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Destination weddings are on the rise as many couples opt for alternative nuptial events such as a minimony, micro wedding or elopement. The Knot’s Real Wedding Study revealed that 18% of couples hosted destination weddings in 2022. We sat down with Nicole Steger, Leisure and Luxury Travel Specialist with The Travel Team, to get insider tips on planning a destination wedding and selecting a location and property that’s right for you.

With pandemic-related travel restrictions safely behind us (for good we hope!), many engaged couples are thinking global for their nuptials, travelling to exotic destinations and inviting friends and family to join in the ceremony and celebration. With the world at your fingertips, where do you begin researching and planning? This is the perfect time to leverage a professional in the travel industry. A travel advisor will help you select the right property and coordinate travel and communication with your guests, so you can relax and enjoy this very special occasion in your life.

How to Choose the Right Destination

The Caribbean, Mexico and Italy are among the most popular regions for destination weddings, according to Nicole. And while many factors influence the selection of a destination, ease of access is typically the top priority.

“We usually look for places with major airports in close proximity and many flight options from major airports,” said Nicole. “We try to avoid remote locations so guests can easily travel to and from the destination from almost anywhere in the world.”

Once those hard-to-reach destinations have been crossed off your list, there’s still a plethora of options. So how can you begin to filter the choices? Nicole says it’s important to have a clear idea of what you envision your wedding to look like such as the style and scenery. She walks couples through a series of questions about their ideal ceremony location – do you envision getting married on a beach, a pier, in a vineyard or a quaint chapel – then she digs into the size of the guest list, desired amenities, and any additional activities or excursions you want accessible to your guests. With those details in mind, you can zero in on the property that gives you everything you want at a price you can afford.

When helping clients identify potential destination wedding properties, Nicole advises couples to read reviews on everything from the resort itself to rooms, customer service, food and amenities. She likes to look for four-star ratings and always recommends talking to the wedding staff prior to booking.

“While we typically refer couples to well-known properties that previous clients have visited, I think the most important thing any couple can do is have a thorough conversation with the wedding coordinator who will be arranging the details of their wedding on site,” suggested Nicole. “You want to find a location and have a contact that will be flexible as your needs, and those of your guests, change leading up to the big day. Choosing a hotel property that is willing to accommodate changes and makes communication a priority will alleviate stress.”

Before you sign on the dotted line to secure a wedding package, Nicole recommends paying close attention to the cancellation and refund policies within a wedding contract and avoid agreeing to any non-refundable clauses.

Benefits of Engaging a Travel Expert

Planning a wedding is a significant undertaking, and a destination wedding comes with a slew of additional details that are best left in the hands of an expert.

“Leading up to the big day, couples have enough to worry about without adding the stress of their guests’ travel plans to their to-do list,” said Nicole.

A travel advisor can be the main point of contact for your guests, managing everything from securing deposits, booking flights and arranging airport transportation, to organizing excursions, group activities and dinners.

“When I work with a couple planning a destination wedding, all of their guests’ questions are directed to me,” assured Nicole. “We also bring another layer of security and peace of mind to the trip. Our team is ready to act and provide support in case of emergency.”

The Travel Team can also provide a complimentary booking website for guests. Separate from your wedding registry, this site is dedicated to travel-related information and offers access to book rooms, add airport transportation, and optional travel insurance.   

A Few Words of Advice

“I always advise clients to select a property and solidify the details of the wedding package before sending out a save-the-date,” recommended Nicole, who also reported that most properties are booking about a year in advance.

If you’re interested in visiting your resort prior to booking, Nicole mentions many properties now offer 3-day preview packages. Jump on the “earlymoon” trend to escape the pre-wedding planning madness while exploring potential properties and guest experiences first-hand.

The final piece of advice shared by Nicole is perhaps the greatest takeaway for couples destined for a wedding abroad.

“There’s a level of patience necessary when planning a destination wedding. Working with a wedding coordinator from afar is not like working with a local planner,” cautioned Nicole. “You will be dealing with time zones and wedding planners balancing multiple weddings per week, or even day. Expect some delay in communication, especially when working with resorts in the Caribbean.”

Remember, you most likely chose that tropical destination for the relaxed vibe, so keep ‘island time’ in mind and be patient with your planners.

To talk with Nicole, or any of The Travel Teams’ experts, call 716-862-7680, or visit today.