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Friday, January 21, 2022
Photos courtesy of Mathias Fast When it comes to choosing the most unique and adventurous location for a destination wedding, South Africa just might take the cake. Well, at least for Tanya and Alex it did! In fact, the couple specifically decided on a destination wedding because Tanya wished to return to the place she called "home" to marry the love of her life. The beautiful country also held great significance for Alex, a born and raised Californian, who visited there on his first trip out of America.
Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
A: South Africa has always held a special place in our hearts - the warm people, the stunning landscapes- and we always dreamed to share it with our loved ones. It also felt great to be able to give back to the many vendors in SA who continue to innovate and make us proud of our African roots.
Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it?
A: A destination wedding can be hard for families to accept, as it means some family members and friends won’t be able to take part. Alex’s granddad who is over 90 for example couldn’t make such a long journey, and this was sad for Alex’s family and also for us. We made sure to organize an engagement party in California for the family who couldn’t make it, so all our loved ones there could take part in our journey. We believe it’s important to do something to be inclusive and to find a small way to thank those who can’t travel to your dream destination for the support along the way.
Q: How/why did you choose the location/destination? Did you run into any issues specific to this destination and how did you resolve them?
A: South Africa was in our minds from the moment we got engaged. And we knew that the Cape is a very special place. Tanya grew up on farms and in the “bush”- the South African wilderness - so we wanted to go somewhere that felt close to nature. We also love wine - Tanya’s mom works in the wine business and Alex went to University near Napa - the wine country of California. With this in mind, the Winelands outside of Cape Town seemed like the perfect place for us - a mix of wild mountains and perfect vineyards and delicious wine! South Africa does present some challenges - we are used to German organization and despite having a super planner, small businesses do sometimes run on African time. We learned to have more patience and not to always expect immediate responses.
Q: How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding?
A: We learned that you really need to trust someone on the ground to plan a wedding from abroad. Luckily we had an amazing planner in Jadee, and we felt in control through the whole process, even though we were thousands of miles away. Yes, there were hiccups, but with a few google sheets (Alex loves tracking tasks!) we stayed organized and worked through each one as it came up. We tried to always remember - enjoy the process. Even the small things that seem like annoyances are things you will only get to do once if you do it right, so enjoy every moment.
Q: What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
A: Wow - the travel! That was quite the feat. Alex’s family was denied boarding at the airport because they didn’t have a birth certificate for Alex’s 12-year-old brother, and somehow we missed that any travelers under 13 with parents need a certificate to enter SA. Luckily with a few new bookings, we got everyone over in time for the wedding, but that was a stressful morning. We learned to always check visa statuses and any travel docs in advance if you plan on bringing in a big international crew.
Q: Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to do a destination wedding?
A: Hard to say - we definitely got more for our money doing it in SA. With the exchange rate, we were able to make our money go further, but we did also go pretty wild and book a 5-day extravaganza. We kind of felt we had to do more since it was a destination and our family and friends came from all over the world to be there, and we likely would have only done one day if it had been a home wedding. In the end, having the whole week was totally worth it for us and it became a holiday of a lifetime for so many of the people we love in our lives.
Q: Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
A: Try and plan one trip a year before to go and see venues and meet your vendors. For example - Tanya did a hair and make-up trial, and it really helped ease any nerves and jitters to get the vendors trialed and booked in advance. It also helps build a picture and the excitement closer to the day, if you have eaten the food and drank the wine your guests will enjoy.
Vendors: Photographer: Mathias Fast; Wedding Planner: Jadee McGowan of Jadee x Watermelon; Ceremony/Reception Site/Florist/Cake: Babylonstoren; Stationery: Secret Diary; Hair and Makeup: Langaro; Gown Designer: Kaviar Gauche; Groom’s Clothing Designer: Monokel
Thursday, January 20, 2022
The Questions to Ask Yourself Before Selecting a Date
What’s my favorite time of year? “Is there a season you love most or a time during the year that you prefer? This can always help start the planning and get settled on a timeframe. For example, I just love Fall because of the beautiful colours it brings and its romantic vibe and coziness + my husband, and I met during fall for the first time, so it’s definitely a season that spoke to us a lot when we got married.” - Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal
What’s my dream location? “Is there a location, venue, or even better, a country in which you prefer getting married? This could help you settle into your wedding day style and help you decide, for example, on your dream wedding dress style.” - Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal
Am I envisioning myself in a custom wedding gown? “Wedding dress shopping is fun, but brides tend to forget that a wedding dress can take anywhere from 4-8 months to create. Here at Sarah Alouache, we love making the most unique and romantic wedding pieces by using only the most luxurious and one-of-a-kind fabric. We take pride in handmaking our wedding gowns with a lot of love and passion. Once finally finished, our gowns are then sent to your local bridal boutique for your final fitting, where you will be able to finally try on your SA dream dress.” - Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal
Are my dream vendors available? “Consider your favorite wedding vendors like the photographer you’ve been obsessing on for years and that you want to capture your big day. Ensure to inquire with them and ask their availability as they get booked very quickly and in advance.” - Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal
Are there any major events happening in our ideal location on our preferred date? “The first thing that comes to mind is for couples to cross reference their desired date with the events calendar for the town/city they're getting married. If there's a big event like a marathon or wine festival that may affect room blocks and send prices skyrocketing for them and their guests.” - Maya Holihan, Founder & CEO, EWedded
Which day(s) of the week am I open to? “Weekend wedding dates are in high demand—meaning they're more expensive and get booked out further in advance. So if you’re open to it, think beyond Saturday and Sunday! A Monday through Friday fête comes with many perks—including lower costs, more availability, and a seriously cool non-traditional factor. Opening yourself up to a midweek affair also ups the chance that you'll get a really cool wedding date. For example, 2/2/22 falls on a Wednesday. We say snag that date up!” - Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide
Is my heart set on a particular venue? “If you've already fallen in love with your dream venue, then your wedding date needs to be flexible. Wedding venues tend to get booked up to a year in advance or more—so inquire with the venue about availability ASAP! Their calendar will be the deciding factor in setting your wedding date. This goes for priority vendors as well. For example, if you’ve fallen in love with a particular photographer’s style, you may decide that their availability is worth setting your wedding date around.” - Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide
Do I want an indoor or outdoor wedding? “Picking your wedding date is one of the most crucial parts to curating your dream wedding. This will be the day that you and your partner will celebrate and remember for the rest of your lives. It can feel overwhelming sometimes but that’s why I’m here to help you feel more at ease with your final decision. The first two questions you’ll want to ask yourself is if you want an indoor or outdoor wedding and consider the season you would like to have your wedding in. If you want to have an outdoor December wedding in Alaska that might not be the best idea unless of course, that’s what you want to do.” - Lisette Gatliff, Lisette OC Photography
Am I interested in a wedding on a holiday weekend? “Secondly, if you’re choosing to get married on or near a holiday you’ll have to assess both the pros and the cons of it. If you do decide to have your wedding during that time, be prepared to take in consideration everyone’s holiday travel schedule. You’ll also have to consider whether or not you and your partner would like to have your anniversary during the holidays every year because it truly is the busiest time of the year. On another note, maybe your whole family is around for the holidays and you don’t mind having your anniversary fall around the holidays. It’s your day and the best part of all is that you get to decide when you want it to be! Don’t forget that planning your wedding shouldn’t be stressful. It should be exciting because you’re getting ready to begin your next chapter in life with the person that you love the most after all.” - Lisette Gatliff, Lisette OC Photography
How long do I want to be engaged? “Do you want to have a long or short engagement? Having enough time to spend with each other as an engaged couple can be essential for many people.” - JP Events & Design
What about fire season? “As a Southern California planner, my biggest concern isn't rain but rather fire. Our fire season is no joke - it can be detrimental to popular wedding venues and no one wants ash falling onto dining tables. I tell my clients to avoid canyon areas during fire season so not to risk postponing the wedding.” - Melanie Levin from LuckEleven Events
Am I able to take time off & is everything I need available during this time? “Would you be able to take time off for the wedding you'd wish to take? Or will your time off be limited because of work deliverables... If you'd like to have your wedding on a holiday weekend, is your budget flexible for an additional cost you may incur due to the holiday? Are the flowers and color palettes you wish to have in season?” - Weddings by Susan Dunne
How does the time of year impact my guests’ lives? “A few things to consider when thinking about a date is the time of year and thinking how that impacts people's lives. A few questions to ask yourself: Is it more expensive to fly around your wedding date (Holiday weekends or peak summer)? Is the weather going to be good or bad and will that affect travel plans for yourself and guests? It's important to keep those things in mind so your wedding doesn't feel stressful to you or your guests.” - Kari Dirksen, CEO + Lead Planner, Feathered Arrow Events
What about my family’s personal celebrations throughout the year? “Keep in mind key dates on both sides of your family that need to be celebrated and don't plan your wedding too close to those. Don't want your future mother-in-law thinking you're stealing her spotlight if your wedding falls on her birthday weekend!” - Melissa Wilmot, founder & CEO, WedBrilliant
Is our wedding date symbolic to us? “Getting married is a memory you want to remember for the rest of your life. You might want your date to have additional meaning; it could be your anniversary as a couple or the day you first met, or any other special date for you both.” - JP Events & Design
How much is our budget? “Getting married during the wedding season can be costly compared to other months. If you're on a budget, it is wise to avoid getting married from late spring to early fall as prices tend to be higher during these times.” - JP Events & Design
What date works for our VIP guests? “We know certain wedding dates may be important to couples due to the weather, time of year, day of the week, but we definitely recommend checking with VIP guests before locking in a date. Discuss the date with those guests that you feel very strongly about being there. From your parents and grandparents to your siblings and wedding party, be sure the date works for everyone!” - Jamie & Stephanie, Cape Cod Celebrations
How much will our guests spend for destination weddings? “For destination weddings, different seasons can significantly change the minimum night stay and nightly rates at the accommodations in the area. If you are hoping for guests to travel and stay, choosing a season with high rates and higher nightly minimums may be a challenge for all. Consider if your guests will be willing to spend a little extra to attend your wedding.” - Jamie & Stephanie, Cape Cod Celebrations
What are my fiancé’s priorities are for the day? “Sit down and have an honest heart-to-heart with your SO about what your priorities are for the day. Do you both see yourselves getting married outside? Do you have a favorite flower you'd like included in your arrangements? Catering-wise, do you have a favorite seasonal item that you'd like to have included in your wedding day menu? Answering questions like these will help you narrow down to a specific season/month. After these questions are answered, be sure to share them with your planning team so they can ensure they're presenting you vendors within your aesthetic expectations!” - Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events
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