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Splurge to Bring Vendors Abroad With You vs Hire Locally

CATEGORIES 

November 21, 2023
Words by Meghan Ely
Photos courtesy of various

Destination weddings are a dreamy escape from tradition, offering couples the opportunity to say ‘I do’ against picturesque backdrops. However, you have to consider the age-old question: should you bring your trusted wedding vendors with you from home or opt for local vendors at your destination? It’s a question that weighs not only on your budget but also on the overall experience of your special day.

We rounded up some wedding experts to help weigh the pros and cons so that you can bring your vision to life.

Pros of Bringing Vendors Abroad

Fabric lanterns at a beach wedding reception

1. Know What to Expect

“More than likely, you have been following some wedding florist, stylist, or photographer even before you were engaged. You already have a vision of the work of these vendors. You already know what to expect since you have eagerly watched their behind-the-scenes posts. Bringing them on this journey will give you a sense of security and understanding of what you are getting into. You also will know how to communicate and gauge expectations.” – Diane Kolanović-Šolaja, Dee Kay Events

2. Usually Less Time Difference or Communication Difficulties

“First and foremost, the connection. If you’re hiring a vendor who lives near you, you’ll be able to foster that relationship during the planning process. This helps ensure your trust in the vendor and their services for your special day. Communication is key! When bringing your vendors to your destination wedding abroad, you will not need to worry about time differences for phone calls or communication difficulties.” – Julianne Smith, The Garter Girl

3. View the Location with a Unique Set of Eyes

“Creative vendors — like photographers and videographers — love experiencing new things and shooting at different places. One of the biggest advantages of bringing in a vendor from another area is that they view the location with a unique set of eyes. They likely will feel the same excitement and wonderment your guests may feel seeing your wedding location for the first time.” – Mary Angelini, Key Moment Films

4. Can Make Your Celebration Comfortable for Your Culture

“If you want to have a destination wedding that feels like or has a lot of elements of an American wedding, then you might consider bringing in American vendors like your planner and your photographer. These pros will be able to work on your behalf for the elements that you wish to be more Americanized at your destination wedding. For example, when I planned a wedding in Edinburgh, Scotland, the couple hired a local photographer. They also wanted to do a first look before the ceremony. This was ten years ago and was a completely new concept for the local photographer, and I think they had a hard time wrapping their mind around how it would work. They were very hesitant, and I had to be extra hands-on, but in the end, the photos were great.” – Janice Carnevale, Bellwether Events

5. Some Specialties are Better Sourced Locally

I love hiring a combination of local vendors and bringing my trusted team abroad. Some specialties are better sourced locally than others, so while it might be a bit more challenging, in the end, it’s worth it.” – Nora Sheils, Rock Paper Coin | Bridal Bliss

Cons of Bringing Vendors Abroad

Bride and groom among white flowers at a ceremony on a cliffside

1. Negative Climate Impact

“One of the biggest cons most people don’t think about when bringing in a vendor is the climate impact. While not a subject that is talked about much, there is a real climate impact of destination weddings, and the more travel involved, the higher that impact. With the couple and guests already traveling to the destination, tacking on vendors also has much higher carbon emissions than hiring locally.” – Jamie Chang, Mango Muse Events

2. Can Feel Less Culturally Immersed

“Think about why you chose your destination. Was it the landscape? The local cuisine? How did a trip make you feel there once? Pick the one thing you love, and choose someone locally for this part of your wedding. If you don’t, you may miss out on the small details that made you fall in love with the destination in the first place.” – Diane Kolanović-Šolaja, Dee Kay Events

3. Legal Headaches

“Vendors might face difficulties upon arrival without the right permits, ranging from entry denials to legal repercussions. It’s always advisable to research the specific requirements of the destination country well in advance and to liaise with the vendors to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order.” – Mary Angelini, Key Moment Films

4. It’s a Real Splurge

“The primary con when it comes to splurging on bringing your chosen vendors abroad to your destination wedding is just that: the splurge. Your chosen vendors deserve to be properly compensated for their travel as well as appropriately accommodated (so that they can do the very best job possible). This increases your overall costs!” – Brittany Branson, By Brittany Branson

5. Scheduling is a Beast

“Because vendors book their calendars years in advance, a significant con to hiring domestic vendors for a wedding abroad lies in scheduling. With a destination wedding, the professionals are booked for their travel and wedding days. For highly competitive vendors, their schedules may not allow numerous days, making them unavailable for the wedding.” – Sarah Anderson, Twickenham House & Hall

Pros of Hiring Local Vendors

White traditional houseboat in canal in Amsterdam. Married couple kisses among flowers on the boat.

1. Local Vendors Often Have Access to Fresher Products

“Local products are always fresher, which means utilizing a local vendor who also sources locally means you’ll get the freshest in-season products, whether that’s flowers or food. And that means delicious meals, beautiful flowers, and seasonal specialties. This not only reduces climate impact and supports local businesses, but it also puts a unique spin on your wedding that’s special to this particular time, in this particular place.” – Jamie Chang, Mango Muse Events

2. Level of Familiarity with the Destination

“A pro of hiring a local vendor for a destination locale is that they know the location! It will be easier for them to troubleshoot with their local connections and can help you navigate the language and other barriers that may make execution difficult. It will likely [also] be easier for them to source additional staffing as part of the plan or at the last minute if needed.” – Nora Sheils, Rock Paper Coin | Bridal Bliss

3. Support Your Destination’s Local Economy

“Hiring local vendors at your destination wedding allows you to support the local businesses in your destination locale. You’ll be able to enjoy your wedding in this beautiful destination while helping to support their economy.” – Julianne Smith, The Garter Girl

4. Travel Complications Out of the Question

“One major advantage of hiring local vendors is that they are already there, so no matter what the weather may bring, you don’t have to worry about their flights or ferries being canceled. You’ll also benefit from their expertise and experience working in your chosen destination, as well as their relationships with other vendors.” – Jocelyn Filley, Jocelyn Filley Photography

5. Understand Local Supply Chains

“They know the local supply chains, what is possible to acquire, and by when. They often know the selected venue and are familiar with what works well there or what doesn’t work with the property’s layout or rules.” – Vijay Goel, Bite Catering Couture

Cons of Hiring Local Vendors

Bride and groom kissing near lake

1. Options Can Be Limited

“One major con with regards to only hiring local destination wedding professionals is that you may find yourself limited by available options. For example, there may only be so many local professional photographers. If you don’t particularly care for their editing style, you may be out of luck!” – Brittany Branson, By Brittany Branson

2. References/Endorsements Can Be Harder to Find

“Unlike domestic vendors, finding references or endorsements from other couples is harder when having a destination wedding. Usually, domestic vendors are vetted through word of mouth and their resumes; however, this validating process cannot apply to the destination’s local vendors because of the absence of rooted relationships at the location.” – Sarah Anderson, Twickenham House & Hall

3. Possibility for Language Barrier Mishaps

“The styles don’t always match the vision, and there will be language or communication barriers. Especially on the islands anywhere, there is a delay in communication.” – Dee Lee, Dee Lee Designs

4. May Take Longer to Pinpoint Ideal Vendors

“There’s a lack of familiarity and experience with the local vendors. The amount of time required for sourcing vendors up to exacting standards can be long and still result in a number of issues due to a lack of familiarity.” – Vijay Goel, Bite Catering Couture

While there are endless pros and cons to choosing to bring vendors abroad vs. working with locals, the good news is that there’s really no wrong answer. Every wedding is different, and your particular needs aren’t necessarily the same as the next couple’s. As long as you do the appropriate research, it’s solely up to you and your partner to make the best decision based on your priorities. And everything else will fall into place!

Charming picnic table wedding reception on rolling hills

About the Author: Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Kathy Thomas Photography (1st); Pattengale Photography (2nd); The Genovese Studio (3rd); Danielle Coons Photography (4th & 6th); Megan & Kenneth (5th)

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