect because there’s no rule of thumb when it comes to the cost of a destination wedding. Costs vary greatly depending upon the location, the venue, the climate, the distance from your hometown, the popularity, the abundance or lack of abundant flights, and the going rate of vendors in the area. The cost of vendors also depends upon whether or not you hire vendors from your own country who will travel to the destination, or if you hire those that are local to the destination. Costs also vary based upon how elaborate the wedding plans are. Something simple at home might be very expensive abroad, or vice versa. Another contributing factor is what the exchange rate is for your currency, as compared to their currency. The exchange rate can fluctuate from day to day. So if you pay a 50% deposit prior to the wedding, your 50% balance may go up (or down) considerably if the exchange rate changes. Since it is altogether possible that it won’t work in your favor, check the terms of your venue and vendors contracts very carefully before you sign on the dotted line and set aside extra funds to account for any overages. It’s also important to note that international wiring fees are higher than domestic wiring fees and many methods of payment such as writing a check from an American bank account or services such as PayPal may not be acceptable methods of payment for a venue or vendors in a foreign country. Find out these restrictions in advance so that you are not spending any of your valuable energy on feeling frustrated.
Your guest count may look very different than you expected it to.
People who you were sure would attend your wedding just may have to bow out because of the distance. It could be due to expenses or not having the time available to take off of work. It might be because they just don’t like to travel, or even because they have no one to take care of the dog. In your mind, you might be thinking everyone will find a way to make it. You might not be able to believe that they would use the dog as an excuse, but for them, those concerns are very real. If you can put yourself in their shoes and remove your bias from the equation, it will be easier to swallow when your guests tell you that they can’t come. On the flip side, some will come even though you expected them to say no. Perhaps the idea was to limit the guest list to a much smaller number and you thought that having a destination wedding would do the trick. While this often is the case, it’s altogether possible that your coworker is looking for an excuse to get out of town and your awkward cousin has a new girlfriend that he wants to show off. You may have been hoping to keep the guest list at a bare minimum, but once you invite them, don’t be surprised if they come. For weddings, you pay by the head and you’re going to want to exercise the same method of deciding who is invited and who is not invited, whether it is a destination wedding, or not. Make peace with whatever takes place and you’ll have the best time ever.
To sum things up, the key to your sanity is to both embrace your inner zen and to be prepared. Research, research, and more research will save you loads of stress and prevent costly heartaches. Whether you do the research on your own or solicit the help of a wedding planning professional, you’ll be in a much better place if you know what to expect and can find a workable solution. Sometimes the only workable solution is acceptance, but that can truly go a long way! Remember that the point of having a destination wedding is to enjoy yourself. Don’t lose sight of that as you navigate the ups and downs along the way. With a newfound attitude, a healthy dose of effort, and an adequate amount of preparedness, a destination wedding is sure to be the best decision you ever made.
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